A letter to the Times
My email is acting wonky, but when it comes back I’ll be sending a letter to the New York Times. It’s a response to a real shark-jumper of a David Brooks column. Sez Brooks:

Back in December 2001, when bin Laden was apparently hiding in Tora Bora, Kerry supported the strategy of using Afghans to hunt him down. He told Larry King that our strategy “is having its impact, and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively, and we should continue to do it that way.”

But then the political wind shifted, and Kerry recalculated.

This is a direct misrepresentation – the CNN transcript makes that clear.

KING: Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania — hello.

CALLER: Hello. Yes, I would like to ask the panel why they don’t use napalm or flamethrowers on those tunnels and caves up there in Afghanistan?

KING: Senator Kerry?

CALLER: My golly, I think they could smoke him out.

KING: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Well, I think it depends on where you are tactically. They may well be doing that at some point in time. But for the moment, what we are doing, I think, is having its impact and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively and we should continue to do it that way.

KING: Congressman Cunningham, what do you think of that question?

CUNNINGHAM: I think Senator Kerry is right on the mark. To use a flamethrower, you’ve got to get right into the area close in. And plus, it doesn’t penetrate that deep in those tunnels. You’ve got to go in there after him. So I think you have to neutralize that threat. And then you can get him out in a lot of different, various ways including what the gentleman spoke about.

Here’s me:

It’s telling that David Brooks must misrepresent John Kerry’s public statements in order to make his point. Mr. Brooks cites an old interview with Mr. Kerry to claim the senator originally supported the strategy of using Afghans to hunt Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora in order to “protect our troops.” But Mr. Kerry’s remark was a response to the idea of using “napalm or flamethrowers on those tunnels and caves” – specifically whether that kind of weaponry would blow back and injure soldiers. Using Mr. Brooks’ editing technique, one could write that the columnist believes “the Osama bin Laden we saw last night was not a problem.”

But this would be dishonest.



In the not too distant future
Weird, weird commercial on Comedy Central just now. It’s an ad for the new DVD collection of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episodes, which is okay. But the ad ends by showing the DVD floating in space as the announcer says, “and don’t forget to vote on November 2!”


Mr. and Mrs. Phil Persing
On Friday night I was standing on the altar of Bethel Baptist church and Brian Astifan, the brother of bride-to-be Beckie Astifan, sidled up to complete the line of groomsmen. And he asked me, “Is Phil the first one of you guys to get married?”

Yeah, Phil is. Phil is 13 months younger than me, but because I started school a little bit late we met in 2nd grade and have pretty much been friends since. In 7th grade he introduced me to his cousin Dean, and the next year he took me to church where I met Chris Chandler, Jason Estock, CJ Stunkard, and Aaron Alicea. My first memories of all these guys center around trying to push each other off a rug and playing that 311 album with “Down” on it. So the idea of any of us getting married is loopy. But it happened on Saturday, and we all watched Phil and his wife light the unity candle then kiss each other at least 10,000 times.

In tribute to my sorta boss Al Neuharth, some thoughts:
– Christians need better weddings. The Persings’ reception had no booze, we weren’t allowed to request music with curse words, and instead of smashing cake in each other faces the spouses took the time to cut itty bitty pieces and delicately feed them to each other. I mean, hell. When I signed up for my sophomore year dorm room, my new roommate and I smashed cake in each others’ faces. It’s what you do.
– Some people like to settle down fast. I cannot imagine getting married before I have three or four more jobs in journalism and turn 32. Obviously, the attitude is not universal.
– A corrollary to the first point: All weddings should feature dancing. Dean is getting married in March, and he won’t have dancing.
– I’m pretty sure you can get away with kissing unfamiliar people at weddings. I didn’t do it, but it felt like I could have.


The Dowding of America
Julian Sanchez is so right.

Anyway, I wonder if we aren’t partly to blame for this whole stupid trend of context-free “gotcha-quote” pulling. It has a definite bloggy feel to it, and I can’t recall a previous election where the tactic of abusing people’s old (actually unremarkable in context) statements was so common.

Well, that itself is kind of out-of-contexty, so feel free to read his whole post. But the gist is, Maureen Dowd wrote a column in 2003 quoting George Bush as saying terrorists “are not a problem anymore,” when he was clearly saying, in a Gary Cooper pique, that the terrorists we’ve KILLED are not a problem any more. And unfortunately, that kind of selective quoting has become the theme of this entire goddamn campaign. It’s gotten so bad that Tom Tomorrow did a cartoon on it and I laughed.


Hugh Hewitt, genius
Hugh, yesterday.

Which story is going to have a greater impact on the presidential race? There is clear Bush momentum that is going to accelerate as the non-meeting with the Security Council story gets legs and reminds voters of Kerry’s magic hat, his never falling down on the ski slopes, and his gun running to the anti-communists of Cambodia.

And who’s covered the Kerry Security Council “story” – the revelation that he might have only met with SOME members of the UN Security Council? Here ya go. The Washington Times, The New York Post, Rush Limbaugh, CNS News, and TownHall. But it did inspire a Fark thread!


Fuck yeah!
On reflection, one of the coolest outcomes of this weekend was the relative box office failure of “Team America: World Police.” Would it have been sweet if the R-rated puppet action movie was the #1 film in America? Sure. But I’m imagining how Trey Parker and Matt Stone are bitching and whining about how “Shark Tale” owned their asses, and that’s even better.

Oh yeah, the movie is more or less a masterpiece. Few critics have really nailed why. Obviously, it’s the best parody of the Jerry Bruckheimer formula movie you’ll ever see. You’ve got the hero with a terrible secret, the guy on the team who hates him because of a terrible secret, the hero losing his nerve in a dive bar … it’s scary how well Parker and Stone mimicked that. And everyone is doing a good job underscoring how funny the dick and vomit jokes are. And the songs.

But as a socio-political treatise, the movie is just brilliant. Early on, Gary is swept into the organization by Spotswood, the Team America honcho. He gives him the usual Bruckheimer-y pep talk, and it’s Weekly Standard boilerplate. “There are people who want to kill you because you represent everything they hate: Freedom. These people are called terrorists.” The Team America theme song unapologetically announces the right of Americans to invade everything: “Freedom is the only way!” Even before the “dicks fuck assholes” theme crops up, it’s obvious that Parker and Stone think America’s current foreign policy is inflammatory and stupid. It should be obvious that the celebrities, who critics feel got rough treatment, are not judged half as harshly. Watching them blow up and calling Michael Moore “a giant socialist weasel” are another side of the argument – people who automatically assume America and corporations are evil are fuckwits.


Jon Stewart on Crossfire
This is amazing. Tucker Carlson is attempting to bring him down, and Stewart says “you have a responsibility to the public discourse and you’re failing it miserably.”

UPDATE: I was watching the show before I left the house, and now I’m glued. Tucker Carlson assumed he had an opportunity to take on and “expose” Jon Stewart as a phony comedian and Kerry lover. Stewart eviscerated him. “How old are you? You’re 35? And you wear a bow tie. Now I know you’re smart, because those are not easy to tie.”

UPDATE II: Here’s a transcript and video. TV history, folks.