Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
December 17, 2008 - December 10, 2008

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


The Bin Laden Mystery

OBL REVISITED. Sometimes the other shoe doesn't drop before something else does. Case in point: a second hanging question about Osama bin Laden that plumped softly to the floor between the lines of this story in Monday's Washington Times:

Seemingly untroubled by the worldwide search for Osama bin Laden and his allies, al Qaeda maintains a state-of-the-art multimedia production facility [as-Sahab] that is pumping out increasingly sophisticated audiotapes and videotapes at a rate of two or three a week....

Ben Venzke, chief executive officer of IntelCenter, said the amount of computing power required for the fast turnaround is considerable, and that the group appears to be using the latest widely available off-the-shelf hardware and software.

"They are right on the cutting edge of the adoption of new technologies," he said. "They grab hold of the new stuff as soon as it becomes available and start using it."

He said the latest bin Laden video was made available in five different versions, ranging from high-definition to a special format called 3GP that can be downloaded to mobile devices....

Al qaida has swift, efficient, "cutting edge" video production facilities? Interesting. Then why was the most recent bin Laden video so, uh, cheesy? (see it all here.) I don't mean just cheesy looking, but fundamentally cheesy in terms of its being immediately convincing that bin Laden had delivered a live video performance. That's the first shoe that dropped a couple weeks ago. People who are conversant with cutting edge video production were instantly suspicious. For example, Neal Krawetz of Hactor Factor, an expert on digital image forensics, studied the video in detail and reported in detail: (emphases added)

At roughly a minute and a half into the video there is a splice; bin Laden shifts from looking at the camera to looking down in less than 1/25th of a second. At 13:13 there is a second, less obvious splice. In all, Krawetz says there are at least six splices in the video. Of these, there are only two live bin Laden segments, the rest of the video composed of still images. The first live section opens the video and ends at 1:56. The second section begins at 12:29 and continues until 14:01. The two live sections appear to be from different recordings "because the desk is closer to the camera in the second section."

Then there are the audio edits. Krawetz says "the new audio has no accompanying 'live' video and consists of multiple audio recordings." References to current events are made only during the still frame sections and after splices within the audio track. And there are so many splices that I cannot help but wonder if someone spliced words and phrases together. I also cannot rule out a vocal imitator during the frozen-frame audio. The only way to prove that the audio is really bin Laden is to see him talking in the video," Krawetz says.

The obvious rebuttal to Krawetz's implications is that clumsy edits and awkwardly interpolated freeze frames might be proof of nothing but crude technology. One imagines the hand-held camera, the outdated editing console gradually succumbing to mould... and, well, that's the best they could do under trying circumstances. But apparently that's not right. They have all the slick techno stuff a body could want.

Which brings us back to the first hanging question: Why were the producers unable to provide incontrovertible proof that bin Laden was very much alive on the date the video was produced? If you're going to show videotape of bin Laden talking in the first place, surely the most elementary goal of the whole production would be to show him speaking the current, up-to-the-minute content live. Yet they do it only in freeze-frame. Is that a remarkable coincidence or a smoking gun?

Yet, we have been assured by the usual vaguely described "intelligence sources" that after studying the video, the experts have concluded bin Laden is alive.

Initially, I reconciled the discrepancy between Krawertz's analysis and the affirmations of U.S. intelligence sources by assuming that voiceprint technology probably proved what mere video analysis could not: that the voice on the tape was definitely bin Laden's. Call it the CSI effect. We've been conditioned to accept that computer-based voice recognition technology can make precise identifications. We've seen it done by Grissom and his acolytes.

On the other hand, we've also seen all the CSI shows blow up low-resolution 7-Eleven surveillance photos to the point where it's possible the read the gate number on the airline ticket poking out of the perp's pocket. Which is nonsense.

Just how good is voice recognition technology? I'm obviously an amateur and can't say for sure, but here's an interesting discourse on the state of the technology and its acceptance in courts of law (emphases added):

In 1979, an influential report from the National Research Council slowed the acceptance of voiceprint specialists as experts. The report determined that voiceprint analysis, while accurate under ideal laboratory conditions, was not reliable enough for courts to depend o­n the technology when a recording was made under "real-world" conditions, where voice signals are degraded by problems like poor recording quality, background noise, and telephone transmission.

Occasional battles over voiceprints have continued to surface during the past 20 years, but most law enforcement agencies have stopped trying to get them into court. In the 1990s, the Supreme Court tightened the standards for admitting scientific evidence in federal court, further reducing the motivation to use the technology. The voiceprint's demise as a valuable forensic tool has resulted in a broader decline in the interest in voice identification techniques generally. To many judges and lawyers involved in the criminal justice system, including leading experts o­n scientific evidence, voice identification has been equated with voiceprints and voiceprints are too unreliable.

I also found an online document designed to help attorneys and technicians obtain the maximum possible leverage from a technology that is far less accepted than fingerprints:

"Now law enforcement primarily uses the aural spectrographic method, which means we listen to the tape first and then do the spectrograph.  The American College of Forensic Examiners, which now controls who gets certified, has taken the position that the only way to do this is the aural spectrographic method.  You have to actually listen to the tape, not just look at the graph."

Certain precautions are observed during trials that provide clear context for the evidence and that work to ensure that all such testimony is properly understood.  Juries are allowed to see the voiceprint and hear the tape recordings.  The other side scrutinizes the expert's qualifications and the machine's quality.  In the end, the jury is generally instructed to assign whatever weight they want to the evidence.  That means that a lot will depend on the experience and demeanor of the voiceprint expert.  To be convincing he or she needs proper training.

The author of the article clearly believes that voiceprints have value and can be persuasive, but why the need for an exhaustive "how to" section on submitting and presenting voiceprint evidence (which is the subject of the rest of the article)? Because voices, and therefore voiceprints, are dynamic, variable, and therefore subject, always, to interpretation.

The intelligence sources which blandly inform us that the latest bin Laden video does prove him alive are guessing. How many sons does bin Laden have who might be able to speak for him on an audio recording?

Now we have two more interesting questions. Since there must be doubt to some degree about whether the September 2007 bin Laden video is an authentic presentation of bin Laden himself, why has so little doubt been expressed by official sources? Who is helped by confusion on this vital point?

It doesn't seem to be al qaida that benefits. The same Washington Times piece that lauded al qaida's technical expertise also provides a dismal report card on al qaida's propaganda effectiveness in the muslim communities where it is recruiting terrorists:

Ironically, however, there is evidence that Muslim audiences are tuning out the al Qaeda propaganda even as the quality and frequency of the offerings increase...

Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, noted in an opinion article this month that support for al Qaeda has tumbled in Pakistan to just 34 percent, compared with more than 75 percent five years ago.

Recent polling has shown a similar trend in Iraq and Afghanistan, where more than 90 percent of respondents reported unfavorable views of al Qaeda and of bin Laden himself, Mrs. Hughes wrote.

Violence of the sort used by al Qaeda is considered a violation of the principles of Islam by 88 percent in Egypt, 65 percent in Indonesia and 66 percent in Morocco, according to polling by, Mrs. Hughes said.

Did you get that the source for this evidence is Karen Hughes of the Bush administration? Are you sure? Good. I would hate to mislead you. But despite the article's assurances elsewhere that al qaida videos are aimed at a primarily western audience, thus accounting for their ineffectiveness in the muslim world, does it really make sense that al qaida videos are not also conceived of as recruiting tools in the western countries where they want volunteers to organize their own autonomous terrorist cells? And when you're recruiting for an organization that was conceived and brought to prominence through the force of a single charismatic leader, wouldn't you do everything in your power to refute, decisively, rumors that that charismatic leader was dead?

Of course you would. So why didn't they? If he really is alive, they're fools not to demonstrate this fact to the whole world.

And more importantly, what contingent of the intelligence community or the Washington establishment, including the Bush administration, finds it preferable to perpetuate a general certainty that bin Laden is alive when it's entirely possible that he's dead as a doornail? Here's a final pertinent quote from the Washington Times piece:

U.S. officials are reluctant to talk in detail about as-Sahab, perhaps because a careful monitoring of its operations could offer the best chance of finding bin Laden.

Again, the implied certainty that he's alive. Why? It can't be just that past rumors of bin Laden's death have been proven to be untrue and they're afraid of still another PR hit. Mostly, the rumors haven't been proven untrue. Not in public anyway. But even if this is their fear, it makes no sense to declare that he is definitely alive based on the evidence of an ambiguous videotape when it would be equally free of consequence to say, "We just don't know."

There's the mystery. The lamebrain Democrat default position in the War on Terror is that we should abandon every overseas activity but hunting down bin Laden. Keeping bin Laden more alive than dead therefore doesn't seem to help the administration any. Does it serve the anti-Bush crowd at the CIA? Does it serve the military? Does it serve anyone?

Or is there some much bigger game that's being played here? You tell me. My only conclusion is, that's why this is a mystery.

You have to love us.


CONSOLATION. Every movement goes through stages. First, there is the raw creativity of rebellion. Then there's a period in which key ideas are refined and consolidated to establish a vocabulary and grammar for what follows. Next, a mature phase in which masterpieces employ the settled conventions to reach extraordinary heights of accomplishment. This is usually succeeded by a rococo phase in which style becomes more important than substance. Finally, there is a period of disintegration, in which all the conventions are turned on their heads and irrational destruction of the status quo leads to a new and far different incarnation of rejuvenated creativity.

The American civil rights movement is, and has been for a while now, in the fifth stage. Resistance to Jim Crow laws and spontaneous challenges to segregation in the south were the beginning. The rise of leaders like Martin Luther King who were able to convey the trauma experienced by black Americans to white Americans was the second stage. Landmark legislation by federal and state governments, broadly accepted by the American people in the wake of King's assassination, were the height of the movement. Then came the rococo era: civil rights bureaucracies led by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, affirmative action that overturned the quintessential value of the King era in favor of race privilege and political correctness. The suffocating nature of this extremity led directly to disintegration -- the blatantly self-destructive and reactionary expression of a slave value system that prided itself on its violence, its anti-intellectualism, and a physical, bauble-oriented, instant-gratification mentality so degenerate that even its most hateful opponents couldn't have envisioned a better argument for racial prejudice.

My hope is that gangster rap and all the permutations of it that have invaded the general culture are merely the precursor of a new generation of African-Americans who will mount a revolt of their own. I've spent enough time in the Caribbean to know that anti-intellectualism is not a black thing; it's a uniquely black-American thing, perhaps the worst single affectation any culture has exhibited in recorded human history. But it's a real thing. And a tragedy. The smartest guy I knew at Harvard -- a black graduate of Middlesex School -- was also the loneliest; he tried to teach me chess because he thought I could learn and be his friend. I couldn't get the chess (never have), and over the years I have gradually come to understand the opportunity I lost thereby. The smartest and ablest guy I knew at the Cornell Graduate Business School was nonplussed by the prejudicial reactions he got from Africans, not from the Americans who readily accepted his boldness, experience, charm, and judgment. I'm pretty sure he's rich by now, which I most assuredly am not.

All of this is context for what I'm sure will be decried as hate speech. In the space of the past few years, black people in America have done more to perpetuate the culture of racism in this country than at any other time in my life. Black Americans have failed utterly to celebrate the careers of Colin Powell and Condi Rice. They have allowed Democrats who promise everything and deliver nothing but more dependency to brand them with racist epithets and dismiss their achievements. They have stood still while Democrats use the crudest of minstrel imagery to sabotage the senatorial campaign of Michael Steele in Maryland. They do not stand up for their own military heroes in the Marines and the U.S. Army, who died for them as well as the rest of us, which is the very definition of principle and courage. They did not rise to defend the Duke lacrosse players -- despite the clear parallels with cases in their own experience that were decided based on race first, facts second. They continue to elect and reelect disgraced, corrupt idiots like William Jefferson and Ray Nagin, regardless of their competence or integrity. They have consented in the minstrel parody being enacted in Louisiana around the Jena 6. They reflexively defend a rap culture that Louis Armstrong, one of the great artists of human history, would have damned to hell. And they disgrace themselves in the most personal, moral sense by defending Michael Vick -- and even dogfighting -- as if white people were offended because of their racial prejudice rather than their love of defenseless creatures almost all of them have known.

So I'll say what no one else will. Not EVERYTHING is about race. Some things are about humanity. Other things are about character, aspiration, responsibility, and morality. Equality occurs when morality is no longer situational -- based on which of them is accusing which of us of something we won't concede to be a crime, no matter how unspeakable, because they have no right to hold us accountable. We really do have to agree that some things are beyond the pale, beyond explaining away in terms of demographics and past injustice.

It's not enough to have been injured in the past. That doesn't excuse everything that happens now. I have been privileged to know black people who have a sense of morality that would stand the test of any time. Most of them are dead now. I hate to think what their response would be to so-called men who wear their pants so far below their genitals they couldn't run -- even if they wanted to -- to save another person's life. They'd be embarrassed to hear of it. And about the dead dogs of Michael Vick. Not to mention defending thugs as if they were -- shudder -- men.

With any luck, there will be a new phase in which African-American men discover they want to be men. It's called the American Dream. At the moment I'm more wistful than hopeful about that.

Still, LaShawn says she enjoys the discussion. I hope she doesn't mind an interloper.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Advance Text of Bollinger's
Questions for Ahdumjihad

Why is this man smiling? Read on.

SPECIAL REPORT. Unnamed sources inside the Columbia administration have leaked the list of questions President Lee Bollinger will be asking the Iranian President during his controversial visit to the university this afternoon. The leak may be a deliberate ploy to blunt some of the severe criticism Bollinger has been receiving in the media. It's clear the questions are frank, direct, and unambiguous. See for yourselves if you think they will help restore Columbia's somewhat battered reputation.

Mr. President, you may have heard that there's been quite a kerfuffle about your visit here today, and the name Hitler keeps coming up in all the press coverage. Speaking as president of this great university, I can assure you we'd all be grateful if you could explain to us why and how George W. Bush came to be so much like Hitler that educated persons like ourselves can no longer tell the difference between them.

Moving on, Mr. President, there are embarrassingly large numbers of Jews in the Columbia student body and alumni ranks. Could you please explain to them how sick and tired the rest of us are of hearing them whine about the so-called holocaust in Europe 50 or 80 years ago or whenever it supposedly happened?

As you may know, Mr. President, Columbia University also has a considerable faculty and student population that specializes in the natural sciences. I'm sure they'd welcome it if you could summarize recent Iranian biological research -- which has, of course, been suppressed here in the Great Satan -- demonstrating the direct genetic link that exists between Jews and pigs.

Speaking of pigs, could you explain to us the redevelopment plans you have for Israel after it has been wiped off the map? I mean, how do you clean, disinfect, and sterilize an area as large as a whole country so that it doesn't, you know, reek permanently of smoked fish and pickels and the baby blood they use in all their filthy rituals? Would a technology that can accomplish such a cleanup have any application in our great global war against climate change?

On a more humanistic note, Mr. President, could you tell us all what it feels like -- to you personally -- when you read in the news that one of your state-of-the-art Iranian IEDs has killed and/or dismembered a bunch of U.S. imperialist occupiers of Iraq? The capitalist running dog media in this country usually censor the really juicy details, so maybe you could also give us some of the more gratifying inside specifics that only a great world leader like yourself has access to -- the blood and guts and gore and screaming and dying and all that....

Finally, Mr. President, I'm sure you know how committed we all are here to ending the century of oppression which has been perpetrated by the United States on the rest of the world. Please tell us what we can do -- each and every one of us -- to support you in your efforts to reduce this country to rubble in the shortest possible time.

Oh, and one more thing. Tell Columbia's student and alumni Jews what they can do...

Thank you, Mr. President. I know my questions have been challenging and sometimes unpleasant, but please believe me when I tell you how much we all admire you and hope for your success in every endeavor.

  Our sources tell us President Bollinger is also open to other questions, if anyone cares to submit them.


McNabb and Westbrook: Dressed to kill but joined at the hip.

BEDROCK. The world of NFL football was quite the comedy yesterday. Perhaps most amazingly, the day's events provided Keith Olbermann with an opportunity to be right about something. He declared -- in the pity assignment he's been given on NBC's Sunday Night Football broadcast -- that "the Worst Person in the NFL" this week is the man or woman who picked out yesterday's blue and yellow nightmare of a retro uniform for the Philadelphia Eagles. What can we say? He was absolutely correct, which ended a streak of 0-for-8 years or so. That's more than you can say about all the experts and pundits who opined about the Eagles and their fans before, during, and after their game with the Detroit Lions.

The wizards of Fox's weekly pre-game circus -- Terry, Howie, Jimmy, and, uh, Frank -- all picked Detroit to win the game, and Terry Bradshaw also threw in a lecture to Donovan McNabb advising him to shut up and play football or get ready to be benched.

Then came the blowout: 42 Eagle points in the first half, 56 in the game, 500+ yards of offense, 4 touchdown passes, zero interceptions, and 8 sacks by the Eagle defense.

Of course, this didn't much change the views of the experts and pundits. Bradshaw not only refused to eat crow; he repeated his lecture to McNabb in the post game recap, conceding only that McNabb had bought himself another week.

In the NBC Sunday night game between the Cowboys and the Bears (excuse me, the Vaqueros and the Osos in honor of the NFL's "Let's Pander to Hispanics" month), Al Michaels made multiple snide references to McNabb's PR troubles of the past week. In fact, his final words before signing off were addressed to McNabb, inviting him to look at Chicago during the next seven days to see what criticism of a quarterback really looks like.

Of course, all the frowning on McNabb didn't stop any of the parties involved from also slamming Philadelphia fans, who are repeatedly singled out as the most obnoxious and unforgiving in the NFL. The sportscasters don't see any contradiction. McNabb is a spoiled whiner, and Eagles fans are nevertheless ungrateful louts who wouldn't know a good deal if it hit them in the face. It's kind of like being able to piss on your cake and throw it up, too.

The print press is equally quick to stomp on Philadelphia. My favorite of today's post-game reportage is Tom Monkovic of The New York Times, who transforms McNabb's ill-timed HBO interview into an indictment of  both the team and the whole city. He builds on the foundation of this funny quote from The Onion to suggest that it's actually accurate reporting:

PHILADELPHIA — Frustrated with the Eagles’ last-second 16-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday, and with quarterback Donovan McNabb’s failure to single-handedly score three touchdowns, prevent two of his teammates from muffing punts, or block any of Green Bay’s field goals, thousands of Philadelphia fans demanded that McNabb win an NFL championship for Philadelphia sometime within the next three weeks.

It's a great line. Thing is, Philadelphia fans would be the first to laugh and they'd laugh the hardest of anybody. Everybody else would somehow miss the joke because they're busy turning it into something else.

Consider the absurdities:

TV sportscasters were dissing Eagles fans for greeting McNabb with some boos among the cheers yesterday while they were broadcasting a Giants-Redskins game and a Bears-Cowboys game in which the home fans were booing their teams in the first and second quarters.

The fearless pundits and experts were criticizing McNabb for answering a direct question put to him a month ago, but they never mentioned the name of Michael Vick or the possible impacts his scandal might have had on black NFL players generally, let alone on black NFL quarterbacks. Not. One. Mention.

A New York Times reporter -- from New York, mind you -- had the nerve to look down on Philadelphia for being unfair to one if its star athletes???!!!

Phooey. None of these clowns understands anything about the City of Philadelphia and its relations with the Eagles and McNabb. They also don't understand much about McNabb, who is, despite any and all evidence to the contrary, beloved in Philadelphia. Why? Because he's such a perfect symbol of the city itself. I am so confident of this that I'll bet even McNabb's harshest critics would agree with me after reading this post.

Philadelphia is a complicated place. It's an incredibly long-running contradiction that feels deep pride in its history and a nagging inferiority complex (which it hates in itself) due to the proximity of New York and the superior self-promotional performance of Boston (and Virginia-cum-DC) in portraying themselves as the birthplace of the nation. If you did a nationwide survey, what percentage of Americans would correctly identify Philadelphia as the birthplace of the United States? 30 percent? 40 percent? 50 percent? It should be 100 percent. The poll results would never come close. It's a kind of Super Bowl they never get to win.

But in the truest sense of names, Philadelphia is the Eagles, and the Eagles are Philadelphia. At this deepest level, it's not even about winning and losing. It's a matter of being, pure and simple. The citizens, the fans, the team are truly one in this, with no sectarian divisions. The actuating principles are pride, the abiding need for respect, and family. But it's family in the broad, brawling, expansive sense, like an extended Italian family where there's bound to be lots of yelling and frightening outbursts and then hugs all around when the storm inevitably passes. The City of Philadelphia will never turn its back on this team, no matter what. The Eagles could go 0 and 16 for a decade, and the stands would still be full -- full of furious, booing, outraged cousins and aunts and grandfathers and sons and mothers demanding better.

I can already hear the fans of other cities bellowing in my ear about how their fidelity and their sense of identity with their teams are equally strong. I understand. But they're just wrong. The New England Patriots. Same thing. Not at all. I lived in Boston when they were the Boston Patriots and didn't even have a home. They played at Harvard Stadium, which was only full when a star like Namath was on hand. The Patriots have become a great football team, but they're just a football team. All the old AFL teams are johnny-come-latelys, and all the old NFL expansion teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, the same. Only a handful of the oldest NFL teams have any claim to stake in this regard, and in all but one case their claims are flawed.

The Cleveland Browns? They should be close, but the real Cleveland Browns are now playing in Baltimore under a fictitious coat of arms. The Dog-Pounders are cheering for a fraud. (It's also been said that Philadelphia has no respect for the Dog Pound because in Cleveland it's a section; in Philadelphia it's the whole stadium.) Baltimore may love the Browns-turned-Ravens, but the Colts of Johnny Unitas are playing in Indianapolis, who also love their Colts, the same way St. Louis loves their Rams, with the fierce denial of the jilted. Who's left? Detroit? Their loyalties are understandably more divided than Philadelphia's -- Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings -- not to mention a city that has itself devolved into exile neighborhoods, so that those who can afford tickets live in the suburban donut that grew up around the decaying cemetery of old Detroit. The Steelers? Another dead city repopulated by yuppies who cheer for a great football team which is exactly that and nothing more. The Redskins? The nation's most transient city. How many umpteenth generation fans at RFK every week? Count them on your fingers and toes.

Only two contenders, really. Chicago and New York. Of these, New York is easily disposed of. Sports in New York -- all sports in New York -- is more a function of media coverage than anything else. Too many words and images overwhelm fundamental truths. New Yorkers drive their teams away (Dodgers, baseball Giants), they can be manipulated into dividing their loyalties and creating brand new ones (Jets, Mets). They have more hunger for sensational stories about their teams than they have regard for the teams themselves (Yankees, football Giants). They are fundamentally inhospitable: the New York Giants play in New Jersey, and they are booed and derided even more than they think the Eagles are.

Which leaves only Da Bearz. I won't make a case against them. It's close. It really is. But here's my personal opinion. Philadelphia is older and more used to symbols that are alive in the heart. The Liberty Bell. Valley Forge. Independence Hall. William Penn's hat deterring for many generations the rise of skyscrapers. The past living on so concretely into the present. And so, I submit, also the Eagles.

How does Donovan McNabb fit into this picture as a symbol and adopted member of the family? He is the greatest black quarterback who has ever played in the NFL. You could look it up. He has demonstrated the ability to be a pure and deadly passer, to win championships, to overcome injuries and setbacks, to survive in the league as a superstar for a decade (or will, come next fall). He is therefore, like Philadelphia, a first, a milestone in his own right. And just like Philadelphia, he has always struggled to receive the respect that should be automatically due him. A first round draft choice, a good citizen with a lovely wife and parents and no personal scandals, a hardworking and usually charming but complex and sometimes contradictory figure, who is for these reasons just like the city he plays for. He has doubts, insecurities, and odd quirks, he frequently feels unloved and misunderstood, yet it is impossible to travel anywhere in the whole Delaware Valley without seeing the Number 5 McNabb jersey -- in green, white, black, pink, and now yellow and neon blue -- on toddlers, grandmas, dudes, chicks, accountants, and stevedores of every possible ethnic origin.

These are the same people who voted him the greatest Eagle quarterback in the team's 75-year history, a result announced Sunday at the same game he began to a smattering of boos mixed with a great many more cheers.

He has mixed feelings. The family understands that. The family also doesn't want him to mouth off to total strangers about it. We have enough problems getting any respect as it is. And I'm sure that's exactly how the McNabb family feel about any disagreements they have internally. But we'll get over it. Like all insecure people (and cities) Donovan thinks that if everyone doesn't love him all the time, maybe nobody loved him ever. Like the Italians of South Philly, he sounds off about such feelings when he has them. That doesn't mean he's going to quit being dutiful and hard-working and loyal himself. It just hurts, you know? Like when some shallow uppity city like New York trashes a whole other city because they happened to overhear a private argument.

Regardless of what the boos sound like, Donovan McNabb has as long as he needs in this city to play out his destiny. He's always had that. Philadelphians don't need to hear more than a few lines about his childhood experiences of racism to get it. Everybody else in Philadelphia has his own tale of woe to tell, and they'll scowl and carp at Donovan's right up to the moment when they see the next glimpse of that heart and that smile which they will never cease to recognize as their own.

All the other cities don't have this deep down, rough-hewn, well, love. The constant trashing of Philadelphia fans is actually a kind of envy. Unlike Terry Bradshaw, Donovan McNabb will not be alone when he is inducted into the Football Hall of Fame. In this city, once an Eagle, always an Eagle. Jaworski, Cunningham, Garcia, and so many others are family, regardless of what other uniforms they wore and regardless of how much they got booed. Period.

(Yes, there will be Philadelphians present even when T.O. goes into the Hall of Fame. You can see his jersey when you hit the road, too.)

In Philly, your own mother can boo you. She loves you enough to know you can do better. How else do you think those frozen, starving sons of the American Revolution stormed out of Valley Forge to beat the British at Trenton? They were so afraid they'd fail, humiliated and scorned, that they forced themselves to do the impossible.

Eagles 56. Lions 21. All the rest of you can go suck eggs.

But if anyone suggests wearing those retro uniforms again, there's going to be a fight. Yelling. Name-calling. Booing. The works.

In a Nutshell

YOU. Let's hear it for the babies. Sometimes their crayon work really does turn up a gem. Here's a cubic zirconium identified via Drudge:

Protesters also assembled at Columbia. Dozens stood near the lecture hall where Ahmadinejad was scheduled to speak, linking arms and singing traditional Jewish folk songs about peace and brotherhood, while nearby a two-person band played "You Are My Sunshine."

Signs in the crowd displayed a range of messages, including one that read "We refuse to choose between Islamic fundamentalism and American imperialism."

Gosh. It seems like a perfect bumper sticker for a Honda hybrid. But it's actually the grain of sand that begins an avalanche of questions on which our lives and future depend:

Do you, in fact, know how to choose? Between any alternatives. If you don't, you're not conscious and not really alive at all.

If you know how but really do refuse to choose, does that mean you think no choice will be made at all? That no one will ultimately choose for you?

Do you think the alternatives fail to differ? That Sharia Law is somehow identical with the state of American imperialism that compels you to do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it, however you want to do it, wherever you want to do it, via cellphone, laptop, MySpace, YouTube, and, and miscellaneous party drugs until your gonads fall out from sheer exhaustion or your brain suddenly farts into a coma?

Do you believe that any differences which do exist are immaterial to your advanced spirituality? That you are equally comfortable with a tube top or a burkha, a BMW convertible or a donkey, electricity or lamps fueled by camel urine, a divorce attorney or a public stoning, a rave or a sudden disembowelment by suicide bomber, a promiscuous Spring Break from college or lifelong imprisonment until your brother strangles you for catching and returning the gaze of his friend?

Are you so enervated and purposeless that you don't care if you live or die under any circumstances?

Have you somehow assimilated the lesson of the self-hating geniuses who superintended your education so thoroughly that you would find more meaning in dying a painful, pointless death at the hands of passionate enemies than you would in existing for even one more day in a world where you face the responsibility of discovering your own reason for living?

Or do you somehow imagine that you, being you, really are immune from all consequences, good or ill, through the perfect virtue of being you? I guess that's what John Lennon thought. How well did it work for him? Then again, he wasn't you, and you are special. Right?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then move to Saudi Arabia now. Start the dying process you desire before any worthwhile life is wasted defending yours. Throwing value after trash is not sacrifice, but waste. There is nothing about you that is worth sacrifice.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nixon Sues.

Dan explaining CBS policy during the Carter Administration.

OUR FRIENDLY UNCLE. Former CBS anchorman Dan Nixon is suing his longtime network employer, CBS, for $70 million. Friday night, he told CNN journalist Larry Moyers that the story which resulted in his firing was accurate and that the documents he cited in that story were authentic even though they were written in Microsoft Word 30 years after the fact. Moyers vigorously cross-examined him about Trish's marriage and Pat's health, which are both reportedly fine. The CBS News organization continues to deny that it has ever heard of Dan Nixon or his absurd claims about the Texas Air National Guard, although Larry Moyers stated unequivocally, on camera, that he believes every word Nixon told him. He further announced his intention to believe every word Britney Spears tells him tomorrow.

Nixon's biography is recounted in full at Wikipedia:

Dan Milhouse Nixon was the second anchorman of CBS News, and was the only U.S. anchor to resign that position. Named twice to the office -- the second time being after the genteel execution of co-anchor Connie Chung -- he served from 1981 to 2005. He was also the thirty-sixth White House correspondent of the United States, serving CBS during the presidential administration of Richard Rather (1968–1974). During the Korean War Nixon served as a mumble, mumble, mumble before being hired by CBS, and later served as a substitute sometime anchor when Walter Cronkite was having his stigmata seen to. After an unsuccessful and bitterly divisive cage fight for the anchor chair in 1976, when Cronkite lost three-quarters of his brain in a yachting accident, Nixon regained favor by kissing President's Carter's ass for four years and was eventually ordained as Pope, er, Grand Inquisitor, er, The Anchor at CBS in 1981.

Under Nixon's watch, the fourth estate of the United States followed a foreign policy marked by appeasement of the Soviet Union, a highly successful cover-up of the consequences of defunding the Vietnam War, frank mourning of the demise of communism, repeated celebrations of the dictatorial regimes of Castro and Mao Tse Dung, and the enthusiastic advocacy of defeat in all military ventures of the United States. Nixon's domestic policies featured extravagantly socialist rhetoric, inflammatory reporting on racial matters, and candidly seditious reporting of innumerable rumors and untruths about Republlican presidents. As a result of the Nthgate scandal in 2004, Nixon finally resigned the CBS anchor desk in the face of likely embarrassment to the CBS News organization in 2005. His successor, Katherine Couric, issued a controversial pardon for any journalistic crimes Nixon may have committed. Her career subsequently declined to a zero in the ratings, which was a world record.

Gosh, it reads kind of like an obituary. What a shame. We can only hope that the courts will restore to Dan the same lustre they have given back to Don Imus, who was so wrongly pilloried for his journalistic assessment of the Rutgers women's basketball team. The truth will out. Eventually. And the truth really should be worth $70 million. Or at least $20 million.

Back to Archive Index

Amazon Honor System Contribute to Learn More