Thursday, June 30, 2005

Why Bush is Losing, Continued . . .

This photo from Little Green Footballs, showing the Iranian president with an American hostage in 1979.

Bush is being defeated by his own "Democracy" rhetoric, yet doesn't seem to realize it...

David Broder: PBS Stole From the Poor to Give to The Rich . . .

In today's column, David Broder points out that PBS took its extra $100 million congressional appropriation from federal programs designed to help the poorest Americans. Which kind of makes Big Bird and the Big Red Dog Robin Hoods in reverse, you might say...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Russian Dilettante's on Chechnya

From The Russian Dilettante's Weblog:
Better than a crime?
'Worse than a crime: a blunder.' Some ascribe it to Talleyrand, others to Joseph Fouch?, the infamous, immoral post-Revolution police minister.
Stalin's and Beria's deporting the Chechens to Kazakhstan in 1944 was a crime.
Khruschev's reversal in 1956, which allowed the exiles to return, was a mistake. An ethically required, and morally commendable act but still a mistake. One of enormous proportions.


Why Doesn't Bush Hire Roger L. Simon?

He diagnosed the result of Bush's speech, in advance:
Speaking of which, some of us are waiting for President Bush's speech tonight, the one that is intended to put a weary public back on course in Iraq. I suspect it will not succeed, not because what Bush says will not be true or eloquent (he has some good writers and thinkers), but because he is surrounded by cacophony, some of it of his own making. By turning so rapidly and fully to his domestic agenda in his second term, he is partly responsible for redirecting attention from what is by far the major issue of our time - the modernizing of Islamic civilization before it becomes massively destructive to itself and others. For whatever its importance, history will regard fixing social security (and similar matters) as a rather minor problem by comparison.

Shelby Foote, R.I.P.

In our local paper, Hodding Carter called him a wiseacre, and this biography from the University of Virginia helps explain the appeal of Shelby Foote:
He rose to the rank of captain before being dismissed by court-martial in Ireland in 1944 after traveling two miles beyond the official limit to see his girlfriend (who later would become his first wife); he joined the Marines the next year.

Can't imagine Ken Burns doing that sort of thing . . .

Aljazeera on reaction to Bush's speech

Aljazeera.Net has some Iraqi responses to President Bush's speech last night.

I didn't watch, so can't comment, except to remind President Bush of the cliche, actions speak louder . . .

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Love Feast

On a weekend visit to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, we discovered that "the love feast" that sounds so much like a 1960s thing actually was a part of the ritual of The Moravian Church. Bethlehem, PA was a Moravian settlement long before it became a steel town, and has a historical district which includes the Moravian college and original communal living facilities. Well worth a visit, if you are ever in the area.

"This is Burning Man"

I found this link to Brian Doherty's book This is Burning Man via the Grokster case. It looks interesting, from a cultural studies perspective...

Explaining the MGM v. Grokster Decision

Mike Godwin tells Reason readers what the Supreme Court decision really means for the future of file-sharing. He says it is not as clear as it seems.

Monday, June 27, 2005

America's Most-Hated Minority

Agustin Blazquez sent me his latest essay on the plight of Cuban-Americans:
by Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton

On March 26, 2005, on the Washington, DC local PBS station WETA Channel 26, while watching "Viewer Favorites," I was shocked to see singer Eric Burton - formerly of the group "The Animals" - wearing a Che Guevara shirt while performing on that show.

As a Cuban American, as a writer and a filmmaker, I am acquainted with the Che as a mass murderer who executed, without trial, many Cubans at La CabaÒa fortress in Havana as well as in the Sierra Maestra Mountains before 1959.

It is shocking that an educational public television station is not aware of Che's criminal record and let pass such an insensitive and offensive display of disrespect to Che's victims and the Cuban American community in the U.S. If Mr. Burton had worn a Hitler or a swastika printed shirt, he wouldn't have been presented - rightfully so - in order not to offend the Jewish victims and Holocaust survivors.

No PBS station would dare to show a performer wearing Ku-Klux-Klan apparel, a pro-David Duke or anti-Arab, anti-Islam, anti-Mexican, anti-Chinese or any other minority group in the U.S. It would have been simply edited out without any regard to what its creator intended.

Unfortunately, those considerations do not apply concerning the Cuban American community. Apparently everybody has carte blanche to offend and defame us without impunity in all print media, radio and TV as well as academia. Moreover, I believe there is even encouragement for bashing and scorning Cuban Americans.

But, stupid me, I decided to contact WETA. On March 29, I wrote an open letter complaining and requesting an apology from Sheryl Lahti, the Director of Audience Services at that PBS station with copies to Michael Pack and John Prizer of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. As of this writing I haven't received reply from Ms. Lahti or anyone else from WETA or PBS.

A Cuban American advocate for Democracy and Human Rights in Cuba from New York City who read my letter at LaurenceJarvikOnline, on April 4 wrote complaining about the Eric Burton blunder. The next day he got an email from Danielle Dunbar (, WETA's Audience Service Coordinator.

She wrote, "Thank you for watching WETA and for taking the time to write to us about one of the performers you saw in 'My Music: The 60s Generation.' While I am sorry to hear that you object to a portion of the program, I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

"While WETA airs the fundraising special, we did not produce the program. The show was produced by TJL Productions and distributed by PBS. TJL Productions is solely responsible for its content. Nonetheless, as a public broadcaster that produces, broadcasts and values a wide range of programs that cover a divergent range of topics, it would be inappropriate for WETA to engage in such censorship. While you may dislike images of a particular subject, others may respond favorably to the same image. It is not our intent or role to suppress or promote either view, but to present the program as the show's creator intended. How you feel about that is a matter of personal choice. Further, there are no elements to the program that violate any FCC rules or guidelines. 'My Music' has been a very popular program with WETA's members and viewers, and I expect that we will air it again in the future."

I think her arguments are not valid. Of course PBS is responsible for what they decide show, especially if it is offensive to a minority and PBS/WETA does exercise censorship in what they present about Castro's Cuba. Even Oscar winning Nestor Almendros' "Nobody Listened" had to be edited and shortened against what its "creator intended" in order to be aired by PBS/WETA in tandem with a Saul Landau's pro-Castro documentary. So PBS practices selective censorship in order not to offend Castro while doesn't care about his victims.

However, the pro-Castro documentaries of Estela Bravo (a native New Yorker who has lived in Cuba since 1963 as a member of the pro-Castro foreign elite) are shown on PBS/WETA without the benefit of showing an opposite point of view. Yes, PBS/WETA offers opportunities to one side, but not the other.

In spite of our complaints, Danielle Dunbar is defiant at the end when she arrogantly states, "'My Music' has been a very popular program with WETA's members and viewers, and I expect that we will air it again in the future." Their attitude is of insensitivity and utter disdain for Cuban Americans feelings.

Famous guitarist Carlos Santana proudly wearing a Che t-shirt while performing at the 2005 Oscars Award ceremony recently offended uncountable Cuban Americans. Famous Cuban American saxophonist, Paquito D'Rivera, was offended and wrote a public letter to his colleague.

In his letter, Paquito D'Rivera says to Carlos Santana, "not too long ago you committed the faux-pas of appearing at the Oscar Awards ceremony, brandishing, with pride, an enormous crucifix over a t-shirt with that archaic and stereotyped image of 'The Butcher of the Cabana,' the moniker given to the lamentable character known as Che Guevara by those Cubans who had to suffer his tortures and humiliations in that nefarious prison.

"One of these Cubans was my cousin Bebo, imprisoned there just for being a Christian. He recounts to me on occasion, always with infinite bitterness, how he could hear, from his cell, in the early hours of dawn, the executions without prior trials or process of law, of the many who died shouting, 'Long Live Christ The King!'

"The guerrilla guy with the beret with the star is something more than that ridiculous film about a motorcycle, my illustrious colleague, and to juxtapose Christ with ChÈ Guevara is like entering a synagogue with a swastika hanging from your neck; it's also a harsh blow in the face of that Cuban youth from the 60's, who had to go into hiding to listen to your albums which the Revolution, and the troglodyte Argentinean and his cohorts, dubbed as 'imperialist music' (i.e. Rock & Roll).

"I can't find all the words to express my indignation over your irresponsible attitude, but believe me that in spite of all, as an artist I always wish you luck."

Santana later apologized on the Spanish TV show "Primer Impacto" on the UNIVISION network. But the U.S. media said nothing.

On June 1, 2005, Santana had a concert at the American Airline Arena (AAA) in Miami. Cuban Americans organized a silent vigil carrying candles and crosses for each one of Che's victims in front of AAA. As usual the U.S. media didn't report the vigil. But according to sources inside AAA, Santana lost more than 40% in ticket sales.

Humberto Fontova, the author of the newly released book "Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant" in a recent article titled "Che at the Oscars" writes about the testimony of a Cuban American, Pierre San Martin, that was one of the people jailed by Che. Fontova refers to an article in El Nuevo Herald a few years ago.

In it, San Martin says, "32 of us were crammed into a cell, 16 of us would stand while the other sixteen tried to sleep on the cold filthy floor. We took shifts that way. Actually, we considered ourselves lucky. After all, we were alive. Dozens were led from the cells to the firing squad daily. The volleys kept us awake. We felt that any one of those minutes would be our last.

"One morning the horrible sound of that rusty steel door swinging open startled us awake and Che's guards shoved a new prisoner into our cell. His face was bruised and smeared with blood. We could only gape. He was a boy, couldn't have been much older than 12, maybe 14.

"'What did you do?' We asked horrified. 'I tried to defend my papa,' gasped the bloodied boy. 'I tried to keep these Communist sons of b**tches form murdering him! But they sent him to the firing squad.

"Soon Che's goons came back, the rusty steel door opened and they yanked the valiant boy out of the cell. 'We all rushed to the cell's window that faced the execution pit,' recalls Mr. San Martin. 'We simply couldn't believe they'd murder him!'

"'Then we spotted him, strutting around the blood-drenched execution yard with his hands on his waist and barking orders--the gallant Che Guevara.' Here Che was finally in his element. In battle he was a sad joke, a bumbler of epic proportions (For details see Fidel; Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant). But up against disarmed and bloodied boys he was a snarling tiger. 'Kneel Down! Che barked at the boy.

"'ASSASSINS!' We screamed for our window. 'MURDERERS!! HOW CAN YOU MURDER A LITTLE BOY!' I said: KNEEL DOWN!' Che barked again.

"The boy stared Che resolutely in the face. 'If you're going to kill me,' he yelled, 'you'll have to do it while I'm standing! MEN die standing!'

"COWARDS!--MURDERERS!..Sons of B**TCHES!' The men yelled desperately from their cells. "LEAVE HIM ALONE!' HOW CAN...?!

"And then we saw Che upholstering his pistol. It didn't seem possible. But Che raised his pistol, put the barrel to the back of the boy neck and blasted. The shot almost decapitated the young boy.

"We erupted. We were enraged, hysterical, banging on the bars.'MURDERERS!--ASSASSINS!' His murder finished, Che finally looked up at us, pointed his pistol, and BLAM!-BLAM-BLAM! emptied his clip in our direction. Several of us were wounded by his shots."

"To a man (and boy) Che's murder victims went down in a blaze of defiance and glory. So let's recall Che's own plea when the wheels of justice finally turned and he was cornered in Bolivia, 'Don't Shoot!' he whimpered. 'I'm Che ! I'm worth more to you alive than dead!'

"This swinish and murdering coward, this child-killer, was the toast of the Oscars." Fontova concludes.

And now WETA will defiantly is hoping to show Eric Burton again proudly wearing a criminal Che t-shirt without apologizing to his victims, one of them is a young boy 12 or 14 years old.

Cuban Americans sadly watch with concern and horror such open displays of hatred toward us as a minority in the U.S.

(c) 2005 ABIP
Agustin Blazquez, Producer/director of the documentaries
COVERING CUBA, CUBA: The Pearl of the Antilles, COVERING CUBA 2: The Next Generation & COVERING CUBA 3: Elian presented at the 2003 Miami Latin Film Festival and the 2004 American Film Renaissance Film Festival in Dallas, Texas and the upcoming COVERING CUBA 4: The Rats Below and Dan Rather "60 Minutes" an inside view (ALL AVAILABLE AT: Author with Carlos Wotzkow of the book COVERING AND DISCOVERING and translator with Jaums Sutton of the book by Luis Grave de Peralta Morell THE MAFIA OF HAVANA: The Cuban Cosa Nostra.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Why Bush is Losing . . .

Victor Davis Hanson declares that he's winning, but actually explains why Bush is losing the Global War on Terror:
If President Bush were a liberal Democrat; if he were bombing a white Christian, politically clumsy fascist in the heart of Europe; if al Qaeda and its Islamist adherents were properly seen as eighth-century tormenters of humanists, women, homosexuals, non-Arabs, and non-Wahhabi believers; and if Iraq had become completely somnolent with the toppling of Saddam's statue, then the American people would have remained behind the effort to dismantle Islamic fundamentalism and create the foundations to ensure its permanent demise.

IMHO Bush bears the responsibility for his failures (Reagan did OK, and he certainly wasn't a liberal Democrat in office), but Hanson is right about some other things, and the article is worth reading. (link from Little Green Footballs)

Israelis Charge USAID Funds Terrorists

The New York Sun reports that an Israeli groups has charged the US Agency for International Development with funding terrorists. I believe these allegations are true, despite USAID's denials.
"Governmental and non-governmental organizations in the Palestinian Authority continue to receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. Agency for International Development, some of which is going directly to frameworks that sponsor branches of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations," the report's executive summary says.

When I was living in Uzbekistan, USAID was funding some questionable people there, too . . . (link via Little Green Footballs)

An Afghanistan Blog

I found Miserable Donuts through a link on a comment on a posting I made at It's pretty interesting . . .

Why Do They Hate US? (cont'd.)

Pew Global Attitudes Project: Introduction: 16-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey: U.S. Image Up Slightly, But Still Negative:

Anti-Americanism in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, which surged as a result of the U.S. war in Iraq, shows modest signs of abating. But the United States remains broadly disliked in most countries surveyed, and the opinion of the American people is not as positive as it once was. The magnitude of America's image problem is such that even popular U.S. policies have done little to repair it. President George W. Bush's calls for greater democracy in the Middle East and U.S. aid for tsunami victims in Asia have been well-received in many countries, but only in Indonesia, India and Russia has there been significant improvement in overall opinions of the U.S.

AEI Scholar Wrong to Champion Islamism

Daniel Pipes takes on the increasingly fashionable policy recommendations of former CIA agent Reuel Gerecht, now at the American Enterprise Institute, who calls for the election of Islamist fundamentalist leaders as part of President Bush's "democracy" strategy :

Reuel Gerecht is someone whose work I admire - he is an insightful and prolific writer on matters Middle Eastern, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a frequent contributor to the Weekly Standard. In 1997, I called his book, Know Thine Enemy (written under the pseudonym, Edward Shirley) a 'quite brilliant spy's report.'

But Gerecht has lately become the most prominent voice of the responsible right to advocate welcoming radical Islam's coming to power. Toward this end, he offers aphorisms such as 'Bin Laden-ism can only be gutted by fundamentalists' and 'Moderate Muslims are not the answer. Shiite clerics and Sunni fundamentalists are our salvation from future 9/11s.'

In a short book, The Islamic Paradox: Shiite Clerics, Sunni Fundamentalists and the Coming of Arab Democracy, Mr. Gerecht lays out his views. Unlike the appeasers and the woolly-minded, he neither pre-empts nor deludes himself. His analysis is hardheaded, even clever. But his conclusion is fundamentally flawed.

Contra Gerecht, Pipes argues Islamist nations are a direct threat to the United States, citing the example of Iran's export of terrorism and nuclear blackmail. Pipes concludes:

In accepting the horrors of Islamist rule, Gerecht is unnecessarily defeatist. Rather than passively reconcile itself to decades of totalitarian rule, Washington should actively help Muslim countries navigate from autocracy to democracy without passing through an Islamist phase.

This is indeed achievable. As I wrote a decade ago in response to the Algerian crisis, instead of focusing on quick elections, which almost always benefit the Islamists, the American government should shift its efforts to slower and deeper goals: "political participation, the rule of law (including an independent judiciary), freedom of speech and religion, property rights, minority rights, and the right to form voluntary organizations (especially political parties)." Elections should only follow on the achievement of these steps. Realistically, they could well take decades to achieve.

Elections should culminate the democratic process, not start it. They ought to celebrate civil society successfully achieved. Once such a civil society exists (as it does in Iran but not in Algeria), voters are unlikely to vote Islamists into power.

Unfortunately, Reuel Gerecht seems to have more followers than Daniel Pipes in Washington policy-making circles these days, IMHO.

Latest News from Holland

Can be found on the interesting blog called Dutch Report.

Tampa Terrorism Trial

You won't read about it in the New York Times--which is censoring the story for political reasons, according to Roger L. Simon--but Tampa Bay Online has full coverage of Florida's terrorism trial at: Al-Arian Special Report.

All Hat and No Cattle . . .

That's what the Republicans showed themselves as, when the House restored $100 million to public broadcasting:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Big Bird and National Public Radio won a reprieve Thursday as the House restored $100 million that had been proposed as a budget cut for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Of course, this money may be used against Republicans in the 2006 election cycle. And another legislative defeat adds to Bush's "lame duck" status. Ken Tomlinson might as well make out the check directly to the Democratic National Committee.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Cato Institute: Defund PBS

David Boaz writes:: "It's simply wrong for tax-funded broadcasters to use our tax dollars to lobby on behalf of getting more tax dollars. When government money is used to influence the government, it's like putting a thumb on the scales of public debate. Government itself is tipping the scales in one direction."

Who are Russia's enemies?

RIA Novosti's poll results are intersting: "The results of the poll of 1,600 Russian adults were given wide coverage in Russian media, but it will take some time to analyze them because the new list of enemies is a bombshell. Respondents named Latvia (49%), Lithuania (42%), Georgia (38%) and Estonia (32%) as Russia's greatest enemies, while the list of friends includes Belarus (46%), Germany (23%), Kazakhstan (20%), India (16%), and France (13%). The first striking thing is the absence of the United States, the archenemy of yesteryear. Compared to the recent past, public hostility to the U.S. has plummeted. Most Russian analysts of the poll's results have not even noticed this: America does not interest them either, although just a few years ago most Russian and American political scientists predicted a rapid growth of anti-American sentiments in Russia "

Cuban-Americans Infiltrate Castro's Washington, DC Party

Agustin Blazquez sent us the following news:
In fulfillment with one of the primary objectives of The Domino Network, education, Maria Teresa Arguelles joined a group of Cuban Americans and Americans who infiltrated a gala hosted by the organization Pros in the City and the Cuban Interest Section at the former Embassy of Cuba in Washington DC this past Saturday evening. The infiltration was the brainchild of Maria Werlau, a prominent activist from the New York/ New Jersey area and a fellow activist from the same area.  Younger generation Cuban Americans comprised the group of infiltrators along with liberty loving Americans. The diverse group lives in various cities, including Chicago and the New York, New Hampshire, South Florida, and Metropolitan Washington areas, and belongs to various generations. 

The group that penetrated the Cuban Mission was able to bypass the security apparatus of the Cuban regime even though all guests had to be cleared by a Cuban security team before entering the party. Among the group were key individuals who recently had spoken publicly in the Washington area about the violations of human, civic, political and labor rights inside Cuba.  During the gala, the group distributed cards with photos of the Cuba enjoyed by tourists, contrasted with photos of the terrible conditions in Cuba and the sad reality of oppression and injustice. Surrounded by the vigilant eye of the Cuban security group, the group bypassed the vigilance and was able to interact with the guests, even able to converse with them. 

[ authorize the reproduction and distribution of this E-Mail as long as the source is credited:]

A Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy?

That's the phrase that comes to mind after reading Paul Farhi's article about the politics of public broadcasting in today's Washington Post.

Yet as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on the biggest federal cutback ever for public broadcasting, there isn't much diversity to be found among the people on either side. The battle lines over public broadcasting have been drawn in sharply partisan fashion: Democrats in Congress and liberal organizations have emerged as public broadcasting's most visible and vocal supporters, while Republicans and conservatives have stayed mostly silent.

Among the groups that have been petitioning Congress on behalf of public broadcasting are a number with a history of liberal advocacy. These include People for the American Way, FreePress, Media Matters and, which last year raised millions of dollars for ads critical of President Bush's reelection.

We report, you decide . . .

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Case for De-Funding Public Broadcasting

For more on this kerfuffle, see Cliff Kincaid's report for Accuracy in Media . . .

Big Red Dog Wants Ken Tomlinson's Head!

This photo
from the NY Times shows the Public Broadcasting Lynch Mob on the march:

Jamie Rose for The New York Times

Clifford the Big Red Dog, with Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and others, headed to a Capitol Hill news conference to protest proposed financing cuts for public broadcasting.

Here's the NY Times article that says 16 Democrats want Tomlinson out for giving a grant to a conservative.

Are the Democrats any more serious about this than the Republicans? The best way to get rid of Ken Tomlinson is to ZERO OUT THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING. Then, he won't have a job! So, the Democrats can solve their problem by joining with the Republicans on this one--if they mean what they say . . .

Mississippi Klansman Convicted Guilty in Miss. - 41 years later:
PHILADELPHIA, Miss. -- On the 41st anniversary of the murders that came to define their state as an outpost of racial hate, Mississippi jurors yesterday convicted former Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen of manslaughter in the 1964 deaths of three civil rights workers.

At least Killen didn't get away with his crime forever. Better late than never...

And some lessons for President Bush's "Global War on Terror." Namely, the KKK and the Islamist terrorist groups share similar community ties, social patterns of connection, and even the belief that their organizations were doing good. Most interesting in this regard was the testimony on Killen's behalf that the KKK was a charitable group that did many good works. We've heard the same sorts of things about Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and other racist, supremacist, and violent terrorist outfits. Fear of the Klan protected Killen for two generations. Only when the Klan had been sufficiently weakened could he be convicted. This was not accomplished by working to bring the Klan within the system--it was achieved by crushing the Klan and making membership a shameful secret rather than a badge of pride.

In this regard, pictures of President Bush holding hands with the Islamist Saudi monarch a few months ago were the equivalent of Lyndon Johnson hugging a grand Kleagle in 1964. It's not the way to go.

The war on terror will be won the same way the war against the Klan was, through zero tolerance for terrorists and their apologists. There is no other way.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Mazo de la Roche

Our family affair was held at a Canadian inn frequented by the authorMazo de la Roche, who wrote about the Whiteoaks of Jalna, in a Galsworthy way. Our cousins had heard of her, and read her books, but we hadn't.

Off we went to visit her grave at St. George's Church in Jackson's Point, Ontario. Now, we're just a little bit interested in yesterday's best-selling author, known to us only as a throwaway line in Simon Gray's play, "Butley."

Bolton Will Go to the UN

Although he is having a hard time getting through the Senate, Bolton will go to the UN, possibly as a recess appointment this July. That gives him a year to build a record. My guess is that John Bolton will do a good job, and be confirmed after a year--if he's not confirmed before July.

POLITICAL FALLOUT: If the Senate doesn't confirm Bolton soon, Republicans can make the cloture vote an equivalent of Bolton's Up or Down confirmation -- and use it in 2006 Senate campaigns against vulnerable Democrats...

When is an Ad not an Ad?

When it airs on PBS, according to Paul Farhi's Washington Post article Public Broadcasters Air Ads Against Federal Cutback.

What's wrong with this picture?

1. Public broadcasting isn't supposed to air ads;

2. Public broadcasting stations are prohibited by law from airing "calls to action" -- yet reportedly that is exactly what these ads do;

3. Public broadcasting must by law treat all matters of public controversy with "balance and objectivity"--yet these call to action ads are only giving one side of the issue.

Let alone the legal constraints on lobbying Congress resulting from campaign finance reform laws. So, if anyone had an interest in investigating public broadcasting in this regard, it probably would reveal a number of legal and financial scandals (ads cost money), some of which might result in Elliot Spitzer-like prosecutions, even some RICO provisions might apply.

Put Big Bird behind bars! (But I fear he might have more "protection" than Martha Stewart...)

NY Times Exposes -- a Conservative Grant Recipient at CPB . . .

The headline says it all: Public Broadcasting Monitor Had Worked at Center Founded by Conservatives.

IMHO the fact that it seems to be headline news when a conservative gets a CPB grant is evidence that something is rotten in public broadcasting.

A Shameless Plug for a Relative's Paintings . . .

At a family affair this weekend, I learned that my cousin Louise has a website for her paintings at She did the cover art for Ann Robinson's collection of stories, Ordinary Perils.

Public Broadcasting's Never-Ending Hoax

Even Amy Harmon of The New York Timesrecognizes that is passing on an old "Save NPR and PBS" web hoax, even though there is no way the networks could possibly go off the air (NPR alone recently received a 200 million dollar bequest from McDonald's heiress Joan Kroc).

If the regulators at the FTC had any principles, they'd go after public broadcasters and their flacks at places like for false, misleading, and deceptive marketing practices.

Of course, I'm not holding my breath...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Maybe Peggy Noonan Wants Another PBS Show...

Last time PBS faced a big funding cut, the network gave her a television show. Now, unsurprisingly, Peggy Noonan says she wants Republicans to save PBS.

I'm not saying that the Wall Street Journal has gone soft on this issue since they got their own PBS series, but once upon a time the editors used to ask me to write op-eds on the topic. Now, they don't.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

PBS Back in the News

Phones started ringing again, after some 9 years, from people who want to know what I think about Republican threats to cut PBS funding. PBS, meanwhile, is engaged in a PR campaign that has led to stories like this on: PBS Updates Editorial Standards, Adds Ombudsman in the Washington Post today:

Amid conflict over the political content of its programming, the Public Broadcasting Service yesterday unveiled editorial standards intended to ensure balance and fairness in its news, science and documentary shows.

Separately, Alexandria-based PBS also said it would hire an ombudsman for the first time to review controversial programs after they air.

Actually, Jim Lehrer began his national PBS career as an ombudsman almost 30 years ago. He was hired to oversee balance and fairness when the network was under attack from Richard Nixon. It worked out OK for him--but not so well for President Nixon, when Lehrer hosted PBS's coverage of Congressional impeachment hearings.

IMHO the Republicans have been "all hat and no cattle" (Texas talk that Jim Lehrer and George Bush might understand) when it comes to zeroing out PBS and NPR. Useful for scare stories in the mainstream media to motivate the liberal donor base of the Democratic Party, but not much else. I'll believe they are serious the day I'm offered Jim Lerher's old job as PBS Vice-President for Balance and Objectivity.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Congress to Cut PBS?

The New York Times says Congress is cutting funding for PBS. Frankly, I don't believe it, since so far President Bush has been giving PBS and NPR more money than they got under President Clinton--his thanks has been a barrage of anti-American propaganda designed to defeat the United States in the Global War on Terror, as well as promote additional anti-Republican agenda items. But I'd be happy to be proven wrong.

As I've said before, PBS and NPR money might better be used to pay for armor to protect American troops in Iraq.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

"Mikhail Khodorkovsky is not the only political prisoner in Russia"

So says The Russian Dilettante's Weblog:

It is clear now, even to me, that Khodorkovsky is a political prisoner. But quite a few other people have been arrested in the course of the YUKOS investigation. All of them, I believe, should be considered political prisoners.
Most of these people are former employees of YUKOS and its affiliated companies. Unlike Khodorkovsky, who knew what risks he was taking, whose supporters are plenty and whose wealth is still considerable, most of these people were simply employees, neither rich nor powerful. They are not persecuted for their political convictions or actions, yet their persecution is politically motivated; hence, they, too, are political prisoners.
The most outrageous case, I think, is that of Svetlana Bakhmina, a mother of two and a former deputy head of YUKOS' legal department. Svetlana was arrested on Dec. 7, 2004, on a YUKOS-related charge, and has been imprisoned since. Kept in a cell with nine other women, she was denied phone calls to her children (seven and three years old) and went on a hunger strike to protest the ban. Investigators interrogated her for hours on end; after an eight-hour interrogation session Svetlana, who suffers from a chronic heart disease, collapse and was taken to -- alas -- a prison hospital.

What is to be done in Uzbekistan?

Nathan Hamm answers Michael J. Totten's call to dump Uzbek president Islam Karimov, in a thoughtful discussion of the difficulties facing American policy towards this Central Asian nation in the aftermath of the Andijan massacre. Nathan's bottom line is handle with care:

Uzbekistan's success is as important if not more important to Central Asia's future as Afghanistan. It's worth taking plenty of time to figure out the best way to proceed.

German TV: Bush Planned 9/11

I found Tom Goeller's Washington Times story through a link on the Drudge Report.:

A fictional crime drama based on the premise that the Bush administration ordered the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington aired this week on German state television, prompting the Green Party chairman to call for an investigation.

'I think absolutely nothing of the conspiracy theory that has been hawked in this series. I hope this particular TV movie will be discussed very critically at the next supervisory board meeting of ARD [state television],' said Green Party Chairman Reinhard Buetikofer, who acknowledged that he had not seen the show.

Sunday night's episode of 'Tatort,' a popular murder mystery that has been running on state-run ARD-German television for 35 years, revolved around a German woman and a man who was killed in her apartment.

According to the plot, which was seen by approximately 7 million Germans, the dead man had been trained to be one of the September 11 pilots but was left behind, only to be tracked down and killed by CIA or FBI assassins.

The woman, who says in the program that the September 11 attacks were instigated by the Bush family for oil and power, then is targeted, presumably to silence her. The drama concludes with the German detectives accepting the truth of her story as she eludes the U.S. government hit men and escapes to safety in an unnamed Arab country.

As ludicrous as it may sound to most Americans, the tale has resonance in Germany, where fantastic conspiracy theories often are taken as fact.

Of course, this is so-called "black" propaganda, part of a "big lie" campaign against America.

My students in Uzbekistan believed this sort of nonsense, my students in Russia believed it, and I'm sure the Germans believe it also. That this sort of thing is being broadcast on German TV, in this day and age, is a troubling sign for the US, indeed...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Anne Bancroft, Bronxite

The New York Times has a nice obituary of Anne Bancroft today. What I really liked is that Bancroft was an Italian girl from The Bronx, born Anna Louisa Maria Italiano. She was a versatile and talented actress, and always projected a certain cool elegance. Underneath, she must have been a volcano... Bancroft was great as the Miracle Worker as well as Mrs. Robinson. Mel Brooks was lucky to have been married to her.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Vladimir Putin's Russia

Peter Baker and Susan B. Glasser have an interesting article in today's in today's Washington Post about Putin's path to power, taken from their new book, Kremlin Rising. It seems pretty accurate.

This quote, for example, rings true: "'The Russian people,' Putin's chief of staff, Alexander Voloshin, regularly told colleagues behind closed doors, 'are not ready for democracy.'"

Kerry Dumber Than Bush

At least according to a Boston Globe report of his 71 average at Yale. Bush had a 76 average.


Laurence Leamer has a new book out, a biography of Arnold Schwarznegger. I met him a million years ago, and based on what I know about him--and the fact that he's apparently been banned by the Today Show on NBC--think this new book may have some juicy tidbits of the Kitty Kelley sort...

Roger L. Simon v. Amnesty International

After its latest report on the American "gulag," Roger L. Simon says the international human rights NGO is, "in Orwell's evocative phrase,'objectively pro-fascist.'"

Aero Memories

OpinionJournal has a nice article today about Santa Monica's Aero Theatre, where I used to watch movies when I lived on the West Coast. It's nice to read that the movie house is still in operation. We had a similar situation here in DC with the Avalon movie theatre, I signed a petition to save it. A big real-estate developer, Douglas Jemal, did exactly that--and it is back in operation as an art house run by a foundation. They did a beautiful job with the restoration of the building, too. If it can happen here in DC, without a movie industry, it can happen in Santa Monica. So, I'll repeat a slogan of the day: "Save the Aero!"

Monday, June 06, 2005

Natan Sharansky on Uzbekistan

From the May 25, 2005 issue of The Forward:
In an interview with the Israeli daily Novosti Nedeli last August, Sharansky said that terrorism threats were a reminder that Karimov's uncompromising stance against extremists was justified, according to the BBC monitoring service.

"The Uzbek government adopted such an uncompromising position because it is understood in Tashkent, in the same way as Jerusalem, that the battle against terrorism is not some sort of tribal conflict; it is a world war of the forces of democracy against international terrorism," Sharansky was quoted as saying. He added, "It goes without saying that the strengthening, development and defense of democracy in Uzbekistan are an important part of the struggle for human rights all over the world. However, it would be a mistake to believe that the democratization process could be speeded up by way of slander and defaming the courageous struggle that Uzbekistan is waging against terrorism."

Mark Steyn on President Hillary Clinton (2008)

Read the whole thing:

A Rodham Administration would lend an obvious symmetry to the last two decades of Presidential history: Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton. But just as it rapidly became clear that Bush Jr was a far more consequential figure than Bush Sr, so the pants-suited Clinton would set out to be a more consequential figure than the pantsless Clinton.

Gag me with a spoon!

That's my response to the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference tribute to Dan Rather, which Little Green Footballs found described

Rather than just quietly going away, Rather is staying "in your face" after the 60 Minutes II document fraud. Anyone paying tribute to this, to say the least, isn't an honest reporter or editor -- much less an investigative one, since Rather and company for some reason didn't bother to investigate the documents to determine their authenticity before broadcasting them to the nation.

Memo to President Bush: Stop Embracing Islamists...

Says Michael Rubin, in Middle East Forum:

By embracing Islamists in Iran, President Jimmy Carter replaced one dictatorship with another. [Editor's note: Far worse than the Shah] The Bush administration's flirtation with Arab Islamists risks doing the same. Washington should push for democracy, but only work with groups willing to abide by democratic precepts.

Will Bushies heed this advice, before it is too late?

Why is Left-Wing Theatre so Lousy?

That's Terry Teachout's question in today's column on OpinionJournal - Extra. He's been to a lot of bad plays lately, by people such as Sam Shepard . . .

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Marjorie Phillips' Masterwork

Today several Washington, DC museums were open for free. After seeing chef Deborah Madison cook some vegetarian croquettes at the DC Farmer's Market, I went with some friends to the Phillips Collection, where they've taken Marjorie Phillips' painting of the old Washington Senators out of storage in celebration of the return of America's favorite pastime to the Nation's Capital. The resurrection of this painting, and my personal discovery of Marjorie Phillips as an artist, is another benefit of having baseball back in town.

Now, if I could only get some tickets to a game...

"Michael Isikoff, Meet Salman Rushdie," says Daniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes makes a good case that Rumsfeld and company were wrong to blame Newsweek for the riots and killings that followed publication of Michael Isikoff's charges of Koran abuse. The villians of this story are radical Islamists who would kill over a kicked Koran--not the media, not Newsweek, and not Isikoff or his collaborator, John Barry.

The Myth of the "Lone Terrorist"

Former FBI agent Mike German writes about the swamps which breed terrorism in today's Washington Post opinion column:Behind the Lone Terrorist, a Pack Mentality:
Bringing to justice everyone directly responsible for acts of violence is important, but unmasking the full conspiracy is even more important from the standpoint of preventing terrorism. Lone extremists pose a challenge for law enforcement because they are difficult to predict. It's like searching every haystack for a needle. Perhaps we'd have better luck if we paid more attention to the needle factories. This is especially true now that militant Islamic terrorist groups like al Qaeda are adopting the model of leaderless resistance that our homegrown terrorists mastered so well.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Kanan Makiya: Iraq Troubles Stem From De-Baathification Failure

Middle East Quarterly has an interesting interview with Kanan Makiya, author of "Republic of Fear." He blames America's problems in Iraq on a policy of post-war appeasement:

Makiya: The formation of the Fallujah Brigade [in April 2004] was an essential moment in the reversal of de-Baathification. It was by common agreement today a terrible idea and a failure. Its point was to recruit and co-opt former Iraqi officers, who were even allowed to dress up in Baathist uniforms. That kind of reversal had more to do with appeasement--with the vain hope that appeasing Baathists could curb the violence. But the exact opposite, of course, is true. Whether they were for or against de-Baathification, Iraqis recognize what a disastrous policy this reversal was. I expect de-Baathification to become a central plank of the new government.
Makiya makes a lot of sense. Such appeasement policies may be one reason why aggression against the US has increased, rather than diminished, since 9/11...

Close Guantanamo Now

This latest news story,U.S. Confirms Gitmo Soldier Kicked Quran , is reason enough to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and find a better way to deal with suspected terrorists. While some may argue that such things happen in every war, that the British had a similar setup at the notorious Maze prison where IRA members were held, that some of those who criticize the US have done worse, the Guantanamo stories are not only a shame and an embarrassment to the US, they serve to undermine the administration's own efforts to be acting in the interests of democracy. Curiously, it is pretty clear from the response to the Amnesty International report that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld just don't "get it." From a practical--as well as moral-- standpoint, Guantanamo should be closed, and the prisoners receive judicial review to determine their guilt or innocence.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Living Poem to Capitalism

Radley Balko's hymn to Wegman's, which just opened near Dulles Airport, is worth readinghere:

This supersized souk (it's twice the size of most large grocery stores) has its competitors worried. And rightly so. In its first year of operation, Wegmans' first D.C.-area store did more business than the six area Harris-Teeter stores combined. Forbes wrote in 2003 that in an era when traditional grocers are being devoured by Wal-Mart, Wegmans isn't merely surviving, it's thriving. The grocery industry has lost 13,500 stores since 1992, Forbes points out, yet Wegmans continues to open new ones. That has the D.C.-area's traditional grocers worried. And so they're looking to government to keep their competitor at arm's length -- or at least across the river in Virginia.

The Gazette article reports that Marylanders are 'begging' for a Wegmans. Both the company and the Montgomery County council have gotten numerous letters pining for one. Unfortunately, their government isn't serving them. Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan has introduced legislation making it more difficult for 'big box' stores like Wegmans (along with Target and Wal-Mart) to set up shop in the area. Duncan cites concerns about 'smart growth' policies, environmental concerns, and traffic as reasons for his proposal. The latter is rather peculiar. The philosophy behind big box stores is that they offer lots of things in one place, saving time, hassle and -- one would think -- gas and traffic congestion.

Nevertheless, when the progressive (read: big government) county council held hearings last summer on the new proposal, representatives from the two stalwart grocers in the area -- Giant and Safeway -- asked for tougher zoning laws, almost specifically tailored to the goal of keeping a Wegmans from opening in the county. Both cited congestion and infrastructure issues, but both also rather bluntly conceded that they were also worried about the competition. They were more than okay with using regulation to step on a competitor.

Maybe DC can invite a Wegman's into Anacostia to speed redevelopment? I'd drive there in a jiffy...

America's Choice

Thanks to Little Green Footballs for this link toVictor Davis Hanson's latest:

Where will it all end? Our choices are threefold.

We can wind down -- essentially the position of the mainstream Left -- and return to a pre-September 11 situation, treating Islamism as a criminal justice matter or deserving of an occasional cruise missile. This, in my view, would be a disaster and guarantee another mass attack.

Or we can continue to pacify Iraq. We then wait and see whether the ripples from the January elections-- without further overt American military action into other countries -- bring democracy to Lebanon, Egypt, the Gulf States, and eventually the entire Middle East. This is the apparent present policy of the administration: talking up democracy, not provoking any who might disagree. It may well work, though such patience requires constant articulation to the American people that we are really in a deadly war when it doesn't seem to everyone that we are.

Or we can press on. We apprise Syria to cease all sanctuary for al Qaedists and Iran to give up its nuclear program -- or face surgical and punitive American air strikes. Such escalation is embraced by few, although many acknowledge that we may soon have few choices other than just that. But for now we can sum up the American plans as hoping that democracy spreads faster than Islamism, and thus responsible government will appear to ensure terrorists and WMD disappear.

The above, of course, is what we plan, but gives no consideration to the intent of the enemy. As we speak, he desperately searches for new strategies to ward off defeat as jihad seems more likely to lead to ruin than the return of the caliphate.

For now Islamic fascist strategy is to make such horrific news in Iraq that America throws up its hands and sighs, "These crazy people simply aren't worth it," goes home, snoozes -- and thus becomes ripe for another September 11.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Starbucks in Moscow

It's about time. The first Russian Starbucks has opened in Moscow's Renaissance Hotel. Commerce secretary Andrew Somers was there, and told the assembled latte-lovers: "You are doing a lot more than opening a coffee shop. You are spreading values, and we are really proud of that."

My personal values include a skinny venti ice mocha--with whip...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

From Olle Wastberg's Lips to the Nobel Prize Committees Ears...

In today's New York Times the former Swedish Consul General nominates former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the Nobel Peace Prize. One reason is that Rudy saved some 10,000 lives:

Or, in more human terms, it would appear that over the last 12 years the policies Mr. Giuliani put in place have spared New York perhaps 10,000 murders, 15,000 rapes and 800,000 robberies. This is clearly a humanitarian accomplishment of great magnitude.

Unlike my April 1st nomination of George W. Bush, this is not an April Fool's joke. I'm a native New Yorker who didn't believe the city could be saved--until Rudy Giuliani turned it around! I had the privilege of meeting Hizzoner at a Gracie Mansion reception for a UN photo exhibit dedicated to diplomats who saved Jews from Nazis during WWII (one of them, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, saved my mother's family), by granting visas, often against the policies of their own governments. It was at the same time of the Elian Gonzales showdown in Miami, and Hilary Clinton, who had been invited, did not attend, perhaps because she was deporting the child refugee back to Castro's tender bosom at the point of a semi-automatic weapon. In any case Giuliani quoted Winston Chuchill about there being a special place in hell reserved for those who see evil and do nothing about it. Then he shook hands with everyone in the room who wanted to. I rushed up. He had the warmest handshake that I ever felt, and I was almost overcome. This was before 9/11--when he showed such heroism at the World Trade Center.

Like Olle Wastberg, whose fellow Swede Raoul Wallenberg was honored the same day I met Hizzoner, I want Giuliani to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dutch Against EU Constitution, Too...

The Financial Times poll shows Dutch to join French in rejecting EU treaty. Remember, it's the constitution that they are rejecting, not the free-trade zone...

Deep Throat Outs Self

The news that Mark Felt, number 2 at the FBI in the Nixon administration, has come forward to reveal that he was "Deep Throat" is interesting. Some thoughts:

1. I really thought I would never live long enough to learn who "Deep Throat" was. The Nixon years formed me, Woodward and Bernstein and crusading journalists were heros, I fell for the whole thing. I demonstrated against Nixon while in high school. Only later did I see what a difficult job he had, how close the US came to losing the Cold War, and the myriad other things a teenager is unaware of. Still, Nixon did himself in--as he admitted.. Now it seems, ironically, that if Nixon had only promoted Felt to replace Hoover, instead of bringing in L. Patrick Gray, Watergate might have been avoided. Hell hath no fury like a civil servant passed over for promotion... Felt himself was convicted for doing "black bag jobs" and pardoned by President Reagan, so the actual Watergate burglary clearly wasn't the issue. As everyone said at that time, it wasn't the crime, it was the cover-up.

2. I'm glad there really was a "Deep Throat." By now, I'd gotten a little too cynical about the press, and sometimes doubted that he existed. It makes me feel a little better about the myth/reality ratio in the world.

3. One man can make a difference. Really.

4. Warning to President Bush: You can't even trust the FBI (I think Clinton already learned this...).