Vote For Hugh’s Blog Poster!

Radioblogger (aka Generalissimo Duane) has the finalists ready for your vote in his Blog poster contest. Photoshopped entries from around the globe have been submitted — 325 in all — an Duane has whittled it down to 10 deserving finalists. Make sure you take a look at all of them, but don’t forget to vote for your favorite. If you’re from Seattle, you can vote for dead relatives as well. (And don’t forget to demand recount after recount until your candidate wins, either.)
For those looking for a little guidance, I’m trying to stay neutral … but longtime CQ reader/commenter Peyton Randolph has made it into the finals. I’m not going to tell y’all which one is his, but let’s just wish that the Force is with him on Sunday evening!
UPDATE: I should also have noticed that another CQ reader, Derek Brigham, is in the lead right now with his Uncle Hugh entry. Decisions, decisions …
UPDATE II: And I completely missed that CQ reader Slubgob entered the FrodoHugh poster … Wow. If I get a couple of more CQ readers in that Top 10, Barbara Boxer will probably challenge the election results …

Hugh Hewitt’s New Book Due Soon

Hugh Hewitt’s new book, Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World will ship soon from Amazon and appear in your local bookstores. I’m waiting for an advance copy for review, but I also plan on buying the book for my daughter-in-law as well. The Elder at Fraters Libertas has already read his copy and gives an excellent review, as does Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit. Who better than Hugh could dissect the ramifications of the New Media’s emergence and the potential for the citizen journalists? I’m excited, and even though my blogging has greatly reduced my pleasure-reading time, I plan on putting Blog at the top of my priority list once it arrives.
Any literary agents that want my opinion on the blogosphere, feel free to contact me, of course …

Book Notes

Recently, I have been added to a book distribution list from HarperCollins, for which I am grateful. I’ve received two books thus far from the program and I wish I could be wildly complimentary about them both — but unfortunately, neither one appears worthwhile.
The first, Joe Scarborough’s Rome Wasn’t Burnt In A Day, is part memoir and part a Quixotic challenge to an entrenched bureaucracy in which Republicans and Democrats alike demonstrate the old maxim that power corrupts. Scarborough communicates a bitter disappointment that the Republican revolution has morphed into the same kind of pork-barrel troughsucking against which his freshman Congressional class won election in 1994.
Unfortunately, Scarborough’s book gets sunk by the condescension and hostility that literally seeps from almost every paragraph. His important points wind up playing second fiddle to an immature impulse to indulge in childish namecalling and score-settling. Not only that, but Scarborough simply gets basic facts inexcusably wrong. On the second page of his book, Scarborough tells us that “[i]nterest rates are once again shooting upward because of reckless Washington spending”, a contention that is patently ridiculous. Washington may be spending recklessly, but interest rates are hardly “shooting upwards” — they’ve been raised twice (and incrementally) over the past year from record low rates since World War II.
Take that demagoguery and toss in a few insults like “Fat White Pink Boys”, and you get an almost unreadable mess — and it’s really too bad, because Scarborough has a great perspective and several good points to make about the evolution of the revolution. Had he stuck closer to the facts and laid off the derision — and self-important assertions — more people would pay attention.
The second book has no such value, and the wonder is how it got published at all. If You Had Five Minutes With The President is such a facile waste of time that it almost serves as a satire on our celebrity-obsessed culture. Edited by Ron Reagan, it consists of the answers given by over 50 famous people to the question in its title. Luminaries such as Fran Drescher, Juliette Lewis, Bianca Jagger, and Janeane Garofalo wrote essays about their strategies for a short Presidential visit, as if anyone could possibly care what they think. Harry Hamlin gets the final word — Harry Hamlin?
So what do these pop-culture icons and Trivial-Pursuit answers have to say? Here’s Kathy Najimy:

Well, depending on who the president is, I would either slap him or French-kiss him. Then I would usher him into a helicopter standing conveniently by. I would pull my hair back in a clip so it wouldn’t get all mussed, like Sandra Bullock in Speed.

Minnie Driver starts off her anti-globalization tirade by addressing the President as El Jefe. Stephen Collins wants to talk about how to use Transcendental Meditation to fight terrorism. Mary Stuart Masterson demonstrates the brilliance that has marked her career as an actress:

I would suggest that all meetings with international leaders be conducted after they had given massages to one another. The actual meetings would be conducted in the nude. … Reality shows should be banned from television in favor of people actually living in their own reality. … Politics should stop being so political.

You can purchase this book of concentrated wisdom for just $13.97 at Amazon. Maybe it will provide the perfect antidote to the power of the limousine liberals among our cultural elite, but I doubt that was Ron Reagan’s or HarperCollins’ intent.

It’s Lonely In That Crowd On The Left

My friend and colleague John “Rocket Man” Hinderaker at Power Line notes that Robert Byrd, the most senior Senator in years and tenure, has a new book coming out titled Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency. The Amazon listing for the occasionally coherent West Virginian’s lonely challenge to the Bush administration includes this classic from the book publisher:

In the months and years following September 11, Senator Robert C. Byrd has viewed with alarm what he considers to be a “slow unraveling of the people’s liberties,” when all dissenting voices were stilled and awesome power swung suddenly to the president to fight a “war on terror.”

“Awesome power swung”? I assume that Byrd’s publisher may refer to the Patriot Act and the authorization for the use of force in Iraq. In both cases, power didn’t “swing”, Congress voted both bills into law. The Patriot Act simply allowed law-enforcement and intelligence agencies to share information and to use the same techniques that were already legal for child-porn and organized-crime investigations. As for the latter, Congress had already demanded regime change in 1998, and voted for the authorization based on the same intel that the both the current and previous administrations saw.
As for all of that stifling of dissent going on in Bush’s America, Byrd certainly will bravely use his voice as a solitary beacon of freedom … or, maybe just join the ever-expanding chorus:
New York Times Hardcover Best-Sellers:
1. My Life – Bill Clinton
6. Plan of Attack – Bob Woodward
11. Against All Enemies – Richard Clarke
14. Worse Than Watergate – John Dean [he wishes — CE]
16. Battle Ready – Tom Clancy and Tony Zinni
22. A Pretext for War – James Banford
New York Times Paperback Bestsellers:
2. Living History – Hillary Rodham Clinton
5. Stupid White Men – Michael Moore
10. Bushwhacked – Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose
Amazon Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers:
3. Plan Of Attack
6. Living History
10. Against All Enemies
12. Worse Than Watergate
15. Lies and the Lying Liars – Al Franken
22. A Pretext For War
24. House of Bush, House Of Saud – Craig Unger
Amazon Paperback Bestsellers:
1. Bushwhacked
10. Living History
Byrd gets to join the largest crowd of lonely people in literary history. There hasn’t been a top seller list this crowded with duplications since the Beatles occupied the first five positions on Billboard’s Top 10.

Nabokov Plagiarized ‘Lolita’

According to new German scholarship, Vladimir Nabokov plagiarized the most famous — and notorious — of his works, the controversial novel Lolita:

A novella, published in 1916 by Heinz von Eschwege, describes a girl called Lolita who obsesses and then seduces the narrator. The narrator, who is lodging in her house while on holiday, is distraught when the girl dies at the end of the story – astoundingly similar to Nabokov’s book, published in 1956, claims Michael Maar, a literary scholar.
“The name is the same, the title, the fact that it is written in the first person,” he told the Telegraph. “There is a close description of first seeing Lolita, looking into her eyes and seeing she was more than a girl, more than a child. The narrators are lodgers and both have passionate affairs and then Lolita dies.”

Furthermore, both Nabokov and von Eschwege lived in the same area of Berlin for 15 years, creating the opportunity for Nabokov to have read the novella years prior to writing his own, full-length novel with a similar plot and details. Maar minimizes the damage this will do to Nabokov’s reputation, saying that the original 18-page novella had nowhere near the artistry of Nabokov’s novel, but plagiarism is plagiarism. It won’t help Nabokov’s reputation that von Eschwege was also a Nazi journalist:

Von Eschwege, who wrote under the name Heinz von Lichberg, became a well known journalist in the Third Reich, not least for his commentary on national radio of Adolf Hitler’s torch-lit procession to the Reichstag after becoming chancellor in 1933.

So Nabokov stole the central idea, subplots, and character names for his novel about a middle-aged man having an affair with a schoolgirl from an ex-Nazi writer. Somehow, I think that the literary world may still re-evaluate Vladimir Nabokov, Maar’s protest notwithstanding.

A Silly Lord of the Rings Analogy for Today

Today’s capture reminded me of a scene from Tolkien, although it’s not the Lord of the Rings, it’s from The Silmarillion. I suppose it may be a bit silly to use this as a reference to Saddam Hussein, but it sounds oddly familiar to his capture. This passage comes from the chapter titled Of The Voyage of Earendil and describes the capture of Morgoth, who was Sauron’s leader during the First Age of Middle Earth:
… and all of the pits of Morgoth were broken and unroofed, and the might of the Valar descended into the deeps of the earth. There Morgoth stood at last at bay, and yet unvaliant. He fled into the deepest of his mines, and sued for peace and pardon; but his feet were hewn from under him, and he was hurled upon his face. Then he was bound with the chain Angainor which he had worn aforetime, and his iron crown was beaten into a collar for his neck, and his head was bowed upon his knees.
Unvaliant, indeed … his sons died fighting, a tactically stupid thing to do but a mistake that only hastened their eventual fate. Saddam, who had vowed never to be taken alive, did not even draw the pistol he carried when he was caught, and instead surrendered meekly. The Valar thrust Morgoth “through the Door of Night beyond the Walls of the World, and into the Timeless Void“; I suspect the Iraqis have something similar in mind, if less literary and more literal.
Note: this was my 600th post since starting CQ 10 weeks ago. Thanks to all who visit!