The wonders of our free enterprise system.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006
At the Acme Company.

The Vultures are Circling

Sometimes people make me want to puke. I mean that. Just plain sick to my stomach. Those soldiers have been all but forgotten in that land of fun and sun Iraq, but now when it looks like there might be an oppurtunity to exploit a bad situation the self righteous, the ghouls, the useless naysayers who thrive on, revel in and feed off the suffering of others are doing a little jig.

___________________________________________________________

Courtesy of Hugh Hewitt :

This Guardian article, written in August 2005, describes Haditha as it was a couple months before the incident. It is not pretty:
____________________________________


The executions are carried out at dawn on Haqlania bridge, the entrance to Haditha. A small crowd usually turns up to watch even though the killings are filmed and made available on DVD in the market the same afternoon.

One of last week's victims was a young man in a black tracksuit. Like the others he was left on his belly by the blue iron railings at the bridge's southern end. His severed head rested on his back, facing Baghdad. Children cheered when they heard that the next day's spectacle would be a double bill: two decapitations. A man named Watban and his brother had been found guilty of spying.

With so many alleged American agents dying here Haqlania bridge was renamed Agents' bridge. Then a local wag dubbed it Agents' fridge, evoking a mortuary, and that name has stuck.

A three-day visit by a reporter working for the Guardian last week established what neither the Iraqi government nor the US military has admitted: Haditha, a farming town of 90,000 people by the Euphrates river, is an insurgent citadel.

That Islamist guerrillas were active in the area was no secret but only now has the extent of their control been revealed. They are the sole authority, running the town's security, administration and communications.

A three-hour drive north from Baghdad, under the nose of an American base, it is a miniature Taliban-like state. Insurgents decide who lives and dies, which salaries get paid, what people wear, what they watch and listen to.
_____________________________________________


Scroll through this casualty list to meet the 20 Marines who lost their lives in August in this insurgent stronghold. They died in two separate attacks: 14 died "when a roadside bomb exploded beneath their Amphibious Assault Vehicle during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq, on August 3, 2005," and six "sniper team members killed by enemy small-arms fire in an ambush outside Haditha, Iraq, on August 1, 2005."


I have no idea what happened there but it would be nice if these young men could get the same oppurtunity to defend themselves that Saddam Hussein is getting. People do crack, it happens. If charged with a crime these soldiers will have to face military justice.

I hope the people who oppose the liberation of Iraq will try to restrain themselves from using this incident for political posturing. But I suppose that is asking too much. It just amazes how some crackpot dictator can use his own population as target practice without a peep out of these people, but by God if the oppurtunity comes along to champion terrorists, defame the US military and criticize Bush they are never hesitant to jump right in there. And if they can inspire some more hatred, get a few more people killed, make the job of stabilizing Iraq that much more difficult..well I guess that is just icing on the cake.

The future of North American education?

A charter school for Aztlanians:
Our mission is to provide urban children of immigrant native families an excellent education founded upon their own language, cultural values, and global realities through a k-8 California public charter school to fulfill our commitment to justice, freedom and dignity in education.

Our vision of education emphasizes a student centered school society that cultivates academic excellence, talents, humanist ethics, positive culture, and social consciousness for students grades K-8 and their parents. Our pedagogy is meant to enrich the human capacity to transform our reality into one that is more just. We believe our school will be an integral member of a community, capable of providing learning and leadership opportunities to the entire community.

Ancestral Mexican schooling ethos embodied social ideals and appreciations intended to develop the child as a complete person. The indigenous heart of our vision is a repossession of an identity denied from our children in standard schools.
link

From an interview with the school's founder and principal, Marcos Aguilar:
TCLA: How does learning different languages impact your students?

MA: By learning Nahuatl, they will be able to understand their relationship with nature (because language is based on our human relationship with nature) and be able to understand themselves as part of something larger, not as an isolated individual. They will be able to understand our own ancestral culture and our customs and traditions that are so imbued in the language. The importance of Nahutal is also academic because Nahuatl is based on a Math system, which we are also practicing. We teach our children how to operate a base 20 mathematical system and how to understand the relationship between the founders and their bodies, what the effects of astronomical forces and natural forces on the human body and the human psyche, our way of thinking and our way of expressing ourselves. And so the language is much more than just being able to communicate. When we teach Nahuatl, the children are gaining a sense of identity that is so deep, it goes beyond whether or not they can learn a certain number of vocabulary words in Nahuatl. It’s really about them understanding themselves as human beings. Everything we do here is about relationships.
[...]
TCLA: What do you recommend to students and parents who are frustrated with schooling and want to create change?

MA: If we want anything we have to organize ourselves. We should organize with other people who share that frustration and see what we can do to solve the problem. The people have to change from an attitude of asking for things to a practice of organizing things for ourselves. We have to get away from the welfare mentality and the welfare society and more and more develop self-reliance and resolve our problems by organizing our own resources.

TCLA: Finally, what do you see as the legacy of the Brown decision?

MA: If Brown was just about letting Black people into a White school, well we don’t care about that anymore. We don’t necessarily want to go to White schools. What we want to do is teach ourselves, teach our children the way we have of teaching. We don’t want to drink from a White water fountain, we have our own wells and our natural reservoirs and our way of collecting rain in our aqueducts. We don’t need a White water fountain. So the whole issue of segregation and the whole issue of the Civil Rights Movement is all within the box of White culture and White supremacy. We should not still be fighting for what they have. We are not interested in what they have because we have so much more and because the world is so much larger. And ultimately the White way, the American way, the neo liberal, capitalist way of life will eventually lead to our own destruction. And so it isn’t about an argument of joining neo liberalism, it’s about us being able, as human beings, to surpass the barrier.

I wish him Luck


A double-amputee Iraq-war vet is suing Michael Moore for $85 million, claiming the portly peacenik recycled an old interview and used it out of context to make him appear anti-war in "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Sgt. Peter Damon, 33, who strongly supports America's invasion of Iraq, said he never agreed to be in the 2004 movie, which trashes President Bush.

In the 2003 interview, which he did at Walter Reed Army Hospital for NBC News, he discussed only a new painkiller the military was using on wounded vets.

"They took the clip because it was a gut-wrenching scene," Damon said yesterday. "They sandwiched it in. [Moore] was using me as ammunition."

Damon seems to "voice complaint about the war effort" in the movie, according to the lawsuit.

But what the father of two from Middleborough, Mass., was really talking about was the "excruciating" pain he felt after he lost his arms when a Black Hawk helicopter exploded in front of him.

Damon wasn't expressing any opinion about the war, the suit charges, but rather extolling the drug.

"I just want everybody to know what kind of a guy Michael Moore is, and what kind of film this is," said Damon. He has appeared in two films attacking "Fahrenheit" -"Michael Moore Hates America" and "Fahrenhype 9/11."

In "Fahrenheit 9/11," the bandaged National Guardsman is shown laying on a gurney complaining that he feels like he's "being crushed in a vise. But they [the drugs] do a lot to help it and they take a lot of the edge off it."

His image appears seconds after Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) says, "You know, they say they're not leaving any veterans behind, but they're leaving all kinds of veterans behind."


I hope he sues the pants off the son of a b****.

Why Did Bush Beat Kerry?



More.

Oh Brave New World, that hath such people in it...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The latest chapter in Fjordman's horror story continues at Dhimmi Watch:
You know you have entered a strange, Eurabian world when leading politicians from Norway, a country straddling the Arctic Circle and with no colonial history, begin their election campaigns in the Pakistani countryside. Before Norway's national elections in 2005, the leader of the Socialist Left party, Kristin Halvorsen, praised all the "blood, sweat and tears Pakistanis in Norway have spent on building the country." While the deputy leader of the Socialist Left party has stated that he wants to abolish private property, its leader Kristin Halvorsen is in 2006 Norway's Minister of Finance. 83 percent of Muslims in Norway voted for Leftist parties in 2005.
... the Fjordman has much more bad but necessary news, as usual.

We need to be continually reminded that we are in some kind of conflict that the west can indeed lose, despite its technological strengths, and notwithstanding the fact that if Islam came to dominate Europe, the continent's productivity would collapse and it probably would not be able to feed itself, much less other parts of the world. This would seem, if we can assume minimally rational people, to preclude the Islamification of Europe, let alone other continents. But rational is not what Fjordman's Europe looks like. In his latest essay, Eric Gans explains the intellectual and anthropological roots of our cultural crisis. The juxtaposition of the intellectual power of Gans' ideas - testatment to the strength of western traditions - and the collapse of western self-confidence in the European heartland is shocking. And yet the internet is here to bring those shocked together, allowing us to hear the new voices we need to hear if we are to find the courage to again celebrate and defend all that is best in our world!

Where do you fall?

I fell like a combination of them all myself. The answers might surprise you.

Immigration - Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Where did the 11 million (now 12 in many reports) number for illegal aliens come from? I finally found a reference that clarified the source. First I had to read John Fund's WSJ editorial piece concerning the dreadful danger facing the Republicans if they don't...well they're in dreadful danger at any rate. Within his piece there was a reference to an absolutely asinine proposal by Republican Congressmen to abrogate federal responsibility by delegating authority to issue visas to private companies. It was bad enough that the State Department was shoveling out visas to any Saudi with a Master Card but at least we could hold the government responsible. In reading through Pence's paean to privatization the 11-12 million number popped up and lo and behold, it comes from Pew Research. This is the very same Pew Research that devoted a great deal of time, effort and money to convincing Congress of the absolute necessity of passing McCain-Feingold. Ryan Sager dissected Pew's admitted (by Treglia, at any rate) role in creating the illusion that Americans were 'deeply concerned' about campaign finance reform.

When we turn to the Pew Report from whence the 11 million number springs we are treated to
Neither the Census Bureau nor any other U.S. government agency counts the unauthorized migrant population or defines their demographic characteristics based on specific enumeration. There is, however, a widely-accepted methodology for estimating the size and certain characteristics, such as age and national origins, of the undocumented population based on official data. This methodology essentially subtracts the estimated legal-immigrant population from the total foreign-born population and treats the residual as a source of data on the unauthorized migrant population (Passel, Van Hook, and Bean 2004). The estimates reported here use this methodology with data from the March 2004 Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS, a monthly survey of about 50,000 households conducted jointly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, is best known as the source for monthly unemployment statistics. Every March both the sample size and the questionnaire of the CPS are augmented to produce the Annual Social and Economic Supplement which provides additional data on several additional subjects including the foreign-born population. As of March 2004, there were an estimated 10.3 million unauthorized migrants living in the United States. A comparison to past estimates derived with the same methodology shows that the undocumented population has grown rapidly in recent years. There were 8.4 million unauthorized migrants living in the United States in April 2000 according to estimates derived from Census 2000 (Passel, Van Hook, and Bean 2004). Thus, average annual growth over the 4-year period since 2000 was about 485,000 per year. Assuming this rate of growth held steady, the best estimate for March 2005 points to a figure of somewhat less than 11 million for the number of undocumented residents.


Sounds pretty impressive and factual, doesn't it? You take a starting number of 8.4 million and add (4 X 485,000) and, voila, even the math-is-hard crowd can get to 10.3 million in 2004 and then add another 970,000 to get over 11 million in 2006. Plus the report is very careful to note that "Neither the Census Bureau nor any other U.S. government agency counts the unauthorized migrant population" so I suppose there is no reason to check any other statistics...but, heck, I like statistics and there might be something that was (unintentionally, to be sure) overlooked. Now, who might actually try and track the illegal alien population, hmmm....

The INS? Why yes, yes they do, right here. How do the numbers compare? Well, the INS estimate of the illegal alien population in January, 2000 is 7 million using what appears to be a reasonable method of analysis. They also use a rate of 350,000 per year net increase versus the Pew number of 485,000 per year which using the same formula that Pew uses gives a 2006 total of 9.1 million.

Why would Pew play with the numbers? Why do stores price items at $9.99 rather than $10? Exaggeration and puffery are staples of salesmanship and Pew is definitely peddling. Pew and the other "public interest" groups involved in this are repeating the methods that gave us McCain-Feingold - and the 527's that go with it. Our politicians, bless their craven hearts and pea brains, are fixing to give us an immigration bill that will rival McCain-Feingold both in complexity and in stupidity.

There is nothing inherently wrong with our current immigration laws. Increasing money allocated to enforcement would cut the 350,000 number over time. There is no reason for an amnesty nor is there any reason that a visa program that adequately addresses a worker shortage cannot be devised and implemented.

That said, the American electorate is about to prove PT Barnum to have been prescient, once again - with more than a little help from "public interest" groups whose main interest is the clandestine advancement of political goals which remain carefully hidden in the shadows.

Memorial Day

Monday, May 29, 2006
In Afghanistan today there was a riot following a vehicle accident involving an American vehicle. Eight people died when police tried to restrain protestors.

It seems there has been an attempt at a spring offensive on the part of the Taliban this year and so far it has costs them dearly. And perhaps people are tired of the presence of foreign troops. Too bad.

I doubt if that will change anytime soon. The last time the world looked away from Afghanistan the World Trade Center was destroyed and the War on Terror was launched.

I have heard conflicting reports on the poppy crop, some people say it is less than it was and some people say more. I am sure a fungus could destroy the ability of Afghans to grow poppies for some time but I suppose the fear is that only resentment would come from such a policy. But then again, if there was not such a market in the West for the drugs they would not be growing them.

Today in Iraq 40 people were killed. One was an American soldier with the 4th ID [my cousin's unit] and two were CBS camera people, and a reporter was badly injured. I would hope there was a finite number of suicide bombers but sometimes I wonder if they will ever stop until the Muslim world tires of the ceaseless violence. Most of the victims of the Jihad these days seem to be Muslim. I wonder how that figures into the whole world domination scenario.

We will be hearing in a couple of weeks about the deaths of Iraqi civilians at the hands of American Marines in Haditha, Iraq. It seems that most of the scrutiny is on two soldiers. I don't know which I find more distressing, the fact that soldiers would be involved in something like this or the fact that a former Marine turned politician like Murtha would use the incident to further his own political agenda. I guess Kerry is not the only former soldier turned Democrat Representative who likes to call soldiers murderers from the safe confines of Washington D.C.

On this Memorial Day I offer my heartfelt thanks to the men and women of our armed forces.

Lookin' Out My Back Door


Who will save Alta California from the Mexican onslaught?



Vikings?

I Question NYT's Timing

Tom McGuire has three extensive posts on The New York Times thumbsucker kicking off what apparently is John F. Kerry's latest attempt to rehabilitate himself with Vietnam Veterans like me and others who did not fully appreciate his famous "reporting for duty" beginning to the 2004 election campaign.

Rick, Peter UK, and I have made a number comments on Tom's first post which has, as of this time, attracted more than 600 comments.

I am not interested in fomenting another string of that extent, or in distracting attention from Tom's great blogging on the article.

I am interested in questioning and commenting on the timing of the article over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. I suspect the timing was more than coincidental. Articles like this, to my understanding, often begin as a press release authored by public relations or campaign consultant types.

The article primarily accuses the Swift Boat Veterans of lying. That seems to me a cynical ploy on Memorial Day weekend. It is a bald attempt to burnish Kerry's war hero status at the expense of other veteran's reputations for truth and veracity.

Why on Memorial Day weekends of all weekends?

Why not, rather, some material devoted to explaining Kerry's Senate testimony and Winter Soldier activity which so denigrated those who served with him in Vietnam?

Why not some acknowledgement of the wounded feelings of Vietnam Veterans who served with Kerry caused by his post VN activities?

Why not an Op Ed by the esteemed Senator praising the Veterans with whom he served?

Why not something much more appropriate for Memorial Day Weekend?

Why not, indeed?

Who Will Be Next?

The New York Times prints a tear jerker on Democratic Congressman 'Cold Cash' Jefferson. Apparently his slide from humble beginnings into vote selling is supposed to elicit sympathy of some sort. It will be interesting to watch what the Times will do when the 45 day 'cooling off' period elapses and Jefferson is indicted for the crimes he appears (on videotape) to have commited.

Given that Vernon Jackson, the man who confessed to bribing Cold Cash, began his involvement in politics with maximum donations to Loretta Sanchez it is quite possible that this investigation is going to nab more than just Jefferson. Speaker Hastert's strong objections to the execution of a valid search warrant are being justly ridiculed on a legal basis but remind me of B'rer Rabbits protestations concerning fear of the briar patch.

The 45 day cooling off period will expire 10 days before Congress takes its summer break (and begins the election campaign in earnest). The probable indictment of Jefferson and possible extension of the investigation into other vote sellers would provide a fine kick off to the campaign.

Howard and Nancy sure know how to pick the right issues.

Ethnic Map of Iran

Sunday, May 28, 2006

(Click image to enlarge)

I clipped this ethnic map of Iran out of a larger version so that folks could see where the reported unrest was taking place. At this point unrest is said to involve the Azeris, Kurds, Arabs, and Balochs. I don't know how serious it all is but the map puts locations with the names so you can see where things are happening.

Update:

Ok, I lied. I do have an opinion about how serious it all is, and that is that it won't go anywhere. Ahmadinejad has been pursuing the time tested method of consolidating power that Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and probably every other tyrant in history has pursued: purge the bureaucracy and party and replace all opposition members with your supporters. If the army/brownshirts/party/etc. are difficult, set up a separate command/SS/red guard/whatever and move money and support in their direction. When the time is ripe, jail and execute the opposition. Ahmadinejad hasn't yet reached the last step but he is on schedule to get there. The Iranian army could probably still put a stop to it but, like the German Army in 1938, I think they are going to miss their chance. The only remaining question in my mind is if Ahmadinejad plans on starting a war. I think the odds are that he does. I hope I'm wrong.

I note that Allahpundit at Hot Air, while pointing to this NY Times article on the power consolidation, mentions that Hitchins still thinks that Ahmadinejad is a puppet of the Mullahs. If so, I suspect this is just another case of the general rule that the Left never comprehends history, especially when it comes to charismatic figures and religion. As to the Times article, it contains little analysis but even so seems remarkably sanguine. I get the sense that they see Ahmadinejad as a progressive bringing social justice to the masses. That may just be an artifact of their selection of quotable people but it may also be another marker on the trail as the NY Times once again descends to cheerleading tyranny. I don't see that it would have been difficult to find folks who regard Ahmadinejad as a dangerous fanatic and give their opinions and analysis some space.

The Modern Corporate Workplace

As Boomers Retire

Saturday, May 27, 2006
It's just not your father's old folks' home.

Saturday Mini-Review: Sin City and A Man for All Seasons

Sin City

From the first romantic scene, which shocks the viewer with its gratuitous and entirely uncalled-for violence, you are treated—if that is the word—to a long and disjointed sequence of ever more violent and disgusting episodes. None of them are enjoyable and the movie as a whole has nothing in particular to offer. The jury is in: there is no redeeming social value here, this movie is Not Worth Watching. I used to believe that every movie with Bruce Willis had at least some redeeming value. If I'd avoided this I would still harbor that pleasant delusion. Avoid it at all costs.


A Man for All Seasons

Now this is a great, if perhaps a little disingenuous, movie. If your boss flagrantly pursues a path you consider morally wrong, deeply morally wrong, how do you square your conscience? We've all been there, frequently on a daily basis. Much as we would all like to believe ourselves on the side of the angels, honesty dictates that we remember times when we unfortunately chose the path of corruption—after all, it wasn't that important a matter and we wanted to keep our jobs. But so thought many Germans in the Thirties, and we all tell ourselves that we have learned The Big Lesson—never again. But have we? Tell that to the 300,000 dead Iraqis, to the immense piles of Hutu and Tutsi corpses. What are you doing to stop genocide in Darfur today? Despite our fallen natures, sometimes the proper moral choice must be made and we must accept the inevitable consequences: loss of influence, loss of friends, loss of job, loss of life. So it happens to Sir Thomas More, but he remains undaunted and unbowed, though an entire country has caved cravenly to a mildly tyrannical master. Was his resistance and martyrdom worth it? Perhaps. What is certain is that Paul Scofield's performance in this movie is brilliant; watching and once more contemplating this perennial question is well worth the time invested.

They are starting to make Kennedy look sane

And that is no small feat. I want to see a solution to the illegal immigration issue myself, but that is going to require compromise, patience, and a certain amount of good faith.

Ranting, raving, attacking anyone who disagrees with you...even a little..engaging in reckless conspiracy theories and in general behaving in a way that reinforces every negative stereoype out there about the right will accomplish nothing...other than helping Hillary Clinton become the first woman President of the United States.

The Anchoress has a good post and is apparently taking heat for failing to toe the line as it were, read it all:

It’s all a plot and a conspiracy, you see…nothing could possibly simply be about stupid and lackluster career politicians trying to finally, finally, finally do something about an issue no one has wanted to touch for 30 years and doing it haphazardly, fearfully and imperfectly, and with the usual suspects trying to add their own flourishes, which must always be batted down, whether the issue is illegal immigration or almost anything else.

No, no. It’s a plot! It’s a conspiracy, meant to bring down America and put the conservatives in their place! To create a permanent underclass! To enlarge government, create more victims and raise our taxes! (what nonsense…we’re in a freaking war and spending more than ever, yet our revenues are growing thanks to the tax cuts…it’s funny how, when it suits a need, suddenly taxes will have to be raised…)


Maybe I should launch a conspiracy theory of my own…say…oh, something silly, like maybe this hysteria is just the conservatives doing everything they can to foment enough discord and discontent to create the “demand” for a third party candidate.

Which worked out so well for all of us in 1992. Hey, one conspiracy theory is as good as the next, isn’t it?

Now, I grant you, some of what is in this Senate immigration bill is objectionable and must be striken - it makes no sense at all for illegals to have better job-protection and benefits than American citizens. Social Security entitlements? I don’t think so. The idea of giving Mexico veto power over a fence or barrier idea is ludicrous.

But…for heaven’s sake, the thing is going to go to Congress, it’s going to get cleaned up and turned around - what has come out of the senate will not be the thing that (assuming anything actually gets passed) will be passed. There is some evidence that something workable may actually emerge from all of this ‘initial’ hoo-ha.

I know there are different opinions on the issue of these illegals, and everyone, on every side, “has a point” but I was extremely disheartened by what I heard on the radio, and by some of what I am seeing in blogs and in my email. I had to turn Rush off - there was something so insideous about the “ship them all back,” rhetoric flying between him and his callers that it was making my flesh feel crawly. “Round them up and ship them back, devote a whole law-enforcement team to it, we can get rid of all of them in 7 years, Rush!” Stunning. Appalling. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

This lady is smart and she has a good heart.

UPDATE:

Well... well... well, it seems the GOP is full of proamnesty traitors, via Big Lizards :

Matthew Dowd, GOP poller extraordinaire, writes that the ultra-hardline conservatives who insist that the American people demand "enforcement only" and hate the "amnesty" of the Senate bill have it exactly backwards. In fact:

Dowd's memo says that an internal RNC poll conducted by Jan Van Louhuzen finds that "overwhelming support exists for a temporary worker program. 80% of all voters, 83% of Republicans, and 79% of self-identified conservatives support a temporary worker program as long as immigrants pay taxes and obey the law."

More, from the RNC internal poll: "When voters are given the choice of other immigration proposals, strengthening enforcement with a tamper-proof identity card (89% among all voters, 93% among GOP), various wordings of a temporary worker program (the highest at 85% among all voters, 86% among GOP), and sending National Guard troops to the border (63% among all voters, 84% among GOP) score the highest among both all voters and Republican voters."

Also: "Voters don't consider granting legal status to those already here amnesty."

Suspicions Confirmed

Friday, May 26, 2006
Neal Boortz and Jack Kelly have noted this excellent article by the WAPO's Carol Rust quoting several of the Enron Jurors' reactions to the evidence presented to them in the lengthy trial which seemed to validate my gut feelings immediately after the verdict was announced, e.g.:

As to Lay:

Speaking shortly after a federal judge read their verdict, jurors said Lay's indignant outbursts while testifying in his own behalf made him seem "that he very much wanted to be in control -- he commanded the courtroom," said Wendy Vaughan, a Houston business owner.

"He was very focused, but he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder that made me question his character," she said.


As to Skilling:

...who spent days explaining the tedious financial inner workings of the once high-flying energy company, the jurors couldn't understand how he could know so much about that and not be aware of illegal business maneuvering, whether or not he was responsible for it personally.

"Skilling was supposed to be a hands-on individual," said Freddy Delgado, an elementary school principal. "It's hard to believe a hands-on individual wouldn't know what was going on."

"When he got on the stand and knew what a [technically complicated] chart was and how it worked, we knew he was involved," Delgado said.


As to both:

Elementary school teacher Kathy Harrison said she was glad Lay and Skilling took the stand during their trial. Had they not, "I would have always had questions," she said.


Talk about turning the jury to proscutors, check this out:

"The people with plea bargains we questioned from different angles," said Don Martin, an electrical designer. "All their answers led to one result."

"Fastow was . . . Fastow," Martin continued, referring to former Enron finance chief Andrew S. Fastow, who faces 10 years in prison for stealing millions from the company. "We knew where he was coming from, and we kind of discounted some of what he said, but we weighed all the stuff the government witnesses said, and their answers all came to the same conclusion."

Whenever there was doubt about credibility, jurors dug through the 10 crate-size boxes to find evidence to support or discredit the testimony.

Catherine Seipp on Cindy Sheehan & Dear President Bush on National Review Online


You still have to wonder about the absolute moral authority of someone who considers the mass slaughter of civilians justified if it means her own particular soldier son might still be alive.
Catherine Seipp on Cindy Sheehan & Dear President Bush on National Review Online

Reasonable ID Verification Should be the First Priority

The illegal immigration amnesty bill of 1986 failed almost solely for one reason: the near impossibility of employers to reasonably verify the authenticity of the documents presented to them by prospective employees. Phony ID was fairly easy to obtain at that time---and the situation has dramatically worsened since then. We now have computerized equipment which allows one to create fraudulent documents with incredible ease. The going rate on the street is apparently less than $200 for a phony driver’s license and social security card. How good do these items look? Even police officers and other well trained government officials can be deceived. And an employer is not able to obtain the cooperation of authorities to find out if the offered documents are legitimate. The U.S. Social Security Administration, for instance, will essentially tell them to go to hell. Moreover, if they focus only on Hispanic surnames---they will be sued in a court of law for discrimination. Employers have truly been placed in a Catch 22 situation.

Why is so much time spent on spent discussing putting up a wall between the United States and Mexico? Although I believe this to be a good idea, it is nowhere near as important as assisting employers in authenticating ID. As matter of fact, I strongly suspect that perhaps 90% of the illegal alien problem can be resolved merely by helping employers to comply with the law. Am I oversimplifying matters? What do you think?

Websites as Graphs


MSN

Boing-boing

CNN

Is technology art?

Bush and Blair

Thursday, May 25, 2006
I missed the first of the Bush and Blair press conference on Iraq but I did see most of it. I thought Bush was more articulate than usual and Blair less. But Blair did pose a good question: If what we are doing in Iraq is not important why is the enemy so determined to stop us? What are they afraid of?

Democracy is the answer to the question.

I might add, the press was its usual obnoxious, self important, arrogant, pompous, rude, shallow, banal self.

Before the Revolution: Color Photos from Russia

Amazing prerevolutionary color photos taken by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, who made his color photos by making three exposures through differently colored filters. The Library of Congress bought the negatives from his heirs in 1948 and, using computers and imaging software, has generated the fully colored versions. They are now on exhibit and you can see them here.

HT: INDC Jounal.

Boy, This Economy Sucks

Bloomberg reports that the economy grew at a slower than expected rate in the first quarter.

I'll bet women and children (as well as all people of color) suffered most.

Man, This Economy is Great

Reuter's reports the best economic growth in 2 1/2 years with stronger than expected strength in housing and consumer spending.

Arrogance and the Law

The jury has spoken in the Enron case. While I did not follow it closely, I did read bits of the defendants' testimony. Each of them at one time or another showed the jury a quality in a part of their personalities that is more than deadly in a jury trial. The quality? Arrogance.

Jeff Skilling betrayed it in his attitude with his cross examiner, a relatively young Assistant US Attorney. Skilling made it clear that this young man's grasp of the business concepts used at Enron was woefully inadequate. But if Skilling was so damn smart, a juror might plausibly ask, why did Enron sink so fast with him at the helm? Irrelevant to the case, but highly relevant to turning a potentially sympathetic jury into assistant prosecutors.

Ken Lay, on the other hand, betrayed an imperious impatience with his own counsel during direct, becoming irritated when he momentarily lost his train of thought and could not grasp the gist of the question. Lay clearly wished to maintain his lordly command of the proceedings. Yet he was a defendant and his attorney was valiantly trying to help him. Again, a small point, but maybe a turning point.

This case was difficult enough for the defense. The public generally wants someone to be legally responsible for a corporat failure of the magnitude of the Enron debacle. This seems to be par for the course. The defense must find a way to turn the jury's sympathies to its client in some way or it is toast. When the defendants themselves become unsympathetic as people, the defense becomes burnt toast. Bitter and charred.

The taste of place

As Jim Miller pointed out, if the French were not so arrogant this would not be so amusing. To which I'll add, if I had more money it would be more useful.

Overhead


I respect the sentiment once expressed by the outlaw Josey Wales who said, "Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms". But I'm beginning to dislike these ugly suckers. Especially when they make cheeky fly-bys of My Osprey Nest when Mamma ain't around to kick their sorry buzzard butts. All while Fugly Buzzard sits there looking at me - close enough that I could just about hit 'im upside da head baddabing wi't a pipe - just wishin' I were dead.

Correction?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Last Friday, I wrote a post on a National Post story that reported that Iran would force religious minorities to wear distinguishing insignia. The Post soon after withdrew the story and now has published a statement (subscription only) that the story was false.

Some news services seem quick to mock the National Post for being both pro-Israel and quick to tar the Iranians (as if one could be too quick). Al Reuters writes:
The conservative National Post ran the story on its front page last Friday along with a large photo from 1944 which showed a Hungarian couple wearing the yellow stars that the Nazis forced Jews to sew to their clothing.

The story, which included tough anti-Iran comments from prominent Jewish groups, was picked up widely by Web sites and by other media.

"Is Iran turning into the new Nazi Germany? Share your opinion online," the paper asked readers last Friday.

But the National Post, a long-time supporter of Israel and critic of Tehran, admitted on Wednesday it had not checked the piece thoroughly enough before running it.

"It is now clear the story is not true," National Post editor-in-chief Douglas Kelly wrote in a long editorial on page 2. "We apologize for the mistake and for the consternation it has caused not just National Post readers, but the broader public who read the story."
Ha'aretz, however, gets to the heart of the matter:
The report emerged as false on Friday evening. Yes, the parliament in Tehran recently passed a law setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments" but it has never passed a decision to mark the country's Jewish citizens.

According to Iran expert Meir Javedanfar, Tehran has yet to fix the dress code for Muslims in the country, let alone for minority ethnic groups.
So you see, Iran, which now wants to portray itself as the victim of slanders from a western, Jewish-owned paper, only wants, for the time being, to make all Muslims wear the same uniform. What a nice idea that is, eh? and it still guarantees, does it not, that all Infidels will be identifiable in contrast to their Muslim compatriots?
(Photo Credit: BL)

Be Still My Heart



Armavirumque has a cheerful piece up [ht:Lurker] on the possibility that Keller et al may be getting closer to being measured for felony orange suits. Brylun covered Gabriel Schoenfeld's analysis of the pertinent code sction which the NYT violated in publishing the NSA story and AG Gonzales is sure being tantalizing in his comments.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that some enemies of America may be brought to justice soon.

Never Mind

That is what some of the hardline Congressmen seem to be saying about immigration reform. Back when Congress attempted to make illegal entry into the US a felony they did not only send their fan club of nativists into smug self congratulatory back patting...they brought to life an immigration movement the likes of which this country has not seem in many years, if ever.

Now the Senate has passed the Hagel-Martinez bill. Big Lizards has a post up on the bill:

There is great room for negotiation on this bill, many things that can be -- and should be -- changed. But there is no chance for dropping any of the big three:

* Secure the border with a real fence;

* Allow more people to enter the country, either as guest workers or immigrants, to continue doing jobs that need doing, but that Americans won't do (the "spillway");

* Do something to regularize the millions of illegals already here.

No bill that excludes any of these three has a prayer of passing through Congress... and not to act at all would be a catastrophe of both policy and politics.


So instead of railing against those elements that are deal-breakers, let's focus on trying to make the bill better: to increase whatever part you see as beneficial to make the bill, on the whole, a deal we can live with.

UPDATE, a few minutes later: Mary Katharine Ham, guest blogging on Hugh Hewitt, reports on a teleconference between Ed Meese and a group of conservative bloggers about the immigration bill, and about Meese's New York Times op-ed today opposing it, "An Amnesty by Any Other Name ...." The conference was run by Matt Spaulding of the Heritage Foundation.

Let's see if we've grasped the essentials here: a group that opposes what it's pleased to call "amnesty" for illegals invites a speaker who opposes what he calls "amnesty" to speak to a bunch of conservative bloggers -- who oppose what they call "amnesty." And by golly, after thrashing out those differences, they finally all concur that they must oppose what they call "amnesty" for illegals!


This evening on Brit Hume's Special Report the speculation was that the House might kill the deal. No compromise, nata. Just deader than a doornail. After all this drama. After all the hysterical assertions that life as we know it is doomed if we do not get a fence, they might just blow it off. Two thirds of the American people want a bill and the longer this drags out the more likely it will be that Democrats will be the ones deciding the nature of the bill. If Republicans can not do this, someone else will do it for them.

Katrina - A Different View

Lou Dolinar has an excellent article over at Real Clear Politics that provides insight into how well the first responders in New Orleans performed with a bit of contrast as to how poorly the MSM performed. His only error is in evaluating the MSM as news providers when they are in fact propagandists. Their propaganda efforts cannot be faulted.

The performance of the Coast Guard, the National Guard and the Regular Army during Katrina was exemplary. I believe that Dolinar is a bit more critical of FEMA than necessary, given that FEMA does not promise that relief will be immediately available - every report I have seen makes clear that the first 72 hours are the responsibility of the local and state response teams.

I also think that he is a bit too gentle with Blanco who may well have been aware of the actual situation at the Superdome but made no effort to correct the blatant (and successful) propaganda efforts of the MSM (including Fox, which I no longer watch).

With the results of the mayoral election announced, I believe that the good citizens of New Orleans received far better treatment than their attention to civic duty warrants. Any locale that re-elects Nagin and Democratic Congressman 'Cold Cash' Jefferson deserves a very large portion of whatever distress due to governmental mismanagement befalls it. I wish the citizens of New Orleans no ill but they deserve the absolute minimum of federally supported help.

And not just Mexico

In some comment a while back I did some back of the envelope figures on the cost of chartering 747s and pontificated that a future US "guest worker" program would really mean crop pickers from anywhere on the planet, and not just people coming over the southern border. Well, in Yakima Washington it is already happening, with Thai labor. Seattle Times article in VDARE via Maggie's Farm.

Politically, this kind of thing could get very interesting, very fast.

Immigration Again

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Alvaro Varga Llosa writes a sensible piece: Immigration—The Wages of Fear

WASHINGTON—I have been called a “Spanish conquistador” in Peru, a “sudaca” (South American scum) in Spain, and a “wog” in Britain—and I am profiled as a Hispanic in the U.S. (which actually means “ancient Roman” since Hispania was the Iberian province of Rome). The first time I went to London, I was asked if there were any cars in Peru. I explained that they prefer flying saucers to avoid rush-hour congestion.

I may be forgiven for drawing attention to the abyss that separates perception from reality in today’s debate on immigration in the U.S. The fact that President Bush should feel compelled to send the National Guard to the border with Mexico in order to win support for his proposal to legalize millions of Hispanics is an indication of where perceptions stand.

Whenever there is a major disconnect between the law and reality, trying to force reality to fit the law only brings more misery. Forcing millions of real people to adjust to fiction—as the bill approved by the House of Representatives that triggered the recent protests by immigrants intends to do—is the stuff of totalitarianism.
...

Much of the Hispanic contribution has little connection to low-skilled jobs. According to Geoscape International, a third of Hispanic households earn over $50,000 a year. The Pew Hispanic Center puts the net worth of Hispanic households at more than $700 billion. HispanTelligence, a research division of Hispanic Business magazine, says the rate of growth of the purchasing power of Hispanics in the last 10 years is three times the national average. In 2010, Hispanics will own 3.2 million businesses. Clearly, these immigrants are expanding the national pie.
...

I expect Mr. Llosa has picked positive indicators and some terms are a bit vague -- what precisely does it mean to "speak English" -- but a short article can't be comprehensive and filled with footnotes. I found the optimistic view put forth a bracing corrective to the gnashers of teeth and criers of doom. As we say around here, read the whole thing. HT: NoLeftTurns.

Into the Abyss

Monday, May 22, 2006
Time and circumstance have not allowed me to pay attention to a certain pressing matter. I did, however, discover one way to distinguish osprey from ospring from a great distance.

When osprey decide it is time to take wing they simply take a little hop into the air, beat their wings a time or three, and off they go. When ospring decide to leave the nest they point their beak earthward and dive... hurtling downwardfor a few moments and finally swoop out of the dive, make a beat or two of their wings, and fly off.

I wonder how long it takes them to learn those wonderful circling maneuvers?

The Anchoress Says what I feel


How do you accept a good? This question is posed by The Anchoress in a post that I recommend every conservative read:

I was surprised, and what surprised me was the sense I had that Bush’s heart was broken. That he had done everything he could to keep faith with the nation, and that he could not believe that in a time of such terrible need, all some people could think of was, “how do we use this politically, how do we break Bush with this?” It can’t have helped that some of the hysteria was coming from the right as well as the left. Things changed after that, didn’t they? The press and the left doubled up their attacks, the far-right went very smug, and President Bush never has seemed to have regrouped his spirit.

A month later, I wasn’t surprised (although some - mostly the hard-right “I’m a Conservative before I’m anything and he’d better serve me” types - clearly were) when he nominated Harriett Miers to the SCOTUS. In fact, I’d predicted it. Up until that moment, every person President Bush had nominated to pretty much any position had won accolades from the beamish far-right, but Miers did not. She wasn’t one of their guys or gals. She wasn’t Luttig, she wasn’t Rogers-Brown. Harriet Miers? Damn that Bush! The denouncements came fast and furious and suddenly “the base” with which George W. Bush had not broken faith…broke faith with him. Suddenly they were as willing to call him a moron and an idiot as any KozKid.

Imagine that. Imagine being the guy who has given his base one splendid nominee after another, in all manner of posts, make a nomination he thinks appropriate only to find that “base” coming out with both guns, defaming his nominee and directing all manner of insult at himself. President Bush is nothing if not loyal; his loyalty is often his downfall. When he asked for a little trust (which he had surely earned) a little loyalty and a little faith, from “the base,” he got kicked in the groin, over and over again, for daring to think differently, for falling out of lockstep with his policy-wonk “betters.”

That had to be bitter, for him. At that point Bush, unchanged in essentials, might have wondered if his conservative “base” had become a bit over-confident and loose-hipped, so cock-sure of their majority (not that congress used it) so certain of their own brilliance that they were beginning to believe they didn’t need him; that he wasn’t conservative enough, after all, and that the next president was going to be the solid, “uncompassionate” conservative they’d really wanted all along. The president who had delivered one gift after another to his base asked them to trust him, and his base sneered.


Read it all.

George McGovern Defends Wal-Mart

This is a pleasant surprise:


"I understand the attraction of asking business -- the perceived 'deep pockets' -- to shoulder more of the responsibility for social welfare. But there are plenty of businesses that don't have deep pockets. And many large corporations operate with razor-thin profit margins as competitors, both foreign and domestic, strive to attract consumers by offering lower prices. The current frenzy over Wal-Mart is instructive. Its size is unprecedented. Yet for all its billions in profit, it still amounts to less than four cents on the dollar. Raise the cost of employing people, and the company will eliminate jobs. Its business model only works on low prices, which require low labor costs. Whether that is fair or not is a debate for another time. It is instructive, however, that consumers continue to enjoy these low prices and that thousands of applicants continue to apply for those jobs" -- former Democratic Senator George McGovern, writing in the Los Angeles Times.

{Hat Tip: OpinionJournal's Political Diary}

The former left wing U.S. senator from South Dakota failed in his attempt to own and manage a motel. This experience apparently taught him some valuable lessons concerning the private sector. We can only hope that other Democratic leftists also come to their senses.

The Wal-Mart issue clearly separates the blue states from the red. I am convinced that a politician running statewide in a purple or red state seriously jeopardizes their campaign if they slam Wal-Mart. This is only a safe thing to do in places like Vermont or congressional districts in San Francisco.

Politics and Commencement

Via Gateway an interesting story on the socalled commencement speech of Lacy Clay D-MO at the University of Missouri last weekend. Apparently his Bushbashing anti war talk did not go over well with the student body. Why do these guys think these kids want to listen to this crap?

Blair Speaks

Via Lorie Byrd Tony Blair will be in Washington DC later this week to discuss Iraq and his support for the use of military force by the Coalition forces to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

Hell Is Where You Find It

And Baron Bodissey of Gates of Vienna posts another piece by Fjordman that strongly suggests that Loki has managed to free himself and has adopted the nihilistic dystopianism beloved by the New York Yimes to bring Ragnarok to pass so that the Swedes can find their very own in a socialist Niflheim.

Not exactly what Marx and the New York Times promised but it is all that they are capable of providing.

PS - There are some very good links in the comments at Gates on this piece concerning the marriage of Marx and Mohammed as blessed by Gramsci.

Is Howard Dean Out of His Mind?

Could this story be true? Does Matt Drudge really have his facts straight?:

“The Democratic National Committee (DNC) secretly placed political operatives in the city of New Orleans to work against the reelection efforts of incumbent Democrat Mayor Ray Nagin, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean made the decision himself to back mayoral candidate and sitting Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu (D-LA), sources reveal.

Dean came to the decision to back the white challenger, over the African-American incumbent Nagin, despite concerns amongst senior black officials in the Party that the DNC should stay neutral.”

This is among the strangest stories I’ve read in a long time. It makes no sense whatsoever. Why in hell would Howard Dean get involved in a mayor’s race? What does the national Democratic Party gain? What is it that I’m not getting? If this report is indeed accurate---it could severely damage the Dems in November with the usually loyal black vote. Could this be the proverbial straw that finally breaks the camel’s back? Will Dean be fired?

I can readily understand Mitch Landrieu’s sense of desperation. The New Orleans mayor’s contest might be his last chance to survive politically. Louisiana will probably be a statewide Republican stronghold for at least the next ten years. But why should Howard Dean care about Landrieu’s troubles?

Update: “The DRUDGE REPORT takes chairman Dean and his spokesman at their word.”

Matt Drudge is now backing off from his earlier allegations. This is a sad day regarding his credibility. It appears that Drudge may have made a fool of himself. He should have never ran with this story unless it was thoroughly verified.

Shifting Sands - Following the Money

Sunday, May 21, 2006
If one were to believe polls paid for by the adjunct propaganda organs of the Democratic Party one would think the Republican Party in serious trouble. In fact, if one reads the political commentators paid to fill all the vacant column inches every week one might have reason to believe that "something new" or "something serious" was happening. According to the 'dollar polls' that may provide a better lens on the political situation, there is something happening. Democrats are definitely putting money up at a rate far better than they have in the past. The loss of the unions 'help' has apparently been acknowledged and the propaganda effort on the part of the party organs has encouraged a level of giving at a rate double that of the 2002 cycle (first quarter results). That's quite an achievement and Howard Dean and Rahm Emmanuel deserve kudos from their party for their efforts thus far.

On the Republican side contributions are up a paltry 24% but one might give some slight consideration that a 24% increase in contributions is perhaps a signal that the Republican apocalypse may still lay in the future rather than having already occurred. Some small cold comfort might also be obtained by reflection upon the better than 2 to 1 edge that Republicans continue to hold in contributions. Down sharply from the 3 to 1 edge that they held in '02 at the same point, to be sure, but not because of any decrease in contributions on the part of Republicans.

The '06 elections may be of more interest than first appearance indicated but the reason lies with affirmative actions taken by the Democrats (including emphasis upon phantasmal 'deep' dissension within the Republican ranks) rather than upon the reality expressed by increased Republican contributions. Money does talk - and what it's saying is that the Bush/Rove penchant for keeping the powder dry until the right moment is still operative.

Ray Nagin Winning Reelection

Saturday, May 20, 2006
And here is Paul at Wizbang's amazing preelection analysis predicting it. No way I would have guessed that, no way. Hats off to Paul, the force be with him.

An IED Production

Lazy Ramadi.

Majority Party

Are the Republicans capable of being the majority party? Are their views too narrow and self serving? I did not think so when I voted for George Bush, but some of the rhetoric I have heard during the course of the immigration debate has made me wonder.

Fred Barnes lays out the stakes in the upcoming election:

PRESIDENT BUSH AND REPUBLICANS are staring political disaster in the face on immigration. The problem isn't that they might enact a bill allowing illegal immigrants living in America to earn their way to citizenship, inviting foreign workers to come here, and beefing up security on the 2,000-mile border with Mexico. No, it would be a disaster for Republicans if they didn't pass such a bill.

Rarely has the American public been so involved in a national issue as they are today in immigration reform. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody agrees there's a crisis when, as is the case today, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants are streaming across our southern border and millions more are already living in this country. The public expects action from the people who run Washington--that's Bush and Republicans. But action is not what they will get if the enforcement-only House refuses to compromise. What they will get in that case is an impasse. And that means the crisis endures.

The
American people are not on the side of the House Republicans who favor toughened enforcement and nothing more. On the contrary, a national consensus has formed around what the president calls "comprehensive" immigration reform--that is, impenetrable border security plus earned citizenship and a temporary worker program. But there's a wrinkle in the Senate. Democrats are certain to filibuster legislation consisting solely of enforcement. So it can't pass. However, their constituency groups, particularly immigrant groups, won't permit Democrats to block a comprehensive bill. So it, and only it, can
pass in the Senate.

Once the Senate approves an all-inclusive bill, House Republicans will have a decision to make. Will they accept a broader bill, even if it contains what they consider to be amnesty for illegals, or will they insist on the enforcement-only approach they took in the measure they passed in the House last December?


But if they persist in holding out, immigration reform may die.There's a wrinkle in the House, too. Immigration reform may be killed altogether unless a majority of Republicans backs a broader bill. Why? Because House Republican leaders don't want to be put in the politically awkward position of relying on Democrats to approve a comprehensive bill--

Governing requires compromise, and it also requires seeing beyond one's narrow perspective. I am beginning to wonder if Republicans are capable of that. In the last few weeks I have heard conservative Republicans come up with conspiracy theories concerning Bush's plans to all but cede the southwest to Mexico which are every bit as insane as are the theories concerning government involvement in 9/11. They both refelct a lunatic fringe which when combined make up a disquieting number of people.

Governance is not about being the opposition, it is about leading and creating a consensus and developing compromise solutions. When Republicans like Peggy Noonan start talking about masterminding their own defeat for some larger victory down the road, are they really saying they don't have what it takes to get the job done? When the comment sections of conservative blogs are full of invective for any Republican, including the president, who would even consider a compromise are the Republicans once again proving to the world that they are the stupid party?

Saturday Movie Review: Yasujiro Ozu in toto

Posted by Loner.
-------------------------------------------------
Because we lost, young kids shake their behinds and dance to their hot jazz. But if we'd won...the blue-eyed ones would be wearing wigs and chewing gum while plucking tunes on the samisen.

It's lucky we lost.

You think so? Yeah...could be.


On V-J day, August 15, 1945, the 42-year-old Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu was in Singapore. He'd made 39 movies in 25 years prior to being sent there to aid the war effort two years earlier. While there he spent much, if not all, of his time watching confiscated American movies. He was interned when the British returned in September and repatriated in February 1946. When he began directing again a year later it was immediately apparent that what he'd seen had done nothing to change a style most apparently influenced by the silents of Ernst Lubitsch and polished and refined to a simplicity that in his final movie is breathtaking.


It is a style in which the camera is usually stationary and positioned to capture the point-of-view of a person sitting on the floor. Most of the edits are straight cuts. There are no special lenses. There is no cross-cutting. There are no flashbacks. There are no dream sequences. There are no ghosts. There are no Samurai. From 1935 on there is sound and from 1958 on there is color. In that final movie the camera never moves within a shot and there is not one edit that isn't a straight cut.


For Ozu, like Hitchcock, a movie was largely done when the shooting script was finished. He generally had a collaborator and for the final thirteen movies that collaborator was Kogo Noda. The scripts are all about character. What plot there is is in the service of the characters and the characters were generally created with specific actors in mind. When it came to shooting the script, Ozu told the actors exactly how he wanted everything done (though not generally why) and they did it and did it and did it until he was satisfied. What are his movies about? Donald Richie suggests in his Introduction to Ozu, that Ozu "had but one major subject, the Japanese family, and but one major theme, its dissolution." This is more or less true, but it is absolutely true of the first, Banshun (Late Spring), and the last, Sanma No Aji (An Autumn Afternoon), of the final thirteen.


I have a prospect. Interested?

What for?

For marriage, man!


In the two movies a widower has to part, through marriage, with his only daughter. In An Autumn Afternoon the action begins with a series of establishing shots of some sort of factory. Eventually the cut is to a man sitting at a desk. The man is the widower, Shuhei Hirayama.

[He is played by Chishi Ryu. Ryu also played the widower 13 years earlier in Late Spring and he played parts big and small in all but a couple of the 54 movies directed by Ozu between 1927 and 1962.]


A younger woman enters the same office. Mr. Hirayama notes that another woman has been absent for a couple of days. She may be getting married. He suggests that that means the absent woman will be leaving. Maybe. He asks how old the absent woman is. 23 or 24. He inquires as to what the young woman's husband does. She's not married and she's supporting her father. He comments that soon it will be her turn to marry and he wishes her luck. She leaves. Cut to the hallway outside the office where she walks into the background and passes a man (slight bow by both) who knocks on the office door, is acknowledged and enters.


The man is a school friend and after some pleasantries they move into another part of the office where they sit facing one another. The friend asks how old his daughter is. She's 24. "I have a prospect. Interested?" The widower, as you read, doesn't know what he's talking about and when he does dismisses the suggestion as premature. The friend disagrees, but makes little headway and the widower mentions that another school friend called and would like them to join him that night. The friend says he has a crucial baseball game to go to. The widower encourages him to skip the game and come along. He resists. Cut to a shot of stadium lights and score music. More stadium lights. A public address announcer says it's the bottom of the fourth with so-and-so coming to bat. Cut to a black and white television set on which so-and-so is coming to bat and a television play-by-play announcer is doing his shtick. Hold for the first pitch. A called strike. Cut to four men sitting at a bar and watching the television. Cut to a hallway leading to the room in which sit the four men. Cut to another shot (presumably from the same hallway) into a private room in which three men are sitting on the floor and sharing a meal and drinks. The widower is on the right and his friend from the prior scene is on the left. The other school friend is center with his back to the camera.


Another school friend has encountered a long forgotten teacher who they nicknamed "The Gourd." "The Gourd" will prove crucial in convincing the widower that it is time his daughter marry and will also be a link in a chain that will bring him to a bar proprietor who will remind him, but not his oldest, of his dead wife. His oldest son is married and lives in a modern apartment. He isn't making enough money to buy everything he and his wife would like to have. There is another son, the youngest, who still lives at home and depends for his meals and such on his sister.


A formal Affair? A funeral?

Yes, more or less.


After many scenes in which the characters move the action forward, that initial prospect is acted upon and the coda begins. Just as it happened thirteen years earlier in Late Spring we see a car, but there are differences. There is more than one car. There are chauffeurs polishing them and the first thing we learn when we cut to the interior of the family home is that there aren't enough of them. The younger son is taking care of it. There are no small children about. The widower and the older son talk and the talk is of children. The widower asks if they are using birth control and the son says they are because they can't afford a child. The father suggests that fifty is too late to be raising children. The daughter is ready.


If Ozu did not change, Japan did and it is in this that Ozu is, I think, the most invaluable of all moviemakers because Ozu shows us the changes without anywhere near the editorial comment that a less austere filmmaker would have included. Just as, for the most part, the characters usually maintain that culturally characteristic outward diffidence so too does the director. While Ozu was writing the script for An Autumn Afternoon his mother, with whom he lived most of his life, died unexpectedly and a little under two years later he died, on his sixtieth birthday, of cancer. An Autumn Afternoon is my favorite of the Ozu movies I've seen because every time I see it I can imagine this remarkable man showing me Japan as she was in 1976 and in 1986 and in 1996 and as she is in 2006 were we still blessed with his presence.


In 1949 (Late Spring), there is still much that is ceremonial and traditional dress is common. In 1962, it is rare in the men and mostly nostalgic in the women. In 1949, the relationships have a formality to them. By 1962, this is largely lacking. The daughter is ready. In 1962 there is little awkwardness and a daughter's appreciation isn't expressed; it's understood. The shots of the empty home when the family depart show us what is outside the windows and confirms that the modern is everywhere. Most of the establishing shots elsewhere have shown us thoroughly modern, functional and uninspired architecture. The family home and the better restaurant are the only exceptions and both, it turns out, are surrounded. As in 1949 neither the wedding nor the groom are in the movie. The widower drinks with other characters in the aftermath and he is sitting alone and lonesome when we last see him. Before then in An Autumn Afternoon what I think is the first English as English is uttered in an Ozu movie when the younger son says "Okay" to his sister-in-law as she and the older son prepare to depart.

An Autumn Afternoon is not yet out on DVD in North America. Late Spring and Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story) are and I recommend them above everything that is available and hope and expect that An Autumn Afternoon will come out soon. It is on video.


I began this knowing I could not convey all I wanted to regarding Yasujiro Ozu and the movies he gave us so I especially hope you'll read the Chishi Ryu reminiscence linked above and I'll close with this from Donald Richie's Ozu:

The director Kimisaburo Yoshimura, in Singapore at the time, remembers Ozu looking at.... The film that impressed Ozu most was Welles's Citizen Kane. "If you give Chaplin 62 points, this film gets about 85." He looked at it again and again. It was apparently the technique of the film that most interested him, and according to Yoshimura he kept shaking his head in wonder over this effect or that. Thereafter, whenever asked his favorite foreign film, he always said Citizen Kane, though it is impossible to imagine a picture more antithetical to his own.



...and a picture of his grave in Kamakura. If an actor in an Ozu movie is shown to be drinking sake, beer, whisky, etc. that actor is drinking sake, beer, whisky, etc. and in An Autumn Afternoon a staggering amount is consumed. There will be a bit more on Ozu and drinking in my forthcoming bookend review of another 1949 release, Nora inu (Stray Dog), by another Japanese director you've hopefully heard of, Akira Kurosawa.

On Fiction and Religion: A Comparison of Orthodoxies

In the late 80's when Satanic Verses was published, there was a furor somewhat akin to what we are now hearing about the Da Vinci Code. Many orthodox Muslims expressed the same sort of outrage expressed by many orthodox Christians today. And when one compares the two books, there are similarities. Satanic Verses questions some of Islam's most basic beliefs about Muhammed, its most important figure other than Allah. Likewise, DaVinci questions Christianity's most cherished beliefs about Christ, who it believes was the Son of God, divine yet also human but without sin.

But there was a distinct difference to the reactions of the respective orthodox leaders as well. Then, the outrage caused Muslim leaders to call not just for the supression of the offending book, but for the death of its author Salmon Rushdie as well. To date, although the Vatican and many conservative Protestant leaders have vehemently criticized Da Vinci, Dan Brown's life has not been threatened by even the most outraged Christian leadership.

Doesn't this tell us something relevant to today's struggles with the Islamic Jihadists and their supporters? Doesn't it also say something about Christians?

HOPE

It does spring eternal. the Iraqis have formed their government .

Needless to say most of the article is about the violence in Iraq and not the history that has been made, but history has been made nonetheless. The city of Baghdad will have to be safer than LA before we stop hearing about the violence but there is hope.

Now they have to deal with Sadr.

Jews and Christians in Iran to wear distinctive insignia

Friday, May 19, 2006
Pastorius has another scary post up. Canada's National Post is reporting [UPDATE: This story has now been removed from the National Post website, casting doubt as to its accuracy - see update below, and the NP follow-up story, here]:
Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.

"This is reminiscent of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis."

Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments."

The law, which must still be approved by Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims.

Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.

"There's no reason to believe they won't pass this," said Rabbi Hier. "It will certainly pass unless there's some sort of international outcry over this."
Pastorius neatly asks:

Ok, so Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier, who, at the same time, uses all the methods and rhetoric of Hitler.

Still having trouble figuring it out?
The current rulers of Iran came of age in the Iran-Iraq war. Ahmadinejad's job was to brainwash children to run into mine fields to explode the mines and become martyrs. The kids were given keys to hang around their necks to open the gates of heaven. This is why I find all comparisons to Hitler scary. Hitler was obsessed with redeeming the great sacrifices of his youthful compatriots in World War I. In his mind, World War II and the Holocaust was an effort to make good the previous sacrifices for the fatherland. Unless Ahmadinejad is a completely unfeeling psychopath, how do you figure he is coming to terms with his very evil job in the first war? As Dag said last night, the psychology to fear is that of the gambler throwing good money after bad.

(Photoshop Credit: BL)
UPDATE: Dag has more from an unattributed source:
independent reporter Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli Middle East expert who was born and raised in Tehran, says the report is false.

"It's absolutely factually incorrect," he told The New 940 Montreal.

"Nowhere in the law is there any talk of Jews and Christians having to wear different colours. I've checked it with sources both inside Iran and outside."

"The Iranian people would never stand for it. The Iranian government wouldn't be stupid enough to do it."

Political commentator and 940 Montreal host Beryl Waysman says the report is true, that the law was passed two years ago.

"Jews should wear yellow strips, Christians red strips, because according to the Iranian mullahs, if a Mulsim shakes hands with a non-Muslim he becomes unclean."
I would also add that the Nazis themselves received their idea of forcing Jews to wear the yellow star from the Dhimmi codes of the Middle East.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Publishes 9/11 Conspiracy Theory

The Seattle P.I. has published an op-ed: 9/11 Commission report is a lie by Richard Curtis, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of philosophy at Seattle University and a member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth; www.st911.org.

Among other things, the op-ed claims:
in the months after 9/11 all of the surviving New York City Fire Department personnel who were on the scene were interviewed. Those oral histories were recorded and withheld from the public until Aug. 15, 2005. Only after losing in court three times did the city of New York finally release them. All 503 are now posted on The New York Times Web site. Why did the city fight so hard to keep them from the public?

It turns out those oral histories reveal details about what was happening in the World Trade Center buildings that are completely inconsistent with the tale told by the commission. Dozens of firefighters and medics reported hearing, seeing and feeling explosives going off in the buildings that collapsed. Why were there explosives, very powerful explosives by all accounts, going off in the buildings? More disturbing, why was the pattern of those explosives identical in some important ways with the pattern used in a planned implosion (or controlled demolition of a building)?
And I thought it outrageous when the Vancouver Public Library allowed some Arab chap to sell 9/11 conspiracy DVDs at a talk given my Hans von Sponeck, former UN Assistant Secretary General & UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (1998-2000), and notable anti-American. This is where the world, in which The Da Vinci Code is a best seller, has come. Question: Do the humanities and social science professors in our universities ever teach anything besides sophisticated conspiracy theories? (HT: Pastorius via LGF)

The Adult World

Try this experiment. Ask a kid or young person what they want to do when they grow up. Pick them when they're old enough to have some idea of what they're talking about but still young enough so as not to be cynical. I've tried this many times, and the answers are always "pro football player", "pro basketball player", "actress", "artist", "writer", "musician". Yet, here's a funny thing. In a fairly long life with literally thousands of friends and acquaintances, I don't know a single one who really makes a living from being any of these alleged professions. (I can think of one who barely scrapes by.) I never hear the children say they want to be a "plumber", "coal miner", "letter carrier", "bus driver", "nurse", "engineer", "businessman", "house builder", "accountant", "exotic dancer" or indeed any of the thousands of other real jobs that real people do.

Which leads to mucho human unhappiness. For when graduation comes and reality hits we have a whole lot of folks out there who don't have permission deep down to do what they're doing to make a living, who don't really believe in themselves or their work. Who are just bearing life's loads instead of joyously exhilirating in this wonderful world. Or who hate themselves for what they are. Or, perhaps worse, who are stuck in jobs they hate or which don't bring them the rewards they deserve because they are convinced that "It's important, damn it!—to be a starving musician waiting tables.

But wait, it's worse. Turn on any interview show and observe the people interviewed: actress, writer, director, artist. Never coal miner, plumber, nurse, or developer. Even on the supposedly high-brow NPR (Terry Gross anyone?). Somehow I can't remember a single interview she has done with a bricklayer, accountant, or saleswoman. And the NYT devotes pages to the output of yet another photographer, none to a hard-working electrician who makes sure your lights come on in the morning.

The problem permeates our society. Here's another example. Go to flickr and poke around. You'll discover some great pictures, but you'll also discover scads upon scads of pictures working very very hard to be "artistic". They're dark, have weird shapes or effects, passed through strange filters. It's not that these people can't take good pictures, it's not that these people aren't creative, it's not even that these pictures aren't good; it's that they're so obsessed with being "artists"—it's clear that their lives will be utterly devoid of meaning otherwise—that they make it worse, they make it ugly, they miss the point. What they don't see is that ultimately we're all artists on the canvas of life.

When trying to understand the genesis of this phenomenon with respect to my own kids, I tried to put myself in their shoes. I thought about what the jobs that are out there are, from their point of view. There are maybe 20 or 30 engineering jobs—friends of the parents—and a smattering of maybe 5 or 10 jobs for plumbers, heating experts, handymen and the like who occasionally make the rounds. A few people mow lawns for a living—usually Mexicans in these parts. Then there are hundreds of jobs for actors, actresses, several hundred professional baseball players, hundreds of famous actors, hundreds of fabulously wealthy musicians, a hundred rich and powerful politicians in the Senate alone—you see them 24/7 on all the channels. Given these choices, isn't it obvious? Because on the one hand you have only a few jobs which a) don't pay all they well, b) are mundane, c) don't make you famous, and on the other hand you have many many jobs which have it all. What's to choose?

But can't we expect just a wee bit more sense from our Peabody Award-winning adults?

The Da Vinci Code Revealed

Thursday, May 18, 2006
Truepeers can rest easy. Here we get a view of the fascinating interplay on the set of the blockbuster movie The Da Vinci Code as Wuzzadem presents The Da Vinci Code: New And Improved.

HT: The Llama Butchers, who also provided the pointer to the English quiz below.

American Roots

Your Linguistic Profile::
60% General American English
15% Dixie
15% Yankee
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

What's with the polls?

From Gallup [registration required]:

President Bush's primetime immigration speech on Monday night was -- intentionally or not -- closely calibrated with what public opinion research shows is the basic structure of the public's views on the issue on immigration. Polling shows that Americans broadly favor four of the basic elements included in Bush's immigration plan: an increase in border security, an increase in personnel manning the border, a program that would allow immigrants to become citizens if they meet a number of specific requirements, and a plan to enforce penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants. When asked to choose between border control and dealing with the illegal immigrants already here, the public tilts towards giving a higher priority to increased border security. All of these points were reflected in the president's speech, suggesting that there will be little controversy concerning his police recommendations from the public's perspective.

The numbers were [in brief]:

62% of the people polled believe we can get control of the immigration problem

74% felt it was most important to control the border

71% felt it was most important to develop a plan to deal with the people here now.

By 52% to 43% people felt it was most important to halt illegal entry.

Only 21% support deporting all illegals and 61% support a road to citizenship.

This is pretty much in line with the CNN poll done the night of the speech which showed 79% approval of Bush's speech and 67% approval of his immigration plan. Zogby on the other hand says the support was split 47% to 47% in support of the Bush plan and Rasmussen says that Bush did badly with only about 39% supporting his plan and a majority supporting an enforcement only plan. hummmmmm.

What is up with this? These polls are not even close. Obviously they can not all be right. Does that mean none of them are?