Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Duality of the Southern Thing

Contrary to all applicable stereotypes, there was recently a rally at the Barrow County courthouse co-organized by a Klan faction and the predominantly black House of Prayer, notorious for corporeal punishment and taking their teenagers to Alabama to get married. The cause was the public display of the Ten Commandments.

Remembering George Plimpton

There was a time when George Plimpton was doing Intellivision commercials. Now you can find at least one online to view again.
Friday, September 26, 2003

Robert Palmer

Now we've lost Robert Palmer. Another unexpected passing, too. With all these people dying lately, I wonder where it will end.

I personally recommend his albums "Clues" and "Maybe It's Live," both of which you should have no problem finding used or reduced. These two albums contain collaboration with Gary Numan as well as some of Palmer's best original gems.
Thursday, September 25, 2003

Gatewood Galbraith

Just yesterday I learned for the first time that Gatewood Galbraith is running for attorney general this year in Kentucky.

I met Galbraith in 1989 at a NORML rally in Atlanta, back before I decided I didn't want my name found on certain mailing lists anymore. At the time he was an independent candidate for governor and his main issue was marijuana legalization, with articulated reasons such as saved resources, fewer lives disrupted by excesses of enforcement and potential tax revenues. I think his votes numbered six figures in that election.

Now one of his main issues is drug treatment and the novel idea of financing it with money from pharmaceutical companies settling a liability, with the tobacco settlements as precedent. This may not be a bad idea.

Galbraith himself supposedly has a prescription to smoke marijuana from a California doctor. The other candidates for Kentucky attorney general are less than ideal themselves, as this story will tell you, so maybe Galbraith can pull it off. Funnier things have happened.

Debate In Progress

I'm watching the CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic presidential debate right now, trying to stay interested but noting a few things as we go. A good thing about this debate is that the panel isn't particularly sympathetic to the candidates, as it includes CNBC's Gloria Borger and Ron Insana and WSJ Washington bureau chief Gerald Seib. Moderator Brian Williams seems naturally fit for the job, himself, coming across as the embodiment of middle America, complete with a little natural skepticism.

One interesting trend is that the centrist candidates, particularly Kerry and Lieberman, are referring more to the (perceived) successes of the Clinton administration, drawing a contrast to the more leftist candidates, particularly Dean. So they're taking some of the wind out of Dean's sails and further impeding whatever chances Kucinich and Sharpton ever had. Even Gephardt is trying to look more like a centrist.

Clark seems to benefit the most from the 60 second limit on responses to questions, ably fitting what he wants to say within and avoiding the challenge of further articulation of what he's actually saying.

Considering that the election is more than 13 months away and we'll have four quarters of continued economic growth in the meantime, I wonder if anything said here today will matter when the time comes to vote.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

One Fewer Missing Antique

Further demonstrating western media's unwillingness to report our many successes in Iraq, the Jordan Times reports this story of two New York reservists, one a policeman and one a prosecutor, who have recovered the "Sumerian Mona Lisa," one of the oldest known representations of a human face. Isn't this exactly the kind of story our media always wanted just a few months ago?

A Qualified Opinion

For everyone who polled in favor of Wesley Clark just because "he's a general," here's the view from his peer, Gen. Hugh Shelton, the last Joint Chiefs chairman.

Boom in Used Cars

Here's proof that not everyone in Iraq is impoverished and starving, as Kuwait has almost completely cleared out all its used cars. How's that for recycling?
Monday, September 22, 2003

New Directions in Arabic Pop

It might not sound like what we call "gothic" but that's the influence on "Ma Fina" by Katia Harb. This could be the beginning of an exciting new direction in Arab pop culture. . See the video here.
Friday, September 19, 2003

Support Arab Subversion

I'm not quite sure how recent this undated news item is but it appears to be from sometime in the past week. Apparently the Lebanese pop diva Elissa has been banned by the Egyptian government and several Lebanese stations for the overly sexual nature of her video for "Agmal Ihsas (The Best Feeling Ever)." If you'd like to do your part for the subversion of authoritarian Arab society, you can find Elissa's music here and here. The video in question is available here, along with some hilarious comments.
Thursday, September 18, 2003

Success Will Take You Down

Larry Kudlow's take on the Dick Grasso issue sets the record straight and demonstrates that success was Grasso's only vice. I wasn't sure from other reporting that the $140 million was a reflection of his entire career's work and if you'd only gone by some outlets' reporting you never would have been clear on it.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Grasso Fiasco

CNBC has scored quite a few "First on CNBC" scoops as more people weigh in on the seemingly excessive pay package given to NYSE chairman Dick Grasso by his generous board. As I write this, it's just been reported that Sen. Joe Lieberman has added his voice to the chorus demanding Grasso's resignation.

I'm not sure I can fault anyone for accepting a lot of money when someone gives it but the thing to ponder is the role of a company that serves both a regulatory function for member firms and its own profit at the same time. Grasso was trying to cool the issue last week when he announced he would forego the $48 million bonus the board offered him on top of his $140 million pay package. If anything, matters are worse and I bet he's wishing he'd kept that bonus by now.

The guy is very good at what he does and he's a very smooth communicator. I also don't blame him for reinvesting his pay for the future, although it suggests a fantastic return compared to most members' experience in the last 3 years with their own work. He said something about estate planning being part of his decision to let his money grow. Maybe he wants to be buried on the Moon? Who knows?

General Purpose

So retired Gen. Wesley Clark is officially announcing his candidacy for president as a Democrat, good news to those of us worried he might go the third-party route and be a spoiler like Ross Perot.

They say he has no political experience but if you think about it, it's impossible to get all 4 stars without mastering the game. Let's also not forget some relevant history.

Glamour Seat

Mary Carey might not be a strong spoiler candidate in California but Europe has once again elevated a nude model to public office, this time in a county election in Norway.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Schwarzenegger Commands Taco Poll

Whatever other polls you've heard, Taco Bell has its own report on the direction Californians are leaning towards. Apparently Arnold gets around 70% of the vote and the Davis/Bustamante axis are dead last behind the other 133 contenders.

Catalyst for Revolution?

It appears the Islamic Republic is running out of cards to play. As this Debka report points out, Iran is reduced to two unpleasant choices, fully cooperating with IAEA inspectors and thus undermining the government's credibility with the people, or facing sanctions that may include a ban on sales of Iranian oil to any UN member state, which would hurt an already ailing economy and probably accelerate popular revolution.

Iran is not Iraq. There is a limit to how much force the government can hope to use to hold down the people and the conditions for popular uprising have been ripe for a long time now. They want their freedom and sooner or later they'll get it.

The Next Round

Many of us wondered why the Bush administration seemed to be going so easy on the Syrian government in the last two years and I guess it must have something to do with the fact that Syria is a rotating member of the UN Security Council for the rest of this year, with another factor being some Foggy Bottom notion of "balance" in regards to Israel.

Now it appears the administration is finally getting serious with Damascus over issues of WMD's and anti-coalition guerillas fighters crossing into Iraq.

I certainly hope the WMD's are known to be stored somewhere (most likely eastern Syria and the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon) and the knowledge is classified for obvious security reasons. It would truly be disastrous if we let Hezbollah or any other Damascus-based terrorist group get to them first.

A Vision of the Future

If medical marijuana, one of the top states' rights issues of our day, ever becomes a reality and government tries to administer it, this is most likely what we can expect from said service.
Monday, September 15, 2003

Age vs. Competence

I seldom touch on UGA issues but this piece on the Adams vs. Dooley saga is a good read and expands on age discrimination issues, as the issue here is between an aging but proven atheletic director who wants to keep doing what he does for a few more years and a (slightly) younger but much less competent university president who wants to bring in another one of his no-name buddies from a previous gig. Even if you find fault in Dooley, you need only remember the fiasco with basketball coach Jim Harrick and his son for an example of who Adams might bring in as a replacement.

Some jobs shouldn't be age-limited and some people don't have enough else besides age going for them. This sort of reminds me of the millions of Americans in the 1990's who said they'd rather have an Alzheimer's-afflicted Ronald Reagan than a fully-functional Bill Clinton at the helm.

Double Standards

Government-controlled Syria Times reports this story about British MP's being shown lingering damage to the town of Quneitra that they Syrians got back from Israel in 1973. 30 years later they still haven't cleaned up the town and of course they would never want anyone reporting the lasting damage to the larger city of Hama that was almost completely destroyed and paved over by the late Hafez Assad in 1982, an incident in which as many as 30,000 of his own people may have died. I remind everyone that every terrorist organization you can think of still has offices in Damascus.

King Abdullah Speaks

Jordan's King Abdullah II has this editorial on the occasion of the 9/11/01 anniversary and in summary of what people need to understand about rational Islam versus the kind we always hear about. Abdullah is probably the only Arab ruler not threatened by a free Iraq.
Friday, September 12, 2003

Howard Dean Thinks You're Stupid...

...and if you support him and vote for him, he'll be proven right. That he calls Hamas terrorists "soldiers" is an insult to military men of every nation and cause everywhere. How brave is it to send a dupe to blow up children? What honor is there in such a cause? If you recall, some of the victims, including some of the children, were American citizens.

Apparently he thinks the growing anti-Semitism in Europe is something he needs to tap in this country, because it's getting more and more obvious that's where he's coming from. At some point Joe Lieberman (who lost a cousin to terrorism in Israel) will take the gloves off and say some real barbs.

Johnny Cash

I had only just posted about John Ritter, signed off and turned on the TV when I saw that Johnny Cash died, too. I guess we knew it was coming but we thought he might make it a little longer. I knew several months ago that his version of NIN's "Hurt" would be the song I remembered most from this year and that's a certainty now.

I will also remember one more thing Johnny Cash said on his Larry King interview of recent months, which was rerun the weekend before last. Talking about everything he faced in life, he said simply, "I don't give up...I don't give up because I don't give up." May he rest in peace and may those words always inspire the rest of us as people and as a nation.

Three's Company, Two's Lonely

These days we just don't know who'll be the next famous name to leave us. The passing of John Ritter came to me as a total surprise and more sad news after all those memorials yesterday.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Elitist White Liberals

Seems Howard Dean's support base is very heavily white and struggling to attract people of color. I have believed for a long time that many white American liberals, despite the great efforts they make to appear empathetic to minorities and minority issues, deep down still believe in their own superiority in the sense that they know best what should be done for everyone, which to me is the worst kind of supremacist. Compare this to the conservative and libertarian axiom that each individual knows better than anyone else what his or her best choices are. This is why everyone deserves to have their freedom protected and promoted, no matter who they are.
Sunday, September 07, 2003

Net Gain for Senate Republicans in '04?

Failing to remember fellow Senate Democrat Joe Lieberman's example in the 2000 elections, John Edwards has opted not to run for re-election next year because he apparently thinks he can win the presidency. Between this and the likely mood of North Carolina voters going into the next election, the Republicans may have a net gain of at least one senator to look forward to.

Law and Marriage

I think Tony Adragna's piece on the WMA is pretty close to how I feel about legislating what defines marriage. I think it tarnishes the majesty and purpose of the US Constitution every time somebody wants a frivolous amendment that has nothing to do with what the powers of the government, states and people are. Marriage should never be part of the scope of the US Constitution, not just because marriage should be a state matter but also because it shouldn't matter to the governance of the nation.

I feel the same way about the idea of a flag-burning amendment. We have existing laws on the local level against things like arson and inciting unrest. If somebody wants to burn a flag on the courthouse steps in some of our communities, let him try, and see for himself that power not specifically given to the US or the states but the people...
Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Something About Honor

So John Kerry staged the official announcement of his candidacy at the USS Yorktown memorial and repeatedly invoked his own service record. All this time I've remembered something I saw in the American Specator a long time ago and now here it is. I don't believe the honorable Senator is such a stickler for honor or integrity after all.
Monday, September 01, 2003

PETA, the ELF and R.E.M.

Thanks to A Little More to the Right for posting the link to this story, conveniently overlooked by our mainstream press. It appears People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been giving money to the Earth Liberation Front, which claimed responsibility for the destruction of the SUV's in California recently.

Don't overlook the importance of this story. PETA is famously supported by such luminaries as Chrissy Hynde and our own Michael Stipe of R.E.M. here in Athens. Celebrity irresponsibility appears to have reached a new low and none of us should take this lying down. The actions of the ELF vandals and arsonists, as well as PETA's material support, clearly define the very reasoning our government has already used to shut down Islamic charities accused of supporting Middle East terrorists. I call upon every one of PETA's celebrity apologists to publicly disavow themselves of this group once and for all.

Retrogaming as Life and Art

Walled City Gallery presents an exhibit called "River City Breaks," inspired by and drawn from the old Nintendo game "River City Ransom." Thanks to Digital Press for the information.

Enter the Dragon

It's not really the dragon of Revelation but apparently somebody let loose a Komodo dragon (or a large monitor lizard) in Beirut and the local authorities have proven unable to capture it. Note the side story in the margin, from last June, detailing a Komodo dragon bite suffered by Phil Bronstein, husband of Sharon Stone.


Nathan at the Southern Conservatives blog makes the same point I've wanted to post about the Mel Gibson film "Passion" and its controversy. The crucifixion of Jesus was a foregone conclusion long before it happened, by design greater than men. Jews don't have to accept Jesus as Messiah or the Lamb of God but they know that's what Christians believe, just like we're all expected to accept Muslims, Hindus and members of other faiths on their own terms. I find it hard to believe that any depiction of the Crucifixion can be more divisive than the countless other examples in the last 100 years of cinema. I also find it hard to believe that very many Jews will be offended by it. Any nominal Christians incited by it would be ones with an unhealthy and incomplete understanding of their own faith, anyway.

Personally, I wanted to make a Jesus film in authentic Aramaic and Latin, but now Mel Gibson has gone and done it for me, saving me years of struggle and millions of dollars. I greatly appreciate this commitment to realism and it convinces me that Gibson really does care more about making a work of art than another big chunk of money, which he can always make anytime. Somebody needs to carry this film and stop any and all attempts to censor it.
Jon Lester at large. Multimedia artist, musician, retrogamer, free thinker and pop music fan from Athens, Georgia.

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