Saturday, December 08, 2001

ANTHONY LEWIS IS A BIG FAT IDIOT: To be perfectly candid, I know nothing about Anthony Lewis's weight or height. To me, he's just a byline on a New York Times column. But now that I've said he's big and fat, anyone else can say, with perfect accuracy, that "It has been said that Anthony Lewis is a big fat idiot," and no one could argue the point.

Today, Anthony Lewis says in his New York Times column:

...On Nov. 23, Mr. Sharon sent Israeli aircraft to kill Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, a senior leader of Hamas. He was a principal planner of terrorist attacks, it was said, and removing him would safeguard Israel. To the contrary, as every knowledgeable person understood, Hamas retaliation was certain. It came last weekend.

I'm sure someone, somewhere -- either without regard to the complex reality of the situation, or in a sarcastic voice that doesn't come across in print journalism -- must surely have muttered aloud that the Israeli action of November 23 would safeguard Israel. Possibly, they added "And monkeys might fly out of my butt." Anthony Lewis doesn't say.

But in his latest paen to terrorist appeasement, Lewis attributes this statement to ... nobody. All that matters is that It Was Said, and Lewis can say it was said. End of argument. Lewis 1, Nobody 0. Anthony Lewis must be right, and Sharon must be a big, fat idiot.

Likewise, it has been said that we should seek to understand Osama bin Laden's grievances -- perhaps, we should even negotiate with him -- and that merely wiping him off the face of the planet will not prevent future binLadenites from carrying out more terror attacks in the future. I leave the reader to draw their own conclusions about which side Anthony Lewis would apparently take on that argument. Certainly, there's no point in actually inviting him to explain the complexity of the situation -- or even to research his past writings, to see if he's taken a position at all. It's enough that it has been said that he's a terrorist appeaser.

Good enough for the New York Times, anyway. Or so it has been said.

Thursday, December 06, 2001


So if you were on an airplane, and an angel got sucked into one of the turbines and caused a crash, would you automatically get into Heaven?
-- Andy Ihnatko

It was shut down a couple of years ago, by mutual agreement between cartoonist Bil Keane and parodist Greg Galcik. But in its day (1995-1999), the most gut-wrenchingly side-splittingly funny, tears-in-your-eyes -- "Stop! You're killing me! No, wait! Just one more!" -- thing on the whole friggin' Internet was The Dysfunctional Family Circus, an interactive feature in which readers were invited to submit their own captions for actual published Family Circus cartoons. Galcik would select fifty-or-so of the best entries for online publication, which typically ran the gamut between perversely surreal and just plain sick. "Bob's Comics Review" explained the phenomenon in 1996:

There's a perverse compliment to Keane in the very success of the DFC. It just invites retitling, and I don't think the Dysfunctional treatment would work anywhere as well for other lame comics. A Dysfunctional Marmaduke would still be about a big annoying dog; a Dysfunctional Beetle Bailey could hardly transcend the fantasy army and the soul-destroying stereotypes of the real thing; a Dysfunctional Cathy could only be three or four variations on "Cathy's a loser." But Keane's situations are simple, yet varied enough that DFCers can comment on almost anything. FC and DFC together achieve a cosmic balance: the Family Circus is a neverland of unrealized and unrealizable family values; the DFC, by exaggeration, shows us how life really is, more effectively than even the deliberately ugly style of underground cartoonists can do.

I was delighted to discover that the complete Dysfunctional Family Circus has been archived here. Use the VCR-like buttons to scroll through all 500 pages, or use this alternate text-based index. (And somewhere, amidst the thousands of captions, see if you can spot three by my alter ego, Oplyd Oleo.)

Ah, I remember my first baby chick. The blood tastes like hot nails, and they squeak a bit, but you get used to it.
-- phil

A SPLENDID DICKENSIAN NAME: Mark Shuttleworth, 27, is set to become the second "space tourist" to fly to the station, arriving in a Russian Soyuz rocket next April.

Okay, then -- don't give me a hard time when the hero of my spec screenplay is named Joe Everyman.

THE THIRD OPTION: Some astute Blogger recently observed --

-- and, by the way, maybe I've come to the party a little late myself, but it seems like there's been an incredible upsurge in really great, independent online writing since 9/11, and I'm afraid it's more than I can do to absorb and remember every credit when it comes time to link to it --

--Anyway, where was I? --

Some astute Blogger or online columnist recently observed -- and I'll just paraphrase as best I can, with a little of my own spin -- that Israel has two options, both lousy: They can either (1) become a garrison state, expel every legal and illegal resident Palestinian alike (thereby undercutting their own economy by eliminating cheap underclass labor), put up barbed-wire fences around the entire perimeter, and dig in for the long haul -- or they can go for broke and (2) reoccupy the West Bank and install its own governing body over a resentful population devoted to the rearing of generation after generation of nihilistic 17-year-olds, whose greatest ambition is to become human shrapnel delivery systems.

But then there's the Third Option -- the least worst case: Fomenting civil war. And at at this writing, it seems as though the Third Option is beginning to play out. This week's all-stick/no-carrot ultimatum amounts to a direct appeal to rational moderates among the Palestinian people themselves -- that it is up to them to replace the irrelevant Arafat with courageous new leadership genuinely interested reaching a long-term accommodation with Israel -- or else, look forward to the implementation of Options One or Two in very short order.

This morning, BBC News reports that the Palestinian Authority / Hamas alliance is on the brink of collapse under this pressure. "We are all angry at the corrupt Palestinian leadership," one Hamas supporter said, and accused the Palestinian police of trying to provoke a "civil war." From Israel's perspective, better news there could not be.

Further, the latest trial balloon floating around is that West Bank security should become Jordan's problem. If true, one could reasonably postulate that Israel is edging toward the idea of cutting the Palestinians out of the deal altogether, eventually allowing Jordan to re-annex significant parts of the West Bank. This notion -- that Jordan is and always should have been recognized as the historical and logical Palestinian homeland -- may well be a non-starter, and it may never be taken seriously. But if Israel is seen to be edging in that direction with America's blessing, and non-Arab world opinion is agnostic on the question, history could be about to take a sharp turn into uncharted territory.

The question is, how much longer can Arafat cling to power and stand in the way of history? Mind Over What Matters will go out on a limb and predict that his remaining term in office can be measured in hours. (Fortunately, the penalty for being wrong is to shrug and say, "So I was wrong. So?")

UPDATE: 24 hours later, Palestinian civil war is breaking out, almost as if on cue.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

TYPE DIFFERENT: Okay, Andrew Sullivan -- have it your way. Windows sucks and Mac rules! So why are all your quotation marks, apostrophes and em-dashes displaying as Vietnamese characters today? [Update: Problem fixed, nine hours later. Welcome to the world of Mac ASCII, Andrew!]

THE GREAT "GETTING MENTIONED" CAMPAIGN CONTINUES! Another tip o' the Mind Over What Matters cap to both InstaPundit and Samizdata for the prominent mentions this evening. (Sheesh, Glenn -- I'm writing my heart out here! What more does it take to qualify for a permanent sidebar link?)

TOUGH CHOICE? I'll make it easy for you. Aaron Sorkin without crack is like a day without sunshine -- and besides, The West Wing is, and ever shall be, so September 10th.

Instead, make a date with The Tick, which has a special airing tonight (Wednesday) at 9:30. (Another episode airs Thursday at 8:30)

What does TV Guide say? The bond between Arthur and the Tick is tested in a hilarious take on the perils of a superhero partnership. During a rooftop pursuit, the chums meet fellow crimefighters Fiery Blaze (Ron Perlman) and his sidekick Friendly Fire (Patrick Breen). “Your banter is immaculate,” marvels the Tick, who'd like to emulate their “well-oiled machine.” But Arthur is taken aback by Blaze's condescending manner toward Friendly, who introduces Arthur to a support group for disgruntled sidekicks.

What is TV Guide not telling us?
Tonight we get the series’ reimagining of Robert Smigel’s Ambiguously Gay Duo. This is the gayest, most homosexual episode of “The Tick” one could ever hope for. Friendly Fire’s costume could give Burt Ward the willies.

More info from those lovable scamps at Aint It Cool...

BOBBY, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: The reclusive American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer has broken years of silence to support the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In an interview on the evening of September 11 with Radio Bombo -- an obscure radio station in the Philippines -- Mr. Fischer said:

"This is all wonderful news... I applaud the act. The US and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years. Now it is coming back at the US. ... I was happy and could not believe what was happening... This just shows, what goes around comes around, even to the US ... It is time to finish off the US once and for all."

What more is there to say? (How about: Hey, Bobby -- why don't you hop a plane to New York and tell Katie Couric and the rest of America what you really think!)

Fischer was obviously a nut-job from the get-go -- but the problem is, there are too many others out there like him to just shrug and and write them all off as brilliant nut-jobs. The kind of mind that can simultaneous play out chess games nine moves ahead and blame the international Jewish conspiracy for the world's ills is exactly the same kind of mind that could engineer a terrorist attack of unprecedented scope and complexity -- and gladly do so, given sufficient manpower and finanical support.

(Hey, Drudge -- you sleeping on the job tonight? I picked up this story from -- of all sources -- Art Bell!)

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

TOM TOMORROW MINUS THE PENGUIN? Ken Layne provides more evidence that Ted Rall is coasting something fierce. (Lucky for Rall that he has an editor, or else Ken might be picking apart Rall's spelling errors as further evidence of his cynical anti-Americanism, too.)

Monday, December 03, 2001

TIPPING POINT: Incredibly, Palestinian spokesmen and apologists are still taking to the airwaves -- as usual, NPR's foremost among them -- in a last, desperate attempt to dictate to Israel what it "must accept" and "must do" to end the threat of terrorism.

Did none of them bother to read the morning papers yet? Has it not yet become apparent that the combination of this past weekend's triple-suicide bombing and America's success in routing the Taliban has brought us beyond a new "tipping point," when world leaders are no longer willing to condemn Israel for exercising the right of self defense?

Did it not dawn on the Palestinian Authority that when even Colin Powell is no longer calling for restraint, they no longer have a friend in the world that matters?

By week's end, I wouldn't be surprised to see Arafat put into "protective custody." Betcha, too, that when they confiscate his Palm Pilot to look up the home addresses for Hamas' rank-and-file, they find out he used the word "password" as his password.

UPDATE: SmarterTimes nails the less-smart New York Times for its "glaringly error-ridden" obituary of Mohammed Kamel, Egypt's former Foreign Minister who resigned in 1978 "in protest against the Camp David peace accords with Israel, predicting accurately that they would isolate Egypt in the Arab world without resolving the Palestinian question." But the Times never notes that the severance was temporary, and that virtually all Arab nations have now resumed diplomatic relations with Egypt, making Mr. Kamel's prediction look far less eerily prescient.