Monday, April 30, 2007

Whiners of Mass Disfunction

It's been a good year for first time authors, especially if you're a self
proclaimed, former administration insider, screaming; "If only they
would have listened to me!"
Latest in the seemingly never ending stream of such tomes, is "At the Center
of the Storm", by ex CIA director George Tenet. Tenet, the man who first
used the phrase "slam dunk," to describe the case against Saddam Hussein, and later awarded
the medal of freedom, is now crying foul. In a 60 minutes interview, Mr. Tenet
claimed the administration hung him out to dry, and with a true touch of Clintonian
triangulation, further claimed they misrepresented what he meant by "slam dunk".
If memory serves correct, Tenet was full of chest puffing, self aggrandizing, back
patting, when he sat behind Colin Powell at the United Nations, as Powell detailed
the very case for war the CIA, under the authority of Tenet himself, had prepared.
Let's look at two of Tenet's primary claims, and what actually happened, to see if they
pass the logic test.

1-Tenet claims that on September 12th, 2001, he met Richard Perle at the White
House where Perle told him that Iraq would be punished for it's role in 9/11.

Fact - Richard Perle was in France at the time.

2-Tenet claims that the connection between Saddam and al Qaeda is pure

Fact - On October 2002, in a letter to Bob Graham, Tenet wrote;

A- "We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and
al-Qa’ida going back a decade”

B- “We have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qa’ida members,
including some that have been in Baghdad"

C - “We have credible reporting that al-Qa’ida leaders sought contacts in
Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities”

It would seem that on the surface, the only mistake made was keeping Tenet on at the
helm of the CIA for so long. As for Tenet, his integrity sells to the tune of a 4 million
dollar book advance.



Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Manners and Glue

I live by a certain antiquated axiom, as I believe that the very best of
what we are comes from the remaining vestiges of the honor culture that
James Bowman, wrote so eloquently about in his marvelous book,

That axiom, or "mantra" if you are inclined to be slightly more liberal
minded then I am, is this; "Manners are the glue that hold society together".

I am used to being carpet bombed by angry leftists, who write into my blog,
hidden behind the safety of their computers, expressing their displeasure at
my pro-American, pro-administration, 2nd amendment flag waving. That
comes with being a blogger, or more precisely, a conservative blogger with
libertarian leanings. (confused yet? Me too. My conservative-libertoid struggles
cause sleepless nights. Well, not really, but anyway).

Recently, Vice President Chenney was attacked by Senate Majority leader
Harry Reid, calling him an "attack dog". Afterwards, in a classic demonstration of
Democratic hypocrisy, he pompously asserted that he would "not engage in
name calling". It reminded me a little of a guy who goes to the "all you can eat
shrimp night", stays for three hours, eats more than his share, embarrasses
his wife - then, at the end of the night, unbuckles his belt and says; "I couldn't
possibly eat another bite". As this blog is being written, the Democratic controlled
senate, in a spineless bit of political posturing, passed the Iraq war spending bill,
but not before they loaded it with an arbitrary, and unrealistic time line for troop
withdrawal. President Bush is expected to veto the bill, as he should.

The hill is getting nasty, and I'm not absolving the Republicans completely, but
they, by far, show far more decorum then there counterparts.

Society in general seems to have lost it's manners as well. I hear a lot more "give
me that", in the course of day, than, "Would you please pass that to me".
We also seem to have forgotten words like "thank you", "excuse me", "may I",
and most of all, "please".

Now, you may be the Earl of Etiquette, or the Duchess of Dignity, but don't
pat yourself on the back too quickly, sport. The true measure of a person's manners
isn't qualified by how you treat friends, nice neighbors, and the pretty Tim Horton's
girl with the stunning smile that could stop traffic.

The true test of one's manners comes when you're confronted with the other
Tim Horton's girl, who would impale you with the bagel knife, and scorch your crotch
with your double-double, if your car wasn't so far from the drive through window.
It's when you grit your teeth, and say thank you with a smile, despite the fact the she
dropped most of your change on the pavement and looked as if she would murder your
grandmother, just for asking for an extra napkin.

That's why are parents used to tell us to; "mind your manners" - something I rarely
hear as a parental admonishment anymore.

My father once said that integrity is what you do when no one is looking, and a
similar logic holds true when it comes to manners. I'll defer to the words of the learned
Mr Bowman'

"Honor and manners — treating people according to their legitimate expectations of
respect and consideration — have always gone together, and it’s not coincidental that
the decline of the one has coincided with the decline of the other. The problem isn’t just
that people are so often ill-mannered but that they are ill-mannered on principle — namely
the principle of personal and emotional authenticity. They have learned to think that it is
hypocrisy to conceal their emotions, even when these are offensive and ugly to those who
are forced to witness them."



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lost in Virginia

On Monday, Cho Seung-Hui, a 23 year old senior
majoring in English, armed with a 9 mm and
a .22-caliber handgun, murdered 32 students
on the Virgina Tech Campus, before turning the
gun on himself. The media has already begun a
veritable feeding frenzy, barely able to restrain
their explosive post-Anna Nicole Smith glee.
Armed with microphones and very important
hair, on the spot correspondents were
in full tilt boogie mode into the wee hours of the
morning, speculating on the unknowns, and
trotting out a cornucopia of self-proclaimed
"campus security experts", who
assured us that, had they been at the helm of the doomed ship Virginia Tech, things
would have been very different. Protocols would have followed, the campus would have
shut down, and even text messages would have been sent to the students en mass, warning
them that an unknown gunman was on the verge of a full scale rampage.

Baloney. No security protocol, even one involving the combined police forces of the
entire state of Virginia could have succeeded in preventing this horrific incident, and
to have the arrogance to presume otherwise, is at best, naive, and worst, disingenuous
self aggrandizing.

Jack Dunphy, the pseudonym of the hard nose LAPD columnist opined as much on the
pages of NRO, where he wrote;

"There are evil people in the world, and no amount of laws will make them any
less so.There may be a level of security that would deter a suicidal maniac from
carrying out the kind of horrors seen on the Virginia Tech campus Monday morning,
but I doubt anyone would want to attend the school that implemented it. "



Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Tyranny of the Cliched

Jonah Goldberg once quipped that cliches open doors to discussion, they
don't close them. I bring this up because it seems that I am barraged on
an almost daily basis by pseudo intellectuals, who whip out their arsenal
of barnacle encrusted, rallying cries from the '60's. You've heard them.
"Better a hundred guilty men go free", "absolute power corrupts
absolutely" - axioms that on their shiny surface layers
seem profound, but crumble apart like bad nacho chips under the weight of their own
implausibility. Just the other day, I was having a leisurely, albeit bizarre discussion,
about the case of a 19th century Englishwoman who, convinced that the plague
had been caused by bathing water, refused to wash herself, choosing instead to lubricate
herself in lard. She lived to be a 101, but stank like a Pakistani pay toilet.

Now, you would think such a bizarre historical footnote would cause a veritable
maelstrom of one liners and one up-manship - and that was the case until
an acquaintance of mine, a well meaning, affable, hemp soaked Rastafarian, drew
in a puff of his cigar and without the slightest trace of irony, shook his head and
said; "Now humanity is the plague".


My girlfriend, sensing the verbal fire storm that was on the verge of erupting from
my lips, but didn't materialize due to my James Bowman-esque adherence to the
code of proper manners, and social etiquette, knew me well enough to recognize
that the comment had pressed all my neo-conservative hot buttons.

Cliches are like a childhood friend who shows up on your front door needing a place
to stay. At first you're happy to accommodate, but after about 5 days of mooching from
the fridge and sleeping on the couch, you want to tie him by his jockey shorts to the back
of your SUV, and give him a five mile wedgie on the roughest patch of highway you
can find.

Cliches are like that. They roll nicely off the tongue, causing all around to nod their
heads in approval at the seeming profundity of the axiom, but rarely go unchallenged.
They sit like that left over brioche in the fridge. It was tasty last week, but it's
fast becoming penicillin now.

The next time someone says something sand-poundingly stupid like, "absolute power
corrupts absolutely", or, "US foreign policy was the real cause of 9/11", ask them
why, and challenge them to cite examples. Trust me. They'll sputter like an old
Chevy trying to get started on a cold December night.

My point, and I do have one, is this.

When people say they are "challenging the system", they're really not. Screaming
mindless obscenities about the Bush administration, or whining about the validity
of the war, is about as challenging as asking to have your fries super-sized. It's
easier to be right all alone, then to be wrong in a group. It's just takes the
courage to stand up to the tyranny of the cliched.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Writer's Block Bloggin'

Blogging has its advantages for those who think their
friends are endlessly fascinated by the most intimate
details of their cat's personal life, or trips up to their
cottage on the weekend, where they spend entire Saturday
afternoons crocheting portraits of the Yorkshire terrier.

For those of us who don't lick ashtrays for a living and
aspire to a slightly higher level of blogging, when writer's
block hits, it gets noticed like a stripper at Mormon wedding
reception. (no disrespect to my man, Mitt Romney, or the
great state of Utah).

If you blog enough, eventually, people start checking your
site on a regular basis, and if your cheeseburgers are
starting to look like they've been under the heat
lamp too long, they'll go someplace else faster than you
can say "oh my god that was the most inane analogy I've
ever read".

For those of you who don't write, let me try and make the only obvious comparison
that my short circuited brain can make. Let's say a fellow hits a certain age where
he has the desire but no longer the means. Our fine gentleman wants to love his
wife in that special way that men love their wives, but can't, because his helium balloon
seems to be in a constant state of deflation. Now, he has the desire, the romantic intentions,
and even bought the roses and champagne, but he just can't get lift off. It's a little like
what Shakespeare said about love and alcohol; "it provokes the desire, but takes away
the means".

That's what writer's block is like. I feel a little like Jack Nicholson in the final scene
in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, when chief strangles him with the pillow. My literary
arms and legs are flailing wildly, but, there's nothing there. My brain is fried.

Of course, back in my drinking days, I could always count on a cold 12 pack to get
the pistons firing and the rust out of the cogs. This was a brilliant solution until I
caught Hemingway syndrome, and turned into a full fledged alcoholic.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm an alcoholic - yes, the kind that goes to
meetings. I haven't drank in 33 months, almost 3 years. It's no small coincidence
that many of the great ones suffered the same affliction. Sadly, they paid a hefty price
for the literary fluency that alcohol provides. Alcoholism is like sitting on the front
porch on a perfect spring evening. There's a light breeze, you have the perfect book in
your lap, and you wish you could freeze frame the moment and stay there forever because
you've never felt more peaceful and free. Being sober is learning to live without ever going
on the patio again, and avoid staring at it from the kitchen window for too long.

Hope this post satiates you rabid jackals for a few days, after all. We do have to get
to the bottom of that treacherous Hillary Clinton and her first quarter fund raising numbers.
37 Million?