Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Wall Street Journal Blog

Found Reading Matter!
I found a stray Wall Street Journal on the street Friday, which gave me some fine reading for my public transportation journey.

First, there was Daniel Heininger’s essay on the op-ed page, the point of which was unclear to me. He started out talking about how support for the Iraq war is dropping in the polls, a phenomenon he seemed to link to the reporting of car and suicide bombings in that beleaguered region.

He wrote: “Precisely what conclusion is one expected to arrive at from any of this? If George Bush had never invaded Iraq, none of this would be happening?…. If we removed our troops from Iraq, the terror would not stop.”

That may well be true – who knows? A culture of death does seem to dominate the area. But so what?

The thing is: As more of our young people come home in body bags for no apparent gain, support for the war will continue to drop. It happened in Viet Nam, and it is happening in Iraq. Is that so hard to grasp?

What is it with conservatives? They’re constantly blaming the media when bad news happens. The media aren’t killing people, you know. What is killing people there is what Heininger calls “the death march of homicidal zombies.”

Heininger concluded “…that our own news coverage of these repeated slaughters of civilians in Iraq also lacks any normative or moral context unfavorable to the perpetrators.” I have no idea what that means. The normative context is implicit, isn't it? The fact that the killing of innocent people is senseless is what makes it news in the first place.

What are reporters supposed to write? “Homicidal zombies struck again in Baghdad today. The psycho ragheads killed 23, along with themselves. Spokesmen for the American military say we are turning the corner in the battle against Islamo-fascist scum.”

More nuggets from the Wall Street Journal!
Then there was the always-wonderful Paul Johnson (isn’t he, like, 200 years old now?). I greatly enjoyed his book, THE INTELLECTUALS, and still go back to it quite often for a chuckle at the expense of pompous hypocritical dead philosophers.

Here, he was weighing on the recent woes of the EU: “What is notoriously evident among the EU elite is not just a lack of intellectual power but an obstinacy and blindness bordering on imbecility.” Yeah! Represent!

His essay concluded, wistfully, “The Eu has no intellectual content. Great writers have no role to play in it, even indirectly, nor have great thinkers or scientists. It is not the Europe of Aquinas, Luther or Calvin – or the Europe of Galileo, Newton and Einstein.”

True. Europe - like the US, and everywhere else - is run by bureaucrats, plutocrats, corporations, and weasels. Speaking of weasels, let's take a look at Jeb Bush.

Once again, Florida amazes.
From the AP:
Gov. Jeb Bush said Friday that a prosecutor has agreed to investigate why Terri Schiavo collapsed 15 years ago, citing an alleged time gap between when her husband found her and when he called 911.

Bush said his request for the probe was not meant to suggest wrongdoing by Michael Schiavo. "It's a significant question that during this ordeal was never brought up," Bush told reporters.

In a statement issued by his lawyer, Schiavo called the development an outrage.

"I have consistently said over the years that I didn't wait but 'ran' to call 911 after Terri collapsed," Schiavo said in the release.

In a letter faxed to Pinellas-Pasco County State Attorney Bernie McCabe, the governor said Michael Schiavo testified in a 1992 medical malpractice trial that he found his wife collapsed at 5 a.m. on Feb. 25, 1990, and he said in a 2003 television interview that he found her about 4:30 a.m. He called 911 at 5:40 a.m.

"Between 40 and 70 minutes elapsed before the call was made, and I am aware of no explanation for the delay," Bush wrote. "In light of this new information, I urge you to take a fresh look at this case without any preconceptions as to the outcome."

McCabe was out of state Friday and couldn't immediately be reached for comment, but Bush said McCabe has agreed to his request.

On Wednesday, Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, said his client didn't wait to call for help and has conceded that he confuses dates and times. He has said that if Michael Schiavo had not called 911 immediately, as Bush and others allege, Terri Schiavo would have died that day.

"There is no hour gap or other gap to the point Michael heard Terri fall and called 911," Felos said. "We've seen the baseless allegations in this case fall by the wayside one by one ... That's what I would call it, a baseless claim to perpetuate a controversy that in fact doesn't exist."

Terri Schiavo died March 31 from dehydration after her feeding tube was disconnected at her husband's request, despite years of efforts by her parents, Bush and others to keep her alive.

The governor's request followed the release Wednesday of an autopsy supporting Michael Schiavo's contention that his wife had been in a persistent vegetative state. The autopsy revealed no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused before she collapsed.

It left unanswered the question of why Terri Schiavo's heart stopped, cutting oxygen off from her brain. The autopsy showed she suffered irreversible brain damage and her brain had shrunk to half the normal size for her age.

Bobby Schindler, Schiavo's brother, said Friday his family believes more questions were raised than answered by the autopsy report and that a new legal review is appropriate.

"Anything that can shed some light on the cause of Terri's collapse is going to be welcomed by our family," he said from Bloomington, Minn., where the family is speaking at an anti-abortion convention.

But the request was immediately criticized by some lawmakers.

"Enough is enough," said Democratic Sen. Ron Klein. "I don't want to see it on TV any more, I don't want to hear politicians talk about it. Let her be at peace."

Bush acknowledged in his letter that an investigation may be difficult.

"I understand that these events took place many years ago, and that you may not be able to collect all the relevant records and physical evidence. However, Mrs. Schiavo's family deserves to know anything that can be done to determine the cause and circumstances of her collapse 15 years ago," Bush wrote. "The unanswered questions may be unanswerable, but the attempt should be made."

My conclusion?
Jeb Bush apparently wants those of his supporters who are out of their minds to think that he thinks Michael Schiavo tried to murder his wife - just like a movie on LIFETIME, starring Melissa Gilbert, mainly in flashback. Does he really think that? Of course he doesn't. He's just a big asshole. Blunt language, I agree, but let's call a spade a spade for once.

There was an article by William McGowan, entitled “Dad Ran the Hippie Squad.” Apparently, his father was not a narc, as such, but oversaw a group of narcs. According to former Hippie Squad detective Greg O’Connell, “ours was more of a social mission than a law enforcement mission.” Still, he does admit, “it was easier to take a door off its hinges” than knock, back in the day.

In 1968, the writer noted with bemusement, the “no knock” raids inspired “angry hippies to lay siege to the East Village’s Ninth Precinct.” The Squad also gave VIP tours of the “hippie scene.” And, on one occasion, while tracking down the wayward daughter of a “former mob enforcer,” Squad members wound up taking the worried Dad to Miami, where the daughter was located. However, “they didn’t pick her up right away.” Maxie, the enforcer, it seems, “wanted to party, which they proceeded to do for three days, at one point drinking with Jackie Gleason.”

McGowan assured me, though, that “a few instances of rule-bending aside, the squad was on the straight and narrow.”

What an inspiring story! Predatory hippies! Scofflaw cops! Jackie Gleason! That’s the sixties I remember. And I do remember the sixties. I didn't take drugs until the seventies. Them I don't remember.

Vincent Carroll, editorial-page editor of the Rocky Mountain News, weighed in on the controversy at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, which has supposedly been infested with over-zealous Christian evangelicals.

Now, I’ve been at the receiving end of the conversion efforts of creepy glassy-eyed zealots a few times over the years, so I didn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for Mr. Carroll’s point of view, which was that critics “seem to possess a larger agenda that involves stifling innocuous confessions of faith…” Maybe. But I still think the zealots should shut up. Well, okay. They can talk quietly among themselves, should they wish. That's what we do, here in San Francisco. You never know who's listening, do you?

In other news:
Queen Elizabeth bought an iPod! It’s silver! It has six gigabytes! It can hold 10,000 songs!
And Tom Cruise isn't gay after all. How long do you think this marriage will last? And will Katie Holmes be as classy about the divorce as Nicole Kidman was? Oh, who cares. Queen Elizabeth has an iPod!

This one really made my jaw drop as I was reading it, and I was almost downtown. How could I face the pedestrian throngs with a dropped jaw?

Bret Stephens began his essay, “What Was Served With Brunch Was Bile,” with an account of his meeting a Lebanese man who had been tortured for 12 years in various Syrian prisons. One of the instruments of torture, he learned, was the “German chair,” which was something akin to the rack of old. Why was it called the German chair? “It’s a question I neglected to ask.”

So, all right.

Then he and his wife were invited to a brunch with a German diplomat and his wife. The wives went off together, and Mr. Stephens and the diplomat were left alone in the diplomat’s study. The diplomat then went off on an anti-American rant, saying of the US human rights record: “The gulag was better than Gitmo, since at least the Stalinist system offered its victims a trial of sorts.” He told Mr. Stephens that “the Wall Street Journal takes its orders from the government.” Sitting down at dinner, the diplomat gave “a lecture on the illegality of the Holocaust under Nazi law,” at which point Mr. Stephens’ wife claimed to feel unwell, and they took their leave.

So, bad brunch. All right.

But then Mr. Stephens compared the experience to being tortured! “Torturers… are those rare people who can inflict injury on the defenseless… Thus it was with the German diplomat…. I was, so to speak, in his German chair.”

No, you weren’t! (Well, the chair in fact may have been German-made.) You were listening to the boorish ravings of an insufferable dolt! Your wife feigned a headache, and you got out of there!

This may be a hard notion for conservatives to grasp, but if you are having brunch in Manhattan, and noting an “unobstructed…view of the Hudson River,” you may be being offended, and insulted, but you are definitely not being tortured. I hope I’ve cleared that up for you.


Blogger BonzoGal said...

Man, that was one of your best yet! I'll buy you a subscription to the WSJ if you keep that up. Whew... I need a cigarette now.

4:11 PM  

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