Okay, I know that I may over-write about two of my favorite cultural obsessions, golf and New Orleans, but I just have to get this off my chest: Too many stars of the PGA Tour are skipping this weekend's Zurich Classic, the New Orleans Tour stop being played at the Nicklaus-designed English Turn club (where I was a member for 12 years). As everybody knows, New Orleans really needs a boost, and the Tour was terrific in committing to return to the city soon after the hurricane. But too many of its stars haven't come through. Tiger Woods has NEVER played in New Orleans, and apparently couldn't even be bothered this time despite the good he could do for the suffering city. (Note: Tiger's father is quite ill, so he now may not play ANY tourneys between now and the US Open, and my wishes go out to him and his family. But even before his father's condition became a serious issue, Tiger wasn't planning to play New Orleans. Hence the rasberry for him.) Vijay Singh won there just two years ago, but he's skipping it. Ernie Els is skipping it. Ditto for Sergio Garcia.
The Spectacle Blog
We're so accustomed to watching commercials produced by a professional guild of arch pop craftsmen that the truly amateurish sticks out like a nail, even among the usual inanities and indignities.
Such is the case with the new mindboggling "Ride it like a Ford" campaign. Ford's great lowbrow hope is cheesed out and absurd -- even by its own standards. Full breakdown (no pun intended) here, plus priceless quotes from Americans who just aren't buying it (again, no pun, please).
For months, now, the most consistently insightful journalism about post-Katrina New Orleans (and its evacuees elsewhere) has come from New York, from the magazine City Journal and its ace reporter (actually, Contributing Editor) Nicole Gelinas, who deserves a Pulitzer and other big prizes far more than do certain NYTimes revealers of national secrets and Wash Post wardrobe critics. Here, here and here, are three of the many excellent pieces Ms. Gelinas has done on the subject. Her conclusions, boiled down, are that the solutions to the problems all involve creative, small-government approaches. In most cases, the best solutions are exactly the opposite, or at least the converse, of what FEMA and the Bush administration have done. (Donald Powell is a disaster as reconstruction coordinator, by the way.) Of course, LA and N.O. state and local governments have been disastrous as well; there is plenty of blame to go around.
Wish I could attribute this better, but I heard it in the middle of the night on BBC. They interviewed a fellow from something like Council for Free Islam, who said Hamas was seething over UBL's latest "interference." "Hamas doesn't want anything to do with Osama bin Laden," he said. "They want their relationship with the west." Because they need their money.
UBL's latest videotaped hate mail may be bad news for Hamas, the terrorists elected to government in the Palestinian territories. In it, bin Laden spews the usual threats and feeds the ideology that America's war on terrorists and the states that support them is a "Zionist-crusader war against Islam." But there's more.
Part of bin Laden's statement says, "the blockade which the West is imposing on the government of Hamas proves that there is a Zionist-crusader war on Islam." Two points fairly leap out from that one sentance:
ONE: bin Laden is equating Hamas -- a terrorist organization with the blood of thousands on its hands -- with Islam. Where are the moderate Islamic voices to condemn this? Or are they content to let his statement stand?
TWO: There have been many reliable reports that al-Qaeda is building operating bases in the Gaza Strip and possibly the West Bank as well. What will the Israelis do to root them out?
Last, and not least, how long will it be before the governments of Europe cave in and resume aid to the Palestinian government: the terrorists of Hamas?
Congress returns to town this week, so you can count on an assault on taxpayers' money and common sense.
And nothing captures Congressional nonsense better than Republican attempts to out-Democrat Democrats on gas prices. There's a populist demand to "do something," in spite of a spate of articles calmly explaining why the gas prices reflect lower supply and higher demand -- basic economics. Instead of explaining the facts and sticking to market principles, Bill Frist and Denny Hastert will reportedly request an investigation into higher gas prices.
Ned: Useless senators? Careful lest thou commit a grammatical redundancy. Ken: I think that's unfair to Franks. As I understand it, his plan was vetted, modified and approved by all - including Rumsfeld, Pace, Myers and the president - and worked damned well. The issue of what came after wasn't Franks's to plan or command.
Nice, Dave, to connect the dots between Congressional shenanigans and the China's glowering global interests. It's very much in the public's interest to understand what a vast obstacle Beijing has become to our preferences and necessities, to grasp how much China is working right now to undermine them, and to know why. Batchelor has done some heavy dot-connecting of his own on that tip, of course, as have the guys at ThreatsWatch. I want to highlight the antagonistic geopolitical link between China and Iran in terms of culture -- both states have venerable cultures that adopted autocratic governments. No surprise that their objectives and interests overlap -- in direct opposition to our own. Plenty to say on this point. More to come.
Rep. Alan Mollohan has temporarily left the House Ethics Panel, hoping to help Democratic leaders stem damage to their "Republicans are corrupt" message.
-I doubt Mollohan's departure is "temporary." If anything about his earmarks scandal sticks, he won't be back.
-Democrats are foolhardy to think that this move cleans up their act sufficiently to go after Republicans. Pelosi is painting Mollohan's scandal as a partisan attack to provide cover for GOP scandals. But the record so far is clear: Republicans aren't protecting their politicians from corruption charges (readers of this blog differ on whether that's a proper response -- I think they should presume innocence until guilt is proven, but not undertake a Clintonian scorched Earth policy to protect guys who could very well be guilty as sin). Duke Cunningham's out of the House and convicted. Tom DeLay is out of leadership and on his way out of the House. Frankly, the dirty Republicans are behaving like Democrats did when they ran the show. As such...