Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Big Journalism no-no: The New York Times is reporting that CBS is using some Enron-style accounting to pay Michael Jackson $1 million for last Sunday's "60 Minutes" interview.
Since such a payment flies in the face of journalistic ethics, CBS managed to get its entertainment division to write the check, according to the Times.
Another black eye for big-time journalism. Thanks guys.
You read it here first: James Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" yesterday highlighted Democrat presidential hopeful Howard Dean's interview last week in the Boston Globe which I also mentioned.
Well, when I saw that, I thought to myself, Taranto hasn't seen anything yet, and pointed him to my post and the related Dean blog post on Christmas Day.
Today's "Best of the Web" includes a bit on the fact that Dean's "Holiday" message doesn't include any mention of Jesus or even Christmas.
There's no link here to Hoystory, but I do get first mention in the tagline.
You read it here first.
Good read: Check out today's Wall Street Journal piece on the mixed news coming out of Saudi Arabia and how it treats kidnapped Americans.
Alternate Universe Krugman: On the day the NASDAQ closed above 2,000 for the first time in 21 months, The New York Times' most irrelevant columnist, Paul Krugman, comes out with a column designed to show that the economy is not improving.
To quote, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Krugman's point is:
Everything you know is wrong
Black is white, up is down and short is long
And everything you thought was just so important doesn’t matter
Everything you know is wrong
Just forget the words and sing along
All you need to understand is
Everything you know is wrong
As the economy continues to get better, Krugman's denunciations of the President and his economic policies seem more and more desperate.
The measured unemployment rate of 5.9 percent isn't that high by historical standards, but there's something funny about that number. An unusually large number of people have given up looking for work, so they are no longer counted as unemployed, and many of those who say they have jobs seem to be only marginally employed. Such measures as the length of time it takes laid-off workers to get new jobs continue to indicate the worst job market in 20 years.
This doesn't pass the smell test. Krugman tells us, correctly, that a 5.9 percent unemployment rate "isn't that high" (he could have said, is relatively low). Then says that the number is misleading because of numbers that he won't (or can't) quantify. Really, would those numbers really be all that telling? In past mild recessions were these things not true? When we were going through President Carter's "malaise" were people encouraged to keep looking for jobs?
Krugman is living in some sort of alternate universe where black is white, up is down, and good economic news is really bad economic news.
As the economy continues to improve, Krugman's doom and gloom predictions will appear more and more foolish then they do now (which will be quite an accomplishment).
Return of the King: I finally got a chance to see final installment of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you haven't seen it yet, you should make it a point to see it. The three-plus hours are well spent.
My favorite line of this movie is from Gimli, following up on the extended DVD edition of the Two Towers where he and Legolas compete for killing for the most of the enemy.
During the movie's great battle, Legolas displays his amazing acrobatic abilities to take down an enemy elephant-type beast. After this amazing display bringing down a beast which is about three times the size of a normal elephant, Gimli informs Legolas that: "That still only counts as one."
The only downside is that it will still be about 10 months before the extended edition DVD of "The Return of the King" hits store shelves.
Sunday, December 28, 2003
Episcopal "Church" betrays the faith: The Right Reverend John Bryson Chane, bishop of Washington, D.C.'s National Cathedral gave one doozy of a Christmas sermon. The subject of the sermon was miracles. The Wrong Reverend listed some of God's miracles.
Some would say that God does not exist, Jesus was a dreamer and that Christmas and Christ's birth and living presence among us has no real hold on the world to change it for the better... but I say it's already happening. And it is a miracle!
And what was God thinking... when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the Law to Moses?
And what was God thinking... when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the sacred Quran to the prophet Muhammad?
And what was God thinking... when the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to reveal the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
That's right! According to the Wrong Reverend, the Quran is inspired by God. Unfortunately, that presents some theological difficulties for anyone with half a brain -- something the Wrong Reverend apparently lacks.
See, for the penultimate statement in that quote (that's a fancy word for next-to-last) to be true, the final statement can't.
According to the Quran, Jesus was a prophet -- but he isn't the Christ and he certainly wasn't the Son of God.
The Wrong Reverend has, however, succeeded in unifying Christians and Muslims in one thing: His Christmas message is offensive to followers of both faiths.
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Hoystory gets search results: Some
perverts people find Hoystory using the oddest searches, and I'm proud to declare that according to Yahoo's search engine, Hoystory.com is the #1 site for:
Naked club parties for New year's Eve in Chicago that don't prohibit nudity
You'd hate to got to a naked club party that prohibited nudity, wouldn't you?
Some college football bon mots: Caught this on the wire, but the article containing them by The Denver Post's John Henderson should make an appearance on the Web soon.
The quotes, both courtesy of Blake Elliott of St. John's (Minn.):
Best In-Your-Face-Trash-Talk comeback: Blake Elliott, St. John's (Minn.) wide receiver. After catching a pass and being told by a defensive back, "That's the last catch you're getting today, 2," Elliott shot back, "Considering it's 48-0 and I'm coming out of the game, you're probably right."
Best quote: Blake Elliott, St. John's receiver. After beating Bethel for Gagliardi's NCAA-record 409th victory, he was asked if the team had discussed the goal much this year. Said Elliott, "We didn't talk about 409 unless it was about cleaning supplies."
Friday, December 26, 2003
More on Howard Dean: I've never really tried this, but if it works for Howard Dean, maybe it'll work for me. See, on Dean's blog, he has a big long post where every link takes you to his contribute page -- and there are nine of them.
So, for those of you who are recovering from all of that delicious Christmas turkey, ham or beef, you might want to consider supporting Hoystory with your non-tax-decuctible contribution.
If you got some Christmas cash, maybe you'd consider sharing some.
Or, at the very least click on some of the Google links to shift some money from the corporate titan that is Google to the corporate midget that is Hoystory.
Dean and Religion: The Boston Globe has a piece on Democrat presidential candidate Howard Dean's own "Southern Strategy" to emphasize his Christianity.
Now, I try to do my best not to judge other people's faith, so I won't really comment on the substance of what Dean says in the Globe article.
However, Dean did post his "holiday" message yesterday on his blog.
"Today, for just a single day out of the year, much of the world recognizes a day of peace. It is a day when we set aside our differences and come together to celebrate an ideal of a world free from hate, free from want and free from war.
"Over the 3,500 years of recorded human history, we have seen thirteen years of war for every year of peace. Today, as we gather with families and friends, we must remember the hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers separated from their families, serving overseas. We must remember the people of Africa who have seen too much war, destruction and want this year, and we must remember all of the other humanitarian crises that escape our notice on other days of the year.
"On this day more than most, we must resolve to continue our work and to redouble our efforts to ensure that someday soon world peace can be something we celebrate more than just once a year.
"The United States was founded on an ideal that we would serve as a peaceful and moral beacon for the rest of the world. Thomas Jefferson once wrote, 'Peace with all nations, and the right which that gives us with respect to all nations, are our object.' The biggest roadblock to achieving that is our own doubt that it can be accomplished. Franklin D. Roosevelt told us that 'The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.' May today bring peace on Earth and goodwill toward everyone."
There is absolutely no mention of Christmas or Jesus. For someone who plans to talk about his faith, Christmas Day might be the day to do it.
Frankly, this is the most incredibly lame holiday message I think I've ever read -- and that truly is a major accomplishment.
Thursday, December 25, 2003
Religion of Peace: Next time you hear calls from the "Arab street" and their PR groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations talking about what an insult it is to Islam to start a war or have military action during the month of Ramadan, remember this.
A suicide bombing at a major intersection outside Tel Aviv during rush hour Thursday killed four people and wounded 13, according to Israeli authorities.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the terror attack that also killed the suicide bomber.
The bomber approached a bus stop and blew himself up, Israeli Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishki told The Associated Press.
If Islam means "peace," well, someone's using a faulty dictionary.
Merry Christmas: This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1, Verses 18-25
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Your tax dollars at work: With $35,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, three San Diegans will develop a musical based on the exploits of serial-killer Andrew Cunanan.
Cunanan, a scholar-athlete at The Bishop's School in La Jolla in the mid-1980s, earned a reputation as a gay playboy before embarking on a murderous 1997 journey that had Hillcrest friends fearing for their lives and the FBI involved in a national manhunt.
Police linked him to five slayings in Minnesota, Illinois and Florida, and the FBI placed him on its 10 Most Wanted list. When a caretaker spotted him hiding on a Miami houseboat a week after Versace's killing, Cunanan committed suicide before police could apprehend him.
You'll likely be able to see the play sometime next year.
(Jessica) Hagedorn will create "Disposable" during 2004, according to an NEA announcement that described the piece as "loosely based on the life of Andrew Cunanan, the serial killer."
The work is in the early stages of development, said Playhouse spokeswoman Jessica Padilla, who noted that the collaborative effort "is a long-term project and will not be a traditional musical."
I'm curious to hear what some of the songs will be titled?
"Yes, that's a gun in my pocket."
Mad Cow in the U.S.: Now that Mad Cow Disease has been discovered in the United States, certain aspects of the Democratic presidential race have become apparent.
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Book report: I finished reading Anton Myrer's "Once An Eagle" last night. It's a heavy tome, nearly 1,300 pages, but it never drags. I began reading the book -- which my father had given me an extra copy of a couple years back, but had sat near the back of my extensive queue since then -- after reading an article or opinion piece (don't know where it is, so there's no link) which likened Democrat presidential candidate Wesley Clark to the novel's antagonist Courtney Massengale.
The book's main character is Sam Damon, a soldier who enlists in the Army before the outbreak of WWI and who makes the service his career. Damon distinguishes himself in the Great War, earning a battlefield commission and rising to the rank of Major before the conflict is over.
When America is drawn into WWII, Damon again serves with distinction, leading by example with the well-being of his troops and the mission the focus of his efforts. Make no mistake, Damon is not a timid commander, but neither is he a foolish one.
Damon's antagonist, Massengale, is also a career man. During WWI, while Damon is leading troops on the ground, Massengale is serving on a general's staff, drawing up plans and behaving properly sycophantic.
Throughout their careers, the pattern is much the same. Damon serves in the field, training enlisted men, fighting for them, championing their cause. Massengale plays politics, staying in the bureaucracy, far from the troops -- never commanding soldiers in the field.
It's in WWII's Pacific Theater when the two finally come into conflict. Massengale is given his first command -- of an Army Corps -- in which Damon is a Major General and Division commander (Massengale is a Lieutenant General -- three stars to Damon's two). This where Massengale exhibits his true nature -- and disregard for the lives of his men.
Massengale creates a battle plan only tenuously based on the circumstances on the ground, instead focusing his planning on a tactically "beautiful" military operation -- without regard to difficulty and cost in lives.
Massengale is a cold, unfeeling, monster of a man. He marries his wife for position (she is from a well-to-do Boston family) and not for love -- and the truth is that he is incapable of love. His only concern is for his career, not his wife, not his daughter and certainly not for the men under his command.
What does this say about Wesley Clark, that he has been likened to this man? Only those who have worked closely with the man can say, but Gen. Hugh Shelton's remarks should give people some pause.
The dumb doctor: Democrat presidential frontrunner Dr. Howard Dean has done something stupid.
Howard Dean came under criticism from an Iowa newspaper last weekend for an answer to a questionnaire in which he implied that his brother was serving in the military when he disappeared in Laos 29 years ago. His brother had been traveling in Southeast Asia as a tourist.
Asked by The Quad-City Times, which is based in Davenport, Iowa, to complete the sentence "My closest living relative in the armed services is," Dr. Dean wrote in August, "My brother is a POW/MIA in Laos, but is almost certainly dead."
The brother, 23-year-old Charles Dean, whose apparent remains were recovered by a military search team last month in Laos, was classified as missing in action, along with other civilians captured or killed in the area during the Vietnam War. But Charles Dean never wore a uniform, and while some family members at times suspected that he was working as a spy, Dr. Dean said he never believed that.
This comes in the wake a Dean suggestion that the American military would eventually decline (not that he would have anything to do with it). There is also reason to believe, from his rhetoric, that the strength of the military would suffer under a Dean presdiency -- at a time when we need it most.
Dean's answer to the simple question from the Quad City Times about family members who are serving or who have served in the military shows he has some difficulty with basic reading comprehension. Dean may also fear his distance from the military could have a negative effect on his candidacy. Dean apparently has no close family members who have served (else why single out his civilian brother?) and he doesn't seem like the type of guy who manages to make friends in those circles.
Dean's reply to criticism from his wrong answer to the Times' survey is also predictibly weak.
"The way I read the question was that they wanted to know if I knew anything about the armed services from a personal level," he said. "I don't think it was inaccurate or misleading if anybody knew what the history was, and I assumed that most people knew what the history was. Anybody who wanted to write about this could have looked through the 23-year history to see that I've always acknowledged my brother's a civilian, was a civilian."
Mark Ridolfi, editor of the paper's editorial page, noted that the question had specifically asked about the armed services and said of Dr. Dean's reply, "It certainly is not an accurate response."
That still doesn't wash -- his brother wasn't in the military, so how does talking about him show Dean knows anything "about the armed services from a personal level?"
Don't expect this sort of gaffe to hurt Dean in the primary; he still has the teflon Democrat candidacy. However, the general election campaign may come as a suprise for him -- charges from the GOP and President Bush's campaign will have a much better chance of sticking.
Monday, December 22, 2003
Word from the front: A good friend of mine who's in the Air Force sent me this e-mail that has been making the rounds in military circles from SSgt. Parker Gyokeres.
Good lord what a week. I'm going to remember the 14th of December for a very long time. This marshy valley region is the area of Iraq that rose up against Saddam after the first gulf war. The uprising was cruelly crushed and many innocent people were "punished". On Sunday those people stopped being afraid. We got that bastard. The man who claimed he was the living incarnation of Suleiman, [sic] one of this regions greatest warriors, the man who swore he would fight to the last bullet and breath, and commanded his troops to kill as many "American Dogs" as they could, came out of his rat hole without a fight. That event alone did more for the Iraqi morale. He had weapons in his hands for god sakes, if he had chosen to fire just one shot we would have been taking him while he resisted, his capture would have looked like a final struggle at best, martyrdom at worst. But he came out like a whipped dog, looking emaciated and filthy. "Number One" on our list looked like a big hairy pile of #2. After all that, we gave him a medical checkup and fed him. What a country.
We have heard many times that one of the big problems is that every Iraqi, at some level, was concerned that sooner or later this boogieman would pop up and do what he did best for many years. Hurt somebody. Many times he didn't even have a reason to hurt people. He just did it to keep them scared, if he ever came back, even a little, he would be plenty pissed. And when Saddam was pissed, lots of good people died. That never left the minds of every person we talked too every day. One of our favorite games with our interpreters was to ask them where he was. In all seriousness they told us he was not dead, and that he was probably either in Baghdad running the resistance or in Tikrit. I know of one who was seriously concerned that he was in the USA, planning to strike back. Before you laugh, consider the cult of personality he had produced over 30 years of rule through terror and force. They only knew him as the most powerful and all-knowing influence in their lives. This interpreter was convinced and concerned that he was planning a terror attack in the US to punish us for what we had done. In his mind Saddam was that all-powerful and vengeful. The general consensus, us included, was that he was never going to be found. (We won't ever get UBL, but that's not nearly as important, or would be nearly as effective as Saddam's capture.) I'm very happy that we got him and thrilled that we got him alive. The decision to let the people of Iraq judge and punish him is not only the only solution that will guarantee the people of Iraq satisfaction, (and trust me they truly deserve it.) But it guarantees his suffering at the hands of people that were raped, tortured, murdered, and stacked like cordwood in huge warehouses because in the eyes of the government they didn't deserve a simple burial. This man was evil for longer than half of its inhabitants have been alive. His image and influence was omnipresent and ruled over every aspect of their relations with everyone they ever came in contact with, lest that person be an informer, or a member one of the many branches of the secret police. The Iraqis I know want to skin him slowly and roll him in salt, and then they want to really hurt him. They feel the real need to give the bastard just a little of his own medicine.
Please let me make this abundantly, perfectly, crystal clear, under no circumstances, should you confuse the issue of why we are here in Iraq, with the fact that this man will never again be able to kill children because their parents spoke out against him. There are those that think we shouldn't be here at all. Believe it or not, that opinion doesn't offend me. I disagree, but it's a free country. I may not agree with a thing you say, but ill defend to the death your right to say it. I actually believe that, and that's why I'm glad I'm here for Christmas. You have your viewpoints, and I have mine. I'm just incredibly fortunate to be here in Iraq doing something to change the way the world feels about us.
I've said it before. If we pull this off we will be the kind of nation we want to be, the type of nation we represent ourselves to the world as. We don't have to call ourselves the Democratic Peoples Republic of the United States of America. Nobody buys that crap. Calling yourself a 'Democratic Peoples Republic' and running a political reeducation camp at the same time is going to get you an old fashioned ass kicking. We are just Americans, dammit, the good old USA, and the reason we are the leaders of the free world is that we love freedom. Freedom of speech and the press, freedom of religion, freedom to own an arsenal and act like an idiot if you choose to. Freedom to do whatever the hell you want to do as long as you don't hurt anybody doing it and Uncle Sam gets his cut. Our defiance against our lack of freedom made us who we are as a nation. Our willingness to fight for our freedoms and the ones of others defines us as citizens in this world. In my eyes it's as simple as that. Our system works best because we are free to do what we want to do. It pisses us off as a nation to see governments that abuse its citizens. It has been the overriding desire of this nation in this century to free the oppressed, right the wrongs, and fix the terrible problems caused by other terrible people. That U stands for United, by the way, and we don't like people trying to hurt some of us to make the rest of us weak. Yeah, you hurt us by crashing a few planes and killing some people, but now you pissed us off. Ask the Japanese how well that worked out. "I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant" said the general as he watched the attack planes depart in the darkness for Pearl Harbor. That conflict killed over 40 million people and left 150 million homeless. All in the name of fighting tyranny and oppression. What makes them think we will shirk from this fight? People at home screaming "no blood for oil" that's what. The gas in the tank of our deuce gets trucked in from Kuwait. The oil from here gets sold for the people of Iraq. Thought you would like to know.
Should we be the world's policemen? I can't answer that. But imagine terrified people sharing the freedoms that you better not take for granted. We truly can't afford to not pay the price for that effort. If there's one thing that our system makes enough of, its money. Soon Iraq will be a free country under its own self-rule. There's a gift for the world, a gift that self-proclaims the purity of its intentions. And a gift worth every penny we spent on it. I'm not espousing fighting wars and invading every dictatorship on the planet. That is truly not necessary. I can't even say if invading here so quickly was a good idea. God knows we gave that bastard 11 years to clean up his act and behave according to the agreement that he signed. WMD wasn't even a factor. The way he mooned the world and wiped his butt on his promises, as nervous governments went nuts trying to get him to behave, the guy was asking for somebody to open a good can of whoop ass on him. We probably should have spent a little more time to get some friends together before administering it. But, being the biggest kid on the block, we didn't have to. So we went in solo and pissed off the rest of the world. If they didn't help us do the hard work, they don't have much right to bitch about what we do and don't find in the country. Like I said, WMD isn't important. If we found it now, the whole world would say we planted it. Come to think of it, so would I. It would be too easy and there's not a single procedure that you can enact during its discovery that we wouldn't be accused of rigging. In the end, it took digging in backyards for over 10 months to find Saddam. Patience is a virtue that is almost always rewarded. But if we weren't here he would still be killing truly innocent people by the hundreds. That is a horrible truth that unfortunately is also happening in places we can't affect right now. But we can affect Iraq, thanks to those that came before me, and those that terribly, never came home. In the end it's as simple as that. American lives are incredibly precious. Not a single one should ever be lost in vain. As of now, sadly, almost 375 men and women have died bravely serving their respective countries in Iraq. No country participating has not felt the pain of loss in this conflict. Each one of those lives cost us more than I can ever write about with my meager words. But if you asked them if they were willing to die for the freedom of others they would probably have told you that the price of liberty is steep, but it must be paid. I know I would. Without hesitation. Those men and women came here as volunteers, just as I did. All I can say is this; Freedom is not free. That is why this enterprise absolutely must be finished for the honor of those we lost. Regardless of what you think about the way we got to this point in the first place. You simply must finish what you started.
But guns and precious lives aren't always the answer to fix terrible problems. We spent over 30 years fighting a war with Russia that only we could win, a war of simple economic power. They busted the bank trying to keep up with us and it broke them. More positive democratic changes have been made in China in the last 10 years for monetary reasons than in 40 years of cold war. North Korea makes outrageous threats in order to coerce us to make deals that prop [up] its failed system. Every time they make bellicose and belligerent statements about our "evil ways", we prove again that we are winning the battle against that terrible government. In the end, what's going to free those people is the almighty green. Not an invasion, or an air strike on a troublesome nuke plant. Just the patient confidence that our system works for good, not against it.
I had to be here for a while to realize that we needed to do this in Iraq. Or at the very least, that what we did here was the right thing to do. When I left for Iraq I was ready to see a quagmire. A black hole of lost money, misguided efforts, a hostile populace, and broken morale. In short, I expected Vietnam. I haven't been able to find it, and I was looking. Every day I have been here, this country has gotten better for its people. And it's gotten safer too, for us, and them. We are welcome here as the people who are making a real difference. They know we aren't staying. In a month alone the difference has been staggering. And this was all before we found the guy painted on every public wall hiding like a bitch in a tiny hole, too scared for only his own skin to even fight back even with the gun in his hands. The Iraqis saw then that the "supreme leader" was, in their own words, "a shivering coward". They laughed at him publicly in their new free press. That's what I'm talking about. On that wonderful day, and I can't say it enough, everything changed.
There are many here who couldn't even mention his name. When we say it, all the locals cringe instinctively, like they had been struck, they then look furtively about them to see who else around them heard us blaspheme against the devil. It's not an amusing thing to terrify a grown man with a single word. It makes one feel horrible. For us that word is one of scorn and disgust, for them it could get you and your family killed by nightfall, and I'm not kidding. You just vanished. 30 years of that terror will change the psyche of a nation. It's going to take some pain to fix it. That process started with a hairy man in a rat hole being led away in handcuffs.
So for me, the realization that this was, and is, the right thing to do hit me like a lightning bolt; the second I saw our interpreter begin to cry tears of joy at the news that "we got him". He said one thing, hesitantly and very quietly, with a mixture of barely hidden fear and childish hope in his voice. "Are you sure?" I took him by the shoulders, and with a huge smile on my face and the excitement of a child, said; "Yes, Osama, its him! We got him!" He hugged me briefly and stepped back, didn't say a word, and a single tear rolled down his face. Then he took a deep shuddering breath, like a terrible weight had been lifted off his shoulders, and grinned broadly, the smile of a man looking at his bride coming down the isle, a smile of pure joy. At that second, Osama knew that he couldn't be punished for working with us. At that second, I knew that we could leave this country to freedom loving Iraqis, and not worry about our new friends being ok. We both knew it was almost over.
You have not lived until you tell a man he is free and feel his joy.
The night of his capture was filled with celebrations. The oncoming nightshift interpreter told us that the city was one gigantic party. Absolute euphoric insanity. There were people dancing in the streets and lighting firecrackers. Nobody in Iraq slept that night, the celebrating innocent, and the fearful evil. We are 10 kilometers from Nasiriyah, and from where we stood outside our VCC we could see tracers firing straight up into the night skies. Thousands of rounds, and for once, they weren't fired in anger. At least not anger directed at us. I haven't got a single shred of pity for the guy. He's truly earned what's coming to him. It's all up to them. For once in their lives they are truly free to decide the fate that they feel is just.
That was a big day for this country, one of the biggest ever. And I was here to experience it all. What a blessing.
Wow, that was a fun letter to write. See you next week folks. I can't wait to see what that week brings my way. Feel free to forward this to anyone you feel would enjoy it.
Merry Christmas everybody.
I don't agree with everything SSgt. Gyokeres has written, but the description of the joy and relief among the Iraqi populace is something our national media has not adequately communicated. As Gyokeres points out, this is not a quagmire and the vast majority of the Iraqi people want us there.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Congratulations!: Time magazine names "The American Soldier" its Person of the Year. It's an honor well-deserved.
Saturday, December 20, 2003
What he wrote: If you haven't read the latest from Victor Davis Hanson over at National Review Online, then you should remedy the situation promptly.
Europeans: But don't simply scoff; for us the idea that you would spend $87 billion on fighting in Iraq while your own people don't have health care is preposterous.
Dumb American: But was the death rate this August higher in the Sunni Triangle or Paris? We believe that a nanny state is not only inefficient, but, when the temperature rises, downright lethal.
Hanson is right that this war or terror would be over more quickly if France and Germany exhibited any symptoms of having a backbone.
This war would be over far sooner if 350 million Europeans insisted on a modicum of behavior from Middle Eastern rogue regimes, rounded up and tried terrorists in their midst, deported islamofascists, cut off funding to killers on the West Bank, ignored Yasser Arafat â€” and warned the next SOB who blew up Europeans in Turkey, North Africa, or Iraq that there was a deadly reckoning to come from the continent that invented the Western military tradition. Indeed, European sophistication and experience, combined with real power, could be a great aid to the West in its effort to promote liberal and consensual governments outside its shores. But if they do not even believe in the unique legacy of their civilization, then why should we â€” much less their enemies?
The whole thing is well worth a read.
Another "miserable failure"?: Libya has agreed to allow international inspectors to verify and dismantle that country's WMDs. President Bush and British PM Tony Blair had been negotiating with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for about nine months.
If you take a look at the calendar, you'll find that the trilateral talks (note that Gadhafi approached the U.S. and U.K. and not the French and Germans or even Kofi Annan) began right around the time the coalition began its attacks on Iraq.
Has Bush's doctrine of pre-emption and strong stand against terrorism and its supporters made the world a safer place?
With today's announcement, the answer is clear.
The left wing of the blogoshpere, however, appears to be in shock at the news. After checking some of the usual suspects, specifically most of the top of Atrios' blogroll, I can find no substantive mention (I did find some comments in an open thread about the various ways of spelling Gadhafi's name) of what is the top story in today's New York Times, Washington Post and San Diego Union-Tribune.
It shouldn't take long for the left that to move through what is becoming the normal stages of Bush Derangement Syndrome: A) This is a good thing for peace in the world; B) This is a bad thing for Democrat presidential hopefuls; C) This would've happened sooner if we'd gotten a "real coalition" to negotiate with Ghadafi; D) The United States and its citizens are no safer after Bush's announcement than they were before.
The left is losing whatever intellectual honesty it once could claim to possess as it makes ever more foolish statements in order to deny offering anything other than backhanded praise to the Bush administration.
One man's genocidal despot is another's former president: The BBC, its moral vacuum rivaling a moderate-sized black hole, has banned its reporters from referring to Saddam Hussein as a tyrant or dicatator, in favor of "the deposed former President."
One anonymous BBC staffer has some sense:
“This is our daftest order ever.”
Well, maybe not ever, but it definitely makes the Top 10.
Friday, December 19, 2003
Secularism above all else: France is considering a law that would ban Muslim girls from wearing (the required) headscarves at public schools. In the interest of fair treatment, also banned would be "ostentatious" or "large" crosses, crucifixes, yarmukles and the Star of David.
Of course, what is "large" or "ostentatious" is always open to interpretation. While a headscarf or yarmukle are obvious, what exactly is a "large" cross? Are they going to have officials inspecting jewelry with rulers?
It's unlikely that this sort of thing could happen in the United States, but this is the sort of law that people like Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the litigious Michael Newdow would like to pass.
The courts (as is demonstrated almost daily by the Ninth Circuit) cannot be trusted to maintain religious liberties -- instead we have to depend on the legislative branch.
If the Supreme Court should completely lose its mind and rule in the Newdow case that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance constitutes an establishment of religion, then you will see a Constitutional Amendment passed in record time.
We don't have the same widespread hostility to religion here that is the norm in France -- and for that we should be grateful.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
The only Michael Jackson comment that I will make: The New York Post is reporting that Michael Jackson, facing child molestation charges, has joined the Nation of Islam.
My question: Don't you have to be black to join?
More on the break-up of the Episcopal Church: Christopher Johnson has been doing an excellent job over at the Midwest Conservative Journal covering the fallout from the Episcopal Church's decision that all that stuff in the Bible about homosexuality is just outdated moralizing that God wasn't really serious about.
The latest: The Anglican Church in Uganda (the Episcopal Church is the American branch of the Anglican Communion) has told the ECUSA that it's not welcome.
My favorite bit of analysis from Johnson:
So take your money and stick it up your narthex:
It just captures so much feeling with so few words.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
More on bad (mostly TV) reporting: The Media Research Center has announced its annual awards for the worst media reporting.
I'd seen many of them, but to read all of them collected in just one place...and some think the media leans right.
Stupid infobox of the year: OK, maybe there have been some dumb ones, but the one showing on Hannity & Colmes on Fox News reads:
CAPTURE OF SADDAM HUSSEIN
Saddam reportedly said
"My name is Saddam Hussein"
And this is suppose to inform me how?
It'd be more interesting if it had read:
Only true statement Saddam has told interrogators
"My name is Saddam Hussein."
And we're not really sure of that either.
Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
More funny corrections from the paper of record: What's going on with the copy desk over at The New York Times?
An article on Friday about the views of L. Paul Bremer III, the American administrator in Iraq, about the country's future misstated the weight of the bombs that United States forces have dropped recently on sites believed to harbor urban guerrillas. They are 500 pounds each, not 500 tons.
Just for an idea of scale, an M1A1 Abrams tank weighs nearly 70 tons. So the Times had us dropping bombs weighing the equivalent of seven tanks each.
Is there any plane that can even carry that much weight?
Mark Steyn on Howard Dean: Wednesday's Wall Street Journal has another great piece (aren't they all) by Mark Steyn.
There was a revealing moment on MSNBC the other night. Chris Matthews asked Dr. Dean whether Osama bin Laden should be tried in an American court or at The Hague. "I don't think it makes a lot of difference," said the governor airily. Mr. Matthews pressed once more. "It doesn't make a lot of difference to me," he said again. Some of us think what's left of Osama is already hard enough to scrape off the cave floor and put in a matchbox, never mind fly to the Netherlands. But, just for the sake of argument, his bloodiest crime was committed on American soil; American courts, unlike the international ones, would have the option of the death penalty. But Gov. Dean couldn't have been less interested. So how about Saddam? The Hague "suits me fine," he said, the very model of ennui. Saddam? Osama? Whatever, dude.
Go read the entire piece.
Ignorance about Social Security: David Hogberg has an excellent fisking of a Des Moines Register editorial opposing any partial privatization of Social Security and painting an unduly rosy view of the trust fund's future.
The truth is that the second receipts into Social Security don't cover the payments, and they have to dip into all of those IOUs, we're going to have a huge problem. Currently that date is 2018. Not 2050something like some like to claim.
Point for our side: London's Guardian newspaper reported on a rally in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. The U.S. soldiers and Iraqi cops present deserve a nomination for the Comeback of the Year award.
In the same northern Iraqi town yesterday, about 700 people rallied, chanting: "Saddam is in our hearts, Saddam is in our blood."
US soldiers and Iraqi policemen shouted back: "Saddam is in our jail."
I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. (Via Andrew Sullivan)
An award well-deserved: Reuters has received Ignoble Award for dishonest reporting.
Scroll down and notice that the Union-Tribune received a dishonorable mention for an article by Sandi Dolbee which likened an innocent victim of a suicide bombing to terror-defender Rachel Corrie's accidental death defending a tunnel used to smuggle arms, drugs and prostitutes into Palestinian-controlled areas.
It's only on posters, TV commercials, etc.: The correction of the day from The New York Times:
A review of "Lord of the Rings" on Page 6 of The Arts today misstates the opening day in some copies. The film opens around the country tomorrow, not today.
One of the most anticipated movies of the year. One that appears on fan sites and posters everywhere, and you can't get your facts right?
Bush's bad timing: Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington State's designated idiot in the Congress said Saddam's capture on Saturday was timed to help President Bush politically.
In an interview Monday with a Seattle radio station, McDermott said the U.S. military could have found the former Iraqi dictator "a long time ago if they wanted."
Asked if he thought the weekend capture was timed to help Bush, McDermott chuckled and said, "Yeah. Oh, yeah."
McDermott went on to say, "There's too much by happenstance for it to be just a coincidental thing."
When interviewer Dave Ross asked again if he meant to imply the Bush administration timed the capture for political reasons, McDermott said: "I don't know that it was definitely planned on this weekend, but I know they've been in contact with people all along who knew basically where he was. It was just a matter of time till they'd find him.
"It's funny," McDermott added, "when they're having all this trouble, suddenly they have to roll out something."
I'm sorry, but better timing would have been, oh, a few months ago ... or perhaps right after a particularly deadly day in Iraq ... or even just a few days before next year's election.
Saturday, December 13, is hardly the best time for this.
McDermott is an idiot.
Unfortunately, this is more and more indicative of the mental state of the loony left. Hatred of George W. Bush appears to addle the brains.
Monday, December 15, 2003
Wisdom from the original Battlestar Galactica: Those of you who aren't science-fiction fans bear with me. As I was watching the 3-hour pilot episode of the old '70s space opera "Battlestar Galactica," a speech made by Admiral Adama, played by the late Lorne Greene, struck me as being particularly relevant today as we face this threat from radical Islamists.
After announcing an armistice with the Cylons, the President approaches a skeptical Adama.
Forgive me, Mr. President, but they hate us with every fiber of their existence. We love freedom. We love independence. To feel, to question, to resist oppression. To them, it's an alien way of existing they will never accept.
Islamic terrorists are much the same as the robotic Cylons were portrayed. There can be no peace with them that maintains our freedoms.
The new Battlestar Galactica mini-series: Still haven't watched it yet. It's on tape and I hope to sit down and check it out later this week.
Lacking support at home, loony left looks abroad: Matt Drudge is reporting that MoveOn.org, the rabid, anti-war, anti-Bush Web site/liberal interest group has been soliciting funds from abroad in an effort to affect political change here in the United States.
Funding from non-citizens to effect national elections is illegal.
During the Clinton administration, the Chinese funneled money to help re-elect the president. Restauranteur Johnny Chung was convicted of violating campaign-finance laws in connection with that case.
List o' Links: I've got a mess of explorer windows open to various stories that I've been meaning to share, and it's time to close some of them. So here they are:
The Los Angeles Times reports on how fewer than 1,000 soldiers took on much of the Iraqi Army and militia in the heart of Baghdad. An excellent story.
The Washington Post reports on how the FCC is failing to guard the airwaves from foul-mouthed celebrities.
Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation has some questions for the Islamic terror apologists at the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Two of Mark Steyn's latest can be found here and here.
National Review's Jim Geraghty writes about the death of one of the anti-America left's cheap shots.
Actor John Rhys-Davies, who portrays Gimli son of Gloin in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, talks about Western civilization and the war against Islamic terrorists. Rhys-Davies' remarks restore some confidence that not all of Hollywood suffers from rectal-cranial impaction. (Link via LGF.)
I get spam: Usually Spamcatcher does an excellent job of filtering the tons of spam I get daily, but sometimes it's a little overzealous, so I scan through it periodically.
Imagine my surprise when I got the following e-mail, it has been edited slightly so I can keep my PG rating intact.
Subject: Fake ID for Muslims
Need a fake license to get into the nude bar and see some [bleep]?
Travel and fly on planes under any name!
Get job at preschool if convicted molester!
[Website redacted] Do it now!
CALL 24 HOURS 206-[redacted]
Here my voice I am from Iraq. My Muslim brothers I am here to service you. Praise Ala! [sic]
This is not spam. You signed up as Arab decent person looking for new identity information for new mission.
If this is an "Arab decent person" I'd hate to consider what an Arab indecent person would look like.
Sunday, December 14, 2003
Taking a quick peek into the sewer: Paul Krugman's favorite blogger, the anonymous Atrios, has the following "thoughts" on the capture of the Butcher of Baghdad:
These are just some unorganized idle thoughts before I've had a cup of coffee. Capturing Saddam is a good thing - he was a bad guy. I'm really glad he was captured and not killed.
But, it really doesn't change much. Capturing Saddam isn't going to end the resistance to the US occupation in Iraq. It may improve things slightly, or it could even make it worse, but the net effect will probably be negligible. Saddam was a bad guy, but it isn't clear he's any worse of a guy than some of the folks who are a part of our "Coalition of the Willing," so this pretense of moral clarity, etc... is ridiculous.
Yes, it's almost a caricature of the loony left. Saddam was a bad guy, BUT...
The left isn't just loony, but if Atrios is any indicator -- they're incredibly stupid too. Let me repeat the appropriate statement.
Saddam was a bad guy, but it isn't clear he's any worse of a guy than some of the folks who are a part of our "Coalition of the Willing," so this pretense of moral clarity, etc... is ridiculous.
Now, I know people who believed that President Bill Clinton was responsible for the "murder" of many of his political opponents. He wasn't. But does Atrios actually believe that we're going to be uncovering mass graves or video of people being shoved off three-story buildings, having their tongue cut out, or other varieties of torture, in the United States? Britain? Australia? Poland?
Moral clarity is something that the left is in desperate need of. It's one thing to believe (the demonstrably false contention) that one culture is no better than another. However, it is a whole 'nother level to equate a war to remove a terrorist supporter and brutal murderer, with the repression of an entire nation of people, mass murder, rape, use of chemical weapons against his own people and starting two attempted wars of conquest against his neighbors.
Of course, if you open the comments to the aforementioned post and check out what Atrios' readers have to say, it is also enlightening.
But now that he's captured alive, when will we get to hear about all those meeings with Rummy, etc?
Oh yeah, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's secret meetings with Saddam. Where do these wingnuts get this stuff?
I'm a little curious, I have to say, if they're going to be able to thoroughly muzzle Saddam. We've got a great opportunity now to figure out the depth of complicity between Reagan/Bush I and Saddam....
Ohh...yeah, Bush I and his complicity in kicking Saddam out of Kuwait. As far as Reagan goes, we already know everything we need to know about it. What Reagan did was something we call realpolitik. When you've got the Soviet Union around (Note to Howard Dean: it's gone now.) and Iran's hostage-taking of American diplomats you sometimes need to do things you'd rather not under some circumstances. It's old news. As some would say: Move on.
Good news (especially that he was captured alive--consider me flabbergasted), but it doesn't turn Bush into a hero, a good guy, or a good president.
* We're still stuck in a quagmire in Iraq.
* We haven't caught Osama.
* We haven't stopped Al Qaeda or the Taliban.
* We're still vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
* The Patriot Act is still on the books.
* The economy is still in the dumper.
* The administration is still hostile to all minorities.
* The administration has still treated our allies like dirt.
* The administration is still hostile to the environment.
* The 9/11 Commission is still getting no cooperation from the administration.
* North Korea is still a bigger threat than Iraq was.
* The administration is still encouraging thuggery against its political opponents.
* Our military readiness is at its lowest in decades.
* The administration has still slashed veterans benefits.
And the list goes on and on and on...
The only statements above that are true I've put in bold. Of course, an Al Gore presidency wouldn't have changed any of those items.
I don't want to question anyone's patriotism, but let's just say that there are people who want us to lose. Lose the war in Iraq. Lose the war against terrorism.
They aren't really Americans. They prefer to think of themselves as some sort of "citizens of the world." They demand that we kowtow to the French and Germans, subordinating our national interest to those who had the most to gain from Saddam's continued dictatorship.
The left in this country is so very sick. They won't be the majority party in this country until they start to have some pride in their nation and the confidence that the military can be used for good.
It will be a long time coming.
Got him!: Saddam Hussein has been captured. This is a great day for the Iraqi people.
It's a really bad thing for the Democratic presidential candidates -- I'm curious to see the form which their whining takes.
Friday, December 12, 2003
I blame global warming: The Associated Press is reporting that the Earth's magnetic field is weakening and it could disappear in 1,500 to 2,000 years leaving compasses worldwide useless. Scientists also say the poles could then flip, making the compasses not useless, but wrong nonetheless, causing them to point south.
This is certainly troubling, and I'm sure that industrialization is the cause of this, because all change that takes place on the Earth is a result of human action (or inaction).
If President Bush hadn't have backed out of the Kyoto Treaty, this wouldn't have happened.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
International law?: Bush is standing by his decision on barring certain "allies" from being primary contractors rebuilding a country they didn't think was important enough to liberate from a brutal tyrant.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder apparently made some comments that "international law must apply to awarding of contracts."
International law? International law dictates how the American taxpayers money is spent in a country Americans died liberating? International law has some valid claim that directs the United States to shovel some contracting money Germany's way?
Bush's reply when informed of the possibility that Schroeder was seeing a lawyer was perfect.
International law? I better call my lawyer.
And he doesn't even need a good one.
Another New York Times mistake: From Friday's corrections page:
An article in the special Flight section on Tuesday about the aviation designer Burt Rutan misidentified the university from which he graduated. It is California Polytechnic State University, not the California Polytechnic Institute.
And don't you forget it! Go Mustangs!
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Making a point on the BCRA: The Supreme Court's decision is merely on the BCRA on its face. More lawsuits will come on the actual application of the law.
The Supreme Court will likely revisit the case when someone is fined or prosecuted by the Federal Election Commission.
I want to be one of those people.
As Starr has said, individuals aren't covered by the law. So, I need to team up with, hopefully, a few other bloggers to do some civil disobedience.
My suggestion is to somehow pool enough money, via donations or some other method (I'm a poor journalist), and run a 30-second ad during primetime on CNN either just before the Super Tuesday primaries or the November general election. We'll need to rope in some legal assistance, but the challenge to the high court's "logic" will be how exactly are we corrupting the political system by our 30-second electioneering communication? How and why would any politician feel indebted to us for our single ad aired during the FEC's blackout period?
In fact, our ad would be as non-threatening as possible while still violating the law. All we would have to do is name candidates for federal office -- one after another. Say nothing else, just their names, and we would be in violation of the law.
Any lawyers or bloggers are interested in participating in this project, shoot me an e-mail at hoystory -at- cox -dot- net and we'll see how we can organize this.
More on the Supreme Court stifling political speech: Once again, the link to the decison itself is here. I haven't read the majority opinion, and I'm not going to, because on its face I believe it's bogus. There's no way that stifling criticism of federal candidates in the weeks leading up to election day is a boon for the democratic process.
I've read bits of Justice Anthony Kennedy's and Chief Justice William Rhenquist's dissents, but if you're only going to read some of the 298 page decision, check out Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent. (It starts on page 168.) What follows is some selected quotes from Scalia.
This is a sad day for the freedom of speech. Who could have imagined that the same Court which, within the past four years, has sternly disapproved of restrictions upon such inconsequential forms of expression as virtual child pornography ... tobacco advertising ... dissemination of illegally intercepted communications ... and sexually explicit cable programming ... would smile with favor upon a law that cuts to the heart of what the First Amendment is mant to protect: the right to criticize the government. For that is what the most offensive provisions of this legislation are all about. We are governed by Congress, and this legislation prohibits the criticism of Members of Congress by those entities most capable of giving such criticism loud voice: national political parties and corporations, both of the commercial and the not-for-profit sort. It forbids pre-election criticism of incumbents by corporations, even not-for-profit corporations, by use of their general funds; and forbids national party use of "soft" money to fund "issue ads" that incumbents find so offensive.
In any economy operated on even the most rudimentary principles of division of labor, effective public communication requires the speaker to make use of the services of others. An author may write a novel, but he will seldom publish and distribute it himself. A freelance reporter may write a story, but he will rarely edit, print, and deliver it to subscribers. To a government bent on suppressing speech, this mode of organization presents opportunities: Control any cog in the machine, and you can halt the whole apparatus.
What good is the right to print books without a right to buy works from authors? Or the right to publish newspapers without the right to pay deliverymen? The right to speak would be largely ineffective if it did not include the right to engage in financial transactions that are the incidents of its exercise.
It should be obvious, then, that a law limiting the amount a person can spend to broadcast his political views is a direct restriction on speech. That is no different from a law limiting the amount a newspaper can pay its editorial staff or the amount a charity can pay its leafletters. It is equally clear that a limit on the amount a candidate can raise from any one individual for the purpose of speaking is also a direct limitation on speech. That is no different from a law limiting the amount a publisher can accept from any one shareholder or lender, or the amount a newspaper can charge any one advertiser or customer.
The freedom to associate with others for the dissemination of ideas -- not just by singing or speaking in unison, but by pooling financial resources for expressive purposes -- is part of the freedom of speech.
While the Government's briefs and arguments before this Court focused on the horrible "appearance of corruption," the most passionate floor statements during the debates on this legislation pertained to so-called attack ads, which the Constitution surely protects, but which Members of Congress analogized to "crack cocaine," 144 Cong. Rec. S868 (Feb. 24, 1998) (remarks of Sen. Daschle), "drive-by shooting[s]," id., at S879 (remarks of Sen. Durbin), and "air pollution" 143 Cong. Rec. 20505 (1997) (remarks of Sen. Dorgan). There is good reason to believe that the ending of negative campaign ads was the principal attraction of the legislation.
Perhaps voters do detest these 30-second spots -- though I suspect they detest even more hour-long campaign-debate interruptions of their favorite entertainment programming. Evidently, however, these ads do persuade voters, or else they would not be so routinely used by sophisticated politicians of all parties. The point, in any event, is that it is not the proper role of those who govern us to judge which campaign speech has "substance" and "depth" (do you think it might be that which is least damaging to incumbents?) and to abridge the rest.
All campaign spending in the United States, including state elections, ballot initiatives, and judicial elections, has been estimated at $3.9 billion for 2000... which was a year that "shattered spending and contribution records," ... Even taking this last, larger figure as the benchmark, it means that Americans spent about half as much electing all their Nation's officials, state and federal, as they spent on movie tickets ($7.8 billion); about a fifth as much as they spent on cosmetics and perfume ($18.8 billion); and about a sixth as much as they spent on pork (the nongovernmental sort) ($22.8 billion). ...If our democracy is drowning from this much spending, it cannot swim.
The first instinct of power is the retention of power, and, under a Constitution that requires periodic elections, that is best achieved by the suppression of election-time speech.
Scalia also points out that among the corporations banned from running ads during the blackout period are the NAACP, Sierra Club, NRA -- not what the general public imagines when they hear "corporate." Scaila pointed out that if you extended the same restrictions to newspaper editorials, then all papers would have to be sole proprieterships. No Gannett. No Knight-Ridder.
Former independent counsel and solicitor general Kenneth Starr held an online forum over at washingtonpost.com. Starr argued for the losing side in this case.
Olathe, Kan.: From my understanding of this legislation, as an individual, I could purchase an ad to attack a canidate within the 60 day time frame. But if I pool my funds with my wife, I could not. Am I correct?
Kenneth W. Starr: Yes. Section 203 of BCRA, as upheld by the Court today, applies only to corporations and unions, not to individuals. While Microsoft cannot take out a qualifying "electioneering communication," Bill Gates still can.
Bill Gates ... or George Soros.
Not-so equal time: If you're looking for a supportive take on this decision, check out election law expert Rick Hasen's blog.
The Fifth Column: I just finished reading the much linked-to article by Frank Gaffney over at FrontPage magazine.com. It is extensive and convincing in making the case that Grover Norquist is assisting anti-American Muslim organizations with access to the president and hiding their ties to terrorists -- at home and abroad.
Here's hoping the mainstream media picks up on the case and Norquist and his cohorts are shunned.
Impeach Breyer, Ginsberg, O'Conner, Stevens, Souter: The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today that people cannot purchase advertisements on TV, radio or in newspapers opposing or supporting candidates in the weeks leading up to an election. (I care less about the ban on unlimited soft-money donations to parties, though the way that restriction works is really stupid.)
[Correction: Further research appears to show that print advertisements aren't covered by the new law -- only broadcast. Good news for newspapers -- not that I'll be getting any more in my paycheck from those attack ads.]
This limit on political speech is little more than an incumbent protection act. The American public cannot pool their money and attempt to sway public opinion on important political issues.
Of course, President Bush, who signed the law, and those idiots in Congress, who voted for the law, are equally culpable. Bush signed it because he was confident that the Supreme Court would strike down the more odious portions of the law. He was wrong.
I had predicted that much of the law would be struck down -- I was obviously wrong.
You can find the opinion itself here. [Adobe Acrobat Reader required] I'll read it today and post some more on this issue tonight.
Right now I'm plotting on how to get myself charged with violating the advertising provision of the campaign finance law. It may be difficult, because this blog would be considered part of the "press," which cannot be restricted from the journalistic/editorial equivalent of "attack ads." Maybe I can get together with another blogger and pay each other $1 to run "ads" comparing Howard Dean to a rabid dog.
Remember, the major TV networks, newspapers and magazines are not, as Eric Alterman and others would have you believe, right-wing. I work at a major newspaper and I can assure you that I and the other conservative in the newsroom have little say on the paper's coverage. (Yes, there are only two "out" conservatives in the San Diego Union-Tribune newsroom -- and we're both page designers.)
This decision is a violation of the First Amendment. It is an effort to minimize the most important type of speech in a democracy -- political speech.
Of course, Congress will not impeach these judges that fail to read the plain meaning of the Constitution -- though they should. (Schoolchildren would fail simple reading comprehension if they read simple documents like Supreme Court justices.)
This is a sad day for democracy in our country.
A dose of sanity: Lt. Col. Allen West will likely face some sort of administrative punishment, not a court-martial.
Mr. Puckett said he was informed yesterday by the division's judge advocate that the hearing officer, Lt. Col. Jimmy Davis, recommended what is called Article 15 punishment, not a trial.
Under this procedure, Col. West would appear before Gen. Odierno. The general would be limited in his punishment options to a written reprimand, forfeiture of pay and confinement to quarters.
My suggestion: A letter of reprimand and send him back to his command.
The latest fake peace plan: "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart had this to say last week regarding the fradulent Mideast peace plan.
And I vow that as long as there are imaginary treaties, signed by pretend delegates to create hypothetical peace, this fake news show will be there to cover it.
That's about the extent of the coverage that this thing deserved.
Let there be peace on Earth: And we will have peace...at least until next year.
Headline: Democrats meet for final debate of year
The things are useless anyway, there's never anything new.
Kerry: When I served in Vietnam...
Gephardt: My dad drove a milk truck.
Dean: As I was wearing my tinfoil hat last night, I received an interesting theory...
Sharpton: We need to beat George Bush.
Lieberman: Whenever reverend Al speaks, I just have to say "amen."
Clark: I have a plan...well I did. It's around here somewhere. Did anyone see my plan?
Kucinich: U.S. out. U.N. in. Eat tofu!
Edwards: I've actually won an election in the South.
Moseley-Braun: Is my microphone on?
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Payback's a ... you know: Companies from France and Germany, among other countries, are being excluded from competition for contracts to rebuild Iraq.
Of course, apologists for the Axis of Weasels are decrying the move as counterproductive.
Please, can someone explain to me using something I'd like to call "logic" why we should award contracts (after all, much of this money is $20 billion Congress approved earlier this year) to companies whose governments supported Saddam Hussein? Would Iraqis actually want their money from their oil sales to go to the French and Germans who wanted them to keep dying under Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship?
Why don't we just make a deal. When we liberate a country from a brutal dictator, we get to decide where the rebuilding contracts go. When you liberate a country, you can decide where those rebuilding contracts go.
Too many awards shows: I'm flipping channels and FX has on the "DVD Awards." Somebody ought to make a list of all of these -- cause this is silly.
The G** word: Don Feder has a good article over at Frontpagemag.com on former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's "War" on evangelical Christians.
Feder makes an insightful point on the debate over what level of religious speech is insightful in the public square:
Liberals like Reich are engaged in monumental historical revisionism. The ex-Clintonista seems to be saying that regulations on abortion, a non-denominational prayer (or a moment of silent meditation) and limiting marriage to a man and a woman constitute state-sponsored religion. If so, America was a theocracy as recently as 1962.
Of course it wasn't, but to militant atheists and anti-religionists, mention of God anywhere other than the privacy of one's home is an anathema.
Hollywood isn't out of touch with the rest of America -- right: When the last installment of the Rings trilogy, "The Return of the King," comes out next week, I'll be watching it in the theater. But the actor who plays Gollum, Andy Serkis, is officially on my list. If there was any doubt that Hollywood celebs live in their own arrogant, elitist self-worshiping world, this is it.
Asked what he would do if he had the all-powerful but corrupting ring that is the focus of the trilogy, Serkis said "I would banish all religions first of all."
Well, at least he's in character -- and a perfect example of author J.R.R. Tolkien's assessment of absolute power and godless men.
No awards here: First I fail to get nominated for any of the annual Weblog awards, now this.
The new "Battlestar Galactica:" I recorded the first half of the miniseries earlier tonight. The second half airs today.
I watched the "Lowdown" infomercial the Sci-Fi channel has been airing about the new series for the past couple of weeks, and I'm skeptical about the entire project. The original "Apollo," actor Richard Hatch is quoted in the Associated Press article as having a negative take on the new piece -- a fact that was absent in Sci-Fi's infomercial.
In the infomercial, even the director of the new project appeared either unconcerned or uninformed of the original series' backstory. The Cylons were intelligent race of lizardoid type beings that created the race of robot Cylons that are the antagonists in the original series. (And you thought the Terminator series was original?) The miniseries director seemed to believe that there were lizards in those big steel outfits.
We'll see how it turns out, but I suspect that Hatch will be right about a series that has turned Dirk Benedict's "Starbuck" into a woman and the soulless, evil Cylons into a humanoid sex fiends.
"Every time they bring back a classic, they always fail because they've thrown the baby out with the bath water," says the 58-year-old Hatch. "They throw away the very elements the fans loved most."
I'm going through the original series now that it's been issued on DVD. Netflix is a wonderful thing.
Where's the wood chipper? Former vice-president and professional tree-impressionist Al Gore has sided with National Review magazine and will endorse the angry left's favorite candidate, Howard Dean.
Put the tree in the wood chipper, Al Gore's political career is over.
Democratic Leadership Council. Moderate Democrat. Pragmatic. Finding the center. Co-opting your opponent's issues.
Gone, all gone.
Syndicated radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt suggests that Gore is doing this for two reasons:
(1)Spite the Clintons. (2) Lay the early claim to the remnants of the Dean Machine.
Hewitt may be right about the first reason -- Gen. Wesley Clark is the Clinton's man -- but I think he's off-base on the second one.
Hewitt's theory presupposes the following:
First, Howard Dean wins the Democrat nomination for president.
Second, Howard Dean loses to George W. Bush.
Third, come 2008, the Democrat Party -- both the grassroots and the big money -- will forgive him for 2000. Remember, though Democrats felt robbed by the Florida recount -- it wouldn't have mattered if Gore could have won his home state.
Here's the problem with the second part of Hewitt's theory: the Howard Dean base won't transfer to Al Gore.
Howard Dean's base is largely made up of the anti-establishment left. (Prediction: Another Green Party run by Ralph Nader will have very little impact on a Dean candidacy.) In four years, that even-angrier group of leftists are not going to want a retread Al Gore. Especially when Hillary Clinton's available.
Al Gore is an intelligent man. He must realize this.
On second thought, maybe he doesn't. Hewitt thinks hat Gore is cool and calculating. I think he's just angry. I think this is a gut call and Gore has given in to self-destructive tendencies.
Monday, December 08, 2003
The Public Editor: The New York Times ombudsman, aka "Public Editor," introduced himself to readers in a Sunday column.
Daniel Okrent has been tasked with protecting the rapidly-diminishing credibility of America's "Newspaper of Record." It will be a difficult job, and he'll have many eyes upon him.
However, make no mistake: Okrent is a liberal.
I'd rather spend my weekends exterminating rats in the tunnels below Penn Station than read a book by either Bill O'Reilly or Michael Moore.
A proper antithesis for Moore would be Ann Coulter. I've read one of O'Reilly's books, and while he may lean conservative, he definitely doesn't tow the party line.
When you turn to the paper's designated opinion pages tomorrow, draw a line from The Times's editorials on the left side to William Safire's column over on the right: you could place me just about at the halfway point.
The Times' editorials have been veering ever-closer to the loony left over the past few years. William Safire is a pretty moderate Republican. If I draw that line, it still puts Okrent comfortably on the left side of the political spectrum.
None of this means that he won't be fair. However, it will be a challenge he'll have to overcome.
Howard Dean endorses the overturning of Roe v. Wade: Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," the leading Democrat presidential hopeful, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, suggested that Roe v. Wade should be overturned and the question of abortion be returned to the states.
(Host CHRIS) WALLACE: Governor, I don't think anybody would deny that those are very important issues, but why take the others -- abortion, guns, God, gays -- off the table? I mean, it sounds like you're uncomfortable talking about values.
DEAN: I'm very comfortable talking about values, but we're never going to agree on some of these issues. I actually have a more conservative positions on guns than many Democrats, although I do support the assault-weapons ban and background checks and all that. But...
WALLACE: But aren't those legitimate issues, whether it's a woman's right to choose versus right to life, whether there should a national ban on assault weapons, gay rights?
I mean, aren't those issues -- I have to say, I remember back in 1988, because I was covering the campaign, when Michael Dukakis said that the campaign is about competence, not ideology, and the Republicans killed him on that.
Don't American voters care about values?
DEAN: They care about values. And there are a lot of different kinds of values. My attitude is, each state's going to make their own kinds of decisions about these difficult issues that we're -- you know, the social issues that divide us.
This was the problem with Roe v. Wade in the first place, the Supreme Court with its 1973 decision took this decision out of the hands of the states and their elected representatives. Contrary to the impression pro-abortion groups have cultivated over the past 30 years, a reversal of Roe would not automatically result in the criminalization of abortion. Instead, each state would have the right to make it's own laws. Abortion may be made illegal in some states, but in others -- like California -- little would change.
Does Dean really oppose Roe? Of course not. But his (professed) willingness to leave certain social decisions to state or local governments betrays perhaps the belief that his (and by extension the Democrat Party) position is a minority one.
Sunday, December 07, 2003
BCS = BS: I'm hoping the worst happens. With Kansas State's trouncing of No. 1-ranked Oklahoma, the BCS is in trouble.
And the ultimate disaster scenario for the BCS still looms. If Oklahoma falls to No. 3 in both polls, and USC moves to No. 1, the Trojans will still fall to No. 3 in the BCS Standings. The founders of the BCS certainly realized this was mathematically possible, but it's doubtful they thought it could ever take place. Ready or not, here it comes!
If I had a vote in the rankings (which I don't) I'd put USC at No. 1, LSU at No. 2, and Oklahoma at No. 3.
If this scenario plays out, and USC ends up defeating Michigan in the Rose Bowl, USC will be at the top of the Associated Press poll at season's end -- and you'll have two national champions.
NCAA football needs a playoff system. The BCS was supposed to obviate the need for that, but if USC isn't in the national championship game, yet is ranked No. 1, then it has obviously failed.
Here's to failure and a playoff system!
Turkey in Baghdad: The Weekly Standard has a good roundup of various news on President Bush's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, including an account of the trip by one of the soldiers who was there.
The magazine also makes mention of last week's "scoop" by the Washington Post that the turkey and fixings that Bush held in that infamous photo wasn't for eating, but was instead dressed up as a centerpiece.
I first saw the Drudge Report on the Post's scoop the day before the article was published, but I wanted to wait until I actually saw the article before I commented.
The judgement: The Post is conflicted. On one hand is the fact that the paper felt that this story was actually newsworthy in the first place. On the other hand, they put the story on A33.
Friday, December 05, 2003
An insult to hackers: A New York Times editorial page has finally discovered the infamous, pilfered Senate Judiciary Committee Democrat memos. The piece, entitled "Partisan Hacking in Congress," is an abuse of the language. According to The Wall Street Journal, one of the outlets to receive the stolen memos, what occurred wasn't exactly hacking.
A statement put out last week by Mr. Hatch's office says that the accused staffer "improperly accessed at least some of the documents referenced in the media reports." That accusation bears scrutiny in light of how the committee's computer system is organized: Until Nov. 16, all Judiciary staffers used the same computer server and had access to a shared drive, a system put in place when Sen. Leahy took over as chairman in 2001 and hired his own IT staff.
The Leahy techies neglected to put up a firewall between the GOP and Democratic staff, making it possible for all staffers to read everything posted on the shared drive. No one hacked into anyone's private files. These are, in effect, Leahy leaks.
So why is the hapless staffer being hounded? And why is no one reporting the much bigger story of the memos?
If the Times thinks this is hacking, then they must also believe that a two-year-old who swipes a piece of candy is a master burglar.
And this is the party of the man who invented the Internet?
The Times editorial is also notable for how it describes the content of the memos.
The documents detailed how Democratic senators had strategized and consulted outside interest groups dedicated to opposing some of President Bush's more extreme judicial nominees.
Go back and read the memos. The Times should be lauded for this description -- I don't think there has ever been a better make-up job done on a pig.
If the leaked memos had been from the Republicans and detailed...say...how Republican senators had "strategized and consulted outside interest groups dedicated to" passing the President's energy bill, I'm sure the Times editorial writers would be as unconcerned with the actual contents of the memos.
Facts? We don't need no stinkin' facts! Vanderbilt University has gotten the Jayson Blair treatment from The New York Times. Reporter Alex Abramovich, instead of reporting what actually happened and what he actually saw, instead decided to "report" on the stereotypes he holds for those racist, ignorant southerners.
The whole episode sent the Vandy vice chancellor on a letter-writing mission to the Times. His missive went this way:
"Alex Abramovich attended a very different Tony Kushner lecture at a very different Vanderbilt University than did I and several hundred other people--young, old, black, white, students, faculty, community members--who crowded into the chapel of one of the great nondenominational divinity schools in the country to participate in an provocative discussion with a distinguished guest speaker. Mr. Abramovich painted a picture of Vanderbilt University as an alien and vaguely sinister place, where 'Confederate flags hang proudly in dormitory windows' (they don't) and the natives aren't smart enough to recognize when they are being challenged. Aside from being untrue, such stereotypes are offensive and condescending. But that was the point, right?"
According to Schoenfeld, a Times editor has told him that the writer of the story still says he saw Confederate flags. As to whether his letter will ever run, Schoenfeld says the editor told him that it probably would--if there's room.
Hey, the Times is just trying to keep them uppity southerners in their place. After all, it's not like Vanderbilt is an Ivy League school.
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Missing history: The New York Times has a pretty positive candidate profile of every Democrat's favorite hatemonger, the Rev. Al Sharpton.
The Times piece is fairly standard stuff, but it leaves out some facts that informed voters should know about.
Not mentioned in the article are:
Sharpton's demonstration, protest and incitement against the "white interlopers" at Freddie's Fashion Mart in 1995. Sharpton's incindiary rhetoric prompted one of his "supporters" to burn down the building -- killing eight people.
Sharpton's part in the Crown Heights riots of 1991 are also conspicuously absent from the piece. National Review's Rich Lowry helpfully provided some necessary background on this case on Wednesday.
“If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house."
Those were the immortal words of the Rev. Al Sharpton during the Crown Heights crisis in New York City in 1991. A car driven by a Hasidic Jew had run over a black child in the Brooklyn neighborhood, prompting black-Jewish tensions that eventually spilled over into antisemitic riots. Sharpton's contribution to civic peace was statements like the above, together with such classic anti-Jewish smears as: "Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights."
Sharpton isn't a serious candidate. He doesn't poll in double digits anywhere, so the other Democrat candidates for president make nice and refuse to point at the racist hatemonger in their midst.
Denouncing Sharpton would take bravery, because the second a candidate does it, the charges of racism will rain down on them like Niagra Falls. However, it's unfortunate that no one has the guts to do it -- even the Times lacks the journalistic fire to group Sharpton with Louis Farrakhan on the black racist fringe.
Al Sharpton won't be president. He won't even be the Democrat nominee. But the Democrat Party is worse off for tolerating his presence.
Bad news for Babs: A judge has thrown out liberal strategist Barbra Streisand's lawsuit against the California Coastal Records Project for taking an aerial photograph of her Malibu cliffside home.
This was a no-brainer decision -- and the fact that the judge is considering awarding legal fees to the CCRP is just icing on the cake.
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
What a racket: The Wall Street Journal's John Fund takes a look at the public financing of presidential elections that shells out nearly $1 million to Lyndon Larouche. If that isn't bad enough, he also notes a quirk about the public financing of mayoral elections in New York City.
New York's financing system has already produced a windfall for Abraham Wasserman's family and friends. Mr. Wasserman ran for a Brooklyn City Council seat last month on the Conservative Party line and finished last with 368 votes. The New York Post reports that he raised some $16,000 from friends and relatives whom he listed as "campaign consultants." According to the Post, "Wasserman pocketed a handsome $62,000 gift, courtesy of the city taxpayer"--some of which he used to pay the "consultants" who had donated money in the first place.
Talk about an easy way to make some quick cash. If this spreads, you may see me making a run for the county board of supervisors.
Neutrality vs. Antagonism: The Supreme Court yesterday heard oral arguments in the case of a Washington State student who received a merit scholarship that was rescinded after he decided to major in pastoral ministry.
In the past, the court has decided that vouchers could legally be awarded to students, even if the students used those vouchers to attend parochial schools.
At first blush, this appears to be an open-and-shut case based on previous Supreme Court decisions. The state of Washington is awarding scholarships based on need and merit to students. The student then chooses his or her own course of study.
This exchange, between Solicitor General Theodore Olson and liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, summarizes the issue nicely:
Justice John Paul Stevens questioned how state officials, in denying Davey the scholarship, had hampered his ability to practice his religion.
"Can't he practice his religion just as he always would and become a minister?" Stevens asked. "He just has to pay for it."
Responded Olson: "He can practice but he practices it at a price."
"He practices it without a subsidy," Stevens shot back.
Said Olson: "He practices it without the same subsidy that is made available to every other citizen except someone who wants to study to be a minister."
This is the crux of the difference between neutrality towards religion and antagonism. If a qualified student wants to study biology, this isn't an issue. If a qualified student wants to study philosophy, this isn't an issue. It even appears that if a qualified student wanted to study religion with the goal of teaching it at a public university that it would be allowed. But if a qualified student wants to serve the community in a spiritual capacity, then that is not allowed by the Washington State Constitution.
Why? Well, it's a provision called the "Blaine Amendment," which made its way into various state constitutions in the late 19th Century as part of an anti-Catholic undercurrent.
Much of the reporting about yesterday's oral arguments suggested that the swing votes of Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy were leaning to the left on this decision -- suggesting that the state can treat religion worse than it treats non-religion.
It's another bit of evidence that the judiciary, at least, is increasingly anti-religion and the bogus "wall of separation" between church and state is well-entrenched in legal theory.
Atheism is increasingly becoming the state religion.
*UPDATE* Eugene Volokh and Professor Bainbridge, both UCLA law professors, take aim at some of the liberal arguments in this case.