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March 27, 2006

The Bond Between Two Men When the One Is Gone

Grief_1 I had meant to begin this post by finding a quote that neatly and accurately described the book I recently finished reading. It seemed simple enough; run a quick google search, scour few dozen sentences by famous writers, and somewhere therein find some perfectly rendered phrase that seems profound, wise, and all-encompassing.

However, if a reader takes only one thing away from Bill Valentine's A Season of Grief, it is that coping with the death of a loved one, a life partner, is a deeply personal process. No metaphors for love and grief, desolation and despair, can ever capture the textures of the empty coat hanging in the closet, or the remembered smells of a favorite food, or the consoling tones of a record collection left behind. William Carlos Williams once remarked, "No ideas but in things." There is no grieving but in what remains: memories, possessions, connections, words spoken and not, family, loves, faith.

Continue reading "The Bond Between Two Men When the One Is Gone" »

February 14, 2006

Depressing for More Reasons Than One


November 16, 2005

Quote of the Day

Malbug_13"9/11 was too ambiguous. You couldn't prove how the government was somehow in on the deal. … New ­Orleans was undeniable irresponsibility."


Is it possible for her to shut her friggin' yap and keep singing?

September 28, 2005



The International "Freedom" Center will not be.  Good job, Robert.  Thank you, Governor.

Like I said, toast.

September 27, 2005

Papal Queer-Baiting

Malbug_13Cheers to Downtown Lad for helping put the Pope's latest act of hatred and bigotry in stark relief.

But jeers to the Times for quoting the over-quoted Sullivan.

September 26, 2005

Hillary Triangulates

Malbug_13... and smartly so, on the International Freedom Center.

This thing is toast.

September 23, 2005

Classic Doublespeak

Malbug_13Let me see if I can wrap my brain around this:

A Sept. 11 memorial that is limited to commemorating the events of that terrible, historic day somehow wouldn't "stand the test of time."

Pop Quiz: Do you remember December 7, 1941?  I rest my case.

Meanwhile, Newsday's poll at that same link on the "International Freedom Center" is running about 98 percent against the PC ideologues.  [Hat tip: Robert]

September 09, 2005



Flags_2 I'm off to D.C. for the weekend.  I might blog, I might not.  I have a feeling I'm going to face a "come to Jesus" over the whole issue either way, so to speak.  But that's another topic for another time.

I hope to get back in time on Sunday evening to be in front of a TV.  That day, as I'm sure you are well aware, is the four-year anniversary of 9/11.

At 9 p.m. EDT, Discovery Channel will air "The Flight That Fought Back," a dramatization of one of the seminal events of that day: the hijacking and passenger uprising aboard Flight 93.  The producers claim "unprecedented access" that allowed them to painstakingly recreate the events they portrayed.

I mention it partly because Flight 93 is one of the strongest direct links I have to 9/11, being, as I was, mere feet from the Capitol when the jet would have crashed there, were it not for the passengers.  [Video preview]

But I think that I (and many others) also relate to Flight 93 because, even though it met a tragic end in a Pennsylvania field, it represented a bittersweet act of defiance against terrorists – and terrorism generally – on a day when we felt so helpless and powerless.  (I wish that I could say, in a world of death and destruction, that I didn't still feel that way, just a little.)

Love and hugs, y'all.  Keep the home-blogs burning.

September 07, 2005

Siegel's "False" Sense of Security


Falsealarm Author Marc Siegel was on "The Daily Show" last night, flogging his book False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear.  I have not yet read the book, but his interview with Jon Stewart was troubling, to say the least.

[Watch video – 10mb, 6:09, WMV format]

The cover photo is indeed taken from a true false alarm: the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol when a plane carrying Kentucky's governor bound for the Reagan funeral wandered into restricted airspace with a broken transponder.  But the cause for the panic was genuine.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Flight 93 was headed for the U.S. Capitol before it was taken down when passengers rose up against their terrorist hijackers.  The Capitol has been evacuated a handful of times since, though one would be hard-pressed to argue that an alarm is "false" when it involves the potential of dying from a plane crashing into you.

It was hard to tell exactly what Siegel's point was, but I'd try to sum it up this way: "We don't really need to worry about terrorism.  Except for nukes.  But we didn't find any nukes in Iraq, so everything is OK."

“We’re worried about the wrong thing,” Siegel said, arguing that we put too much concern into a "truck bomb versus a hurricane."

But what if that "truck bomb" involved a series of coordinated attacks on levees?  The end result would be much the same as Hurricane Katrina.

"We have the whole country afraid of terrorism, which can happen to a few people and scare the whole country,” Siegel says.

Call me silly, but I don't think 5,000 people murdered (and counting) by al-Qaeda qualifies as "a few" under most definitions.

"They’re scaring us silly about everything," Siegel says, throwing “mad cow and West Nile” into the mix.

But Siegel has a pronoun problem.  His "theys" are actually several discrete entities.  For instance, the chief fear-mongers on mad cow disease actually come from the left because they see partisan gain at the expense of the Administration.  They also want us all to eat organically grown food, even though millions more people a year would starve if we actually heeded their advice.  (Incidentally, total number of confirmed cases of mad cow in U.S. cattle: two.  Total number of confirmed human deaths from mad cow in the United States: zero.)

“Our National Guard is over there instead of over here protecting against the disaster,” Siegel said.

More leftist hyperbole.  As James Robbins points out, only about 10 percent of the Army (including Guard and Reserve) is in Iraq, while nearly three-quarters is in the United States.  Isn't it raising a "false alarm" to make such an overblown claim?

JON STEWART: There clearly is a group of people who are organizing a network that is aiming to get large weapons to come over.  Or am I reading that wrong?  [SILENCE] You’re scaring me.

MARC: You’re reading that right, but what I’m saying is that we can’t assume that everything that happens is a risk to all of us.  The terrorists know that the biggest weapon they have is fear.  They don’t have to hurt a lot of us.  They get a few of us, and the rest of us panic.  … That’s the elephant in the room is nuclear weapons.

Finally we've found something that actually scares Marc Siegel: nukes.

They don't have to hurt a lot of us, Marc, but anyone who has been paying even a little bit of attention since, oh, 1998 knows that they want to hurt, or kill, a lot of us.  All of us, actually, or at least those of us who don't subscribe to their perverted religious fanaticism.

JON: Isn’t that what we’re aiming to do, by taking on the terrorists where they live?

MARC: I think that’s a global paranoia.  I think when we went over there, we didn’t find those weapons.

Marc, you just said "nukes" were the elephant in the room, then you called them "paranoia."  Which is it?

So just because we haven't found them in Iraq, do we ignore them elsewhere, like in Iran?  Is it a "false alarm" to be concerned about countries like Iran with deep terrorist ties transferring those weapons to be used against us, or is it a legitimate concern?  You're confusing me, Marc!

Predictably, Siegel's book is earning plaudits from such great nonpartisan pre-Sept. 11 thinkers as Bob Kerrey, Bill Press and David Corn.  (I couldn't find a noteworthy Republican in the bunch.)

Kerrey calls it "a terrific and groundbreaking book," while Corn calls it "masterful and provocative."  (Anything that bashes life-saving pharmaceutical companies is OK by him!)  While Press says, "Relax and put away your duct tape," precisely the kind of thing that explains his status as a former co-host of Crossfire.

Look, Siegel has a point, but only to a point.  If we're going to worry about things, we should probably prioritize between the trivial and the serious.  But if his interview last night was any indication, his book sounds more like part of the left's ongoing campaign to hit the "snooze button" on terrorism than an honest attempt to delineate among the relative risk of things.

Did I mention that Marc Siegel is a medical doctor and not a politician or policymaker?  But at least he has given me a book idea: "The Doctor's Definitive Guide to Open-Heart Surgery."

UPDATE: I conceded at the outset that I hadn't yet read the book, but I thought in fairness that I'd share this brief email I got from Dr. Siegel today.  Maybe he was just trying to speak Jon Stewart's language?:

Try reading it.

It is neither left or right.

I am not minimizing terrorism, what I am doing is pointing out that it often – deliberately – scares beyond the actual damage.

Let me know what you think after you read it.

August 23, 2005

"This Thing Is Exhausting"


911horrorThat was my husband's reaction to "Inside 9/11," which aired last night on the National Geographic Channel.

The four-hour documentary aired with limited commercial interruption in two two-hour segments, the first of which dealt with the birth of Al Qaeda dating back to the waning days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and the second looking at the events of 9/11 themselves.

I simply cannot endorse this outstanding documentary strongly enough.  If you have not yet seen it, you still have at least one more chance.  NGC will air the first part, "War on America," at 4 a.m. EDT on August 29, and the second part, "Zero Hour," at the same time the next morning.

More thoughts and two video clips after the jump ...

Continue reading ""This Thing Is Exhausting"" »

August 21, 2005

"Ground Zero Is No Place for Politics"


Count me among those who think that the whole idea behind the "International Freedom Center" is, well, misguided PC crap.

LimeShurbet sent me the link to the "Take Back the Memorial" blog, which I am sure will become my new front-row seat as the IFC is, hopefully, put out to pasture.

August 18, 2005

Feingold Waves White Flag


This is quite possibly Russ Feingold's second-stupidest move, right behind that whole campaign-finance-reform thing.  Taranto writes:

Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin is calling for a withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of next year. From a Feingold press release:

". . . It's almost as if talking about completing the mission in Iraq has become 'taboo,' " said Feingold. "It's time for senators and Members of Congress, especially those from my own party, to be less timid while this Administration neglects urgent national security priorities in favor of staying a flawed policy course in Iraq. We need to refocus on fighting and defeating the terrorist network that attacked this country on September 11, 2001, and that means placing our Iraq policy in the context of a global effort, rather than letting it dominate our security strategy and drain vital security resources for an unlimited amount of time."

But here's what Feingold had to say just last week, according to a report in the Daily Globe of Ironwood, Mich.:

"Post 911, the administration published a list of countries where al Qaeda was operating. Iraq wasn't even on it.

"Now, it's the number one training ground for terrorists from around the world. Our nation's security is at stake and it's time for Congress and the administration to level with the American people, and develop a policy worthy of our brave men and women in uniform."

Has Feingold changed his mind since last week? Or does he believe the U.S. military should not be fighting terrorists in their No. 1 training ground?

August 17, 2005

Firefighters Pour Cold Water on Freedom Center


The Uniformed Firefighters Association has turned thumbs down to plans for an "International Freedom Center" at ground zero in Lower Manhattan, proving that union membership is not always synonymous with leftist groupthink.

John Whitehead is a good man, and I take him at his word when he says that the Memorial Foundation will need to work with family members to produce specific plans for the site that are "consistent with [the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.'s] objectives for that space."  But I sincerely hope that those objectives do not include self-flagellation.

Anyone who wants to put on the hair shirt has plenty of places to go, such as the Holocaust Museum or the Museum of the American Indian, among many others.

Something in the mold of the Freedom Center is entirely appropriate, as is hard self-introspection about man's inhumanity to man, wherever it may occur.  But it should be somewhere other than the hallowed ground of the fallen towers.