Friday, March 29, 2002

MUST READ: Generally, I avoid using Mind Over What Matters as a reflector link site for the same National Review columns that Glenn Reynolds is reading -- but if you're still inclined to imagine a case for moral equivalency in the Middle East, Victor Davis Hanson's Postmodern Palestine should set you straight. Read this piece, and then come back and make your case for Arafat's legitimacy.

ARAFAT DEATH WATCH, DAY 1: The Nobel Prize Winner has shown surprising restraint -- on the one hand proclaiming that he would sooner die a martyr than be taken alive -- but all the while, spectacularly failing to make himself a target. Early reports suggest that he has retreated to an underground bunker.

Tick ... tick ... tick ...

ARAFAT DEATH WATCH [00:00:00]: At this hour, the news is flying fast and furious. Bulldozers tearing down the fence surrounding Arafat's compound ... Now tanks are inside the compound ... his office is being pounded by heavy artillery ... The building is on fire ... At least two of Arafat's bodyguards are reported to have been wounded ... IDF troops are storming the complex ... Prime Minister Sharon is addressing the nation now, in Hebrew ... Paraphrased translation: This is the beginning of an extended operation to "isolate" Arafat ...

Considering that he's been under virtual house arrest for the past three months, what does "isolate" mean? Will they now confiscate his cellphone? Cut up his credit cards? Sharon uses the word "isolate" repeatedly, without elaboration. Are we talking about Arafat's head being isloated from his shoulders? All he'll say is that "Isolate means isolate!"

Steve Den Beste lays even odds that Arafat will be dead within 48 hours, or almost certainly within a week. My guess is that the world will have been rid of the two-faced Nobel Peace Prize-winner by the time I wake up tomorrow morning.

The level of outrage following the Passover Massacre has risen to such a level that Sharon has no political alternative. There is no longer such a thing as "acceptable losses" in the service of a peace process that has been so utterly exposed as a pointless fiction. To allow Arafat to die in combat invites world condemnation and the spectre of more awful terrorist reprisals -- but the Israeli public will tolerate casualties to bring about an end to the Palestinian Authority, just as surely as America was prepared to accept military losses to destroy Al Qaida.

(Not surprisingly, the Jerusalem Post website is running glacier-slow this evening. Everyone wants to know what's going down. They're probably experiencing server meltdown.)

We shall see what news tomorrow brings ...

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Milton Berle was the "killer app" that transformed television from a luxury gadget into a standard home appliance. Mark Evanier posts a tribute suitable for those of the Seinfeld generation, who -- like me -- never had the opportunity to see a live airing of The Texaco Star Theater. Here's an excerpt:
Like many of my generation, I never laughed that much at Milton Berle and there was a time when I wondered why this pushy guy was so revered. In time, I think I came to understand that it had to do with innovation and longevity, two qualities that are rarely found -- at least, together -- in the comedy stars who began in television. Milton Berle was of another era, already an established performer before he or anyone appeared on TV, forced to invent and reinvent in front of an entire nation. Fortunately, he was a master showman and more than equal to the task.
Jeff Jarvis has a slightly different take:
People will be wailing about how he represented the "golden age" of TV. But that's bull. Early television was bad vaudeville; it was tinny, not golden: silly, slapstick, obvious, easy. The truth is that the golden age of TV is now; television today is filled with far greater talent and imagination and artistry. I don't mean to detract from Miltie's pioneering in a new medium; can't take that away from him. But I just have to say that young people should ignore all the nostaglic claptrap they are about to hear; things weren't always better in the old days; sometimes, things actually get better over time and TV is one of those things.

On the nosie, Jeff.