Saturday, May 21, 2005

Blog Email Weirdness

Without naming names, has any other Tennessee blogger gotten an unsolicited email from a Tennessee television news station with nothing more than a link to a story about an investigation of the Department of Tourism contracts scandal?

I ask because although the email names the station, the "From" field lists my blog's email addy. I hesitated to even open it on the theory it might be spam or a virus. And I hesitated to click the link, because I didn't want to be taken to some malware infection site. Looking closely at the URL, though, it too seemed fine. It all seems legit, except for the "From" field oddity.

This is from a news station that has never before sent me email. Doesn't really have a reason to. Much less a story heads-up. Strangeness. Any ideas?
Another Question for the Liberal Types

Here's a what if: If Adrian Rogers, the (now-retired) pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church was also the head of a major department of Memphis City government, reporting directly to the mayor and responsible for directing and disbursing large sums of money in the community, would that be a problem? Would there be ethical concerns or concerns about the separation of church and state? Would you be howling bloody murder?

So why isn't there any upset about Keith McGee? He's the Chief Accounting Officer of the City of Memphis, literally a right hand for Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton. He's also the pastor of St. Mark Baptist Church!

That's just one of the many interesting things I've learned this morning at Thaddeus Matthews' blog. If ever someone needed to be blogging, it's this guy. If you listen to Memphis talk radio, especially black talk shows, you've heard him either as a regular caller or guest, or on one of his own shows. He's also the guy behind the Herenton recall effort. (Which will kick back into gear shortly after the start of 2006, by the way, due to the way the law regarding recall is written and interpreted. Keep your eyes here for more.)

Thaddeus Matthews now also has a television show, Friday mornings at 7AM on UPN30. You can read more at his website, Express Yourself.

My only complaint is that Matthews needs an editor bad. His writing is just atrocious: full of variable and intermittent capitalisation, surprise punctuation, and sentence structure from another language. It makes his stuff harder to read than it should be, considering how revealing and informative it is, and will lose him a lot of readers and credibility in the larger blog community. Occasionally, it obscures his point or makes it unclear.

Anyway, Thaddeus just got added to my daily blog reading. If you're a Memphian who wants that backstage view that television and print news doesn't like to give, he should be on yours, too.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Found It!

I have found my epitaph:
Mike's most entertaining moment of this year for me was when he resigned from the Rocky Top Brigade. He's iconoclastic and curmudgeonly at times, but always damn interesting. Plus he's got great taste in music.
Thanks, Wally.
Yup, That's Me

You scored as Materialist. Materialism stresses the essence of fundamental particles. Everything that exists is purely physical matter and there is no special force that holds life together. You believe that anything can be explained by breaking it up into its pieces. i.e. the big picture can be understood by its smaller elements.











Cultural Creative






What is Your World View? (corrected...again)
created with

Quiz via Dark Bilious Vapors. No surprises. I suspect the high "Fundamentalist" rating that Len also shared (follow the link) is a result of a lot of "strongly agree / disagree" answers, not a religious appelation necessarily. My high "Existentialist" rating doesn't mean that I'm a nihilist either. I believe life's full of meaning and purpose, just that we must find and adopt it for ourselves; it's not given to us by outside forces.
And I -- I Wanna Beeeeeeeee-eee Anarchy

HW Saxton says I Was A Punk Before You Were A Punk. Regular readers know that I love punk rock and was into the music back in the day. I grew up in Northeast Alabama, not exactly a hotbed of punk shows, so I didn't get to see many bands, but I bought music and magazines at a furious pace. The folks at Charlemagne Records in Birmingham used to love to see me coming because I would regularly drop $60 to $100 every visit.
A long time ago, back before The Ramones could count to 4, before the Black Flag so proudly waved, before The Clash had enough rope, before X marked the spot and before the Sex Pistols backfired punk was knocking at the door. Now in 2005 "Punk" is just another genre in your local music emporium. A product to be bought and sold at the local mall.

Even the most suburbanized suburbanite can now take a trip to their local mall and come out two hours later as an Insta-Punk. Just add beer, a little attitude and voila: Dude yer a punk. Just walk the mall, any mall, anywhere U.S.A from Maine to Mississippi, Alaska to Arizona, Nevada to New York and you too can be Punk Rock and I mean it maaaaan. Stop by Hot Topic pick up some creepers, a pair of Docs or some Chuck Taylors, drop into the local hipster hair emporium "Hair 'Tis" or whatever, get pierced, tattoed, pick up some black clothes and a handful of CD's and there ya have it. You are a punk rocker, congratulations.

Well anyway you have the outward trappings of some such a thing. You are an individual, different than everbody else, into something new and hip, not just another jerk in oversized clothes & a backwards baseball cap (speaking of which no one should be allowed to wear but catchers) no, you are walking and talking statement on the vitrues of non-conformity just like the other 7 or 8 million of the non-conformists out there. Punk Rock, shmunk rock. There was a time that I thought it was new, interesting and cutting edge. Well it was new and interesting for a couple of years. But like any other pop culture movement in crashed and burned within a few years of inception in regards to momentum but it did leave behind it an interesting recorded history.
I understand the sentiment. Back in the day, I wore t-shirts and jeans and had a Johnny Ramone-style bowl cut. But I listened to a lot of English prog rock, American metal and hard rock too; I also wore my leisure suit and polyester print shirts with stack-heel shoes at the disco on the weekend. Yeah, I know....

But that was the point. Go look at the earliest pictures of punk rock bands and their fans. They dressed exactly like the mid-Seventies suburbanites and city dwellers they were! It was only after the Ramones went to England and ignited the punk rock movement there that the "punk rock look" was codified. The English took the Ramones' leather and jeans and added the studded bracelets and spiked hair and wild makeup. That was the influence of the English art school students who were disproportionately among the early punk fans.

But the ethos of punk, regardless of Saxton's bitterness at its cooptation by Big Music Companies, was "anyone can start a band." You didn't have to be good looking, you didn't have to be polished or professional, you didn't have to be smart, you didn't even have to be able to play! Just get up there and make a noise. Play what you want to and the audience will find you.

It happened with the birth of rock and roll, when what we now call rockabilly bands exploded all over the country. Then, when the Beatles came, it happened again. (Watch WKNO's schedule for the episode of Memphis Memoirs that deals with the phenomenon locally.) The late Sixities psychedelic explosion. Punk rock. Grunge. Any day now, we'll see yet another rebirth. It's about time.

The next generation throws off the shackles of the previous, rediscover the simple joys of making noise and start the cycle. Companies move in to make a profit, but being businesses they have to channel and control things for distribution and marketing purposes. Everything's codified, packaged and sold. Rules pop up, then stereotypes. Then the next generation throws off the shackles....

Punk rock was my turning point. You can look at my record collection and see the clear divide in pre-1975 and post-1975 music. I still listen to a wide variety, as I always have to the consternation of friends, but a short, fast, clever song played with gusto will always win my heart. Doesn't have to have great production, nor great playing. The singer can be nearly incoherent or inchoate. If I can hear the infectious love in the song, the sheer joi de vivre of playing, then I'm there too.
Up and down the Westway
In and out the lights
What a great traffic system
It's so bright!
I can't think of a better way to spend the night
Than speeding around underneath the yellow lights

London's burning!
The Blogcritics entry now has a pretty cool discussion thread going. There are first-hand reminiscences of the early LA scene and the police brutality that marked it.
Do Gooders

Excellent short review of Do Gooders by Mona Charen is up at Blogcritics. Shorter sample:
True liberalism—the idea that personal freedom is a high, if not the highest, political virtue—respects a person’s right to do as he pleases. But it also refuses to insure the free person of the negative consequences of his bad choices. True liberalism works because it assumes that people will rationally consider the possible outcomes of their actions and choose what is in their best interest. A truly liberal society is thus a moderately conservative one precisely because most people will not make choices that carry large personal risks.

The liberalism Charen criticizes, then, is not true liberalism, which is also known as classical liberalism or libertarianism. Rather, it is the deformed liberalism of the Great Society, which maximized individual choice and minimized personal risk. Not surprisingly, people began to make bad choices because they knew that the government had stretched a “safety net” beneath them to catch them when they fell. And fall they did. A direct line of cause and effect stretches from Lyndon Johnson to Jimmy Carter, from the Great Society to malaise, from the zenith of post-war American liberalism to its nadir.
If I had the money, I'd buy this. I guess, instead, I'll have to see if the local library got a copy.
Science Geekery

I apologise for the geekiness, but damn this is cool. First, we locate a crashed spacecraft on Mars, and today NASA releases a picture of one Mars satellite taken by another! Yeah, it's just a couple of blurry blobs, but this is the first time one satellite has photographed another in orbit around a foreign planet. Very cool.

So Much For What They Stand For

Via Instpundit comes this link to John Cole's lament over the Republicans:
Let's run through the checklist:

Federalism- nope, don't need it.

Limited Government- nah- useless.

Fiscal Responsibility- forget it- outdated.

Tradition?- Whatever, loserboy.

Fair play?- For credit card companies, not for you.

State's rights- a quaint idea.

Separation of Church and State- Fuhgeddaboutit!

Limiting entitlement programs- nonsense!

Compassionate conservatism- meaningless buzzwords.
You'll have to read the original post to get the supporting links and further remarks.

And yet this doesn't mean I'll ever support a Democrat. With a Republican, there's at least a chance that we'll get the occasional spasm of party principle that means smaller, limited government, less spending and less intrusion. That never happens with the Democrats. They are the party of The State, Big Momma, Big Brother.

The questions are these: How do we cripple the Democrats for a generation or two? How do we get the Republicans back in line? How can we get more than two parties into the American national political system?

The Democrats themselves seem to be taking care of the first problem by themselves. As they see their power wane, they get more shrill and lunatic in their pronouncements. After all, you can only cry "Hitler!" so many times before the villagers stop coming to see what the fuss is about. Eventually, they'll leave you to go back to the village and their lives and jobs.

There are two streams now in the Democratic party. One is seeking to mimic Bill Clinton's successful move to the center. Some of those centrists are already-sober-sided folks like Joe Lieberman. Some are Hillary Clintons and Harold Fords, who see electoral success in the shift. America has a long history of cyclical change between conservatism and activism. We are in the conservative cycle right now and likely can be for some more decades.

The other stream in the Democrats evolved from the Sixties Left and was possessed by anti-war and anti-Bush hysteria. (How ironic that name is, eh?), Mike Moore, Howard Dean, et al. are working hard to grab their reins. But do they have a positive agenda to push? It seems not. They mostly can be defined by what they oppose: the definition of reactionary. They aren't pushing any platform or agenda of change other than "Get rid of Bush and the neocons! Bush lied; people died. No blood for oil! Liar, liar, pants on fire! Bushitler! Chimpy McHalliburton!"

Like most fantasist, they have mistaken the symbolic for the real. The ability of humans to abstract the concrete has led to dangerous notions. People who believe in magic believe that everything real has an "unreal" counterpart. Just as the real can be moved and reconnected, so can the "unreal" be moved and reconnected. But where they fail is that believing that where abstracting from the concrete can happen, so does reifying the abstract also produce real-world results.

That, I think, is why you see so many art-damaged types in protests on the Left. They are, first of all, exemplars of American individualism; but also folks who believe that symbolic dissent is just as important -- if not more patriotic -- than action. They also believe that manipulating the symbols of their enemy will produce changes in their enemy. Magic, if you will.

Most of America looks at what the post-Sixties generation has wrought on the nation -- casual sex, hollow marriage, alienation, loss of traditions -- and isn't happy. Sure, the Left brought equal rights and opportunity to minorities and women, but the groups that formed to achieve this have institutionalised now and seek to find further relevance to their continuing existence. Just like unions are fading after changing the workplace, so are these lefttist activist groups. They haven't found the next frontier of change yet.

But in their wake, we have the wreck of American traditions and the family. No, not all traditions are good, but we have the benefit of a widely educated populace that can look back on recorded history to see what's worked and what hasn't. It's no longer a question of righting fundamental wrongs but of fine-tuning the new landscape. But there are those who want to take us closer to utopia (a word that literally means "no place," by the way, and so continue to tinker with the workings of a running engine.

They must be stopped. Cold and hard. Republicans are getting their chance to do that.

The problem, of course, is that Republicans aren't using this opportunity to advance their cause, but rather to get their slice of the pie. Having seen Demcrats create a massive system of vote-buying via government projects and handouts, they merely want to hijack that system for their own personal benefit. Principles be damned.

I think that, just as the first Republican leaders of the new majority were holdovers from the minority days, people who didn't know how to lead from power and so had to be replaced, their successors are merely thinking reactionarily. It's time to skim off that next generation of leadership and find the statesmen who lead from principle. Right now, it's not an easy thing.

The Bush administration has consistently shown an electoral willingness to abide "go along to get along" and RINO Republicans to assure party wins. Time and time again, in state races and federal races since 2000, they will accept those who know how to work power rather than those who wish to use it for principle. Lamar Alexander, Arlen Specter, Richard Riordan, Elizabeth Dole, and I'm sure you can name many, many more. A lot of very principled, stand-up conservatives have been passed over to assure political wins instead. Ask Ed Bryant; he can tell you.

At the State level, look at the Republicans who let personal debts to Lt. Gov. John Wilder determine their votes, not the wishes of the people who elected them, nor the principles which they profess to hold. We have a State Senate Republican majority, but a Democratic Senate leader who still plays by the old rules and sympathies. Real change delayed by weakness of character from venal men.

It will take a rising class not yet there to push these people aside in the Republican leadership. It will take voter urging and action. State and Federal leadership in the Republican party has been top-down for decades now. It takes real action and effort to effect fundamental changes, but it can be done.

The blogosphere is our brief window of opportunity. With it, conservatives (and libertarians) can create the conditions of change that will force the money-men and their lackeys at the wheels of power to shift. Take a look at the race for Senator Frist's seat. Even though the Nashville money men have lined up behind Bob Corker (a RINO at best), there is significant momentum building up in the blogosphere for Ed Bryant, the most conservative of the candidates in the race. That momentum can translate into awareness, if we work it, and into action if we follow through.

Already, Bryant is the favorite of a majority of conservative political bloggers in Tennessee, by a very wide margin. Some have already offered alternative, successful, plans of action to his major opposition -- Van Hilleary. A tremendous discussion, aimed at effecting a particular result, is happening right now, when most of Tennessee still isn't paying attention. We can, if we work hard, create the landscape that makes the road lead to our destination long before most Tennesseans are thinking about the trip.

What's working at the State level can be applied nationally. We, the voters after all, drive what happens. The media, the spin machines, the party PR folks, may try to control the microphone, but we own the building. Parties depend on volunteers, and if those volunteers are motivated conservatives they will define the actions that follow. If necessary, a lot of Republican office holders can be tossed out and replaced, repeatedly in a winnowing process. It may be slow going at first, but these kind of things develop a synergy that produces faster results as they build.

So, a Democratic Party that's the modern day equivalent of the Whigs. A chastened Republican party that's been reminded of their principles. Now what?

Here we move from the realist to the dreamworld, I'll admit it. I've long believe, as many other have, that America should be represented by only to political parties. Such a reductionist us v. them, A or B, up or down, this or that mindset just doesn't encompass the vastness and complexity of America. I think America can easily support five major parties.

First, the Democrats can split in two. One, into a labor-based, working people's party that focuses on keeping Big Business in check and getting a Fair Deal for working Americans. Mildly socialist and not really socially focused. Call them the Mondale Democrats or Social Democrats. Let them keep the old party name. I suspect a lot of African-Americans would end up here. I think this party settles at 25% of the electorate.

The other half is farther over to the Left and encompasses those who want to redesign the nation and society. Very socialist, activist, the party of change. Use the modern Green Party as the seed and let them keep this name. Probably 10 percent of the electorate.

The Republicans also divide in two. The big part becomes Rush Limbaugh-style conservatives. Pro business, free markets, pro-globalisation, not at all interested in social issues except as they tinker with markets and business. East Coast Rockefeller Republicans. I think they, too, end up around 25%.

Then we have the social conservatives, those who wish for an explicitly Christian nation, as we had until the early 20th century. Call them the Christian Patriot party, which I think describes them well. I think this is about another 10% or maybe more. Depending on how the nation changes while the political shift is happening, this could be higher, and would reduce the new Democrats and new Republicans.

Neither the new Greens nor the Christian Patriots should be thought of solely as the farthest edges of the Left or Right. They are the homes for those who make common cause with sympathetic centrists who aren't heavily motivated to change.

Then you have the Libertarians, those driven to reduce the reach of government at all levels and in all areas. A lot of former Republicans end up here, dissatisfied with the stance of the New Republicans and some Democrats as well. This is maybe 5% of the electorate.

How does work get done when power is divided so much? Not a lot happens, actually, unless a true majority wants it. Every party has to make alliances to get a win.

This post has gotten too long, as I sometimes do. We'll end it here since we've drifted into the dreamworld.

To return to my original point, giving power back to the Democrats is not the cure to Republicans losing their way in the run to the pig trough of power. Smaller government that cannot have spoils to give is the answer. We can't get there with Democrats. Not now, not ever. They must be crushed first.

Next we bully the Republicans and lop off a few heads to make the point. Then, in the unbalanced political world that results, when the unwieldy whole is going to topple of its own precariousness, someone takes over the Reform Party as a neo-libertarian agent of change. We can remake the map of politics for a better future.
Original Intent

Ann Althouse, reading through the Constitutional discussion of the Founding Fathers, finds an interesting passage from the Constitution's primary architect on the Senate's "advise and consent" function:
Mr. Madison, suggested that the Judges might be appointed by the Executives with the concurrence of 1/3 at least of the 2d. branch. This would unite the advantage of responsibility in the Executive with the security afforded in the 2d. branch agst. any incautious or corrupt nomination by the Executive.
And in comments, someone finds this:
Mr. Madison moved that the Judges should be nominated by the Executive, & such nomination should become an appointment if not disagreed to within days by 2/3 of the 2d. branch.
And, of course, it must be said that this isn't strictly a filibuster, as the nominees are locked up in committee by a gentleman's agreement that proxies for actual oration from the podium. Frist is doing well in holding the line so far, as witness all the "compromises" being offered by the Democrats in recent weeks, but he should first make the Democrats actually stand and speak. Let Americans, through a sympathetic press which will highlight a lot of what the Democrats say, see for themselves.

On the other hand, the Republicans are losing the PR war. It's hard for most Americans to discern the principle being upheld here by Republican insistence. Senate committee cloture rules? The filibuster? The President getting every nominee he puts through? That last one faces the modern schoolhouse training that says no one gets everything they want; we all have to compromise. Everyone gets something. Of course that's ridiculous -- teachers and principals get everything they want in school, no? -- but childhood training is hard to derail.

Speaking of sympathetic press, I happened to catch NBC Nightly News the day that British MP George "Show Me the Money" Galloway appeared before the Senate committee investigating the Oil For Food scandal. NBC showed a long and complete quote from the forceful Galloway (though it was full of lies and disinformation that were never challenged, much less pointed out), then Brian Williams summarised the questions and statements of the committee members, without attributing them, in less time than Galloway got. No mention was made of committee majority chair Coleman's poor performance, nor of Democrat Carl Levin's pointed and successful questioning of Galloway. From what you saw, you'd think Galloway gave a truth to power smackdown to the war-mongering American Senate, rather than a rhetorical performance in service of a despicable man's personal ass-saving.

Some Republicans still don't seem to remember that the mainstream Washington press corps is not their friend.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

From Around the Blogosphere

The Life in Memphis post down below has gotten a lot of readers this week. (Thanks Mark for your post pointing to it.) One of the commenters, EJ of Scenestars, has a post with some observations of his own.

If you have a post with some Memphis thoughts in it leave a link in comments!

Wally is a darn good writer. He's a great read, but best of all he loves a lot of the same music I do. (Royal Court of China, anyone?) Freakin' sweet. In this post he looks at the brazen greed of record companies.
Here’s what the record company is paying me to review this album: nada, zip, nothing, a big fat zero. Sure, not very many people will see the review here, but thousands upon thousands will see it at Blogcritics, plus it’s likely to be out there on the net as long as this present version of society exists. That’s a damn good return on what has to be a minimal investment for the marketing department of Epic Records. A press photo, a couple of Xeroxed copies of blather about the new album, and a CDR with no cover can’t cost much. The watermark is probably the most expensive part. It’s enough to make this unpaid reviewer question what he’s doing. Everybody’s getting fat and rich and I’m helping them for nothing more than what’s likely to be a tepid Oasis set that I can’t even give away as a gift.
He also writes of fantasy bands, and if you're all really nice this weekend, I'll post my own fantasy band page. (It's not what you're likely thinking, either....)
Darth Vader as a Hero

A unique take on the Star Wars saga from Tyler Cowen. Try this sample:
By the way, did I mention that the Jedi are genetically superior supermen with "enhanced blood"? That the rebels' victory party in Episode IV borrows liberally from Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will"? And that the much-maligned ewoks make perfect sense as an antidote to Jedi fascism?
No spoilers for the new movie, so read away.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Photoshop Phun Wednesday

A couple of wiseacres have posted some photoshopped images. Seems a little tit for tat is called for....

Y'all have a nice day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Why Firefox Rules

I've evangelised on this blog many times for the Firefox web browser. It is superior to Microsoft Internet Explorer in more ways than I can list here. It has better features, more user controls, better security, and will render webpages more accurately on your computer. Installation is a snap, and the installer will do most of the work for you! You can even install it on your computer alongside IE if you just want to test it out. Trust me, once you've used it a while, you'll have no desire to go back. It's just that good.

Now comes yet another reason to switch: GreaseMonkey User Scripts. These are easy to install controls that let you alter the construction of web pages! This goes beyond just changing background colors, link colors, fonts and sizes, and so forth. It's not just the extensions you can add to Firefox to individually customise your browser to your liking.

GreaseMonkey goes beyond universal alterations; you can adjust individual websites to suit your tastes or needs. Permanently. Sites like Blogger, CNN, Amazon, Flickr, Google, LiveJournal,, eBay; you name it. You can remove whole sections of web pages, like annoying columns of advertising. You can change the appearance and behavior of forms. You can resize columns of text. You can add pieces of one website to another -- for instance, like adding a price call from one site to your personal Amazon page for comparison purposes. You can tinker with LiveJournal and Blogger, to get them to behave. Go to the GreaseMonkey website and scroll the list of scripts; it's quite literally mind boggling what you can do. People have donated hundreds of scripts that affect dozens of websites. More are arriving all the time.

I'm only starting with this, but I'm amazed. It's given me ideas. I hope most of you have followed Brock's advice and used AdBlock and FlashBlock and BugMeNot for the Commercial Appeal website. Now, we can go even further. Like creating a GreaseMonkey script for the Commercial Appeal website that only displays the side nav bar and the content column, erasing all the bothersome advertising. Or doing the same for the local television news station websites, cleaning up their clutter to improve load times and readability. Imagine the possibilities....

Personal control and infinite customisability are among the touchstones of Firefox, after standards compliance and keeping the program clean and small. (The current version is smaller than 5mb!) With GreaseMonkey, it's just gone to a whole new level.
Flogging Dead Aliens

An interesting observation on why Star Trek and Star Wars won't go away just yet. But it's not just creative bankruptcy.

Add to that, that both ST and SW make boatloads of money for their studios -- in licensing, merchandising, product placements, etc. A big part of the Star Trek revenue stream for Paramount is stuff: tchotchkes sold to fans. Magazines, CDs, DVDs, coffee mugs, mouse pads, t-shirts, books, clothing, figurines, toys. Tons of stuff. Very profitable, too, at the prices they charge. Most television series season box sets can be had for between $35 and $60. Not Star Trek, where they routinely cost $90 to $120!

They'll be back in different form, but in a way that keeps fans buying stuff. Because that's what it's all about: buying stuff.

BTW, all I want is my Flash ("The Fastest Man Alive!") movie. And maybe a Legion of Superheroes movie, if DC ever gets off their butt.

And on Star Trek, I deeply wish now that they'd just let the franchise lie dormant for maybe ten years, at least. Give everyone else a chance to age and retire, or get too entrenched in their new careers to come back. Then have a completely new creative team (and production, costume, set, make-up design teams as well) come in to re-invent the series for the next generation of fans. Won't happen, of course, but a fan can wish.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Words of Wisdom Frist Will Not Heed

Kevin Patrick, writing at GOP Bloggers, has some important advice for Senate Majority leader Bill Frist about how to handle Democratic obstructionism over judicial nominees. He notes that Frist appears headed toward a Democratic trap.
Unfortunately, nothing today tells me that the current leadership sees the obvious parallels between the brinksmanship of 1990 and today. Additionally, nothing in the GOP leadership shows me they can procedurally out-maneuver an admittedly savvy opposition (they out-maneuvered the GOP on Bork, out-maneuvered the GOP on the 1990 budget, and out-maneuvered the GOP on the 1995 government shut-down).

Unless something un-dramatic happens and the GOP simply insists on a 24-hour, non-photo-op, talk 'till you are wasting the public's money and reading out of a phone book filibuster, the GOP will likely go to the extra-ordinary measure of going "nuclear" and lose the judicial nominee war (the Supremes and the 2006 and maybe 2008 elections), even if they win this current judicial nominee battle.
The whole read is short, and worth your look-see.

And I agree: let the Democrats talk their heads off in an actual standoff at the Senate podium. Make them stand there and fill time, for hours or days on end. Let self-important maroons like Kennedy, Byrd, Biden, Boxer, et al, run on at length for all of America to marvel over. There is absolutely no downside for the Republicans in doing this, and much to gain.

But I don't think Frist has the spine nor the vision to do it. He's slightly better than the grovelling Trent Lott was, but he's no tactician.

UPDATE: Chris Davis, that Pesky Fly Guy, just about pops a blood vessel over this post. Apparently the whole concept of "alliance of convenience," a staple of Democrat power, blows his mind when others try it.

I'm guessing he's got the tired old cliche of Libertarians as sexual libertines and drug users who want to do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it, damn the consequences and you, too, still in his head. Democrats and Republicans both believe people need government to protect them from themselves, an interesting view of humanity to say the least, and utterly self-serving of those who want power for themselves. I believe people should be left alone, to form society and communities as they see fit. If you find that unpleasant, then go form your own community in your own image or convince me that mine is wrong. Otherwise, leave me be.

Those who can't take care of themselves? To paraphrase a favorite saying of mine: "Be a good example or we'll just have to make you a horrible warning to others." The failures make the rest of us stronger. You may find that ugly, but it's how the world works. You go and form your own organisation to help them. Likely you'll find a lot of folks willing to help, generously so. Just don't make me support your crusade against my will, or take my money to do it. To those of you who now reflexively scream "Selfish bastard!" I remind you that I worked in a treatment center for nearly a decade, at less than minimum wage. I put my money where my mouth is.

I'm also a conservative, not in the narrow political sense but the larger sociocultural sense. Some changes are good, but experimenting with society (through government control) to create a utopia is just wrong. A pure conscience doesn't give anyone the right to tell me what to do, left or right. Ideas not grounded in reality, or only reached through pure philosphising, only harm society and should be avoided. For example, families are the best way of raising children. Society, and not government, should be backing that fundamental truth.

There's a problem, of course, between a democratic government -- where the individual is the base unit -- and a family-based society -- where the family group is the base unit. Extending government into the family gets us... well, where we are today. Make government retreat and let society sort it out. Will some folks be unhappy? Sure, but that the nature of life. Deal with it.

Democrats can make all the noise they want about being the "party of the people." They are not. They are the party of government control and social tinkering. Republicans have their own problems, but let's get the monster of government off our backs first, and then we'll deal with them.

Let me close this with a great and a propos quote from Neal Stephenson:
The twentieth century was one in which limits on state power were removed in order to let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abattoir.... We are free and prosperous because we have inherited political and value systems fabricated by a particular set of eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right. But we have lost touch with those intellectuals.
Chris brought up Stalin but I'll remind him that it was a Democrat, Roosevelt, who dealt with him in the Forties. The overweening and ambitious Roosevelt knew he was deathly ill, but ran for an unprecedented fourth term anyway. By the time he got to Yalta, he was nearing death and unable to stand up to the robust Stalin. It took Republicans and a few anti-Communist Democrats (remember them?), being fought every step of the way by Democrats of the Socialist and Communist Left, to kill off the Soviet Union.

We Have Lift-Off!

My buddy Mark went to East Tennessee this weekend to launch a special rocket. He met with huge success. He has pictures, too! Go on over, read the story and congratulate him. As you'll see, launching rockets of this size and power isn't an easy thing, but is very exciting.

More here, here, and here.