Monday, May 31, 2004
Never forget: Those who have fought for freedom in Iraq.
Seen on Interstate 15: A white Ford pickup truck with a bumper sticker. Bumper sticker has picture of a cell phone with a circle around it and a line through it and the words: "Hang up and Drive!"
The driver of the vehicle is...on a cell phone.
Sunday, May 30, 2004
Err America: The liberal radio network is apparently making some of its payroll. Al Franken is not being paid.
Saturday, May 29, 2004
News you can use: Feel free to think. All you want. In a crowd. It's much safer than smoking.
Smoking More Hazardous than Thought
Obsessive press behavior: Today Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave a speech at the West Point graduation ceremony.
The Associated Press lead paragraph:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, making no mention of the prisoner-abuse scandal that has led to calls for his ouster, told a cheering crowd of graduating cadets Saturday that they will help win the global fight against terrorism.
Other things the Secretary of Defense didn't mention in his speech:
The terrorist hostage-taking in Saudi Arabia.
The report that former NFL star turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman may have been killed by "friendly-fire."
The news that four U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan.
The dedication of the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.
The relative prospects of pennant wins for the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox.
The price of tea in China.
The press continues to behave like a bunch of drug-addicted hamsters.
See Rumsfeld. Push Abu Ghraib button. Receive praise from the liberal media. Repeat.
A positive development: Those interested in politics can just skip this item. Warner Bros. announced this week that it would be penalizing video game publishers who put out bad games based on their licenses by demanding higher royalty payments.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter last week, WBIE senior vice president Jason Hall revealed that his company is now using review-aggregation sites such as GameRankings.com to determine royalty rates from publishers licensing properties based on Warner Bros. movie, television, or other media. If the game does not achieve an average 70-percent rating, the publisher will have to pay a penalty in the form of higher royalties.
"An escalating royalty rate kicks in to help compensate us for the brand damage that's taking place," Hall told the Reporter. "The further away from 70 percent it gets, the more expensive the royalty rate becomes. So, frankly, if the publisher delivers on what they promised--to produce a great game--it's not even an issue."
If such a system had been in place for the past decade or so among all game publishers, a lot of bad "Star Trek" games would have never seen the light of day -- and that's a good thing.
Of course, the flip side would be a good idea too. Then we wouldn't have had "Wing Commander," or "Tomb Raider."
Though, done right, "Full Throttle" would make a great movie.
Friday, May 28, 2004
To tell the truth: Paul Krugman complains that President Bush suffers from an "infallibilty complex." To resort to a schoolyard retort (the level of Krugman's arguments): "It takes one to know one."
On a related note: Over at Random Jottings, they're updating Paul Krugman's job chart.
Jacob Weisberg is an idiot: Slate's one-trick pony, Jacob Weisberg, author of their "Bushisms" feature has stuck his foot in it again.
"I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein."—Washington, D.C., May 25, 2004
As Eugene Volokh notes, and anyone who had been following the story would know, the "hand" the president was going to shake was actually a high-tech prostheses. This is supposed to make the president sound stupid? Nope, it just makes Jacob Weisberg look stupid.
Geneva Conventions:Human rights organizations, and others, often make the argument that we should follow the Geneva Conventions because if we do not, then our opponents in future wars would use that as an excuse to mistreat American soldiers that they capture. This argument is often applied (bizarrely) by human rights organizations to terrorists who do not qualify for POW status under the Geneva conventions.
America follows the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war for two reasons. First, because we signed the agreement. Second, because humane treatment of prisoners of war is in line with American values.
American troops should be under no illusions, however, that they will ever be treated according to the Geneva Conventions if they are captured.
A soldier initially listed as killed in action while riding in the same doomed convoy as former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch actually had been captured by Iraqi fighters before he was killed, the Oregon National Guard said Thursday.
More than a year after the March 23, 2003, ambush, the military released new details to the family of Sgt. Donald Walters of Salem, Ore.
The Pentagon investigated his death after his mother filed Freedom of Information requests, believing the Army had not given her son credit for actions first attributed to Lynch, such as fighting until his ammunition had run out.
Walters "was held separately from his fellow soldiers and killed while in custody," according to a news release from the National Guard.
"He was executed - shot twice in the back," Guard spokesman Maj. Arnold Strong said in a telephone interview Thursday. "An Iraqi ambulance driver witnessed six fedayeen rebels standing outside a building guarding him while he was still alive. That same witness evacuated his dead body to a hospital."
Defense investigators confirmed the account by matching Walters' DNA to blood splatter on the wall where he was executed, Strong said. He died from two gunshot wounds to the back, fired from more than 20 feet away, according to Strong's account of the investigation findings.
Walters' murder is a war crime.
Don't expect it to get as much press coverage as naked Iraqis in Abu Ghraib.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
More zero-tolerance madness: I've often said that the problem with zero-tolerance policies is that they are a poor substitute for common sense.
But there's always the exception that proves the rule -- where administrators demonstrate they are so bereft of common sense that a zero-tolerance policy is needed to make up for this moral flaw.
This is a case in point.
Courtney Glowczewski has a small right arm and leg because of cerebral palsy, a disability that her teachers say has not kept her from working hard in school and being a good student.
"I do really good in my classes. My teachers tell me, 'Good job,' and, 'You're doing very good,' and 'Excellent girl,'" said Glowczewski.
But her physical appearance has made her a target of taunting and of physical attack, which she said has never been addressed by the administration at Martin Luther King Middle School. Last week, she said the bullying got worse when she said she was threatened and assaulted by a seventh grade boy.
"He pulled out a knife, a silver knife, a pocket knife, and then he said 'What!?' So I was scared and didn't know what to do," said Glowczewski.
As she walked to her seat she smelled smoke and one of her classmates was patting her hard on the back.
"I looked and there was a black spot on the back of my shirt. And then I saw some black hair falling from my hair," said Glowczewski.
So, a girl is set on fire and what does the school do? It tells her not to come to school for the rest of the year.
And what happens to her attacker? Who would appear to be facing multiple felonies (possession of a weapon on school grounds, terrorist threats, attempted murder).
7NEWS discovered that while Glowczewski was sent home, her alleged attacker is still in school, even though administrators confirmed he had a knife.
The principal has now admitted her staff did not call police, did not interview potential witnesses, and did not conduct a proper investigation.
Every administrator at that school who was aware of the incident should be fired for showing criminally bad judgement, and possibly face charges for failing to report the abuse to authorities.
This is why we have zero-tolerance policies, even with all of the harm they do -- some administrators can't be trusted to have common sense.
Day late: And a dollar short. Blog from the Core is 2-years-old yesterday.
"Bush Lies" update: As we go through Saddam's extensive files and continue to try to bring order to Iraq, Bush's "lies" are starting to
fall apart come true.
There are no WMDs in Iraq.
Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.
These don't get appropriate play in the old media -- and it's a big reason why network news viewership and newspaper readership continue to decline.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Anti-Christian Liberals Union: For a couple of decades now, the ACLU and various local athiests have been on a (pardon the pun) crusade to remove crosses from public land. One of the first cases was of the cross atop Mt. Helix in La Mesa. The city of La Mesa managed to wrangle out of the ACLU's hold by selling off the land immediately surrounding the cross (which had been given to the city decades before) to a nonprofit group. Of course, the cross is the most recognizable and unique part of La Mesa history, and an image of Mt. Helix and its cross figured prominently in the city's seal. No more. Another lawsuit and a judge with an increasingly mainstream legal theory that the First Amendment prohibition against state-sponsored religion means that the state cannot acknowledge that religion (specifically Christianity) exists.
Well, the ACLU is now going after Los Angeles County.
At issue is the seal designed by the late Supervisor Kenneth Hahn that contains a tiny cross symbolic of the Catholic missions that are so much a part of the county's history.
In a letter to the supervisors, ACLU Executive Director Ramona Ripston says the cross is unconstitutional and has given them two weeks to act.
Antonovich responded with an irate letter that accused her of trying to rewrite history.
"Rewriting our historical roots is, to use an analogy, like eating a sandwich wrapped in a paper bag — it loses its taste," Antonovich wrote.
The genesis of the spat began with a controversy about the city seal of Redlands, which contained a cross. Last February, two Redlands residents complained to the ACLU that the cross was a religious symbol. ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner wrote to the city that the U.S. Supreme Court had declared such symbols on government logos and seals unconstitutional.
Redlands capitulated when faced with a lawsuit and ordered the cross removed from every city logo.
The ACLU then got calls that pointed out that the Los Angeles County seal also contained a cross.
This is the seal:
The cross can be found (if you look closely) in the middle panel on the right.
But take a deep breath and consider which image on that seal is dominant. The large woman in the middle is goddess Pomona -- the goddess of gardens and fruit trees.
The ACLU isn't complaining about her presence on the seal. Nope, ignore the big pagan goddess in the middle and focus on the tiny little cross.
Will a sane judge toss an ACLU lawsuit out? Don't hold your breath. (via Volokh)
More than useless: I've often written that the United Nations is a mostly-useless organization. Some of the world's worst abusers of human rights are regularly placed on its Human Rights committee; the Middle East's lone democracy is regularly attacked by racist Arab and Muslim nations; it regularly ignores massacres and genocide around the world; and the list goes on.
Sometimes, however, it crosses that line between benign irrelevance to active evil.
Teenage rape victims fleeing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being sexually exploited by the United Nations peace-keeping troops sent to the stop their suffering.
The Independent has found that mothers as young as 13 - the victims of multiple rape by militiamen - can only secure enough food to survive in the sprawling refugee camp by routinely sleeping with UN peace-keepers.
Testimony from girls and aid workers in the Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp in Bunia, in the north-east corner of Congo, claims that every night teenage girls crawl through a wire fence to an adjoining UN compound to sell their bodies to Moroccan and Uruguayan soldiers.
The trade, which according to one victim results in a banana or a cake to feed to her infant son, is taking place despite a pledge by the UN to adopt a "zero tolerance" attitude to cases of sexual misconduct by those representing the organisation.
You'd think that after repeated incidents like this, that even the most hopelessly optimistic internationalist would pause to reconsider whether the U.N. deserves the reverence they give it.
Egyptian (in)competence: When I saw this story come over the wires, I just had to laugh. An Egyptian court has dismissed a lawsuit claiming that President Hosni Mubarak has violated the Egyptian constitution because he has failed to appoint a vice president.
Wait, it gets
Mubarak has previously defended the absence of a vice president by saying there is nobody qualified to fill the position.
Egypt has a population of 66 million people. And there's no one qualified for a position that has been likened to a "bucket of warm spit"?
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Shrek 2: It's not quite as good as the first one, but it's still well worth the premium nighttime admission price. All of the voice acting is superbly done, and the animation is just as good as the first one.
O'Rourke again: P.J. O'Rourke also pops up on today's Wall Street Journal op-ed page. [link for subscribers only] Go check it out. Hopefully they'll put it up on the free OpinionJournal.com site this weekend. In the piece, O'Rourke humorously advocates the U.S. "recusing" itself from the rest of the world. To tide you over and pique your interest, I like this line:
One thing to whine about will be the fate of Israel. Without American safeguards that nation is certain to be militarily attacked. To judge by previous Israeli wars, in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982, the result will be serious headaches for Israelis as the Knesset furiously debates the status of Jewish settlements outside Damascus and on the west bank of the Euphrates.
For a brief review of O'Rourke's latest book "Peace Kills," scroll down.
Monday, May 24, 2004
The rest of the story: The New York Times is at it again. The first four paragraphs of its story on inaccuracies in political ads is Exhibit #9869872378235983374507324907.
A record year for political advertising has brought with it a hail of televised exaggerations, omissions and mischaracterizations that pollsters say seem to be leaving voters with mistaken impressions of Senator John Kerry and President Bush.
The degree to which the advertisements push the facts, or go beyond them, varies by commercial. But both campaigns are being criticized as frequently going beyond the bounds of truth.
In three of its advertisements, Mr. Bush's campaign has said Mr. Kerry would raise taxes by at least $900 billion in his first 100 days in office. Mr. Kerry has no such plan.
In an advertisment for Mr. Kerry, an announcer said, "George Bush says sending jobs overseas makes sense for America." Mr. Bush never said that.
Anything unfair there? Actually, no. It's not exactly as informative as it could be, but it's not actually unfair.
What's wrong is the remainder of the fourth paragraph, which I excised from the quote above. Here's the rest:
A report to Congress by his top economic adviser said cheaper production of goods overseas had long-term benefits but did not make the plain case that domestic job losses were a good thing.
This extra explanation provides needed context for the advertisement's inaccurate claim. Kerry defenders would say that though President Bush didn't specifically say those words, his administration acts on a that belief -- or something along those lines.
But we don't get any explanation of where the kernel of truth is within the Bush ad.
In the interest of fairness, here's the explanation Hoystory would've added to the article:
President Bush's campaign contends that in order to pay for all of the new programs Sen. Kerry has proposed, he would have to raise $900 billion. Kerry's proposed tax hikes on the rich and program cuts are reportedly insufficient to pay for all of the new programs.
Without the explanation on each ad, it appears as though the Bush campaign is flatly lying, while the Kerry campaign has its heart in the right place, but is just technically inaccurate.
Al Franken's next target: Filmmaker Michael Moore is as dishonest in print as he is on film -- as Fred Barnes recently discovered.
A FEW YEARS AGO Michael Moore, who's now promoting an anti-President Bush movie entitled Fahrenheit 9/11, announced he'd gotten the goods on me, indeed hung me out to dry on my own words. It was in his first bestselling book, Stupid White Men. Moore wrote he'd once been "forced" to listen to my comments on a TV chat show, The McLaughlin Group. I had whined "on and on about the sorry state of American education," Moore said, and wound up by bellowing: "These kids don't even know what The Iliad and The Odyssey are!"
Moore's interest was piqued, so the next day he said he called me. "Fred," he quoted himself as saying, "tell me what The Iliad and The Odyssey are." I started "hemming and hawing," Moore wrote. And then I said, according to Moore: "Well, they're . . . uh . . . you know . . . uh . . . okay, fine, you got me--I don't know what they're about. Happy now?" He'd smoked me out as a fraud, or maybe worse.
The only problem is none of this is true. It never happened. Moore is a liar. He made it up. It's a fabrication on two levels. One, I've never met Moore or even talked to him on the phone. And, two, I read both The Iliad and The Odyssey in my first year at the University of Virginia. Just for the record, I'd learned what they were about even before college. Like everyone else my age, I
got my classical education from the big screen. I saw the Iliad movie called Helen of Troy and while I forget the name of the Odyssey film, I think it starred Kirk Douglas as Odysseus.
Is anyone really surprised?
That liberal media: The Pew Center for the People and the Press has released its latest survey of the American media and revealed the shocking fact that the media is far more liberal than the general public.
In fact, the press is even more liberal than it admits to being. The ideological classification in the survey is a self-assessment, not derived from rating their views on a series of issues. Only 7 percent of the national press describes themselves as conservative, versus 34 percent identifying themselves as liberals and 54 percent as moderates.
However, when it comes to social issues, the moderates, and quite a few of the conservatives, reveal their views to be much farther to the left.
The problem is that we base our political beliefs largely as it is relative to people we know or see on television. Most journalists look around the newsroom and can point out the Vietnam-era protester/Marxist/Leninist and say to themselves: "Well, that guy's more liberal than I am." Then they watch television and they see Tom DeLay or Jesse Helms and think: "I'm definitely not a conservative." Therefore, the only thing left is to label oneself a moderate.
This may work relatively well for determining one's place on the political spectrum, but it works less well for social views. The survey showed that social conservatives are few and far between in the major media newsrooms.
Many newspapers hold an annual "Time-out for Diversity and Accuracy," to discuss those issues. The event is promoted by the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Not that every type of diversity can be listed, but what is missing from the following list?
We define diversity as widely as possible - including, for example, age, ethnicity, economics, geography, sexual orientation, education and language.
Hint: Where do most Americans spend their Sunday mornings?
Newspapers are always striving to accurately reflect their communities, as evidenced by surveys like this one by the Knight Foundation. The press would be well-advised to finally embrace the Pew survey and make an effort to diversify the ideology in their newsrooms.
But don't hold your breath.
Book review: I finished P.J. O'Rourke's latest offering in just over two days. It's a fun read and you know you'll get funny looks when people read the cover: "Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism."
The book is not really a cohesive whole, but each chapter is a series of both serious and humorous observations not only about America, but about the world as a whole. O'Rourke's wisdom when it comes to the French is right-on.
French ideas, French beliefs and French actions form a sort of lodestone for humanity. A moral compass needle needs a butt end. Whatever direction France is pointing -- toward collaboration with Nazis, accommodation with communists, existentialism, Jerry Lewis, or a UN resolution veto -- we can go the other way with a quiet conscience.
O'Rourke will have you laughing out loud one minute, and soberly nodding in agreement the next. With all of the serious, in-depth political books on the shelves nowadays, O'Rourke's "Peace Kills" is a welcome respite.
Two options: So I watched NBC's "Meet the Press." The segment of interest was a "debate" between Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter and Democrat presidential hopeful, Dennis Kucinich.
First, does Dennis Kucinich really represent the Democratic Party on the issue of Iraq? Or is this really a case of conservative media bias?
Second, when is Kucinich going to exit his little wonderland and join the rest of us in the real world?
Well, I'm speaking, of course, about the U.S. taking a new direction. I have here a list of active-duty personnel by country, which the Security Council alone has 6.2 million. If you subtract the United States, you still have nearly 5 million from the Security Council. From the Middle East, you have a total of 2.8 million troops. I mean, it's clear that the United States would have to take a new direction, away from unilateralism and away from pre-emption and away from away from the failed policies of this administration.
What makes "Kucinich the genius" think that France, Russia, and China are going to want to send troops to Iraq -- especially with insurgents, terrorists and the recent discovery of WMDs? We couldn't get them to vote for a resolution authorizing us to go into Iraq, what blackmail material does Kucinich have that is going to convince them to send troops?
And troops from the Middle East? Like Iran? Or maybe Israel? How about those Baathists in Syria? Or maybe you can find a Palestinian "peacemaker?" Troops from the region are not going to be a stabilizing force.
What a strange picture, the military of despotic regimes attempting to ensure a democracy.
Kucinich doesn't present viable options; he presents pipe dreams.
Sunday, May 23, 2004
This is gonna get ugly: President Bush took a header on his mountain bike yesterday. This is not uncommon for mountain bikers, who seek out rough, uneven and downright scary terrain.
However, if what Matt Drudge is reporting is accurate, then the Bush-hatred in the Democrat Party has reached the very top.
President fell off bike today... Kerry told reporters in front of cameras, 'Did the training wheels fall off?'... Reporters are debating whether to treat it is as on or off the record... Developing...
Earlier this month, Kerry fell off his road bike. I couldn't find any evidence of a snarky comment to the press from President Bush.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
A fisking: Steven Antler (aka Econopundit) takes a clue-by-four to former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. It's long, but definitely worth a read.
I'm getting cynical in my old age: On Thursday, a "protest wall" was torched at UC Irvine. The wall was designed to represent the security fence being built between Israel and the West Bank to
keep terrorist bombers from murdering innocents oppress Palestinians.
The council for Arab terrorist apology (CAIR) has denounced the conflagration as a "hate crime."
Now, I'm probably getting cynical in my old age, because when I read the final line of the story, something clicked.
There had not been any threats or complaints about the campus wall, Vasich said.
In other words, the presence of the wall hadn't made any news. People saw it and yawned. The wall was erected to provoke a response -- and it didn't get one.
That is, until someone torched it. Now it's getting all sorts of attention. The FBI should cast their net as widely as possible as they search for suspects.
You'll excuse me if I'm not surprised if the perpetrator turns out to be one of the Arab students who built the "wall" in the first place.
Today's required reading: From the Washington Post, a heartbreaking account of the life, and death of Edward Alan Brudno.
Friday, May 21, 2004
Newsroom diversity: The Knight Foundation has come out with its annual newsroom skin-color diversity report. The report for The San Diego Union-Tribune, my employer, can be found here.
The Union-Tribune doesn't score particularly well, according to the Knight requirements. In 2004, 16.9 percent of the newsroom staff was non-white, while 45.5 percent of the paper's circulation area was non-white.
Of course, this report says nothing about another important aspect of diversity -- ideological diversity. Frankly, there's probably even less of that.
One of the little things that I often find telling is the regular charity book sales that the paper has. The Union-Tribune gets hundreds of books each month to be reviewed in the Sunday Books section. They can't all be reviewed and there's no reason to store them forever, so they are offered to employees as a fund-raiser for local charities. Yesterday the paper held one of its regular sales.
The sale starts at 10 a.m., and many of the most popular authors get picked up early. I work the swing shift, so all of the reporters, editors and even the business-types in the building often take the best stuff before I even arrive for work.
So, the latest Stephen King novel is long gone by the time I arrive. Likewise, I've never seen any of the Bush-bashing books still sitting around when I come in 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours later. Joseph Wilson's new book -- gone. Richard Clarke's -- gone. John Dean -- gone. Ron Suskind -- nowhere to be found.
But conservative books are always still available. Yesterday I was able to pick up P.J. O'Rourke's latest "Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism," Michael Barone's "Hard America, Soft America," and Thomas McInerney and Paul Vallely's "Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror." I was even able to pick up the unfortunately titled "Terror and Liberalism," by Paul Berman, a writer for The New Republic. I suspect that most would assume from just looking at the title that it is liberal-bashing book (from Berman's resume, I strongly suspect this is wrong), and so it was passed over.
Several book sales ago, a somewhat liberal relative of mine (aka Mr. Wonderful) was interested in Ann Coulter's "Treason" because of all the controversy surrounding it -- but he didn't want to buy it an put any money in Coulter's pocket. I told him I would get it at the next day's book sale -- because I was sure no one else would buy that book.
I was right.
So, there is one minor advantage to being one of the few conservatives in an otherwise liberal newsroom -- cheap books.
Real diversity is more than skin deep.
Iraqi WMDs: Lt. Smash is doing the major media's job -- and doing it better.
A shocking development: The Democrat-dominated California Assembly passed a bill yesterday containing the most restrictive abortion rules in the nation.
The proposed law would prohibit any abortion for girls under the age of 14. Girls age 14-17 would be allowed to have an abortion only with the approval of a doctor.
Yes, this sounds like something Republicans might do, but not Democrats. Especially in California, one of the most liberal states in the nation. Would Democrats really attempt to limit abortion on demand?
Of course, not. The bill passed yesterday wasn't about abortion. It was about tanning salons.
California, famous for tanned bodies and year-round sunshine, will be the first state to restrict teenagers under 18 at artificial tanning booths if a bill passed yesterday by the Assembly becomes law.
Lawmakers, citing a rise in skin cancer cases in California and across the nation, voted 42-26 to add artificial tanning to the list of teenage no-no's. The bill requires teenagers to have a doctor's prescription before tanning indoors. Right now, California is among 27 states that require permission from a parent or legal guardian for teens ages 15 to 18 to use tanning salons. Children 14 and younger must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Teens like to visit tanning salons before proms, vacations and weddings, according to the tanning industry, which employs 160,000 people nationally and generates $5 billion a year. California is estimated to have 1,500 tanning salons.
But backers of the bill, including the California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, blame tanning salons, in part, for the 1 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year in the United States. The group said 7,400 people die annually from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
"There is a big difference between going to the beach and a tanning salon," said the bill's author, Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-San Rafael. "When kids go to the beach they put on sunscreen."
The thought processes of Democrats continues to awe scientists everywhere. Today, in the state of California, a 12-year-old girl can walk into a clinic and have an abortion -- a major medical procedure -- without her parents' permission, but can't strip down to a bikini and get in a tanning booth if Democrats have their way.
Of course, it gets better. You really couldn't ask for better timing. What's on the front page of today's Washington Post?
Vitamin D Deficiency Called Major Health Risk
Many Americans, particularly African Americans, may be suffering from unrecognized deficiencies of a key nutrient -- vitamin D -- that increase the risk of bone problems and perhaps a host of other diseases, a growing number of scientists say.
Pediatricians scattered around the country have been surprised to see children suffering from rickets, a bone disorder caused by vitamin D deficiency that had been largely relegated to a bygone era. A few doctors have come across adults who were disabled by severe muscle weakness and pain, sometimes for years, until they were treated for undiagnosed vitamin D deficiency. And recent studies suggest low vitamin D may be putting the elderly at higher risk for the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis and life-threatening falls and fractures.
But beyond bone and muscle problems, some evidence suggests a dearth of vitamin D may be associated with an array of more serious illnesses, including many forms of cancer, high blood pressure, depression, and immune-system disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
In response, many scientists have begun pushing to sharply boost the official recommendations for how much vitamin D everyone should get daily, either by taking supplements, by eating more food that contains the nutrient or from the sun -- a major source of vitamin D. [emphasis added]
Maybe tomorrow the Democrat do-gooders will reverse course and order teens to get into tanning booths. Exactly what do you do when you're the "mommy" party and you have diametrically opposed do-gooding to do?
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Zero-tolerance madness: I've long been opposed to the so-called "zero-tolerance" rules instituted at most of this nation's public schools because it takes common sense out of the equation.
Today's case in point comes from Fort Worth, Texas:
A wooden baseball bat, no longer than 8 inches and visible through a car window, spurred Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School officials to call sophomore Cory Henson out of class Monday so they could search his vehicle.
Under the Fort Worth school district's zero-tolerance policy, Henson was immediately suspended, pending a conference with administrators Thursday. Officials will decide whether the bat is considered a weapon that would merit punishment, including placement in an alternative school or expulsion for up to a year. It was described as no bigger than the souvenir bats available at professional ballgames.
So, a small stick of wood is considered a weapon worth of suspending a kid over? Wait, it gets better.
Sheila Henson said her son never gets in trouble. The 16-year-old plays junior varsity baseball at the school. Because of his suspension, he was not able to attend the end-of-the-year sports banquet this week.
"Why did it have to go to that level?" she asked.
What's more confounding to Henson is that it was the small bat, and not the full-sized aluminum bat that was in the trunk with other baseball equipment, that was confiscated as a weapon.
Definitive proof -- it is possible to fail an I.Q. test.
I'm confused: I'm having a hard time nailing down Sen. John Kerry on the issues. He's militantly pro-abortion, and yet he told reporters that he would consider appointing a pro-life judge, but only if it didn't tilt the Supreme Court into overturning Roe v. Wade.
Kerry said he has voted in favor of "any number of judges who are pro-life or pro-something else that I may not agree with," some of whom were nominated by Republican presidents. "But I'm going to make sure we uphold what I believe are Constitutional rights and I'm not going to pick somebody who's going to undermine those rights."
"Do they have to agree with me on everything? No," Kerry said. Asked if they must agree with his abortion-rights views, he quickly added, "I will not appoint somebody with a 5-4 Court who's about to undue [sic] Roe v. Wade. I've said that before."
Kerry's simply parroting the NARAL line here, the Supreme Court isn't split 5-4 on Roe v. Wade, it's split 6-3. Only Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and William Rhenquist have indicated they would overturn Roe.
Kerry stakes his claim to moderation by saying that he's voted for judges who do not share his same views. But earlier in the article, he identifies his vote for Scalia's nomination to the Supreme Court as one of the mistakes he's made during his years in the Senate.
So, is Kerry going to use a litmus test or not? Will he use a litmus test only for the Supreme Court and not for lower courts?
One question Kerry apparently wasn't asked, but should've been, is: "You've taken part with other Democrat senators in filibusters of various Republican court nominees, all of whom would be confirmed on a up-or-down vote. If you become president, why should the Republicans not do the same thing to your nominees? If ideology is the new litmus test, have you and your fellow Democrats poisoned the well of the judiciary?"
I would love to hear Kerry's response.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Trade as a cure-all: The idea that free trade with despotic regimes -- bringing to their people more wealth, democratic ideas and a glimpse of what freedom is -- will somehow, eventually, undermine the ruling elite is an idea embraced by many on both sides of the political spectrum.
There's just one problem: There's little evidence that it actually works.
In his column today, The New York Times Nicholas Kristof champions this idea as the way to undermine the mullahocracy in Iran and dissuade the terrorist-supporting regime from pursuing nuclear weapons.
So we should vigorously pursue a "grand bargain" in which, among other elements, Iran maintains its freeze on uranium enrichment and we establish diplomatic relations and encourage business investment, tourism and education exchanges.
"What would destroy the conservatives [in Iran] would be a money flood" of American investment, says Hooshang Amirahmadi, the president of the American Iranian Council. "In just a few years, the conservatives would be finished."
Unfortunately, this appears to be little more than wishful thinking.
For the past 30+ years, we have taken a similar path with China. Ever since President Richard Nixon went to China, Americans have flooded the country with foreign investment.
An unknown number, but believed to be in the thousands, of pro-Democracy students and others killed at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
A rollback of freedoms in Hong Kong, in violation of promises made to the people of Hong Kong prior to the British handover of the colony.
The theft of nuclear weapons secrets and missile technology from the United States.
Illegal funding of political campaigns in the United States in an effort to influence elections.
The forcing down of a U.S. surveillance plane in international waters and detaining the crew in violation of international law.
Repeated and systematic violations of the U.N. Charter with regard to refugees from North Korea.
Denial of the right of people to practice religion freely.
And today, threats against the democratically elected leader of Taiwan.
This is the model that Kristof would have us follow?
Not enough single men?: Or not enough of the right (and by that I mean correct, not politically right) single men? The always interesting Robert Musil has some analysis on the situation today, capped by the following anecdote.
Recently, over dinner, a slender, beautiful, young, intelligent. educated, securities sales woman employed by one of the big New York investment banks shared with me her concerns following the break-up of her long-term relationship with a wealthy young Southern California male. After reviewing with her the various criteria she had established for a future replacement main squeeze, we together did some quick probabilistic calculations of the type those in or close to the securities business are prone to perform during their more intimate moments. The calculations took into account, for example, the fact that there was absolutely no chance that she would be interested in even the best looking, most congenial fireman one could imagine. Nor was she interested in "poaching" on the already-married or near-equivalent. Gay was no-go, of course. Etc. After some fast work on a note pad and calculator thoughtfully provided by the restaurant (whose napkins were of the expensive damask variety not suitable for scribbling except for the most aggressive) we determined that there are, perhaps, eight men now located in the United States who would make suitable mates.
My charming dinner companion passed on dessert. [emphasis in original]
I'm sure I don't qualify as one of the eight men in question. If you believe you may be one of them, drop Musil a line and maybe he can hook you up.
I can't say that I'm not surprised by Musil's anecdote, though. I see it all the time (not necessarily all from personal experience, thank you very much).
I was at my church group a couple of months back and a couple of very attractive ladies were grilling a friend of mine named Dave. They were asking him why he didn't have a girlfriend. He had no real answer, and, being the wonderful guy I am, offered to explain it to the ladies. I said that it was obvious why he didn't have a girlfriend, look at him. They both started to protest. I told them to wait a second, Dave's a great guy. He's funny, caring, charming, good-looking. The reason why he doesn't have a girlfriend? Because you women are nuts.
Maybe that really doesn't explain why Dave doesn't have a girlfriend. But I've got a good feeling that it explains why I don't have one.
Journalists and numbers: They don't mix.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - There is a 50 percent probability that the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season will have above-normal activity, the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) said in its outlook.
A die-hard, but not dwindling: Well, you knew there was never going to be a clean sweep. The New York Times editorial page opines on the discovery of a sarin-filled artillery shell rigged to be a roadside bomb.
The Times has been among those assailing President Bush in recent months for flawed intelligence and the failure to find any weapons of mass destruction. Now, when some are discovered, the Times moves the goalposts.
If laboratory tests confirm the presence of sarin, that finding may not tell us much about whether Saddam Hussein retained a hidden chemical arsenal after supposedly destroying it.
The dwindling band of die-hards who remain convinced that Mr. Hussein squirreled away stockpiles of illicit weapons worry that insurgents may use them against American forces. But finding some residual weapons that had escaped a large-scale destruction program would be no great surprise — and if the chemicals had degraded, no major threat.
The Times is very cavalier about the safety of America's fighting men and women in Iraq. After all, sarin can be very dangerous stuff. Would the Times attitude be the same if a similar device was found somewhere on West 42nd St.?
It's disturbing the Times still sees Saddam as more trustworthy than the empirical evidence. I'd be curious to see the Times explain this little problem, highlighted by Blaster.
Iraq never declared any binary 155mm artillery shells. In fact, they never claimed any filled with sarin at all in the UNSCOM Final report (Find on "Munitions declared by Iraq as remaining"). Not declared as existing at the end of the Gulf War, not having been destroyed in the Gulf War, not having been destroyed unilaterally. The only binary munitions claimed by the Iraqis were aerial bombs and missile warheads. Not in an artillery shell.
So, this would be yet another failure on the part of Saddam Hussein's government to abide by U.N. Security Council resolution 1441. Any complaints about that from the liberal media?
There are WMDs in Iraq. The goal is for us to find them before the insurgents and terrorists do. Right now, we're struggling to catch up.
Dogs and cats, living together: Yes, it's one of the signs of the end of the world, according to the Ghostbusters. This is another: Hoystory wholeheartedly agreeing with an editorial in The New York Times.
Entitled, "Gasoline hysteria," the editorial makes the case that Democrat calls for tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are misguided, deceitful and transparently political.
As the energy secretary, Spencer Abraham, correctly noted yesterday, "The reserve is not there to simply try to change prices." In fact, the law calls for it to be tapped only in the event of supply disruptions. And even if Washington wanted to alleviate rising fuel costs, the reserve is not a very effective instrument for doing so, as President Bill Clinton learned in the fall of 2000. Experts estimate that at most, turning on the spigot now would knock only a few cents off a gallon.
Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, knows this, of course, and he demeans the seriousness of his own candidacy when he suggests that President Bush could single-handedly bring down fuel costs. Senator Kerry has urged the administration to stop buying oil for the reserve, as if that would make a difference. Fortunately, some residue of shame has kept him from joining the other Democrats calling for the reserve to be raided. The government's oil purchases have taken place at a time of higher prices, but they are not a major cause of the increase.
On Fox News' "Special Report with Brit Hume" last night, a representative of the Cato Institute, who favored tapping the reserve, acknowledged that even opening that spigot would only cause prices to fall a maximum of 10 cents per gallon.
I'm not even convinced that more supply would have much of an effect here in California. California's major problem is a lack of refining capacity. When one of the state's few refineries shuts down -- for whatever suspicious reason -- gas prices take an immediate jump. When the refinery is back online, prices slowly begin to inch back down.
If you get the feeling I'm suggesting something is maybe a little shady in the Golden State -- you're right.
Get used to it. Or get on the waiting list for a Toyota Prius.
The wisdom of the Cos: The guy is certainly no conservative, but comedian Bill Cosby (who has a Ph.D. in education) is too smart to buy the black victimhood idea.
Bill Cosby was anything but politically correct in his remarks Monday night at a Constitution Hall bash commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. To astonishment, laughter and applause, Cosby mocked everything from urban fashion to black spending and speaking habits.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal," he declared. "These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers for what? And won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.' . . .
"They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English," he exclaimed. "I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is' . . . And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. . . . Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. . . . You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!"
The Post's Hamil Harris reports that Cosby also turned his wrath to "the incarcerated," saying: "These are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged, [saying] 'The cops shouldn't have shot him.' What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"
When Cosby finally concluded, Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and NAACP legal defense fund head Theodore Shaw came to the podium looking stone-faced. Shaw told the crowd that most people on welfare are not African American, and many of the problems his organization has addressed in the black community were not self-inflicted.
Vote Cosby for head of the NAACP!
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
With men like these: I continue to be amazed by men like Gunnery Sgt. Nick Popaditch.
This is beautiful: The Senate last week narrowly turned back an effort to further extend unemployment benefits. The required 60-vote threshold was not quite met as the final vote came in at 59-40. There are 100 senators. One did not vote. His name is John Kerry. He was out campaigning for president, instead of doing the job he is paid to do.
The media, which can do simple math figured that if Kerry had been present the 60-vote threshold would've been achieved and one of the Democrats' favorite things -- more weeks of unemployment benefits would be attained.
Well, it turns out that the vote wouldn't nearly have been that close.
The extension needed 60 votes to pass in the Senate, and 12 Republicans made sure the final tally was 59-40, with only one absentee, presidential candidate Kerry.
At least one Republican senator, Elizabeth Dole (N.C.), was prepared to switch to a “no” vote to make sure the measure was defeated even if Kerry returned to cast his vote, a Democrat charged.
Even if Dole had stood firm, observers on both sides believe the GOP leadership would have been able to turn other Republicans to ensure defeat.
But by calculating the vote to a nicety, the GOP managed to make Kerry appear to be responsible for the defeat because he was a no-show.
The Democrats say they suspect the Republicans engineered the one-vote margin, and the incident underlines how both parties are expected to use the legislature to tarnish their opponents.
Score one for the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!
Of course, Kerry could avoid similar pitfalls in the future if he resigned his Senate seat -- a la Bob Dole. (Don't hold your breath.)
So I like sappy romance stories: Sue me.
High School Honor Awarded Half a Century Later
EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) — A woman whose stolen kiss in a long-gone era kept her out of the National Honor Society will be inducted 51 years late.
Catherine Peters Wagner, 69, of the Shaw High School class of 1953, will be inducted Friday.
Wagner said she was reprimanded after being caught giving a quick kiss to a boyfriend as they passed in a school stairwell during their senior year. She suspects that is why her name was left off a list of new honor society members posted a short time later.
"There was a character issue there, apparently," Wagner said. "I had the point average. I had the activities. Both of my sisters had been inducted with the same grades and activities. Same with my classmates."
Wagner, who now lives in Reynoldsburg near Columbus, went to Ohio State University on a music scholarship and played the cello with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (search) for 29 years.
Last year she toured Shaw during a 50-year reunion and Gerald Dougherty, vice president of the honor society in 1953, heard her story and asked the school to get involved. Principal Clarence Bozeman arranged the induction.
As for Robert Wagner, the long-ago boyfriend she kissed in the stairwell: She married him and they'll celebrate their 48th anniversary this year.
Monday, May 17, 2004
Religion of peace: Islam works wonders in Sudan.
Deep in remote northern Darfur, the Sudanese rebel fighters are gathering to talk tactics in the face of genocide. At this desert rendezvous, in the punishing terrain of the Sahara, we are 120 miles from the nearest settlement and 75 miles from the closest reliable water supply, a large reservoir.
There is little to mark Wadi Hawar as a hideout: the "camp" has no huts or tents. Rebels from throughout northern and western Darfur choose to meet here because they know that the brutal Janjaweed - the mounted Arab militia whose men are systematically "cleansing" western Sudan of its 80 black African tribes - will never find them.
It is 47C and the air ripples with heat. The dust creates a persistent, arid fog. The only shade comes from the scrubby trees, their branches stripped of leaves, and the rebels' 25 pick-up trucks. The commanders shelter under the thicker twigs; their men lie out in the sun.
Tattered and filthy, a boy moves among them, bringing water and tea, shying away from any adult who approaches. Aged just 12, Adam Erenga Tribe has more reason than most to shrink from grown men.
A month ago, Adam came home from school to find the government-backed Janjaweed burning his village in western Darfur. He watched more than 20 armed militiamen spur their horses through the inferno, slaughtering any who refused to leave and rounding up their cattle.
Running home, Adam found his two older brothers lying dead in the dirt outside the family's straw shelter. Inside were the bodies of his mother and father, who had been shot in the neck and the stomach.
"They killed my whole family," Adam remembers, shaking as he speaks. "Lots of girls were captured. I lost control and started screaming and crying. And then the Janjaweed snatched me and took me away on horseback. They made me their slave."
Go read the entire article, if you can stand it.
Talking sense: An Iraqi General has it exactly right, and it's something that should get wide airing in Iraq and around the world.
Retired Maj. Gen. Mohammed Abdul-Latif had the following to say:
"We can make them (Americans) use their rifles against us or we can make them build our country, it's your choice," Latif told a gathering of more than 40 sheiks, city council members and imams in an eastern Fallujah suburb.
Latif, speaking in Arabic to the sheiks, defended the Marines and the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
"They were brought here by the acts of one coward who was hunted out of a rathole — Saddam — who disgraced us all," Latif said. "Let us tell our children that these men (U.S. troops) came here to protect us.
"As President Bush said, they did not come here to occupy our land but to get rid of Saddam. We can help them leave by helping them do their job, or we can make them stay ten years and more by keeping fighting."
Latif also told the insurgents to "stop doing stupid things."
"Those bullets that are fired will not get the Americans out, let them finish their job here so that they can return to their country," Latif said.
"Our country is precious, stop allowing the bad guys to come from outside Iraq to destroy our country."
Put that man on television and show it -- repeatedly.
Another film looking for a distributor: Filmmaker Michael Moore recently got quite a bit of press after revealing to the world that (surprise!) Disney didn't want to distribute his latest piece of anti-American, hate-filled vitriol.
Well, another documentary filmmaker is looking for a distributor, and you can bet he won't get nearly the press that the bloviating Moore did.
THE tape was shocking. In the medical clinic at Abu Ghraib prison, nine Baghdad merchants were shown undergoing surgery to remove their healthy right hands on the orders of Saddam Hussein.
It wasn't hard to track the men shown in the video. The incident was well known in Baghdad and the tape had been widely circulated to terrorize other merchants who might dare to deal in foreign currency.
Nothing could more dramatically illustrate the depth of cruelty and inhumanity of Saddam's regime. Iraqis often say, "Cruelty is the tryant's art." And Saddam should take his place among history's cruelest tryrants.
I went looking for the men in the video. Of the nine who lost their hands in 1995, six were still in Baghdad, one had died, one escaped to Germany and one to Holland. I tracked them down and proposed I make a documentary incorporating the brutal amputation scenes, while telling their story to the world. They agreed.
Don't expect to find it anytime soon in your local theater.
Iraq's WMDs: We haven't found Saddam's stockpiles of chemical weapons, but we have found at least two chemical weapons in Iraq.
At the very least, this should put the lie to the idea that Saddam Hussein was telling the truth when he said Iraq had destroyed all of its WMDs.
However, liberal opponents of the war (those who think George W. Bush is infinitely worse than Saddam Hussein) are undeterred by the latest news.
Exhibit A: Hans "See no evil" Blix.
FORMER chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said that a shell containing sarin nerve gas used in an attack in Iraq was most likely a stray weapon possibly from the first Gulf War.
Blix said today that the discovery of the nerve agent was not a sign that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed weapons of mass destruction before the war last year.
Try to bend your mind around that idea. The fact that insurgents/terrorists used, perhaps unknowingly, a sarin-filled artillery shell as a weapon against U.S. troops is not evidence that Saddam possessed WMDs. Apparently the shell was imported from France. Did Saddam actually have to have the artillery shell in his back pocket as he sat in his spider hole before Blix would acknowledge that Saddam "possessed" WMDs? I can just see the latest episode of "Cops."
Saddam: "Uh, officer that's not my artillery shell."
Officer: "Not yours?"
Saddam: "No. was walking down the street and this guy asked me to hold it for him."
Officer: "What did the guy look like?"
Saddam: "Uh, well, I didn't really get a good look at him."
Officer: "Was he tall? Short?"
Saddam: "He was tall...but kinda short. And he was fat, but skinny. Oh, and he had a beard."
Officer: "Do you usually accept artillery shells when someone hands you one?"
Saddam: "...yeah...well...I didn't want him to just drop it on the ground..."
Critics are now latching on to the possibility that the artillery shell was manufactured prior to the first Gulf War. That may be true, but the fact remains that Saddam was supposed to have destroyed all of them.
Obviously he didn't. And that's the point.
A downside of homeownership: The big upside is, of course, the mortgage interest deduction. Uncle Sam takes a lot less of your hard-earned money when you're paying large amounts of interest.
The downside is getting pre-approved loan checks regularly in the mail. Today I received a check/loan for $1,023.55 (how they came up with that not-round figure I'll never know) from Wells Fargo. I've hated Wells Fargo ever since they decided to sell all of their branches in Western Washington and *poof* leave me requesting to close my account by mail. I received no advance notice of the pull-out. Just went to deposit a check one day, and the branch was just closed.
Anyway, so today I get this "check," which is really a high-interest rate loan (17.99%), that I never asked for. The mailboxes at my condo complex are locked, but what if someone managed to steal this check and cash it? I know I wouldn't be liable for the money, but I'm sure it would cost me time and effort to clear up the whole mess.
They obviously make money off these things, or they wouldn't do it. But this sort of thing just chaps my hide.
Remember: Wells Fargo = EVIL.
Network news: I'm blogging from the my parents' home and we're watching the NBC "Nightly News." The lead story was Massachusetts issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. The piece was a couple of minutes long -- and woefully one-sided. At least two gay couples were quoted, as was a lawyer who argued that other states should be required to recognize gay "marriages" performed in Massachusetts.
And for the other side of the debate? You got a few seconds of people holding signs and some garbled yelling. No interview. No brief comments from opponents. Nope, just a biased story showing that today was a first, small step in an ongoing effort. The report took pains to point out that the newly-"married" gay couples still don't receive Social Security payments like heterosexual couples.
And they wonder why Fox News' viewership is growing and the networks' continue to diminish?
*UPDATE* For the record, just finished watching ABC's "World News Tonight" piece on the subject -- and they, at least, provided both sides of the debate.
Ledeen on Iran: Iran expert Michael Ledeen has an excellent article on National Review Online regarding New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's recent pieces from that mullahocracy.
But, in keeping with the ideology of his social set, they are his thoughts, not those of the Iranian people. To be sure, he quotes Iranians — he's astonished to discover that they do not fear being named — including some senior ayatollahs, to demonstrate the contempt of the people for the regime. Ayatollah Taheri calls the ruling mullahs "society's dregs and fascists who consist of a concoction of ignorance and madness...(and) those who are convinced that yogurt is black."
Kristof's trip was worth the expense for that one quote alone. But instead of following the logic of the Iranian people's enmity to the Islamic Republic — will the "Arab street" not be influenced by the utter failure of Islam in the region's largest and most powerful country? — he lapses into politically correct dithering: "There's a useful lesson here for George Bush's America as well as for the ayatollahs' Iran: when a religion is imposed on people, when a government tries too ostentatiously to put itself 'under God,' the effect is often not to prop up religious faith but to undermine it."
Huh? Islam has failed in Iran, so utterly and dramatically that even the most senior religious leaders are attacking the theocracy. Has anything of the sort happened in America? No. Is religion "imposed on people" in America? No, indeed the opposite takes place; religion is banished from the public square and the faithful are disparaged as ignorant rednecks. Moreover, in America church and state are separate, while Iran is a theocracy. The two systems have nothing in common, except the New York Times's party line, that religion is a bad thing and religious people are dangerous.
And the scary thing is that Kristof has been one of the more moderate of the liberal columnists when it comes to promoting tolerance for those fundamentalist Christians.
Sunday, May 16, 2004
Steyn's wisdom: I'm not someone who thinks that Bush has done a perfect job as president -- I just don't think that any of his detractors would do a better job. However, columnist Mark Steyn has a valid criticism:
The administration, in trying to see its way through both the phony crossfire and the real one, has been rattled by the fake war. Someone in the White House needs seriously to stiffen the Bush rhetoric. When the president talks about ''staying the course'' and ''bringing to justice'' the killers, he sounds like Bill Clinton, who pledged to stay the course in Somalia and bring to justice the terrorists, and did neither. Bush has to go back to speaking Rumsfeldian, not Powellite: He has to talk about winning total victory, hunting down the enemy and killing them.
He also needs to promise himself that he'll never again apologize to some Arab despot -- even relatively benign ones, like the king of Jordan -- for events in Iraq. If he feels the need to apologize, he should apologize to the American people for apologizing to the Arab world. This isn't just because what went on in Abu Ghraib is a picnic -- well, a Paris Hilton video picnic -- compared to what goes on every day in the prisons of our Arab ''allies.'' More important than that, the Bush apology buys into one of the most fetid props of the region's so-called stability -- ''pan-Arabism.'' If U.S. troops ''humiliated'' some Portuguese prisoners, the president wouldn't apologize to the king of Norway or the prime minister of Slovenia. So why, when U.S. troops humiliate Iraqi prisoners, would he apologize to Jordan's King Abdullah or Egypt's thug-for-life? ''Pan-Arabism'' is one reason why the region's a sewer. If Iraq succeeds, it will be by breaking with regional solidarity.
Go read the entire article.
Cans at Cannes: I suppose this puts the Bush twins' underage drinking in perspective.
Uh, that would be a "no": Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked a very good question of the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin of Michigan.
Wallace: I guess what I'm asking you is, as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, this was announced to the world. I agree it wasn't a big story, but I remember reading about it. That there were allegations and investigations of abuse starting in January of 2004. Then they announced two months later that they were bringing charges against six people. As the ranking Democrat on the committee that oversees the Pentagon, what did you do about it? Did you call for hearings? Did you get in contact with the Pentagon?
Levin: The very tiny little press release that was issued by Central Command in January of '04 in no way signified the depth of the abuse. It just simply stated that there are allegations of abuses at a prison that are being investigated. That makes it sound very routine, not extensive -- and these were extensive abuses -- in many prisons, starting a year before, which we had no knowledge. And we do not know what actions the Central Command took, if any, during that year. But the first evidence of any kind that we had was that little press release issued by the Central Command in early '04. That is not a notification of extensive abuses at all to anybody.
So, Levin's short answer is: "No."
Just out of curiosity: What are we paying Levin and the others to do? They're supposed to be acting as a watchdog on the Pentagon, and Levin didn't seem to be even mildly curious about what was going on until these photos came out. Now he's blaming the Pentagon for not sensationalizing its press releases enough to get him interested in doing his job?
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Freedom of Worship: I'm watching "The Beltway Boys" on Fox News and Roll Call's Morton Kondracke pulled out a quote from Will Durant's essay in The Saturday Evening Post in 1943 on one of FDR's "Four Freedoms," freedom of worship. It's almost uncanny what was written more than 60 years ago about Nazism echoes in today's Islamofascism.
It is astonishing and inspiring that after all the bloodshed of history this land should house in fellowship a hundred religions and a hundred doubts. This is with us an already ancient heritage; and because we knew such freedom of worship from our birth, we took it for granted and expected it of all mature men. Until yesterday the whole civilized world seemed secure in that liberty. But now suddenly, through some paranoiac mania of racial superiority, or some obscene sadism of political strategy, persecution is renewed, and men are commanded to render unto Caesar the things that ar Caesar's, and unto Caesar the things that are God's.
The American public needs to realize that radical Islamists aren't like us. It was cliche during the Cold War that the Russian people were not so different than we were. There was some truth to that statement. Unfortunately, the same isn't true of Islamists who would saw off a young man's head in cold blood while yelling "god is great!" Islamists don't want to live out their lives in peace. They want only to kill others in the name of their depraved version of Islam -- or die trying.
There can be no peace in a world where millions of Muslims' only desire is the death of all infidels -- Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, etc.
RIP: Gordon Frane, patriot.
Friday, May 14, 2004
Take a deep breath: Find your happy place. Then go here and read about Ted Rall's latest bile.
The politics of stem-cell research: Wesley J. Smith has a helpful update on the promise of adult stem cell research.
Great minds think alike: If you're a regular reader of Hoystory, then today's column by the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer will ring a bell.
A non-correction correction: Last Friday the government announced that 288,000 new jobs had been created in April. That followed the creation of more than 300,000 new jobs in March.
If you're the New York Times' resident economist columnist, you might want to analyze this trend. Instead, Paul Krugman spends his first opportunity on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and his second (today) hiding a correction for his May 7 column.
Krugman claimed that we've found all of the oil we're ever going to find on planet Earth, so we better get a move-on to
Krugman hot-air wind power.
As Don Luskin pointed out, Krugman's claims weren't exactly...accurate.
So, what do we see in today's column? A non-correction correction.
Increasing production capacity takes even longer than replacing old cars. Also, major new discoveries of oil have become increasingly rare (although in my last column on the subject, I forgot about two large fields in Kazakhstan, one discovered in 1979, the second in 2000).
Just slipped his mind, you see. No correction needed here, because he knew about those oil fields, he just forgot to mention it because those pesky facts got in the way of his argument.
On a related note: Check out Luskin's post on this subject. He notes that editorial page editor Gail Collins had promised to make sure columnists placed their corrections at the end of their column and acknowledging it as such.
They still don't get it: A day after most other newspaper editorial pages had weighed in on the brutal execution of Nick Berg, the New York Times has its say -- and they still don't get it.
But this manipulative attempt to establish a moral equivalence between the gruesome execution of Mr. Berg and the torture of Iraqi prisoners is now being mimicked by some hard-core supporters of the American war in Iraq. They are cynically trying to use the images of Mr. Berg to wipe away the images of Abu Ghraib, turning the abhorrence for the murderers into an excuse for demonizing Arabs and Muslims, or for sanctioning their torture.
Wrong. What we are trying to get the media elite (that's you turkeys at the Times) to recognize some perspective. What happened to Nick Berg was an atrocity. Having Iraqi prisoners wear women's underwear on their heads is mistreatment.
Volokh nails it: Lazy, biased reporting at the New York Times.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Uncle Matt: At Hoystory we're proud to announce the arrival of the world's greatest niece: Madeline.
Covering her tracks: The Boston Globe's Ellen Goodman, got caught in a lie and instead of a correction, we get a valiant effort at covering one's rear.
In her April 25 column on the pro-abortion march on Washington, Goodman made the following statement.
AT TIMES, I've had a fantasy about my generation as the last brigade parading for reproductive rights under a banner of "Post-Menopausal Women for Choice." After all, those of us who remember when birth control was illegal and when 10,000 American women a year died from illegal abortions don't have to imagine a world without choices. [emphasis added]
It's that 10,000 number that's troubling. Goodman is connecting the 10,000 dead annually with the fact that abortion was illegal. When it was made legal, everything was hunky-dory.
In her column today, Goodman backtracks.
I bring this up because of a recent column I wrote on the March for Women's Lives. I referred to the bad old days when 10,000 women a year died of illegal abortions. Ka-boom. The number – 10,000 deaths – produced a mother lode of e-mails insisting it was a lie, propaganda or an "urban legend." Many said the figure came from Bernard Nathanson, formerly pro-choice and now pro-life, who has claimed responsibility for the bunk he now debunks.
Well, as someone who is both pro-choice and pro-facts, I went back into the deep, dark numeric archives with guide Stanley Henshaw, who, poor soul, actually is writing a paper on all this for the Guttmacher Institute.
I will spare you the details, but the 10,000 figure didn't come from Mr. Nathanson, it came from Frederick Taussig, circa 1936. In 1930, abortion was the official cause of death for almost 2,700 women. But "official" wasn't the whole story. Though data admittedly was skimpy by today's standards, Mr. Taussig's research estimated 8,000 to 10,000 deaths.
So, the 10,000 women died in 1936. Let's go back to Goodman's first column again.
After all, those of us who remember when birth control was illegal and when 10,000 American women a year died...[emphasis added]
So, lets say your first memories that you hold onto in maturity are those when you're about four years old. That would put Goodman's birth (after all, she's old enough to "remember" 1936) sometime in 1932. Which would make Goodman 72 years old.
Goodman has an excellent memory, because she was born in 1948.
The way Goodman constructed her original sentence ("when 10,000 American women a year died from illegal abortions") was obviously intended to show that the reason behind all of these deaths was that abortion was illegal. Unfortunately (again) for Goodman's case, that's not true -- and she admits it, now.
Over the decades, the numbers shrank to hundreds and then dozens because of penicillin, because doctors began performing abortions and because abortion became legal in critical states such as New York. By 1972, the year before the Roe vs. Wade decision, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 39 women died from illegal or self-induced abortions. [emphasis added]
Penicillin is the major reason -- far more than doctors performing the abortions and them becoming legal in New York -- that the number of abortion-related deaths dropped to almost nil.
Goodman got caught in a lie, and she has gone to great lengths to back it up.
A correction would've been so much easier, but then, 39 isn't as impressive a number as 10,000.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Perspective: Lt. Smash offers some.
When politics trump good sense: The Boston Globe, owned by the New York Times Co., were handed a story with photos yesterday that should have rang alarm bells for any skeptical journalist who is aware of what is going on in the world.
A Boston city councilor presented the Globe with photos alleged to show U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi women.
The "alleged" is the key word here, because it was just last week that several Egyptian newspapers ran similar photos, only to have the U.S. government demand a retraction after it was proven the photos came from a Hungarian porn site.
But the Globe went ahead and published those photos in today's paper.
The story fell into the "too good to check" category. Normal journalistic skepticism was trumped by an effort to further the attack on President Bush and his handling of Iraq.
Another hit for journalistic credibility. That liberal media.
Useless U.N.: Claudia Rosett has a piece in today's Wall Street Journal on North Korea and the U.N.
Kofi Annan was at pains in his recent "Meet the Press" interview to stress that he sees the U.N. as a "unique organization," one "that can bring the whole world together." To bring the whole world together, given how the world really works, requires in too many cases the sacrifice of precisely the integrity, freedom and decency that the U.N. was meant to serve.
Lie down with dogs...
Kos steps in it again: Well, I went over to the sewer of American left political thought to see if Kos was happy to see Nick Berg -- a mercenary according to Kos' worldview -- dead.
It turns out Kos isn't happy Berg is dead -- a definite improvement. Maybe the uproar over his "screw them" comment has taught him a lesson.
However, it should come as no surprise who Kos blames for Berg's murder: President George W. Bush and the neocons. (Sounds like a great band name.)
Most on the right see these cowardly kidnappings and the murder of civilians like Berg as evidence that the United States nees to redouble our efforts to wipe out the Islamofascists.
Those on the left see it as evidence that America is evil and we got what is coming to us.
The lesson is that not finishing the job in Afghanistan and invading Iraq with no good rationale gave Al Qaida and similar groups time to catch their breath, reorganize, and direct their efforts against a conveniently near target -- Iraq. This is the neocon "flypaper" theory in all its glory. It's working. The neocons WANTED it this way.
And they got it. Congratulations.
And in the process, the killing of thousands of innocent men, women and children by errant American bombs, artillery shells, mortars, and bullets have swelled the recruiting offices of every militia and terrorist organization in the Mideast, in and out of Iraq. Congrats with that as well. You can't have flypaper if you don't have an enemy shooting at you. So we energized our existing enemies and gave rise to new ones who didn't seem to understand that "collateral damage" is acceptable in war.
When exactly is it we gave Al Qaeda time to relax? We've had troops in Afghanistan ever since Nov. 2001. Osama bin Laden is either hiding in some cave or is splattered on some cave.
New enemies? In Iraq? The ones fighting Americans in Iraq fall into two categories:
First, radical Islamists who hate America anyway.
Second, members of Saddam's Baath Party who hate America anyway.
I'm also curious how Kos knows that Al Qaeda is meeting its recruiting goals. I've heard no empirical evidence or reports that the offices are "swelling." Maybe he is just making it up.
And the abuse of Iraqi prisoners -- up to 90 percent of which could be innocent according to the Red Cross -- just added fuel to the fire.
Only 90 percent. How does the Red Cross know this? Did they ask the prisoners: "Are you innocent." And they replied: "Yes." Are the 10 percent who are presumably guilty admitting it, or did the Red Cross just not talk to them?
So no, the prison abuse didn't cause Berg's horrific murder. Bush's (inept) War, in all its glory, did. The Neocon agenda, in all its folly, did. The war cheerleaders now trying to use this for propaganda purposes, in all their idiocy, did.
Congrats. Your war spirals ever out of control. Good luck trying to wash the blood out of your hands.
Nope, don't blame the Islamofascists. Don't blame the terrorists. They're just innocent victims of American imperialism.
Just how out of whack does your brain have to be to ignore the guy holding the blood-stained knife in one hand and the severed head in the other?
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
One sentence movie reviews: I was talking to one of my colleagues at the Union-Tribune photo editor and former pirate radio movie reviewer David Poller, who had this to say about "Van Helsing:"
Wait 'til it comes out on video, then don't see it.
You've been warned.
Reality check: We've had almost a week of wall-to-wall coverage of the Iraqi prisoner abuse (not torture) scandal. It was inevitable that something would come along eventually and replace it. It's unfortunate that it had to be something like this.
A video posted Tuesday on an Islamic militant Web site showed the beheading of an American civilian in Iraq, and said the execution was carried out by an Al Qaeda affiliated group to avenge the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers.
The video showed five men wearing headscarves and black ski masks, standing over a bound man in an orange jumpsuit — similar to a prisoner's uniform — who identified himself as Nick Berg (search), a U.S. contractor whose body was found on a highway overpass in Baghdad on Saturday.
"My name is Nick Berg, my father's name is Michael, my mother's name is Susan," the man said on the video. "I have a brother and sister, David and Sarah. I live in ... Philadelphia."
After reading a statement, the men were seen pulling the man to his side and putting a large knife to his neck. A scream sounded as the men cut his head off, shouting "Allahu Akbar!" — "God is great." They then held the head out before the camera.
That's the religion of peace for you.
What's even more interesting is how the media is playing the story. It's big on CNN and Fox News, taking up the top story slot on both sites. On the New York Times' main page, it is a small headline tucked beneath larger ones dealing with Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse.
Fox News' Shepard Smith showed the first few seconds of the video, where the victim, Nick Berg, identifies himself. The tape stops. Then Smith describes, cut by cut, how Berg is decapitated.
This horrible murder will not be shown on a single American telecast. Not Fox News, not CNN. Not any of the major networks. No newspaper will print a screen capture of the murder or of the terrorists holding up Berg's head for the camera afterwards.
The editors of The New Yorker, The Washington Post and producers of "60 Minutes II" all justified their publication of the images of naked prisoners in piles and being menaced by dogs by claiming that words could not properly communicate the magnitude of the abuse. The pictures were necessary to give Americans the necessary understanding of what was going on in that prison.
David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, which has published two stories about the prisoner abuse written by Seymour M. Hersh, defended the use of the images.
"In this instance, I don't think you want to go out of your way to protect the tender sensibilities of the reader," Mr. Remnick said. "You don't aim to be gratuitous, but to weaken the power of these images in a story where the photographs are at the center of things would be an editing mistake in my judgment."
Such arguments would seem to dictate this disgusting beheading video being shown at least once, even if it's at 11:30 at night on Ted Koppel's "Nightline." Newspapers should post screen captures on their Web sites behind two pages of warnings.
But none of that is going to happen.
Well, yes to some extent.
The pictures of abuse in Abu Ghraib are disturbing, but not so disturbing or outrageous that television waits until late at night to show them or newspapers refuse to print them.
Images from this beheading are far, far worse. But they should be shown too -- if the media is concerned about its credibility and consistency.
Jonah Goldberg of National Review spoke about this subject yesterday on "Newsnight with Aaron Brown." Goldberg was attempting to make the point that showing the photos of prisoner abuse was unnecessary.
BROWN: But let's talk about whether or not if we know something -- in this case, clearly we did -- we know pictures will be damaging to the effort in some respect, will be damaging to the national interest in some respect -- and I think we can fairly argue these are -- should we then withhold them and -- that's easy -- here it gets harder -- if we do, where do we stop?
GOLDBERG: Well, first of all, I'm not advocating anything remotely like a new standard. This is a standard that photo editors and producers have struggled with for decades, when to show pictures and when not to show pictures. I'm not talking about censorship either.
I do think that, you know, one standard that you could have is, does it actually report news? And there is very little evidence that this was reporting actual news. This story was out. "The New York Times," CNN had reported on this already. Another standard would be, would releasing the pictures stop abuse that is actually going on at the moment? And, again, there is no evidence that I have seen that that is the case. This in many respects was purely sensational. And on Friday night, I know that you mentioned that, you know, that pictures increase our understanding of things. And I think that's often the case. But we don't use that as a standard to show pictures all the time. For example, one of the most raging national debates now is partial-birth abortion. I've never seen a partial-birth abortion live on television before, and for a pretty good reason.
We stopped seeing the pictures from 9/11 of Americans jumping off of the World Trade Centers. Within 48 hours, the major news networks in this country decided to stop showing it because they decided it was too disturbing. I saw so much context after 9/11 from Peter Jennings, especially, when Palestinians were celebrating in the streets after the 9/11 attack, and Peter Jennings went out of his way to call these isolated incidents, don't make a big deal out of it.
We got nothing like that from the media. We got full feeding frenzy with these pictures. And I think that the point is if -- there is real damage. And I'm just sort of shocked that I'm the only person who thinks this is a legitimate point to debate right now.
Goldberg's arguments, which were so outlandish to the media elites less than 24 hours ago, are now going to be the exact same ones used to justify quashing the tape of Berg's murder.
Brown's question: "Where do we stop?" was answered today. "We," the media, stop when it's an American being beheaded.
On a related note: According to Fox News, at 12:15 p.m. PDT, Al-Jazeera still had made no mention of the story.
Monday, May 10, 2004
Christmas comes early: Halo 2 will be released Nov. 9.
New York Times nutcase: Paul Krugman is at it again, with a column full of distortions and half-truths.
Just trust us, John Ashcroft said, as he demanded that Congress pass the Patriot Act, no questions asked. After two and a half years, during which he arrested and secretly detained more than a thousand people, Mr. Ashcroft has yet to convict any actual terrorists. (Look at the actual trials of what Dahlia Lithwick of Slate calls "disaffected bozos who watch cheesy training videos," and you'll see what I mean.)
The Lackawanna Six. Portland. Northern Virginia.
Apparently, for Krugman, the following isn't evidence that you're an "actual terrorist:"
In 2000 and 2001, a group of Muslim extremists in the Washington, D.C., suburban area trained to become mujahideen engaged in violent jihad. Some of them hoped to die "shaheed" - that is, as martyrs - while waging violent jihad.
In furtherance of the conspiracy, these individuals engaged in paramilitary training on secluded land in Northern Virginia to simulate actual combat. Evidence entered at trial showed that as part of their preparation for violent jihad, the organizers and recruits purchased AK-47-style rifles as well as hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
The group also met covertly in Northern Virginia suburbs to hear inflammatory lectures on violent jihad. They were told that it was appropriate for Muslims to take up arms in jihad against American soldiers and to kill civilians during jihad.
One of the defendants convicted today, Khan, was found in possession of "The Terrorist Handbook," a document containing instructions on how to manufacture and use explosives and chemicals as weapons.
In all, seven of the defendants traveled overseas to Lashkar-e-Taiba camps for training in the use of machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns. The evidence presented at trial showed that four of the defendants left the United States for the camps just days after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Each of the three individuals convicted today face up to life in prison. [emphasis added]
Cheesy training videos? Sounds like something more than that. But Krugman and the facts don't cross paths often.
Just trust us, George Bush said, as he insisted that Iraq, which hadn't attacked us and posed no obvious threat, was the place to go in the war on terror. When we got there, we found no weapons of mass destruction and no new evidence of links to Al Qaeda.
Iraq hadn't attacked us, if you ignore the almost daily SAM launches on our jets enforcing the no-fly zones. Iraq hadn't posed a threat if you ignore Saddam's plot to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush. Saddam wasn't a threat if you ignored his efforts to build banned rockets that could reach our ally Israel (after all, Jews don't count when it comes to being victims of terrorism).
Just trust us, Paul Bremer said, as he took over in Iraq. What is the legal basis for Mr. Bremer's authority? You may imagine that the Coalition Provisional Authority is an arm of the government, subject to U.S. law. But it turns out that no law or presidential directive has ever established the authority's status. Mr. Bremer, as far as we can tell, answers to nobody except Mr. Bush, which makes Iraq a sort of personal fief. In that fief, there has been nothing that Americans would recognize as the rule of law. For example, Ahmad Chalabi, the Pentagon's erstwhile favorite, was allowed to gain control of Saddam's files — the better to blackmail his potential rivals.
Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Somebody help me here. Congress passed laws setting up the governments of post-World War II Germany and Japan? The Constitution gives the Congress the right to set up the costitutions and pass laws in nations conquered by the United States?
I'm also curious if Krugman's column was "lawyered." Ahmed (as near as I can tell one "a" one "e" is the preferred spelling) Chalibi is certainly a public figure and would have to prove malice on Krugman's part, but throwing around a charge of blackmail is disturbingly cavalier.
If you're looking for truth, reason and sanity, don't go to the Times, because Paul Krugman's fresh out.