Wednesday, April 19, 2006

FOX TV's PRISON BREAK is back on the air, after an inexplicable hiatus of several months, which has nevertheless failed to dim the fans' interest in the show. It continues to be preposterous in so many respects, but who cares? It's a new idea, about something other than doctors, lawyers, and cops. The cast is a great group of "types" (though they are perhaps becoming a bit too cuddly as they become the Great Escape team).

It's fun to keep watching Stacy Keach turn up in new avatars-- I've been a fan of his since he was a grad student doing Shakespeare in 1963, and have enjoyed his journey from Bad Bob the Albino to Barrabas to Frank James to Mike Hammer to Ken Titus (one of my all-time favorites), and now finally to "the Pope" of Fox River Penitentiary. (Lots of forgettable crap in between, but what actor hasn't done that?)

Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is once again up to what I am begiinning to understand are his old tricks, immediately following PRISON BREAK. Our household has quite suddenly decided to become addicted to 24, and are in the process of catching up with DVD's of the first season while trying to follow the latest instalments. Again, it's all preposterous, but well put together and a new twist on cliff-hanging.

COUNTDOWN TO CALUMNY -- The Da Vinci Code (no I'm not linking, thank you very much) opens in one month
It will probably be an entertaining film, since Ron Howard actually has talent in inverse proportion to that so absent in the bland-faced, wide-eyed fake-o literato Dan Brown.

I hate to contribute my thirteen Canuckbucks (or whatever will be the new "blockbuster" price of admission) to this ignoble effort, but I suppose I'll have to do a consumer's test on it, in the public interest of course. I had vowed never to pay the ticket price for Michael Moore's lie-fest, Fahrenheit 911 (deadly serious, highly recommended critique found here, from the Ethics and Public Policy Center in D.C.), and had planned to theatre-hop at the cineplex and see it for free. Instead I ended up buying a previously viewed DVD so cheap that Moore couldn't possibly have made enough for a Mars bar out of it-- in fact, as a re-sale item, I expect he got nothing. Ah-- feels so good.

So I'll probably see the Da Vinci Fraud, perhaps de-frauding my way into it (I've never done that before-- it's unethical of course!-- but on a 1-to-10 scale of unethical acts it has to rate about a 2 when the film project itself rates at least a 12, and the book is up in the four-score-and-seven neighborhood.)

I am one of the least "thin-skinned Christians" I know, but I've taken the pledge [The Da Vinci Code Pledge for Thin-Skinned Christians] about this book/film, and have to see the business through. Salman Rushdie has apparently pronounced the Dan Brown book "a book so bad it makes bad books look good." Amen to that, as it were. Now we have to see if Ron Howard can make a silk burse out of a sow's ear. (heh-- a little church humor there)

But I woke up and it was January 2005-- the date when a more politically astute President would have conducted a very normal, post-election "shuffle" (as they call it in the Parliamentary tradition) and pumped some new blood into his cabinet and administrative staff. The announcements over the past week or two of some personnel changes in the Bush administration are LONG overdue, and this cabinet shuffle now risks looking like the proverbial re-arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic. It needn't be, but he's cut it awfully close.

As one who has been advocating the replacement of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld since December of 2003, I'd like to welcome the Snippity Six-- the list of carping American generals now calling for Rumsfeld's blood-- aboard this particular Ship of State, now that it's listing badly and limping into port with chunks of ice on its deck.

It's too little (by which I mean small and petty) too late, gentlemen. Replacing Rumsfeld now would be suicidal for the current administration both at home and abroad, would cripple the effectiveness and security of our military in the field, and wouldn't bring back a single dead kid who shouldn't have been so vulnerable to cross-border jihadists and re-grouping insurgents.

As military careerists go, what the hell are you people thinking? and how did you get into positions of authority in the armed forces? Oh yeah-- there was that 12-year hiatus in sanity, when the elder (and wimpier) Bush and the flabby anti-military Clinton were in charge, and morons like Wesley (engage the enemy from 30,000 feet-- don't fire till you see the whites of their embassy roofs) Clark, or jittery dudes like Anthony Zinni (self-admitted screw-up responsible for the USS Cole bombing) were earning their stars.

Once upon a time soldiers who couldn't carry out their commanders' orders used to run on their swords-- today they can just resign, and should do so, silently, if they cannot in conscience obey their superiors. The danger to our troops posed by this plainly orchestrated revolt of the six generals is not so very far removed from a "fragging" incident-- where the rank and file turn on their officers and kill them. Fragging is traditionally a desperate measure taken to preserve troops from some pointless suicide mission ordered by an inexperienced or unfit officer. But we should recall that during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq there was a premeditated fragging multiple murder of officers by a Muslim-convert soldier with divided loyalties. So ideological fragging has its precedents too, as does fragging by envious or tetchy malcontents.

The editorial at makes one of the more important points about the generals and their hastily-enthusiastic allies in the media:
The anti-Rumsfeld generals have a right to their opinion. But there's a reason the Founders provided for civilian control of the military, and a danger in military men using their presumed authority to push elected Administrations around. As for Democrats and their media allies, we can only admire their sudden new deference to the senior U.S. officer corps, which follows their strange new respect for the "intelligence community" they also once despised. U.S. military recruiters might not be welcome on Ivy League campuses, but they're heroes when they trash the Bush Administration.
'Nuff said.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has compiled a Rumsfeld-o-rama to discuss the situation -- typical of the good right-wing blogs, this is a place to chew on a variety of genuinely thoughtful and differing opinions on the subject. You won't find this kind of stuff too often on the left, nor will you find anyone on the left admitting that the right is the truly big-tent movement in politics. (There is one small stirring on the left, aiming to break out of the lunatic fringe's stranglehold on liberal public discourse-- if you can call the obscenity-laced blog-based spewings of Bush Derangement Syndrome "discourse" -- and we welcome and congratulate the founders of the Euston Manifesto site. But I digress.)

Having personally fumed and smoldered with frustration for about a year, I spent much of the 2004 election season sending (unanswered) emails to Mary Matalin, Mark Wallace, Ed Gillespie, Peggy Noonan, and whoever else I could think of involved in the Republican campaign, expressing, among other things, the vital need for the President to inform the nation in very specific terms about the genuine acocmplishments in Iraq, as well as the equally vital need to promise a cabinet shake-up upon re-election. If I may quote myself, I wrote to one of those people:
I don’t think it would hurt the President to hint that this [cabinet shuffle] is a possibility, the advantage to which is that it points toward dealing with the biggest liability of the current administration: like it or not, it’s Rumsfeld. He is partially a liability based on public perceptions, some of which may not be entirely fair. But in my opinion he has been a genuine liability in the prosecution of the war, and nothing – NOTHING – that anyone, including the President himself, could tell me would convince me otherwise.

He [Rumsfeld] has very identifiable theories about managing the military-- I stand with those...who think his theories are dead wrong—“dead” in the most literal and lethal sense: I believe they have cost us hundreds of unnecessary deaths among the under-trained reservists who occupied the most dangerous territory in Iraq between May 2003 and March 2004... I can also tell you, with all sincerity, that I would mark a ballot which said “Bush/Cheney but not Rumsfeld” with much more enthusiasm than the one which will read just “Bush/Cheney”—and I am not alone in this.
Obviously nobody took my advice (fools!), and Bush won by a fraction of the margin he should have, over an incompetent and repugnant (even to his fellow-Democrats) opponent.

Bush got on the "inform the people" bandwagon too late to undo the damage among a public brutally deceived by the mainstream press, and he still persists in ignoring his most powerful defense: the millions of captured Iraqi documents finally being circulated and translated. (Documents which clearly show, among other things, the active links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and Saddam's pre-9/11 plans for sending suicide bombers to the United States-- baffling! Nor has Bush seen fit to shine the glare of attention on the Oil-for-Food scam, the yellowcake lies of Joseph Wilson, and the treachery of our UN Security council "allies" every step of the way throughout his administration. Sometimes he seems almost as suicidal as the sweet-faced young bombers.)

As for the Rumsfeld problem, it is far too late to undo that at all. Much would be lost, and nothing would be gained-- at least Bush is apparently not THAT suicidal.

I suspect Bush is dealing with the McLellan problem without having read my advice, but better late than never on that one. The pudgy press prefect (whom I have previously pounded on here), has been unspeakably horrible at his job from the moment he stepped nervously up to the podium, and will soon be mercifully gone. I guess the grown-ups finally got home and the babysitter had to take away his toys and send him to bed. Good riddance. I'd feel sorry for him if I thought he had any idea how humiliating both his performance and his exit have been, but I just don't think he gets it.

The footnote to all this is that Evil Genius Karl Rove has been re-assigned to what he does best, or better anyway, that is, working on elections. He had been a chief domestic policy advisor, and as I've said many a time, this is proof enough that he's no genius-- for years now Bush has been the recipient of some of the worst advice in the history of advice (and that's from the people he actually listens to). And Rove can't really be evil because evil tends to be clever, and he's not. Anyway, he got displaced from his policy portfolio, and that can only be to the good.


According to the Washington Times, actor Martin Sheen is trading his TV role as U.S. president on The West Wing for that of a real-life college student. An Irish citizen through his mother, Sheen plans to attend the National University of Ireland in Galway, to study English literature, philosophy and theology with special interest in oceanography. the BBC reports that Sheen, 65, has several honorary degrees but has been quoted as lamenting his lack of a "proper" education. (He flunked out of the University of Dayton, purposely, he claims, so he could become an actor against the wishes of his father. Others say he never got in at all-- who knows. Or cares?)

A long-time political activist (read: left-wing Hollywood moonbat gum-flapper-- but not the worst by any means), Sheen has been approached recently about running for elected office. He wisely declined, stating "I'm just not qualified. You're mistaking celebrity for credibility." (Brilliantly put, I must admit. I'm thinking of embroidering it on a small throw pillow.)

Apropos of which, Kathryn Jean Lopez relays this from one of her readers on National Review Online-- The Corner

From a reader, reacting to Martin Sheen saying he's not qualified:

Your point is well taken, but I think Sheen is quite wrong that he is unqualified for the Senate. Besides an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a tolerance for making cameo appearances at committee meetings, what are the qualifications for the U.S. Senate again?
Martin Sheen is the father of actor Charlie Sheen, the hobbyist structural engineer who has decreed the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11 to have been the result of a conspiracy-based controlled demolition. Martin Sheen should give his son Charlie Sheen a good Irish boot upside the head.