Thursday, August 31, 2006

Good Plamegate Links at National Review

Byron York has an excellent column at National Review, noting that Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame have no intention of adding Richard Armitage to their lawsuit. Which, of course, just provides more evidence that their lawsuit has no purpose other than to attempt to injure the Bush Administration.

Cliff May analyzes David Corn's unusual role in the Plame matter, as it seems clear that Joe Wilson "leaked" his wife's supposedly covert status to Corn early on. May writes "It would be good for an investigative reporter to look into all this but I guess Michael Isikoff is disqualified since he decided to write a book about the Wilson/Plame affairs with David Corn as his co-author. What could Michael have been thinking?"

And Kate O'Beirne wrote my favorite Corner post of the day, wondering why the same members of the media who have endlessly staked out the homes of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby aren't currently in Richard Armitage's driveway. Armitage has yet to make a firsthand statement regarding his role as the Plamegate leaker.

Arnold Needs a Veto Pen

Governor Schwarzenegger is not having his best week in office.

As Iain Murray explains at The Corner: "Gov. Schwarzenegger has done a deal with the legislature to cap greenhouse gas emissions, essentially imposing Kyoto on his state... It is hard to escape the conclusion that what California has done today...is to decide to join the Third World."

Among other things, this could lead to more expensive utility bills for California consumers, which would be a real hardship given how sharply those bills have increased this year alone.

Meanwhile, the legislature has passed a bill which will make California's minimum wage the highest in the nation. It appears the governor will sign it.

The legislature also passed a bill prohibiting "teachers and textbooks from portraying homosexuality, cross-dressing, sex-change operations and homosexual marriage in a negative light." As of yesterday, it was not known whether or not the Governor would sign it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Secret Hold" Senator: Ted Stevens

With speculation continuing to build today, Republican Senator Ted Stevens has admitted through his staff that he was the senator who placed the anonymous hold on the pending bill which would allow American citizens to research spending in the federal budget via the Internet.

Stevens has a reputation for never having met a piece of pork he didn't like, most (in)famously the "Bridge to Nowhere".

Thursday Update: Stevens did not act alone. Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, the King of Pork, has admitted that he also placed an anonymous hold on this bill.

Byrd has released the hold as "there has been time to better understand the legislation."

And time to better understand that, thanks to the Internet, his days of secret parliamentary maneuvers may be over.

Today at Disneyland

The weather was gorgeous today, sunny and warm but not too hot. A hint of fall was in the air as the shop windows on Main Street already have pumpkins on display.


The last week of August is usually slow at Disneyland, as school has already started in other states. We spent a wonderfully uncrowded morning enjoying rides with very short lines.

We even had the chance to ride both sides of the Matterhorn back to back and compare. We thought that the "right" side was smoother (the "outside" track makes wider turns) but the "left" side was more fun and had a better "splashdown" at the end.


Labor Day and the end of the 50th Anniversary Celebration are fast approaching. Already the merchandise available in the stores has been consolidated down to just a few shops. Soon the beautiful decorations will be part of park history and happy memories.

Hillarycare Coming to CA?

The only thing standing between socialized medicine and California citizens may be Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He has previously taken a position against universal health care.

California citizens, incidentally, have in the recent past rejected a ballot initiative for state-run health insurance, but the state legislature seems unable to take "no" for an answer.

This legislative session can't end quickly enough.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

CA Lawmakers Vote to Give Illegal Immigrants Financial Aid

It's bad enough our state gives illegal immigrants in-state college tuition rates, giving financial preference to illegal aliens over legal citizens of other states.

Now the state assembly has voted to give illegal immigrant students taxpayer-funded financial aid for college, such as Cal Grants. The bill next goes to the state senate.

Yes, we're working hard so that illegal non-taxpayers can receive free state tuition. That makes total sense.

Not only does that fly in the face of justice and further insult this state's taxpayers, it provides additional encouragement to those wishing to enter the country illegally. In this day and age, that defies all common sense.

"Aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he had taken no position on the bill."

And why not, Arnold?

The Incredible Shrinking Katie Couric

And we're supposed to trust Katie Couric and CBS News to tell us the truth?

Uh-huh.

Plamegate: More Pathetic Than We Knew

Richard Armitage has come clean and admitted through his lawyer that the Newsweek story was accurate: he was Robert Novak's source.

What's even more stunning is the confirmation that Armitage disclosed his talks with Novak to the FBI before Patrick Fitzgerald was ever appointed as special prosecutor.

Think about that: there was never anything "there" for Fitzgerald to investigate in the first place! Yet millions of tax dollars have gone down the drain in this investigation, and one person, Scooter Libby, has lost his job and been indicted because his memory of events differed from someone else's. And, as Rush Limbaugh pointed out, the media, Fitzgerald, and Democrats used this non-case as an excuse to smear the Administration, particularly Karl Rove.

One must also ask how Richard Armitage could, in good conscience, remain quiet for three years as Fitzgerald's investigation went on and hurt so many people. It wasn't enough to tell the FBI; he should have gone public and put a stop to the speculation and stories at the outset. Just One Minute has written a good story on "The Hubris of Richard Armitage."

Rush Limbaugh also pointed out that the complicit media, rather than excoriating Armitage, are trying to paint a picture of him as a lovable guy who meant no harm. The Newsweek article describes Armitage as "a well-known gossip who loves to dish and receive juicy tidbits about Washington characters." They certainly wouldn't do that for Karl Rove. Armitage, in remaining publicly quiet, gave the media a weapon to use to damage the Bush Administration, so now the media is returning the favor in letting him off the hook.

Christopher Hitchens on "Plamegate's Ridiculous Conclusion." Hitchens points out that David Corn, one of the co-authors of the Newsweek article and forthcoming book, HUBRIS, had attacked the administration for the "thuggish act" of supposedly disclosing Plame's identity. (Which was never a secret, anyway, but that's another part of this entire convoluted non-case.)

Ed Morrissey, a couple of days ago: "Just a Plame Waste of Time".

A postscript: Armitage has apparently been aiding John McCain behind the scenes. One more reason not to vote for McCain for President.

Update: National Review's Byron York has written today on the lack of contact between the authors of HUBRIS and Rove and Libby, as well as the strangeness of David Corn co-authoring an "investigative news" book when he was part of the story himself. According to York, Corn also maintains a website called "Bushlies.com."

More from Jack Kelly: "Mr. Fitzgerald knew in his first few days on the job that Mr. Armitage was the leaker; that the leak was inadvertent, and that the Intelligence Identities Act hadn't been violated. Yet he has persisted in a sham prosecution."

And don't miss John Podhoretz, who seems to have had the whole "case" figured out from the get-go.

Podhoretz concludes: "Fitzgerald indicted Libby while claiming he was the first 'known' official to have talked to reporters about Valerie Wilson. But Fitzgerald was simply wrong about this central contention in his case. He was wrong to indict Libby on questionable charges of having been deceitful about a matter that wasn't in fact criminal to begin with. Valerie Wilson's boss was wrong to go along with her nepotistic plan of giving her vainglorious liar of a husband a few more days of government service. And Joseph Wilson - the word 'wrong' doesn't even begin to describe him."

Arnold Makes a Really Big Mistake

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger finally went far enough over the line that conservatives may be sitting home this November instead of voting.

The governor has signed a law (1441) prohibiting colleges, private schools, daycare centers, and other facilities from having moral conduct codes if any of their students receive state financial help with their tuition. There is to be no "discrimination" based on sexual orientation.

This law includes colleges with students receiving Cal Grants as part of their financial aid. There is no exemption for faith-based organizations.

While on the one hand one might make the case that it's better, from the point of view of some religious organizations, not to take money with governmental strings attached in the first place, it seems to me that there could be a serious case made that this law discriminates on the basis of religion.

John Kerry: Sleazy Campaigning

John Kerry is campaigning against the Republican candidate for governor of Ohio, Ken Blackwell, by alleging that Blackwell "used his office to abuse our democracy and threaten basic voting rights" in the 2004 Presidential election.

Kerry writes in a campaign email that Blackwell "used the power of his state office to try to intimidate Ohioans and suppress the Democratic vote."

Of course, he has no facts to back up his slander of Blackwell, because there aren't any.

The modern Democratic Party has no positive platform and no constructive ideas, so instead they campaign based on groundless character assassination.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Blogosphere at Its Finest

A pending Senate bill would create a national online database allowing the American public to research spending in the federal budget. This "full disclosure" showing how our tax dollars are spent is a huge step forward for open government. It should also lead to pressure for reduced spending, as the public is able to look at specific items included in the budget and identify "pork" and waste.

As Brit Hume explains at the above link, one of the senators has placed an anonymous hold on the legislation, stopping it in its tracks.

That's where the blogosphere comes in. Individual senators are being asked to go on the record and deny that they placed the secret hold, and the data is being compiled at Porkbusters and Muckraker. So far the number of denials is up to 53.

As the denials increase and the number of "suspects" shrinks, the pressure is going to build on the senator who placed the hold. Although the senator might have preferred to hide the ball when it comes to federal spending, being known as the person who attempted to stop this legislation may not be good for his or her career.

Mary Katharine Ham points toward evidence that the senator in question might be Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Isn't it interesting that the mainstream media is willing to spend its time on obviously worthless wild good chases, such as the Plame leak and the recent Jon Benet Ramsey phony "confession," yet when it comes to a legitimately newsworthy mystery, most of the media looks the other way?

A Google News search, as of late Monday evening, shows just a handful of articles, including stories in The Washington Times, The Modesto Bee, and a Cox News Service story by Rebecca Carr carried in a few papers such as The Contra Costa Times. The "old media," including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, seem to be uninterested in publishing the story as of the time of this post.

Captain Ed weighs in on why secret Senate holds and secret government spending should not be part of an open society.

Tuesday Update: Ed Morrissey has interviewed Majority Leader Bill Frist on this topic and updates the story. Frist plans to talk to everyone and if there is still a hold, have them object publicly from the floor.

Senator Frist says there is also a way to maneuver around the hold without it being released, but as Ed points out, there aren't many days left in the legislative session for that option. Hopefully pressure from the blogosphere and constituents will see to it that this bill comes up for a Senate vote.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Tonight's Movie: His Kind of Woman (1951)

HIS KIND OF WOMAN is our second Robert Mitchum movie viewed this weekend, the first being BLOOD ON THE MOON. The "woman" of the title is the film's leading lady, Jane Russell.

HIS KIND OF WOMAN is considered to be film noir, but it has to be the strangest example of that genre I've yet seen. The plot, such as it is, almost defies description. The first three quarters of the movie alternates traditional dark noir elements with humor and romance, as down-on-his-luck gambler Robert Mitchum accepts a large sum of money to travel to a remote Mexican resort for unknown reasons.

The story meanders in a most unusual way as Mitchum interacts with the odd cast of characters at the resort, including Vincent Price, a sharpshooting ham actor. The movie feels rather patched together; you never have a sense of where it's going to end up next, though it's highly entertaining. Mitchum even has a CASABLANCA-type moment, helping a young couple at the gambling tables. And of course, he finds romance, not to mention a musical interlude or two, with Jane Russell. Yet even during the lighter moments, there is an undercurrent of darkness and uncertainty as Mitchum tries to figure out who he can trust and what the real reason is for his paid resort "vacation."

The level of violence in the film's last half hour is too sadistic and overdone to make the movie a complete pleasure. However, those scenes are offset by the intercut sequences featuring Price's amusing heroics, and the ending is satisfactory, so I recommend the film, although I left the room briefly during a couple of the more unpleasant scenes. I would not recommend this movie for pre-teens.

The film was chiefly directed by John Farrow (husband of Maureen O'Sullivan, father of Mia), although some scenes were reshot by Richard Fleischer. Farrow previously directed another memorable film about a group of people stranded and in danger, FIVE CAME BACK, which has stayed vivid in my memory since I saw it at a museum screening as a teenager. In that film, an airplane crashed onto an island of headhunters. Very different plots -- and HIS KIND OF WOMAN has a firm thread of humor missing from the other film -- but the overall feeling of foreboding and suspense, and the examination of group dynamics when dealing with imminent peril, feels rather similar, as does the exceeding nastiness of the threat lurking "out there."

HIS KIND OF WOMAN is available on DVD as part of the Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 3. There is a commentary on the film's checkered production history by UCLA professor Vivian Sobchak. I haven't yet heard the commentary myself, but am told Sobchak disproves the assertion posted at IMDb that the movie was completely reshot by Richard Fleischer. (I suspect that if producer Howard Hughes and Fleischer had left Farrow's original ending intact, I would have found the last section of the film more tolerable.) I'm looking forward to listening to this track in the near future.

This film is also part of the Turner Classic Movies library. The TCM website has articles on the movie here and here. A trailer is available here.

The movie was filmed in black and white and runs two hours even.

Fox News Crew Released

Very happy news today.

More from Michelle Malkin.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I Don't Think So

Paul Johnson of Power Line, responding to an American Spectator article on Governor Mitt Romney's success courting some evangelicals, suggests "The Mitt Begins to Fit."

Respectfully, I disagree.

I don't find Romney particularly conservative and am baffled by those (including the Evangelicals for Mitt) who describe him as such. As recently as 2002, Romney ran as a pro-choice candidate. Given that, I don't have a great deal of confidence that Romney is solidly pro-life.

Romney's mandatory health insurance plan, which he claims is a "conservative" idea ("insisting that individuals have responsibility for their own health care"), is the essence of big government interference in the free market. Forcing people to buy something reduces personal freedom and leads to higher prices, as the market has less need to compete for guaranteed buyers.

Given these philosophies, particularly his very recent pro-choice position, what kind of judicial appointments could we expect from Romney?

Romney does have some conservative credentials, such as support of traditional marriage, but I don't know if that will be enough to win over skeptics.

George Allen's recent verbal goofiness has dimmed his star for the time being, so the race seems wide open for a truly conservative candidate should one decide to run. But who?

It's About Time

Federal air marshals will be able to dispense with the strict business attire dress code which looked sharp but, in this day and age, often clued in other travelers to the marshals' possible identities.

It's hard to believe that higher-ups maintained this rule as long as they did. We'll all be safer flying with the marshals having an element of surprise on their side.

Tonight's Movie: Blood on the Moon (1948)

BLOOD ON THE MOON is a briskly paced Western directed by the versatile Robert Wise. Robert Mitchum plays a "loose rider" who seemingly wanders into the middle of a range war pitting Robert Preston against Barbara Bel Geddes and family. Which side will Mitchum and his fast gun support?

Some writers refer to this movie as a "Western film noir." It has great moody black and white atmosphere, beginning with the opening scene of Mitchum preparing to bunk down for the night after riding through a rainstorm. A shadowy barroom brawl between Mitchum and Preston is classic. The movie was partially shot in Sedona, Arizona, and includes striking shots of mountains against cloud-filled skies.

Robert Mitchum is, well, Robert Mitchum, terrific as the laconic, initially morally ambiguous gunman. Barbara Bel Geddes is an atypical Western heroine who is very handy with a rifle herself. This was one of Bel Geddes's first films; she also appeared that year as Katrin in the wonderful I REMEMBER MAMA.

Walter Brennan is superb in a supporting role and has the best line in the movie: "I always wanted to shoot one of you, and he was the handiest."

The film echoes some of the themes of one of my favorite Westerns, ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947): the gunslinger helped along the road to redemption by the love of a good woman; the older man with a rifle who could prove to be either friend or enemy to the hero. They're quite different movies, but it's interesting to mull over some of the story elements the two films have in common.

This 88-minute film is a small gem which deserves wider viewing and recognition.

BLOOD ON THE MOON is available on VHS.

This movie is also part of the Turner Classic Movies library. TCM has a nice writeup on the movie here, and the trailer is available here.

Update: I had a wonderful opportunity to see this film on a big screen at UCLA in July 2011.

Food Blogs!

USA Today ran a fun article today on blogs which focus on food and cooking.

Two of the blogs mentioned in the article, 101 Cookbooks and Chocolate and Zucchini, are linked at the left under "Food and Homemaking Links."

I'm familiar with a couple of the other blogs mentioned, and I look forward to checking out those sites which are new to me.

I've found that, as with blogs on other subjects, one of the best ways to find interesting cooking blogs is by checking out links at sites I like. Some of the food blogs I enjoy checking out from time to time, along with sites already linked at the left margin, are Cooking With Amy, 52 Cupcakes, I Like to Cook, Food Chronicles, and Simply Recipes.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The College Applications Process

USA Today ran an article today with some good insights into the arduous college applications process.

Like the family in the article, our daughter used a spreadsheet (Excel) to keep track of application and scholarship deadlines and fees. She had columns to check off as test scores and recommendation letters were completed. I highly recommend this to anyone about to embark on the process.

I also suggest setting aside a small chunk of time to work on "college" on a daily basis, beginning no later than September, which will prevent the student from being overwhelmed by the work involved once November and December hit.

Unlike the family in the article, our daughter did all the work herself, other than my proofreading her essays. It was time consuming, but I think it was a good thing that she "owned" the process as she worked through the applications and later the final college decision.

I'm happy to say that all the hard work was worth it, as she has very much enjoyed her first week at college. Tonight she walked past Leonard Maltin on campus...she is a film fan like the rest of our family so that was really fun. Maybe one year she can take his class. :)

Gas Tax Advocates Lack Confidence in Convictions

Advocates of Proposition 87, a November ballot measure which would impose a huge new tax on oil produced in California, obviously don't believe that their plan has much chance of succeeding.

They are so insecure that they bought up several "No on 87" web addresses so that when citizens searching for that phrase click on a "No" website, they are then redirected to a "Yes on 87" site. The cyber shenanigans have led to legal action.

A real "No on 87" site is here.

So much for good old-fashioned campaign work; the "Yes" campaign obviously feels they can win only by engaging in deception and trickery. Hopefully this bodes well for Proposition 87's defeat at the polls.

Steyn Reviews Coulter

Mark Steyn (who did a great job subbing for Rush today) defends Ann Coulter and her recent book GODLESS from those who assert that 9/11 widows are beyond criticism.

"...it wasn't until Ann Coulter pointed it out that you realize how heavily the Democratic party is invested in irreproachable biography."

He concludes: "Using 'messengers whom we're not allowed to reply to' doesn't solve the Democrats' biggest problem: their message."

As is usually the case with Steyn, every word is carefully chosen. As the saying goes, read the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Battle for the Children

Last night I linked to an interesting Opinion Journal column on the "fertility gap" between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives have far more children than liberals, so it is likely that at some point not too many years from now, conservatives will outnumber liberals.

David French at NRO's Phi Beta Cons (linked above) makes an interesting point, that since liberals aren't actually having as many children as conservatives, the political battle lines instead are being drawn in our nation's public schools, which are staffed largely by liberals who are fighting for the "hearts and minds" of the nation's children.

"After decades of litigation, the balance of power is increasingly clear: While parents who can afford to do so have a right to opt out of public schooling (through home schools or private schools), if the kids are in public schools they are essentially wards of the state and can be subjected to all kinds of state indoctrination without parental consent."

He concludes: "Why does the Left need to have children...when they can raise yours?"

A Fascinating Coincidence

A Northwest Airlines flight en route from Holland to India turned back to Holland today due to strange behavior by several passengers using forbidden cell phones. The plane, which had air marshals on board, was escorted on its return to Holland by two F-16 fighter jets.

In a very interesting coincidence, Tim Nelson, the gentleman who first tipped the U.S. government to the odd behavior of Zacarias Moussaoui in flight school, was a passenger on the plane.

I'll be curious to learn more about the passengers who were arrested.

Famed Food Store Threatened by Eminent Domain

Surfas, a well-known restaurant supply and food store in Culver City, California, is currently under threat of condemnation by eminent domain.

As we have seen happen all too often of late, Culver City has declared the Surfas warehouse and offices "blighted" because the city wishes to put a different kind of "transit-oriented" private business on the Surfas site which would cater (no pun intended) to travelers on a light rail line which has not yet been built.

Culver City may be trying to rush through the condemnation now because this November Californians will have the opportunity to vote to ban the use of eminent domain to transfer private property to another private owner.

Les Surfas believes his buildings will be razed and the land will sit vacant for years.

Eating L.A. published a statement from Surfas last week which says "If Culver City doesn't want us, another city will."

As an aside, I placed an online order from Surfas a few months ago and was extremely pleased with the very prompt delivery; my package arrived just a day or two after the order was placed.

This use of eminent domain appears to me to be unconstitutional, and if it's not stopped now, then none of us who own property will ever be safe. Hopefully Mr. Surfas will prevail in court.

Mark Steyn Subs for Rush Limbaugh Thursday

Rush announced at the end of today's show that "the great writer and commentator, Mark Steyn" would be his substitute for Thursday's program.

I've heard Steyn many times as a guest on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. Should be fun to hear him filling in as a host. Steyn is an amazingly quick-witted, knowledgeable, and amusing man. (Rather like Rush!)

Fox News Journalists Seen on Video

TV Newser (above), Michelle Malkin, and Mary Katharine Ham have the latest.

Please pray for Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Around the Blogosophere Today

I came across some interesting and provocative reads today which I thought I'd highlight briefly.

Ed Morrissey has questioned whether electronic voting machines are a threat to democracy (subject link). I know I certainly feel less secure voting electronically, and I would happily return to punch cards which leave a paper trail.

Rush Limbaugh today mentioned an interesting article in Opinion Journal, about the "fertility gap" between conservatives and liberals. Over time liberals may end up far outnumbered by conservatives. I've done my part to add to the "gap" thanks to being blessed with four children. :)

Jonah Goldberg writes on the "Living Constitution's Double Standard." Those who believe in the "living Constitution" actually only believe in it in those circumstances where it's convenient to their beliefs that the Constitution be "flexible." Goldberg concludes: "Where the Constitution is supposed to be inert, they want it alive and mutating. But where the Constitution was intended to be flexible, intellectual rigor mortis has set in."

John Hinderaker of Power Line reflects on President Bush as a public speaker, a theme also discussed in Kathleen Parker's new column. Mr. Hinderaker described hearing President Bush speak today as "the most inspiring forty minutes I've experienced in politics."

Judge in NSA Case Had Conflict of Interest

Judge Anna Taylor Diggs, who last week ruled that the NSA wiretapping program is unconstitutional, appears to have had a conflict of interest.

She is the trustee of an organization that has given substantial funds to the Michigan ACLU, the plaintiff in the NSA case.

Blogger Ann Althouse has written an excellent analysis of Diggs' decision for Wednesday's New York Times.

A Troubling Electoral Plan

The California Senate has passed a bill that would do an end run around the U.S. Constitution, by forcing our state's electoral votes to be cast not for the majority winner of California's votes, but for whoever leads the popular vote nationally.

California would enter into a compact with several other states to cast their votes in this manner.

State Senator Tom McClintock calls the plan "brazenly unconstitutional." It certainly raises all kinds of questions in my mind. I wonder if the compact would be constitutional; I particularly wonder about the equal protection clause, insofar as Californians' votes would have less worth because the entire nation would be deciding how the state's electoral votes are cast, rather than just Californians.

I'd hope that the idea is going to stop with the State Senate, but with our liberal state legislature, I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up on Governor Schwarzenegger's desk.

New on DVD: Who Am I This Time? (1982)

I first saw WHO AM I THIS TIME?, which is being released today on DVD, on public television's AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE during my college years.

This is a charming one-hour romantic comedy about an extremely shy man (Christopher Walken) who exudes confidence starring in local community theater productions. Susan Sarandon is the new girl in town who is his costar in a production of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE.

The lead actors are by turns touching and sizzling as they fall in love. Is their relationship just "Stanley and Stella," or is it the real thing?

I recorded this on a Beta (!) videotape which hasn't received any play in recent years. I'm so pleased to be able to "upgrade" my copy to DVD and enjoy this little movie once more and am anxiously awaiting its delivery. I found the best price at Deep Discount DVD.

Highly recommended.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Rudy vs. McCain

The Anchoress has written a thoughtful piece (linked above) on why she would vote for Rudy Giuliani despite his social liberalism.

Over at Captain's Quarters, Ed Morrissey summarizes why conservatives just don't trust occasional conservative John McCain.

These two posts combine to explain why I would definitely consider voting for Rudy Giuliani, but will never, ever vote for John McCain.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Update on Film Critic Roger Ebert

Last Thursday famed film critic Roger Ebert released a statement updating the public on his most recent battle with cancer.

His TV show will continue with guest hosts in his absence.

Prayers and good wishes to Roger for a complete recovery.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Still No Word on Kidnapped Fox News Employees

Fox New Channel's Chief Israel Correspondent, Jennifer Griffin, spoke at a demonstration today in Gaza City.

TV Newser continues to update regarding the search for Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig.

Sunday Evening Update: Michelle Malkin has a large roundup of links and emails on this topic.

A Sad Country Song

The only country-music station in L.A., KZLA, went off the air yesterday...replaced by a station that plays Michael and Janet Jackson. (Ugh!)

I'm not particularly into what I think of as the "new country" of the last decade or so (and certainly not the Dixie Chicks!), but I spent a lot of years listening to that station, especially in the '80s. It was still programmed into memory as one of my car radio buttons, so I could check for the older country songs they'd play occasionally. I will be removing that setting today...sigh.

Time to load some Alabama CDs back into the car. :)

Sunday Update: An interesting article from the L.A. Times about societal changes which have led music stations to target "urban" and Hispanic listeners.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New on DVD: The Duchess of Duke Street

Last Tuesday saw the DVD release of the second season of one of Britain's finest TV series, THE DUCHESS OF DUKE STREET.

Season 1 was released previously.

The series, which originally ran in England in 1976 and 1977, was first broadcast in the United States on MASTERPIECE THEATER in its "Golden Era" of the '70s and early '80s, when many of us were lucky enough to first watch series such as UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS, POLDARK, LILLIE, THE FLAME TREES OF THIKA, and DANGER: UXB.

Louisa Trotter, who climbed from being a poor Cockney servant to being a renowned cook and hotel owner, wasn't always moral, but she was certainly always fascinating. Gemma Jones as Louisa gives one of the all-time great television performances and is supported by an outstanding cast.

If you've never yet seen this series, by all means add it to your "to be watched" list (or your Netflix queue).

Viewer advisory: there is some mature subject matter -- Louisa was once the mistress of King Edward VII and later had an illegitimate child by another man -- which is not appropriate for younger children.

CA Refuses to Restore Missions

The California legislature is refusing to contribute to the restoration of our state's historic missions because of that old saw, the so-called separation of church and state.

A California Democrat's spokesman said that while the federal government contributes to the restoration of famous churches such as Old North Church, the missions conduct too many services to allow spending state funds on restoration. In his eyes, if a church has two services a week, as they do at Old North, it's all right for the government to help with the restoration; but if a church has daily services, then basically that's just too much religion and you can forget government funds for restoration projects.

There are few (if any) buildings in California which are more significant in our state and national history than the missions, many of which are in dire need of earthquake retrofitting and other expensive preservation measures. Some of these parishes serve relatively poor congregations. If the state government is going to involve itself in the preservation of historic buildings, then the missions should be at the top of the list.

Below, a 2004 photo of the ruins from the 1812 earthquake at Mission San Juan Capistrano. These ruins are sometimes referred to as "the American Acropolis."


Another view, with restored bells in the foreground:


I find the attitudes of the anti-religionists in this matter quite regrettable. I suspect that the day is not far off when lawsuits will be initiated to prevent California schoolchildren from taking field trips to missions. And I'm rather amazed a lawsuit hasn't yet prevented the annual ritual of thousands of California schoolchildren, constructing missions from popsicle sticks and styrofoam.

Skyrocketing College Textbook Prices

USA Today ran a pair of articles today on the high costs of college textbooks. The stories were timely for me -- as we paid nearly $400 for a single semester's books for our daughter yesterday. (Gulp!) Nearly half the titles we purchased were used, too.

I find state legislatures stepping into the issue potentially worrisome -- as a parent who just had to pay an unpleasant bill, I appreciate that students are a captive audience and would like to see textbook prices (not to mention college tuition!) come back down to Planet Earth, but I always prefer to see the market work to resolve problems. A great case in point: the professors who have taken the initiative to utilize new technology and worked to make course materials more affordable for their students.

Speaking of college, the new U.S. News college rankings are out, which are always interesting to peruse, although like most lists, they should be taken with a grain of salt. My daughter's university jumped three spots in the last year, from No. 30 to No. 27. :)

Who Elected Judge Taylor President?

A single federal judge having the audacity to tell the President how he can or can't conduct national security -- against significant precedents, no less -- seems to me to raise serious separation of powers issues.

Be sure to read analysis from Power Line (above and here). Paul Johnson: "Off hand, I cannot recall reading an opinion as conclusory and content free as the portions of this opinion that pertain to the Constitution."

Patterico, an L.A. County prosecutor, calls it "one of the most embarrassing pieces of garbage I have ever read."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Move-In Day at USC

No blogging today as we moved our oldest daughter into her dorm at the University of Southern California. It was a lovely day and all went smoothly.

Below, Alumni House, the oldest building on campus:


Here's a shot taken of the reflecting pool in late June:


Fight on!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Update on Kidnapped Fox News Correspondent

Media Bistro's TV Newser has ongoing updates on the kidnapping of Fox News Channel correspondent Steve Centanni and his cameraman, Olaf Wiig.

Fox News' chief Israel correspondent, Jennifer Griffin (a very brave woman herself), and another Fox employee have scheduled meetings with the President and Prime Minister of the Palestinian government.

Fox News Channel is maintaining a very low-key position, not mentioning the kidnapping other than occasional reports from Griffin. I haven't seen any stories on their website. Denying the kidnappers publicity may be the wisest course at this point.

Google News has regular updates.

D.A. Seizes Capistrano Computer

The saga goes on at Orange County's San Juan Capistrano School District, where district officials are accused of maintaining an "enemies list" with the names of parents and teachers who signed a petition to recall the school board.

Monday the District Attorney seized a computer and various files from the school district's office, and gave grand jury subpoenas to several employees.

Wednesday Update: The district has hired a prominent criminal defense attorney to represent it during the investigation.

Yesterday the district spokeswoman said "We welcome any investigation because we're confident any investigation will show the district did nothing wrong." I can't help wondering why, if that's the case, the district feels the need to hire a criminal defense attorney at this early phase of the investigation.

President Bush Takes Federal Control of Mt. Soledad Cross

President Bush acted Monday to prevent the removal of a cross from a war memorial at Mount Soledad in San Diego.

The court-ordered removal of the cross is currently stayed pending appeals.

The President signed a bill which transferred the land to the Defense Department and designated it a national war memorial.

This is outstanding news. It's just sad that our nation has had to "federalize" this property to protect it from legal vultures who insist on infringing on the religious rights of others with frivolous lawsuits. As this article makes clear, the legal action is likely to go on.

As a citizen comments in the article, "What are they going to do, take the crosses off Arlington?"

Monday, August 14, 2006

FNC's Steve Centanni Kidnapped in Gaza

Fox News correspondent Steve Centanni and his cameraman, Olaf Wiig, have been kidnapped in Gaza.

Check Google News for the latest updates.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Catherine Herridge Update

The Washington Post ran a moving update today on Fox News Channel reporter Catherine Herridge and her son Peter, who are both recovering well from surgery a few weeks ago to transplant part of Catherine's liver to Peter. Very happy news.

(Hat tip: TV Newser.)

Patronizing Katie Couric

Here's a cringe-worthy quote from Katie Couric:

"The biggest job isn't telling people what happened. It's getting them to understand why they should care."

Apparently Katie believes the unwashed masses are too dumb to figure out for themselves why (or whether) they should care about the same stories Katie cares about.

When media types like Katie go back to viewing their jobs as telling the public what happened, we'll all be a lot better off.

Alton Brown's Feasting on Asphalt

I've very much been enjoying Alton Brown's new Saturday show on the Food Network, FEASTING ON ASPHALT.

Brown spent a month on a cross-country motorcycle trip searching for interesting places to eat...and he certainly found them.

On the show he also spends quite a bit of time dishing out fascinating bits of food history, including info on Fred Harvey's Harvey Houses and foods which originated at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.

Brown's four-episode series concludes next weekend. Food Network will be running a marathon of all the shows if you want to catch up.

For more details, visit Alton Brown's website or the Food Network (subject link).

The Christian magazine Guideposts recently ran a very interesting article by Brown. Be sure to check it out if you're a Brown fan. If you're not a Brown fan already, you might become one after reading his essay.

As a postscript, if you want to learn more about Harvey Houses and the "Harvey Girls," you may enjoy THE HARVEY GIRLS: WOMEN WHO OPENED THE WEST by Leslie Poling-Kempes or FRED HARVEY: CREATOR OF WESTERN HOSPITALITY by William Patrick Armstrong, which are both on my shelves. (My interest began, of course, with the movie!)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Tonight's Movie: Springtime in the Rockies (1942)

This is another delightful Betty Grable musical, with a super 20th Century-Fox cast including John Payne, Cesar Romero, Carmen Miranda, and Charlotte Greenwood, not to mention Jackie Gleason, Edward Everett Horton, and last but not least, Harry James and His Music Makers.

The exotic location this time around is a resort in the Canadian Rockies. While the Rockies are only seen via stock footage, the Fox Technicolor, as usual, is gorgeous, as are the gowns and sets.

This is a great example of the Fox musical in top form. Grable sings and dances with both Payne and Romero; Romero is a very graceful dancer. Carmen Miranda does her unique thing; a scene where she transforms a relatively plain white dress into her usual colorful getup is a stitch, and you've got to hear her take on "Chattanooga Choo Choo." The movie pauses for a musical break partway through, with three wonderful Harry James numbers in a row, just because it can. :) (Highlight: Helen Forrest singing "I Had the Craziest Dream.") James and Grable would marry the following year.

SPRINGTIME IN THE ROCKIES is available on VHS. It has a running time of 91 minutes.

There is a rumor there will be a second collection of Betty Grable DVDs in coming months, and hopefully this will be one of the titles included.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Today at Disneyland

We spent a relaxing few hours at Disneyland this afternoon. The flowers were beautiful, as usual:


My son shot this photo of one of Disneyland's most scenic spots, Snow White's Grotto:


And here are two of our favorite Disney critters:


Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Charles Krauthammer on Democrats as "Doves"

Dr. Krauthammer on the naive and "myopic" foreign policy ideals of the Democrats, and why their anti-war stance may cost the party in the long run:

"The Iraq War will end, as will the Bush presidency. But the larger conflict that defines our times -- war on Islamic radicalism, more politely known as the war on terror -- will continue, as the just-foiled London airliner plot unmistakably reminds us. And the reflexive anti-war sentiments underlying Ned Lamont's victory in Connecticut will prove disastrous for the Democrats in the long run -- the long run beginning as early as November '08."

Daniel Henninger of Opinion Journal also has a good piece: "From the perspective as of yesterday of getting on a U.S. airliner, who would you rather have in the Senate formulating policy toward this threat--Ned Lamont or Joe Lieberman? Well, the Democratic Party would rather have Ned Lamont... With the knifing of Joe Lieberman, the Democrats have locked in as the antiwar party. No turning back now...

"What the Democratic Party needs more than anything for the way forward is adult supervision."

A Reminder: The Mainstream Media Endangers Us All

Time magazine reports that the USA picked up the would-be airline bombers' "chatter" and intercepted their communications, then passed the info on to Great Britain.

I can't help but be reminded that our news media, in disclosing programs such as the NSA wiretapping and financial tracing, has now made it much more difficult for us to thwart future terrorist plots. Unelected men such as Bill Keller and Dean Baquet, editors of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, decided that they, not the elected President, had the right to disclose these programs. In doing so, they have endangered us all.

Harry Reid's Tin Ear

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is using the occasion of the terror arrests in Britain to snipe at the Administration for "mismanagement and wrong funding priorities," namely the Iraq war, which "has diverted our focus."

Somehow I don't think Reid's continuing insistence that Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism, or his using the day's sobering events for political grandstanding, will go over very well with the public.

If we must engage in political calculations at this early date, one has to wonder how this might impact the Senate race in Connecticut...

Al Gore's Hypocrisy

A good column by Peter Schweizer at USA TODAY (above).

John Tierney of The New York Times also wrote an interesting piece on Gore's "Do as I say, not as I do" habits this week. "Those Sinful Second Homes" thus far only appears to be available online with a paid Times Select subscription.

Tierney wrote that Gore recommends we travel by bus. Gore himself, of course, travels by private jet!

3 More Egyptian Students Arrested

This is also mentioned in an update below, but particularly in light of this day's events, it bears noting that three more of the missing Egyptian students have been arrested.

One of the students was arrested at O'Hare International Airport in Illinois, and two others were taken into custody at a residence in Maryland.

I'm really appalled at the University of Montana administrator who tried to blame the students being AWOL on their poor English and being "separated" during customs interviews. These gentlemen obviously spoke enough English to obtain tickets to states as far-flung as Maryland, Illinois, and Minnesota, when ostensibly they would have entered the country with pre-paid tickets connecting them from New York to Montana.

Some of the students' families suggest the students were looking for work.

Whether the students were involved with terrorism or something more "benign," working here as illegal immigrants, this is yet one more example of a broken immigration system that badly needs to be fixed. Despite the rationalizing of those who defend illegal workers, it's not all right for anyone, of any nationality or country, to enter or work in this country illegally.

We simply can't afford the risk, and hopefully today's events in England will freshly underscore this point.

Update: The Egyptian "student" arrested at O'Hare created a disturbance after attempting to use his New York to Bozeman, Montana, ticket to fly to Montana from Chicago.

A policeman at the scene says "He was acting in a strange, erratic behavior."

Authorities in Maryland say the students arrested there apparently intended to obtain jobs.

How do we know that's not a cover for their real plans? At this point, I think it's reasonable to assume the worst of anyone who attempts to enter or remain in this country illegally.

Terror Levels Raised

As I go to bed tonight, it's with the discomforting news that Britain has raised its terror level from "severe" to "critical," indicating it believes an attack is imminent, after it has already broken up an airplane bombing plot. No hand luggage will be allowed on any flights leaving the U.K.

Sky News, via Fox News Channel, indicates the foiled plot in England was to blow up at least 20 aircraft.

The United States has also raised the threat level for airline flights between the U.S. and Britain. Carry-on luggage and "liquids" are prohibited for all flights between the two countries.

Sounds like law enforcement in the U.K. has done an outstanding job thus far.

FReepers are monitoring developments.

This is a good night to say some extra prayers for our country and our great ally, Britain, as well as for those planes already in the air from England to United States. David Asman reports on Fox there are planes in the air that may be "of concern."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Meanwhile in England...

...British police on Thursday arrested a number of people plotting to blow up a plane mid-flight traveling from England to the United States.

"A major terrorist plot to allegedly blow up aircraft in mid-flight has been disrupted in a joint, pre-planned, intelligence-led operation by the metropolitan police anti-terrorist branch and security services."

Given recent events, it seems sensible to feel slightly uneasy about the fifth anniversary of 9/11 a few weeks hence.

Terror Arrests in Michigan?

If you read only one other blog this week, it should be Michelle Malkin. She's got the latest on a number of significant stories, ranging from the faked photos in Lebanon to the missing Egyptian students and now has multiple links to what appears to be significant arrests in Dearborn, Michigan.

Two men stopped on a traffic violation had $11,000 in cash, 12 cell phones (and admitted to buying 600 more), airplane passenger lists, and "information on airport security checkpoints."

There was also a map of Wal-Mart locations through the South. Remember the unusual cell phone purchases reported earlier this year? Hmmm.

Why do I have the uncomfortable feeling that the FBI will soon be reassuring us that there is no terrorism involved? I don't know if the feds are afraid of panicking the public or are being politically correct or what, but they have acted too quickly too many times in telling the public not to worry about connections with terrorism. They need to fully and completely investigate first, and reassure (if warranted) second.

Thursday Update: The Associated Press, via the Akron Beacon Journal, on the connections between the two men and terrorism. A court hearing will be held later today.

Will Political Correctness Be Our Downfall?

If this is true, I'm really concerned; in an editorial, Investors Business Daily alleges:

"Sensitivity toward Muslims is so raw that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff this week felt compelled to express disappointment that the FBI put out an alert for 11 Egyptian students who failed to show up at Montana State University. They entered the country on visas, then vanished. Chertoff said not to worry, just a bunch of kids cutting class. No threat here." (Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.)

Did Chertoff actually express disappointment regarding this issue? If so, I'm stunned. He has no business being Director of Homeland Security if that allegation is true. Rush Limbaugh did a wonderful riff yesterday on how citizens need to look for the Egyptian students without racial profiling, but as is often the case, Rush's humor may have come uncomfortably close to the truth.

A Google News search for "Michael Chertoff Egyptian" only turns up the Investors Business Daily article, as well as an unrelated article. I didn't immediately find any related stories searching under "Michael Chertoff," either. I've read a number of stories on the students and haven't come across that quote. I'd really like to know if Investors Business Daily is accurate.

I've been uncomfortable enough with the FBI immediately assuring us the students pose no threat of terrorism; on what basis can they tell us that, without an investigation? (And it's rather amusing that the FBI assures the public on the one hand there is no threat, while on the other hand they tell law enforcement to approach the students "with caution.")

As posted here earlier today, three of the students have now been located or turned themselves in.

Call me skeptical: The director of the exchange program at Montana State University said, "The challenge is a lot of these guys have low English skills. The process of going through customs and immigration is a lengthy one....if you're an Egyptian male, it can take longer. The group got separated."

Somehow I just don't think it's normal that a group of students become "separated" and vanish when they're all supposed to be headed to Montana. One of the students had enough know-how to get on a plane and end up in Minneapolis. Shouldn't he have had a connecting ticket to Montana, and wouldn't airline personnel have directed him to the proper flight if his English was so poor he mistook Minneapolis or Minnesota for Montana?

Thursday Update: Three more of the Egyptian students have been arrested. Two of those poor guys with "low English skills" who were simply lost and separated, if we are to believe personnel from the University of Montana, got themselves all the way to Maryland. The third transported himself to Chicago, where he was arrested at O'Hare.

So, assuming these gentlemen had prepaid tickets to Montana, how did they "accidentally" end up in states like Maryland, Illinois, and Minnesota?

Christian School Lawsuit Against UC Goes Forward

Over the past few months I have posted a few times about a lawsuit by Christian schools against the University of California, which the schools allege discriminates against high school courses taught from a Christian "worldview."

A judge has ruled that the case will go to trial: "It is evident that the plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to state a claim for violation of the freedom of speech in the forms of content-based regulation and viewpoint discrimination."

The judge also said the schools showed "they had been required to choose between teaching courses that promoted their religious views and complying with UC's requirements."

Among other things, UC refuses to certify "courses that challenge evolutionary teachings."

As I posted in December, UC "approved courses from other schools on Buddhism, Islam, Jewish history and the effects of feminism and counterculture on literature but turned down Calvary's submissions in history and literature, as well as a government class titled Special Providence: Christianity and the American Republic."

This will be a very interesting case to follow.

NYT: Photo Caption was "Imprecise"

It's merely "imprecise" to caption a photo implying that it depicts a man killed in a bombing, when it actually shows someone injured after the attack?!

Besides which, as has been noted by Power Line (above) and others, the photo appears to have been staged for dramatic effect.

More of the latest news on photo fakery in Lebanon from Michelle Malkin, who has also written a new column titled "The Reuterization of War Journalism."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Homosexual Textbook Bill Flounders in CA

A bill to insert "gay history" into California textbooks has been modified due to Governor Schwarzenegger's planned veto. The bill would have forced textbook publishers to label sexual preferences of historic figures (at least when it comes to homosexuals) so that schoolchildren would appreciate the "history and achievements" of gays and lesbians.

The measure now "only bars teaching anything that 'reflects adversely' on people because of their sexual orientation. Schools would also be prohibited from sponsoring any activities that sanction such a bias."

Interesting use of the word "only" by the L.A. Times. Even in its revised state, the bill could cause trouble in the future, if activists use it as an excuse to bring suits against California schools.

Fortunately it appears that the governor will still veto the bill, as he does not believe the legislature should "micromanage curriculum."

Governor Schwarzenegger is far from a perfect governor, and my support for him could be characterized as lukewarm, as we disagree on many issues. Still, there are days when I'm very glad that Arnold is in office rather than Gray Davis or Cruz Bustamante. Were either of those men the current governor, the bill would very likely be signed into law. Half a loaf...

What Next for Lieberman?

If Senator Joe Lieberman wins election in November as an Independent, who will he caucus with? Will he still be a "de facto" Democrat, or will he turn his back on those who very weakly supported him (and those who didn't support him at all) in the primary?

No one expects Joe will turn into a Republican overnight, as he has a strong Democrat voting record, but this could be interesting.

Meanwhile, what wonderful news that voters in Georgia had the good sense to oust Cynthia McKinney from the House of Representatives. McKinney is claiming that old standby, voting irregularities, including that somehow her name was not on some ballots.

Given McKinney's past history, including claiming 9/11 was a Bush conspiracy, I think we can easily assess the validity (or not) of McKinney's claims of a rigged election.

New on DVD: Aristocrats (1999)

I first became acquainted with Stella Tillyard's ARISTOCRATS, a joint biography of England's Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, when one of my husband's colleagues kindly sent me her copy of the book years ago with a note that she thought I'd like it. I did indeed.

Tillyard's slice of British history reads like a fascinating novel. Each of the sisters led unique and very interesting lives. (And Emily had 22 children! You read that number correctly.) I note the book is available at inexpensive prices from Amazon vendors.

The 1999 British miniseries based on the book has been released today on DVD. I enjoyed the program very much when it first aired on TV, particularly the earlier chapters. I found the tragedies of the last chapter slower going and didn't care for a different actress, Sian Phillips, playing Emily (Geraldine Somerville) in old age. (They should have used makeup instead.) On the whole, though, it was a well-done and highly entertaining show which I hope to add to my collection of British television DVDs at some point.

Stella Tillyard also wrote a wonderful book published as a companion to the miniseries. It includes a lavish number of photographs from the TV production, mixed with biographical material, and is well worth purchasing.

News Media Fakery: It Goes On and On and On...

Don't miss this post at Michelle Malkin's site. It appears that a photo of "burning Lebanon" which appeared on the cover of U.S. News and World Report was actually a burning garbage dump!

There are also serious questions about whether a Lebanese "corpse," shown in a photo published by the New York Times, was actually more than capable of walking around. Look at the photos and see what you think.

Over at Opinion Journal, James Taranto also has photos which seem to show the Associated Press used walking corpses in Lebanon. (Hat tip: Betsy's Page.)

Power Line raises questions about yet more photos, by proven faker Adnan Hajj, which at a minimum seem to have been staged with people running for dramatic effect.

There's one connecting thread between these phony photos and those already uncovered in the last few days: a hatred for Israel and the desire to incite negative public opinion against Israel's fight against Islamic terrorism.

Particularly disturbing is the fact that editors at major newspapers, magazines, and wire services are so decidedly uncurious about the work which is submitted to them for publication. Their desire to make Israel look bad is such that they are publishing myriad questionable photos without any critical examination whatsoever. All it's taken to uncover the problems is some proverbial "bloggers in pajamas" taking the time to actually look over the material and ask questions.

And yet just the other day Kathleen Carroll of the Associated Press huffed "It's hard to imagine how someone sitting in an air-conditioned office or broadcast studio many thousands of miles from the scene can decide what occurred on the ground with any degree of accuracy." That comment reminds me of the original angst and derisive comments about pajama-clad bloggers during the time of Rathergate.

The media has been caught once again attempting to create the news rather than report the news, and the coverage in Lebanon may well prove to be one more nail in the coffin of the "old media."

Update: In an update, Michelle Malkin points out that the New York Times ran a very different caption under the "corpse" photo than ran on the photographer's own website. The photographer says the man "had fallen and was hurt," which might possibly be plausible (though the photo, as Power Line notes, looks extremely staged); but the New York Times caption reads "bodies were still buried under the rubble," implying that the man in the photograph was one of them.

Late Update: But wait, there's more!

Kathleen Parker sums up the latest in "Photoshopping History."

Wednesday Update: In a fresh update, Michelle Malkin reports that Time Magazine used the same "burning garbage dump" photo as U.S. News and World Report, claiming that it was "the wreckage of a downed Israeli jet." Time has apparently admitted the error. But how did they end up using the photo in the first place? The unquestioning acceptance and use of the phony photos is so widespread it boggles the mind.

Good Blogging on Winston Churchill in America

John in Carolina recently concluded a very informative series of posts on Winston Churchill's travels in America in 1929. The final post of the series is linked above. I recommend backtracking and reading more, as they were quite interesting.

Having visited Hearst Castle last year, I particularly enjoyed Churchill's comments on William Randolph Hearst. Although, considering Churchill's family wealth and ancestral home, Blenheim Palace, I did wonder a bit at Churchill's criticism, shared in a letter to Clementine Churchill, that Hearst was "...playing with the most costly toys. A vast income always overspent: Ceaseless building & collecting not vy discriminatingly works of art." Any possible prejudice against "new money" there? Regardless of that query on my part, Churchill's thoughts make for good reading.

I should learn more about this remarkable man. There are so many parallels between the battle now being waged against terrorism and the way WWII evolved that it seems particularly timely to learn more about Churchill, who warned about appeasement in the '30s. If anyone has any particular Churchill titles they'd like to recommend in the comments, please do!

John in Carolina has also done exhaustive blogging on the (lack of) evidence in the Duke "lacrosse" case. Worth checking out.

Hmmmm...

Eleven Egyptian men entered the United States on student visas, but instead of showing up for their college classes in Montana, they disappeared.

The FBI assures us "There is no threat associated with these men. We have simply asked law enforcement's assistance in locating them so that the FBI and ICE may interview them."

And yet, ABC reports that the FBI warns law enforcement that the men are to be "approached with caution."

Are the "students" here just in time for the 5th anniversary of 9/11?

Let's hope not.

Wednesday Update: One of the students was apprehended today. The other 10 are still at large.

Update: 3 down, 8 to go.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Tonight's TV: Meerkat Manor

Tonight we watched the first three episodes of Animal Planet's "reality" animal series, MEERKAT MANOR.

Meerkats have always interested me, and when I read about this show a few weeks ago in USA TODAY, I was curious to see it. Our cable system no longer carries Animal Planet, so we have only just now started to catch up with the series, thanks to a friend who recorded it.

The show has lived up to expectations and is quite fascinating, offering plenty of drama, humor, and pathos (drat that crazy Youssarian!). Definitely worth checking out.

Super Heroes Postage Stamps

I got my first look at some of the new DC Comics Super Heroes stamps this weekend. I'm not a comics fan, but I enjoyed the stamps' colorful look and plan to buy some soon. Certain members of my family are fans of the Justice League. :)

The Crockpot, Reborn

I've owned my Rival crockpot for over 22 years, and in all that time have used it under a dozen times, mainly to make turkey soup during the holidays. I wasn't especially interested in cooking prior to a couple of years ago, and as I'm not a "morning person," the idea of putting together ingredients for a meal first thing in the morning didn't sound like much fun, either (grin).

I was inspired by the above-linked interview with Phyllis Pellman Good, co-author of the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook, to purchase the cookbook this past weekend. Good mentioned preparing her meals between 9:00 and 10:00 at night, refrigerating them till the next morning. Being a night person, I figured I could do that with no problem, and I thought I should give the crockpot a fresh try. Yesterday I hauled it out of the back of the cupboard and gave it a thorough cleaning.

For my first attempt in the crockpot, I only used the cookbook to give me an estimated cooking time for stew meat, and I duplicated last night's dinner, which I had made Sunday on the stovetop in my trusty Le Creuset. I only had enough leftovers for a couple people, and I thought it would make a good instant comparison to prepare the same ingredients today in the crockpot.

Success!! The meat was so tender it was falling apart. Everyone tried it and liked it. And it was nice to know that Rival makes a crockpot durable enough to still be working fine over two decades after I received it!

I'm looking forward to trying some of the cookbook's recipes in the near future and adding the crockpot to the kitchen tools I use on a regular basis. I've now cleared it a spot in the front of the cupboard.

More on the Fix-It and Forget-It series from USA TODAY.

The Media Fakes It Again

It's hard to know what's real and what's been faked in the coverage of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, as evidence continues to develop (no pun intended) that the "mainstream media" has faked multiple photographs.

Michelle Malkin (above), Power Line, and Rush Limbaugh are among the many sites offering in-depth coverage. It is worthwhile to spend some time visiting these sites and absorbing the details, as a sobering picture of the bias of the news media against Israel emerges. It is deeply disturbing that due to that bias, the media is attempting to influence events and world opinion through fakery.

Members of the media have recently attempted to defend their coverage against criticism from bloggers and talk radio hosts, but methinks they doth protest too much. Editors at Reuters and elsewhere have been all too willing to let certain pictures reach print, no questions asked.

The media obviously learned nothing from Rathergate, but at some point they're going to have to figure out that they can't keep faking the news in the Age of the Internet.

Update: James Taranto of Opinion Journal summarizes some of the fake photos and captions discovered to date.

More from Jack Kelly at Real Clear Politics.

Harry Reid's "Do Nothing" Congress

John Fund at Opinion Journal on Senate Minority Leader Reid's agenda, which is simply to block legislation at every turn. Senator Reid apparently thinks that obstructionism will win votes for the Democrats in November.

This calls to mind that last month Senator Reid used a procedural maneuver to block an amendment aimed at ending "catch and release" of illegal aliens.

While I'm no fan of Senator Reid, I'm also no fan of the federal minimum wage bill and would like to see Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist unbundle his "trifecta" and have separate votes on issues like the minimum wage and the repeal of the estate tax. I suspect, however, that Frist's calculation is that if he does that and holds separate votes, we'll end up with an increase in the minimum wage, no repeal of the estate tax, and a lot of unhappy conservatives. This may be an attempt to make a higher minimum wage, which some in the Senate think necessary to win votes, more palatable to conservatives by also passing bills we support.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Eminent Domain Decision in Ohio

Steve Greenhut has written an interesting article on the decision against eminent domain from the Ohio Supreme Court.

Hopefully the Ohio decision will serve as a precedent for other state courts, rather than the Supreme Court's infamous Kelo decision, which ignored the plain language of the Constitution.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, what's with Justice Anthony Kennedy suggesting that America has not yet "made the case" for democracy?

Tonight's Dinner: Beef with Rosemary and Red Potatoes

MEATS & POULTRY from the Best of the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library is one of my trusted standbys. Tonight's dinner is a relatively simple but tasty meal which can be prepared in about an hour. (Note: I do find I need to cook this about twice as long as the recipe calls for...) It makes excellent leftovers.

One of my all-time favorite recipes for Roast Chicken and Gravy can be found in MEATS & POULTRY as well. I've found this book to be one of the mainstays of my cooking library.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Michael Barone: Republicans Support Israel...

...far more than Democrats.

Barone analyzes a new poll in which a majority (56 percent) of Democrats think Israel has acted improperly in defending itself against Hezbollah, while a majority (64 percent) of Republicans believe Israel's response has been correct.

Barone: "Left-wing anti-Israel sentiment is not confined to a few odd corners of the academic world; it has become a mass constituency in the Democratic Party."

And yet only 25% of American Jews voted for President Bush in 2004.

Read the whole thing, his post is filled with interesting details.

The President's Summer Reading List

It's always fun to compare "book lists" with others, and it's particularly interesting to learn what books interest the President.

President Bush is taking three books to Crawford, Texas, for his vacation: LINCOLN: A LIFE OF PURPOSE AND POWER by Richard Carwardine; LINCOLN'S GREATEST SPEECH: THE SECOND INAUGURAL by Ronald C. White Jr.; and POLIO: AN AMERICAN STORY by David M. Oshinsky.

I love American and Presidential history. What a unique experience it must be to read these books from the rare perspective of being a serving U.S. President.

College Shopping Mania, Part 2

We're back from making the rounds at Linens 'n Things and The Container Store, as well as making a stop at the USC Store at South Coast Plaza. We now have most of the dorm essentials rounded up, excepting a desk lamp and a fan.

'tis the season, and many newspapers are publishing articles on off-to-college shopping. The Associated Press has published suggestions on what students should take, leave at home, and buy once they're at college.

The Baltimore Sun gave us a good tip on a site which sells many dorm room necessities, Dorm Buys.

Another article suggests that parents don't think enough in advance about what it will be like to have their student living away at college.

Yeah, right.

More Problems at Orange Co.'s Capistrano School District

Over the last few days multiple ethical violations have been revealed to exist at the San Juan Capistrano School District here in Orange County. These revelations follow the resignation of the district superindentendent after the disclosure of a district "enemies list" containing the names of parents and teachers who signed a petition for the school board's recall.

Several relatives of school board members have been revealed to work at construction and plumbing companies which do significant business with the board. A plumbing contractor employed the son of the superintendent and the wife of the district construction manager. (The superintendent's son earned $74,000 for what was described as a "summer job.") The daughter of the school board president works at an environmental planning firm which does business with the district. None of these relationships had been publicly disclosed, and while some may not have conflicted with the letter of the law, they raise ethical questions, particularly given the district's other problems. The school board president never recused herself from voting on contracts with her daughter's firm. The construction manager never disclosed his wife's job, which may have been a violation of the law.

Additionally, the outgoing superintendent, who makes more than any other district superintendent or city manager in Orange County, is alleged to have understated his income to the media. As the Orange County Register points out, this "marks the first evidence that he may have sanctioned the release of false information."

Meanwhile the Orange County Registrar, Neil Kelley, will undergo an independent investigation over allegations that he disclosed names on recall petitions to district employees and questionably assisted the district in other ways. The registrar told the district the recall election would cost $600,000, which the district used to campaign against the recall, but when the recall effort ended, the registrar reversed course and announced the county would pay the bill.

The unsavory activities at both the district and registrar's office serve as a cautionary example for all regarding what can happen when those who supposedly serve taxpayers are more interested in looking out for themselves.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson on Israel and Repeating History

Victor Davis Hanson writes a hard-hitting column for National Review on the lack of willingness in the west to strongly support Israel and deal with Islamic terrorism:

"Our present generation too is on the brink of moral insanity. That has never been more evident than in the last three weeks, as the West has proven utterly unable to distinguish between an attacked democracy that seeks to strike back at terrorist combatants, and terrorist aggressors who seek to kill civilians."

Hanson describes the return of Europe to the "cowardice of the 1930s," as well as certain Americans who are unwilling to "exercise moral judgment." He warns that if the world is not willing to deal with the enemy, we're looking at history repeating itself, concluding: "In short, if we wish to learn what was going on in Europe in 1938, just look around."

The Big Dig: Dollars Down the Drain

Stephen Moore at Opinion Journal on the massive amounts of waste that were part of Boston's failed "Big Dig" underground tunnel project. The Big Dig, originally budgeted at $2.5 billion, had actually cost $14.7 billion as of earlier this year, and yet it's falling apart and leaking.

It's fascinating and maddening -- two-thirds of the Big Dig was paid for with federal tax dollars, so the hard-earned money of Americans across the country has been lost to fraud and (possibly criminal) mismanagement.

One of the more mind-boggling details is the $23 million spent on bridges across the Charles River -- which were later demolished!

(Hat tip: Betsy's Page.)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tonight's Movie: Song of the Islands (1942)

We've been enjoying something of a Betty Grable festival lately. Tonight's entry is the fairly entertaining SONG OF THE ISLANDS. At its best, the movie boasts lovely Betty Grable singing and dancing in a hula skirt and romancing hunky Victor Mature; its weak moments are painfully silly slapstick featuring Jack Oakie and Hilo Hattie.

The flimsy plot involves feuding families on a small Hawaiian island. Like other 20th Century-Fox musicals, it's filmed in dazzling color and features eye-catching costumes for Betty Grable. As with MOON OVER MIAMI, the film mixes stock footage and location longshots of doubles with close-ups of the leads against obvious back projections, which lends the film a sort of endearingly quaint quality, particularly when Betty makes her grand entrance singing the lovely title song on a boat, in front of a back projection ocean.

Betty's two luau dance numbers, choreographed by Hermes Pan, are fabulous, '40s musical escapism at its best. You can easily see why all the GI's loved her.

The film was directed by Walter Lang, who also directed Fox musical classics such as MOON OVER MIAMI, WEEK-END IN HAVANA, and STATE FAIR. SONG OF THE ISLANDS isn't the best of Grable's Fox musicals, but nonetheless it's breezy fun, with a short running time of 75-76 minutes (sources vary -- I should have timed it!).

In a 3-star review, Leonard Maltin describes the movie as "Buoyant Technicolor fluff full of engagingly silly songs." That's just about right.

SONG OF THE ISLANDS is available on VHS.

Senate Reverses Course, Funds Border Fencing

The Senate apparently heard loud and clear from constituents angry about their refusal last month to fund the border fence which were part of its own immigration plan.

Yesterday 66 members of the Senate changed their votes and voted nearly $2 billion toward border fencing.

Part of the problem with last month's budget proposal was that the border fence money was going to be subtracted from other border security needs, such as border patrol agents and detention facilities. The funding voted on Wednesday comes from "emergency funds."

The new Senate vote seems to be a step in the right direction, but I'd like further assurance that this vote won't mean fewer patrol agents. In fact,
as reported in Arizona Daily Star, the Senate has voted for but not yet funded a number of other border security measures.

It's critical that those who believe in strong border security continue to keep the pressure on the Senate, as there are too many in the Senate who would be happy to revisit the 1986 amnesty plan, without accompanying changes at the borders. A "comprehensive immigration plan" can only be implemented if there is a truly comprehensive border security plan which amounts to more than talk and unfunded votes.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Next American Girl Movies

American Girl Molly will follow in the footsteps of Samantha and Felicity and appear in a TV-movie this fall, MOLLY: AN AMERICAN GIRL ON THE HOME FRONT. Unlike the last two movies, which aired on the now-defunct WB network, MOLLY will air on the Disney Channel. Maya Ritter plays Molly; the cast also includes Molly Ringwald.

Particularly interesting news is that the Depression-era story of Kit will be a theatrical film. The production group which made the TV-movies (including actress Julia Roberts) is partnering with Walden Media, producers of THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, to produce the Kit movie. Sounds promising.

The Nanny State Strikes Again

Daniel Weintraub has written an interesting column about the (all-too-familiar) bureaucratic hurdles he had to jump through at his son's school in order to obtain a work permit for his son's summer job.

I recently had to deal with the same issue and couldn't help wondering: why is the public school system even involved with work permits? During the last month of school my daughter obtained a permit to work after graduation; there were a couple of training sessions before the end of the school year, but why was her job the school's business, particularly as she was about to graduate? And why does the school, and not the parent, have the say-so in whether or not a minor can be employed?

It seems to me that whether or not a minor holds a job is a decision that should be made strictly by parents. If the employment leads to any negative academic consequences for children who are in public schools, then at that point that should be between the parents and the school.

Yet one more example of public schools usurping parental authority.

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