The song remains the same

Seven or eight years ago, when my family had a vacation home in Lewes, DE, a local record store held a clearence sale on cassette tapes. Most of the tapes were original remasters of Warner artists – The Cars, Black Sabbath, &c. Back then my entire music collection of 200-odd albums was on cassette tape. I’d owned Led Zeppelin’s fourth album for a little while, and liked it without being obsessed. But at this clearence, I saw every other Zep album available for $4.77. So I picked up the debut album, Led Zeppelin. The cassette format screwed up its sequencing, and it began with the song that sounded least the rest of their career, “Communication Breakdown.” Boom. Hooked. Bought the rest of the albums, except Coda, in less than a week.

Because I’d heard 8 out of 9 of the band’s records years ago, I held off on buying them on CD. Then in 2000, my friend Nerd left out his copy of this box set – The Complete Studio Recordings. Christ, it was beautiful. The band’s ouvre is splayed over 10 CDs – the double album Physical Graffitti gets two of them. The discs are packaged two-by-two in hardcover books with paper slipcases and glossy liner notes that replicate all the original album art. The kooky cloud-castle of Led Zeppelin II looks that much stranger when you treat it like priceless art. Accompanying these discs was a hardbound book of worshipful, undated band photos and an essay by Cameron Crowe.

Obviously, I couldn’t settle and buy normal Led Zeppelin CDs when I knew this monument existed. Trouble was, it retailed at $110. Even when I included the four otherwise-unavailable tracks included in this box and averaged the disc price to $11 each, I couldn’t justify buying it. I put the box on my Amazon.com list for two years, hoping some Zshopper would flog it, but to no damn avail.

Then last week I stopped in a Falls Church used CD/DVD store to pick up an unnamed DVD set for my parents. And there in the CD section, for $60, was the Led Zeppelin box. And now it is mine.


There are days and there are days
If you were to assemble the worst, most inconvenient weather, and tidal waves were disqualifed, you would do what the sky did today – steady rain, followed by a temperature drop that froze that rain, followed by snow that stuck to said frozen rain. This makes the ground not just slippery, but hard to see. And it mucks up cars something fierce.

Me and Mark Greer went out for 10 minutes in this weather, and on the way home, on one of Bailey’s Crossroads 10 gazillion hills, a car had stalled. This became apparent about 2 seconds before I was set to collide with the car. I saw a car right next to me in the next lane, so I nixed swerving, slammed on all brakes, and slowwwwly skidded into this car downhill. My bumper took the hit; the car was fine. But then I got home and noticed that my rear parking lights were stuck on. Were they jostled when I slammed the brakes then bumped a car? Maybe.

I was ready to go to sleep hoping my battery would survive (it will – I had left the headlights on overnight before and it was a-ok), and then – some shitcock seems to have caused a horrendous accident one block away that’s inspired a loud, loud siren to go off.

So, that could be better.


Ha ha
Oh, Charles Johnson. You kill me. Back in February ’03 you rightfully mocked a protestor holding a sign proclaiming “Peace in Our Time.”

Neither the protester holding this sign nor the Reuters copy editor who captioned the photo have any idea of the historical significance of its message, or what it says about the so-called “anti-war movement.”

Those dummies! Anyway, yesterday Charles gives a post this title.

Hearts and Minds

Hearts and fucking Minds! Where have we heard that before?

Hearts and Minds refers to … the campaign by the United States military in Vietnam to do as President Lyndon Baines Johnson had urged them, when he said that, “The ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds of the people who actually live out there.” The military then set out to “win the hearts and minds of the people” beginning in the early 1970s.

Over the years, “Hearts and Minds” has become a shorthand reference for a disasterous and misguided attempt to use a military to make a subjugated population like its conquerors, and the 1974 film has become an accepted masterpiece of political documentary film.

That’s right. It’s been used very recently.

The Pentagon has admitted that the war on terror and the invasion and occupation of Iraq have increased support for al-Qaeda, made ordinary Muslims hate the US and caused a global backlash against America because of the “self-serving hypocrisy” of George W Bush’s administration over the Middle East.
The mea culpa is contained in a shockingly frank “strategic communications” report, written this autumn by the Defence Science Board for Pentagon supremo Donald Rumsfeld.

On “the war of ideas or the struggle for hearts and minds,” the report says, “American efforts have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended.”

I repeat: Ha, ha.


Man o’ the Year
I’m fairly certain Time magazine will run with George W. Bush as “person of the year.” This will be an unusual choice. Not in the sense that he doesn’t deserve it – Bush was certainly one of the biggest newsmakers of the year – but in that Time rarely gives presidents man of the year for both of their election wins. By rarely, I mean never. Clinton got it for 1992 and 1998 (with Ken Starr), but not 1996. Bush Sr. only got it for 1990. Reagan got it for 1980 and 1983 (with Yuri Andropov). Nixon got it for 1971 and 1972.

Here’s my point – the 1972 cover, Nixon and Kissinger, should be the model for this year. It should be Bush and … someone else. In 2000, Bush’s big news coup was winning the presidency. In 2004, he was steering the ship in a culture war, two actual wars, and oh, an election. The culture war could be represented by Karl Rove, who spun it into tight election victories in several states. The actual wars could be represented by Donald Rumsfeld, obviously the most polarizing and important Secretary of Defense since McNamara, if not Stimson. In 1972, Time gave credit to Nixon for the election victory and Kissinger for the foreign policy, and made one story out of it. Same should be done this year for People of the Year: Bush, Rove, and Rumsfeld.


Move, bitch, get out tha way
AEI fellow Tom Donnelly, who was nice enough to contribute to a USA Today page in tomorrow’s edition, has a level-headed critique of Don “you can still get blown up” Rumsfeld in the Standard.

We have a Defense secretary more concerned about the Army and the force he’d like to have–the high-speed-low-drag transformed force of the future–than the force with which he actually has to fight today’s wars. And, in fact, Rumsfeld and his lieutenants would also simply like to fight the wars they’d like to have rather than the war as it is. How else to explain the Pentagon’s conduct of operations in Iraq? The administration is still patting itself on the back for the initial invasion; this week’s ceremony honoring retired General Tommy Franks, President Bush acted as though the problems of the post-invasion period didn’t exist: the invasion was “the fastest, longest armored advance in the history of American warfare” with “a force half the size of the force that won the Gulf War” and “defeated Saddam Hussein’s regime and reached Baghdad in less than a month.”

But the reality in Iraq today is Tommy Wilson’s war, not Tommy Franks’s war.

Damn straight. I choked on my soda when I heard Bush say that about Franks. Bragging that we went into Iraq with a small force?

Start remodeling the office for Rumsfeld’s most apt replacement.


Live by the sword
Holy hell. If this scandal isn’t karmic payback for basing an entire political campaign on 9/11, I dunno what is.

An apartment in Battery Park City that former Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik secured for his personal use after Sept. 11 was originally donated for the use of weary police and rescue workers who were helping at ground zero, according to a real estate executive who has been briefed about the apartment.

After the cleanup had settled into a routine that fall, the executive said, Mr. Kerik, who was still police commissioner, asked to rent the two-bedroom apartment for his own use. During his use of the apartment, Mr. Kerik and Judith Regan engaged in an extramarital affair there, according to someone who spoke to Mr. Kerik about the relationship.

After taking the apartment, Mr. Kerik, who is married with two children and lived at the time in Riverdale, the Bronx, began to meet there with Ms. Regan, said the person who spoke to Mr. Kerik about the matter.

That person said that one bedroom faced the pit of ground zero, and that Ms. Regan visited it while Mr. Kerik was police commissioner, meaning between Sept. 11 and Dec. 31, 2001.

Even Drudge is leading with this.

UPDATE: Some words of wisdom from GW Bush.

As police commissioner on September the 11th, 2001, Bernie Kerik arrived at the World Trade Center minutes after the first plane hit. He was there when the Twin Towers collapsed. He knew the faces of the rescuers who rushed toward danger.

And he knew where they kept their keys!

When’s the next Medal of Freedom ceremony, anyway?


Beyond parody
So I’m talking to John Tabin, and I try to make fun of Andrew Sullivan. I write two parodies of his typical posts.

Finally, the alliance between anti-globo radicals and Islamic murderers comes into high relief.

The Defense Secretary may be aiding the Islamofascists. Time for him to go.

But then John points out that Sullivan has updated his site for Tuesday. Here are his first two posts.

THE ENEMY’S PROPAGANDA: The striking thing about this piece of video propaganda for the insurgency in Iraq is how Western-left it appears. From the British accent narrating the talking points to the weird challenge to “use the euro!”, it’s an interesting mesh of the anti-globalist, anti-American ideology in Europe and the murderous, Jihadist creed. The merger of the anti-globalist left and the anti-Semitic Jihadist right was always possible. Maybe this tape is evidence of its progress.

MCCAIN AND RUMMY: He’s right, of course. The sheer cumulation of incompetence, arrogance and denial make our current defense secretary a serious and continuing liability in the war on terror. The trouble is that Rumsfeld’s critical errors – misrreading pre-war intelligence, needlessly alienating allies, under-manning the occupation, the loosening of ethical restraints that led to Abu Ghraib, leaving troops in the theater without adequate armor, and on and on – are inextricable from the president’s own policy decisions. So Rummy stays.

Holy CRAP!

Unrelated: Someone as Rather-obsessed as Sullivan should probably think twice before linking to a video like that “propaganda tape.” It looks pretty damn fraudulent.