Friday, June 30, 2006

"False But Accurate" Strikes Again

USA Today has issued a correction to its NSA wiretape story, admitting that their original report about phone companies was wrong: "We've concluded that we cannot establish that BellSouth or Verizon entered into a contract with the NSA to provide the bulk calling records."

Despite this gaping hole in its original reporting, the paper contends: "This is an important story that holds up well. At the heart of our report is the fact that NSA is collecting phone call records of millions of Americans."

I love the media contending that their stories "hold up" even when some of the most significant supporting details -- the forged Bush National Guard docs of course come to mind -- are completely false.

In its "Note to Readers," USA Today does not apologize to the phone companies for the lost business or other headaches caused by USA Today's false reporting.

"My Dream Came True"

So said the Prime Minister of Japan as he thanked the President for taking him on a tour of Graceland, the home of the late Elvis Presley.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is a huge Elvis fan. Elvis's hits played on Air Force One as it headed for Memphis, and DVD's of his films were available for on-board viewing.

The President gave the Prime Minister, who retires in September, a jukebox filled with Elvis songs as a farewell gift.

What a delightful story!

Friday Movie News: The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

The workplace comedy THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA opens today, with reviews that range from good to great. The film stars Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Stanley Tucci.

Christopher Kelly of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (linked above) says the film "belongs to Meryl Streep, who gives the most glorious female performance of this year and last." Carina Chocano of The L.A. Times says Streep is "in peak comic form," while Peter Rainer of the Christian Science Monitor headlines that Streep is "superb," although he finds the rest of the film middling.

Jennifer Frey of The Washington Post: "Streep makes it work. Streep makes it fun...riveting...she totally commands every scene."

More reviews can be found at Google News.

Looks like a good time at the movies. Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary, and we plan to enjoy this film after dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants.

Hope everyone has a great weekend leading into the Independence Day holiday.

The Alito Difference

SCOTUSblog analyzed this year's decisions and found that in Justice Alito's relatively brief tenure, he has "agreed with the conservatives an average of 15% more often than O’Connor did, and he agreed with the liberals an average of 16% less often."

(Hat tip: "Two Cents" at Confirm Them.)

Supreme Court Retirement Speculation...or Not

Things seem to be quiet on the Supreme Court retirement front...there don't seem to be any rumblings about White House short lists for expected retirements.

Still, you never know. More speculation here, as well as an older discussion here.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Tagging Game Week

Thanks to Mrs. Happy Housewife for this fun tagging game.

1. What's the last book you read? MY LIFE IN FRANCE by Julia Child is the last book I finished. I'm currently reading LITTLE CAKES: CLASSIC RECIPES FOR ANY OCCASION by Susan Waggoner. She gives the history of most of the recipes, which makes it fun. There are several recipes I want to try!

2. What did you eat for breakfast? Spoon-Sized Shredded Wheat.

3. What was your first pet and what was its name? Tropical fish.

4. Do you know latitude from longitude? Yes.

5. If you could take your dream vacation, where would you go? Nationally - Walt Disney World (again), internationally - London (also again). (I'd like to visit new places, too, but those two places are so "dreamy" it's hard not to want to go back.)

6. What's your favorite shower soap? Bath & Body Works (on sale).

7. Mustard or mayo? Neither one! (Shudder...)

8. Tell a knock-knock joke you know. (Draws a blank...)

9. How old were you when you got your driver's license? 17.

10. If you cook or bake, what's your favorite thing to make? If you don't cook or bake, what's your favorite thing that your mom makes? Chocolate chip cookies.

11. From memory - who wrote Beowulf? I would have had to ponder that one - since I read Mrs. Happy Housewife's post I know for sure the author is unknown.

Cathy, would you like to play? If anyone else would like to post answers, jump in and let us know. :)

Fie on Justice Kennedy

Wendy Long at Bench Memos:

"At the epicenter of this problem is Justice Anthony Kennedy, who manages to make the entire Court look like a totally political body. His concurring opinions of breathtaking lawlessness and irrationality, siding with the liberal activist wing of the Court, somehow taint the whole institution... The broad 'swing vote' brush with which he paints is covering over more and more of the Constitution."

She continues:

"The replacement of Justice O'Connor with Justice Alito has made a solid block of four whose stock-in-trade is the law: its text, its principles, and its history. But instead of four — the Chief Justice, and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito — there could have been today a majority of six such Justices, if only well-intentioned former Republican Presidents, and their legal advisers, had inisisted [sic] on judicial nominees with a demonstrated public record of adherence to the law and fidelity to judicial restraint and the principles of the Constitution."

As mentioned in the comments section here earlier today, were he still with us I suspect President Reagan would freely admit that his appointee, Anthony Kennedy, was a mistake.

I had been hopeful 86-year-old Justice Stevens would announce his retirement this week, but thus far no announcement appears to be forthcoming.

Another Tragedy at Disney World

A 12-year-old boy has died after riding Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney World's Disney-MGM Studios.

It's not yet known if there is any connection with the ride itself.

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster has a fairly startling "takeoff," going from 0 to 60 in a couple of seconds and then immediately into an upside-down loop, but other than those first few seconds, it's one of my favorite rides at WDW. It's very smooth, has no huge drops, and wonderful theming, starting with the ride area itself and the preshow. I've been on it about a half dozen times spread over two visits to Florida.

I'm very sorry for the family involved and will follow the investigation with interest.

Friday Update: The ride reopened today; no mechanical problems were found.

In an updated story, The Washington Post says that an autopsy shows the boy had a congenital heart defect.

"A Treaty With Al Qaeda"

Andy McCarthy writes at National Review that the liberals on the Supreme Court today have, in essence, usurped the role of the President and Senate by making a treaty -- albeit one-sided -- with Al Qaeda. The Supreme Court, operating outside the Constitution, has decreed we must follow the Geneva Convention.

But Al Qaeda does not operate under the Geneva Convention...

McCarthy is betting that we're going to end up with criminal trials.

As he so often is, Justice Kennedy was a terrible disappointment today. The one bright light is that Justice Alito dissented along with Justices Scalia and Thomas. Chief Justice Roberts had to recuse himself as he had previously ruled in this matter -- in favor of the administration -- at the circuit court level.

Read much more analysis in today's posts at Bench Memos.

The last week has not been a good one for our nation's future safety.

Update: Mark Levin on how Congress and the Supreme Court are "systematically stripping the presidency of war-making powers." He writes that, among other things, today's decision reverses a half-century of precedents.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Congratulations to Kim of Life in a Shoe...

...who gave birth to a beautiful baby boy today.

Kim live blogged through much of her labor today.

Her new little one will be doted on by seven older sisters!

Life in a Shoe is one of several blogs I enjoy which are written by Christian mothers and/or homeschoolers. I also particularly enjoy Amy's Humble Musings (Amy is a humorous, talented writer) and A Gracious Home (Sallie is expecting her first child after years of prayerful waiting).

Mrs. Happy Housewife, Semicolon, and Spunky Homeschool are other excellent blogs written by homeschooling Christian moms; these three sites are all blogrolled in the column on the left.

"Dodger Dog" Creator Thomas Arthur Dies

Thomas Arthur, the food concessionaire who created the 10-inch "Dodger Dog," has passed away at age 84.

Arthur's creation has given thousands upon thousands of baseball fans happy memories...few things in life are more blissful than eating a grilled Dodger Dog as Vin Scully's voice reverberates from transistor radios scattered around the stadium.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

House May Pass Resolution Condemning NY Times

A House resolution is due to be introduced on Wednesday which would "condemn the leak and publication of classified documents" by The New York Times.

This is a good move, but what I'd really like to see is a House hearing in which the editors and reporters of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times are asked to testify as to who illegally provided them with the classified data they published.

Wednesday Update: As Hugh Hewitt related on his show today, the House is not naming the New York or L.A. Times by name in its resolution.

Such obvious fear of the media is not comforting when our leaders in Congress are supposed to be protecting our country, during wartime, no less.

For more, check out Hugh's posts, above and here.

Katie Couric's "Listening Tour"

Cal Thomas on Katie's plan to hold town hall forums across the country to find out what news Americans think she should be covering.

Given Katie's well-known liberal political views, I think we can safely say this "tour" is all p.r., no substance.

More from the Associated Press via The L.A. Daily News.

The Wikipedia Meme

Earlier this month Cathy of Sunday Morning Coffee tagged me for this fun "meme." Now that high school graduation and the homeschooling year are behind us and life is calming down, I'm catching up!

The idea is to put your birthdate (not year) into Wikipedia and then post about two people born on your birthday, as well as one person who died on that date.

I didn't even have to look to come up with the names of two particularly interesting people who share my birthdate, July 6th. One is none other than our President, George W. Bush, who was born in 1946 and thus will be turning 60 next week.

Janet Leigh was also born on July 6th. I always enjoy her and reviewed two of her lesser-known movies, JUST THIS ONCE and THE ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE, earlier this year.

The great Roy Rogers passed away on that date in 1998. I have wonderful memories of watching reruns of his show after school when I was little, and I once briefly met his wife, Dale Evans Rogers, at a book signing.

Missy and Mrs. Happy Housewife, would you like to play? :)

I'll have another fun "meme" game up in the next couple days, from Mrs. Happy Housewife. Thanks!

Real Ugly American Interviews Morton Kondracke

Earlier this year the Real Ugly American conducted interesting in-depth interviews with Fred Barnes and Juan Williams.

Today he's posted an interview with Morton Kondracke which is a similarly good read. It's always interesting to gain additional insight into those we watch regularly on Special Report with Brit Hume. Perhaps we can look forward to an interview with Brit Hume in the future...

(Hat tip: Betsy's Page.)

Senate Starts to Budge on Immigration?

The Washington Times reports that Senator Arlen Specter, not exactly a conservative (grin), has acknowledged the Senate may be out of touch with the American people on immigration, and he has expressed willingness to make a guest worker or citizenship program "contingent on having a secure border and improved interior enforcement."

Specter had voted against an amendment which would have accomplished that very thing, but he now says "It may be down the line that we will come to some terms on a timetable, with border security first and employment verification first...That's got to be in place firmly."

He also said the President will have to do much more to assure members of Congress "that the border's going to be secure, that employer verification's going to happen."

I find this change most encouraging.

Captain's Quarters has more analysis.

The L.A. Times' Baquet v. L.A. Times' McManus

Hugh Hewitt contrasts today's defense by L.A. Times editor Dean Baquet for printing the details of the classified counterterrorism banking program with what the Times' Washington Editor Doyle McManus said on Hugh's show yesterday.

The differences are most illuminating. Don't miss this one.

Update: More on the Times from Patterico's Pontifications here and here.

One of the interesting things Patterico notes is that Doyle McManus's own explanations for publishing the article have shifted over the last few days. Patterico asks "Are the NYT and LAT Editors Starting to Realize They Screwed Up?"

We can only hope, but they'd never admit it...

More on Those WMD's in Iraq

Senator Rick Santorum and Rep. Pete Hoekstra want to know why some staffers at the CIA continue to refuse to declassify relevant documents on the discovery of WMD's in Iraq, while lying to the public that the WMD's are "not new news."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on the other hand, confirmed "What has been announced is accurate, that there have been hundreds of canisters or weapons of various types found that either currently have sarin in them or had sarin in them, and sarin is dangerous. And it's dangerous to our forces. . . . They are weapons of mass destruction. They are harmful to human beings. And they have been found. . . . And they are still being found and discovered."

For years now those who opposed the war have been insisting, among other things, that there were no WMD's in Iraq. This is clearly not true. Do some in the CIA have an interest in undermining the Bush Administration and preventing the truth from coming out? You'd think the opposite would be the case, that the CIA would be happy to prove that its often-maligned pre-war intelligence reports were correct, but Washington is a strange place. We've seen further proof in just the last few days that there are those in the intelligence commmunity who are deeply vested in wounding the administration and making it harder for our country to fight the war on terror, which is really rather scary, when you think about it.

The American public deserves to know the truth about the existence of WMD's in Iraq.

Somehow I don't imagine Bill Keller will be working hard to get that info of "public interest" into the headlines of The New York Times.

My Hero, Tony Snow

California Conservative has a great transcript highlighting some of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow's comebacks to the press today on the matter of the New York Times and the Swift program.

The blog also demonstrates the difference between the approaches of Tony and Scott McClellan by contrasting today's transcript with a transcript of a couple of McClellan's answers in a similar situation. McClellan was a nice guy, but he was not a success as a forceful advocate for the administration.

Tony manages to combine being a fast-on-his-feet, back-at-you advocate with being humorous and friendly. He's doing a wonderful job.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Mona Charen Joins NRO's All-Star Blog Row

Mona Charen has joined National Review Online's Blog Row today.

Mona has been a favorite pundit since her days on CNN's The Capital Gang. I'll be checking out The Mona Log on a regular basis.

"Because He Could"

Bill Keller's defense of publishing state secrets calls to mind Bill Clinton's excuse for his, er, misbehavior in office: he did it "because I could." (This line was later cemented in memory as the title of Dick Morris and Eileen McGann's critique of Clinton's book, BECAUSE HE COULD.)

Austin Bay (linked above) writes: "The Times, apparently, told the story because it could and because it thinks it can get away with it..."

Bill Keller and Bill Clinton, two self-involved narcissists who regularly place self above country.

The President is not amused with the Times' "disgraceful" behavior, which "does great harm to the United States of America" and "makes it harder to win the war on terrorism."

Update: Treasury Secretary John Snow has sent Keller a letter justifiably raking Keller over the coals, saying Keller's actions were "irresponsible and harmful" and that Keller's excuse-making (in which Keller asserted that the government's attempt to block the publication was "half-hearted") was "incorrect and offensive."

Snow goes on: "Lastly, justifying this disclosure by citing the 'public interest' in knowing information about this program means the paper has given itself free license to expose any covert activity that it happens to learn of - even those that are legally grounded, responsibly administered, independently overseen, and highly effective. Indeed, you have done so here."

Chief Justice Roberts and Family

This morning's USA TODAY has an enjoyable feature article on Chief Justice John Roberts' family.

The story also provides a bit of interesting history regarding the ages of the children of other Supreme Court justices at the time the justices took the bench.

Patterico on the L.A. Times and State Secrets

Washington D.C. bureau chief Doyle McManus gave an interview about the paper's decision to publish the classified counterterrorism program.

Patterico has the transcript and commentary.

Why Does the New York Times Hate Us?

Michael Barone asks: "Why do they hate us? Why does the Times print stories that put America more at risk of attack? They say that these surveillance programs are subject to abuse, but give no reason to believe that this concern is anything but theoretical. We have a press that is at war with an administration, while our country is at war against merciless enemies. The Times is acting like an adolescent kicking the shins of its parents, hoping to make them hurt while confident of remaining safe under their roof. But how safe will we remain when our protection depends on the Times?"

Andrew McCarthy of National Review writes: "National-security secrets, after all, are merely the public treasure that keeps us alive. Press informants are the private preserve of the media. And they’re just more important than you are."

Update: National Review calls for the White House to withdraw the New York Times' press credentials.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

NYT Editor Bill Keller, Intellectual Lightweight

Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times, has published a response to those who have written him about the paper's decision to publish our country's classified program to link terrorists with banking records.

Keller absurdly writes:

"Some of the incoming mail quotes the angry words of conservative bloggers and TV or radio pundits who say that drawing attention to the government's anti-terror measures is unpatriotic and dangerous. (I could ask, if that's the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.)"

Let me get this straight. The New York Times publishes information which completely compromises a top secret counterterrorism program, and then has the nerve to suggest that the paper's critics are drawing more attention to the story by discussing it?

What an interesting angle to use to attempt to silence criticism. It's hard to find adequate words to even begin to respond to such buffoonery.

For more, read Hugh Hewitt's lengthy response to Keller's missive.

Monday Update: Scott Johnson of Power Line: "Hugh's gloss on the letter is charitable; based on the letter, he could also have posited that Mr. Keller is stupid. That too might explain the letter's sheer failure to address the Times's placing itself above the espionage laws of the United States. Mr. Keller is probably not stupid, but there is not a single sentence of his lengthy letter that could be quoted to disprove the hypothesis that he is."

Rep. King Calls for Prosecuting the NYT

Today on Fox News Sunday Rep. Pete King of New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called on the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute the New York Times for disclosing a classified espionage program to the public.

I completely agree with Rep. King. Unfortunately, I doubt the administration will pursue this. It would be a bruising battle against the mainstream media, but it's the right thing to do to protect our nation.

This is a necessary discussion which our country urgently needs to have: Do members of the press have special rights allowing them to commit crimes for which ordinary citizens would be prosecuted?

Clarice Feldman of The American Thinker also urges the Attorney General to prosecute.

And don't miss Saturday's Washington Times editorial, "The Right Not to Know."

Ice Cream Birthday Clubs

Cold Stone Creamery (linked above) and Baskin-Robbins have free ice cream birthday clubs available for all ages. (Adults get in on the free ice cream fun, too!) The free ice cream certificates are sent via email.

My birthday is next month, and I just signed up for both. :)

Thanks to Patterico's Pontifications...

...for blogrolling Laura's Miscellaneous Musings. It is greatly appreciated!.

And congratulations to Patterico for being named Power Line's Blog of the Week!

Patterico is always a good read, but his current coverage of the New York Times' and Los Angeles Times' decision to publicize a classified counterterrorism program is particularly worthwhile. Don't miss his posts of the last few days.

The 70th Anniversary of GWTW

George Will on GONE WITH THE WIND, first published in June 1936.

My grandmother's copy of the book, inscribed to her at Christmas 1937, is one of my treasured possessions. :)

Update: Thanks to my friend Cathy of Sunday Morning Coffee for the suggestion to post a photo of my 69-year-old copy of the book. And be sure to check out Cathy's posts each weekend!

Newsweek on Hugh Hewitt...

...and the interaction between talk radio, the blogosphere, and grass-roots politics.

More at Captain's Quarters.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

An Ode to Pies

This is an entertaining interview with Anne Dimock, author of HUMBLE PIE: MUSINGS ON WHAT LIES BENEATH THE CRUST. Thus far pies are beyond my baking expertise, but the article makes one think about attempting a pie for Sunday dinner. :)

For more on pies, check out APPLE PIE: AN AMERICAN STORY by John T. Edge; RETRO PIES by Linda Everett; and THE PIE AND PASTRY BIBLE by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

L.A. Times in Heavy Spin Mode re Spilling State Secrets

Saturday morning's L.A. Times headlines "Officials Defend Bank Data Tracking."

The article would be more appropriately headlined "L.A. Times Defends Disclosing Top Secret Government Program."

Six paragraphs in: "Disclosure of the arrangement by The Times and other media outlets prompted complaints from privacy advocates overseas and in the United States."

What, no mention of the outraged complaints against the media by government officials, bloggers, and others?

The Times next quotes a member of the European Parliament who says the U.S. data collection program "makes me uncomfortable."

How hard did the Times have to search for that uncomfortable European politician to back up the Times' leaking, when the paper couldn't find a single U.S. politician dismayed (or "uncomfortable") by the Times' decision to publicize a top-secret program? The paper doesn't get around to quoting a U.S. politician until the last half-dozen paragraphs of the story, when they mention Senator Richard Shelby saying the program doesn't give cause for concern.

Nowhere in the article does the paper mention any of the numerous people who spoke out in the blogosphere or media Friday against the Times' release of classified data.

But wait, there's more! The Times also throws in a complaint by someone from the World Privacy Forum, "a San Diego research group," who worries the data "can be kept forever and used for other purposes without oversight."

The paper then goes on to spin the President taking advantage of "the altered mood" after 9/11 to collect banking and telecommunications data, with virtually no explanation of why this might be useful to catch terrorists -- the paper just provides a detailed explanation of how the program works.

So much for thorough journalism and covering both sides of a story.

Spin, spin, spin...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Media Join Al Qaeda?

It may not be too strong to suggest that the New York Times and Los Angeles Times have joined Al Qaeda to fight against the United States.

They have chosen to fight against the War on Terror and make it harder for us to catch those who would harm us...which means they are fighting for Al Qaeda.

And what of those working for the government who have chosen to betray our country and leak to the media?

Andrew McCarthy (linked above) asks whether we have the will to prosecute this or if our country is willing to accept more of the same.

More from The New York Sun, Hugh Hewitt, and National Review's Media Blog.

Update: Patterico has covered the L.A. Times angle in several posts today.

More thoughts on the NYT from Power Line.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

NYT & LAT Spill National Security Secrets

At some point something's gotta give when it comes to the NYT and its media allies spilling our country's national security secrets.

Are we going to have to tolerate this possibly treasonous behavior indefinitely, because the betrayal is being committed by members of the "sacred" mainstream media?

Friday Update: More must-read coverage from Power Line and Captain's Quarters. These blogs note that no one elected Bill Keller of the NYT President or the head of our national security, yet he is usurping those roles by deciding which classified terror programs should remain secret and which he'll publicize and render worthless.

I really would like to see some sort of charges brought against the New York Times, but I doubt anyone in Washington has the political will to fight this necessary battle for our national security.

A Tribute to Australia

An excellent read by Charles Krauthammer.

Today at Knott's Berry Farm

Our family's summer started off with a fun day at Knott's Berry Farm. I even went on the Silver Bullet and Ghost Rider coasters and lived to tell the tale. :)

Below, classic Knott's meets new Knott's; the log ride and Ghost Town Calico Railroad Train in the foreground, while riders start up the red Silver Bullet track in the background.



A number of excellent photos of Knott's roller coasters can be viewed here.

Rush Limbaugh Live Webcast Friday

Rush is doing something unique Friday, June 23rd, hosting a symposium in Washington called "'24' and America's Image in Fighting Terrorism: Fact, Fiction or Does It Matter?" which will be broadcast live to his online subscribers.

The creative talents behind the TV series 24 will join Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff and members of the Heritage Foundation for a discussion moderated by Rush.

Rush's 24/7 subscribers will be able to watch the program live online from 10:00 to 12:00 noon Eastern time.

Dioceses Value Illegal Immigrants Over Child Safety

I was frankly rather stunned this morning to read that the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Los Angeles and Orange Counties are not requiring illegal immigrants who do volunteer work with children to submit to fingerprinting and criminal background checks.

The Justice Department cannot do fingerprint background checks without a valid government-issued photo ID. Illegal immigrants, of course, do not have any identification issued by our government, and the Justice Department correctly refuses to accept Mexico's "matricula consular" cards, which are frequently fraudulent, as identification.

The dioceses amazingly place the blame on our government, not the illegal immigrants. The Bishop of Orange County, Jaime Soto, complains "the [Justice Department] has made it impractical, if not impossible, for all our volunteers to comply."

Let me get this straight: it's not the fault of those who entered this country illegally that they don't have proper identification, it's the fault of the government for not being willing to check them without it!

Rather than turning the volunteers away, they are being allowed to work with the children anyway (supposedly under supervision, but it's not clear what that entails).

Bishop Soto said: "We are doing this because these people want to participate, they want to serve their church and we want to welcome them." Apparently at the expense of the safety of the youngest and most vulnerable members of the church.

Given the problematic history of these two dioceses with regard to child safety and molestation, it's all the more mind-boggling that illegal immigrants are being given a "free pass" to work directly with children without being screened first.

NASCAR's "Upset of the Century"

There was a real "feel good" story in the Busch series last weekend, as unsponsored driver David Gilliland (very) unexpectedly won in his seventh race.

It's particularly nice that Gilliland is being coached by Jerry Nadeau, who had to retire from driving after being seriously injured in a 2003 accident.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Director Vincent Sherman Dies at 99

Golden Era film director Vincent Sherman has died less than a month away from his 100th birthday.

Sherman's films included MR. SKEFFINGTON with Bette Davis, ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN with Errol Flynn, and THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS with Paul Newman. He directed TV series, including THE WALTONS, until he was well into his 70s.

Sherman remained active sharing his Hollywood memories. He had an official website and recently participated in a commentary track for the newly released DVD of his 1943 film OLD ACQUAINTANCE, starring Bette Davis; a review noted that Sherman's memories were "razor sharp." He also appeared in this year's new Bette Davis documentary, STARDUST.

More on Sherman from Bob Thomas.

WMD's in Iraq

A most interesting story has broken today; it seems the Defense Department has been sitting for months on the information that we found 500 chemical weapons shells in Iraq. Captain's Quarters has extensive coverage (subject link); Power Line has more.

The information was made public thanks to the persistence of Senator Rick Santorum and Congressman Peter Hoekstra. I don't understand why this information wasn't made public long before now; at minimum, regardless of how old the weapons were, it shows that Saddam definitely intended to deceive the U.N. weapons inspectors.

Apparently there is quite a bit of info not yet declassified by the DoD, so there may be more to this story coming down the road.

House Immigration Hearings Confirmed

The House has confirmed it intends to hold hearings this summer on the Senate's immigration bill.

As mentioned here last week, I think this is a good idea.

A majority of Republican senators did not support the Senate bill; many of these Republican senators support the House hearings, which will hopefully focus the nation's attention on the objectionable provisions in the Senate bill.

Update: Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics opines on why the immigration reform bill is better off dead, as it may be after the House's summer hearings.

Rush Limbaugh said today that while the media may attempt to paint the stalled immigration bill as a "conservative crackup," it was actually another successful "conservative crackdown": "The bottom line is, this immigration bill, the Senate bill, is dead, it is killed, and you did it. Make no mistake. This is an illustration, I have always thought that on balance, an informed, educated, participating American populous [sic] will get what it wants." (This page appears to be available to readers on the "free" portion of Rush's site.)

Family Film's Religious Content Equals PG Rating

You've just got to shake your head sometimes...

Pouting Feminists, Part 2

The Washington Post has published a follow-up with reaction to last Sunday's piece by Linda Hirshman.

The Post, to its credit, included a quote by Karen Braun of Spunky Homeschool.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Too Much (Summer) Homework

I couldn't agree more with this column by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish criticizing the growing trend toward summer homework, which first reared its head for my oldest daughter a couple of years ago. She has always looked forward to summer as a time when she could finally read lots of books of her own choosing, rather than assigned school reading, and suddenly found that her teachers were diluting this highly anticipated pleasure by assigning their own choices for her summer reading material.

What's worse, her senior English teacher had the nerve to assign books and papers last summer and then didn't grade them, nor did he grade an essay test on the books. He merely marked off that the summer work was done, and had his student teacher's aide do the essay test grading! The books assigned were quality books, but since the assignments were merely "busy work," my daughter understandably resented having precious summer reading time taken up by the teacher's assignments.

I think part of the summer homework trend is about teachers, or their administrations, feeling they must make decisions based on the lowest common denominator of behavior. Too many kids don't read for pleasure and too many parents are unconcerned with their children's education, so there is a belief in some quarters that the school must step into the parental role and make rules for everyone regarding the children's vacation reading. This comes from the best of intentions, but whether it's the proper -- or effective -- thing to do is another question.

The authors write: "We need what psychologists call 'consolidation,'the time away from a problem when newly learned material is absorbed. Often we return from a break to discover that the pieces have fallen into place. Too many of our children today are denied that consolidation time. And when parents are told that their children's skills will slip without summer homework, we have to wonder: if those skills are so fragile, what kind of education are they really getting?"

It's rather interesting that past generations managed to achieve perfectly good educations without summer homework. While our schools today may face more issues than ever before, including children who speak multiple languages and lack parental support, I don't believe that the schools encroaching ever further into parental decision making and family life via assigned summer studies is the answer to improving public education.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Letter to the President and Congress

Over three dozen prominent conservatives have published an open letter to the President and Congressional leaders calling for "border enforcement first" before any further steps are taken on "comprehensive" immigration reform.

Citing the lessons learned from the failed immigration reform of 1986, they write: "We are in the middle of a global war on terror. 2006 is not 1986. Today, we need proof that enforcement (both at the border and in the interior) is successful before anything else happens. As Ronald Reagan used to say 'trust, but verify.'"

Among those who have signed the letter are William J. Bennett, William F. Buckley, Robert Bork, David Horowitz, John Leo, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, and Ward Connerly.

Judging By Race

OK, I'm stumped. You'd think someone building an "international family," adopting children from different nations, would have already figured out that race doesn't matter -- children do.

So why would "which race would fit best with the kids" be part of Angelina Jolie's decision-making process for a future adoption to expand her family? And how on earth would she evaluate whether a black, white, Asian, Indian, etc., would "fit best" with her kids?

Given the lack of judgment she's shown in other areas -- i.e., not marrying her children's father -- I guess I shouldn't be surprised at such a short-sighted comment.

Disneyland's Updated Pirates Ride Set to Open

Opening Day is nearing for the rehabbed Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, which has been updated to include references to the hit movie of the same name.

Some quoted in this article aren't happy about the changes being made to Disney's classic ride, but I'm open-minded about it. As the article reminds us, Walt Disney himself believed in making innovations, and he frequently made changes to his park. It also sounds as though, thanks to the film tie-in, we may be getting rid of the "politically correct" changes made a few years back, which found the bawdy pirates chasing food instead of wenches. In that case, the tie-in would prompt a welcome partial return to the past.

We also have a movie tie-in to thank for bringing back the long-lost Submarine Voyage. The subs, after an absence of nearly a decade, will re-open in 2007 with a FINDING NEMO theme. So movie tie-ins aren't all a bad thing. In fact, it's worth pointing out that many of the park's attractions over the years originated as Disney films.

In response to the article, the Haunted Mansion just received a very nice upgrade -- I avoid that ride (too creepy and unpleasant for my personal taste) but those I know who've seen it have applauded the small changes, and I can assure you there's no sign of Eddie Murphy in sight. :)

I do have to say that Disneyland's Tarzan's Treehouse "tie-in" attraction has never done anything for me. It's not nearly as much fun or as attractive as the charming original tie-in, the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. One of the thrills of visiting Walt Disney World for me has been visiting this classic Adventureland attraction for the first time in many years. Even as an adult I love watching the treehouse's ingenious "water system" in action.

According to MousePlanet, the Pirates ride may open to the public as soon as Sunday afternoon, June 25th. We're looking forward to checking it out soon.

We Can Put a Man on the Moon...

...but we can't help employers figure out if job applicants are illegal aliens?

The Washington Times reports that "Two decades after Congress ordered the government to create a program to prevent the hiring of illegals, such a program still doesn't exist."

Meanwhile, our government has pushed for acceptance of forms of ID which are easy to counterfeit, such as Mexico's matricula consular card, which may now be used to open bank accounts. Thus, Washington has been helping illegal aliens become ever more entrenched in U.S. society, rather than taking the opposite stand.

Simply put, the ongoing lack of seriousness about border and employer enforcement reflects a lack of will on the part of Washington to deal firmly with illegal immigration.

This morning's L.A. Times ran an interesting article showing what is possible if a government decides to enforce our nation's laws: Georgia's Security and Immigration Compliance Act is already having an impact, as evidenced by declining home purchases by illegal aliens worried they won't be able to continue working in Georgia.

One wonders what might happen if the entire nation, not just a single state, decided to deal with ending illegal immigration once and for all...

The Washington Post and Pouting Feminists

The Washington Post has published some amazing feminist tripe lately. First there was the woman who wrote: "The conservative politics of the Bush administration forced me to have an abortion I didn't want." I didn't even bother to link to that one originally as I figured the less traffic such an absurd point of view received, the better.

Yesterday the Post published a piece in which a feminist, Linda Hirshman, lashed out at those who disagreed with her past article stating that women who have chosen to say home to raise families are letting down the feminist movement and are engaged in activities which don't require much intellect.

Hirshman, who believes that as a "philosopher" it's her "job to tell people how they should lead their lives," has newly attacked blogging homemakers as "a bunch of women who can't manage all the demands on their time," many of whom have "fundamentalist religious stuff on their Web sites." She also laughs off the idea that "supporting other women's choices is the very essence of feminism." It's Hirshman's way or the highway.

These emotion-based pieces are so over the top, Paul Mirengoff of Power Line asks: "Isn't this kind of stuff best left to one's support group -- or one's psychiatrist?"

Karen of Spunky Homeschool writes an articulate response.

One wonders why the Washington Post is wasting newsprint on these childish tantrums, but maybe the paper is doing everyone a favor by showing us one of the true faces of liberalism: a refusal to take personal responsibility for one's own choices, while simultaneously feeling the need to criticize the choices of others.

The Family That Loves NASCAR Together...

Mary Katharine Ham pointed out this wonderful Sports Illustrated piece by the S.I. NASCAR beat writer, Richard O'Brien, about how he and his daughters developed an interest in NASCAR thanks to his assignment.

The author's 16-year-old daughter, Valentina, writes in a sidebar piece: "I decided to watch so I would have something to talk about with my dad." This sounds rather like me -- I started paying a little attention about 6 years ago so I could discuss the subject with my oldest son, who had recently become interested in NASCAR and quickly developed into a passionate fan. Before too long I found myself turning on the races "for company" even if he wasn't home.

Now the entire family watches together. Each family member roots for a particular driver -- Bobby Labonte (older son, who was a Ward Burton fan until he retired), Jeff Gordon (younger son), Dale Jarrett (older daughter), Jeff Burton (younger daughter), Matt Kenseth (husband) and Elliott Sadler (me -- how could I not root for the M&Ms car?!).

We agree about the fun commercials -- as mentioned here last February, they're much more entertaining than Super Bowl commercials.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tonight's Dinner: Roast Beef with Red Wine Pan Juices

My husband loves a good roast, so this was our Father's Day dinner, from the original 1999 edition of Cook's Illustrated's THE BEST RECIPE. The red wine sauce is wonderful with mashed potatoes.


I've found that you pretty much can't go wrong with recipes from Cook's Illustrated, which has been a great confidence builder for me as I've worked to polish my cooking skills over the last 18 months. I highly recommend any of their cookbooks.

A larger, all-new edition, THE NEW BEST RECIPE, was published in 2004.

Best Wishes to Captain Ed Morrissey

Ed Morrissey, proprietor of Captain's Quarters, is recuperating from back surgery.

Ed and his wife have had a rough go of it lately, as his wife (aka The First Mate) has some chronic health challenges which have been particularly difficult in recent weeks. Despite the bumpy ride on the medical front, Ed never fails to communicate optimism and appreciation for those things which are positive in his life.

Today Ed wrote a touching post thanking none other than Rush Limbaugh for reaching out and offering some words of wisdom as Ed faced his back surgery.

Our sincere best wishes to Captain Ed and the First Mate for continued recovery and good health.

Newsweek: "Has Duke Case Collapsed?"

I think a much more accurate headline would have been "Duke Case Has Collapsed"...

Last Night's Movie: Week-End in Havana (1941)

WEEK-END IN HAVANA is an enjoyable Fox musical trifle which finds Macy's shopgirl Alice Faye's long-awaited Caribbean cruise vacation off to a bad start when her ship runs aground. John Payne is the shipping company executive who must show her a good time in Cuba in order to prevent her from suing the company. Payne and Faye also costarred in TIN PAN ALLEY (1940) and HELLO FRISCO, HELLO (1943).

The movie's finest attribute may be its eye-popping Technicolor, which shows off Faye's stunning wardrobe -- as well as costar Carmen Miranda's typically unusual headgear -- to perfection. (We're told Faye's character could afford such a wardrobe on her budget as she'd been saving and wearing old clothes for years...) The musical highlight is Faye's dreamy rendition of "Tropical Magic," and the unique Miranda has plenty of screen time as well. Cesar Romero and Cobina Wright, Jr., round out the supporting cast.

The film clocks in at a breezy 80 minutes, which is just right given the film's very slight plot. It's a great example of '40s Hollywood escapist entertainment, which must have been very welcome to those worrying about the storm clouds brewing when it first played in 1941.

Director Walter Lang also directed STATE FAIR, reviewed here last weekend.

WEEK-END IN HAVANA is available on DVD as part of the Fox Marquee Musicals series. Extras include a commentary, stills gallery, and the trailer. The movie is also available on video.

July 2014 Update: I've revisited WEEK-END IN HAVANA and posted a more detailed review.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Heat: A Chef's Journey

Bill Buford was a fiction editor for The New Yorker who started out to profile chef Mario Batali and ended up quitting his job and going into cooking in a big way. His subtitle: "An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany."

This new book, which received a starred review in Publisher's Weekly, has received positive reviews in this weekend's Washington Post ("charming, crazy")and Newsday ("beautiful, infectious").

USA Today published an interview with the author on Friday.

Sounds like a fun read; I'll be looking into this one further.

Bias? What Media Bias?

You've got to love Eleanor Clift writing in Newsweek that Karl Rove isn't being indicted "thanks to skilled lawyering."

Yes, it's labeled "Commentary," but Clift also acts as a journalist, so it's a fascinating insight into what she actually thinks. Rove's not innocent, he just had a good lawyer.

For more on Rove, check out Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard: "Karl Rove Laughs Last."

Orange County Memories: Japanese Village & Deer Park

My daughter recently came across this site, which has some neat memories of tourist attractions of the past in Orange County, CA.

I loved the photos of Japanese Village and Deer Park in Buena Park. I remember visiting as a child with my grandfather, probably around the time these photos were taken. Japanese Village was a half-forgotten memory that came blazing to life again when looking at the photos. :)

I did a Google search and found some more great postcard photos here.

L.A. Times: Don't Blame Hurricane Victims for FEMA Fraud

I about choked on my Cheerios this morning while reading the L.A. Times editorial which comes perilously close to approving of the fraudulent use of FEMA relief funds by hurricane victims...how dare we blame hurricane victims if they wanted to drown their sorrows in GIRLS GONE WILD?

You see, any problems with misspending were FEMA's fault, and to blame those who used the money for vacations and porn videos is wrong, because "obsessing about the spending habits of refugees comes perilously close to blaming the victim." The Times goes on to say "Bad spending decisions are an unfortunate side effect of a clever and responsive policy" and "hardly shocking."

Darn straight I'll blame the victim and be shocked, when my own hard-earned income is taken by the government and then passed on to others to be spent on sex change operations, porn movies, and divorce fees, not to mention season football tickets and tropical vacations.

Dixie Chicks Are At It Again

The Dixie Chicks landed themselves in the middle of controversy in 2003 by rudely criticizing President Bush during a London concert.

They're in London again, and one of the girls told a London paper: "I don't understand the necessity for patriotism. Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country... I don't see why people care about patriotism."

No wonder they're having trouble selling concert tickets in some U.S. cities.

NASCAR Drivers Eat to Succeed

The New York Times takes a look at the eating habits of the modern NASCAR driver.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A New Disney Book Treasure

Leonard Maltin's website, Movie Crazy, called my attention to a brand-new book, MOUSE TRACKS: THE STORY OF WALT DISNEY RECORDS. Maltin, a Disney expert from way back, wrote the book's introduction. The book's authors are Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar.

This looks like a must-have for Disney fans, even if simply judging by the wonderful "retro" cover. Besides being informative, I suspect the book will jar half-forgotten childhood memories for some of us. It's immediately gone on my wish list.

Our Flawed Immigration Bureaucracy

My excellent Congressman, Ed Royce, has written a good op-ed piece about current operational deficiencies at the CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Service) and how the Senate's immigration bill would further overburden the CIS and weaken national security.

NYC's Unreasonable School Cell Phone Ban

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is refusing to lift a ban on students bringing cell phones to school, even if the phones are turned off and out of sight. Most of the New York City Council disagrees with the Mayor, taking the reasonable position that the phones should be allowed on campus as long as they're not used. It appears some parents, who understandably view the phones as an important emergency safety device, may end up in court over the issue.

Our district once banned student cell phones, when they were relatively expensive and seen more as a tool for drug dealers and gang members than as a safety item. In this post-Columbine, post-9/11 era, parents fought for the ban to be lifted, and it was. Cell phones were allowed to be on campus, as long as they were turned off in class; their use was permitted only before and after school hours. You broke the rule, your phone was confiscated. Within the last year or two, the phones having proven no problem, the district's rules were loosened even further and phone use has been allowed during the lunch period -- not a necessary privilege, but one that has proven convenient from time to time for us and our high school age daughter.

New York school officials insist other systems are in place for parents and children to make contact in an emergency. Frankly, I have not always been very impressed with the common sense or decisions of our own local school administrators, and during a major emergency one-on-one contact with each parent is difficult to accomplish in a short time frame. As a parent, I'm much more comfortable having direct "emergency access" to my child, and I can certainly understand NYC parents feeling the same way.

It's interesting to me that the mayor of the city hit hardest by 9/11 would dig in his heels so strongly against students having cell phones. Technology marches on, and in this case the mayor needs to march along with it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Trib to Sell L.A. Times?

Somehow I can't see Bill Clinton's buddy, Ron Burkle, changing the paper's liberal bias and thus turning around its tanking subscription rates...

Illegal Aliens Had Access to Secure Airport Areas

The good news: 55 illegal construction workers were arrested today at Dulles Airport.

The bad news: They were working in a "secure area." At least one had a badge allowing "unescorted access" to the tarmac.

How did they receive the jobs and security clearances in the first place?

Half a decade after 9/11, the idea that an illegal alien could walk around secure areas of an airport -- in Washington, D.C., no less! -- boggles the mind.

Amazon Sells Groceries!

Over 10,000 non-perishable items...with free Super Saver shipping available.

It's not quite the late-lamented Home Grocer, with its next-day deliveries including perishables, but I'm definitely interested...especially since Vons stopped doubling coupons.

Whose Freedom?

A Muslim school in Illinois wants its female students to play basketball against public schools, but would require that men and boys be banned from attending the games.

So...in order to have "religious freedom" and "special accommodation based on religious beliefs," this school wishes to take away the freedom of other Americans?

This kind of step backwards in time is not what this country is all about. It is to be hoped that this idea has been or will be refused with alacrity.

Time's Haditha Story Falling Apart

Regardless of what the investigation ultimately shows, Time's coverage has been carelessly, perhaps deliberately negligent and biased against the U.S. military.

More from Mary Katharine Ham.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

$1.4 BILLION Fraudulent Hurricane Aid

Relief money was spent on everything from football tickets to a sex change operation.

How will we make sure this kind of waste and fraud never, ever happens again?

House to Hold Hearings on Senate Immigration Bill?

I think the "unusual" move of holding hearings on the Senate's bill is a good idea -- it will hopefully focus more of the public's attention on what is actually in the Senate's bill and help cut through some of the "spin" from the Senate and press.

However, I don't think this issue should be dragged out past the election.

And what about the resolution of the Constitutional problem, with the Senate originating a bill that includes raising of revenue?

Politically Motivated Prosecutors?

Karl Rove has finally been cleared and told he will not be indicted, after months left twisting in the wind. John Podhoretz, at the Corner, criticizes Patrick Fitzgerald for his handling of the matter.

Senator Charles Schumer has demanded that Fitzgerald release a report of his findings. Attorney Victoria Toensing, an expert in this area of law, phoned Rush Limbaugh to say that it would be illegal for Fitzgerald to produce what Schumer is demanding.

Meanwhile John Kerry's spokesman, David Wade expresses his disappointment by referring to Rove as "porcine." (Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.)

The New York Times has published an article today questioning the conduct of the D.A. in the Duke lacrosse team case. And a Duke law professor also questions the D.A.'s impartiality.

At this point, from all that is known, it seems that not only should the charges in the Duke matter be dismissed, but the prosecutor should be under investigation himself for conduct unbecoming an officer of the court.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Barone: Democrats Not Winning at the Polls

Michael Barone's election analyses are always fascinating, and this is no exception. His interesting conclusion:

"The persistence of violence in Iraq has done grave damage to George W. Bush's job rating, and polls show that his fellow Republicans are in trouble. Yet when people actually vote, those numbers don't seem to translate into gains for the Democrats...

"The angry Democratic left and its aiders and abettors in the press seem to have succeeded in souring public opinion, but they haven't succeeded in producing victory margins for the Democrats. Maybe they're doing just the opposite."

Thomas Lipscomb on John Kerry, Part 2

Thomas Lipscomb of USC's Annenberg Center was prompted by a recent New York Times article, which uncritically revisited John Kerry's "swift boat" tales, to set the facts straight in great detail.

Last week's first installment in Lipscomb's series can be found here.

The brand-new article is linked above at the subject heading.

Given the facts, it's hard to believe John Kerry is still trying to re-fight this battle, but then again he knows he can count on media outlets such as the NYT not to question his (often conflicting) versions of the facts.

Identity Theft and Children

This is a cautionary article about the impact of identity theft on children.

A child's social security number may be used by another person -- typically an illegal alien -- for many years before the fraud is discovered, because the child isn't using the number himself. The identity theft can also be more difficult to clear up than it is for adults, for reasons enumerated in the article.

It occurs to me that by requiring children to obtain social security numbers in infancy -- I didn't have my own number until I was in my teens and ready to get a job -- our government is setting children up to have this important information compromised...particularly because the same government has exacerbated the problem by refusing to seriously enforce the borders or enforce sanctions against employers who hire illegal aliens.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Same-Sex Marriage vs. Religious Liberty, Part 2

In March I posted a link to Maggie Gallagher's Weekly Standard article warning of the coming threats to religious freedom if same-sex marriage becomes a "civil right."

The New York Times (linked above) picks up where Gallagher left off, and, perhaps surprisingly, the legal experts interviewed for the Times article come to some of the same conclusions as those cited in Gallagher's article: we potentially have big trouble heading our way on this issue.

Last Night's Movie: State Fair (1945)

The 1945 version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's STATE FAIR is one of my favorite musicals: it stars two of my favorite actors, Jeanne Crain and Dana Andrews; it's a brilliant example of Fox Technicolor; and it has a wonderful score, including one of my all-time favorite R&H songs, "It's a Grand Night for Singing." The movie leaves you with a smile on your face, whistling a happy tune. :) What's not to love?

STATE FAIR was previously filmed as a non-musical in 1933. The 1945 version was Rodgers and Hammerstein's only original film musical. It tells the simple story of the Frake family, who go to the fair seeking blue ribbons and romance. The film also stars Dick Haymes, Vivian Blaine, Charles Winninger, Fay Bainter, and a host of memorable character actors, including Percy Kilbride, Harry Morgan, Will Wright, and John Dehner.

The movie was directed by Walter Lang, who would later direct another Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, THE KING AND I. 50th anniversary editions of THE KING AND I and another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, CAROUSEL, are expected to be released on DVD later this year.

Fun trivia for film fans: Dana Andrews was an accomplished singer who had trained in opera but kept quiet about this talent when he came to Hollywood as he didn't want to be typecast as a "boy singer." He is said to have not mentioned his singing ability when he was cast in STATE FAIR as he figured the guy dubbing for him needed the job. The singer was Ben Gage, who was once married to Esther Williams and is remembered by some TV fans as Marshal Mort Dooley in MAVERICK'S famous "Gun-Shy" spoof of GUNSMOKE.

STATE FAIR is available in a beautiful 60th Anniversary Edition DVD. The 2-disc set includes the inferior 1962 version of the film starring Pat Boone, Ann-Margret, Bobby Darin, and Alice Faye, as well as the 1976 pilot for a proposed TV series starring Vera Miles and Linda Purl.

STATE FAIR is also available in a DVD edition without extras, other than a trailer, and on video.

Tonight's Movie: A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

Tonight I enjoyed watching this terrific Joseph L. Mankiewicz film for the third or fourth time, along with its commentary track. Like Mankiewicz's ALL ABOUT EVE (reviewed here in April), A LETTER TO THREE WIVES contains razor-sharp dialogue and fascinating character studies.

The plot is relatively simple: three women embarking on a day-long boat trip receive a letter from a so-called friend announcing she's run off with one of their husbands. Unable to get home, or even to a phone, the three women spend the day reflecting on their marriages and wondering whose husband will be missing when they arrive home. Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, and Ann Sothern are the wives; Jeffrey Lynn, Paul Douglas, and Kirk Douglas are their husbands. The unseen author of the letter is voiced by Celeste Holm.

I think my only disappointment with the film is that the Crain-Lynn storyline gets relatively short shrift compared to the meaty stories about the other two couples. Crain is one of my favorite actresses, and we don't have the opportunity to see enough sides to her character or her marriage.

Sothern and Kirk Douglas are fine, but the story I enjoy the most is the fascinating Linda Darnell-Paul Douglas courtship. I don't think Darnell has received enough recognition over the years for her highly effective acting in a string of classic '40s movies for Hollywood's greatest directors, including, in addition to Mankiewicz, John Ford, Rouben Mamoulian, Preston Sturges, and Otto Preminger. Here she plays a girl from the wrong side of the tracks (literally) looking for financial security -- and maybe love as well.

A LETTER TO THREE WIVES is available on DVD, No. 27 in the Fox Studio Classics series; the DVD includes a commentary track and an excellent BIOGRAPHY episode on Linda Darnell. The movie can also be obtained on video.

In 1985 there was a fairly entertaining TV remake, with Stephanie Zimbalist, Loni Anderson, and Michele Lee in the Crain, Darnell, and Sothern parts. Charles Frank, Michael Gross, and Ben Gazzara played the Lynn, Kirk Douglas, and Paul Douglas roles. The most interesting bit of trivia for film fans is that Ann Sothern herself appeared in the remake, this time as Ma Finney, the mother of the Darnell/Anderson character.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Friday Food Fun

USA TODAY has an entertaining article today on ice cream stores, most particularly Cold Stone Creamery, home of our favorite Cake Batter ice cream. (M&Ms mixed in is my usual order, but mini chocolate chips are good too...)

Earlier this week the San Francisco Chronicle published an interesting article on the gourmet food store chain Trader Joe's.

Have a good weekend, all!

"Boys' Week" at Semicolon

Semicolon is celebrating "Boys' Week" this week, with myriad boy-related posts.

She lists a large number of excellent books for boys which anyone with a young boy in their life should check out.

As an aside, regarding one of her listings, we never grow tired of the CHILDHOOD OF FAMOUS AMERICANS books around here...I have a large shelf of them pulled together from used book sales. I prefer the old hardback editions -- they predominantly have orange, blue, tan, and green covers or jackets -- but some of them have been reprinted in paperback and will do in a pinch.

Friday Movie & DVD News

Disney and Pixar's latest, CARS, is opening to solid-to-"classic" reviews today. USA TODAY gives the film 3-1/2 stars. Entertainment Weekly calls it "a classic." The Seattle Post Intelligencer terms it "a joyous ride." ABC calls it "a wheelie good time," and The L.A. Times gives it a thumbs up as well.

A new DVD of MR. AND MRS. SMITH was released this week. Video clips, including the film's alternate ending, are available with this press release. The additional ending could be construed to fit in after the last scene of the film as it was released, and provides a fun peek into the future. The film's original DVD release was just six months ago, but this new set sounds like one of the rare cases where the "double-dip" is worth the cost for the film's fans.

National Review has a fun article on Disney's HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, which gets a lot of play around here, in both DVD and CD form. My 11-year-old was thrilled when the musical's star, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, sang the National Anthem at a Dodger game we attended last month. She did a fine job.

John Wayne and John Ford fans won't want to miss this week's gigantic DVD release of 8 of their films, as well as the separate John Ford collection. The Ford/Wayne set includes what sounds like a spectacular new release of THE SEARCHERS, reviewed by Mike Clark at USA TODAY.

Happy viewing!

Herridge and Son Recovering Well

Fox News Channel's Catherine Herridge and her infant son Peter are recovering well from surgery to transplant part of Herridge's liver to Peter.

Herridge will be hospitalized for at least a month, and Peter will likely be hospitalized for the next two months.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Great Day for Good

I especially liked this quote on the death of Zarqawi from an Administration official, via Rich Lowry at The Corner:

"At worst this is really, really good, at best it's ground-breaking..."

Power Line dryly notes of Zarqawi's last hour on earth: "The meeting ended early."

Update: Power Line News has a link to video of the strike, released by the U.S. military.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Does Bilbray's Win Validate House Immigration Stance?

Republican Brian Bilbray credits his comeback victory for a San Diego area House seat to his tough stance on illegal immigration.

Mickey Kaus of Slate agrees with Bilbray.

Michael Barone, the nation's most knowledgeable election analyst, has a number of interesting comments on this election.

Could Akaka Bill Lead to Hawaiian Secession?

Senator Akaka seemed to say today that this could be a realistic result if his bill to establish a Native Hawaiian nation is passed by Congress, inasmuch as he discussed the steps the Hawaiian nation would take to pursue such a possibility.

Another possibility is the return to a Hawaiian monarchy.

Ironically, as anyone whose read James Michener's HAWAII knows, there are very few actual "Native Hawaiians." Hawaii is a true "melting pot" whose citizens are descended from Japanese, Chinese, Americans, and others. Thus, some are complaining that "Native Hawaiian" is too narrowly defined: "We want it to be for any descendants of kingdom nationals who were loyal to the queen during the time she was deposed."

That's right, prove your ancestry goes back a few decades and you could be part of the new Hawaiian nation.

Frank Gaffney has a good op-ed on this topic in today's Washington Times. He also addresses the possibility of Hawaiian secession from the United States if this bill is signed into law. Peter Kirsanow is also worth reading.

Can you imagine the aid and comfort this could give, say, those in the "reconquista" movement? They could then try to establish a "Native Californian" government and reclaim part of the state...

The Administration has finally gone on the record against this horrible bill.

Now the question is, will the Senate, including many Senate Republicans, once more show the American people that they are out of touch with both the Constitution and what is best for our country?

Update: Rod Dreher of Crunchy Con on the precedent the Hawaiian bill could set for the American Southwest: "Hawaii First, Aztlan Later." And, as Dreher points out, after that what's to stop further splintering of our country? (Hat tip: Mary Katharine Ham at Hugh Hewitt.)

I can't imagine that most Americans would agree with this bill, which if signed into law threatens the very future of our nation.

Thursday Update: The Akaka bill fell 4 votes short of cloture today and is mercifully dead for the moment.

The usual RINO suspects voted in favor of cloture, including McCain, Specter, Snowe and Hagel.

Scientology a New NASCAR Sponsor

Maybe it's just me, but I can't see the average NASCAR fan (myself included) being too happy with this sponsorship. At least it's not on a car in the Nextel Cup or Busch series.

NASCAR drivers see it as part of their job to sell their sponsor's products, and it sounds like Kenton Gray will be no exception: "Through Dianetics I've handled stress and increased my performance and ability to compete – both on the track and in life."

Rolling eyes...

I'm not thrilled with every NASCAR sponsor -- I could do without Viagra -- but this one is just bizarre. Hopefully the association will be short-lived.

Universal Preschool Loses

What fabulous news for California taxpayers. A very pleasant surprise as this measure was far ahead early in 2006.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Prayers for Fox News Channel's Catherine Herridge & Baby

Last night on Fox News Channel I noticed a reporter was introduced as the "new" National Security Correspondent, and I wondered where Catherine Herridge had gone.

I now have the answer. According to TV Newser, today Herridge is donating part of her liver to her infant son. The surgery will take approximately 10 hours, followed by a two-month recovery period.

Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren is blogging surgery updates today.

Our good wishes for a successful procedure go out to Herridge and her family.

Robert Novak on the Senate's Unconstitutional Immigration Bill

Robert Novak: "Although Senate staffers realized the constitutional problem, they were betting nobody in the House would notice."

Isn't it reassuring to know that those working in Congress believe deeply in the Constitution? (Rolling eyes...)

A note of hope: "Considering the negative comments about the bill that senators heard from constituents last week, this may encourage new legislative attempts to control immigration."

I won't hold my breath.

Today at Radio Blogger

Two excellent entries today at Radio Blogger.

First, a transcription of Hugh Hewitt's lengthy interview with Mary Cheney, which has some interesting anecdotes with behind-the-scenes views of the Cheney family and Presidential campaigns. I especially enjoyed the story of the wife of the Secretary of State, Alma Powell, cooking the Cheneys a complete Thanksgiving meal when the Vice President was in the hospital.

Then scroll down for a completely different story. Duane's wife is just back from a church mission in New Orleans, and the photos of the devastation are stunning, especially when reminded how many months have passed since Hurricane Katrina.

"The Elephant in the Room"

Andrew McCarthy of National Review Online on the media's suppression of the common link among the Canadian terrorists arrested over the weekend...Islam.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Anniversary of the Battle of Midway

Betsy's Page pointed the way to John in Carolina's 64th anniversary tribute to the Battle of Midway, which was fought June 4th, 5th, and 6th, 1942.

Walter Lord's INCREDIBLE VICTORY, which John quotes on his blog, is, in my estimation, one of the finest non-fiction books ever written. It is a compelling and inspiring page-turner which I've read on multiple occasions. If you haven't read it yet, put it on your short list.

Also of interest: RETURN TO MIDWAY by explorer Robert Ballard, THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY, the Oscar-winning documentary filmed as it happened by the great director John Ford, and JOHN FORD GOES TO WAR. Ford received a shrapnel wound as he filmed the battle.

Fess Parker's Daniel Boone Coming to DVD

For those of us of a certain age, DANIEL BOONE is one of our earliest TV memories...in fact I think I may have watched more of this show in '70s reruns than when it actually aired. I absolutely adored it, including the hokey but very memorable theme music.

I was thus quite excited to learn today that, according to a BOONE fan site, the first two seasons have been restored and the first DVD release will be sometime this fall.

I don't know how it will hold up four decades later, but I'll be quite happy to hear that theme music one more time and share it with my children. :)

Today at Real Clear Politics

The Monday and Tuesday links at Real Clear Politics are filled with an exceptionally high number of "must read" articles.

Thomas Sowell (linked above) calls the Senate's immigration plan "one of the most reckless gambles with the future of this nation ever taken by supposedly responsible members of Congress."

Charles Krauthammer, who grew up in Quebec, writes in Time magazine about the importance of English becoming the official language of the United States.

Dennis Prager analyzes liberal reactions to the federal marriage amendment.

And Thomas Lipscomb of USC's Annenberg Center analyzes the many holes in the New York Times' recent revisting of John Kerry's Vietnam record. Tom Bevan at the RCP Blog provides further background to Lipscomb's piece.

Read them all.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Political Correctness Run Amok

Be sure to check out this post by Michelle Malkin. She has links showing that some in the media are refusing -- or burying -- mention that the captured Canadian terrorists were Islamic jihadists. Even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the terrorists came from "a broad strata" of society!

The Irish Trojan has a particularly good post about the Reuters coverage: "From the Reuters article, you wouldn’t know whether these guys are Osama bin Laden’s band of brothers, or a band of angry rednecks from Saskatchewan."

Monday Evening Update: Captain Ed says that this weekend's arrestees didn't come from a "broad strata" of society at all; rather, the terror cell was based at a single mosque.

Disneyland: A Visit to Club 33

Friday evening we were fortunate to be able to celebrate our daughter's upcoming high school graduation at Disneyland's exclusive "hidden" restaurant in New Orleans Square, Club 33.

My husband and I each worked for Disneyland during our college years but never saw the inside of this magical place. Thanks to his current employer's membership, we were able to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary there two years ago, and visited again on Friday.

Of all the places in Disneyland, Club 33 may be the most magical, not only because it is so rarely seen, but because of incomparable service and food, unique and memorable furnishings, and a lovely view.

Club 33 can be found on Royal Street to the right of the Blue Bayou, identified only by a 33 next to the door (a closeup was posted here Friday) and an unobtrusive buzzer to the left of the door:


Upon entering, the receptionist greets you at this desk on the restaurant's downstairs level:


When your table is ready the receptionist receives a call on the old-fashioned phone and sends you up the twisting staircase or the restaurant's famous French lift (the picture is dark as using a flash reflected off the glass):


The furnishings include this harpsichord ordered by Lillian Disney:


and a phone booth from THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE:


plus a lovely table from MARY POPPINS:


Some windows overlook the Rivers of America and the Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia; others have a charming view of the New Orleans Square area:


Our server opened the door next to our table and invited us to stroll the balcony and enjoy the views. :)

Our evening ended with reserved seats in the crew area for FANTASMIC!, thanks to the kindness of a friend who works on the show.

More Club 33 information and photos can be found at the subject link, as well as here and here.

It was a special evening to celebrate with our daughter, who starts at USC in August. The morning after our trip to Club 33, she landed her first summer job -- at Knott's Berry Farm! She decided that since she loves Disneyland so much, she wanted to keep "work" separate from "play," so she'll be spending this summer working in the amusement park founded by Walter Knott.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

One More Reason...

...we need to secure our northern border as well as the border with Mexico.

Well done, Canada.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Today at Disneyland: Club 33!



Details coming this weekend. :)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Senate Hawaiian Government Bill Unconstitutional?

Edwin Feulner, President of the Heritage Foundation, has written an interesting article on the Senate's "Akaka Bill," which would create a separate race-based Hawaiian nation.

Feulner makes the argument that Congress cannot create a nation which is exempt from parts of the Constitution. The bill would authorize the Native Hawaiian government to violate the 14th Amendment and discriminate on the basis of race.

It's troubling how many in the United States currently seek to re-carve and divide our established nation, whether it's native Hawaiians seeking to legally separate from the United States or "reconquista" proponents advocating the return of the southwest United States to Mexico. I wouldn't have taken these movements seriously just a couple of years ago, but the noise is starting to reach an alarming pitch. Even if they don't succeed -- the Hawaiian bill apparently has a good chance of passage -- the mere advocacy of these ideas creates a racially divisive atmosphere.

Senate Immigration Bill Unconstitutional?

Newly appointed Fox News Congressional correspondent Major Garrett concluded his segment on Special Report today with an interesting tidbit: Some on Capitol Hill are suggesting that the Senate immigration bill, in its current form, is unconstitutional.

The Constitution mandates that all bills regarding the raising of revenue must originate in the House. The Senate, in proposing that illegal aliens pay (only) three years' back taxes as part of a legalization program, may have improperly invaded legislative territory that belongs to the House.

I'd be most interested to know if this kind of circumstance has arisen in Congress in the past, and how it was handled.

I'll be watching for further developments on this angle.

Friday Update: The Washington Times has an article today on the Constitutional issue which has been raised. The immigration bill will possibly be returned to the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has brushed the problem off and refused Majority Leader Frist's suggestion for a fix; Reid's "office said yesterday that the concerns raised by Mr. Frist and House Republicans are 'technical in nature' and can be ignored."

Nice to know our Senate Minority Leader finds the Constitution to be a mere technicality that can be ignored at will.

Further Update: Power Line on Harry Reid: "As we suspected, John McCain isn't the only Senator who views the Constitution as optional."

Rush Limbaugh asks how so many senators could have been so oblivious to the issue that the Senate cannot initiate federal tax policy. Or did they know it all along?

It's also rather interesting that, as far as I'm aware, those in the media who specialize in Congressional coverage seem to have missed this as a potential problem, prior to Major Garrett breaking the story Thursday on Fox News Channel.

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