DENNIS MILLER IN A DEBUT THAT RIVALS THE MAIDEN VOYAGE OF THE HINDENBURG
I seldom watch TV but I made an exception tonight to see Dennis Miller
in his new cableTV show and in the shocking aftermath I can only wonder if the comedian famous for his erudite references was taken over by the pod people. Good Lord !
Miller, who is an immensely talented and brilliant comic looked unsure of himself, the format, his line delivery and even the suit he was wearing - the only thing more painful than watching his performance was the silence that followed Miller's jokes. Literally at times the uncomfortable shifting of the audience audibly matched the sound of the lone guy laughing. Arnold Schwarzenegger rescued Miller in the first segment only to watch him crash during the news commentary portion. At one point, Miller received one of his few genuine audience responses when he asked a director " to remove the stick up my ass ". I'm a big fan of Miller's and looked forward to his openly conservative incarnation but this show was a disaster on par with Dean's Iowa concession speech..." Yeeeeeeeeearrrrrrrrgh ".
Somebody get Miller out of his mortician's suit and back into normal clothes and transition the show back to the smart-alecky HBO show format where he is at ease with himself. I'd also advise getting some guests whose views conflict with Miller's so the sparks can fly to stimulate his quick repartee instead of twenty minutes of the groveling ass-kissing that prevailed tonight with Arnold. Conservatism or political topics are not the problem - Miller made many conservative points about the war quite effectively after 9/11 with biting wit - the problem is equating intellectual seriousness with acting like a boring, hectoring stiff.
THE REVOLUTION IN EUROPEAN MILITARY AFFAIRS
Geitner Simmons explains the new model Budeswehr
. What would von Moltke have thought ?
MORE ON HIZB UT-TAHRIR
From The Argus
WESTERN SCIENTIST TOURS NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR SITE-DOUBTS WEAPONIZATION CAPABILITY
A top western nuclear scientist inspecting North Korean nuclear facilities confirms Pyongyang's claim to process plutonium
but doubts their ability to make a functioning nuclear bomb.
THE CRISIS OF THE SAUDI REGIME
A good column by Arnaud de Borchgrave
on the recent crackdown on radical Wahhabist Imams in Saudi Arabia precipitated by the recent discovery of terrorist training camps in the Saudi desert that had been disguised as religous seminaries and mosques. De Borchgrave gives a concise description of the factions within the House of Saud, which apparently is funding Islamist terror schools in Southern Thailand
along with Pakistan and Indonesia.
The House of Saud had been divided in the 1950's and 1960's by dynastic competition ( Saud vs. Faisal) and the spread of Nasserism and Pan-Arabism which infected younger, less influential princes but the current threat posed by Islamism dwarfs that struggle by several orders of magnitude.
The Perle-Frum op-ed.
in the NYT. Perle/Frum take a much harder line on the Saudis for their global Madrassa threat that they pose - which in my view is a serious, substantive, long-range ideological threat to Western values. ( Link found via Milt's File
FREE SPEECH FOR THE OLIGARCHY
A brilliant column by Nat Hentoff
on the pernicious effects of and the undemocratic, elitist, motivation behind McCain-Feingold, recently upheld by the Supreme Court. The money quote:
"Last spring, I was at a conference of journalists in Boston discussing the Patriot Act, McCain-Feingold, and other issues. A reporter asked Democratic congressman Martin Meehan of Massachusetts, an especially aggressive supporter of the McCain-Feingold bill, why the time frame for forbidding issue ads was set at 30 and 60 days.
Logically, honestly, Meehan answered, "That's when people are most interested in the elections!"
Indeed. The sorriest decision by the Supreme Court in a decade.
MORE ON AL QAIDA'S " SINN FEIN"
Here is the English version of the Hizb ut- Tahrir
website. For the Mideast scholars on the web, here is the link to their pages in Arabic and various Turkic and European languages
In their own words, Hizb ut-Tahrir aims for world domination:
"Its aim is to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic da’wah to the world. This objective means bringing the Muslims back to living an Islamic way of life in Dar al-Islam and in an Islamic society such that all of life’s affairs in society are administered according to the Shari’ah rules, and the viewpoint in it is the halal and the haram under the shade of the Islamic State, which is the Khilafah State. That state is the one in which Muslims appoint a Khaleefah and give him the bay’ah to listen and obey on condition that he rules according to the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and on condition that he conveys Islam as a message to the world through da’wah and jihad.
These are not stupid people - read the lists posted of members who have been arrested - you see highly educated professionals, army officers, doctors and engineers - these are the sons of the elite or the rising middle class of their nations. Men of modern technical and scientific training with the moral horizon of the 7th and 8th centuries fired with the vision of a reactionary myth of a golden age that never existed.
A dangerous combination and one history has seen before.
A BRIEF WORD ON IOWA
I'm pretty amused at the deflation of the Howard Dean balloon. I've found most of his supporters posting on various comment boards to be a fairly obnoxious and humorless bunch so if they are wallowing in gloom tonight it might take their self-righteous quotient down a few notches.
On the other hand, as a caucus the Iowa vote bears little resemblance to a normal general election and has little, if any, predictive value. Dean's financial operation still makes him the one to beat in the next few primaries and after Iowa he desperately needs a win in New Hampshire or a dead heat tie to prevent a media feeding frenzy from nibbling his campaign to bits. As they had annointed Dean the nominee without much in the way of evidence the media is apt to now turn on him for not living up to their predictions.
ENEMIES OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, LEGAL DIVISION, PART II
I'm searching for a good word or phrase to desrcibe these folks
without resorting to the all-too commonplace " bastards". I like " ideological vomitus of the Left " for it's accuracy but it's waaaaaaaaaaay too cumbersome to be useful as a perjorative.
" AL QAIDA'S SINN FEIN "
The Argus has an important post on a little known but apparently well funded, trans-national Islamist network
dedicated to pursuing al Qaida goals by legal means.
Before feeling complacent about peaceful and legal means it is noteworthy to recollect that Hitler too, stuck to a legal course in seeking a dictatorship after the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch. The same objectives by different methods did not make the end result any more palatable.
My other thought is to wonder to what degree the activists here are simply al Qaida veterans and associates with the same money trail as the one that funded terror operations pre-9/11.
BUSH ADMINISTRATION SEEKS MILITARY TIES WITH CHINA
Overshadowed by the controversy over the invasion of Iraq have been Bush administration efforts to improve ties with Russia and China, a policy that paid dividends when President Putin recently reversed course on the need for intensive IAEA inspections in Iran, a longtime customer for Russian nuclear hardware and expertise.
Similarly the United States has been exploring expanding military ties with Beijing
, incidentally or intentionally shoring up the waning position of Jiang Zemin in China's political hierarchy. The former president and Communist party chief still retains supreme control over Chinese military affairs despite having grudgingly vacated the other two " power posts ".
LIBYAN DISARMAMENT POINTS TO ANTI-AMERICAN WMD PROLIFERATION AGENDA BY PAKISTAN
Pakistan, governed by the shaky, military-nationalist regime of pro-American General Musharraf, is facing further evidence of intentional nuclear proliferation
by former high officials with Islamist sympathies. Pakistan is now being linked to WMD programs in North Korea, Iran and Libya.
STANDARDIZED TESTING AS A PREDICTOR OF PERFORMANCE
Rob at BusinessPundit
links to an APA press release of a research article
that cites the MAT test as a fairly reliable predictor for real-world performance, giving weight to those who argue for the validity of using standardized testing as an admissions criteria for elite schools. Full text of the research article here
Assuming that the methodology was up to snuff ( this was a meta-analysis) here's my impression. I'm not surprised that the MAT would be a useful predictor of real-world success, more so than the standard types of IQ testing like the Slossen or g-loaded aptitude tests like the SAT I. Much of effective human communication revolves around analogical thinking where a lack of understanding is bridged by the introduction of comparable or parallel concepts to which the subject can successfully relate to or extrapolate from. Logical thinking, which is so critical in areas like law and engineering often result in long chains of variables in which the listener can easily get lost - successful analogies produce greater leaps of insight. In other words, this is more like how humans naturally tend to reason when engaging in a casual discussion or argument.
COULD BUSH STIFF THE SENATE DEMOCRATS WITH RECESS APPOINTMENTS TO THE FEDERAL BENCH ?
of the history of recess appointments by the Federalist Society
ZENPUNDIT READS CJR
I recommend taking a look at the latest issue of The Columbia Journalism Review
- not because it doesn't hew to the sort of self-congratulatory, urban-yuppie-hipster, smug brand of superficial liberalism that irritates most of America ( it does) - but in spite of that kind of posing the magazine delivers some very interesting articles that are both informative and enlightening. I recommend " Little Murders
" on the death of op-ed illustration - though ironically the website has neglected to post the censored art displayed in the paper copy of the magazine.
Conservatives will have fun with the articles on internal debate among journalists whether or not they should hire armed bodyguards or carry firearms in anarchic war zones or wander about randomly, relying on the goodwill of their fellow men.
( Note that a couple of these media characters decided to joyride with the Iraqi resistance fighters and almost had their heads blown off by an American soldier...who I'm sure would have been court-martialed and had his life ruined had that happened )
DO OUR ELITE UNIVERSITIES ACTUALLY TEACH ANYTHING USEFUL ?
The Harvard and Yale of Japan are the former Imperial universities of Tokyo and Kyoto, graduates of which have, in effect, a virtual ticket into the elite of the government and corporate worlds. These schools are exceedingly difficult for prospective students to get into but once there, the experience is relatively undemanding compared with the absolute rigor of Japanese secondary education. The opposite of America where an often middling public school system is capped by the greatest and most challenging university system on earth that gives it's graduates unparalelled skills...or does it ?
A University of Chicago prof debunks some widespread myths about the mission of a top tier American university
EXCELLENT ANALYSIS OF PADILLA-HAMDI CASES
By Phil Carter over at Intel Dump
- I'm almost entirely in agreement with his reasoning. go read it !
JOHN LEO ON THE " BUSH IS HITLER " PSYCHOLOGICAL OBSESSION OF THE LEFT
actually predated Moveon.org's increasingly sizable Third Reich filmfest
HISTORY AND THE MOVIES: JONATHAN DRESNER REVIEWS THE LAST SAMURAI
Dr. Dresner is a specialist in Japanese history and I enjoyed his review of Tom Cruise's movie The Last Samurai
so much that I decided to repost it from HNN. Dresner also contributes to the blog Cliopatra
DO YOU HAVE A YEN TO BE THE MOST SECRET OF THE SECRET WARRIORS ?
A look at the training requirements and the short history of the CIA's Special Activities Staff
ISLAMIST SITE ATTACKS DEMOCRACY
I thought visitors to Zenpundit might find this website illuminating. It's a radical Qutbist-Islamist outfit called Khilafa.com
that publishes in English, though judging from the syntax I would assume that the editors were educated in Western universities but that they picked up English as a second language later in life and are not Western converts to Islamism.
The site is " moderate " in the sense that they are careful not to advocate specific acts of violence - showing familiarity with American legal concepts about what would constitute a " threat " - but their end goals and contempt for democracy are clear in their explanation " What is Khilafa "
? A post I urge all of you to take the time to read because it provides the priceless opportunity to peer into the mind of an enemy of Western civilization through their own words. It would be particularly helpful for those academics critical of the views of people like Daniel Pipes
for being " anti-Muslim", to give this segment a look.
DOES THE AMERICAN LEFT HAVE A HITLER FIXATION ?
Moveon.org, according to the Drudge Report
, has posted another political add comparing George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler. This despite condemnations from Jewish groups like the Simon Wiesanthal Center and the American Jewish Congress for manipulating the context of the Holocaust for the purpose of eliciting giggles over the internet from sophmoric leftists.
Curious, I did a Google search for " Hitler and Bush " and came up with 441,000 hits including examples of brilliant historical reasoning found here
. In foreign, openly socialist, media the Bush-Hitler campaign is virtually a cottage industry.
My question is, why ? Given that Adolf Hitler murdered over 11 million people, including at least two specific genocides ( Jews and Gypsies) plus support for a third ( Ustache slaughter of Serbians ) it would seem the comparison to be so grossly over the top and morally repellent as to be laughable. Yet, there is an air of desperation in these attacks, almost a frantic desire to find some kind of analogy, however strained and Orwellian, between the Third Reich and the Bush administration. It's beyond bizarre, it borders on philo-Nazism.
If anyone has an explanation for this phenomena I'd love to hear it.
Visit Far Outliers
- a blog "Exploring migrants, exiles, expatriates, and out-of-the-way peoples, places, and times, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region. " It's good and gives you a nice popular culture as well as historical perspective.
THE RETURN OF ZENPUNDIT
It was good to be off but it's better to be back.
THE UNIVERSITIES OF JIHAD
A Foreign Policy magazine article
on the Madrassa problem. 750,000 young men passed through Pakistan's Islamist equivalent of SS Order castles this year alone. mostly Saudi funding has opened 14,000 of these schools in Indonesia. Some alternative educational path that is not militantly hostile to secularism, women, peace and the West needs to be considered for the poor of these nations. Or at least a comparable counterbalance.
GEORGIA ON MY MIND...AND AZERBAIJAN...AND ARMENIA...
Interesting analytical article
. I think the author seriously undersetimates the depth to which Putin has aligned himself strategically with the Bush administration as he has soldified his own rule over Russia but it's worth reading for the details.
GOOD NEW YORKER ARTICLE ON AL QAIDA
on Milt's File
QUICKIE EXAMPLE WHY THE " HATE-BUSH " LEFT WILL COST THE DEMOCRATS THE ELECTION:
. Second time he's nailed these Moveon.org
characters for the nasty extremists that they are.
Empire of the Steppes
by Grousset. A highly readable and classic work of scholarship from a time before niche specialization in academia created professors who knew more and more about less and less.
Grousset, originally publishing in 1939, mastered linguistics, history, ethnology and religion and wrote with a richness of detail and insight of a region that usually remains a blank spot for most Westerners.
PREDICTIONS FOR 2004
We will see how effective of a prophet I can be in a year's time:
Al Qaida will switch from attempting catastrophic acts of terrorism against the American homeland in the short term to the assassination of high profile, non-American, " soft targets " with symbolic resonance. My short list would include the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Musharraf of Pakistan, Muhammed VI of Morocco, the Pope, a member of the British Royal Family and any minister of the " New Europe " governments that supported the Iraq war.
President Bush will be reelected, winning 52-54 % of the popular vote. Either Colin Powell or Donald Rumsfeld will resign from the cabinet but not both. If Rumsfeld resigns it will only be because he was forced out.
There will be a boom to replace Dick Cheney with Condi Rice on the GOP ticket which will not happen unless the Vice-President suffers a serious health problem.
American forces in Iraq will draw down for a potential intervention in Pakistan whether or not Musharraf survives the year. American special operatives will capture or kill a major Saudi financier of al Qaida terrorism, perhaps with Saudi complicity.
A major al Qaida leader will be captured or killed by American forces.
The bioethics of implanting computer chips and components into human beings will become a media hot-button issue.
Hard core leftists will challenge Tony Blair's leadership of the Labor Party at the first opportunity, most likely after a scandal of some kind, be resoundingly crushed and will subsequently bolt the party.
NEW YEAR BLOGGING RESOLUTIONS
I, Zenpundit, do solemnly swear, for the year 2004 a.d. to do the following:
* Post on a semi-regular basis:
No more posting a dozen times followed by thirteen days off followed by four days of moderate posting. Three times a week ought to be enough to keep things moving without stressing me out.
* Faithfully Credit All Links:
I do this most of the time anyway but it's good Blogosphere manners.
*Update Breaking News
: At times, stories I pull off of AP Breaking or other newswires turn out to be unfounded or change considerably from the initial reports. Because I have blogged so haphazardly by the time I return to Blogger the story is stale
*Upgrade the Zenpundit Site
: This will be hardest for me as my time is so stretched as it is and my technical skills are limited ( for me a computer is a means to an end, not a hobby in and of itself). It would be nice to post pictures and have a more aesthetic site like Prometheus6
for example, or Regions of Mind
where Geitner Simmons has had some beautiful photographic essays. Knowing myself as I do, this resolution will be the hardest to keep.
*Balance Blogging With Other Writing
: Basically, I need to write in other venues because the Blogging format, over time, is injurious to a good prose style and I think mine has declined considerably as a result. There's an overwhelming tendency in the blogosphere to rely upon an " inside baseball " blogging shorthand that regular blogreaders " get " and links to make one's point instead writing concisely and descriptively.