Matthew Hoy currently works as a metro page designer at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The opinions presented here do not represent those of the Union-Tribune and are solely those of the author.

If you have any opinions or comments, please e-mail the author at: hoystory -at- cox -dot- net.

Dec. 7, 2001
Christian Coalition Challenged
Hoystory interviews al Qaeda
Fisking Fritz
Politicizing Prescription Drugs

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Sunday, March 31, 2002
It appears that the latest suicide attacks in Israel have brought the New York Times' Thomas Friedman back to sanity. One week ago, Friedman was espousing the dubious contention that terrorists didn't want to kill a lot of people. This week he seems a more in touch with reality.

The reason the Palestinians have not adopted these alternatives is because they actually want to win their independence in blood and fire. All they can agree on as a community is what they want to destroy, not what they want to build. Have you ever heard Mr. Arafat talk about what sort of education system or economy he would prefer, what sort of constitution he wants? No, because Mr. Arafat is not interested in the content of a Palestinian state, only the contours.

Let's be very clear: Palestinians have adopted suicide bombing as a strategic choice, not out of desperation. This threatens all civilization because if suicide bombing is allowed to work in Israel, then, like hijacking and airplane bombing, it will be copied and will eventually lead to a bomber strapped with a nuclear device threatening entire nations. That is why the whole world must see this Palestinian suicide strategy defeated.

Friedman's right, and he's even got a few outlines for deterring suicide attacks. Read the entire article here.

10:19 PM (0) comments

Happy Easter! I will be spending much of today with family, so check back tomorrow for more blogging-goodness.

12:41 AM (0) comments

Saturday, March 30, 2002
California Gov. Gray Davis has done it again. No, he hasn't claimed to save another "friggin paper" from destruction -- he appears to have gotten that out of his system. In February, Davis made a decision to not renew the contracts of several private prisons currently housing low-security prisoners. The prisons had received high marks in recent state audits, and have been key in helping reduce overcrowded conditions at California prisons.

So, what has he done again? Well, though it may not be a quid pro quo, it certainly looks like one. According to the Los Angeles Times:

Gov. Gray Davis received an additional $251,000 from California's prison guards union earlier this month, only weeks after the governor granted the officers a pay hike of as much as $1 billion and fulfilled their wish by proposing to close five private prisons.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Assn.'s donation, dated March 13, is the largest single check Davis has received since taking office in 1999, though three other donors have given lump sums of $250,000.

With the latest check, the union has contributed $306,000 directly to the Democratic governor, plus $356,000 through the union's "Governor's Cup" golf fund-raisers at Pebble Beach.

To Davis, this may not seem like a lot of money, but that amount of cash would be enough to buy a lot of people's loyalty. Besides, the whole situation just stinks.

Union President Don Novey said that despite the donation, the guards haven't decided whether to endorse Davis or Simon in this year's campaign. He would not specify why the union made the latest donation, except to say there was no connection between the money and the governor's recent actions.

"That had nothing to do with it, but I guess it would be good cannon fodder," Novey said, adding that though Davis often inquires about donations, the union's executive board made the decision about the amount and timing.

Two things: First, this looks dirty enough that GOP candidate Bill Simon should use it. Californians, of whatever stripe, don't like it when their elected officials are beholden to special interest groups; Second, it appears as though Davis may spend more time with his hand out than trying to fix the electricity mess in California. Davis "often inquires about donations?" That's something no politician ever wants said about them.

Does all of this mean that Simon has a chance come November? Well, it's still unlikely that he can win, but Davis is doing a lot to give him hope. If Simon can run a solid campaign and really make an issue of Davis' handling of the state's electricity crisis, he's got an outside chance.

Davis' recent faux pas give Simon hope, but it will take much more for a Republican to win this very Democratic-leaning state.

11:03 AM (0) comments

Friday, March 29, 2002
Peggy Noonan has a great article on OpinionJournal.com about movie stars and the Oscars. She talks about popularity and her encounter with Kevin Costner, "one beautiful boring dullard of a man."

There was only one man I wanted to meet that night, and he turned out to be, in my eyes, the great man of the evening. I saw him across the room at a round, white table talking to Mel Brooks. During the milling-about time between courses I went over to thank him for his excellence. Soon I was standing near him and seeing him in the bright lights--a smooth, black tuxedo on a not-so-broad back. He turned toward me; I introduced myself and asked if I might shake his hand. He smiled and said sure--I was later to find out this was amazing behavior on his part--and we talked for a few minutes about the party and about politics. I left feeling I'd just met a wonderful American man.

Later I found out that he too had done something interesting at the dinner. He had been assigned by the editor of Time to sit at the table of the president of the United States, Bill Clinton. When he saw where his place card had been put, in this place of honor, he ordered it moved, because he didn't want to sit at a table with a man like that.

And here's to you, Joe DiMaggio. He married a movie star half a century ago but the one thing he seems not to have liked about Marilyn Monroe was that she was a star. And that night he refused to sit with the biggest political star in the room. Joe DiMaggio trumped movie-stardom. But Joltin' Joe has left and gone away.

You can read the entire article here.

8:35 PM (0) comments

There's a great article over at the Weekly Standard on the heroes of Flight 93.

I'm continually drawn to the similarities between Chamberlain's 20th Maine and Flight 93. Chamberlain was asked to hold Little Round Top against horrible odds; the heroes of Flight 93 were asked to take control of the cockpit from armed, professional killers. When they ran out of ammunition, Chamberlain's men fixed bayonets and charged blindly down the hill; the unarmed heroes of Flight 93 had to storm up a small three-foot-wide aisle. Chamberlain's men held their ground and changed the outcome at Gettysburg; the heroes of Flight 93 succeeded and saved the Capitol.

If you'd like to know more about the battle of Gettysburg, read Michael Shaara's "The Killer Angels." It's a great read.

12:32 AM (0) comments

Thursday, March 28, 2002
Paul "Line 47" Krugman is at it again. After failing miserably at explaining economic issues, Krugman tries his hand at history. If you're liberal, then just wait, the vast right-wing conspiracy is going to get you!

[I]n a way, it's a shame that so much of David Brock's "Blinded by the Right: The conscience of an ex-conservative" is about the private lives of our self-appointed moral guardians. Those tales will sell books, but they may obscure the important message: that the "vast right-wing conspiracy" is not an overheated metaphor but a straightforward reality, and that it works a lot like a special-interest lobby.

It's not surprising that Krugman is reading a book written by an admitted hatchet man and liar. Actually, it's indicative of what's going on in Krugman's miniscule mind -- garbage in, garbage out.

Modern political economy teaches us that small, well-organized groups often prevail over the broader public interest. The steel industry got the tariff it wanted, even though the losses to consumers will greatly exceed the gains of producers, because the typical steel consumer doesn't understand what's happening.

I don't think that Krugman's necessarily wrong here, but it's small groups on both sides. Krugman wants to point to Republicans. I can point to Democrats. Witness the lynching of Judge Charles Pickering and the passage of campaign-finance reform.

"Blinded by the Right" shows that the same logic applies to non-economic issues. The scandal machine that employed Mr. Brock was, in effect, a special-interest group financed by a handful of wealthy fanatics — men like the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, whose cultlike Unification Church owns The Washington Times, and Richard Mellon Scaife, who bankrolled the scandal-mongering American Spectator and many other right-wing enterprises. It was effective because the typical news consumer didn't realize what was going on.

The group's efforts managed to turn Whitewater — a $200,000 money-losing investment — into a byword for scandal, even though an eight-year, $73 million investigation never did find any evidence of wrongdoing by the Clintons. Just imagine what the scandal machine could have done with more promising raw material — such as the decidedly unusual business transactions of the young George W. Bush.

Krugman doesn't even have the guts to call a spade a spade. "Cultlike Unification Church"? It's a cult...say it with me....it's a cult. Krugman argues that the "typical news consumer" was aware of these reports, but didn't realize the insidious plot behind it. Sorry, but the typical news consumer heard little about these investigations initially. They did hear about them later, when the mainstream media spent time to debunk them.

While nothing in Whitewater ever seriously hurt the Clintons, there were numerous criminal convictions that arose from the investigation, including the sitting governor of Arkansas, Jim Guy Tucker.

As for the "decidedly unusual business transactions of the young George W. Bush," give me a break. If there was anything there, the media would root it out. It's intellectually lazy to toss out that kind of frivolous accusation.

But there is, of course, no comparable scandal machine on the left. Why not?

One answer is that for some reason there is a level of anger and hatred on the right that has at best a faint echo in the anti-globalization left, and none at all in mainstream liberalism. Indeed, the liberals I know generally seem unwilling to face up to the nastiness of contemporary politics.

Krugman's memory is disturbingly short. Remember Newt Gingrich? Bob Livingston? Henry Hyde? Iran-Contra? There's nastiness on both sides, to claim that liberals are pure ignores recent history. Both sides are dirty.

It's also true that in the nature of things, billionaires are more likely to be right-wing than left-wing fanatics. When billionaires do support more or less liberal causes, they usually try to help the world, not take over the U.S. political system. Not to put too fine a point on it: While George Soros was spending lavishly to promote democracy abroad, Mr. Scaife was spending lavishly to undermine it at home.

Hey Krugman, does the name Ted Turner mean anything to you? Yeah, conservatives are uniformly evil, and liberals want to save the world. Life must be really easy for you when the world is divided so starkly into black and white.

Regular readers of this column know that not long ago I found myself the target of a minor-league smear campaign. The pattern was typical: right-wing sources insisting that a normal business transaction (in my case consulting for Enron, back when I was a college professor, not an Op-Ed columnist, and in no position to do the company any favors) was somehow corrupt; then legitimate media picking up on the story, assuming that given all the fuss there must be something to the allegations; and no doubt a lingering impression, even though no favors were given or received, that the target must have done something wrong ("Isn't it hypocritical for him to criticize crony capitalism when he himself was on the take?"). Now that I've read Mr. Brock's book I understand what happened.

Krugman, I'll try to explain this to you. It's called disclosure and telling the truth. You started writing about Enron, without telling anyone that you'd once worked for them. Once you were found out, you said that you'd only been paid a small sum. Well, it turned out that was $50,000. That may be a small sum to you, but it's a year's salary to the vast majority of Americans.

Right, you're the victim.

You still don't get it. You're a hack and a liar, that's why you get attacked. You thought it was bad before, just wait until bloggers get ahold of you this time.

10:34 PM (0) comments

Stupid person of the day award goes to Paul Scott. Scott has complained that the high school needs to provide separate restrooms not just for boys and girls, but for heterosexuals and homosexuals.

Paul Scott's complaint, filed last month, alleges discrimination and intolerance of him and his daughter by "not addressing a very clear right of privacy violation that requires my child to share restrooms, dressing rooms and showering facilities with those who by their own, and societies (sic) definition, are attracted to the same gender (homosexual students and staff)."

First of all, how do you enforce that? "I'm sorry kid, you've been acting kind of gay. You need to use this other restroom."

9:46 PM (0) comments

President Bush signed the free-speech restriction bill....I mean campaign finance reform bill yesterday. Today, editorials in major newspapers decried the fact that Bush didn't have an elaborate bill-signing ceremony with the television cameras.

A FEW WEEKS ago, when the House was voting on campaign finance reform, presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer was ready to give President Bush credit for creating the climate that gave reform its first real chance at passage. But there wasn't any chest-thumping at the White House yesterday when the president signed the landmark measure into law. At least we guess there wasn't, but we couldn't really see, because Mr. Bush chose to act quickly and quietly, in the privacy of the Oval Office. If that meant, for the president's good friend Sen. John McCain and his fellow reformers, no signing ceremony, no souvenir pens and no celebration to mark the culmination of years of dogged pursuit of reform legislation -- well, the president's a busy man.

I may just be cynical, but I think that the reason that Bush didn't have the bill signing was he didn't want the TV news shows replaying the signing ceremony over and over again once the Supreme Court declares 90 percent of the legislation unconstitutional.

And then there's the Washington Post's Mary McGrory.

Who says he's a sore loser? Who says he just couldn't give John McCain his moment in the Rose Garden, a ceremonial signing of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill? Who says he would rather look petty than go through the gripping and grinning and pen-handling that a White House ceremony entails?

I hate to attack really old people like McGrory, but she's acting like the grandmother who sees the kids fighting over a toy and proceeds to lecture them. Well, these aren't kids she's dealing with, and the condescending tone is really sickening. I feel just like patting her on the head and handing her her teeth.

9:36 PM (0) comments

Well, first you had U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife employees planting lynx hair in order to prevent logging and other development on lands across the Northwest, now you've got the journal Nature publishing outright lies about stem cell research. It gives new meaning to the term political science.

[S]uch a coincidence! With the U.S. Senate debating so-called "therapeutic cloning" to produce embryonic stem (ES) cells and other countries, such as Canada, suffering similar political agony, Nature magazine releases letters from two research teams saying that the alternative — so-called adult stem cells — may be worthless.

Nature was so eager to get the news out that it even published the letters online, before the print edition. Both letters attack the "supposed flexibility" of NES cells, as one reporter put it. And the world media swallowed it like a starving mouse downing a chunk of cheddar.

Read the entire article by Michael Fumento. This stem cell debate isn't being fueled by science, medicine or morality. It's being fueled by the research dollar.

7:38 PM (0) comments

Will someone please tell Jesse Jackson that he's irrelevant now?

12:46 AM (0) comments

It's been more than a day since I said I would finish skewering the Times' Nicholas Kristof. Unfortunately, real-life issues came up, besides, Kristof is such an idiot, I'm not sure he's worth much more of my time. However, it's easy to get inside Kristof's rather limited mind, so here's what he was thinking when he wrote that article.

Whether or not we invade Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, let's go about this the American way. Let's sue him. [I used to think that shooting people was the American way, but now that I'm a New York liberal, I changed my teensy-weensy mind.]

The United States should launch an effort to prosecute Saddam for crimes against humanity. [I was binging on heroin, Johnny Walker and on old The Nation magazines, so no one should be surprised that this idea would come to mind.] This would destabilize his regime at home, encourage more defections of Iraqi officials and military officers, and increase the prospect of a coup that, in the best-case scenario, would render an invasion unnecessary. [You know, nothing is scarier to me than a lawsuit, except maybe a gun. Yeah, a lawsuit about guns. A lawyer with a gun? I just know that if I were the despotic ruler of a middle-eastern country who maintained power for decades through murder, genocide and intimidation, I know a lawsuit would make me lose control of my bowels.]

I came across this idea in references in books by Richard Butler, who led the [failed] United Nations inspection effort in Iraq, and by Kanan Makiya, author of the leading account of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. [I know this because it said so on the bookcover.] It also turns out that a British organization, Indict, is already pursuing an indictment against Saddam for war crimes. [You see, he's already quaking in his boots.]

Mr. Makiya writes that the best way to topple an Iraqi leader is to make him lose face. [Preferably the back of his skull too, from a very large bomb.] As an example, he cites the Ottoman-era practice of the people of Takrit (Saddam's hometown) of seizing the governor for the area, humiliating him (often by sexually abusing his women) and then releasing him unharmed. [Did I just write that? Ooops....I'm going to have NOW after me any second now....must...retract...]

I would not recommend this precise approach. [Whew!] But a drive to indict Saddam for genocide against the Kurds, along with other crimes, suggesting that he will end his days in a prison cell, will humiliate him in a similar way, squeezing him and encouraging those around him to look for an exit while there is still time. [Of course, anyone heading for the exits will probably be shot, but that's OK...death is an exit after all.]

"In Washington, you either have the war hounds who want to bomb Iraq and take Saddam out, or the folks who just want to contain Saddam because at least he keeps Iraq together," said Joost Hiltermann, who has examined 18 tons of Iraqi documents seized in Kurdistan and brought to the United States, and who is now writing a book about Iraq and its use of chemical weapons. "But there is a third option" — a legal case, with or without a military attack. [Of course, if the legal case is delivered by a process server and contains 10 pounds of C-4...]

(Along with those 18 tons of documents were audio tapes of speeches by Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam and his former lieutenant for northern Iraq. In one tape he says of the Kurds: "I will kill them all with chemical weapons!") [Ooohhhh! Irrefutable evidence....now we've got 'em!]

The Bush administration is interested in the idea of prosecuting Saddam, and it has two lawyers sitting in the State Department gathering evidence against him. [The lawyers were working on the Clinton pardons, but I think this is a much better use for your tax dollars.] But the thinking there has been that the prosecution would begin after Saddam is in custody, rather than before. [Of course, they'd never kill Saddam instead, that would be in violation of the Geneva Convention....I think.]

Why? An administration official, acknowledging that there may be advantages to a pre-emptive indictment and adding that no decision has been made, expressed concern that a legal effort might distract from the task of "regime change," a term that means "squash Saddam like a bug." [I wish I could come up with such clever analogies like real writers can.]

It's a fair concern. But in Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic was indicted when he was still in power, in 1999. The indictment was one factor that helped result in his ouster from power in 2000. [Some people say it was the fact that we bombed the crap out of his country, but they'd be wrong.] And in 2001 he was sent to The Hague for trial.

In short, firing lawyers at Saddam would bolster our military options, not weaken them. [I'm serious, we have plenty of lawyers. We could them in some of the big 16-inch guns...a direct hit using a trial lawyer would certainly be deadly.]

One of the constraints that Washington faces in organizing an attack on Iraq is cold feet everywhere else on the planet (except those under Tony Blair). [Tony uses thermal socks.] To forge a coalition against Saddam, we must build a case against him very publicly to demonstrate that he is not just another two-bit tyrant but a monster almost without parallel in recent decades. [We could use the media for this.]

Police in other countries use torture, but there are credible reports that Saddam's police cut out tongues and use electric drills. [Of course, people use them here too.] Other countries gouge out the eyes of dissidents; Saddam's interrogators gouged out the eyes of hundreds of children to get their parents to talk. Plus, he has tons of VX gas and defies the U.N. [That's the most incredible crime in the world, defying the U.N. Anyone who defies the U.N. should be shot, including most Republicans. Actually, maybe we should put Sen. Jesse Helms on trial first, just to get the kinks out.]

There are three ways we can pursue legal action against Saddam:

• An international tribunal can be established, like the one now trying Mr. Milosevic. This would require Security Council approval, which would be difficult.

• Several countries could launch a case before the International Court of Justice, without Security Council agreement. This would be against Iraq as a country, not Saddam as a person.

• An individual country could indict Saddam. This would be a country claiming universal jurisdiction in genocide cases.

Now's the time. Let's throw the book at Saddam. [But first, make sure it's packed with explosives]

OK, I'm tired now.

12:13 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, March 27, 2002
The Washington Post's Robert J. Samuelson speaks, and people should listen.

Only the Supreme Court can end the charade. When it considers McCain-Feingold, it should declare most campaign finance regulation unconstitutional. The alleged evils of money in politics are now overshadowed by the evils of strangling free speech.

What he said!

12:14 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, March 26, 2002
I'll write a little more on this when I get home, but I'm starting to think I may be overqualified to be a columnist at the New York Times. Nicholas Kristof is suggesting that the United States should sue Saddam Hussein out of power.

The United States should launch an effort to prosecute Saddam for crimes against humanity. This would destabilize his regime at home, encourage more defections of Iraqi officials and military officers, and increase the prospect of a coup that, in the best-case scenario, would render an invasion unnecessary.

Yeah, I'm sure a lawsuit will really get him quaking in his boots. Now I'm afraid that the only way I'll get a job at the Times is if someone beats me over the head with a stupid stick -- for the next 20 years.

3:38 PM (0) comments

Well, I'm watching Bill O'Reilly interview Rosie O'Donnell on the subject of gay adoption, and (surprise) I've detected what I believe to be some falsehood or possibly even unethical behavior on Rosie's part.

Let me tell you, I fund and work for an adoption agency. And we have many cases, and you can call them and get the statistics, when we have a birth mother who is pregnant and she doesn't know the race of the father, she is using drugs and she is in crisis. Usually we cannot place that baby with a heterosexual family. Almost all of the times when we have a drug-addicted child, we place the baby with a homosexual family.

I've got a very good friend who works for an adoption agency. She works with the kind of mothers that Rosie is talking about. She doesn't have a problem placing any of these kids, including the drug-addicted ones, in good, heterosexual homes. If Rosie's adoption agency is having a hard time placing these kids, I don't think the agency is trying very hard. In fact, it almost sounds as though the agency is purposely discriminating against heterosexuals for whatever reason.

2:04 AM (0) comments

Well, lawsuits are expected to be filed today over reparations for slavery. I'm not sure I can say anymore than what David Horowitz has said over at his site, www.frontpagemag.com.

Besides, if blacks today are going to get money for slave labor they never did, then I want some money for the freeing of the slaves I never did. My great-great-great (not sure how many greats there are) uncle helped free many slaves. Yes, he was a racist. Yes, he had this thing about fire. Yes, he burned Atlanta, but maybe his descendants should get some money too.

Fox News' Andrew Napolitano revealed the ethics that is rampant in the elite legal community:

"These lawyers — and they are some of the finest legal minds in America — know that this is basically a frivolous lawsuit that will not succeed, but to the extent that they can stir the pot and get us to talk about this and maybe create this fund for scholarships and maybe get an apology from Congress, they will have accomplished their purpose," Napolitano said.

A fund for scholarships? This is nothing more than a racial shakedown on a scale that would make Jesse Jackson proud.

1:49 AM (0) comments

Afghanistan is the world's leading producer of opium, and it would certainly be a good idea to get them out of the business. According to a story in the Washington Times, the Bush administration wants to use some herbicides and eradicate the crops. The military is saying that they don't want to do it.

"This is asymmetrical warfare, and it would be a prudent force-protection measure," said a U.S. official close to the debate.

The money obtained from Afghanistan's poppy harvest will fuel the guerrilla war that is expected to escalate against U.S. and allied forces in the coming months.

The money from the poppies also will bolster anti-U.S. elements in the Pakistani ISI intelligence service, the officials said.

"If this opium is harvested and permitted to go to market, it will re-empower the negative elements in Pakistan's security service and lead to instability in Pakistan," the official said. "And it will fund a new round of international terrorism."

Well, I think what we need to do is export that most important of American values -- not freedom, not democracy....yes...that's right...something that both Democrats and Republicans can get behind: the farm subsidy.

If we can pay NBA star Scottie Pippin tens of thousands of dollars not to grow peanuts, then we certainly can pay some Afghan farmers a few thousand not to grow poppies. The upside of this is that we first create goodwill with the Afghan farmer. The money won't go to al Qaeda or the guerillas, because they will want the money to keep coming. That's right, like farm subsidies here in the United States, they eventually cause the farmer to become dependent on the subsidy. The mere threat of cutting subsidies will be enough to keep the Afghans in line.

1:28 AM (0) comments

Monday, March 25, 2002
This happened more than a week ago, but I just spotted it today. Clowns everywhere need to be free!

SANTA CRUZ — Years of latent frustration in the clown community broke through the surface Saturday afternoon as a tide of bulbous noses, tri-colored wigs and oversized pants swept down Pacific Avenue.

Some 80 normally jolly clowns, supported by the buzz of a dozen kazoos, sought to make their plight public and turn the fortunes of clowndom toward a brighter future.

"You are born a clown," said organizer Rico Thunder. "And for those brave enough to be out as clowns, the world can be a cold and unwelcome place."

"As long as one clown is oppressed, no man is free," Thunder continued.

You can read the entire story here.

1:23 PM (0) comments

Sunday, March 24, 2002
Just finished seeing Moulin Rouge with some friends. Earlier in the week I'd read an article on the Weekly Standard on the film that was pretty to the point. It was entitled "Moulin Rouge Sucks."

Well, I'd have to concur. I kept waiting for an original song. Some real drama. Some real acting.

I like "West Side Story." I like "My Fair Lady." I like "Grease."

I despised "Moulin Rouge." I think that the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use has obviously gone too far. How this dreck even got nominated for Best Picture troubles me.

Now I'm going to go to sleep. Unfortunately I don't think I'll sleep well.

2:17 AM (0) comments

Saturday, March 23, 2002
I think I might qualify to work as a columnist for the New York Times. Not because I'm a liberal, a quick glance through the archives here will dispel that impression, but because I can sometimes write as incoherently as the Times' Thomas Friedman.

In his Sunday column, Friedman makes a series of silly claims about terrorism.

Real terrorists don't want to kill a lot of people. Rather, they use limited, but indiscriminate, violence or hijacking to create noise or fear that draws attention to their cause and ultimately builds political or diplomatic pressure for a specific objective.

It's difficult to find someplace to start when you're offered this type of inanity. So, the 19 hijackers that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11 really didn't want to kill a lot of people? Then why the hell did they fly the planes into the two largest buildings in the largest city in the United States? Why didn't they just rent a couple of cessnas and fly them into a Florida swamp?

What an idiot. Of course they're trying to kill a lot of people. If they just want to create noise or fear, why don't the suicide bombers in Israel walk into a mall and warn everyone to back off before they kill themselves? Why didn't the terrorists that bombed the Marine barracks in Lebanon just keep the truck parked outside and blow it up there? Because they want to kill a lot of people.

Also, terrorists use "limited" violence only in comparison to what a high-tech military like that of the United States has. They don't have hyperbaric bombs or fuel-air explosives or bombs that are guided by GPS satellites, so they use the most destructive weapons they can get their hands on. If terrorists had access to nuclear bombs, they would use them. Anyone who thinks they wouldn't is deluding themselves.

That's why Osama bin Laden is not a mere terrorist. He has much larger aspirations. He is a super-empowered angry man who has all the geopolitical objectives and instincts of a nation-state. He has employed violence not to grab headlines but to kill as many Americans as possible to drive them out of the Islamic world and weaken their society. That's why the Sept. 11 hijackers never left a list of demands, as terrorists usually do. Their act was their demand. Their demand is total victory.

OK, so by Friedman's logic (?) bin Laden is not a "mere terrorist" because terrorists don't want to kill people and it's obvious that bin Laden does. I don't think that there's any doubt that bin Laden is an angry man, but the rest of this is just some sort of weird gibberish. Do terrorists usually leave a list of demands? I'd ask the Israelis, but I doubt that after a suicide bomber pushes the button that there would be enough of any note left. Sure they often leave behind videotapes demanding the Israel withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank. But it's really unnecessary, and to some extent untrue, because the Palestinians really want so much more, the top-selling "Mein Kampf" by Hitler is evidence of that.

Since that is the case, the proper, long-term U.S. strategic response to Sept. 11 should be twofold: First, we must understand exactly who these 19 suicide bombers were and how they were recruited. We need to know how these human guided missiles are assembled. Second, we need to launch an all-out global effort to make sure that all nuclear and biological warfare materials are under as tight a control as possible.

It appears as though whatever drugs Friedman was taking have begun to wear off by this point. Of course, we've been doing both for decades. And we've been a little better at the latter than the former.

The truth is terrorists don't need to leave a list of demands, we have plenty of people throughout the Middle East who tell us what they want, including bin Laden himself.

What worries me most for my daughters' future is not Saddam Hussein. He's a homicidal dictator who can be deterred, or eliminated, by conventional means. No, what worries me most is the fact that we still don't understand who those 19 hijackers were. What worries me is that nearly every day for the past six months, Palestinian men and women — many of them secular, not religious — have strapped dynamite around their waists and blown themselves up against Israeli targets. How do you deter young people who hate us, or Israel, more than they love their own families or their own future?

It will take us a long time, and much diplomatic therapy, to cure such intentions.

Well, I'm not sure that "diplomatic therapy" will ever do any good, but they can go ahead and try, as long as it is secondary to "military therapy."

As far as deterring people from blowing themselves up, we accomplish that by continuing the way we've been doing. We destroy their training camps and kill their recruits. When potential recruits see that it is very likely that won't live long enough to strap a bomb to themselves and kill innocents, the method will become much less popular.

8:09 PM (0) comments

More proof that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is cool. Earlier this week a Fox News cameraman was briefly detained and had his videotape confiscated as he filmed a traffic stop near the Pentagon. Fox News screamed bloody murder and got the tape back the next day. It also turns out that the cameraman got a $55 ticket for unauthorized photography. Well, when the cameraman went by the Pentagon on Friday to pick up his annual media credential, he found a handwritten note from Rumsfeld: "Greg - I'll pay your ticket, give Torri the amount. Best, D.R."

Very classy.

1:07 PM (0) comments

Friday, March 22, 2002
In an op-ed piece in Saturday's New York Times, Bill Keller analyzes the presidency of George W. Bush and discovers that he's not quite what anyone expected him to be. Keller comes to the conclusion that, above all, Bush is a moralist. Great, fine, whatever. What I find objectionable in an otherwise average op-ed is an attack on religious conservatives.

Nor can Mr. Bush be claimed by the culture warriors of the Christian right, although he gave them John Ashcroft and occasionally throws them a steak. The president is not a bigot, or a pessimist.

So, the "Christian right" is just a bunch of bigots? Hardly, but it sounds good and it's probably the sort of thing that Mr. Keller believes. Just because people decry the sex and violence in movies and on TV, doesn't make them bigots. Just because people don't want schools teaching that homosexuality is a "lifestyle choice" doesn't mean they're bigots. Just because people want a choice of where to send their kids to school doesn't mean they're a bigot.

Of course, just because someone falsely labels a group a bunch of bigots, it doesn't mean they're a hatemonger. Or does it?

[A final note: I'm not in favor of vouchers for every child. But I am slowly becoming convinced that, in the cases of some of the worst schools, that vouchers are probably a necessary evil. I make this statement to deflect a potential tongue-lashing from the former president of the Grossmont Education Association.]

10:56 PM (0) comments

Thursday, March 21, 2002
The Wall Street Journal's taste page has a great little item on race and university admissions:

EMBARRASSING ADMISSIONS: Officially, University of Michigan Regent Dan Horning supports affirmative action. But at a time when the university's race-based admissions are under two separate court challenges, he confessed in a letter to a fellow regent that he didn't think "our admissions policies will withstand this legal challenge and I certainly don't feel they are based on merit." The Michigan Daily reports that he went on to write that the policies keep qualified students out while letting less qualified minorities in. As per custom on campuses these days, Mr. Horning has now apologized for his outburst of candor.

I have a dream. It's the same as Martin Luther King Jr.'s. Let merit be the deciding factor, not the color of one's skin.

11:38 PM (0) comments

The 1999 crash of an EgyptAir plane after takeoff from New York was finally, officially determined to be a suicide/murder. Investigators say a EgyptAir copilot, Gameel El-Batouty turned off the autopilot, pointed the plane downward and then finally cut the engines.

Of course, EgyptAir is blaming the plane itself, saying that the NTSB didn't do a good job and ignored other evidence.

Walid el-Batouty, the co-pilot's nephew and spokesman for the families of the Egyptian victims, disagreed with the report's conclusion.

``We are not giving this report any consideration as it is not based on fact. The Americans still have to prove the suicide theory,'' he said. ``It was very clear from the beginning that all the Americans cared for was to protect their interests, such as Boeing's interests.''

EgyptAir's chief official investigator objected to the NTSB findings and called for a reopening of the American investigation.

``We want the Americans to reinvestigate the case as they have not considered several points presented by Egyptian investigators'' including proper checks on the plane's tail, cockpit voice recordings and radar and flight control data, Mohsen El-Messiri told reporters in Cairo.

Riiiiiiiight. Of course, it must be the plane. It's just not credible that a Muslim man from the middle east would commit suicide and take hundreds of innocents with him. Nope. Not credible.

11:26 PM (0) comments

Hillary Rosen of the Recording Industry Association of America comes up with the following gem regarding an anti-piracy bill that was introduced by Sen. Fritz "Cash and Carry" Hollings ($-S.C.): "We have been, and continue to be, eager to work out a voluntary solution, for that is in the best interests of everyone involved, especially the American consumer."

Excuse me a moment while I regain my composure. Rosen and the RIAA are the same ones pushing all kinds of "copy protection" schemes on CDs that won't let me mix music I own using my CD-burner. Won't let me save archive MP3s on my computer (my brother-in-law still has my Dixie Chicks CD that was stuck in my car CD player when I pulled it out of my old car) in case I lose a CD, and won't let me download music to an MP3 player.

She's concerned about the best interests of everyone, especially the consumer? By the RIAA's position that there is no "fair use" of copyrighted material, she's not thinking anything of the consumer. She and the RIAA are only thinking of the almighty dollar.

5:06 PM (0) comments

I'm hoping Al Franken does a sequel to his popular book, "Rush Limbaugh is a big, fat, idiot." The sequel, of course, should be on another big, fat, idiot, filmmaker, liberal, and hatemonger Michael Moore, author of the aptly named "Stupid White Men."

Moore has been in the news lately for throwing in tantrum here in San Diego after his book-signing/money-making went well over the time it should have at a local middle school. The janitor, whose job it was to close-up, had been there the entire day and had to be back early the next morning. But Moore, famous for fighting for the little guy, doesn't really care when the little guy gets in his way of making a few bucks.

Of course, on the Web, no bad deed goes skewered. So check out this screed on Moore. Ebert gives it two thumbs up!

4:40 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, March 20, 2002
The Senate has passed incumbent-protection legislation, I mean, campaign-finance reform bill today. On a 60-40 vote, with Democrat John Breaux (D-La.) voting now, and 12 Republicans voting for the bill. It now heads to the White House where there are all indications that President Bush will abandon his pledge to "protect and defend" the Constitution by signing a bill that violates the First Amendment's protections of freedom of speech. If you want a more thorough dissection of this travesty of legislation, you can go here.

Constitutional muster and campaign-finance reform: Some of the changes will stand, others will fall. Here's what the official Hoystory common sense says will remain, once the Supreme Court has its say.

The easy ones:

1. The prohibitions on issue advertising 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election will definitely be tossed out. One wonders why they wasted the ink.

2. The doubling of the amount of "hard" money that can be given to a candidate from $1,000 an election cycle to $2,000 an election cycle will certainly hold up.

3. The tightening of disclosure requirements, ban on fundraising on federal property (coffee anyone?) and ban on money from foreign sources will all survive Supreme Court scrutiny.

The tough ones:

1. The ban on unlimited soft-money contributions to the national parties will be struck down. I'm going out on a limb here, and this will gut the "most important" part of campaign-finance "reform," but I think that an outright ban will be too much for the Supreme Court to swallow.

When the last campaign finance law was passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal, the Supreme Court said that campaign contribution limits were only legal if they were designed to reduce corruption or the appearance of corruption. That the individual lawmaker can be influenced by a contribution to the national party is extremely tenuous. A much stronger case can be made to reduce, not increase, the hard-money contributions to candidates, in order to avoid the appearance of corruption.

Reformers complain that the national parties and special interest groups use issue ads to attack candidates, but what people need to realize is that the parties and special interests are made up of people. They do the work of citizens, of voters. When you limit these groups you are infringing upon the freedom to associate, the freedom to speak.

2. Allowing larger contributions to candidates who face wealthy opponents is really a tough one. I'm sure that former Washington Sen. Slade Gorton would have certainly liked the change as he ran against millionaire Maria Cantwell, but money alone has never ensured winning elective office, as Michael Huffington and Darrell Issa could testify. This one will pass constitutional muster, though it is probably the provision which I care the least about. It's the rich running against the super-rich in most of these races anyway. You're not going to ever see a blue-collar worker even running for the Congress because there's no way they could afford to take off work to campaign.

I'm betting that the Supreme Court will end up tossing out most of the "reform." We'll see how right I am down the line, but in the meantime, isn't there something more important all of those politicos up in Washington could've been doing? Like confirming judges to hear the suits against poorly-written, poorly-conceived and unconstitutional laws like this one?

6:03 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, March 19, 2002
I'm glad I went through high school when I did. Graduating from Helix High School in La Mesa, Calif., in 1990, instead of 1993 when my younger sister did, now looks like one of the better things I did in life. I say this for a couple of reasons. First, and least, they started counting physical education as part of the grade point average a couple years after I graduated. This move certainly would have affected my class standing, in a bad way. I think the move was part of a plot to increase the jocks' ability to stay eligible for extracurricular sports. Second is the zero-tolerance insanity that's wracked the nation's schools.

It's not that I think that kids should be allowed to bring firearms onto campus. It's just that I think there's a big difference between bringing a firearm on campus and having a butter knife in the bed of your pickup truck.

Earlier this month an honors student at L.D. Bell High School in Hurst, Texas was expelled from school for a year because a school security guard found a non-serrated knife in the bed of his pickup.

The teen's story began on a Sunday afternoon with him and his father packing linens, books and kitchenware that had belonged to his ailing grandmother. At sunset, Hess and his father delivered a truckload of boxes to Goodwill Super Store in Hurst.

The next morning at school, Hess was removed from class. A school security guard had seen a nonserrated bread knife with a 10-inch blade in the bed of the teen's pickup. It must have fallen out of one of the Goodwill boxes, Hess explained.

But the H-E-B district's Student Code of Conduct - which Hess and his mother, Gay Hess, both signed - prohibits students from bringing weapons onto school grounds. "This is a serious offense," Taylor Hess was told by school officials.

Yes, this is a serious offense because school officials are complete and utter morons. Zero-tolerance policies turn somewhat intelligent administrators with advanced degrees into mindless automatons who automatically expel any student found with something they consider dangerous.

Elementary school kids have been suspended from school for using small carrots to mimic a gun. It reminds me an old Monty Python stick where an instructor is teaching self-defense if you're attacked by a madman wielding fresh fruit. After encouraging a student to attack him with a banana, the instructor shoots the student dead and then eats the banana -- "Thus disarming him."

At the end of the three-hour meeting, school officials told Hess that his action posed a threat to his fellow students. Four days after the hearing, he was expelled.

That's right...having a bread knife in your pickup truck poses a threat to fellow students.

H-E-B district officials maintained throughout the Hess hearing that students' safety must be the overriding factor in any situation where a weapon is found on campus.

"I do feel he [Hess] put students at risk, whether he knowingly did that or not," Dianne Byrnes, H-E-B director of alternative education programs, said at the hearing.

I'm not sure whether Byrnes really believes that statement, or whether she's eyeing the few extra bucks she'll get with another student at the continuation school. I really hope that she's shallow enough to be after the money, and not stupid enough to believe this kid really was putting other students at risk. Seriously, following this line of logic, Child Protective Services should swoop down on every household in this country where sharp knives are in drawers. I mean, the parents are obviously putting the children at risk. Having knives in such close proximity to kids.

Sound stupid? Of course it is -- and so is zero tolerance. There is obviously a difference between Hess, an honors student who's never been in trouble, having a butter knife in his pickup truck and the student who is always getting in fights, spouts hate speech and threatens other people having a butter knife in his pickup truck.

I never brought a weapon to school that I can remember. I would have gotten kicked out of school because of drugs.Yes, I took drugs to school -- often. No, not cocaine. Not marijuana. Not heroin. Even worse -- cold medicine. Yep, little, yellow cold tablets. Even back then, if you were taking medicine you were supposed to take it to the office and the nurse would give it to you when it was time for it. Well, that was a pain in the butt. I was a teenager. I could read. "Take one tablet every four hours." Yeah, really difficult. From time to time I'd also have to take antibiotics. Those went in the backpack too. I also had a small bottle of aspirin in my locker for much of my senior year. Having to walk across campus and then wait for the nurse to give you your medicine would've taken up half my lunch time. And the nurse's office is really where I wanted to spend my lunch time.

Now, I'm not so sure that the rule that the nurse has to dispense medicine should be done away with, but I think what happened back then should happen now. Teachers and administrators should not make a federal case out of it. If a teacher is suspicious, ask what the drug is, look at the label, and then leave it be. I'm sure teachers saw me, in between blowing my nose and coughing, occasionally pop some cold medicine, but I never got sent to the principal's office.

Unfortunately, there's too much stupidity around this issue too -- even when it comes to a lifesaving drug -- asthma inhalers.

Just before the beginning of this school year, the Bristol Township School Board in Pennsylvania decided that students with asthma must keep their emergency inhalers in the school office, rather than on hand.

On September 7, the board received a letter from Nancy Sander, executive director of the Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), a national asthma support and education group based in Fairfax, Virginia. Sander’s letter neatly encapsulated the all-too-common frustration of parents when their doctor’s advice about how to care for an asthmatic child encounters a school with an entrenched hall-monitor mentality. The letter read, in part:

"The decision to accommodate and facilitate a child’s needs with asthma is far easier than pretending their needs do not exist or that restricting student access to medications is for the safety of all students. To do so places your students with asthma at greater risk of death or missed school days, their classmates at risk of witnessing their death, and your school board at risk of lawsuits....

"If a student placed a plastic bag over a teacher’s head for a brief moment, the student would be charged with assault. But a school board voting to restrict a child’s access to his life-saving asthma medication is no less guilty of a crime. Is Bristol Township School Board really ready to accept responsibility for violating a child’s right to breathe? Are you prepared to breach the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act?"

Three days later, the school board held a hearing and reversed its original decision. Students in Bristol Township are now allowed to retain control of their asthma inhalers.

Of course, this begs the question: "What were they thinking in the first place?" The answer is, they weren't. The author of the article has a kid with asthma, and has come across the mentality that the school nurse should keep all drugs, including the inhalers, locked up in the nurses office -- where they do no good to the kid.

One day when in the fifth grade, however, she was in tears when I picked her up from school. The teacher had yelled at her when she’d used the inhaler in class, claiming that she didn’t really need it.

I spoke to Ivanhoe’s then-principal, Kevin Baker. He said I’d been "breaking the law" for five years by keeping the inhaler in the backpack instead of in the office, and that he would "confiscate" it if he found it there in the future. If the school had allowed this before, he said, it was an oversight. "So now what we need to do," he explained, in a sing-songy, Romper Room voice, "is set up a series of intervention meetings to help you understand our concerns about you breaking the law." My arguments about doctor’s orders went nowhere. "When your daughter is at school," Principal Baker said, "I am the ultimate authority concerning her health."

That Robert De Niro soundbite from The Untouchables that Howard Stern likes to play -- "I want him dead! I want his family dead!" -- kept echoing in my head as I left the school office. But I’d heard enough misinformed pronouncements over the years from that school -- a jellyfish is a mollusk, "Indian" should be spelled with a small i -- to consider the possibility that the principal didn’t know what he was talking about. So I went home and called the Los Angeles Unified School District’s director of nursing. Within an hour, I had a fax on Principal Baker’s desk saying that district policy (Bulletin Z-19, Attachment F) does allow students to keep medicine on hand with a note from their doctor. I sent a copy to his supervisor, and he backed down quickly.

It gets worse, at least once, this sort of nonsense has cost someone their life.

In her letter to the Bristol Township School Board, Nancy Sander referred to the 1991 death of a New Orleans high school student, Catrina Lewis, who was delayed by security guards before being allowed to get her inhaler from the office. When it didn’t help, she asked school staff to call an ambulance; instead they spent a half-hour trying to call her mother first. Catrina’s sister, another student, finally called 911 herself, but emergency help arrived too late. In 1996, a New Orleans judge ordered Lawless High School’s acting principal, a school counselor, and the school board to pay $1 million in damages to Catrina’s family.

They should've paid much more than $1 million dollars and I hope that the principal and that counselor are reminded every day of their lives that their stupidity cost a girl her life.

At least in the Hess case there is a small flicker that the school principal recognized that there was something wrong about the expulsion.

During the hearing, Short, the L.D. Bell principal, described Hess as "an exemplary student" and said the expulsion was a difficult decision.

"Zero tolerance makes you feel you lose your judgment you might otherwise be able to afford," Short said on the tape.

I'm not sure I can say it any better myself -- and that's why it needs to be changed.

5:22 PM (0) comments

It's not official yet, but there's a lot of buzz that ABC is going to cancel "Politically Incorrect."

I don't miss seeing it go. I used to like the show. I thought Maher was sometimes an ass, but overall, I liked the format of the show and the guests that appeared on it didn't take themselves too seriously. When Maher was having "citizen panelists" once a week, I even went down and tried out for the show. I didn't make it past the first round, instead they picked the American Indian who didn't think that anyone should make more than $35,000 a year.

But I'm not bitter. Maher created an uproar shortly after Sept. 11 when he said that the terrorists were brave, flying planes into buildings, while Americans were chicken, launching cruise missiles into caves. Maher deserved all of the grief that he got for that statement. There's an old axiom that "Duty is heavier than a mountain, death is lighter than a feather."

Death is easy. Living is tough.

But Maher lost me long before that faux pas. Maher lost me as a view because of an even more hateful statement made about a year before.

I'm not sure if you remember the incident, but in April 2001 in Peru a private plane carrying missionaries was shot down by the Peruvian Air Force. The flight was being monitored by U.S. agents. Two Americans died in the tragedy, a 7-month-old girl and her mother.

Maher's comment about the shootdown was what stopped me watching his show from that night on: "Didn't they deserve it?"

The suggestion that the Christian missionaries who were down there in the Peruvian jungle living with the people, providing medical care, charity and sharing their lives somehow deserved to get killed is atrocious. The suggestion that a 7-month-old deserved to die is despicable. If I'd been on the show that night I would've made sure that Maher and Geraldo could pose for one of those "Separated at Birth" pictures.

12:37 AM (0) comments

Monday, March 18, 2002
After getting slapped down a couple of weeks ago by about 1/2 of the bloggers on the Internet for his weak and misleading article on gun crime, the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof, does an encore on Tuesday.

One of the biggest complaints from Kristof's earlier article was his comparison/contrast of the number of gun deaths in the United States, where guns are plentiful, and Japan, where they are rare.

But there's abundant evidence that having more handguns also means more gun thefts, more armed robbery, more suicide and more murder.

Japan, where I used to live, allows only about 50 people (all leading target shooters) to own handguns, and while criminals do smuggle them in, there were only 28 gun deaths (murders and suicides combined) in 1999, the most recent year for which figures are available. By contrast, the United States had 26,800 gun deaths in 2000.

Yeah, there's abundant evidence, if, like the majority of gun-control advocates, you ignore new research like that conducted by John Lott, author of "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws."

Lott's sources are broad and inclusive, and his evidence the most extensive yet assembled, taking full account of the FBI's massive yearly crime figures for all 3,054 U.S. counties over eighteen years, the largest national surveys on gun ownership, as well as state police documents on illegal gun use. His unexpected findings reveal that many of the most commonly held assumptions about gun control and its crime-fighting efficacy are simply wrong. Waiting periods, gun buybacks, and background checks yield virtually no benefits in crime reduction. Instead, Lott argues, "right to carry" laws and legally concealed handguns currently represent the most cost-effective methods available for reducing violent crime.

In what may be his most controversial conclusion, Lott finds that mass public shootings, such as the infamous examples of the Long Island Railroad by Colin Ferguson or the 1996 Empire State Building shooting, are dramatically reduced once law-abiding citizens in a state are allowed to carry concealed handguns.

The key is allowing law-abiding, mentally stable people to carry a firearm and not criminals or the insane. Some critics have discounted the reference to crimes like the Long Island Railroad massacre, as ones that could have been prevented if law-abiding people had guns on their person. Of course, very recently a suicide bomber was killed in Israel before he could detonate the bomb strapped to his body because an observant Israeli noticed what he was doing and shot him dead -- saving lives.

What really got Americans' Irish up at Kristof was his little throwaway line that having more handguns "means more...suicide," in comparison to Japan. Kristof threw out the factoid that there were only 28 gun deaths (murders and suicides combined) in 1999.

Kristof left most people under the impression that there's less suicide in Japan, per capita, than in the United States. Well, that's a wrong impression to leave people with.

Friday June 30, 2000

Japan Suicide Rate Clings Near Record High

TOKYO (Reuters) - In November last year, an unemployed Japanese factory worker drove his car into the sea near Tokyo, taking his life as well as those of his wife and three young children.

This incident was far from isolated. Statistics show that more than 30,000 Japanese killed themselves last year--the second highest figure on record, and a grim sign that social and economic turmoil still rocks a nation once known for stability.

If people want to kill themselves, they'll find a way. If guns aren't available, drugs, rope or driving your car into a lake will do the job.

In Tuesday's paper, Kristof describes his recent visit to heavily armed Yemen.

SUQ AL-TALH, Yemen — Want to buy a submachine gun?

This little market town in the wild, wild north of Yemen has more than 50 shops selling all kinds of toys for boys. A used Uzi goes for $170, a machine pistol with silencer is $350, and a brand-new AK-47 assault rifle goes for nearly $400.

Grenades are $4 each. An antitank mine is $22. A rocket-propelled grenade launcher is $500. An arms merchant I met here might even be able to find you an antiaircraft gun or a tank. No sales tax.

This is Yemen, where we're preparing to send American soldiers to open a new front in the war on terrorism. I admire the instinct of trying to boost security here, but the bottom line is that we're going to send our troops on a poorly defined mission into a country where they're not wanted, where grenades cost $4 each

The headline on the story: "Visiting N.R.A. Heaven."

Now, I doubt that Kristof wrote the headline. That's a copy editor's job. But it is symptomatic of the anti-gun attitude of the paper's editorial pages. It also shows how little the Times understands the vast number of Americans that own firearms.

Don't get me wrong, I think that people should have to take some safety/training class before they're allowed to purchase a gun. I'm not too opposed to a short waiting period either, if that time is used to do a background check. I don't the general public should be allowed rocket launchers, heavy machine guns or anti-aircraft guns. I think my views are somewhere in the mainstream of American public opinion (I could be wrong, it's happened once or twice before). But for Kristof and his gun-control/gun-abolishment friends, anyone who thinks that law-abiding, private individuals have the right to own guns are a menace -- as dangerous as those gun-toting civilians in Yemen.

And if you're so bothered by gun registration, and so convinced that guns don't kill people, then consider moving to a nice mud-brick home here in Suq al-Talh. With you and everybody else carrying around an assault rifle, with armor-piercing rounds in your bandolier, with a couple of grenades in your pockets, you'll really feel safe. You'll love the freedom!

Mr. Kristof, your suggestion is juvenile. It's easier to argue on the extremes. But there's a lot of gray in this world. There is someplace in the middle, someplace between the extremes of Japan, where firearms are practically banned, and Yemen, where you can buy a rocket propelled grenade on the street. America is someplace in the middle -- and that's a good thing. Just leave it be.

11:53 PM (0) comments

As much as I don't like it, Gray Davis will likely win another four year term this fall, despite anemic job approval numbers.

When Bill Simon won the Republican primary earlier this month, there was a lot of talk about the similarities of the situation Simon finds himself in and that faced by a young and politically inexperienced Ronald Reagan four decades ago.

Simon isn't a Ronald Reagan, but Gray Davis may turn himself into a Pat Brown.

If Gray Davis can keep his cool and demagogue Simon on the abortion issue, then the increasingly left-leaning California electorate will give Davis four more years. But there are indications that Davis may have a self-destruct problem, as evidenced by a recent interview by the San Diego Union-Tribune's editorial board.

But the main criticism is that you panicked and signed long-term contracts at a very high cost.

If I didn't panic, you wouldn't be able to put out your paper. I saved this friggin' paper. I kept the lights on in this state. Do you understand that? I kept the lights on.

This isn't the kind of attitude that will get you re-elected in California. Americans may be sympathetic to victims, but not when they're leading the state.

As to the contention that Gray Davis is responsible for the uninterrupted publication of the Union-Tribune, don't make me laugh. We've got out own power generators -- it may have ended up being a pain in the butt (the bureaus don't have generators), but the paper would get out.

There is one other thing to note, I'm unsure whether this was a political calculation made to try and piggyback on President Bush's heightened popularity or just a sincere statement of fact, but I found it interesting.

President Bush didn't really do anything until his approval rating in California had fallen to 26 percent. Isn't that true?

He appointed (Nora) Brownell and Pat Wood (to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission). They helped save our behinds. He may have taken a while to do it, and I think the world of President Clinton but the Clinton administration didn't give us any help. They were just trying to get us to raise rates 300-400 percent and I wasn't going to do that.

Praise from an interesting quarter. But I still don't think Davis and Bush will be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

12:18 AM (0) comments

Sunday, March 17, 2002
More than a month and a half since President Bush extended the State Children's Health Insurance Program to cover fetuses, thereby supplying needed prenatal care to poor women across the United States. At the time, feminist organizations like the National Organization for Women screamed bloody murder that Bush was trying to undermine Roe v. Wade.

So, in the 45+ days since the change, exactly how many abortions have been stopped? How many illegal abortion clinics have been closed?


Then why does Alex Gerber, a former health care consultant and clinical professor of surgery, ring the alarm bell in today's San Diego Union-Tribune?

Legally, Bush's attempt to sidestep Congress in effect will reverse the 1973 Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade ruling that a fetus is not a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.

I think the good doctor should stick to medicine, because his grasp of the legal system is woefully inadequate. Heck, a C-student in a high school civics class could explain to Gerber the problem with that little analysis. Gerber's homework assignment this week will be on the system of checks and balances.

Regarding public morality and the law, the American Jesuits have stated: "In a pluralistic society, a fundamental assumption of public policy is the recognition that everything immoral need not be declared illegal – social realities as well as religious principles must be taken into account in judging the wisdom of any legislation." Further, "the pro-lifers' branding of alternate viewpoints as immoral suggests a kind of moral fascism."

In re-igniting the abortion controversy while the country is absorbed with far more weighty problems, the Bush administration obviously disagrees with these views.

Well, first off, as I pointed out long ago, this was not a move to outlaw abortion, it was a move to extend health insurance coverage. The fact that, aside from Gerber's little article, the issue hasn't been on the radar screen of any major U.S. publication is testimony to the fact that Gerber is as bad at political science as he as at civics.

Secondly, as to the accusation that "branding of alternate viewpoints as immoral suggests a kind of moral fascism" that's hokum. Some "alternate viewpoints" are immoral. Neo-nazis' contention that Jews are dogs and should be executed is morally wrong. Would Gerber argue that denouncing that "alternate viewpoint" is "moral fascism?"

One of the biggest problems in American society today is the aversion to calling anything "evil" or "wrong." Saying that requires making a moral judgement, and that's just not politically correct.

11:27 PM (0) comments

China is protesting the United States' decision to allow Taiwanese Defense Minister Tang Yiau-ming to attend a convention in Florida.

"The era of Chinese being bullied is long past," Li was quoted as telling Ambassador Clark Randt, adding: "In the world today, it is a very proud thing to be a Chinese."

China would be a much better place if it was like Taiwan, and China should not surprised by any support given a democracy that has freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press. The single best thing China can do if it wants to improve Sino-U.S. relations would be for the Chinese government to stop its oppresssion and murder of its people.

12:05 PM (0) comments

Saturday, March 16, 2002
Well, I knew it didn't happen very often, but today's Wall Street Journal points out that the killing of judicial nominations in committee is indeed a rare occurrence. The latest episode involved Bush nominee Charles Pickering. Pickering's nomination was killed in committee on Thursday in a straight party-line vote. The committee also refused to send the nomination to the floor without recommendation, or even with a negative recommendation. Democrats refused to do this because at least 3 Democrats had vowed to vote for Pickering. They, along with 49 Republicans would have guaranteed Pickering's nomination.

From media reports, statements from Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and pundits, I was under the impression that killing of nominees in committee was a tactic that, though rarely used, was bipartisan in nature. According to the Wall Street Journal editorial page:

In fact, it's extremely rare. It didn't happen at all when Republicans controlled the committee during the Clinton years. The sole Clinton nominee to be defeated was Ronnie White--and he at least made it out of committee and onto the floor, where a majority voted against his nomination.

A nominee was last defeated in committee in 1991, when Democrats stopped Kenneth Ryskamp, nominated by the first President Bush for the 11th Circuit, on a 7-7 vote. The time before that was 1988, when Reagan nominee Bernard Siegan never made it out of Judiciary. Again, the Democrats were in control. A third Republican nominee, Jeff Sessions, was defeated in 1986, this time to the federal district court; Mr. Sessions is now a Senator from Alabama and sits on Judiciary himself.

The Democrat-run Judiciary Committee almost managed to kill two other circuit-court nominations during the Reagan years: Daniel Manion, nominee for the Seventh Circuit in 1986, and Susan Liebeler, nominee for the Federal Circuit in 1988. In both cases, the first vote--on whether to send the nomination to the floor with a recommendation--failed. A second vote succeeded, however, and the nominations went to the floor without recommendation. Judge Manion was confirmed; Mr. Reagan's term expired before the Senate voted on Ms. Liebeler.

Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Joe Biden (D-N.H.) are also hypocrites of the first order.

Senator Leahy used to disavow this kind of brute partisan force. Five years ago he said: "Every Senator can vote against any nominee. Every Senator has that right. . . . They can vote against them [in] this committee and on the floor. But it is the responsibility of the U.S. Senate to at least bring them to a vote." Joe Biden, who also plans to kill Judge Pickering in committee, said in 1997 that "I also respectfully suggest that everyone who is nominated is entitled to have a shot, to have a hearing and to have a shot to be heard on the floor and have a vote on the floor."

I would hope that reporters would call Leahy and Biden on their flip-flop, but I'm doubtful. There's criticism now directed at Sen. Trent Lott's refusal to OK $1.5 million for a judiciary committee inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks.

I don't think that the tit-for-tat is necessarily the best thing. But if Democrats want a litmus test for judicial nominees and want them bottled up in committee, they should certainly fear how they will be treated when the Senate is once again in Republican hands, and when a Democrat next sits in the White House.

11:54 PM (0) comments

For years people have advocated putting the military on the border with Mexico to stop the flood of illegal aliens and drugs. Fox News' Bill O'Reilly has probably been one of the most vocal proponents of the idea, regularly featuring the porous U.S./Mexico border. In the wake of Sept. 11, concern for border security has increased for fear that terrorists would try to cross illegally out in the California desert or along the largely unmonitored Canadian border.

Well, this past week some of that came to pass with the Pentagon calling up about 1,600 National Guard troops and putting them at border crossings. However, there's some bureaucratic stupidity and a a lack of common sense at work too. Unlike at the nation's airports, the troops on the border are unarmed.

And that's the rub for California National Guard Maj. Gen. Paul Monroe and his counterparts in other states.

"I'm worried about these troops," Monroe said.

While he supports National Guard use, Monroe, the state adjutant general, said border duty puts guardsmen in harm's way – both physically and legally.

He is concerned that guardsmen will be working beside armed federal agents who are conducting inspections and doing other potentially hazardous duties, yet the guardsmen have no weapons for their own defense.

Of course, supporters of the position of having unarmed guardsmen have their postion too.

District INS director Adele Fasano downplayed the top brass's concerns, saying she is "very comfortable with this arrangement."

She said the guardsmen won't be enforcing laws, but instead will help search vehicles and provide traffic and crowd control. Troops will not be placed in areas where they could be in danger, she said.

Further, Fasano believes it would be unwise to arm guardsmen in this case because they haven't received the months of specialized training given border inspectors.

"We couldn't properly train soldiers in a short period of time," she said.

Well, there's a difference between training them in all of the intricacies of where drugs may be hidden and how to spot fake passports and other IDs, and not allowing them to carry firearms. I'm sure that the guardsmen are already trained in how to use the firearms for self defense.

And the assertion that troops would not be put in areas where they might be in danger is very naive in the wake of Sept. 11 -- anyone wearing a U.S. military uniform is a terroist target. Any American is a terrorist target for that matter. But we shouldn't have troops on the border who are forbiddent from defending themselves.

1:50 PM (0) comments

Friday, March 15, 2002
One more reason why Saudi Arabia should be one of the countries on Americas list for a change in government was noted in the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web Today."

Saudi Courage
When a gang of Arab terrorists, most of them Saudis, slammed a pair of hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center, New York firemen rushed into the burning towers to save people. By the time the buildings collapsed, 343 firemen had lost their lives, accounting for more than 10% of the deaths in the Sept. 11 atrocities.

When fire broke out at a girls' school in Mecca on Monday, Saudi firemen tried to save the students. Here's what happened, according to CNN:

The al-Eqtisadiah daily said firemen scuffled with members of the religious police, also known as "mutaween," after they tried to keep the girls inside the burning building because they did not wear head scarves and abayas (black robes) as required by the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islam.

The English-language Saudi Gazette, in a front-page report on Thursday, quoted witnesses as saying that members of the police, known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, had stopped men who tried to help the girls warning "it is a sinful to approach them."

One civil defence officer told al-Eqtisadiah he saw three members of the religious police "beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya."

Fifteen girls died in the blaze. The official Saudi reaction, reported in the Arab News, sounds like a coverup: "The Civil Defense Department has prepared an official report which casts doubt on whether the members of the Commission for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice who allegedly played a role in hampering rescue operation at the fire-hit Makkah [Mecca] girls' school were really members of the organization."

There's one word for this behavior: Evil. Just imagine if this had been a home on fire in the middle of the night. If a woman ran out into the street nearly naked with what little clothes she had on on fire, would she end up being stoned to death by the "police" outside. Which is better? Burning to death or stoning? Only in Saudi Arabia would you even have to consider that choice.

3:27 PM (0) comments

More evidence of MeChA's anti-Semitic tilt in the latest version of their publication, La Voz de Aztlan:

The appointment of Jewish mogul Richard Blum over Dr. Manuela Sosa is just another example of how Jews dominate not only the media, politics and finance but also academia. This power imbalance must not continue or we might be headed for a situation similar to Palestine. We should not replace the outgoing UC Riverside Chancellor who is Jewish with another Jew. Enough is enough. Ya Basta!

It doesn't matter what color you are; white, black or "bronze" -- you too can be a racist.

12:42 AM (0) comments

My favorite story of the day, and I saw a little snippet of video on one of the networks of it, was the mad dash made by 25 North Koreans into the Spanish embassy in China.

BEIJING, March 14 – A group of 25 North Koreans, threatening suicide and claiming they faced starvation and oppression at home, burst into the grounds of the Spanish Embassy today and demanded political asylum.

A German doctor who helped organize the break-in vowed that it was the beginning of an underground railroad from North Korea to the outside world.

Masquerading as a tour group, the band, all sporting black hats, walked down a side street in one of Beijing's embassy districts, and then rushed through open embassy gates just behind a van, witnesses said. A Chinese policeman tackled one refugee at the gate but the man broke through, leaving the guard with only his hat. Once inside the embassy, the group erupted in a raucous cheer.

Although, China has an agreement with North Korea that any "refugees" will be returned there (to be tortured and killed), it appears that China isn't going to do that.

China's foreign ministry reacted swiftly to the incident announcing that it did not regard the North Koreans as refugees, and thereby liable to protection under international covenants. However, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said China was "in contact with the relevant parties so as to find a proper solution to the issues" – a remark that led some diplomats to conclude that, like last time, China was willing to let the North Koreans leave China.

But the very best part of the story was easy to miss.

Diplomatic sources said the group of 25, including six families plus two orphaned girls, then descended on the kitchen of the Spanish ambassador's residence, also on the grounds, and ate all of the food that was to be served tonight at a banquet for a Chinese minister.


12:34 AM (0) comments

One more thing about the Pickering nomination. If this guy is as bad and dangerous to civil rights as Democrats on the judiciary committee claim, then why isn't there some movement to have him impeached? The short answer is that there aren't the votes. Pickering would win a floor vote for confirmation to the appellate court. Also note that when he was nominated to the federal district court 12 years ago, he was approved unanimously. Were they lazy back then? Or is it a witchhunt now?

12:17 AM (0) comments

I was watching a replay of the confirmation vote of Charles Pickering. A couple of things that struck me about the comments made by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

First, Schumer referred to the fact that Bush narrowly won the last election -- suggesting that because he didn't have a mandate from the voters, that his judicial nominees could not reflect his values. (Sen. Dianne Feinstein made a similar assertion on NBC's "Meet the Press" about two weeks ago.) So, what happens in 2004 if Bush does win a "mandate?" Is it OK then? I don't think you'll hear that excuse in 2004.

Second, Schumer made the comment that all the conservatives on the courts now were infringing on the legislative branch's right to make laws to "protect the environment and protect womens' rights." That's a lie. What typically happens in both of these types of cases is one of two things: One, the court finds that some federal agency has erred in creating rules from a piece of legislation; two, it finds that the legislative branch wrote a law poorly.

In both cases, there is a solution: Congress can pass a law that addresses the problem identified by the courts. Of course, it's often easier to have a bureaucrat write a regulation than get it approved by a majority of both houses of Congress.

12:07 AM (0) comments

Thursday, March 14, 2002
Idiot of the Day Award: Goes to Jesse Johnson and the Associated Press. Now, the AP isn't usually considered a liberal bastion like the New York Times or the Washington Post. Generally, the AP is a good, unbiased source of news.

But when it comes to the issue of abortion, however peripherally, it seems that the AP is subject to the same mental contortionist act that Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League.

In reporting on the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, the AP characterizes the law as having to do with abortion. Which, in a way it can -- botched abortions.

WASHINGTON - A fetus outside a woman's body that has a heartbeat or is breathing on its own would be considered "born alive" and given legal protection under a bill approved by the House.

The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, approved by voice vote Tuesday night, would amend the legal definition of "person," "human being," "child" and "individual" to include a fetus that is either breathing or has a heartbeat once out of the womb as part of an abortion procedure.

What do normal people people call a fetus outside of the womb? Why -- a baby! How old do you have to be to no longer be called a fetus by the AP? Five minutes? Five hours? Five years?

It's really a sad comment on our society that this bill was even necessary. Several years ago, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) got on the Senate floor and went so far as to suggest that infanticide was OK, as long as the parents hadn't taken the baby home from the hospital yet. Boxer was addressing the possibility that prenatal testing had missed a birth defect like Down syndrome, something that might cause the parent(s) to consider abortion. Because of faulty testing, it was too late for the abortion, so infanticide was OK. You won't find that in the Congressional Record, Boxer had it striken after she realized what she'd said, but you can get a videotape of it from C-SPAN.

Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review has been following the abortion issue for years. She recounted why this bill was necessary in an article earlier this week.

Nurse Jill Stanek has testified extensively to what has become known as "live-birth abortion." It isn't really abortion at all, however. She witnessed the brutal practice at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, where she was employed: Children are delivered and simply purposely left unattended, to die. These are cases where it is clear that the baby is a baby and he is very much alive.

In congressional testimony last year, Stanek said:

One night, a nursing co-worker was taking an aborted Down syndrome baby who was born alive to our soiled utility room because his parents did not want to hold him, and she did not have time to hold him. I could not bear the thought of this suffering child dying alone in a soiled utility room, so I cradled and rocked him for the 45 minutes that he lived. He was 21 to 22 weeks old, weighed about half a pound, and was about 10 inches long. He was too weak to move very much, expending any energy he had trying to breathe. Toward the end he was so quiet that I couldn't tell if he was still alive unless I held him up to the light to see if his heart was still beating through his chest wall.

The bill is what its father, NRO contributor Hadley Arkes, calls the "most modest first step imaginable on the issue of abortion." To oppose the bill is to affirm that the right to choose includes the right to have a dead baby-even if that means having it killed. Of course, in the age of "wrongful birth" suits this isn't foreign. In fact, it's almost a surprise that there is still some sense of shock or general disapproval at what Stanek testifies to.

Unfortunately, infanticide like that described by Stanek at the inappropriately named Christ Hospital, appears to be a relatively recent development. Twenty years ago, a baby born alive in a botched abortion was rushed to the hospital. In today's climate, nothing is worse than the bad press a botched abortion would generate. To avoid that bad press abortionists become murderers, according to the legal definition of the word, by disposing of their mistakes.

An abortion survivor testified on Capitol Hill in support of the bill:

My name is Gianna Jessen. I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I count it no small thing to speak the truth. I depend solely on the grace of God to do this. I am 23 years old. I was aborted and I did not die. My biological mother was 7 months pregnant when she went to Planned Parenthood in southern California and they advised her to have a late-term saline abortion.

A saline abortion is a solution of salt saline that is injected into the mothers womb. The baby then gulps the solution, it burns the baby inside and out and then the mother is to deliver a dead baby within 24 hours.

This happened to me! I remained in the solution for approximately 18 hours and was delivered ALIVE on April 6, 1977 at 6:00 am in a California abortion clinic. There were young women in the room who had already been given their injections and were waiting to deliver dead babies. When they saw me they experienced the horror of murder. A nurse called an ambulance, while the abortionist was not yet on duty, and had me transferred to the hospital. I weighed a mere two pounds. I was saved by the sheer power of Jesus Christ.

Ladies and gentleman I should be blind, burned.....I should be dead! And yet, I live! Due to a lack of oxygen supply during the abortion I live with cerebral palsy.

When I was diagnosed with this, all I could do was lie there. "They" said that was all I would ever do! Through prayer and hard work by my foster mother, I was walking at age 3 1/2 with the help of a walker and leg braces. At that time I was also adopted into my wonderful family. Today I am left only with a slight limp. I no longer have need of a walker or leg braces.

Gianna Jessen is alive today because 20 years ago, even abortionists knew where the line between abortion and infanticide is. By the late '90s it was becoming apparent that that line had been blurred, and possibly erased. This bill was necessary as a reminder, nothing more.

1:31 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, March 12, 2002
I'm deeply surprised that the Chinese government is "deeply shocked" that the United States government would consider the best way to use nukes if hostilities were to erupt.

The Chinese government says it is "deeply shocked" at reports of U.S. military plans to target seven countries, including China, for the possible future use of nuclear weapons.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi called on Washington to explain the reports which first appeared in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times at the weekend.

According to the newspapers, the secret "nuclear posture review" was passed to the U.S. Congress by the Pentagon in January outlining the possible use of nuclear weapons against countries that possess or are developing weapons of mass destruction.

Apart from China the countries listed on the report are Libya, Syria Russia, Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

I mean, surely China means us no harm. Why would we be worried about China?

10:31 PM (0) comments

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is at it again. In an article in today's paper Cohen spends his time beating a dead horse. The dead horse is the doomed nomination to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals of Judge Charles Pickering. Cohen and his liberal-left friends have won this one. Why can't they just sit there smugly and shut up?

No, in order to convince the American people that the Democrats are keeping evil, conservative jurists who want to overturn Roe v. Wade off the bench, they must continue to lie and demagogue a good man.

It is not possible, either, to quibble with his positions regarding race without being accused of Borking him as a racist, which, as a white Mississippian raised on the gruel of Jim Crow, he once was. (As a law school student, he suggested a way to tighten the state's ban on interracial marriages.)

Cohen and his friends continue to bring up this law school story despite the fact that there's nothing to it. The article that Cohen refers to was an assignment that Pickering did in his freshman year of law school. Pickering researched the law and discovered that there were loopholes in it. The law was poorly written (surprise!). And, as part of the assignment, outlined how you would go about fixing the law. Which the legislature ultimately did. Oh, the law was also plainly unconstitutional, too. And a court later threw it out.

From a scholastic standpoint, it's no different than giving an electrical engineering student a circuit that runs power to an electric chair and asking him to improve the efficiency of the design. The student does it, successfully. Forty years later some pundit looks at the paper and criticizes the man for not coming out against capital punishment.

But that was then, we are told, and this is now. Okay. But now -- which is to say the past 20 years or so -- encompasses a political-judicial career that has been so conservative it is downright reactionary. Not racist, mind you, but hostile to the Voting Rights Act. Not racist, but hostile to the concept of one man, one vote. Not racist, but hostile to plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases and a bit too solicitous of a goon who burned a cross on the lawn of an interracial couple. Pickering contorted both the law and himself to get the guy a reduced sentence.

To his opponents on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- Democrats all -- this cross-burning case stands out. It does so because it is an example of Pickering's getting so worked up over something that he busted through ethical barriers to achieve his purpose. With the cross-burner, he contacted the Justice Department and the prosecutors to get a reduced sentence. This, the experts tell us, is highly inappropriate.

Experts or opponents, Richie? Why would the liberal American Bar Association give Pickering a highly-qualified rating if he's been doing all of this "highly inappropriate" stuff? Why would the person he contacted at the Justice Department, Al Gore's brother-in-law, say that he doesn't remember this "highly inappropriate" contact. And if he'd suspected anything "highly inappropriate" about it, that he would've remembered it.

Richie, you're also telling a little fib. Pickering had a question about whether a specific part of the mandatory sentencing guidelines was being appropriately applied in that cross-burning case. He didn't contact the Justice Department and prosecutors to "get a reduced sentence," but rather to get information on whether the guideline was being properly applied.

It is also somewhat odd. Judges frequently are compelled by federal regulation to issue disparate and sometimes excessive sentences. One defendant pleads and gets a light sentence. Another refuses a plea and gets the book thrown at him. This is what happened in the cross-burning case.

Another factual mistake here Richie, the guy in question didn't refuse to plea, the government didn't offer him a plea bargain in the first place.

For a conservative, Pickering can be quite unconservative. As a judge he was overruled 15 times without comment by an appeals court that found him so wrong on the law that the matter just wasn't worth discussing.

So, Pickering made 15 mistakes over a nearly 10 year period. According to other sources, he was overturned approximately 30 times, out of more than 4,000 cases. I'll leave it to Paul "Line 47" Krugman to figure out the math on that one for you, Richie, but it's not a whole lot. Besides, sometimes judges are overturned without comment, or "so wrong on the law," because the case in question is just a bad case ("bad cases make bad law") or because the case does not address a larger legal theory. How many federal appeals court judges are "so wrong on the law" every time the U.S. Supreme Court overturns a ruling without comment. This standard would certainly make the entire Florida Supreme Court look really bad.

Pickering is opposed by his state's black law association as well as the state and national NAACP. It's apparently true that in his hometown, the minority community likes him just fine, but they are judging the man and not the jurist. It is the latter who could do real damage to the body of laws that protect civil rights, not because he is a racist but because he is implacably and, sometimes, hyperventally conservative.

Well, Richie, the NAACP doesn't like him, so that must mean that he hates blacks. Of course, the NAACP doesn't like Bush either, does that mean that Bush hates blacks too? Or maybe their politics are just different. Oh, as Charles Evers pointed out, the Ku Klux Klan doesn't like Pickering either.

In the end, 15 mistakes out of 4,000 is a ratio that every editorial columnist should aspire to. A look at Cohen's columns over the past year show that even he makes mistakes.

In a way that TV emphasizes, he seems smaller than the office he occupies, less the master of his (or our) fate even than he was when he first took office. More and more he reminds me of that old commercial where the actor says, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on television."

It is the same with Bush. I, for one, don't think Bush is a dope. But he sure plays one on television.

Richie, this whole column wasn't worth your time. Next time you feel an itch like this need scratching, try to stop yourself.

For links and a look at some history on the Pickering nomination, go here.

9:49 PM (0) comments

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