A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

A very cool thing. . .

. . .about the blogosphere is that you come across a gem now and then. And, when you get a mention in something like that, it makes it that much cooler.

So, in keeping with my seemingly endless capacity for self-promotion, I thought I'd share a link to a great piece of blogging that happens to bear my monicker.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas
As told by ALa71 of Blonde Sagacity

Merry Christmas, ALa!

Friday, December 24, 2004

An excellent collection. . .

. . .of links to freeware security and anti-virus software is up at Engraved On His Hands's blog. Bookmark it and keep it forever.

Context is everything. . .

. . .and anyone who calls for SecDef. Rumsfeld to step down at this point is sorely lacking in it, as Victor Davis Hanson demonstrates (rather charitably, in my opinion) in his latest piece for NRO. Hanson has a peerless mind for military history, and anything I could add would be akin to putting ice cream sprinkles on a porterhouse steak, as far as that goes. So, I'll let him say it best:

"First, according to reports, the unit in question had 784 of its 804 vehicles up-armored. Humvees are transportation and support assets that traditionally have never been so protected. That the fluid lines in Iraq are different not just from those in World War II or Korea, but even Vietnam, Gulf War I, Mogadishu, and Afghanistan became clear only over months. Yet it also in fact explains why we are seeing 80 to 90 percent of these neo-Jeeps already retrofitted. In an army replete with Bradleys and Abramses, no one could have known before Iraq that Hummers would need to become armored vehicles as well. Nevertheless all of them will be in a fleet of many thousands in less than 18 months. Would that World War II Sherman tanks after three years in the field had enough armor to stop a single Panzerfaust: At war's end German teenagers with cheap proto-RPGs were still incinerating Americans in their 'Ronson Lighters.'"

I'm admittedly ill-prepared to discuss military armor with regard to its limits and capabilities, so I won't bother to engage anyone on that matter. But, I've been an observer of politics for the better part of my adult life, and I know a cheap appeal when I see one. And, what is being done to the Secretary of Defense in the name of political opportunism and presidential ambition should cause any person with a modicum of integrity to stare at the tops of his shoes in his presence. But, this is Washington, D.C. we're talking about. There is no limit to the depths of shamelessness to which its denizens will plummet in pursuit of power, pork, prestige, and Pulitzers.

Yes, the man was inartful in his choice of axioms in bringing context to the situation our troops face in Iraq. But, Donald Rumsfeld was not chosen by the President for his ability to cast a warming glow over the blood, mud and shattered bones of warfare. He is there to transform the army that we have into the army we wish we had, and will have in the future. If that frosts Trent Lott's butt, well Trent Lott can either get over it, or die of it. But, he's not going to get Mississippi's shipbuilding industry reinvigorated by either Rumsfeld, or anyone that Lott would like to see take his place.

If John McCain has no confidence in Rumsfeld, all the better. McCain's confidence has proven wildly misplaced over the past six years, or so, anyway. And, if you're looking to reform the armed services, would you go to the man who reformed our campaign finance system into the marvel of idiocy that it is today?

The Daou Report. . .

. . .has been kind enough to give me another link. Many thanks, and a Merry Christmas to Peter Daou, and everyone else.

Twelve Gmail accounts. . .

. . .await the first dozen people to leave their email addresses on this thread. Consider it a Christmas present from your ever-faithful CabanaBoy.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Associated Press. . .

. . .puts the "A" in agit, and the "P" in prop in a wire report about SecDef. Rumsfeld's surprise visit to wounded troops in Iraq. I say this as someone who is loathe to attribute every terminological inexactitude in the media to a conspiracy to bring down the Republican Party. Reporters can be human-like at times, and thus, given to honest mistakes.

But, when there has been ample demonstration of the facts to all who are willing to look and see them, and misstatements persist despite readily available and easily discernible facts, somebody ought to point it out. In this case, it's a simple matter of the language chosen to describe the now-famous question and answer session between SecDef. Rumsfeld and soldiers serving in Iraq in which the up-armoring of Humvees was brought up.

Here's the situation as described by AP Military Writer, Robert Burns:

" Rumsfeld has made several visits to troops in the region, most recently two weeks ago to a forward base in Kuwait. There, a handful of soldiers openly challenged him about inadequate equipment and long deployments. Rumsfeld cut off their complaints by saying, 'You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have.'"

Here's the exchange as it actually happened, and reported by Michael P. Tremoglie, of MensNewsDaily.com:

"Specialist Wilson asked, 'Yes, Mr. Secretary. My question is more logistical. We’ve had troops in Iraq for coming up on three years and we’ve always staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromise ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don’t we have those resources readily available to us?' [Applause]

Rumsfeld replied, 'I talked to the General coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they’re not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I’m told that they are being – the Army is – I think it’s something like 400 a month are being done. And it’s essentially a matter of physics. It isn’t a matter of money. It isn’t a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It’s a matter of production and capability of doing it.

As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time. Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe – it’s a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously, but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment.

I can assure you that General Schoomaker and the leadership in the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable for it to have, but that they’re working at it at a good clip. It’s interesting, I’ve talked a great deal about this with a team of people who’ve been working on it hard at the Pentagon. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored humvee and it can be blown up. And you can go down and, the vehicle, the goal we have is to have as many of those vehicles as is humanly possible with the appropriate level of armor available for the troops. And that is what the Army has been working on.

And General Whitcomb, is there anything you’d want to add to that?'"

One might think it a distinction without a difference that the reporter in the AP story would refer to the SecDef's response as having said "cut off their complaints by saying, 'You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have,'" but given the fact that much of the case being made against Rumsfeld in the media has to do with the absurd and caustic lie that he simply does not care about the welfare of the troops, viewing them as mere pawns to be manipulated in pursuit of oil and defense spending, you can't help thinking there's a good bit of "gotcha" involved here.

The implication here is that Rumsfeld was angered at having gotten the question, and dismissed the soldier's question as insolence. Reading the quote in full context makes it clear that this is not what happened. It's fair, if ill-conceived, to try and make the case that the SecDef. could have prepared for the post-war occupation better than he did, and that someone else might be better suited to do it. But, to try and make the case that Rumsfeld is so arrogant and dismissive as to brush aside the complaints of the men and women risking their lives under his command is the height of demagoguery.

The soldiers who were not actually at this question and answer session have to rely on media reports like this for the truth, and they're not getting it. What they're getting is a healthy dose of subversion and subterfuge from a press corps so hostile toward Rumsfeld, and the administration in general that the morale of the troops is disregarded in favor of the goal to have him removed from office.

A few days ago. . .

. . .on December 18, to be exact, I posed the following question regarding Tariq Aziz's cooperation with American officials: "You have to wonder if Marc Rich and Scott Ritter are experiencing some dyspepsia right about now."

Well, it appears at least one of them is, as Scott Ritter's name is suddenly popping up as a beneficiary of the Oil-for-Food scandal that is being so woefully underreported by the mainstream media.

"Ritter's latest "contribution" to the debate over Iraq is an article for the Al Jazeera website warning that "the United States cannot win" in Iraq. Ritter, now identified as "an independent consultant," has a checkered past that includes a second marriage to a young woman from the Republic of Georgia, who had served Ritter as a Russian-supplied "escort" and translator; being caught in an Internet sex sting by law enforcement; and the acceptance of $400,000 from an Iraqi-born American businessman, Shakir Alkafajii, to produce an anti-American film about Iraq. Alkafajii has since been exposed for having taken oil vouchers from Saddam as part of the corrupt U.N.-run oil-for-food program."

I don't know if Aziz had anything to do with the ratting out of Ritter, but I'm fairly sure we haven't heard the last of this foreign entanglement.

I feel at my nerdiest. . .

. . .when stories like the intra-ideological battle between Kristol and Podhoretz stirs me to take sides and await the next volley -- especially when both sides insist that there's nothing to the story. Part of me says, "Oh, who are you guys kidding? Go ahead and belt him good, John." Another part of me says, "Geez. If I cared about this kind of stuff, I'd subscribe to People."

But, there is some substance to the matter of the dispute which should be considered on its own merits, regardless of the two people involved and their respective family legacies and conservative credentials. I've agreed and disagreed with both men in the past, but won't bother to try and put them on a scale. They're both honorable, principled men, and for the most part, closely aligned. And, it strikes this blogger that the least constructive angle to take with regard to the supposed dispute is to impute their respective takes on Donald Rumsfeld's performance to disloyalty or ambition -- especially when wrongheadedness would serve as an ample explanation.

Admittedly, I haven't followed John Podhoretz as closely as I have Bill Kristol. But, that's more a result of the fact that Podhoretz isn't as prevalent a media figure as Kristol, rather than a matter of choice. It's simply that Kristol is more available.

Having watched and listened to Kristol over the years, one memory has stuck with me more than any other. It's a sketchy memory where specifics are concerned -- I don't recall exactly where he said it, nor exactly when -- but the basics have remained with me for several years, now.

If memory serves, Kristol was on one of the left-right talk shows (Crossfire, perhaps) with the erstwhile sane and conservative Ariana Huffington, sometime around the elections of 1996, when the GOP seemed to be adrift. The discussion was essentially a "where do we go from here" affair, as the two discussed the best course for the GOP if it were to remain a viable political party. And, unless I'm mistaken, it was just about the time that Huffington began her leftward migration.

The two found much agreement on one idea, and that was the concept of "Good Government Conservatism". They both seemed to feel that the conservative tendency to lay the blame for all of humanity's ills on government was responsible for the disfavor in which the public held the GOP at that time. And both submitted that conservatives would be better served if they embraced the good that government can do for people, rather than constantly harp on its shortcomings. And, to my mind, that's not an entirely unreasonable position.

Not coincidentally, it was about that time that both Kristol and Huffington became boosters for the coming candidacy of John McCain. Both lauded his purported independence, idealism, and "straight talk" as qualities for which Americans were starved.

All of this is not to suggest (as some do) that Kristol is no longer eligible for the "conservative" label. In fact, he's been quite vocal in decrying the the Bush administration's seemingly devil-may-care attitude toward spending. And he deserves credit for that, if consistency is to be considered a virtue.

But, one would hope for a little more consistency from Kristol when it comes to supporting straight talk and reform, which Donald Rumsfeld has undeniably made a hallmark of his tenure. He inherited a military that was poorly equipped to deal with the threat it currently faces, and has set about making the necessary changes, to the chagrin of many lobbyists and entrenched interests in the Pentagon, as well as several senior senators -- including the straight-talking reformer himself, John McCain. And, when questioned about the progress of the war and the level of preparedness in waging it, stated his answer in matter-of-fact terms. For that, he's had his words selectively quoted and placed in a context so completely foreign to the spirit in which they were made as to invite ridicule from anyone with any sense of honesty.

One has to wonder whether or not Kristol's dissatisfaction with Rumsfeld's performance has a little to do with his loyalty to McCain, given the senator's apparent conviction that he's the better man for the job, and Kristol's obvious desire to see him become President. I'm in no position to say. But, what I am in a position to say is that Kristol's assertion that the troops "deserve a better defense secretary" was a cheap appeal to the public's reverence for our military personnel, and it struck me as gratuitous, and completely devoid of context.

What Rumsfeld has accomplished as Secretary of Defense, in the face of a powerful, long-established opposition with its own motives, while keeping an eye toward the conflicts we will inevitably face in the future -- and actively waging the battles we face in the present -- is nothing short of herculean. To attempt to drive a rhetorical wedge between him and the people he commands in the execution of that task is unseemly, at best.

So, in this instance, John Podhoretz is the voice of reason and perspective. Whether or not there's an actual feud between the two men is an issue for the gossip pages.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

While loitering on The Corner. . .

. . .I just found out about this piece John J. Miller, all about Iron Maiden's album, Powerslave. Read it to find out just how great a band they are. Miller does a great job of capturing it. Much better than I did.

Hat tip, K-Lo at The Corner.

Look out liars. . .

. . .the truth has its pants on and is on its way home from Iraq.

"Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes and Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, senior members of the Army's combat systems development and acquisition team at the Pentagon, said protective armor plates were added to the last 20 vehicles of the Tennessee-based 278th Regimental Combat Team's 830 vehicles shortly after the confrontation with Rumsfeld.

The generals said it was part of routine, pre-deployment preparations in Kuwait before the unit proceeded into Iraq.

'When the question was asked, 20 vehicles remained to be up-armored at that point,' Speakes told a Pentagon briefing. 'We completed those 20 vehicles in the next day....In other words, we completed all the armoring within 24 hours of the time the question was asked.'"


I'm considering moving the Pajama Pack to a paid host, rather than continue hosting it on Blogger. However, I'm not sure what this entails as far as moving files, using the existing template, and all that other techie-type stuff.

I found through BensBargains.net what I think may be a pretty good bargain at Globat.com, but I'm just not sure whether it's a good idea for a relative novice like myself to tackle such a thing on his own.

Any info or advice would be much appreciated.

What is an Ldotter?

That question seems to pop up in Google search referrals fairly regularly when I check on my statistics. So, it seems to me that there's no better time, nor place, to answer it than here and now.

Most, if not all, of my visitors already know, but for the uninitiated, an "Ldotter" is a person who posts messages at the greatest news/politics bulletin board on the web -- Lucianne.com.

I've been posting messages there since, I guess, a couple of weeks after it launched and have used various posting names over the years, mostly due to forgetting my password and changing email addresses whenever I've replaced a computer, or hard drive. My first username was The Somnambulist, which I chose in a fit of irony as a result of a book titled Sleepwalking Through History. After that, I posted for a while under the name TopOnePercent, as a reference to Al Gore's mantra during the run-up to the 2000 elections. Finally, I settled on MsFalconersCabanaBoy, as an homage to the enchanting former Molly Falconer -- who was, at one time, a financial reporter on Fox News Channel.

As I said before, Ldot is the best bulletin/message board on the web. You have to sign up in order to post articles and comment, and unfortunately, there's currently a long waiting list for posting privileges. I'm not sure if Lucianne is currently accepting new registrations, but if you should ever get the chance to sign up, I highly recommend that you do so.

But, even if you can't post or comment, simply lurking is nearly as much fun. Some of the smartest, best informed, funniest, and wittiest people on the planet comment there, and because of that, it's been a daily feature in my life for several years, now.

So, now you all know what an Ldotter is. . .and, no doubt, you're jealous as hell.

I don't blame you. It is pretty cool.

A very important thread. . .

. . .is currently up at Lucianne.com, and it behooves anyone with a computer and an internet connection (that would be you) to check it out.

I'm one of those people who are fortunate enough to be called upon when friends start having problems with their internet boxes. These days, the problem is almost invariably spyware. There are a lot of links on this thread posted by some very smart people. Follow their lead and your computer will give you many more productive (yeah, right), trouble-free hours.

And, if there is one bit of advice I'd like to give to everyone out there, it is that those "FREE!" neato smileys and cute little cursors are never "FREE!". There is a catch. Otherwise, why would anyone go to the trouble of designing all those neat little bells and whistles? There has to be something in it for them.

Well, that something is information about your web surfing habits. Keep that in mind as you point that cute little Snoopy cursor toward the link to your online banking site.

The best Defense. . .

. . .Secretary in the history of the United States is finally getting some credit from people who are capable of seeing through the motivations of those attacking him most vociferously. Yesterday, Peter Roff explained to anyone willing to listen just why it is that Rumsfeld will be staying in office, and why he should. Simply put, it's because he's made of the stuff that the job calls for -- and that stuff frosts many a Beltway butt.

" Rumsfeld has thick skin and a reservoir of considerable political and intellectual support among the president's base. He also, it should be remembered, has enough money to be doing just about anything he wanted to do in private life. Instead, at an age when many of his contemporaries are sitting on the lanai, enjoying the balmy afternoon breezes on Florida's Atlantic Coast, Rumsfeld has agreed to remain in what may be the third- or fourth-toughest job in the U.S. government.

It will take a lot more than some Capitol Hill crankiness to dislodge him from his post."

And, today, Tony Blankley steps in and delivers a frozen cod to the schnozz of the apoplectic Washington press corps and its newfound allies in the Senate Republican caucus. Calling them out as the nattering nabobs that they are, Blankley points out the fact that the reason Rumsfeld will eventually prove his critics wrong is the fact that he operates with a cold, steely logic that they simply cannot grasp and do not have.

Blankley understands that Rumsfeld is doing an absolutely amazing job with the military he's been given, and is setting about creating the military that will be necessary to combat the forces we will have to face if we are serious about erradicating terrorism as an effective means of assymetrical warfare.

" Transforming our military into a logical structure that can defeat the enemies we will actually face in the 21st century has infuriated the legions of politicians, generals, defense contractors, lobbyists and journalists who have encrusted themselves around the magnificent weapons and methods of bygone days.

Rumsfeld didn't even schmooze the senators. He let his logic do the talking. After many similar incidents, he is now accused of having bad relations and few friends on Capital Hill. If the Pentagon had any more friends there, our fleets would still be powered by canvas and wind — in deference to the illogic of special interests and old sentiments."

At this point, I suppose it would be productive to extend the proverbial olive branch to all those people who are so anxious to see Rumsfeld keelhauled. So, I'll simply say, take heart. As badly as you'd like to see the Defense Secretary forced out of office, you don't want it nearly as badly as Kim Jong Il and Ayatollah Khamenei.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Another shot of fairness. . .

. . .for SecDef. Rumsfeld comes from Thomas Lifson, over at The American Thinker. As the media and their pork junkie whores in the Senate begin to sense that they're making some progress in undermining his leadership, their calls for his head will get louder, and more emphatic until they finally either force him out, or cross the line of decency and draw a rebuke from the public.

Well, the President has made it clear that the SecDef. is staying for the foreseeable future. So, the prospects of any reason coming from the press corps are pretty dim. Like children being told they can't have what they want, they'll continue to ever more loudly stamp their feet and keen until the grown-ups either give in, or make it clear that the matter is non-negotiable.

Granted, I have a rather skeptical view of the national press with regard to its ability to be objective in any way toward any conservative Republican officeholder. I'm admittedly more apt to suspect the worst when it comes to divining its motives. So, I have to put things in perspective. I have to take into consideration that they might honestly believe that Rumsfeld's tenure has been disastrous, and that he is posing a threat to the security of our forces, as well as our nation as a whole.

So, to bring things into perspective, let's take a look at the past. Is there a recent example of a top-level administration figure whose performance was marked with some imperfections that became so controversial that members of the press and their Senate cohorts felt that they could no longer perform their duties with the confidence of the public?

Well, the first name that jumps out at me is Janet Reno.

During her tenure as Attorney General, she managed the single greatest law enforcement debacle in the history of the United States, when she directed a raid on a religious sect that ended up killing over 80 civilians and four federal agents. She failed to bring indictments against anyone when literally thousands of confidential FBI files turned up in the White House -- exactly where they were not supposed to be. She failed to bring indictments against any key administration figures in the illegal campaign finance scandal involving China.

In fact, she failed time and time again to exercise her duties to the satisfaction of anyone, except partisan Democrats seeking to shield the Clinton administration from any sort of accountability. And, to top it all off, she was responsible for this:

Now, one would think that the responsibility for the deaths of the Branch Davidians at Waco would have been reasonable cause to call for her termination, or resignation. I mean, that's a lot of unnecessarily dead Americans to rack up in the course of serving a warrant for a firearms violation that involved one man a couple of federal agents.

But, President Clinton, and nearly the entire Democratic congressional caucus stood by her and staunchly defended what can most charitably be called a collossal failure. And the Washington press corps ran interference every step of the way.

Make what you will of it. But, to me, it reeks of hypocrisy.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Just added. . .

. . .a new link to the non-Ldotter blogroll. It's not technically a blog, but I liked it so much, I just had to link to it. Day By Day, a daily editorial cartoon by artist Chris Muir is sharp, witty, relevant and very much worth daily clicking.

If you haven't already discovered it, do yourself a favor and skim through the series. You'll make it a regular visit.

If there's one born every minute. . .

. . .the odds are definitely in Mark Geragos's favor. And, if anyone ever proved the existence of suckers, he did it in his performance as Bill Clinton's head diversionary tactician in the impeachment proceedings.

One has to wonder just where Geragos goes from here. He's clearly not done a bang-up job in criminal cases. If something doesn't turn around soon, he's going to be the Leon Spinks of law (who, paradoxically, happens to be the current F. Lee Bailey of boxing).

An MFCB production.

The sultry tones. . .

. . .of Diana Krall's The Look of Love fill the cabana today, as I'm in a placid, mellow mood. I'm not normally a jazz listener -- in fact I'm pretty new to the genre -- and when I do listen to it, I like the mainstream stuff and the standards. Fusion and experimental jazz leave me feeling a little like Michael Moore with a gift certificate from Bath & Body Works.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a music lover. That's how I spend my downtime. I don't watch much TV anymore (don't even have cable) and I don't miss it in the least, as long as I have music to listen to. It's been the one constant in my life since I was old enough to operate a record player.

As I've matured over the years, my tastes have grown, which may be the best thing about getting older. Wisdom is overrated, for the most part, as there are all manner of ramifications to better understanding. World weariness and a jaundiced eye often accompany wisdom, robbing its possessor of the sense of wonder at simple pleasures. But, the ability to appreciate new and different kinds of music is like a gift that not only grows, but renews itself every so often.

Up until my early 20's, I suffered from a disorder that caused all music to be heard through a testosterone filter. If it wasn't loud, hard-edged, and aggressive enough to shake the mortar from brick walls, it was sissified crap. Those who may have read my December 4 entry, In Defense of 80's Metal, know that I still have an affinity for the heavy stuff.

But, nowadays, I take my metal in smaller doses, interspersed among soul, pop, country, jazz, blues, and even the odd hip-hop/rap tune (though, it has to strike me as highly exceptional or catchy). And, in the interest of the holidays, I think it would be a good idea to make a few recommendations from my collection for those who may have music lovers on their Christmas lists, but no idea what to buy for them. For the sake of convenience, I'll try to limit my recommendations to less obscure, easy to find titles.


In my book, it's always safe to go with Ray Charles. But, since his anthology covers literally hundres of albums and collections, it's probably best to go with a CD that contains some of his standards. So, I'd recommend something like a "Best of" or "Greatest Hits", unless the person happens to be a Ray Charles fanatic -- in which case Genius & Soul: The 50th Anniversary Collection will do very nicely.


One of my all-time favorite singers is Shelby Lynne. She started out as a country singer back in the 80's, but she refused to follow the Nashville formula, and that took its toll on her career. But, given the music that Nashville puts out these days, once you listen to her recent work, you'll thank God she went her own way. She has an absolutely stunning voice, and sings in an array of styles that boggles the mind. If there's someone on your Christmas list who has eclectic tastes in pop music, I can't recommend I Am Shelby Lynne highly enough. It's a middle finger to the country music establishment, and a love letter to music itself.

And, as life stories go, she has one of the most compelling I've ever read.


Modern country music, as produced by Nashville, is generally pretty bland fare. For the most part, it's just pop/rock with an accent. And, if that's the sort of thing I wanted to hear, I'd generally go with the Eagles. When I want to hear real country -- honky tonkin', drinkin', cryin' the blues country -- I listen to Dwight Yoakam. When I tell this to friends, sometimes they look at me as if I'd said, "I have a ticket to Neverland Ranch, in case your son is interested." Dwight has one of those voices that you either love, or you hate. And, to be honest, I was in the "hate" camp for a long time.

Then, one day, I picked up a copy of This Time on a lark, just to see if there was anything to the critical praise he's received over the years. And, ever since then, I've been a huge fan. And, This Time, in my opinion, is one of the best country music albums of the past twenty years. Go ahead and get it for the country fan on your list, and tell them to listen to it at least twice before deciding whether or not to exchange it. I can almost guarantee they'll warm up to it. The songs are just that good, and if you listen to his voice more intently than you would if you heard it on the radio, you'll hear a richness that wasn't there before. It's an all-time classic, and a true lover of country music will agree.


This is a tough one, since rock music comes in so many forms, and rock music tastes vary so greatly from person to person. And rock fans tend to prefer getting newer releases as gifts -- at least that's been my experience. But, as I've said before, one of the best rock n' roll albums I've heard in a long time is Green Day's American Idiot. I'm not sure that I totally buy into the "punk" label that the band applies to itself -- especially where this album is concerned -- but, there is undeniably a good deal of punk influence that strikes the ear as you listen to this one.

However, the overall feel of American Idiot is almost anti-punk. There are nine-minute songs with tempo changes, power ballads, foot stomping rock 'n roll anthems, and even a solid, straigh-ahead pop/rock tune, or two. What really jumps out, though, is the quality of the songwriting. I've listened to it many times in the month that I've owned it. . .and it took some convincing to get me to even listen to it, as I was never a fan of the band. But, the more I listen to it, the more I have to remind myself that I'm listening to Green Day.

Be warned, however. This CD is not for people who launch boycotts against musicians who express disdain for conservatism. It's a pop/punk record, and it has all the attitudes and statements that the label implies. But, if you're tired of bland, electronic-laden pap with drum loops, and you just want to crank up the volume and listen to some good, hard driving rock music, I highly recommend it.

Just a few recommendations for stocking stuffers for friends, co-workers, or someone you'd just like to give the gift of music. You might even want to pick up a couple for yourself. If you buy them, and it turns out to be the worst thing you or your friend ever heard, there's an email link in the sidebar over there that you can click on to send me some non-threatening hate mail.

Ldotter Snow Queen. . .

. . .has just informed me that she has a blog to add to the growing Ldotter blogroll -- The Dakota Pundit. It's a nice-looking blog, and it's well written. And, if you have an interest in the life and politics of North Dakota, it seems you need look no further.

Also, SnowQueen often has great insights on education policy. So, any readers who have an interest in that sort of thing would do well to give her a click now and then.

Good luck, SnowQueen, and welcome to the blogroll!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Another fairness injection. . .

. . .for SecDef. Rumsfeld comes from Michael P. Tremoglie of MensNewsDaily.com. He provides quotes from the exchange in full context, as well as some emails from people actually serving in the field.

Whether or not Rumsfeld ever gets a fair shake from the mainstream media, it behooves any blogger with any sense of proportionality to acknowledge this side of the story. You may, or may not like Donald Rumsfeld. You may, or may not feel that the Iraq post-war has been directed badly. But, what you cannot do is fairly accuse him of arrogantly dismissing the soldier's question/complaint after reading this piece. And, as I've said before, to accuse him of gross incompetence is to engage in hyperbole at the expense of the facts.

As Mr. Tremoglie correctly points out, the majority of people doing the greatest amount of carping are Monday morning quarterbacks who have no clue as to how run a chow hall (or mess tent), much less the entirety of the greatest fighting force ever to grace the face of the planet. Those calling for Secretary Rumsfeld's head are a lot like the people you hear calling local post-game radio shows after losses -- and in many cases, less-than-perfect wins.

Invariably, they make comparisons to great teams of the past, and how they played against other great teams in their era. What is never taken into account is that, like our armed forces today, teams go through transitions -- some far more sweeping than others -- and plans are made based on the strengths and weaknesses that exist today, not the strengths and weaknesses that existed back then. Secretary Rumsfeld does not have at his disposal the number of units, nor the coalition, that existed during the first Gulf War. And to compare this campaign to the previous one shows a complete lack of understanding of the military that now exists.

"Sometimes Monday Morning Quarterbacks are correct and sometimes they are not. However, the fact is they are Monday morning. What they say is purely an opinion without consequence. They do not have to worry about the team.

It is easy to be a critic. Critics have the luxury of not having to experience the consequences of their choices. They have the luxury of not being responsible for the lives of other people. They have the luxury of not being responsible for the continuation of an enterprise.

This does not mean their criticism should not be considered. However, when such criticism is motivated by purely selfish political reasons then it is not cedible. Such criticism is unconscionable. The critics are unscrupulous."

Andrew Sullivan. . .

. . .manages to work in a "theocon" dig at NRO Cornerite Katherine Jean Lopez, accusing her of some kind of church-related paranoia because she posted a comment about Time's choice of Bush photos for their homepage. How he managed to make that leap, I don't know.

Must be some kind of paranoia exclusive to theophobes.

Though I love to read. . .

. . .Christopher Hitchens, I'm often hesitant to comment on his writing out of fear that I'll somehow miss the point in bold, very public fashion. And, it's largely for the same reason that I love to read his writing that I fear this analytical humiliation -- because you just never know what he's going to say. Unlike most modern writers from the left (and right, for that matter), you can't just hit the first and last sentences of each paragraph and have a solid understanding of what lies between. You have to give Christopher your time and full attention.

Now, before I take this on, I'll point out that I've not always been kind to my mind over the years. In the past, I engaged in various forms of recreation that are known to adversely affect the firing of the synapses, and I did it with alacrity. And, being only 35 years old, I can't say this is a thing from my distant past, as I don't yet have one. So, if I'm wildly off the mark in my reading of Hitch's mass review (requires registration) of "Hippie" by Barry Miles, "What's Going On?" by Marcia A. Eymann and Charles Wollenberg, and "Back from the Land" by Eleanor Agnew, please let me know in the plainest of terms. But, do be kind. Tackling a Hitchpiece is a big step for me -- somewhat akin to Josh Marshall attempting to give William F. Buckley a good Fisking.

My first impulse is to attempt to disabuse some of my fellow conservatives who have convinced themselves of the notion that Hitchens migrated to the right during the Clinton administration, and started driving stakes into the ground on September 11, 2001. I have no reason to believe this is true, and I imagine Hitchens would bulldog his way across the room at any crowded cocktail party to correct anyone who would make that assertion. Christopher was, is, and always will be a man of the left. Whether or not he wants to subscribe to any of the "isms" often associated with the left is a different story. The modern left has made it clear that there is no room for any school of thought on its end of the spectrum that would find common cause with the Bush administration, no matter how noble the aim would seem were it promoted by any nominally liberal entity. And Hitchens has called their bluff.

What Christopher appears to have done, at least as far as I can tell, is finally break free of the entangling alliance that has bound left-liberalism to the self-centered, me-as-God libertinism of the 60's. In doing so, he has essentially pronounced the whole idea of liberalism as having been rendered meaningless by a widely held, but seldom spoken, conviction that the goal of collectivism is really just self-actualization. He appears to say that the children of the 60's established their collectives as a means of making themselves "whole" as opposed to making everyone better -- that Woodstock had everything to do with saying "I was there" and nothing to do with setting things right.

And setting things right is what Hitchens is all about -- regardless of whether or not you happen to agree with what he believes is "right". Hitchens doesn't give a damn about the lopsidedness inherent in the fact that the most powerful nation on earth unleashed its military on a poor, wretched nation like Afghanistan in order to destroy the Taliban. He looks and sees that the Taliban is gone, that the people who fled their land under its rule are returning, that boys are flying kites and girls going to school, and says, "OK, who's next?" He is able to see that big, shiny, strong and wealthy are not inherently bad things, and that they can be used to advance the cause of humanity throughout the world, if only someone will do so.

The 60's-era (and beyond) antipathy toward anything that smacks of modernity is what appears to stick most uncomfortably in Hitch's craw. It's as though he's standing amidst history, yelling get the hell out and don't come back -- to pervert Buckley's dictum -- while antiglobalists and various other neo-Quakers amble stupidly toward drudgery. And the fact that they do this in the name of self-actualization and personal gratification seems to cause him no end of agita.

So, now, Hitch finds himself on the side of the modern conservative, which has to be unsettling. After a lifetime of leafleting and pamphleteering against the moneychangers and realpolitik powerbrokers, to wake up one day to find that they're financing your cause and unseating its oppressors must feel like the Brave New World born out of an asteroid strike. And how dismaying must it be to see your radical kin of so many years marching off to war against the formation of this world solely because of the perceived motivations of its benefactors?

All of this is not to say that the right has immaculate hands where all of this is concerned. I count myself among those who have given short shrift to what is good and right in favor of realpolitik cynicism. I can distinctly recall chiding liberals and others of a leftist stripe for their haste in getting involved in the establishment of human dignity in places where it withers under the shadow of brutal totalitarianism. It wasn't until 2001 that I gave more than a few moments' thought to the plight of those living under the heel of the Taliban. And, if I'm to be honest at all, I have to admit that until recently, the only time I ever really recognized the suffering of the Kurds was when it came time to justify action against Saddam Hussein -- and even then it was more out of a desire for retribution for his hostility toward America than basic human rights.

But, does the fact that I came late to the cause render the cause unjust? Does the fact that I required an epiphany necessarily mean that I'm unworthy of credit for finally coming around?

To the cynical left, of course it does. But, to a man like Hitchens, the motivations of the people who advance the cause of humanity are a secondary battle to be fought later -- just so long as fewer women are beaten simply because they can be, and fewer children are in prison when they could be in school, and fewer heads are lopped off in soccer stadiums. And, if that means extending some credit to President Bush for leading conservatives like myself to see that to which we were blinded for so long, so be it.

So, for the time being, I raise my glass to Hitchens and join him in sneering at the faux-left. This may be the only matter in which I'll ever agree with him, but at least I'm not so stupid as to allow his idealism to force me into an indefensible cynicism, unlike so many of his one-time fellow travelers.

Being single. . .

. . .and 35, I've had a couple of friends urge me to sign up for one of the online dating services, which I've always resisted -- and it turns out, for good reason.

After filling out seemingly interminable personality profiles for both eHarmony (at the behest of The Corner at NRO) and Conservativematch.com, I've come up with exactly ZERO matches. Even after manipulating my search criteria to include matches within 500 miles, I've gotten not a single match.

This convinces me that either I'm uniquely unsuited for personal relationships, or that online dating services are full of crap. I mean, how else do you explain the fact that, out of thousands upon thousands of registered users, not one of them comes close enough to compatibility to even warrant being listed as a potential, if not particularly likely, match?

One of these days, I'll treat readers to a manifesto on male/female relationships.

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