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Monday, March 31, 2008
The Great Homer Hickham Hickam Swindle
I happened to be tooling around The Corner today (interested, as I always am, in finding out the tune the Devil is playing) when I came upon this curious post:

Heroes of the Day [Michael Ledeen]
This came in from Dewey Clarridge, the last great American spy master:

Homer Hickam made an interesting comment on FOX. In case you don't know who he is, Homer was a poor West Virginia miner's son, who worked his way up to being a scientist for NASA. He wrote a book called "Rocket Boy" which was later made into a great movie called "October Sky".

This morning he was interviewed and said this, about the one-shot shoot-down of the crippled satellite
" If this Country's head was on straight they would be holding a ticker tape parade for the crew of the cruiser, USS Lake Erie"...
This one rocket firing boosted our national defense 100-fold. North Korea, Iran, China, Russia, all know now that we have a safety net that can accurately stop their incoming missiles even if they are out of the earth's atmosphere. Of course, that was the plan all along. And it was a dandy plan. I just hope that the next person in the White House doesn't scrap the system and begin baking cookies for the enemy. Hilly or Obama will do just that, and that makes me a little nervous.

At any rate, kudos to the officers and crew of the USS Lake Erie. WELL DONE BLUE JACKETS !!

03/31 04:09 PM

Now, I don't know who Dewey Clarridge, The Last Great American Spy Master is, but he apparently isn't into basic fact-checking. If he was, he'd know the email was -- ahem -- a hoax.

I emailed Ledeen, who (to his credit, I guess) later posted this:

Update on Homer Hickham [Michael Ledeen]
An alert reader has sent me a "Snopes" on the Homer Hickham story I posted a bit ago. Apparently Hickham didn't talk about baking cookies, but his remarks on the missile defense system — which of course is the point of the post — are pretty much as reported by Fox. Without the cookies. Sigh. I was looking forward to the cookies, it's that time of day.

03/31 06:14 PM

Amusingly, sometime later, Ledeen posted this update:

Homer Hickham Speaks! [Michael Ledeen]

He e-mails:

I've been trying to stop this
ludicrous e-mail Internet message that you've quoted here:

The only thing in that entire message I said (or at least came close to
saying) was about the ticker tape parade for the crew of the missile

However, most readers don't notice the offsets and assume I said the
"Hilly and Obama" quote which I decidedly did not. Other versions of
this hoax have included some really nasty comments I am purported to
have said about Senators Clinton and Obama. At least, you have
published the least offensive (but still offensive) version. Please
remove it immediately.

I thought the important thing was the missile story; I'm happy to have corrected (least offensive version of) the distortion of Mr. Hickham's political non-statements. I hope he is too; he deserves a more honest treatment than he's received, so that we can focus on the heroes of the missile cruiser.
03/31 07:30 PM

God bless you, Homer Hickham. I liked your movie, by the way.

UPDATE: Michael Ledeen sends along this note:

Yes, you are right, but i have a day job and i know that if something is wrong some friendly reader will correct it. for which i am always grateful. you got me in touch with Hickam himself, for which i am doubly grateful.

Nice to know the guy has a system in place for fact-checking.

But just for the record, Michael, I have a day job too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Ha, Nemo! Take that! HA! HA!
Forget Eliot Spitzer. Today another scandal rocked America -- and it strikes at the heart, the very core, of one of Nemo's pet obsessions:

DRIGGS, Idaho (AP) -- Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island," is serving six months' unsupervised probation after allegedly being caught with marijuana in her car....

On October 18, Teton County sheriff's Deputy Joseph Gutierrez arrested Wells as she was driving home from a surprise birthday party that was held for her.

According to the sheriff's office report, Gutierrez pulled Wells over after noticing her swerve and repeatedly speed up and slow down. When Gutierrez asked about a marijuana smell, Wells said she'd just given a ride to three hitchhikers and had dropped them off when they began smoking something. Gutierrez found half-smoked joints and two small cases used to store marijuana.

The 69-year-old Wells, founder of the Idaho Film and Television Institute and organizer of the region's annual family movie festival called the Spud Fest, then failed a sobriety test.

Sweet Jesus, she was forced to be on "Gilligan's Island" and now some madman is making her live in Idaho. Will her torment never end?

Wells' lawyer, Ron Swafford, said that a friend of Wells testified he'd left a small amount of marijuana in the vehicle after using it that day, and that Wells was unaware of it.

Forget the booze and the marijuana. Lock the old crone up for the "Spud Fest".

Monday, March 10, 2008
Sex Simple
I'm pretty cynical about politicians, even ones I like. But I must say that it really did come as a shock to learn that New York governor Eliot Spitzer was involved in a prostitution ring.

But why? Why should I have been shocked? Has any politician ever failed to let the people down?

I suppose not. I won't say that I trusted, Spitzer, exactly. Rather, I saw him as an unimaginative -- but smart and deeply ambitious -- pol who took his Mr. Clean act seriously. Maintaining his squeaky-clean image was going to propel him, sooner or later, to the White House.

Spitzer just didn't seem to embody the recklessness of a Bill Clinton or the arrogance of a Larry Craig. He seemed to have the minimal self-awareness to obey what ought to be the #1 rule for anyone who holds public office: DON'T DO ANYTHING THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE ON THE FRONT PAGE OF TOMORROW MORNING'S NEW YORK TIMES.

Why politicians can't seem to follow this very basic rule is beyond me. They are like bank robbers who escape the scene of a crime by driving 90 miles an hour in a car with a broken taillight.

It is often said that murderers tend to make their biggest mistakes immediately after the crime. The Coen brothers' first movie, Blood Simple, was about that very phenomenon. It would seem that Spitzer got sex simple -- he let his dick talk him into some very stupid behavior. A lot of guys have been there, and there will be some sympathy out there for him. Just as there will be sympathy for the guy over the fact that this was a prostitution case.

Believe me, over the years I have come to believe that prostitution is about the dumbest "crime" that society can punish. About ten years ago I served on a jury in a prostitution case. The defendant was a truck driver who'd received a call on his CB radio: a woman was looking for men who were looking for "commercial company". The guy got on the radio, pulled into the truck stop that she specified, then went over to her car and talked to her. After they had settled on a price (he offered this blonde knockout $20 for "a fuck" and she accepted, which would have made him suspicious if he'd had a brain in his head) he walked back to his truck to wait for her and was arrested.

The woman, of course, was an undercover cop. The trucker was claiming entrapment.

The jury voted to convict. And because I was the jury foreman, I read that verdict to the courtroom.

At the time, I felt it was a close call but a clear one. That entrapment law was vaguely written; the woman had made the radio call for anyone passing by, not just for him. He had gone out of his way to meet her.

But in the days and weeks that followed I began to think about all the time and resources the police and the courts had expended on this. Why? So what? A lonely trucker pays a woman for a blow-job: who cares?

Well, Eliot Spitzer cared. When he was Attorney General he cared a great deal. He assiduously went after prostitution rings with same zeal he used for any white-collar crime.

That's why I can't defend the guy. Even if prostitution isn't a crime -- or shouldn't be -- hypocrisy is a crime. Or should be.

Sunday, March 02, 2008
Charlotte Allen's Catch-22
Charlotte Allen writes in the Washington Post that women are stupid. No, I'm not exaggerating for dramatic effect. She calls women "the dumber sex": flighty, swooning and silly. Allen concedes that men do stupid things too, sometimes -- like go on shooting rampages -- at a rate higher than women. But look, women watch Gray's Anatomy! How smart could they be? Plus, there are scientific studies!
Depressing as it is, several of the supposed misogynist myths about female inferiority have been proven true. Women really are worse drivers than men, for example. A study published in 1998 by the Johns Hopkins schools of medicine and public health revealed that women clocked 5.7 auto accidents per million miles driven, in contrast to men's 5.1, even though men drive about 74 percent more miles a year than women. The only good news was that women tended to take fewer driving risks than men, so their crashes were only a third as likely to be fatal. Those statistics were reinforced by a study released by the University of London in January showing that women and gay men perform more poorly than heterosexual men at tasks involving navigation and spatial awareness, both crucial to good driving. The theory that women are the dumber sex -- or at least the sex that gets into more car accidents -- is amply supported by neurological and standardized-testing evidence. Men's and women's brains not only look different, but men's brains are bigger than women's (even adjusting for men's generally bigger body size).

Actually, that doesn't prove anything. Whales have larger brains than both, even adjusting for the whale's bigger body size.

But I wouldn't expect Charlotte to know that -- after all, she's only a woman. This, of course, is Ms. Allen's Catch-22 -- if she is so stupid, why the hell should I take her views seriously?

To add insult to injury, National Review editor Kathryn Jean Lopez -- allegedly a woman -- approvingly links to the article, saying:

Charlotte Allen eviscerates women. I love it.

Kathryn provides no reason why eviscerating women should be an enjoyable pastime for her to witness, aside that it's comforting to the right-wing punditocracy. Which begs the question: if Lopez believes that she is genetically inferior to the men she works with, what business does she have editing the National Review? Shouldn't she step aside and let one of her genetic superiors -- Michael Ledeen, say, or Jonah Goldberg -- do what is clearly job better suited to a man? Ideally, she should go home and keep her husband happy, though I will concede that she might still be useful around the office, fetching coffee for the boys or taking care of the filing.

I guess in Kathryn's case, it's not precisely a Catch-22, more like Doublethink -- a coinage from another 20th century novel, written, as Charlotte and Kathryn would have noted approvingly, by a man.

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