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WWI Vets

[ 0 ] March 15, 2008 |

Heading off to that Great Trench War in the Sky:

The last living man known to have served in the French army during the “war to end all wars” — he was an Italian teenager who joined the Foreign Legion at the outset, and became a French citizen in the 1930’s — died this week at the age of 110. And the man believed to be Germany’s last surviving veteran — no official records are kept there — died in January at 107 (five years after his wife of 75 years, who lived to be 102).

That leaves just about 20 remaining veterans of the war scattered around the world, one-third of whom saw no fighting in it — down from about 27 at the beginning of the year. Not surprisingly, given their triple-digit ages, even fewer are still able to show the flag in public.

Here’s the Wikipedia list of surviving veterans from the Great War. And here’s some interesting material on Frank Buckles, the war’s last surviving American veteran. I watched some of the video and listened to a few audio interview clips, and I have to say the guy looks and sounds pretty good for being 107.

Apparently one of the surviving members of the Vietnam-era Texas Air National Guard met with Buckles the other day. No word on whether the president expressed any envy for Buckles’ service in such a romantic conflict.

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In The Bag

[ 0 ] March 15, 2008 |

John McCain riding in a first-class car on the Alcela is, to an AP reporter either unfamiliar with train travel in the northeast corridor or lying about it, an example of him being “a man of the people.” The reporter was at McCain’s recent BBQ, what a coinky-dink.

This is definitely a bad variable in the general for the Democrats; the capacity of much of the press to embarrass itself about John McCain is pretty much boundless.

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Poor Stephen Hayes…

[ 26 ] March 15, 2008 |

It’s sad and pathetic, in a truly hilarious kind of way, to watch as Stephen Hayes flails ineffectually at the notion that there was no direct connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. We’ve gone from forthright claims of a close operational connection between the two entities to shadowy intimations of third party relations derived from second hand sources:

This ought to be big news. Throughout the early and mid-1990s, Saddam Hussein actively supported an influential terrorist group headed by the man who is now al Qaeda’s second-in-command, according to an exhaustive study issued last week by the Pentagon. “Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda’s stated goals and objectives.” According to the Pentagon study, Egyptian Islamic Jihad was one of many jihadist groups that Iraq’s former dictator funded, trained, equipped, and armed.

Which amounts to: Saddam knew a guy, and this guy knew Osama, and thus CONNECTION!!!!1!!11!!; it’s like playing Six Degrees of Saddam Hussein, and about as pointless.

I know some people who write for the Weekly Standard, and contrary to common opinion in the lefty blogosphere they’re not all complete hacks; some of them make at least a middling effort at appearing to be intellectually honest. I have to imagine that they see Hayes as a pathetic figure; he built his reputation around THE CONNECTION!!1!!!1!!, and as that edifice has crumbled to the point where conspiracy theorists who believe that aliens killed JFK shake their heads and mutter “That Hayes guy… he’s really grasping at straws”, it has to be just a bit uncomfortable to keep receiving submissions delineating the relationship of Saddam’s sister’s brother’s cousin’s roommate to a guy who once parked cars outside of a hotel 6% of which was owned by a guy who went to elementary school with a guy who once knew a guy who had seen Osama Bin Laden on TV. This is not to say that Hayes will ever be repudiated; to do so would be slightly more embarrassing that continuing to publish his nonsense.

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Where in the World is Bean the Blogger?

[ 6 ] March 15, 2008 |

In the last 36 hours, I have:

1) woken up with food poisoning
2) spent the day vomiting
3) gone to the doctor and gotten an anti-nausea shot (and not in my arm)
4) gotten on an 8-hour plane-ride
5) slept for most of said plane-ride and shooed away the plane food (repeatedly and impatiently)
6) gotten of the 8-hour plane-ride.

Moral of the story: I’ll be traveling for the rest of the week. Will blog when possible, but probably sporadically. Enjoy any scandals that erupt while I’m gone.

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The Myth Of 1960

[ 13 ] March 14, 2008 |

I don’t mean to pile on the Mamet essay — given that it consists entirely of sophomoric cliches it will convert nobody, and as Roy says if it compels some wingers to check out Glengarry Glen Ross or American Buffalo the net effect will be positive — but since this particular foolishness gets wider circulation I figure it’s worth shooting down:

Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia.

Admittedly, some of this stuff about JFK has some merit (and, indeed, his “reverence” for Kennedy demonstrates the same shallowness as the collection of reactionary bromides under discussion). But “stole his in Chicago”? Leaving aside the fact that JFK stealing a net positive of votes in Illinois is assumed rather than proven, some simple math is in order:

1960 Election Electoral Votes
——————————

JFK: 303
Nixon: 219
Thurmond: 15

Illinois: 27

I think even a guy who couldn’t find his fuckin’ couch in the living room could figure this one out.

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"You want to know what it takes to work for the Hoover Institution? It takes brass balls to work at the Hoover Institution."

[ 0 ] March 14, 2008 |

Shorter Mamet:

I used to be a Democrat, but after reading Thomas Sowell I’m outraged by the Bay of fucking Pigs.

I don’t know what David Mamet was reading during the many years before his apparent political conversion, but he’s now convinced that Sowell is “our greatest contemporary philosopher.”

Er….

Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism” is too rich a book to be summarized in a newspaper column. Get a copy and start re-thinking the received notions about who is on “the left” and who is on “the right.” It is a book for people who want to think, rather than repeat rhetoric.

I suppose it’s only a matter of time before Mamet discovers that Michael Medved is our greatest contemporary film critic.

(Via Roy)

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Wanksta’s Paradise

[ 24 ] March 14, 2008 |

Wow. YouTube certainly does create entirely new possibilities for profound embarrassment.

Having said that, I think Matt is being too quick to cede the large tacky middlebrow vote to Clinton, although the lameness of the particular manifestations that sometimes emerge from Clinton supporters has been striking. Middlebrow is not a monolith! For example, correct me if I’m wrong, but the Oprah Winfrey Show strikes me as…not un-middlebrow. And while The Wire I’ll concede, I find it very puzzling to cite will.i.am’s musical support in behalf of the proposition that Obama is too cool to win.

Above: middlebrow schlock.

If Obama can just get a supporting video from an American Idol contestant, he’ll be back to par!

Speaking of which, since I was stuck at a hotel in exburban Virginia earlier in the week because I was in D.C. to give a lecture and waited too long too book a hotel at this time of year, I actually for the first time saw some American Idol as part of a captive audience at the hotel restaurant. Apparently, involves a bunch of fourth-rate singers murdering the Lennon/McCartney songbook, and doing an unspeakably atrocious arena-rock “Eleanor Rigby” gets you talked about as if Sam Cooke came back to earth and inhabited your body. (Note: I do not speak for the Obama campaign.)

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Somewhere, Heath Ledger Is Smiling

[ 28 ] March 14, 2008 |

John Gibson can’t quite meet the standards of Fox News.

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"Oops"

[ 0 ] March 13, 2008 |

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If We Don’t Contain the Communists, They’ll Soon be in Texas

[ 25 ] March 13, 2008 |

On Monday the Wall Street Journal recycled an editorial that conservatives have been using more or less since the late 1940s. The theme runs something like this:

Democrats are threatening to abet the cause of (Communism/Islamism) by failing to support our (puppet/strongman/”friend”) through (arms sales/financial support/free trade deals) and as such are revealing themselves to be traitors. A true patriot understands that our (puppet/strongman/”friend”) needs (arms/money/trade) in order to resist the inexorable advance of (Communism/Islamism).

Try it yourself; recommended insertions include “Augusto Pinochet,” “Ngo Dinh Diem,” and “Pervez Musharraf“.

In this Monday’s case, we find that the traitorous Nancy Pelosi is abetting the onslaught of communism by failing to press a Colombian free trade agreement forward with sufficient enthusiasm:

What is it about Democrats and Hugo Chávez? Even as the Venezuelan strongman was threatening war last week against Colombia, Congress was threatening to hand him a huge strategic victory by spurning Colombia’s free trade overtures to the U.S…..Colombian President Álvaro Uribe is embracing greater economic and political freedom. He has bravely assisted the U.S fight against narco-traffickers, and he now wants to link his country more closely to America with a free-trade accord. As a strategic matter, to reject Colombia’s offer now would tell everyone in Latin America that it is far more dangerous to trust America than it is to trash it….

Which brings us back to Mr. Chávez and his many Democratic friends. Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd’s early support helped the strongman consolidate his power. Former President Jimmy Carter blessed Mr. Chávez’s August 2004 recall victory, despite evidence of fraud. And then there are the many House Democrats, current and former, who have accepted discount oil from Venezuela and then distributed it in the U.S. to boost their own political fortunes. Joseph P. Kennedy II and Massachusetts Congressman Bill Delahunt have been especially cozy with Venezuela’s oil company. If Democrats spurn free trade with Colombia, these Democratic ties with Mr. Chávez will deserve more political scrutiny.

One might, at this point, observe that Hugo Chavez’ political survival is tied intimately to the price of oil, and as such by any reasonable accounting has been done immense service by the war in Iraq and by continued bluster against Iran. Indeed, I’m inclined to think that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have done far more to solidify Chavez’ position than any Democrat… with the possible exception of Joe Lieberman.

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The Push Up

[ 0 ] March 13, 2008 |

Interesting…

The push-up is the ultimate barometer of fitness. It tests the whole body, engaging muscle groups in the arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. It requires the body to be taut like a plank with toes and palms on the floor. The act of lifting and lowering one’s entire weight is taxing even for the very fit…

But many people simply can’t do push-ups. Health and fitness experts, including the American College of Sports Medicine, have urged more focus on upper-body fitness. The aerobics movement has emphasized cardiovascular fitness but has also shifted attention from strength training exercises…

In a 2001 study, researchers at East Carolina University administered push-up tests to about 70 students ages 10 to 13. Almost half the boys and three-quarters of the girls didn’t pass.

I, for one, simply can’t do pushups. I’ve never in my life been able to do more than a couple dozen, and that leaves me in a state of crippling pain. And this is in spite of engaging in fairly regular (3-4 times a week) upper body weightlifting. As it appears that my experience is not unique, I have to wonder how useful it is to use the push up as a proxy for physical fitness, or to focus on it at the expense of other exercises…

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Do Not Go Gently

[ 0 ] March 13, 2008 |

Apparently Geraldine Ferraro is taking a page from Dylan Thomas. Yes, it’s true that she submitted her resignation last night from Senator Clinton’s “very large” finance committee (those are Sen. Clinton’s words in quotes). According to NY Mag, Ferraro’s resignation included this tidbit:

“If anybody is going to apologize,” she said defiantly, “They should apologize to me for calling me a racist.”

Right. And apparently she plans to continue hitting the campaign trail, so she can “speak for herself.” If I were a member of the Clinton staff, I would fund a long vacation somewhere very remote for Ms. Ferraro…and stat.

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