Monday, November 29, 2004

Modern novels worth re-reading?

Hugh Hewitt has posted an interesting essay on looking for modern novels that are worth re-reading. Going under the assumption that the standard novel is a work of prose fiction, I'd have to say that there aren't many modern novels worth picking up in the first place. Even my beloved science-fiction novels aren't really worth re-reading anymore. I'd pick up Tom Wolfe's new book, but it has no reason for me to buy it; I'm simply not interested in the life of a fictional college student. I'm not even interested in how he uses the language to craft his stories, so I can't even get some kind of satisfaction from the technical aspect of his writing.

So, does anyone have an idea out there what is good enough to read, then read again at a later date as far as modern fiction is concerned? I'm open to anything from 1980 to today.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Ukraine parliament calls election invalid

Wow.

All of this protest over a vote. Why doesn't this happen in the United States? One reason is that candidates here believe in conceding their campaigns, Al Gore notwithstanding. There's a far more important reason why this is going on than the petulance that drives many Democrats. Ukrainians don't want to live in a vassal state of Russia. They remember what happened the last time such things happened. Or would we like to forget Chernobyl? How about the Cold War? Would we like to forget that? Would we like to forget the corruption that a one-party state engenders, or the divide between Party apparatchiks and Party workers in the former Soviet Union? How about the official stifling of dissent within the Soviet Union? Perhaps we should casually gloss these issues over, and let the Russian-backed candidate win.

The Ukrainians have not forgotten these issues, as they live with the consequences of the Soviet regime. They remember the days of central planning and one-party rule, as do the Poles, the Lithuanians, the Latvians, the Estonians... and they wish to be able to determine their nation's path without Russian interference. Many nations in Western Europe have turned blind eyes to the backing that Viktor Yanukovich received from Russia. The Ukrainian people have not been so blind to it. This is where the protesters come in. The European Union has finally noted that new elections are in order, as Ben Bot, Foreign Minister from Holland has agreed that new elections are in order.

For once the European Union and the United States are in agreement. Ukraine needs new elections. This time, perhaps the nations election commission will get it right. Let's do what we can in the United States to support Viktor Yushchenko's election.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I hope that you all got your fill of food, family, and football today.

I know that I'm thankful for many things. Loving parents and good friends are just two things out of many.

I'm thankful to gas station attendants who gave up their holiday to work so we don't have to worry about running out of gas on I-294.

I'm thankful for the utility workers who sat in their trucks today waiting for the call to restore power so that other families could enjoy their day off.

I'm thankful for the police officers and firemen who keep our cities protected so that we may eat in peace.

I'm thankful for all of our military personnel overseas and in the United States, who stand guard over our entire nation, who make the sacrifices necessary to protect our way of life. I thank them for taking over the duties of guarding our nation once my time in the service was done.

Most of all, I thank God Almighty for blessing me by letting me be born in the United States of America, where I can achieve whatever goal I wish. I thank Him for giving me my parents who have never failed to stay by my side, even when I've been most childish. I thank Him for giving me a family who comes together in peace and happiness. I thank Him for my friends, even when their beliefs don't always match mine. I thank Him for life itself.

I hope that your day has been as good as mine.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Dan Rather Retiring in March

In honor of Rather's getting the gentle boot out the door, I shall now regale you with a very stale rendition of Rob Schneider's "The Copier Guy" from Saturday Night Live.

THE DANSTER!

THE DANMEISTER!

FORGING COPIES!

PASSING FAKES AS REAL!

THE DANIMAL!

THE FIFTH-DAN BLACK BELT!

IF HE WAS A CARTOON, HE'D BE DANIMATION!

HATES THE PRESIDENT!

TRUSTED A DIRTY-TRICKS SPECIALIST!

HAS EGG ON HIS FACE!

NEEDS TO GO BACK TO HIS COUNTRY OF DANISTAN!

NO TEXAS AIR NATIONAL GUARD IN DANISTAN!

Seriously, though, I'm glad he's leaving. Dan Rather hasn't been a decent reporter since the early 80s. After he got mugged, he got weird. I still don't buy his explanation that he didn't know what he was getting when he received those copies of forged Texas ANG memos. Not double-checking your fact-checkers is something that fictional newscaster Ted Baxter (of Mary Tyler Moore Show fame for you really young kids out there) would do. We expect more from our real newscasters because we place a great trust in them. That great trust is to accurately report what we cannot see for ourselves due to time and distance restraints. With this forged memo scandal, Dan Rather has thrown his entire career into question. "What else has he done to willfully misinform us?" is something we should not have to ask of every single article written by a reporter.

Mind you there's a caveat to willful misinformation. National security issues have to skirt this area on regular occasion. There are times that the public's demand to know, their right to know, and their need to know go in separate directions. That's when willful misinformation is needed. For political campaigns, though, willful misinformation should be provided by the candidate for us to dissect, prove false, and lampoon. It should not be provided by the people who supposedly are trusted to bring us facts in the most objective manner possible.

I think this is why I like talk radio as opposed to television news. At least the biases are more open. It's why we have guys like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Hugh Hewitt. They're willing to admit they have a conservative bias when they talk about the news.

And have you helped switch Hugh's time slot at WIND-AM? See the post below for further details!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Help Switch Hugh's Schedule!

A few weeks ago, WIND-AM changed its format from Spanish-language music to AM talk radio. This allowed us Chicago-area listeners to receive Hugh Hewitt's radio show in its full 3-hour time frame. Previously, the show was only on for one hour on WYLL, a Christian talk station. There's only one little problem. Hugh's show is in its full format, but it's taped. Hugh's usual timeslot is 5pm-8pm Central time. That timeslot is currently filled by Michael Savage's show "Savage Nation." Mr. Savage's show is okay, but it's too intense for an evening drive-time show. Michael Savage has the perfect primetime show and delivery, a pit bull of the radio that can pull listeners away from the television. Hugh's show is entertaining, humorous, and provides quite a lot of good news analysis. It's a better drive time show for those of us leaving work who want a little relaxation with our news.

Please join me in asking the management at WIND-AM to switch timeslots between Hugh's show and Michael Savage's. Chicago needs a drivetime show that can can be both informative and fun for everyone to listen to.

Here's Hugh's site: HughHewitt.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Whoo!

Looks like Illinois residents who defend their home with firearms just got a boost from the state legislature:

The Volokh Conspiracy law-discussion blog

I'm surprised that the Legislature decided to override Ol' Blaggie's veto. I'm happy, though. It will allow another option in defense of one's home.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Alphecca: Weekly Check on the Bias

Jeff Soyer has his weekly check on 2nd Amendment-related stories from around the country. He even has one that pokes fun at "Ol' Blaggie" Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

I hang my head in shame for missing that one. Any chance I get to tweak the gov's vanity is an opportunity missed. Glenn Poshard, why couldn't you have won in 1998? You'd have been more pro-2A than Ol' Blaggie or George Ryan...
NBC tape apparently shows prisoner shot

Maybe you've seen this footage, maybe you haven't. Maybe you only heard the audio, like I did on my way to work this morning while listening to WLS. The Marine in question who shot this wounded terrorist is in the clear as far as I'm concerned. According to the article, the wounded terrorists were treated for their injuries and left in the mosque for a period of 24 hours. That's long enough for someone to arm them, wire them up with explosives, whatever it takes to kill American troops. I'd have done the same thing in that Marine's case. If it's a matter of heading off an ambush or suicide attack and keeping the my unit safe, then I'd shoot first and search the bodies later, too. No, I'm not trying to sound macho or bloodthirsty, and if you come away from this discussion with that impression then the fault is yours for reading too much into it. I would make the same judgment as that Marine, personal consequences be damned.

I'll be the first to admit that the Air Force didn't have much in the way of small unit tactics, even with airbase ground defense training. (What I would do to improve combat training in the Air Force is fodder for future posts.) We did, however, learn to work as a team, and part of that training is to keep your teammates alive and accounted for. If that meant killing a potential yet still-unverified threat to the team, wounded enemy combatant or not, so be it. My teammates would still be alive, and that would allow us to continue our mission.

One thing I have noticed is a lot of people trying to apply a law-enforcement approach ot the situation, where the use of deadly force is a last resort. War is quite different from law enforcement, no matter how many of the same terms may be used by both police and military units. The criteria for using deadly force are quite lower in war than in law enforcement. I haven't seen the terrorists in Iraq follow the Geneva Convention yet, but they seem to get a pass on that. It makes me wonder if the Convention laws were designed in such a manner to cause every move by one of the signatories to that treaty to be viewed as a potential war crime. That's great if you're trying to keep Denmark and Germany from fighting a border war, but it doesn't seem to work against people who will use mosques as staging areas for their attacks.

So, why are we being restrained when our enemy isn't? Following the Geneva Convention to the letter while fighting against a non-signatory group seems like a great way to lose a war. It's going to be very difficult to win a war when we have to agonize over every single soldier's actions. We've been pretty nice as far as conducting warfare is concerned. It may be time to stop being so nice and stop letting our enemies use our laws against us. Am I advocating scorched-earth warfare? No. There has got to be a better way for us to fight the terrorists in Iraq. Cutting and running is out of the question, so let's see what other options we have. Any ideas?

Monday, November 15, 2004

Our top story tonight...

Four Cabinet members have decided to call it quits. Colin Powell is the biggest name of the group, naturally, at Secretary of State. I don't think he always fit in well with the rest of President Bush's war cabinet, but he did bring enough charisma to keep Jacques Chirac out of our hair. He will be missed for being able to do at least that much for the US government. He had a great role in the good cop / bad cop style of diplomacy, being the "thoughful" member of the Bush administration. Basically, you could either surrender nicely to Secretary Powell, or else you'd have to face off with the rest of the administration. It also angered the French government, something I can usually agree with in practice if not in principle. (You're right, I don't care much for the French government. They sure bark a lot, but don't have much bite to back it up.)

With Secretary Powell resigning, President Bush has already tapped Condoleezza Rice as his nominee for Secretary of State. I don't see a single problem with that. She's got the chops for it from her National Security Advisor background, and can play academia-type games of politeness when dealing with diplomats from Continental Europe. I also think she'll be more tenacious in getting better deals for any American political capital spent in the rest of the world. She doesn't seem like she'll back down too often. I hope that's the case.

I also wonder who President Bush will tap for Secretary of Education Rod Paige's replacement as well. Secretary Paige has had to deal with the No Child Left Behind legislation, which still needs a lot more fine-tuning beyond the initial tweaks. I would also like someone who will keep the school voucher issue on the front burner.

Ann Veneman is leaving her post as Secretary of Agriculture. She dealt with a lot of boring issues, as many Midwesterners can attest. I wouldn't mind the next Secretary of Agriculture coming from Illinois, but that's local pride more than anything. Maybe this time we'll get some funding to figure out some way to get more funding for gee-whiz technologies like thermal depolymerization (converting animal carcasses into gasoline without the million-year wait) and biodiesel fuels.

With Spencer Abraham leaving as Secretary of Energy, I hope the next replacement will work to further tighten security at US nuclear power plants and create better security and usage for our current non-nuclear energy sources as well. The next Energy Secretary and Ag Secretary could work together on some of the ideas presented above to reduce dependence on foreign energy sources.

Combine this with John Ashcroft's resignation and his replacement with Alberto Gonzalez, and we've got a pretty hawkish Cabinet line-up for 2005. I like it. The current nominees have the experience to work with President Bush on national security issues. I hope this gives us a stronger United States once the new crew is confirmed.

In other news, the commute to work every day is very tiring, and my desire to not look at a computer screen every time I blink has caused me to post less than I want. I'm still going to post when I can during the week, though.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Yasser Arafat Is Finally Dead

He died in bed, in a Paris hospital. He should have died at the end of a rope. The Black September organization, the Munich Olympics, the failed revolution in Jordan, the murder of Christians and the razing of their villages during the Lebanese civil war, the bombing of the Beirut Marine barracks, allowing his thugs to seize the Church of the Nativity: these are a small sample of the works of his twisted mind. Need I go on with everything he's done to Israel as well, or should I mention his organization's numerous attacks on Americans instead? How about what he's done to his fellow Palestinians, leaving them in fetid refugee camps while he embezzled UN relief funds? This is a "world leader" worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize? All of the accolades given to him were something akin to propitiating sacrifices to old gods: gain favor, avoid wrath. Gain Arafat's favor, and maybe he won't send his terrorists into Europe, just Israel. Thanks to these gifts and praise, Yasser Arafat transformed into a celebrity and governments (including our own) accorded him status as an equal player. He died in comfort, surrounded by friends. His victims had no chance to do the same. If anyone's name should be spoken in damning, irreverent tones, it should be his. If anyone's life should be held up as a more modern example of evil covered by a layer of mealy-mouthed capitulation by his betters, it must be Arafat's.

At least one newspaper columnist agrees with me on Arafat's death, thank goodness. Would that there were more around the world.

Friday, November 05, 2004

So, I manage to score a couple of last-minute tickets to the Beastie Boys concert tonight. A couple of folks from work were unable to make it to the concert, so I invited a friend of mine who is probably even more of a Beasties fan than I am. I'm pretty sure that she has more of their albums than I do. We get to the company skybox and find out... we're the only ones there. Only two guys had bought tickets, couldn't use them, and decided to give them to me.

Amazing show. Absolutely amazing.

Now, you'd think with a group like this that is very liberal, they'd have a lot to say about the recent election. They had almost nothing to say politically-speaking, and what few insults they threw out about the President (maybe three) were half-hearted, almost a sop to the true believers in the crowd. Instead of whining further about it, they did the right thing. They took all that energy and put it into their show. Their DJ was amazing. I haven't seen anyone's hands move across turntables like that in a long time. The lightshow was fantastic. The Beasties performed a little something from every album of theirs, but it still surprised me when they pulled out "Hello Brooklyn." At various points they'd pull out a moveable stage and play instruments. Surprising, maybe to some, but definitely good.

They ended the show with encores of "Intergalatic" and "Sabotage," two of their best tracks. In all, the Beastie Boys played my kind of post-election show. They shut up and sang, putting all else aside but entertaining their fans.0+

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Stick a Fork in This Election

Okay, it's two days after the election and John Kerry hasn't pulled Al Gore's stunt from 2004. Maybe, just maybe, we can trust him to keep his word on this one. John Kerry did the honorable thing here and conceded. There is a caveat to this: doing the honorable thing still doesn't make up for his long record of selling out our armed forces. He poisoned the hearts and minds of the people he once swore to defend against his fellow servicemen. Because of this, I will never consider him worthy to hold office. I suppose he should consider himself lucky that he represents Massachusetts, then.

John Kerry has withdrawn his claim on the Presidency, and George W. Bush has another four years to help us towards an ownership society. We have a war to win against terrorists in Iraq and around the world where we find them. We also have budgets to fix, and with the increases in Republican seats in both the House and Senate, the President must allocate his funds better than in his previous term. We also have terms we must start dictating to some of our wayward friends in Continental Europe, but that's another rant for much, much later.

I know a lot of people aren't happy with this. 48% of those folks who voted would have loved to see President Bush replaced. That's still a minority, though, and that minority will have to reach out to the majority more than the majority will have to reach out to them. As the President said in his press conference this morning, "results matter." Getting 100% consensus is the best option, but if a beneficial result for all can be acheieved without agonizing over it and trying to get everyone to immediately agree, it should be taken. Arguing over processes will do nothing but slow down the actions. Didn't we see that in our 18-month "rush to war?"

Overall, I'm happy with the results of this election. The Republicans expanded their majorities in the House and Senate. George W. Bush is still President. Our nation has bounced back from the mess of 2000. I hope all you folks out there are willing to ride alongside us. Let's keep improving the United States of America.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A bit of a clarification

Some of you might not get what I meant by this:
Failure to vote is not only a failure to discharge your duty as a citizen, but a failure to make our President, whoever he may be in January, beholden to you.
I'm focusing on the last part, about making our President beholden to us. It's simple. If your preferred candidate wins, your preferred candidate should be more amenable to listening to your advice on certain issues, much like Representatives and Senators. If he loses, then the other guy owes you an explanation of his reasons for doing what he did. A lot of folks don't believe that President Bush gives explanations. He does. The members of the Cabinet do this as well. I think, however, that most of the folks demanding an explanation want to hear what they have already decided is the objective truth. I will be calling for explanations from John Kerry if he gets elected. He will need to defend every decision he makes, and do so before many more cameras than the one that C-SPAN 2 provides.
HAVE YOU VOTED YET?

I hope so.

Today is a very important day, as you should well know. Will our nation stay the course, or will we let other nations determine that course? Will we dictate terms or will we let terms be dictated to us? Will we charge our way through to defeat terrorism, or will we allow it to fester and become a part of our daily lives? These are a few of the questions I asked myself before I voted today.

If you haven't voted yet, find a way to take time off from work to go vote. When you do vote, I urge you to vote for President Bush. He does have the leadership necessary to carry our nation forward. His plans on national defense, national security, and his forward-looking plans for health care and retirement will help our nation remain strong. You may have reservations on his environmental policies, maybe even his gun-control policies, even same-sex marriage. Those issues are inconsequential compared to the other three issues I've laid out.

The US Senate race in Illinois... this is tougher than I'd expected. Do we take Barack Obama's genial style, or Alan Keyes' furious substance? Do we vote for an outsider with whom we agree, or for a local who does not truly represent our interests? Do we vote for a man who preaches in stark terms, who leaves no doubt as to his positions, or for a man who uses nuance to the point of leaving no real idea what he'll do? Who does Illinois need as a Senator more: Cotton Mather or Mister Rogers? Who do we really want? This Senate race will determine what needs to happen within the Illinois Republican Party. Despite his ability to shoot himself in the foot while putting his foot in his mouth, Alan Keyes represents my interests more than Barack Obama. I give my support to our Republican candidate, even though his rhetorical flourishes border on the ludicrous and overly divisive at times.

One word of advice to Mr. Keyes: if you want to really enjoy living in Illinois, I suggest moving to Springfield. That would be a great place to help re-invigorate the Republican party.

Please vote today. You may not agree with the men I endorse for President or US Senator. Failure to vote is not only a failure to discharge your duty as a citizen, but a failure to make our President, whoever he may be in January, beholden to you. Do your duty to your country and your fellow American.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Student Kicked for Wearing GOP Sweatshirt

So, a guy wears a College Republicans sweatshirt, and he gets kicked by a local college professor for this. Then she says she wishes she'd kicked higher and harder. So, the student files charges, the prof writes a letter of apology in return, and hopes that it will end any problems that will occur.

Charge her with assault and fire her for gross misconduct. Pretty simple, right? I don't believe for one minute that her apology was sincere. Professor Spero shouldn't be allowed to get away with this.

I heard about this incident as I was driving to work this morning on WLS. Are there any NPR listeners out there who heard about this on Morning Edition?