Michael J. Totten

Friday, July 04, 2003

This Vacation Has Been Interrupted...

...with an unecessary filler post to the blog...

I haven't had time to blog anything because I'm enjoying Roger L. Simon's great company, warm hospitality, and fantastic Southern California house (and swimming pool).

The book-signing and wine-tasting was a great success, which you can read all about here.

I took some pictures of the event on my digital camera, but the USB cable thingy is still up in Portland (I knew I forgot to bring something), so I'll have to post them later.

Will I have time to blog between now and the end of the weekend? The suspense will kill you...

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Just Say No to Howard Dean

Josh Chafetz at Oxblog asks what Scoop Jackson Democrats (like me) will do if Howard Dean gets the Democratic nomination.

I will vote against him. I'll vote Green or Republican or Libertarian, but I will not vote for Howard Dean during war time.

If Dean wants to run for president after the Terror War is over, I'll vote for him then.


Richard Cohen reads Ann Coulter's new book Treason so that you don't have to.

Here is his review.

I am happy to report that Ann Coulter has lost her mind. The evidence for this is her most recent book, "Treason," a nearly unreadable slog through every silly thing anyone on the left has ever said. Coulter conflates dissent with treason, opposition with treason, being wrong with treason, being right with treason and just about anything she doesn't like with treason. If the book were a Rorschach test, she would be institutionalized.

It is not necessary to read the whole thing, because that says it all.

Moses Wine Tasting

Shelly and I are travelling to Los Angeles to attend mystery novelist Roger L. Simon's book-signing and wine-tasting party at Dutton's Books, 11975 San Vicente Blvd, in Brentwood on Wednesday July 2nd at 7:00 pm.

Roger has invited five bloggers to serve as bartenders. Myself, Matt Welch, Ken Layne, Charles Johnson, and Brian Linse.

If you live in the LA area, I hope you can make it. I just finished Roger's previous Moses Wine novel, The Lost Coast, and I can honestly say that it is truly excellent and original.

So come on down, meet Roger and the rest of us, and get both signed copies and smashed on Roger's dime.

I won't be back until Sunday, and posting will be intermittent or non-existant until then. So have a terrific week if you don't see me here.

Click the photo to order Roger's newest book Director's Cut.

Bigot Eruption

The blogosphere may get a new meme, and President Bush better watch out if it takes off.

Bigot Eruption.

Bush is not a bigot himself, and I'll defend him against the charge. But many in his party are, and they do have a tendency to erupt.

Matt Welch and Oliver Willis have started the ball rolling, and I'm happy to give it a push myself.

The Palestinian Legacy

American bigotry is bad. But it is always wise to keep our perspective.

Novelist Cynthia Ozick asks what the Palestinian nation offers the world.

History, in Benedetto Croce's formulation, "is about the positive and not the negative." No one can refute the truth that the Palestinians have fashioned a culture peculiarly their own--but one so steeped in the negative as to have been turned into a kind of anti-history. In order to deprive Jews of their patrimony, Palestinians have fabricated a sectarian narrative alien to commonplace knowledge. Although the Arab invasion of Palestine did not occur until the seventh century, Palestinian Arabs are declared to be, according to activist Salah Jabr, "the descendants of civilizations that have lived in this land since the Stone Age." With equal absurdity, other such deniers of Jewish patrimony claim a Canaanite bloodline. By replacing history with fantasy, the Palestinians have invented a society unlike any other, where hatred trumps bread. They have reared children unlike any other children, removed from ordinary norms and behaviors. And they have been assisted in these deviations by Arab rulers who for half a century have purposefully and pitilessly caged and stigmatized them as refugees, down to the fourth generation. Refugeeism, abetted also by the United Nations, has itself been joined to the Palestinian cult of anti-history. A people respectful of history, including its own above all, will work to fructify and invigorate life; it will not debase and vitiate it.

The salient attribute of any culture is originality and its legacies. Genius, no matter how rare, is a human universal. It sends into the world new perception and new experience, inspiring duplication: Out of Israel came monotheism, out of Greece philosophy, out of Arab civilization science and poetry, out of England the Magna Carta, out of France the Enlightenment. What has been the genius of Palestinian originality, what has been the contribution of the evolving culture of Palestinian sectarianism? On the international scene: airplane hijackings and the murder of American diplomats in the 1970s, Olympic slaughterings and shipboard murders in the 1980s. And toward the Jews of the Holy Land, beginning in the 1920s and continuing until this morning, terror, terror, terror, terror.

Read it all.

Monday, June 30, 2003


If Iraq became an instant Switzerland, the anti-war doom-mongers would be quiet. But they wouldn't be happy because it would prove them idiots.

The only way they can look prescient is if they put the most negative spin possible on everything.

Today Donald Rumsfeld compared them to cartoon characters.

When a reporter identified the Vietnam War during the briefing as "your classic quagmire," Rumsfeld cut her off and said: "There are so many cartoons where people, press people, are saying, 'Is it Vietnam yet?' hoping it is and wondering if it is. And it isn't. It's a different time. It's a different era. It's a different place."


Ceasefire, Shmeasefire

Palestinians are already violating their bogus ceasefire, and the US military is sending two generals to monitor the dismantling of Hamas.

Of course, Hamas is not really being dismantled. The generals are there to serve as a reality-check for the fact-resistant.

Total Civilizational Breakdown

Shelly and I both like end-of-the-world disaster stories. I gave up Stephen King books years ago, but she recently made me read The Stand. I'm glad she did. The deus ex machina ending was grating, but the rest of the book was fantastic. There is a tiny part of me that likes to fantasize about trying to survive after civilization breaks down. It would be a great and meaningful adventure, and I like to imagine what I would do in the place of the characters in these stories.

But it is a fantasy, and I don't really hope it ever happens.

This film is just plain terrifying.

Not for one second while watching this did I have any desire to live in a world that looked like this one. When I asked myself what I would do if I were one of the characters, hiding in a bunker and never coming out came to mind.

Mad scientists (I know, I know) create a virus called Rage that (naturally) escapes into the human population and turns people into raving homocidal maniacs, more or less like zombies. So a few main characters are scattered throughout London trying to stay alive while nearly everyone else is either dead or seething with Rage and trying to kill everyone else.

The story isn't believable (why don't the "zombies" also try to kill each other?), but no matter. Once you swallow the premise, what follows is as realistic as it is terrifying. The civilizational breakdown is total, and many of the remaining humans behave nearly as badly as the "zombies" themselves. Only a few maintain their civilized humanity, and the personalities and behavior of the characters are completely believable.

The film is riveting and bleak as hell. Not one second is boring, and even the scenes where not much happens are full of dread and doom. See it if you enjoy this sort of thing, and expect to be thinking about it long after it's over and, yes, at bedtime too.

Fear of Privacy and Freedom

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Iran.) is afraid of privacy.

Frist said the Supreme Court's decision last week on gay sex threatens to make the home a place where criminality is condoned.

The court on Thursday threw out a Texas law that prohibited acts of sodomy between gays in a private home, saying that such a prohibition violates the defendants' privacy rights under the Constitution.

"I have this fear that this zone of privacy that we all want protected in our own homes is gradually -- or I'm concerned about the potential for it gradually being encroached upon, where criminal activity within the home would in some way be condoned," Frist told ABC's "This Week."

Well, bug my house then. Make sure my wife and I don't do anything funny.

Seriously, though. Striking down sodomy laws from the Dark Ages will never make it okay to rape and kill in the privacy of our homes. I trust even Dennis Kucinich (D-Iraq) to make sure this sort of thing won't happen.

Asked whether he supports an amendment that would ban any marriage in the United States except a union of a man and a woman, Frist said: "I very much feel that marriage is a sacrament, and that sacrament should extend and can extend to that legal entity of a union between -- what is traditionally in our Western values has been defined -- as between a man and a woman. So I would support the amendment."

He feels that marriage is a sacrament. I don't really care what the senator feels, although I am a bit concerned about what he thinks. My wife and I are not religious. We had a secular wedding nowhere near any church. Does the good senator feel that such a thing is not so, or that it should not be allowed?

Here is what Andrew Sullivan says.

The fact that the good doctor cannot apparently see a deep distinction between a religious marriage and a civil one shows, I guess, how close to theocracy today's Republicans have become.

Yep. But the Republicans have been this way for as long as I've paid attention to them. I have never been so fed up with my own Democratic Party, but the Republicans have no chance of earning my vote any time soon, especially if they continue to promote extremists (Armey, DeLay, Lott, Santorum, and now Frist) to top leadership posts.

Also, the Constitution is not supposed to take away the rights of individuals. It is supposed to guarantee my rights, and limit the freedom only of the state.

Copyright 2003 Michael J. Totten