Monthly Archives: September 2006

Echo chamber

In a new videotape, al-Zawahri calls President Bush “a failure and a liar;” asks “how many more Americans have to die” before Bush realizes that “stay the course is not a plan;” demands Rumsfeld’s resignation; announces his candidacy for the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination.


Voice of America story corrected as of today

The VOA story which included a reference to Bob Dylan calling himself a “Jewish atheist” (apparently picked up via the Christian Science Monitor mistake of September 1st, 2006) has now been corrected. There’s no notation but the mis-quote has been removed from the text, and the audio version has been taken down — presumably to be replaced by a corrected version later.

Original post about the CSM mistake is here.

So, until next time … !

Dubya’s last campaign

Gloves off; it’s all or nothing.

“The stakes in this war are high and so are the stakes this November. Americans face a choice between two parties with different attitudes on this War on Terror,” he told an audience in Birmingham at a Republican fundraiser for Alabama Gov. Bob Riley.

“Five years after 9/11, the worst attack on the American homeland in history, the Democrats offer nothing but criticism and obstruction and endless second-guessing. The party of FDR, the party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut and run,” Bush said.

“The Democrats can’t have it both ways. Either they believe that Iraq is a distraction from the War on Terror or they agree with the intelligence community and the terrorist themselves that the outcome in Iraq is important to the War on Terror. Truth is the Democrats used the NIE to mislead the American people and justify their policy to withdraw from Iraq,” he said.

“I strongly believe that Iraq is a central front in the War on Terror. The Democrats may not think so, but Usama bin Laden does,” Bush said.

If it were not Iraq, terrorists would use the excuse of “our relationship with Israel as a reason to recruit, or the crusades or cartoons as a reason to commit murder, a recruit based upon lies and excuses. And they murder because of their raw desire for power,” Bush said.

Let’s get it on, indeed.

Socialist paradise revisited

Did you know that yesterday was “World Tourism Day”?

It was celebrated appropriately in that well-known tourist mecca, North Korea. From the North Korean Central News Agency:

Pyongyang, September 27 (KCNA) — Sept. 27 is the World Tourism Day. The World Tourism Organization (WTO) has advanced the slogan for the year “Tourism Enriches”.
On the occasion of the day, Kim To Jun, director of the State General Bureau of Tourism, had an interview with KCNA. He said to the following effect:
A lot of countries are encouraging tourism on the principle of promoting the development of national economy, peace and prosperity, improving the people’s health and respecting their freedom and human rights.
The DPRK, which has many tourist resorts famous in the world, has also directed proper attention to developing the sightseeing.
Hundreds of picturesque sites in Pyongyang, Kaesong, Nampho and other main cities and Mts. Paektu, Kumgang, Myohyang, Chilbo and Kuwol have been built as tourist resorts.
In recent years servicepersons and people of the country have discovered a lot of scenic spots such as Ullim Falls and Songam Cavern for more cultured future. And they have turned them into wonderful recreation and tourist resorts along with the existing ones.
The government devotes profound attention to developing tourism.

North Korean Disney

Scenic village in North Korea (captured from Google Earth).

Forget Henry

Henry Timrod, that is. See the blog Ralph the Sacred River for evidence of Dylan lifting lines in his memoir Chronicles from Marcel Proust, Mark Twain, and a 1946 book called “Really the Blues.”

This is potentially far more controversial than Dylan adapting phrases from a Civil War poet for some songs on Modern Times. After all, as Edward Cook, who discovered all this says, Chronicles is a work of prose, and readers are naturally entitled to assume that the text is original. Remember the recent “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed” episode?

On the other hand, in the examples provided, Dylan is not copying whole paragraphs and stealing elements of storyline, but is adapting certain phrases and imagery and turning them around to an extent. Still, some phrases are identical enough to warrant quotation marks, one would think.

So, allusiveness or plain deception?

I don’t want to defend too quickly, but I’m reminding myself of this, by way of a premise: Chronicles is not the story of Bob Dylan the man. If it were, we’d have lots more on his relationship with his wife and his kids (he might even mention their names!) and plenty of other intimate personal recollections that are not offered. Chronicles is Dylan’s way of telling his public story — to his public. It’s the memoir of Dylan the artist. What he’s providing is a seemingly very honest and startlingly clear portrait of how he went from being the kid from Hibbing full of dreams to the accomplished songwriter and performer who caused such a ruckus — in addition to how he arrived at later stages of artistic development. He goes to great lengths to tell us exactly what books he read, what authors he liked and why, what music he loved, what performers fascinated him and what moments of catharsis kicked him towards writing the kinds of songs he came to write. That’s what the book is about. In the course of contemplating all those matters and in particular revisiting the literary works that stuck in his mind through the years, perhaps he found it both amusing and appropriate to put some of those writers’ phrases into his own memoir — adapting them to tell his own story.

It’s worth remembering that no witnesses have accused him of making up the stories in Chronicles. From the survivors of the early Village days (admittedly there aren’t very many of them around) to later characters like Daniel Lanois — no one has said, “Hey, Bob’s imagining that — it never happened.” For that and other reasons we can be reasonably sure that he didn’t plagiarize the story that he is telling — it is what he claims it to be. If, in the course of it — as is now apparent — he planted and adapted phrases from some his favorite books, then that’s something else.

The ethics of it are debatable, of-course, and they will be debated. All I can say right now is: If Simon & Schuster does a complete recall on the book, I’m pretty sure I’ll be holding on to my copy.

So now

… Dylan’s making atheist jokes. On the new episode of Theme Time Radio Hour (theme: “The Telephone”) on XM Satellite Radio which aired today, Dylan offered this:

“They got a new ‘dial-a-prayer’ for atheists. You call it, and nobody answers.”

OK, not one of his best gags, perhaps, but it seemed like I should mention it.

It reminds me that the Voice of America has still not corrected Katherine Cole’s piece on their website which refers to Dylan as labeling himself a “Jewish atheist.” This despite that fact that the writer acknowledged the quote was inaccurate over a week ago, and said a correction had been made on the “in-house wire.”

The details in this post from September 21st still fully apply.

Update 09/29/2006: Voice of America story corrected as of today

Obvious truths which needed stating today

The story of the day needs no reiterating from me, but here it is anyway. Afghanistan’s President Karzai, at a White House press conference today, on our mutual enemy and on how much we’ve forgotten:

They came to America on September 11th, but they were attacking you before September 11th in other parts of the world. We are a witness in Afghanistan to what they are and how they can hurt. You are a witness in New York. Do you forget people jumping off the 80th floor or 70th floor when the planes hit them? Can you imagine what it will be for a man or a woman to jump off that high? Who did that? And where are they now? And how do we fight them, how do we get rid of them, other than going after them? Should we wait for them to come and kill us again?

The video of that exchange and more is available via Hot Air.

And then there’s the release of the extended National Intelligence Estimate (rather than just the Cliff Notes which the Democrats prefer). Full document in pdf form here. Money quote here:

The Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

Instant analysis from RWB here:

DUH!! You win by winning.

Another quote that speaks to the far-sighted and long-term strategy that was put into effect by President Bush within days of the September 11th attacks :

Greater pluralism and more responsive political systems in Muslim majority
nations would alleviate some of the grievances jihadists exploit. Over time, such
progress, together with sustained, multifaceted programs targeting the
vulnerabilities of the jihadist movement and continued pressure on al-Qa’ida,
could erode support for the jihadists.


Via the estimable Clive Davis, there’s a link by which non-subscribers might be able to read the full text of my piece, “What Dylan Is Not,” which appears in the Oct 2nd edition of the Weekly Standard. Don’t tell Rupert. (You’d still have to buy the magazine to see the picture, which is one of Bob from an August gig in Rhode Island, not to mention reading the other great articles.)

The Twyla Tharp / Bob Dylan musical, The Times They Are A-Changin’,
began its preview run at Broadway’s Brooks-Atkinson theater yesterday. I very much plan on seeing it, but due to ticket prices and my own financial realities I can’t plan on seeing it more than once — and that will likely be sometime after the official opening (all going well) on October 26th. To all concerned, RWB says, “Break a leg.”

By the way, I just noticed that Nick Hornby’s novel “High Fidelity” — already made into a film a couple of years ago — is now going to be a musical as well. Now that’s strange.

Anousheh Ansari continues her sojourn on the International Space Station (previously: $20,000,000 and a dream). She is keeping a blog where you can read about life without gravity, in very close quarters. Happy stuff like this:

Most veteran cosmonauts speak English and most veteran astronauts speak Russian. The funny thing I have observed sometimes is when a cosmonaut asks a question in English, his astronaut counterpart will answer in Russian. This is what I call mutual respect! If only we had more people practice it on Earth, we would have a much more peaceful place to live.

More peaceful, probably — though awfully confusing, too. Still, it makes sense, when people are trying to be sensitive to one another (as you’d better be when you’re crammed together in a tin can in space). You want to make it as easy as possible for your colleague to understand what you are saying. So, better to speak carefully in his language than to speak quickly in your own and possibly cause misunderstandings. If they tried running the U.N. that way, of-course, things would grind to a complete halt.

Hmm, sounds like a good idea.


See the post with pictures of the actual Arizona 9/11 memorial here at Hot Air.

See Iowahawk’s rendition here.

James Lileks wrote something for NRO that was later also quoted by Mark Steyn. I’ll quote it too, since it comes to mind in the context of this self-hating Arizona 9/11 memorial story (and I do think Iowahawk made a reference to it in his pastiche):

If 9/11 had really changed us, there’d be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there’s a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don’t. And we don’t seem interested in asking why.

Odds and Ends

Steyn on the UN, in the light of last week’s absurdity:

It may be news to the CFR [Council on Foreign Relations] types and the Dems but the UN demonstrated this last week that it is utterly incapable of reform. Indeed, any reforms would be more likely to upgrade and enhance the cliques of thugs and despots than of the few states willing to stand up to them. The most sensible proposal this week came from Chavez, who demanded the UN relocate to Venezuela. You go, girl!

From The Daily Standard there’s a piece by Mark Tooley analyzing a survey of Americans’ religious beliefs which is published by Baylor University. The general thrust of the results is that Americans are as deeply engaged, religiously, as ever. But these lines had to be read two or three times by yours-truly:

Not surprisingly, 95 percent of black Protestants and evangelicals believe that Jesus is God’s Son, while 85 percent of Catholics and 75 percent of mainline Protestants believe it. Intriguingly, so too do 10 percent of Jews.

So, if one believes the figures, a full 15 percent of self-described Catholics do not believe that “Jesus is God’s Son,” and a whopping 25 percent of “mainline Protestants” don’t believe it either.

Well, at least they’ll have less to argue about when the Islamists come a-calling.

A reality check from Iraqi President Jalal Talabani:

“I think we will be in need of American forces for a long time — even two military bases to prevent foreign interference,” he told The Washington Post.

“I don’t ask to have 100,000 soldiers — 10,000 soldiers and two air bases would be enough.”

Bases would “frighten those who are trying to interfere in our affairs.”

Can’t wait to see the Democratic Underground thread about that. (None at time of writing.)


Pity poor Mel Gibson — his ability to use logic obviously only goes so far. A couple of months ago he got into way big trouble for saying that the Jews were the cause of all the wars in the world. He had to apologize and retract it, and promise to work towards “healing.” Still, he looks out and sees wars continuing to go on — in Iraq, for instance. Well, if it’s not the Jews causing it, then what, he wonders? There must be no reason at all! It’s just human sacrifice.

Next question!

Cat finds his tongue

The singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, now Yousef Islam, has “criticized Pope Benedict XVI’s on Sunday for his controversial comments about Islam.”

The singer said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. that the pope’s words proved that he was not infallible. The pope should familiarize himself with more peaceful interpretation of the religion, such as the writings of Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi, the he added.

Gandhi was Hindu, no? Am I missing something? In any case, Yousef is missing quite a bit. The pope is only considered infallible, according to Roman Catholic teaching, when making a solemn declaration of dogma to his flock. There’s no reason to suggest that he was being infallible with his address at Regensburg — but neither does that mean he wasn’t right on the money.

Cat/Yousef has a new album coming out in November.

In other news, an Islamic preacher in Gaza named Sheikh Abu Saqer assures us that “Islam is Allah’s favorite religion.”

“We did not need the words of the pope in order to understand that this is a Crusader war against Islam and it is our holy duty to fight all those who support the pope, who follow him and who did not condemn what this small racist had to say,” commented Abu Saqer, speaking to WND from the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis.

“The day will soon come when the green flag of La Illah Illah Allah (There is no god but Allah) and Muhammad Rasul Allah (Muhammad is the Propher of Allah) will be raised upon the Vatican and all around the world and on the fortresses of those who want to destroy Islam because they know that this religion obliges them to face the truth that Islam is Allah’s favorite religion. And until they join Islam hell is their last station,” Abu Saqer said.