Monday, March 31, 2008

Arab troops fighting along Americans in Afghanistan

Very good news comes from the BBC, which reports that troops from the United Arab Emirates have been participating as part of US led coalition in Afghanistan:

It has emerged that Muslim troops from an Arab country have been involved in full-scale military operations in Afghanistan as part of the United States-led coalition.

Troops from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been operating in Afghanistan for five years, mainly in a humanitarian aid role.

But they have also been involved in clashes with the Taliban.

Major Ghanem al-Mazouri says his troops try to win the hearts and minds of Afghanis.

"We go to the elders in this area, and we try to convince the people about the US, About British," he said.

"They came here to give you peace."

There is a far longer report as the second story in the March 29 edition of the BBC Radio podcast "From Our Foreign Correspondent."
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Mos Def = Chuck Berry?

My favorite musician-turned-actor, Mos Def, is set to portray Chuck Berry in the movie "Cadillac Records." Here's a summary of the plot, by way of the Hollywood Reporter:

Written and directed by Darnell Martin ("Their Eyes Were Watching God"), the film is set in 1950s Chicago and follows the turbulent but exciting lives of Leonard Chess, who founded Chess Records, and the label's artists, including Waters, Little Walter and Howlin' Wolf.

Chess started the label with his younger brother, Phil, started the record company by traveling the south selling records out of the trunk of their Cadillac.

It looks like it's not a starring role for Mos Def, as he'll be in company with alot of other actors playing musicians of the era. What would be interesting is if Mos or anyone else in the cast will do what Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon did in "Walk the Line" and perform some of the music themselves.
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Saturday, March 29, 2008

50 Cent Gives Good Advice to Journalists

This was taken from a message board on 50 Cent's website. I don't know where the article is from originally.

"I heard Obama speak," the rapper told the MTV News crew assembled at his Connecticut mansion to hear the new G-Unit LP and talk about his upcoming video game. "He hit me with that he-just-got-done-watching-'Malcolm X,' and I swear to God, I'm like, 'Yo, Obama!' " He threw his fist in the air. "I'm Obama to the end now, baby!"

However, he said he's now not certain which side he's on. "To be honest, I haven't been following that anymore. I lost my interest," he said. "I listened to some of the debate and things that they were saying, and I just got lost in everything that was going on. ... Don't look for my vote, for me to determine nothing on that. Just say, '50 Cent, he don't know, so don't ask Fiddy.'

50 said something that is very good general advice for journalists. Don't ask musicians what they think of politics. They have no idea what they're talking about, no matter if they come out supporting Democrats, Republicans or Greens. 50 Cent has a good business sense, and along with Radiohead has been a pioneer of taking control over one's own distribution in the digital age (the last mixtapes he put out on his site are in my opinion his strongest work since his debut Get Rich or Die Tryin')and I would like to know what he thinks of the future of the entertainment industry, but his thoughts on the presidential campaign are mostly irrelevant unless he has something truly thoughtful to say.

UPDATE: Here's the video:

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Michelle Obama: America is feeling "justified in your own ignorance"

This was taken from a recent speech by Michelle Obama to students at the University of South Carolina:

We don’t like being pushed outside of our comfort zones. You know it right here on this campus. You know people sitting at different tables- you all living in different dorms. I was there. You’re not talking to each other, taking advantage that you’re in this diverse community. Because sometimes it’s easier to hold on to your own stereotypes and misconceptions. It makes you feel justified in your own ignorance. That’s America. So the challenge for us is are we ready for change?

This is really typical self-hating leftist stuff, and it probably all sounds perfectly tolerant and wonderful to Michelle Obama when it comes out of her mouth. I had a former roommate who on every other day would say "People in this country are ignorant" in discussions of everything from international politics to cable television.

It's a no-brainer, however, that this sort of nonsense doesn't jive well with the American people, most of which embrace the melting pot idea that all together we make one and that race and former nationality is ultimately irrelevant. That's my America. Apparently, Michelle Obama's America is one where everybody is ignorant and holding on to stereotypes and misconceptions. I wonder if that is Barack Obama's America too?

Barack Obama has already been damaged enough by his wife and pastor this early in the election. If he doesn't shut them up soon voters will end up shutting him up.

By the way, back in 2004 when I was a Kerry supporter I went to see Teresa Heinz Kerry speak. She had said some rash things during that campaign, but I don't recall her ever showing outright contempt for her country in the way that Obama's wife has. Obama is not a liberal, he is a leftist radical mocked up as a uniter.

Over at Hot Air Ed Morrissey said that Obama was half right:

Anyone who spent time at a college or even a high school with a diverse population knows that the first part of her statement is absolutely true. I discovered this for myself in college, ironically when I took an African-American Studies class at Fullerton State. We had a debate over diversity in public schools, and I said that my high school was a good example of how diversity could work — and I got challenged by a student who had gone to my school whom I had barely known. Despite the diversity, the populations didn’t interact much socially at either level of school.

I don't even think she was right there. I went to a very diverse high school as well, and I was shunned out by alot of very popular Caucasians who didn't want think I was up to snuff, and more socially capable and attractive kids of color entered the cool crowd. That's part of how teenagers are at that age and maybe even how high school is set up, and in college and work many people often continue with their habit of creating a clique and staying with it. It's not racism, and it doesn't have to do with some horrible evil rooted in the heart of American society, it has to do with human nature.
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A couple weeks ago, I posted a link to a New York Times on the upcoming Notorious B.I.G. biopic. Biggie is played by rapper Gravy, who I had never heard of before. He has a mixtape out called "Notorious Classics" and to be honest it's not all. He sounds like he's not into it at all and just going through the motions like someone forced him to rap. Hopefully he's able to act.

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Beautiful pictures of the Middle East

Blogger and beauty queen Mary Katherine Ham travelled to the Middle East and took several startling shots of the skyline of Tel Aviv, the Hula Valley and the Golan Heights. You can view them here.

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VIDEO: CBS on Hillary's "under sniper fire" trip to Bosnia

It may not be a bad time to be a Republican, as John McCain is spending his time building bridges while Obama and Clinton continue to trade gaffes such as this.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Boycotting Beijing

Slate writer Anne Applebaum laid out a good case for why boycotting/protesting the 2008 Olympics is entirely appropriate:

"We believe the Olympic Games are not the place for demonstrations and we hope that all people attending the games recognize the importance of this." Thus spake Samsung Electronics, one of 12 major corporate sponsors of the Olympics, when asked last week whether recent events in Tibet were causing them any concern. Coca-Cola, another Olympics sponsor, has stated that while it would be inappropriate "to comment on the political situation of individual nations," the company firmly believes "that the Olympics are a force for good." The chairman of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, was also quick to declare that "a boycott doesn't solve anything"—just as quick as he was to dismiss the demonstrators who waved a black banner showing five interlocked handcuffs, in mockery of the Olympic symbol, at Monday's lighting of the Olympic torch in Greece. "It is always sad to see such a ceremony disrupted," he declared, rather pompously.

And no one was surprised: Companies that have invested millions in sponsorship deals and Olympic bureaucrats who have invested years trying to justify their controversial decision to award the 2008 Olympics to Beijing are naturally inclined to use those sorts of arguments. But that doesn't mean that the rest of us have to believe them.

Look a bit closer, in fact, and none of those statements holds up.

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Talk show host Hugh Hewitt broadcasts Obama using profanity

On Hugh Hewitt's radio show yesterday, he broadcast several clips of an audiobook adaptation of Barack Obama's 1994 book Dreams from My Father wherein he used alot of profanity and epithets (some racial) that were mostly quoted from other people. Hewitt really tried to nail it in that this would be a campaign issue:

I have written and broadcast on the subject of Senator Obama's first book, Dreams From My Father. It has to be the most unusual book ever by a presidential aspirant, and much of what he writes cannot be classified as mainstream, and some of what he wrote would shock the average American, including his causal use of profanity and his admission concerning past cocaine use. The book was first published in 1995, before Senator Obama could have imagined a presidential run and perhaps before he could imagine anything more than the Congressional seat he unsuccessfully sought in 2000.

I did not learn until today that Senator Obama actually recorded the audio book, and I suspect that it won't be long until the most controversial parts of that audio book are broadcast. I broadcast one excerpt from Chapter 4 today, from pp. 72-74, and asked the audience for their reactions. Some callers shrugged it off, but many were deeply offended. I pointed out that past profanity cases like Nixon's "expletive deleteds," Bush's description of a New York Times' reporter and Dick Cheney's response to Pat Leahy have generated enormous headlines, but never has a presidential candidate ever purposefully recorded himself swearing so profusely or with such variety. I think the audiobook tape will matter a great deal, even if only used in context, and that of course the YouTube generation will begin manipulating the tape as soon as it is known to be available.

UPDATE: When a caller accused me of cherry-picking one profanity-laced segment of the book, I broadened the selection of excerpts to include Obama's own profanity --not that of his friends which he recorded-- as well as some samples of other controversial passages. You can listen to the first five clips I used in the third hour of the program when it is posted later tonight here.

I just don't see this, and to be honest it seemed pretty pathetic and a veiled attempt to grab something on Obama on the part of Hewitt, who I do respect. There was a female conservative caller who called in in the middle of the hour where Hewitt interviewed David Drier who had the view that hearing him speak his mind in such a way would make them like him more, as it showed that he had been through a redemptive and self-reflective evolution in his life. There are a great deal of people who don't have a sense of self-reflection, and the ability to hang out all (or even just some) of your dirty laundry is quite commendable. If either the Hillary camp or the Republicans try to use this against Obama, I think it'll be more likely that it will result in increased sales of Obama's book than anything else.

Another note: This may be one of the first elections in a good while pitting two candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, against each other that are both accomplished authors. Strangely enough, the two both have memoirs with extremely similiar titles: Faith of my Fathers and Dreams from My Father.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

New Discovery: BBC Radio Drama (and Comedy)

I remember hearing from Jim French several years ago that the British are continuing to make radio comedies and dramas regularly, and that the medium is still quite popular over there. I had only ever really heard the news segment of BBC Radio and had never gotten my hands on some of the acclaimed radio shows. Thanks to the widening use of filesharing I have been able to get a hold of classics like the radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (which was actually written originally for radio), Lord of the Rings, Crime and Punishment and War and Peace. I don't want to be alone in my discovery, so I've posted a few of these gems.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy excerpt

The Mighty Boosh Episode One

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VIDEO: CNN interviews Iraqi students on their thoughts on the US presidential election

CNN's Kyra Phillips asks some Iraqi students who they hope wins the presidential election in the United States and finds nearly all of the students in attendance want one thing: security. I liked what the female student towards the end of the video had to say the most when she said that "someone is benefitting" from the inner turmoil in Iraq. With Shiite Iran pushing for power in Iraq and Sunni terrorists coming from other countries, it seems that it is more outsiders who are feeding off of chaos than Iraqis.

To watch the video, follow the link at Hot Air.

An added note: A discussion of the kind seen in the above video, with various and differing viewpoints expressed freely in front of a foreign camera crew, would never be occurring in Iraq if it were not for the actions of President George W. Bush. Just something to think about.

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Jermiah Wright In Context?

Here is his "chickens coming home to roost" comments "in context," as commentator Betsy put it. (Thank you for reading, Betsy!)

I made it as far as the point where he says that, but I could only take so much of this type of nonsense. We never batted an eye after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? There's alot of scientists and ex-military that would disagree with that. To any liberal who wishes to take a break from the religious Right, embracing the religious Left isn't something I'd call a progressive move.

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Steyn on Wright and Obama

I know I said I would quit on this whole Jermiah Wright thing, but so sue me. I want to direct you to an article by Mark Steyn eulogizing the "post-racial candidate:"

But America is not Ahmadinejad’s Iran. Free societies live in truth, not in the fever swamps of Jeremiah Wright. The pastor is a fraud, a crock, a mountebank — for, if this truly were a country whose government invented a virus to kill black people, why would they leave him walking around to expose the truth? It is Barack Obama’s choice to entrust his daughters to the spiritual care of such a man for their entire lives, but in Philadelphia the senator attempted to universalize his peculiar judgment — to claim that, given America’s history, it would be unreasonable to expect black men of Jeremiah Wright’s generation not to peddle hateful and damaging lunacies. Isn’t that — what’s the word? — racist? So much for the post-racial candidate.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Video: Hitchens joins Ned Flanders, a Hindu and a pervert on Real Time with Bill Maher

Egads, I was unpleasantly surprised to see Dan Savage sitting at this table next to Bill Maher and the guy who does Simpsons voices. I think he would probably regret what he said to Hitchens about running for president once he realizes Hitch's many positions on issues outside of faith. I've had the misfortune of growing up in the city where Dan Savage's shitrag of a newspaper populates the newsstands. The man is a buffoon. Any jaunt through his column, "Savage Love," will tell you that. Each time I've heard him speak he has cascaded into the most cavemen-like and impulsive blue state vs. red state populism. It's illustrated in this video where he speaks of moral-thumping on the part of evangelicals as if there were no such thing as secular moral-thumping (which is exactly what Eliot Spitzer hypocritically exercised in), something I will in fact accuse him of taking part in.

I don't think Dan was fast enough to catch it, but it was quite funny on many levels when Hitch referred to him as "My dear."

By the way, if you want the Pew figures that they're talking about, you can get the reports by clicking here. I think Maher may have been wrong about Michael Jackson. He has apparently converted to Islam.

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Did Obama sell out his own grandmother?

According to Christopher Hitchens, he did. The following excerpt is taken from March 20 interview on Hugh Hewitt's talk radio show:

HH: Now, Obama, big speech on religion and Jeremiah Wright. You were a little ahead of the curve on this, Christopher Hitchens. You saw this coming. Has Obama’s explanation satisfied you?

CH: No. And it’s because he talks as if there was no such thing as getting over resentment, let alone paranoia and conspiracy theory, and vulgar anti-Americanism of the kind practiced by his pastor, until he, Obama, had come on the scene, as if we’d only recently begun to transcend all this. I don’t know what he’s been reading or not, rather, reading all this time. I mean, at least in my own memory, forty years ago, approximately, a very great man, very great American, was vilely murdered for making these points in rather more difficult circumstances. So I object to the solipsism of the Senator in saying you know, this is a whole new breakthrough that my pastor and I have to work through. Nonsense. Then I actually object to him using his grandmother. I don’t know if you noticed it or not, or whether you were young, as I was, there was a saying about politicians, they’d sell their own grandmother?

HH: Oh, yes.

CH: Well, he just did. I’ve never seen it done before, actually. You say these things.

HH: (laughing)

CH: Then you see it occur.

HH: He did.

CH: if yes, well okay, this big mouth rock and roll idiot, Jeremiah Wright, may have said some ghastly things, but so did my now-dead grandmother, who isn’t here to defend herself.

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"Red Princess Blues"

I'm a geek, but I have never been an anime geek, despite its collosal popularity amongst Americans over the last decade. A great deal of it to me is unwatchable with its over-the top characters, constant screaming and bizarre and meaningless plots. Take Gundam Wing and Dragonball Z for the most extreme cases of what I'm talking about.

I have enjoyed the format in its more dark and mature variations. The anime art style is perfect in this setting, and the large eyes of the more innocent characters often work in contrast with the squinty eyes of the unflinchingly evil characters. Metropolis, Cowboy Bebop, and the war classics Barefoot Gen and Grave of the Fireflies have served as masterpieces of the medium which took on death, destruction and violence.

Red Princess Blues, an upcoming film by director Alex Ferrari, adopts this darkness with precision, if the short prequel just released on the internet is any indication. The prequel is very reminiscent of the anime segment from Kill Bill that showed the bloody origins of Lucy Liu's character, Oren Ishii. The animation shows shots in stills, with the characters remaining mostly unmoved, with elements around like weapons and weather remaining animated. Because of the emphasis on dialogue that comes about as a result, it wouldn't make a bad radio drama. However, the absolutely beautiful animation, which mixes hand drawn elements with CGI, makes listening to it instead of watching it a tragedy.

3rd Annual Now Film Fest- Wk 23 Finalist- Red PRINCESS Blues

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"The Cuban Art Revolution"

An article was published today in the Weekend Edition of the Wall Street Journal on the rise of the Cuban art scene internationally. Many of the paintings were very impressive, especially the scenic paintings of Tomas Sanchez. In the article, the looming chance of change in Cuban-American relations were discussed and the reporter claimed that much of this is dependent on the positions of the presidential candidates:

Market watchers expect American demand for Cuban art to surge if travel or trade restrictions are loosened through diplomatic talks between Cuba's new president, Raul Castro, and the next U.S. president. The likelihood of that scenario could depend on who is elected to the U.S. presidency in November. Last month at a debate, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama said that if elected, he would meet Mr. Castro "without preconditions," though he would first seek "preparations," including progress in Cuba on human rights. Sen. Hillary Clinton said at the debate that she would push for reform in Cuba but only meet with Mr. Castro if there were evidence of changes there. Republican Sen. John McCain has consistently said that he wouldn't hold diplomatic talks with Mr. Castro.

Of those positions, the one I lean towards is that of Hillary Clinton. There is a great deal of culture in Cuba, with great music, art, literature and food, all of which I would someday like to be exposed to. We shouldn't drop everything and embrace Raul Castro, but I think we should try to push for change and be willing to talk, with a good dose of skepticism to keep us grounded. If we were able to ally ourselves with dissidents in Cuba (which there must be a few in the government that would feel more free to open their mouths if they knew America would help keep them free of persecution), it could help bring about neoliberal change in the country. Change in Cuba would be a great move towards pushing back the wave of neocommunism in countries like Venezuela and Bolivia.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Changes Coming

If you haven't noticed, I've added Technorati links to each post and also created a "Support Deschamps" section on the sidebar. More change is coming, and I am planning to add a PayPal button within the next few days. I am also considering changing the name from "Deschamps" to "The Greatest Gildersleeve." Before I do the latter, I'd like some input. Thanks!

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Pennsylvania voters turning towards Clinton?

From Politico, B/W of Mary Katherine Ham at

“People are not happy with Obama,” Gill said. “It’s the race stuff.”

“He lied to Anderson Cooper,” said Rodica Mitrea, an aesthetician and immigrant from Romania, referring to an Obama interview Friday with the CNN anchor.

“The speech plays only among the elites,” Ceisler said. “The average person on the street cares about the economy and the war and everyday life.”

Glenn Peter, 54, a patron at Rauchut’s Tavern, said he heard finger pointing, not reconciliation. He took issue with Obama’s explanation that Wright’s observations of a racist America were reflecting the racial scars of his past.

“I don’t want to hear that you are blaming us for him saying this,” said Peter, who is white and worked at an auto parts factory until it was shuttered several years ago. Cutting ties with the church “would have been the best way to do it. That way, I could have been able to listen to him again.”

“It was a great speech,” one man said. “But what concerns me is that on the website for his church, they say they are unabashedly Afro-centric. … The underlying message is they are perpetual victims and they enjoy the victim status and by proxy, me as a white person is their victimizer. And as long as we perpetuate these divisions, we will never heal.”

“Now I am 100 percent for Clinton and zero percent for Obama,” Mitrea said.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Obama: McCain Victory Would Be A "Third Bush Term"

This is going to be the predominant talking point of the Democrats from now until Election Day, and should provide good contrast with the voices on the Right that claim McCain is a liberal. McCain sees abandoning Iraq as highly irresponsible and inviting disaster, which it is, but aside from that McCain's approach is very different than Bush's. Whereas Bush felt no need to explain his policies at times, McCain is a diplomat who prides himself on going across the aisle to work with Democrats.

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VIDEO: Mike Huckabee on Barack Obama's Speech on Race

After searching, I found the Mike Huckabee clip where he defends Barack Obama on MSNBC. I like how he called Obama's speech historical. If he doesn't write that book that he had planned, he could pursue a chairmanship with the Republican National Committee in order to re-organize the RNC toward the growing evangelical base, or he could become a talk show host (I'd listen).

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lynndie England Surfaces in German Interview

German magazine Stern has interviewed Lynddie England, the infamous face of the Abu Gharib scandal.

A few things in the interview didn't make sense to me. She says that there were people from the CIA and other OGAs present during the "interrogations" where the infamous pictures were taken, but then goes on to say this about the man who "betrayed" her by turning in the pictures to the CIA:

And then a sergeant named Joe Darby brought the whole scandal to light.
Darby had those pictures at the beginning of November. Later on, somebody - it was probably Graner - pissed him off about something and he was like, "Okay, I'm gonna get back at him." So he turned those pictures into the CIA and became a whistleblower. He was with our unit for years. He was our buddy. And then he turned his back on us. He betrayed us.

Was the CIA in on this or not?

Throughout the interview England doesn't seem like the sharpest knife in the drawer, and her reflection on everything is completely narcissistic. There was little feeling of how everything she did was wrong, how bad it made her country look or even how it effected her fellow soldiers. Everything to her seemed to be about seeking the approval of Charles Graner and, later on, her personal safety. You can tell the interviewer is getting disgusted, as I would too.

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New Bin Laden Message

Bin Laden talks about the Danish Mohammed cartoons and seems to threaten future attacks in retaliation for them. Video of the broadcast of it can be found on Hot Air.

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Video: The Daily Show Race Dialogue

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Video: Obama's Speech

During his speech, Barack Obama said the following:

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

"Perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam" is a stronger phrase than I'm used to hearing from the Left. Now that Obama needs to court the general public instead of the Democratic base, are we going to get more hawkish rhetoric from him?

By the way, isn't technology wonderful? Here is the full video of his speech, courtesy of MSNBC:

Robert Downey Jr. Dons Blackface for "Tropic Thunder"

Hat tip to Light-skinned-ed Girl for posting this.

One of the more embarrassing historical relics of showbusiness history has come back to haunt us some more as Robert Downey Jr. dons blackface in the new Vietnam movie (Gee, we really need another of those!) Tropic Thunder. If you need a reminder of the history of blackface, this should help:

Barack Obama's Double Life

Economist Thomas Sowell wrote a column entitled "The Double Life of Barack Obama," which compares Obama's ideological doublespeak with the hypocrisy of Eliot Spitzer. It's been most satisfying to hear black intellectuals such as Sowell and Juan Williams attack the empty-suit candidacy of Barack Obama, as it illustrates that the desire to transcend race by having a black president in office is not strong enough to cast a blind eye on the holes in Barack Obama's rhetoric.

Monday, March 17, 2008

And now for something completely different...

A hilarious Japanese children's video. I won't spoil what makes it hilarious for you. Watch it for yourself.

Notorious B.I.G. to be Immortalized in Film

The New York Times ran a piece about the upcoming biopic of 1990s rapper The Notorious B.I.G., who will be portrayed by rapper Gravy. From some parts of the article, there is some reason to worry that Biggie will be portrayed as something he wasn't:

Mr. Tillman said that the movie’s Notorious B.I.G. would sharply differ from that rapper’s harsh public image. “The major theme we’re working toward is family, being a man, what it takes to be a man,” he said. The movie follows Mr. Wallace from childhood in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn through his death, and various scenes will “capture the spirit and reason for certain things” without making detailed accusations, Mr. Tillman said.

Over the years Mr. Wallace’s killing has been attributed to vendettas and conspiracies. In lawsuits still being contested in federal court here his family has sought at least $700 million from the City of Los Angeles and others, based on claims that members of the police force were complicit in the crime.

Mr. Wallace’s mother, Voletta Wallace, who is a producer of the film — along with his former associates Wayne Barrow, Mark Pitts, Sean Combs and others, who have various producing credits — said the project would deliberately steer clear of the controversy. “That’s going to be another movie,” Ms. Wallace said.

Ray, Walk the Line and 8 Mile all portrayed the flaws and tendencies of the main characters towards womanizing, drug addiction and/or violence. A great deal of Biggie's songs were about how gangsta he was and what sort of guns he was carrying and it won't be very convincing if he is portrayed as a good guy who was killed tragically but without any warning. Nevertheless, I do look forward to seeing it.

Was William F. Buckley a Racist?

It's been said by the like of Mark Steyn that William F. Buckley was instrumental in ridding American conservatism of the likes of racists, isolationists and reactionaries. I tended to swallow that pill as I lean right and haven't lived through the 1960s and 70s to see the political transitions for myself. From a little bit of my own research, I'm beginning to doubt that Buckley was always the source of progression he's made out to be.

There was a letter in the San Francisco Examiner today that attacked Buckley's legacy. It cited a piece by Buckley entitled "Why The South Must Prevail" from the late 1950s. Here is the letter in question, written by a Ted Uberoi:

Contrary to the media's gushing commentaries on William Buckley as the architect of modern conservatism, he was an unapologetic racist bigot. He likened Dr. Martin Luther King with Nazi leader George Lincoln Rockwell. In numerous articles in his National Review he vigorously supported white supremacy, especially in a 1957 editorial, "Why the South Must Prevail." Unmoved by the lynch-mob mentality of the South, Buckley argued that there exists, "a median cultural superiority of white over Negro ... that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and and anthropologists."

I found these quotes intriguing, as there were at a length and content level that if true was inexcusable. It is easy now to be politically correct, as society has deemed it totally inappropriate to spout racial superiority, at least if you are white. (Hopefully we will progress to the point where all racial superiority is frowned upon.) The true test is what you said during the time when the question of black civil rights was still a question. If Buckley was on the side of the segregationists, and he had never apologized for them, that puts in doubt his very character.

After doing some Googling, I found an article from a white supremacist magazine called the American Renaissance, which believes in "race realism" as they called it, entitled "The Decline of National Review." The article showed various illustrations of racist demagoguery on the part of National Review, not to tear down NR but instead to illustrate how it deviated from its past by ceasing to publish white supremacist articles. AR cited this Buckley piece, which is filled with white supremacist rhetoric:

“The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes–the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.

“National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. . . . It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.”

“The South confronts one grave moral challenge. It must not exploit the fact of Negro backwardness to preserve the Negro as a servile class. . . . Let the South never permit itself to do this. So long as it is merely asserting the right to impose superior mores for whatever period it takes to effect a genuine cultural equality between the races, and so long as it does so by humane and charitable means, the South is in step with civilization, as is the Congress that permits it to function.”

That is disgusting stuff. It's not the product of someone saying something rash and throwing in a few racial slurs. Buckley actually prepared an editorial for his own publication promoting this sort of filth, at a time when the fate of black Americans could still turn either way.

National Review editor Jonah Goldberg has written a book, Liberal Fascism, that has documented the disturbing trend of the political Left in America flirting with totalitarian ideologies. I wonder if he will address this equally disturbing flirtation with white supremacy within his own magazine?

Brilliant Star Wars Composite Art

There's some absolutely brilliant Star Wars theme composite art over at the Toshi Station blog. I guarantee that a few of them will make a big smile come to your face. All of them are designed for use at desktop wallpapers.

Click on the picture for a bigger view:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Video: Olbermann interviews Obama

Keith Olbermann showed himself to be more of a newsman than I've ever seen him before. I'm actually surprised at how hard hitting the media has been taking the issue of Obama's pastor. It's a deviation from the days when Chris Matthews was hinting that Obama has been delivered by God.

There are quite a few other segments of interviews with Obama over at Hot Air.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Review: Blue State

Anna Paquin's style is quite unique. In a film industry that often pushes the most outlandish, unreal personalities, she comes across as your average American girl. This is put to use in Blue State, where she depicts Chloe, a (major spoiler up ahead) US Army deserter who takes up with John Logue, a Kerry/Edwards campaigner and Democratic activist (played by Breckin Meyer) who decides to actually move to Canada following the re-election in 2004 of George W. Bush. Though she poses throughout much of the film as a blue-haired California tree-hugger, her real side comes out and butts heads with Meyer's outspoken political views.

Curiously enough, Paquin's character in Blue State isn't that far off from her role as Rogue in the X-Men trilogy. Like Rogue, Chloe is on the run from a past she cannot escape and during that escape comes across someone who will mean everything to her. In X-Men, it was Wolverine, and here it is John Logue.

I hope we see alot more of Paquin in smaller budget films like Blue State. She has quite alot of potential. Blue State is now available on DVD, and can be purchased on

Video: Obama's Pastor

This man is the very definition of a demagogue.

Lucas chats Clone Wars with CNN

There's a nice little article over at CNN where George Lucas talks on the upcoming Clone Wars movie and TV show:

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AP) -- Fans never seem to get their fill of "Star Wars," and George Lucas is happy to oblige.

Lucas offered a glimpse into the latest creation in his sci-fi universe at the theater-owners convention ShoWest on Thursday, showing a sequence from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," a computer-animated movie due in theaters August 15. It will be followed by a TV series of the same name, to air on the Cartoon Network and TNT this fall.

The movie came about as an afterthought while Lucas was developing an animated TV show of the same name. That show debuts this fall, but Lucas figured it was ripe for big-screen treatment, too.

"You've got the whole assembly line built, and then you say, 'Hey, we can make up something,"' Lucas said in an interview. "It was like old-time movie making. What I love about television, it's like Monogram Pictures or the old studio system, where a couple guys come to work and they sit and have some coffee and go, 'Why don't we make a movie about such and such? OK, fine.' And at the end of the day, it's pretty much on its way."

Set in the years between episodes II and III -- "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith" -- of the big-screen "Star Wars" chronicle, the movie and series present fresh adventures of Jedi warrior Anakin Skywalker, his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and other colleagues.

The movie introduces a female Jedi, Ahsoki, who is Anakin's young apprentice.

"It's like 'Band of Brothers' in space, with Jedi," Lucas, 63, said. "You can tell lots of stories. They come up all the time."

Lucas said he plans to produce at least 100 hours worth of TV episodes of "Clone Wars."

He also is moving forward with a live-action "Star Wars" TV show focusing largely on new characters removed from the Skywalker family. That show will be set in the decades between "Revenge of the Sith" and the period when the original film, 1977's "Star Wars," takes place.

So can fans ever get enough of "Star Wars"?

"I don't know," Lucas said. "I'm thankful every year that it keeps going."

I'm especially excited to see the live action show that is mentioned towards the end of the article. Such a thing would have been a pipe dream a decade ago, but with shows like "Lost," "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and "Heroes," intelligent serialized science fiction has succeeded with mainstream television audiences.

On Obama's Pastor

I'm not sure I really like the idea of holding Barack Obama's pastor up as a symbol of what he believes and thinks, but given the fact Obama has a short history as a public figure there is still alot to find out about him. We don't know him as well as we do Hillary Clinton or John McCain, both of which had some of the most tumultuous times in their lives occur in the public light. I don't think we live in stable enough times to take a risk on Obama.

Obama's paster, Jeremiah Wright, who reportedly preceded over the Obama marriage, subscribes to the most insane far left positions. You can not take seriously a man who believes that the U.S. government created AIDS. I'm not sure that this really spells doom for the Obama candidacy, but I do believe that voters are beginning to realize that in Obama they are being offered a far-left candidate. Obama already had a few embarrassments when his wife said things like that she had never been proud of her country in her adult life (which is a not too shocking comment where I come from). Is he going to have to quiet his family and watch each of his words in order to convince voters that he is politically mainstream?

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Roots' New Album

It's good to see originality in music, especially in hip-hop, and there's plenty of that in the cover to the upcoming Rising Down by The Roots:

I'd love to get that on a T-shirt.

I've never been a fan of Black Thought, the MC for The Roots, but I do love the title track that just leaked. It has Mos Def doing some of his best and most cohesive rhyming in years (without breaking into his Ben Harper-esque rock and roll alter ego) and has a nice bluesy beat on the part of drumming beast ?uestlove.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You heard it: "Stop Having Babies"

This hand made bumper sticker was just too bizarre to leave alone. The most strange part is the heart drawing right next to such an intense instruction. You can decide on it's meaning yourself.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Upcoming Star Wars TV shows, and the Legacy of the Prequels

There was a pretty decent article on the upcoming live action Star Wars TV show over at Collider Magazine. The writer laid out several rumors he's heard about the upcoming show:

# The live action and animated shows will be considered official canon of the star wars universe.
# The live-action show is going to end up on whatever network pays the most. However, I’ve heard they’re talking about the show being on HBO or even Showtime. Which jives with the slugline for the show…think Deadwood meets The Sopranos. Want a bit more? Could the live action show feature Gangsters? Could it follow the underworld of the Star Wars universe? Perhaps even a crime family? Have I said too much? Again, think Deadwood meets The Sopranos.
# The seasons for the live action show might be as short as 12 episodes… again…think Sopranos.
# The show is definitely PG-13. I’ve heard it’ll be dark. It’s definitely not being made for kids.
# The Skywalker story is finished. From what I’ve been told, their story is done and they aren’t on the live-action show at all. The show is new characters…with a few people you might know from the movies mixed in here and there.
# And for those that don’t know….the animated show takes place between episodes two and three, while the live-action is between three and four. Obviously some storylines might take place outside of those times, but that’s where the primary action takes place. Just like while the live action might follow a crime family, there will be episodes that focus on other things.

It's a good article, but he spends alot of time shitting on the Star Wars prequels. It bothered me when he said that the prequels "did damage" to the Star Wars mythos, and so I'm going to say my piece about the prequels and leave it.

The prequels get a completely unfair rap. Lucas set himself up for this for waiting so long, and he also disappointed by telling a very different story from the original trilogy in a very different way, with far better special effects and a much more serious tone. Whereas the original trilogy was total black and white good vs. evil, the prequels relished in gray as audiences are asked to sympathize with the suffering of the mass murdering Anakin Skywalker. After watching all of them in order over a few days, I think witnessing the perversion of Anakin from a cute little boy to the personification of evil and the degradation of a flourishing democracy into a ruthless empire makes the victory that Luke, Leia, Han and company achieve in Return of the Jedi much more satisfying. After seeing the damage that Palpatine did to the galaxy and to the Skywalker family, seeing Vader turn on him means much more than it did when I watched ROTJ as a kid.

Revenge of the Sith
also had the best soundtrack I've ever heard in a movie, hands down.

The Daily Show takes on Berzerklians.

It's a little surreal to be living a block away from nationwide news. That's exactly my situation, as I am only a few blocks from the US Marine Corps recruiting station that has set Berkeley-area activists on fire. The Daily Show did a great job of making fun of these buffoons. The best bit is when the anchor asks a protestor who talks about her right to free speech, "Wouldn't it be great if there was an organization sworn to defend that free speech?" The protestor totally doesn't get the joke and says, "Yeah, that'd be great."


UPDATE: In the video, one of the City Councilpersons says, "The Marines should have better sense than to come to Berkeley." The loudest person in the room is often oblivious to the opinions of those who speak at a normal pitch, so that councilperson may be surprised to know that not everyone in the city of Berkeley is an aging hippie. UC Berkeley is one of the most respected institutions of higher education in the Northern California area, and as such attracts people of all backgrounds from throughout California and the world. Many of these people have skills as everything from engineering to public speaking skills that would be valued by a career in the military. It's very totalitarian to try to take these people's options away from them because they're not ones that you would choose.

Dean Barnett on Spitzer

I stopped reading Dean Barnett when he left Townhall for the Weekly Standard, but I managed to catch his latest "FAQ," this time on the Spitzer scandal. Barnett's always a joy to read, so read on:

3) So what should New York Republicans make of this issue?

The same thing everyone should - it's a moral issue, and reflects on what kind of standards we as a society should insist on from the people who seek to lead us. Even most Democrats, after a mere sixteen years, are beginning to blanche at Clinton-style morals and seeking something more noble. We could have a genuine bipartisan (or post-partisan!) moment here where the country demands that our leaders at least give being decent people the old college try.

4) Oh, big deal! You're the hypocrite. I don’t recall you Republicans insisting that Larry Craig or David Vitter resign.

I did, not that anyone cared. So did others. Mitt Romney called Larry Craig, who was then a ranking Romney campaign muckety-muck, disgusting. That was refreshingly candid. Many other conservatives felt the same way, and said as much publicly.

There's a balancing act to this sort of thing. When someone throws around the moral values flag with a holier-than-thou attitude, it can be a bit suspicious and repressive. On the other hand, total permissiveness is not good for anyone. We should expect a certain level of respectability and dignity from ourselves, while also not taking ourselves too seriously or ignoring reality.

Your Strange Story for the Day

This story seems like it was taken straight from the pages of The Onion. Granted, it is from the pages of the United Kingdom's biggest tabloid newspaper, but I'm not sure if that would make it untrue:

Little Person Dressed as Gnome Caught on Video 'Stalking' Streets of Argentina Town

A town in South America is living in fear after several sightings of a 'creepy gnome' that locals claim stalks the streets at night, The Sun reports.

The little person — who wears a pointy hat and has a distinctive sideways walk — was caught on video last week by a terrified group of youngsters.

Teenager Jose Alvarez — who filmed the gnome — yesterday told national newspaper El Tribuno that they caught the creature while larking about in their hometown of General Guemes, in the province of Salta, Argentina.

He said: “We were chatting about our last fishing trip. It was one in the morning. I began to film a bit with my mobile phone while the others were chatting and joking. Suddenly we heard something — a weird noise as if someone was throwing stones."

"We looked to one side and saw that the grass was moving. To begin with we thought it was a dog but when we saw this gnome-like figure begin to emerge we were really afraid."

Alvarez added that other locals had come forward to say they had spotted the gnome.

He said: “This is no joke. We are still afraid to go out — just like everyone else in the neighborhood now."

"One of my friends was so scared after seeing that thing that we had to take him to the hospital,” Alvarez said.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Deification of Obama

I don't know whether to say that deification of Barack Obama is ridiculous, scary or both. It only turned frightening for me when I started to see mainstream portrayals of Obama that took more than a little resemblence to the propoganda seen in tin-pot dictatorships. The "Hope" campaign poster looks a bit ike it's modelled after Che or Fidel, while the cover of this week's Rolling Stone looks like a propoganda from North Korea or Saddam Hussein's Iraq:

The Cult of Personality is a very dangerous thing for a democracy. To be fair, a good amount of it happens on the right with the outlandish spouting of "What would Reagan do?" It's a nonpartisan trait, but a frightening trait nonetheless.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Is the Media like Professional Wrestling?

Matt Lewis made a clever analogy for the mainstream media in one of his latest blog posts:

If you want to understand media narratives -- and why the press has made Barack Obama into a hero (at least, for now) -- all you have to understand is pro-Wrestling.

If you've ever watched the WWE for any length of time, you'll notice that the writers make some wrestlers "face" guys -- good guys -- and other wrestlers are "heels" -- the wrestler term for bad guys. (At least, that's how it used to work. Now days the wrestlers are sometimes more "nuanced," and it's harder to define them as good or evil)

Here's the thing to note: A wrestler's identity can last for a long time, so long as that character is entertaining and good for business. But as soon as a face guy becomes boring (this could take days or years, depending) the writers will make him into a heel.

Media narratives are similar. As long as a narrative is good for business, it's not likely to change. As a result, the media will play up Obama stories that confirm the narrative -- and downplay stories (like Rezko, for example) that undermine the narrative (mixing narratives confuses people and is bad for business).

In fact, Bill Clinton was on to something when he described it as a "fairy tale." Right now, it's good for everyone (except Hillary) to propagate this image of Obama as the "knight in shining armor" archetype. It sells newspapers, provides easy-to-remember talking points for TV spots, etc.

This isn't to say narratives never change. If a new narrative is more interesting than the old narrative, it might change, even before the old narrative is completely played out. Obama's positive image wont last forever. Eventually, the media will make him into a heel (this, of course, won't last forever, either). The question is whether or not he will be in the White House before that happens ...

There's actually one ultra-charismatic wrestler who reminds me quite a bit of Barack Obama. Like Obama, he came from a multi-ethnic and multicultural background. He was also the ultimate "face" for a long time, loved and adored by all. I'm speaking of course of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Eventually hardcore fans began to turn on him when he started leaving wrestling for Hollywood, and a couple years ago WWE's writer decided to turn him into a "heel." (He seems to go back to wrestling for a stint every once in a while, but Hollywood is now his home.) If the analogy that the mainstream media behaves like professional wrestling in making faces and heels is true, then it shouldn't be long before the media dumps Obama.

Fat Joe's Conscience

I just heard a new track from rapper Fat Joe's upcoming album, Elephant in the Room, called "Conscience" and was pretty impressed. He spits on it with hip-hop legend KRS-One, who I've never been a fan of, but somehow the fusion of the two bloated egos working against each other (with KRS seemingly playing the role of Joe's conscience) pulls it off. Unfortunately, the beat is pretty average, but it's still good to hear Joe using his flow for something more than a club or 50 Cent diss record. Give it a listen if you like hip-hop.

Friday, March 7, 2008

New Star Wars!

As a huge Star Wars fan, I'm very excited at the prospect of two new Star Wars TV series, first with the mini-series The Clone Wars and then the upcoming live action series that will feature Boba Fett.

If you haven't seen the trailer for Clone Wars yet, here it is (NOTE: There is a much higher quality version at the Star Wars website:

The Clone Wars series is supposed to be long enough to turn into a feature film, and will be shown in theaters.

Hip-Hop As It Once Was


That's all I have to say as I'm sitting and listening to a 1989 radio set by Kool DJ Red Alert, right in the middle of the Golden Age of Hip-Hop. One of the best parts is the shout-outs, so skip to about 5:30 if you want to hear a young Kool Keith (my favorite rapper of all time) talking about chilling out on his spaceship.

Spectacular Electro

There have been a few efforts over the last few years to make another animated version of Spider-Man, and the latest one is The Spectacular Spider-Man. However the series turns out, it certainly has an unorthodox look for a few characters. Check out this shot of Electro, taken from an article from Comic Book Resources (click the picture for a larger view):

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Meeting Timmy

Right now I'm finishing up reading Timmy's in the Well: The Jon Provost Story. There's something fascinating about the stories of child stars, as they've lived a childhood that is far different from that of the average child, making them different from the onset. Provost didn't crash and burn in the manner of Michael Jackson or Macaulay Culkin, but he also didn't seem to move toward adult fame in the way that Ron Howard, who went on to become an Oscar-winning director, or Elijah Wood, who went on to star in the epic and critically acclaimed Lord of the Rings series, have.

I picked up his book and met him while at WonderCon, the Bay Area comic book convention. I was never an avid watcher of Lassie growing up (though I do remember watching the similiar series Flipper many times), but for whatever reasons he stood out to me and I forked down $27 for his book and took a picture with him.

Why Gildersleeve

My namesake as a blogger, Gildersleeve, is taken from the old radio show The Great Gildersleeve. I discovered the show when I found a tape containing two episodes of the show from 1949 at Golden Age Collectibles, a comic book and collectibles store in Pike Place Market in Seattle. I continued listening to the show on tapes and CDs, as well as on the show When Radio Was, for years until the internet made it to the point where mp3s of old radio shows became easy enough to get a hold of that purchassing them in small quantities was no longer necessary.

The two episodes that I first listened to are now available for free download through the wonderful website The Internet Archive. They were called "The Circus" and "The Haunted House." Along with Gildersleeve, you can download episodes of Jack Benny, Quiet Please and the CBS Radio Workshop, among literallly thousands of others. There's no need to feel guilty for downloading these for no charge, either. There is no copyright on these old shows, and the businesses that charged for them for years, like Radio Spirits, were essentially only charging for the practice of packaging them and pressing them onto CD and cassette tape.

"Afghan women showcase once-forbidden art"

It's nice to see articles like this whenever they pop up. Only ten years ago, Afghanistan was dominated by a barbaric regime that used stadiums to perform public executions and destroyed all works of art that "worshipped false idols" (as was the case with the destruction of the centuries old Buddhist statues in 2001), and now, women are able to show exhibitions of their art in high school auditoriums:

Seven years ago, the Taliban would have torn these paintings to pieces.

The 93 works show the emotions and images of a war-torn country in which women are still deeply oppressed: war and weaponry, violence, entrapment, hopelessness - and hope.

But the Taliban would have been most offended by the gender of the artists: women.

Twenty-three young artists displayed their work at a recent eight-day show in Kabul attended by 3,000 people, according to event organizer Rahraw Omarzad. The show, which ended Monday, now travels to the western city of Herat.

Under the hard-line Taliban regime, women were forbidden to leave home without a male relative as an escort, and girls were not allowed to go to school. Figurative art was banned and even destroyed.

"I couldn't paint during Taliban regime because I didn't have enough material, and I wasn't allowed to go out and buy paint," said 22-year-old artist Maryam Formuli.

"I was young and couldn't go to the art center to learn because as a girl, I wasn't allowed to go to school," added artist Fareha Ghezal, 19.

Unfortunately, the article didn't have any photos of the art in question. If anyone has any, please provide a link.

Looking at North Korea

I have a personal fascination with North Korea. I don't go into it alot, because thinking about life in North Korea is like thinking about armageddon or life after death, it's mysterious, frightening and somewhat unthinkable. I have a suspicion, which is all mine and doesn't have validity in hard evidence, that North Korea may be the worst place on earth.

From the few holes in the society that we have had access to, we have been able to analyze that it is not a fun place to be:

North Korea has been in the news lately, in part because the New York Philharmonic went there, to play a concert. I wrote about this event in the National Review of February 11. You may read that piece here.

In it, I canvass some people whose judgment I respect tremendously: Richard Pipes, Paul Hollander, John Bolton, Harry Wu, Armando Valladares, etc. Some of them were in favor of the visit (the concert took place on February 26); most were not. I came down against the visit: while recognizing the merits of the other side of the argument, and hoping I was wrong.

I also want to draw your attention to an op-ed piece published in the New York Times back in October. It is by Richard V. Allen, the onetime Reagan national-security adviser, and Chuck Downs, a North Korea specialist, among other things. You will find that piece here. And I wish to highlight one passage relating to music:

“During a party on Christmas in 1992, one of the regime’s former propaganda officers, Ji Hae-nam, made the mistake of singing a South Korean song. She was sentenced to three years in jail and, as she testified to the United States Congress after her escape, beaten so severely she could not get up for a month.”

Dick Allen and his friends are doing vital and necessary work. Their organization is the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, whose website is here. The group, and the site, shine a light on one of the earth’s most hideous corners. Maybe it is the most hideous of all.

In the Paper

My first article for the San Francisco Examiner has been published, and here it is:

SAN FRANCISCO (Map, News) - Freshly returned from a recent trip to India, where he had helped create a Buddhist temple with the organization Partnership for Change, Paul Hemming said that he is “blessed.”

“I’m living the dream and doing what I want to do,” he said, full of energy and smiles as he introduced his border collie, Nietzche.

Part of that dream is the September launch of the Temple Nightclub and Prana Restaurant, both part of his Zen Compound, which also includes Zen City Records. The club and the restaurant, both elaborately decorated with large LCD screens and museum quality Buddhist statues, are a fusion of Hemming’s lifelong interest in Eastern philosophy and his love for music.

“My dad is Mormon and my mom is Buddhist and now I’m opening a club called Temple where music is the religion,” Hemming said. “What I try to do is fuse the West and East and merge ancient religion with modern technology.”

“Prana” means “breath of life” in Hindi, one of the native languages of India. The restaurant has an eclectic array of dishes, with staples of Indian cuisine such as naan, a buttery flatbread, and the more Californian grilled halibut with grilled pineapple salsa.

Like many Bay Area residents, Hemming says he has a long-standing interest in combating global warming and living an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

“Four years ago, I thought wouldn’t it be good to have a club run on renewable energy,” he said.

To implement that idea, Hemming is serving drinks in biodegradable cups, donating unused grease to be used for biodiesel.

He said has also laid out wind turbines and solar panels to generate the club’s energy and decorated the front entrance with indigenous plant species.

Prana restaurant and Temple Nightclub are the fruit of Hemming’s passions, and not simply the result of an expansive pocketbook.

“I’ve used my own money and I hit everyone I knew,” he said. “I’m millions of dollars in debt but I talk a good game.”

For more information, visit Prana Restaurant’s Web site at or Temple Nightclub’s Web site at

I'm really glad that we were able to get a photo of Hemming with his dog, who was very entertaining.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"McSame as Bush"

I've already heard quite a bit about how McCain is the same as Bush, which is quite a departure from the days when John Kerry was talking about running with him and liberals were saying how McCain is one of the good ones. It's already getting tired and old, but we'll have to get used to it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

McCain is the Official Nominee

It's just in:

John McCain clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday, an extraordinary comeback for a candidate whose White House hopes were dashed eight years ago and whose second bid was left for dead eight months ago.

"The most important race begins," he said in an Associated Press interview.

It still seems to be a continuing saga on the Democratic side, so things should stay pretty interesting.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Is smoking worse than terrorism?

After all I've seen and am exposed to, I still don't seem to cease being astonished and shocked.

The following is an anti-smoking poster from New Zealand's "Action on Smoking and Health" (which put together is "ASH." Clever, huh?):

At first glance I thought that the poster was meant to compare smoking to environmentally hazardous factories, which some people would find extreme but which is a fairly normal and even agreeable analogy. Not so, as a close look at the caption at the bottom illustrates:

"Terrorism-related deaths since 2001: 11,337 Tobacco-related deaths since 2001: 30,000,000"

Absolutely ridiculous.

The Humbling of John McCain

This video is straight from the McCain Campaign, so of course it fulfills the expectation of being a wee bit propogandistic. Nevertheless, you can't falsify the powerful images of McCain in prisoner garb and being identified by his Vietnamese captives. Do yourself a favor and watch this.

The Importance of Education

There is probably no political issue in America that I feel more passionate about than education, and in particular the movement to take control of children's education from the state and public school establishment and place it back in the hands of the parents. It is an issue that is at the core of what I believe and my realization of how I felt about the issue has made very skeptical of Democratic Party leadership, which tends to be in the pockets of the teacher's unions.

I tend to think that the public school system itself should be done away with, not to be replaced by education only being available to those who are affluent, but instead replaced with public funds in the hands of all parents who will be able to place it in whatever school they want. In such a system, individuality will take hold as parents would be able to send their kids to schools that emphasize their children's interest. If the student is profficient at a skill, such as writing, they can go to a school that emphasizes or specializes in that skill, instead of being assigned a school by a beauracrat who has never met the child.

Charter schools are the first step to such a move, as are school vouchers another step to making sure that poor people are able to get a quality education. If you've never heard of or read about charter schools I recommend a recent article by Lee Culpepper, wherein he makes a creative comparison of charter schools to U.S. Marines.

The opposition to school choice is fierce and spouts nonsensical propoganda. I remember discussing this issue with a liberal friend of mine (nearly all of my friends are as liberal as they get) and he gave the argument that it violated "the seperation of church and state." I'm sure he meant "free practice of religion," as I don't recall the terms "seperation of church and state" in the Constitution. This is a terrible argument, as the First Amendment was clearly designed to make sure that anyone can practice their own faith, not to eradicate faith from the public square completely. This nonsense argument wasn't put into my friend's mind by himself. He recieved it from elsewhere, as the argument is one being circulated by teacher's unions, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the Left side of American politics. It has been these unions that have consistently blocked efforts to establish school vouchers.

The teacher's unions are really only practicing the human instinct of self-protection. American public schools are an increasingly large bureaucracy (made even more beauraucratic by moves to federalize the schools such as the well-intentioned No Child Left Behind) where children become statistics. As with any bureaucracy, it is hard to get rid of it and the bureaucrats naturally want to keep their jobs, even if progress means they'll lose them in exchange for the creation of others.

The 2008 presidential campaign has yet to go in overdrive, and I pray that the critical issue of public education is able to squeeze between illegal immigration and Iraq enough so that the problem will get the attention it deserves. I think it's a winning issue for Republicans, who can show voters that they really believe in change while the Left is for the most part interested in just throwing money at the same system we've had for decades.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Obama, The Audacity of Hype

I'm thinking I might just make this poster a permanent fixture on this blog throughout the upcoming campaign season. Let selected a leader, people should be looking for substance and character, not hype and beautiful nonsense.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hitchens on Buckley

Christopher Hitchens, my favorite writer on matters political, wrote a great obituary piece on the late William F. Buckley, "A Man of Incessant Labor," where he illustrated his observance and experiences of the man. The article is included in the current issue of the Weekly Standard, which has a section dedicated to the life of Mr. Buckley. Here's a taste:

Some years ago, Peter Robinson invited us both to be guests on his show Uncommon Knowledge, which had been tipped as a sort of successor to Firing Line. The subject was a retrospective of "The Sixties," and the question to each of us was: What did we most regret about the positions we had held then? I won't bore you with my answers. Buckley said that he now wished that the United States had never become involved in Vietnam to begin with, and added that he would still oppose the passage of the Civil Rights Act but not in the same terms or for the same reasons as he had then. (His updated view was that the legislation had caused more trouble than it was worth--"like the Civil War.")

At the time I was a little stunned by both admissions, but I can also see how they make sincere self-critical sense. Vietnam was too much of that "big government" that he had reluctantly accepted, and state-enforced civil rights took too little account of the libertarian principles that were dear to him. In a sort of coda to the sixties, it was National Review that published the first major symposium calling for the decriminalization of at least the "softer" narcotics.