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January 31, 2005

Did Dean just blow it? Again?

He hates us! He really hates us!

Howard Dean was looking like he had the DNC chair all sewn up, and then he let loose with this gem: "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for...."

Red meat for the moonbats, sure, but it's got to have sane Democrats running for cover. Now I've always been softer on Dean than most of my brethren on the Right, and what I found most refreshing about him was his candor. Well, apparently he hasn't lost it.

January 30, 2005

I don't care what anyone says...

...THIS is worth fighting for.

Iraqi elections

CNN is reporting a 72% turnout and only scattered reports of violence. We'll have to wait for the results to trickle in, but it seems hard to spin this into anything other than a defeat for the insurgents and for the moonbats here at home who were desperately rooting for failure.

There are people of good conscience on both sides of the war issue, but anyone who allows mindless Bush hatred to get in the way of celebrating this day with the Iraqis should be ashamed (case in point: this schmuck.) The peanut gallery here at home can call the elections a sham if they want to, but the 72% of Iraqis who braved violence and long lines to let their voices be heard clearly viewed things differently.

UPDATE: BTW, what are the chances that we can start doing that ink-stained finger thing here in this country?

January 29, 2005

Ironic post for today

This weekend's most ironic post comes from Wonkette, as she skewers Bush for (are you ready?) not being funny.

Bush was a real cut-up in today's C-SPAN interview, replying to host Brian Lamb's query about seeing the "ghosts of past presidents" with the quip that he "quit drinking in '86." And the punchlines kept coming. Take, for instance, his response to Lamb's question about government oversight over broadcast content: "As a free speech advocate. . . " he began.

We laughed until we stopped.

We kid. Of course the president is a free speech advocate. Except when it comes to lesbian bunny rabbits. Bunnies who visit lesbians. Or maybe it's ghostly bunnies and drinking lesbians. Something like that. The government should totally protect us from them.

Does anyone understand all that lesbian bunny shit? I never thought I would say this, but I think Wonkette should go back to doing jokes about butt sex.

January 27, 2005

Two questions about the Iraqi elections

  1. How would a Sunni boycott invalidate the elections, exactly? Hell, I wish I'd known about this in '96 after it became obvious Bill Clinton was going to beat Bob Dole like a red-headed stepchild. All we Republicans would have had to do was sit home, not vote, and then rail about Clinton's illegitimacy for the next four years.
  2. Can we expect more caterwauling from Senatrix Boxer if the election outcomes aren't exactly as she'd have liked?

Things you have to believe as a liberal, #493

The average woman can be completely trusted with a life-or-death decision such as abortion, but cannot be trusted to manage 2% of her income for retirement.

Robert Byrd is a loathsome bigot

I'm sick of this notion that Robert Byrd's past should be off-limits for discussion because he's "expressed regret" in years since. I'm sick of his membership, however long ago, in a vicious, murderous, bloodthirsty hate group being passed off as a youthful indiscretion. I played that game for a while, but now I'm done. Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearings were the last straw. I screamed for Trent Lott's head after his stupid remark at Strom Thurmond's birthday party, and I'll be damned if hold my political allies accountable for a bounced check while giving my opponents a pass for armed robbery.

Let's face it, Byrd wasn't just a "member" of the Klan, he was basically the Klan in West Virginia in the early 40's. Let's call the Klan what it is: a terrorist organization. If you have any illusions about what the Klan was and what it did, you might do well to take a look at this and this, if you have the stomach for it.

So how many lynchings did Byrd participate in during his tenure? How many of his recruits (for that is a Kleagle's job, after all) lynched innocent blacks? We'll likely never know the answer. But even if it's zero, how could he knowingly assume a leadership role in such an organization? And, having done so, how can he absolve himself? "I'm sorry?" "It was an unfortunate mistake?" Please.

Moreover, there is ample evidence that Byrd did not leave his racist views behind with his bedsheets when left the Klan. There was his infamous 1946 letter in which he called for the Klan's "rebirth" in West Virginia. In 1964, he opposed the Civil Rights Act, and he is the only senator to have voted against both African-American Supreme Court Justices (not even Strom Thurmond could make this claim.) Given Marshall and Thomas's diametrically opposite judicial philosophies, Byrd's record would be difficult to explain on ideological grounds. As recently as five years ago, Byrd could be heard using the term "white niggers" on national television.

Forgive the guy for his past if you want to, but please explain to me why he should be one of the most powerful lawmakers in Washington? As the most senior Senate Democrat, he has three separate times been third in line of succession to the presidency, most recently in 2003. That is un-friggin'-acceptable.

Sorry, Senator. You are a disgrace to your party, your state, your country and your race. Your fellow liberals who defend you out of political expedience have sold their souls, and they should be ashamed.

There, I feel better for having gotten that off my chest.

HRC conspiracy theory, part whatever

For years I've been scoffed at for my insistent belief in Hillary's presidential aspirations. The events of the past week however, including her vote for Condoleezza Rice and her triangulation on abortion, leave little doubt: Hillary is running.

I'm accepting apologies now.

Final thoughts on Condi

I'm still scratching my head, trying to discern the real reasons behind the bitter animosity that Dr. Rice's nomination inspired in Bush's critics. When liberals try to explain it, it's typically either unsubstantiated name-calling (e.g., "liar" or "incompetent") or some vague assertion that she simply tells the president what he wants to hear.

I suspect this last is closer to the mark, but it's really just a patronizing, condescending way of saying Dr. Rice shares the president's vision. It's guilt by association, and Senators Byrd, Boxer and others are actually crucifying Bush by proxy.

Think about this. It's impossible to imagine Colin Powell receiving such crappy treatment at the hands of the Senate, even though he laid more of the groundwork for the war in Iraq than did Rice. The difference is that Powell was viewed as a kind of counterbalance to the Bush Doctrine within the administration. At the end of the day, Rice's ultimate, unpardonable sin was agreeing with her president.

January 26, 2005

Hey, Drew Carey did it first!

Anheuser-Busch is planning to launch its own version of "Buzz Beer" -- beer spiked with caffeine.

Part of me is curious to try this, since I like coffee and beer separately so much. I'm reminded, however, of a night years ago when I stayed up late drinking Irish Coffees with my aunts. At a certain point I was really drunk, so I went to bed. Problem was, with all that caffeine in my system, it was impossible to pass out. I just had to lie there and watch the ceiling spin. Bad night.

(Hat tip: Tami)

Condi vote count

Via K-Lo: The final vote was 85-13, with Senators Kerry, Byrd, Boxer, Dayton, Jeffords, Kennedy, Harkin, Reed, Durbin, Lautenberg, Levin and Bayh voting "nay." By my count, that's leaving someone out (nope, not Hillary, she voted "aye.") I'm not sure who's missing; the roll call hasn't shown up on senate.gov yet.

As far as the spectacle of Byrd voting no even when her confirmation was never seriously in doubt, well, there's been enough said about it that my $0.02 would be redundant. I'm just still astonished.

UPDATE: The missing no vote was Akaka (HI).

UPDATE: Power Line also has a piece on how the Democratic votes are starting to line up against Gonzales.

More Social Security wisdom

This time from Pete du Pont:

Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect says that "Social Security is not facing a financial crisis at all"; it just needs "to increase its revenue and diminish its benefits." So higher taxes and lower benefits are superior to personal ownership of retirement assets? And a government promise to pay you with money it doesn't have is better than allowing you to have assets under your own control? Neither makes any sense.

Read the whole thing.

Light blogging alert

I'm really busy at work, and we have an epic plumbing disaster in our house right now. The plumber is upstairs and I just heard a horrible racket that sounded like a truckload full of monkey wrenches being dumped into a giant steel vat. I'm afraid to go look.

Anyway, I'll probably have a diminished presence here today....

UPDATE: Now there's sawing, and I just saw one of the guys walking upstairs with a blowtorch....

January 25, 2005

True Confessions

Okay, this is embarrassing, but here goes.

Back in the 80's, when I was in college and subscribed to National Review, I had a mad crush on Maggie Gallagher. We corresponded briefly, and I actually proposed marriage to her at one point. Thank God she declined.

In my defense, this was back in the day when she actually wrote about politics, and discussed subjects other than marriage. These days, I'm afraid, she's a bit of a broken record. She's more obsessed with marriage than Michelle Malkin is with immigrants. She's such a one-note Johnny that I don't even bother to read her columns anymore, because frankly they bore me to tears.

I'm talking about Maggie now, of course, because it's transpiring that she was also paid an Armstrong Williams-like fee to promote the president's position -- on marriage.

Now let's leave aside the ethics of the whole thing for a moment, and just ask the question: WHAT IN GOD'S NAME WAS THE WHITE HOUSE THINKING?!?! Fer chrissakes, paying Maggie Gallagher to pimp for marriage is like paying the pope to hawk abstinence!

Dear Lord, sometimes I just gotta shake my head and wonder....

UPDATE: In fairness to Maggie, she says the earlier reports of her arrangement were misleading.

Five years to fix a subway?!?

Some homeless guy starts a fire in the NYC subway and before you know it, the C line is out of commission for 5 years.

Five f*cking years?!? For the love of God, we fought and won World War II in four years!! Only in New York, folks....

Memogate: The Sequel

Actually, it's more like a prequel. Remember Memogate? Democrats traded memos on how best to obstruct Bush's judicial appointments, left them woefully unprotected on a server, and were outraged, outraged that the memos were read by Republicans. There was talk of criminal indictments, and blah blah blah...

Well the Democrats had better muster their outrage again, because a new memo (warning: PDF) has come to light, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal. It describes how Democrats exploited a security vulnerability to read private Republican memoranda in 1996, eight years before Memogate.

God, can you imagine how pissed the Democrats will be that a second instance of "purloined" memos has been discovered? I can only try to brace myself against the oncoming storm of Democratic fury. Because surely they will not hypocritically let partisan politics dampen their righteous anger on a matter of such importance, right? Right??

January 24, 2005

I saw this coming a mile away

When Fox's 24 began its fourth season with Islamist terrorists kidnapping a sympathetic Secretary of Defense and planning to slaughter him in a Zarqawi-style video, you just knew some PC "balance" had to be in the offing. Well in tonight's episode, Jack's babe ID'd the evil American from the terrorists' lair as some guy she'd met at (are you ready for this?) a "Heritage Foundation" dinner.

No, I kid you not. I can't wait to see how this plays out...

This is good news

The al Qaeda lieutenant responsible for most of the car bombings in Baghdad is now in custody. My guess is this guy knows quite a bit. Too bad we'll never be able to coax it out of him. No matter, it's more important that he get free "Cinemax After Dark" in his cell and conjugal visits with his llama, or whatever other damn thing the human rights crowd insists on.

Please, please nominate this woman!

I didn't know this site existed until it linked to me. Granted, Senatrix Boxer has acquired a sort of rock star status in the moonbat community of late, but now it looks like we're seeing the beginnings of a grassroots "Boxer for President" movement. I think this is such a terrific idea that I've added this site to my permanent blogroll!

Together with Howard Dean's strong out-of-the-gate start in the race for DNC chairmanship, this leads me to believe an earlier prediction of mine is coming to pass -- that the Democrats will convince themselves that they lost in 2004 by being too "moderate."

Hell, this is just getting too easy! It's almost not even fun anymore.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

Guest Editorial: "Blogs"

[Note: Today's guest editorialist will no doubt be familiar to many. Since he's still under contract with that "other" publication however, his full name will not be used. -- BNJ]

No doubt about it, 2004 was the year of the "Blog". If you're new to this brand new phenomenon, the world of "Blogs" can be a bit intimidating. That's why I'm here, to help you get started with a brief overview of the "Blog-o-sphere."

Starting at the top, Glenn Campbell sits beside the "Blog-o-sphere" like a Colossus, with his award-winning site Instant Pundit. It's called that because it lets you "instantly" find out what's happening in the "Blog-o-sphere." Just be careful you don't get "Instant-lanched" in the process. Heh, indeed!

J. H.
Guest Columnist
J. H.

At the other end of the totem pole, newcomer Andrew Sullivan doesn't have many readers now, but if he keeps up his unique brand of emotional liberalism he is sure to earn a sizeable following!

Blogger Huey Lewis has even written a book called "Blogs". He's also the author of "If It's Not Broke Don't Fix It." I haven't read either of these books, but I'm sure they're full of same balanced, evenhanded political analysis we've come to expect from Huey.

Next on our tour, we can stop by Australia's Tony Blair and say, "Ahoy, mate!" Then there's the sublime Wankette and the always-popular Daily Cos, although he's changed a lot since his Fat Albert days.

For humor blogs, check out Ace of Base (more cowbell!) and Ohio Hawk (man, what is he smoking in that big old pipe?) Blogger Oliver Wilson, whose motto is "stupid like kryptonite," runs a hilarious parody site poking fun at that kooky liberal logic! I've also heard Cellulite Wisdom is funny, but this is one critic who never "got it." Your mileage may vary, of course.

Now it's time for lunch! Let's stop into Arthur Treacher for some fish n' chips and maybe a side of Little Green Apples.

Our next stop is My Pet Jawa, named after those adorable furry creatures who sang Peace Train in the third Star Wars movie. Then we'll take a trip on the Captain's Corner and get some Stalking Points from Josh Marshal.

That concludes the nickel tour, but be sure to explore some new "Blogs" on your own. Better yet, start one yourself, because I'm sure 2005 will be the Year of the "Blog" as well.

January 23, 2005

Setting free the bears

Those humorless PC scolds, who are about as fun as John Calvin at his own funeral, have turned their ire against the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Their offense? The "Crazy for You" Bear (get it?), a 15-inch stuffed little guy that comes complete with his own straitjacket. It's all terribly insensitive, don't you see? Besides, if one teddy bear is restrained, none of us are free.

But for all those who were planning to buy this lovable little guy this Valentine's Day, I'd like to offer an alternative, which will hopefully be more palatable to our more priggish caring moonbat friends. It's a slightly "modified" version of the ever-popular Ann Coulter action figure. Order yours while supplies last.

We survived the blizzard

In fact, we had a great time, especially Zora. I did feel a little bad that the Cynical Wife had to work so hard shoveling the walkway, though.

January 22, 2005

I hate it when I miss my "fard salaat"

Maybe the waitress brought it while he was in the restroom? Anyway, this is a question from Ask the Imam:

Can I pray at home in congregation with my wife if I missed my fard salaat. If yes than where will she stand ? besides me or behind me.

Now I'm not sure what kind of salad this is, but I'm pretty sure I can guess the answer to that second part.
...if you perform Salaat with her, then she should stand behind you and not besides you.


January 21, 2005

Nation brought to its knees by "Not One Damn Dime!"

It began quietly enough, with a handful of dedicated, left-leaning activists urging an economic boycott to protest the inauguration of Bush's second term. The "Not One Damn Dime!" movement had its scoffers and detractors, but no one was laughing when the shock waves of the boycott were felt throughout the global economy, leaving a swath of financial ruin in their wake.
J. H.
On Wednesday, Brad Smith was a bond trader with a seven-figure bonus. Today, he wonders when he'll get his next meal.

By 9:35 AM, the New York Stock Exchange was forced to shut down due to a complete lack of buyers, lest stock prices be driven to worthlessness. The other major stock markets soon followed suit.

Within an hour, the ripples had spread throughout the global economy. Foreign governments, unnerved by what was transpiring, instantly cashed in their treasury bonds. By 10:30 AM, the United States Treasury was officially bankrupt, and was forced to default on its obligations for the first time in its history.

News of this crisis spread rapidly via the internet, causing a nationwide run on the banks. Eyewitnesses reported scenes of absolute chaos and mayhem. People were trampled, and the National Guard was deployed in many states to restore order.

Retailers across the continent shut down, less from lack of customers than from the state of utter anarchy which prevailed throughout most of the country by noon. By 2 PM, a state of martial law nominally existed, but the military found itself helplessly unable to restore order. The existing commercial infrastructure lay in ruins, replaced by black markets and a barter economy. Prostitution and armed robbery were widespread throughout the most affluent neighborhoods, and the ghettos were in flames.

The White House, rocked by the collapse of the global economy, was forced to address the public. Karl Rove held a press conference in which he broke down sobbing, expressing deep regret that his administration's policies had led to such ruin and devastation. He resigned on live national television.

By 5 PM, George W. Bush was also expressing his intention to resign. "I am so, so very deeply sorry," Bush said. "I now see the error of our ways. I have learned my lesson, and I deeply regret my idiotic and wrongheaded policies. If there were any way to take it back, I would. Effective at 8 PM this evening, I will resign the office of the presidency. I would do so sooner, but I must first fire Vice President Cheney, and replace him with John F. Kerry. As soon as Kerry is confirmed by an emergency session of Congress, I will resign my office, effective immediately. At that point, President Kerry can begin the process of rebuilding this nation, together with its ruined economy and tarnished reputation. Once again, I am so, so sorry...."

Powell resigns

No, not that Powell. This one. And unlike the WSJ, I'm not all broken up about it. I don't know who his successor will be, but at least there's hope that whoever it is won't spend quite as much time and tax money obsessing over who might have said "titty" on TV or radio.

They're still sorry?

Good God, are they still on about that? Well, Kurlander is still providing much-needed captions for us.

Meanwhile, I think it's time for some more Risawn:

Then again, it's always time for more Risawn.

Memo to the White House

When Peggy Noonan pans your inauguration speech, you've got a problem.

Ah well, there's always John Podhoretz.

I had a very bizarre dream last night

I don't know what it means, but it seems so potentially fraught with Freudian significance, I think I'd best keep it to myself....

January 20, 2005

Inaugural Too Lavish?

In case you were wondering why the criticism of President Bush's inaugural has focused on being too lavish during wartime, perhaps the reason can be found by looking back 8 years. The cost of President Clinton's 2nd inaugural was $42 million. And if you convert those 1997 dollars into equivalent 2004 dollars for comparison purposes, that number rises to $49.5 million, or almost 24% more than what is being spent today. Lavish indeed.

Clear-headed wisdom on Social Security

The war over Social Security appears destined to be waged between hysterical, Chicken Little Republicans and ostrich-like Democrats with their fingers in their ears, chanting "There is no crisis, there is no crisis, la la la la!!"

It's the sign of our times I guess, but it's unfortunate, because the American people deserve more. And it's hard to see how we can ever agree on where we're going when we can't even reach a consensus on where we are.

But all is not bleak out there. I encourage all of you, no matter which side you're on, to read George Will's latest column. It might be the first calm, sober, reasoned discussion of the situation I've red in the Op-Ed pages so far. Let's hope it's not the last.

Chin up, libs

The Bush administration is now officially half over!

January 19, 2005

"I voted against her before I voted for her"

John Kerry was the only senator on the Foreign Relations committee to join California moonbat Barbara Boxer in opposing Condi Rice. What do you want to bet he'll vote "yes" during the full Senate vote tomorrow?

The inaugural issue

More and more people are complaining about Bush's $40 million inaugural gala. Not that it's funded by tax dollars (it isn't), but that it's somehow... just, well, you know, wrong during a time of war.

Without addressing the aesthetics of it, this strikes me as one of these "unprecedented expectation" issues that Bush continually seems to run afoul of (Bush is, for example, the first president who's ever been expected to staff his cabinet with people who oppose his agenda.)

I'm just curious, have presidents ever forgone inaugural balls during wartime? I'm told FDR had a "modest," or "scaled down" ball during WWII, and some have tried to turn that into a precedent. It's worth pointing out, however, that the situations are very different. First, there were severe shortages and rationing during those days. Second, FDR inaugurations were beginning to be old hat. Christ, the guy had more inaugurations than most people have TV dinners. After the 47th one or so, they probably begin to lose their luster.

I dunno. God knows there are valid reasons to criticize Bush, but when the ABB crowd focuses on minutiae like this it weakens their case. They come across less like reasoning critics, and more like Statler & Waldorf, hell-bent on carping about every. single. goddamn. thing this administration does, no matter how insignificant in the overall scheme of things.

Whatever. I'm still boycotting.

January 18, 2005

Good news and bad news

Liberals are finally embracing the notion that people should be judged on their merits, not their race. Unfortunately, it only applies to Condoleezza Rice.

Ah well, it's a start.

Bill Gates in "Teen Beat"

See why you need to read Slashdot every day? Otherwise you would miss this kind of great tech-oriented stuff like this 1983 photo spread Bill Gates did for "Teen Beat" magazine.

Of course unless you were one of the first few to read the thread, you would have missed out on it anyway, because the original link was promptly taken down. (Not before I copied the pictures to my own server, however!) Enjoy, but don't get too aroused.

I wondered when this would happen

So do I think Iraq the Model is CIA-run?

Nah. Too Bush-friendly.

Old dog, old tricks

Check out the latest highly nuanced position by John Kerry. He chose a Martin Luther King prayer breakfast to launch charges of massive, systematic voter disenfranchisement in the recent presidential election. The accusations that people were "denied democracy" are very serious, of course. So serious that he chose to sit on his hands.

Though he chose not to contest the vote, Kerry said, he firmly believes thousands of Democratic voters were disenfranchised.

Translation: "Democracy is broken in this country, but I don't want to, you know, actually do anything about it." This is intended to be the "moderate" position, I suppose. Reassure the Left but don't spook the Center. The fact that it's utterly incoherent troubles Kerry not at all. Why should it? He's has plenty of practice straddling the non-straddlabe.

But never mind the disingenuousness of this strategy for a moment, and just look at how artlessly it was executed. What are the actual messages communicated here? To the Left, it was "Your concerns are valid, but I don't really give a shit." To the Center, it was "I may not come across like Michael Moore or George Soros, but they are nonetheless my ideological brethren."

These are the same patterns we saw throughout the campaign. Some things never change, I guess, but they do sometimes become more obvious. Now are you beginining to understand why so many of us simply couldn't vote for this guy?

Sealing the borders is a good idea and all...


January 17, 2005

Since when do headlines provide value judgments?

"Boy finds $9,000, does the right thing"


I'm glad he's okay and all

But seriously? How do you not realize you've got a fricken nail in your biscuit?

Do it for the children...

Via lgf we learn of yet another fine moonbat product: the Fox Blocker!

Yes, for a mere $8.95 (plus S&H) you can protect you and your loved ones from the noxious right-wingery of the Fox News Channel. It's just as effective as, you know, not watching it, but doesn't require any of that pesky personal responsibility.

You know what my favorite thing about this is? You just know there's some Republican somewhere making a buck off of it.

Do you suppose CNN Blocker will follow, kind of like with the red & blue wrist bands? Somehow, I doubt it. I doubt seriously you could find enough Republicans sufficiently moronic to buy such a thing.

Bloggers beware

Be careful what you write online, particularly if it's anything critical of the Religion of Peace.

The father of a murdered New Jersey family was threatened for making anti-Muslim remarks online -- and the gruesome quadruple slaying may have been the hateful retaliation, sources told The Post yesterday.

Hossam Armanious, 47, who along with his wife and two daughters was found stabbed to death in his Jersey City home early Friday, would regularly debate religion in a Middle Eastern chat room, one source said.

Armanious, an Egyptian Christian, was well known for expressing his Coptic beliefs and engaging in fiery back-and-forth with Muslims on the Web site paltalk.com.

He "had the reputation for being one of the most outspoken Egyptian Christians," said the source, who had close ties to the family.

The source, who had knowledge of the investigation, refused to specify the anti-Muslim statement. But he said cops told him they were looking into the exchanges as a possible motive.

The married father of two had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a fellow Copt and store clerk who uses the chat room.

"You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," was the threat, said the clerk, who was online at the time and saw the exchange. But Armanious refused to back down, according to two sources who use the Web site.
Armanious' fervor apparently rubbed off on his daughter, Sylvia -- who would have turned 16 yesterday.
The heartless killer not only slit Sylvia's throat, but also sliced a huge gash in her chest and stabbed her in the wrist, where she had a tattoo of a Coptic cross.

Also found murdered were the wife, Amal Garas, and the parents' other daughter, Monica.

January 16, 2005

More gun hysteria?

Whether it's "assault weapons," Glocks, or teflon coated bullets, the media is perennially warning against some new firearm innovation du jour that will leave our streets littered with the corpses of dead policemen if immediate action isn't taken.

The latest entry in this series, which has inspired much breathless hand-wringing, is the Belgian-made FN Five-SeveN:

Some police in the tri-state area are urging the gun be banned out of fear it can be used to defeat police body armor. FNH does indeed claim the gun can penetrate Kevlar, but only with special armor-piercing rounds that are not available to the general public.

So why are people freaking out about the gun? My guess is because it's a companion piece to the FN P90 submachine gun, and because FNH does claim that the Five-SeveN can penetrate Kevlar with the proper ammo. Moreover, a New Jersey police officer claims to have pierced a Kevlar vest with the legally available ammo in an informal field test, although FNH disputes this claim.

They're not the only ones. I have two friends who are both Class III collectors and gun experts, and they seriously doubt there is anything especially sinister about this gun based on its spec. And Kim du Toit, who is my ultimate arbiter on such matters, was openly contemptuous of the gun long before the controversy began.

Now I'm not definitively concluding the policeman in question is wrong, but it certainly appears to be an open question. This particular weapon deserves a fair hearing, at the very least -- an impartial, duly monitored field test by independent professionals. Is that too much to ask? I realize the Second Amendment has limits, but when anyone wants to proscribe limits on a constitutional right, the burden of proof should rest squarely on the would-be regulator.

So will the Five-SeveN ever get its day in court? Somehow I doubt it. New Jersey's two senators are already clamoring for a ban (at least that's evidence that Frank Lautenberg is actually alive.) These battles are almost always waged with emotion rather than logic, and they are fought and reported by people who generally have little understanding of the subject matter. That's a shame. For the record, I consider myself a gun enthusiast, but far from an expert. That makes it all the more troubling that gun legislation is so frequently debated and passed by people less knowledgeable than myself.

Even more ominous, the manufacturer's website appears to be down. A message says the site is "under construction," but it seemed to be working perfectly well on Friday when the story broke. I hope it's just a coincidence, but something tells me it's not.

January 15, 2005

A disturbing parallel: the liberals are right

I hate to say it, but the liberals are right about this one. There is a disturbing parallel between the way the White House is attempting to sell Social Security reform and the way it presented the case for war in Iraq.

I have never believed the war was primarily about weapons of mass destruction. I believe that the White House played up the WMD angle because they thought it the easiest way to make the case, particularly to the international community. It was a cynical, high-risk gamble, and they've paid the price for it.

It seems they're beginning to make the same mistakes in pushing Bush's domestic program. Social Security reform is a high-profile component of Bush's second term agenda. As Martin Wolk points out, there are troubling signs that Bush is touting his reforms as a "necessary" response to the Social Security crisis.

That's a big mistake. It makes his proposal sound like bitter medicine, and that's unfortunate. I support the concept of privatization, but the plan should be sold on it own merits, not as some "backup plan" we're being reluctantly forced into. Don't get me wrong, there are genuine actuarial problems with the current system, and they need to be addressed, but scaremongering is not the path to victory here.

Everyone knows the current system will be facing a shortfall in years to come. That's all the stick that's needed. Let's present some carrots. Two themes should dominate the campaign for reform: choice and ownership.

We don't own our Social Security accounts. Anyone unlucky enough to die before reaching the ever-increasing retirement age will have saved all his working life with nothing to show for it. This is especially true for minority groups with shorter life expectancies, and it will become more of an issue as the retirement age continues to increase. With private accounts, the deceased will at least be able to leave something behind for his survivors.

Critics often say workers should maintain private accounts in addition to Social Security, but for many lower- and middle-class families, it's difficult to sock away anything substantial once 15% of their income is already tied up in the current program. Many people would welcome the choice, non-mandatory, to put those same contributions into a private account.

It should also be pointed out that the current system is inherently regressive. I'm not just talking about the payroll tax structure that finances it, but the system itself. Far from being a savings program, it is a system that effects a net transfer of wealth from a poorer demographic to a wealthier one.

Private accounts can and should be sold on their merits, not on fear and panic. The American people are capable of understanding the issues if presented to them.

I'm on your side, Mr. President, but you need to do this one right. This one's important. Don't repeat the same mistakes this time.


What a way to catch a buzz. Or was her breath really that bad?

A woman who admitted drinking three glasses of Listerine mouthwash had a blood-alcohol content more than three times the legal limit when she was arrested for drunken driving, police said Friday.

January 14, 2005

This just in

While you're out buying Ribbon Magnets, you can also pick up a six-pack or so of these gay bracelets.

Granger convicted

Fifteen years isn't enough, but I hope he spends every second of it in the foulest federal prison they can find.

Give up on Wintel, not the internet

The L.A. Times says people are abandoning the internet in droves due to the proliferation of adware, spyware and viruses. Now that's just plain sad. How many of these people realize there are alternative browsers and even operating systems out there?

I'm deliriously happy with my Linux boxes, but grim workplace realities force my wife and me to have Windows machines as well. We are both careful, savvy browswers, but within the past year we have both suffered adware infestations so severe that I had to reformat our hard drives.

After that, we switched to Mozilla Firefox and haven't had a single problem since. It's a free download, an easy install, and there's essentially no learning curve. It will even automatically import your bookmarks and shortcuts from IE. As an added bonus, it boasts a few cool features which IE still lacks. We haven't looked back. You owe it to yourselves to give it a try if you haven't already.

Migrating from Windows to Linux might be a tougher sell, but Microsoft has been helping make it a lot easier -- unintentionally, of course. I recently bought a Toshiba laptop with Windows XP preloaded. I frankly find XP to be obtuse, bloated and slow. Then there's that pernicious Digital Rights Management (DRM) crap built in. Also, it comes preloaded with "trial" versions of Microsoft's Office components. They want me to pony up for a full license.

Well, screw that! I've never been a big fan of Word, but I'll confess that I would occasionally use it just because it was already there on my computer for "free." But if I have to pay Microsoft to use it? Won't be happening. This kind of arrogance, customer hostility and greed will not win Microsoft any fans. Lots of companies are already asking themselves why they keep forking over so much scratch every couple of years for unnecessary upgrades. In the same way it took a sucky IE to push people toward Firefox, current sucky versions of Windows may get people to seriously consider exploring the alternatives.

And it's not just software! Intel has a new line of chips with DRM built in. Well fine, go ahead. You're only screwing yourselves. I know a lot of people who have built great computers with non-Intel chips (AMD, for example.) I've never actually done this, simply because it wasn't worth saving 20 bucks for me to buy a chip that my OS wasn't designed to run on. But now, thanks to Intel, I finally have the incentive to explore alternative CPU manufacturers as well.

The Wintel monopoly won't last forever. Monopolies never do (unless they're run by the government.) In this case, the stranglehold will ultimately be broken by the monopolists' own hubris. And it can't happen soon enough.

Two cheers for the judge

Sometimes you just don't know whose side to be on. A federal judge has ordered Cobb County schools to remove stickers from their textbooks, claiming they conveyed a religious endorsement. The stickers bore a disclaimer that evolution is a "theory," not a "fact."

I'm glad the stickers are gone. Not because they're religious, but because they're stoopid. "Theory" and "fact" are not contradictory. We may never get these people to understand evolution, but we should at least strive to teach them the definition of the word "theory." Too many of them believe it's synonymous with "hypothesis" or "wild-ass guess."

The theory of evolution is as well established as the theory of relativity or quantum theory (at least to the extent that that claim can be made of a "soft" science. Pardon the implied elitism), yet these are not taught with disclaimers. Granted, in all cases, there are some unresolved questions at the margins, but such is the nature of science. The basic tenets of all three are no longer in question.

Had the school board made this decision, or even an education official, I would be celebrating unreservedly. Maybe it's just me, but the action of this judge gives me pause. He saw his decision as backed by the establishment of religion clause, but I frankly think that's a bit of a stretch. Do we really want judges to be the ultimate arbiters of our children's curricula, even if we happen to agree with the outcome this time?

And liberals, before you answer, think about this: After eight years of Bush appointments to the bench, it would not be hard to imagine a scenario in which the roles were reversed. In fact, it wouldn't be hard to imagine it now.

But, for the time being, two cheers for the judge... I guess.

(By the way, buy some Ribbon Magnets. Do it for the children.)

Cynical Nation now officially accepting payola

The very day after I released my financial disclosure, a certain party has stepped forward and offered me an undisclosed amount to lobby an issue on this site. I have accepted the offer because I will not turn my back on the American way.

The party in question prefers to remain anonymous, and I will not reveal the issue at stake either. Suffice it to say that it does not run counter to any of my core principles (the good thing about not having any) and should in no way detract from the mediocre quality you've all come to expect from this site. In fact, regular readers will probably not even notice the difference. I still feel I owe it to my readers to let them know, however.

By the way, have you purchased any Ribbon Magnets for your car? If not, what are you waiting for? I should point out that they're very reasonably priced. Don't let anyone mistake you for one of those terrorist-loving America haters! Pick some up today.

January 13, 2005

Has anyone told him that he lost?

John Kerry's Lollapaloser world tour continues, with Kerry visiting fellow Frenchman Black Jacques Chirac.

Hey, who knows? Maybe he booked the tickets before November and then couldn't get a refund? I've had shit like that happen.

Full disclosure statement

In the interest of full disclosure, Cynical Nation would like to release the following official statement detailing any and all contributions, monetary or otherwise, to this site, together with their sources, which might possibly constitute a conflict of interest.

Okay, here goes... (*ahem*)

No one pays me jack shit.

Thank you, that is all.

But if anyone's interested, of course, I should point out that my rates are surprisingly affordable

Well whaddaya know?

I guess all those bloggers really are "reality-based" after all!

"It's its own opposite," said Bill Kretzschmar, editor of the Linguistic Atlas of America. "If it's reality-based, it's not real."

No wonder the "Proud Members of the Reality-Based Community" haven't had many things go their way politically lately.

(Hat tip: Glenn)

UPDATE: I just noticed that Atrios no longer claims to be "reality-based." Did he get the memo? Or did the truth in advertising committee force him to take it down?


I thought these things only happened in red states.

Death to the food pyramid!

Long live the Food Pentagram!

The blogger on the dole

Glenn expresses surprise at this, but it's been common knowledge for quite some time that a number of lefty bloggers were receiving cash from prominent Democratic interests. Indeed, that's the reason that attendance at blogger conventions is more heavily left-leaning than the blogosphere as a whole -- most of us righties have actual jobs. And no, it's not the same as funneling tax dollars to Armstrong Williams, but Kos and others were clearly remiss by not disclosing their financial interests on their sites.

Thanks! Just leave the money on the porch, okay?

When my mom was a teenager in the 50's, she had this bitchy girlfriend who made her cringe by the way she used guys. Once she called this boy who was smitten with her and asked him to run to the drug store and bring her a romance magazine and two R.C. Colas. The boy obligingly did so, but when he showed up at her door, obviously expecting her to reward him with, you know, deigning to talk with him for a few minutes, she told him through the screen that she was "doing her hair," and that he should just leave the stuff on her porch.

For some reason, I was reminded of that story when I read this.

Indonesia announced that U.S. and other foreign troops providing tsunami disaster relief must leave the country by the end of March and ordered aid workers Wednesday to declare their travel plans or face expulsion from devastated Aceh province on Sumatra island.
U.S. Marines have also scaled back their plans to send hundreds of troops ashore to build roads and clear rubble. The two sides reached a compromise in which the Americans agreed not to set up a base camp on Indonesia or carry weapons.

Your tax dollars at work

The FBI pissed away half a billion dollars on another unusable computer system.

It's a story as old as software itself. Non-technical mid-level management can be suckers for a slick PowerPoint show. Given a choice between A -- a quality product at a reasonable price, and B -- an outrageously overpriced piece of crap, they have an unerring ability to choose B every time.

As an independent software developer, I can't tell you how many times I've bid on a project only to lose out to a company with a much higher bid that ultimately delivered a huge, steaming pile of crap -- past the deadline and over budget, of course.

This example is especially outrageous since we fund it directly through our tax dollars, but we should remember we pay for the corporate stupidity too, through higher consumer prices and diminished shareholder values. Plus, it gives my profession a bad name.

January 12, 2005

Cynical Nation boycotts the inaugural

Kid Rock ain't going?

I'm not going!

(And don't bother begging, my mind's made up.)

Now I ask you

What's a salad without Cheetos?

Ah, the good ol' days!

Did you know the Flinstones used to hawk cigarettes? TVparty has it, and lots more.

Full disclosure: I was once employed by a major cigarette company, so I actually knew about this one, even though it was before my time. It's always a hoot to see it again, however.

Believe it or not, the ad's biggest criticism at the time was not using cartoon characters to sell smokes, but rather a grammatical transgression. "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" should properly have been "Winston tastes good as a cigarette should," argued the purists.

(Hat tip: Dean)

UPDATE: This is perhaps a bit less shocking when we look back with an adult perspective at some of the stuff we watched in our youth. H.R. Pufnstuf is a case in point.

DUmb and DUmber

There's lots of confusion over at Democratic Underground regarding adult stem cells vs. embryonic stem cells and Bush's policy regarding both. Oh well, I give them credit for not thinking the "stems" in question have something to do with the residue at the bottom of a nickel bag.

(Again, just for the record, I disagree with Bush on ESC research. Nonetheless, there is an incredible amount of disinformation out there regarding current policy, and this DU thread is but one example.)

Anyway, the real story here, lest it be lost, is that adult stem cell research has led to a possible breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes. I think that's something we can all celebrate.

January 11, 2005

A friendly reminder

Cynical Nation is still available to hawk any of your pet positions for a mere fraction of what Armstrong Williams would set you back. Click below if we could be of service.

(Note: Lib'rul opinions are subject to a nominal surcharge.)

My wife would be so impressed...

...if I could learn to do this. I don't understand the words, but it looks pretty easy. I'm going to practice when I get home.

(Hat Tip: Techo-Hick)

Village Voice cartoon

Thanks again to The Corner for pointing me to this cartoon from the Village Voice.

I'm posting it because it's funny, and I certainly recognize some of the stereotypes, but I can't resist asking a question: Does anyone know anybody remotely like that woman in the third panel?

Most of the liberals I know simply called F911 "great," or else made excuses for the film's deficiencies. By contrast, I do not have a single conservative friend who takes Limbaugh, Hannity or Coulter seriously.

Hell, maybe it's just me. Maybe it's the circles I hang out in here in the blue states, but I gotta wonder who these VV cartoonists have been talking to.

Sandy Berger update

It looks like he might not be off the hook after all.

The criminal probe into why former Bill Clinton aide Sandy Berger illegally sneaked top-secret documents out of the National Archives -- possibly in his socks -- has heated up and is now before a federal grand jury, The Post has learned.
Berger admits removing 40 to 50 top-secret documents from the archives, but claims it was an "honest mistake" made while he vetted documents for the 9/11 commission's probe into the Twin Towers attacks.

Berger has also acknowledged that he destroyed some documents -- he says by accident.

New catchphrase for this site?

24 may well be the least politically correct show on television, and we fans have been treated to four hours of it in the past two days. I'm really sort of attached to the Mencken quote at the top of this site, but, like K-Lo, I'm also enamored of this gem from 24's season opener:

"Spare me your sixth-grade Michael Moore logic."

A change might be in order.

UPDATE: Cool as the season premier was, I must agree with Iowahawk's comment on Treacher's site:

A moron can see where this plot is going:

The so-called "Muslim" terrorists will turn out to be Presbyterians, who are actually working for Hillabortun, the evil multinational company controlled by the Secretary of Defense. He has staged his own "kidnapping" in an elaborate plot to stage a coup/scrap the Constitution/raise oil prices. The world is saved thanks to Bauer, with assists from the "terrorist" kid (who, in a plot twist, coverts to real Islam after ratting on his fake-Muslim treasonous parents), and SecDef's illegally tortured hippie son.

Perhaps not work-safe

Wonkette has something for all the Ann Coulter fans out there.

Syria in the sights?

It's on Debka, so take it with a grain of salt:

DEBKAfile's Military and US sources reveal: Bush has ordered US Iraq commander Gen. Casey to prepare February attack on Syria. Assad sends Syria's chief of staff Gen. Habib to establish command post on Iraqi border. Israel braces for Hizballah backlash.

Probably disinformation, but if it makes Syria nervous, so much the better.

Torture watch?

Now some Gitmo detainees may be in for some real abuse.

United States is preparing to release or transfer hundreds of prisoners from its controversial Guantanamo Bay war on terror detention camp in Cuba, according to a newspaper report.

Presumably, many of these will be returned to their country of origin. If you were a suspected al Qaeda member, and you were given the choice between remaining at Guantanamo or being shipped back to Riyadh or Amman, what would you choose? Think carefully.

Nervous Nellies

The term "neoconservative" actually meant something a few years ago. Today it's a de facto synonym for anyone who's pro-war, but in its original context it typically described a disillusioned leftist, whom reality had forced to embrace a right-leaning pragmatism. This was usually characterized by a strident anti-communism and a recoiling against the excesses of the cultural left. Moreover, most neocons were still enamored of the New Deal and Great Society programs, and they never fully bought into the antistatist vein that characterized much of traditional conservatism.

William Kristol, the neocon's neocon, is showing his true colors. Once so fearless regarding Iraq, Kristol now has a case of the nervous Nellies when it comes to Social Security reform. Apparently, he's not the only one, either. Kristol is quoted by MSNBC as saying many Republicans are "bewildered why this is such a White House priority.... I am a skeptic politically and a little bit substantively."

The biggest jaw-dropper in the MSNBC piece, however, is a quote by Connecticut congressman Rob Simmons, which you have to read to believe:

Why stir up a political hornet's nest .... when there is no urgency? When does the program go belly up? 2042. I will be dead by then.

I know many people think like this, but the fact that a sitting congressman has the stones to admit it publicly is astonishing to me. If he were any more shortsighted on this issue, he'd be Paul Krugman. I suppose it's difficult to get a representative to look beyond the next election cycle, much less to the next generation, and that's why this fight will be an uphill climb.

I don't even know why I should have to explain this, but here goes. If you're lucky enough to live off a trust fund, and extrapolating current trends shows your trust fund will be depleted in a few decades, you do not wait until it is empty to take remedial action. It takes time to amass wealth and build equity.

Deep down, I think most people understand this. They're not stupid. Rather, I think Republicans are nervous because Democrats have clubbed them over the head with the Social Security issue for decades. I think the Democrats are nervous because private accounts would deprives Congress of a large chunk of taxpayer money to play with, and would also swell the ranks of the investor class, which tends to vote Republican in higher numbers than the population at large.

Neither of these reservations is grounded in the real issues, however, and that's a shame. We need an honest debate about this issue, and we need it now, not when the whole business goes belly-up.

This is certainly the best opportunity for private accounts we've ever faced, and it's very possible that such an opportunity won't come again. Republicans now control both houses of Congress and we have a Republican president who is not afraid to take political risks on the big issues. It's a chance not only to expand Bush's vision of an "ownership society," but our best chance for this administration to leave behind a genuinely conservative legacy.

Buck up, guys! Things worth doing are seldom easy.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire has been all over the Social Security debate hypocrisies.

January 10, 2005


Why not toss a cheerleader?

Dylan vs. Penn

Okay, this has got to be the most bizarre thing I've read all day. Sean Penn and Bob Dylan used to face off in the ring? The mind boggles.

Q: You're the reader on the audio version of Bob Dylan's "Chronicles." How'd that come about?

A: He called. You don't say no to Bob. It's the first and last time I'll do it though. It's a big job.

Q: Are you friends?

A: Friendly acquaintances. I've never known him very well. There was a period of time when we used to box together. I had a ring at my house.

Q: Who came out ahead in those matches?

A: The interest was serious, but it was just for enjoyment.

Q: No broken bones?

A: No broken bones. No trips to the emergency room.

Q: You don't want to be the guy who put Bob Dylan in the hospital.

A: No. Or have it be the other way around.

People's Choice

Michael Moore has won an award for the best coordinated internet campaign to stuff online ballot boxes. Mr. Moore would personally like to thank all the script kiddies over at DU for making this possible.

Just kidding! I'm not going to pull a Babs Boxer and bitch and whine just because a vote was won by someone I don't like. (I'm not good at those crocodile tears either.) Michael Moore won fair and square. "Fahrenheit 9/11" was a huge success for him, and from the looks of the publicity photo I saw, he's already able to to afford better clothes.

But can someone explain something to me? I keep hearing the dual wins by Michael Moore and Mel Gibson reported as indicative of the red state/blue state divide in this country. Granted I never saw the movie myself, but I have a pretty clear idea as to what it's about -- so can someone explain why "The Passion" is a Republican movie?

CBS whacks four employees

Who says CBS can't take responsibility for one of the biggest incidents of fraudulent journalism in our time? Why just today, word comes out that they've fired four people, including two receptionists, a mailroom clerk, and the street urchin who shines shoes in the lobby.

Okay, I made that last part up. Those terminated included Betsy West and Mary Mapes. It looks like some pretty serious brass were among the heads that rolled. (Three out of the four were women, but who's counting?) I wonder why it took four months to clean house? I guess they had to wait until Dan Rather was safely retired.

Only Ted Rall...

...would use his blog to beg for an iPod.

January 09, 2005

Bizarre coded messages

Ace has a cool post on those creepy "numbers" stations you can sometimes find on shortwave radio. This was a blast from the past for me, because when I was living in France a dozen years ago, I would frequently run across these eerie broadcasts while surfing the shortwave band. These always sparked my imagination, and I felt like I myself was at the center of some sinister intrigue -- an American expatriate listening in from my small room in Paris, as some covert spy in some remote corner of the world received his cryptic marching orders from the staticy, droning of this anonymous female voice reading through a seemingly random sequence of digits.

Check out Ace's post. He has some cool links where you can actually hear some of these broadcasts. I don't listen to shortwave anymore, but I am glad to know that these broadcasts still take place, and haven't become another victim to the ubiquity of the internet.

And while I'm on the topic of bizarre encoded messages, I have a question for all of you out there. From time to time, I have stumbled across encrypted messages on the Usenet groups. Frequently, these will show up when I do a Google search across the newsgroups (groups.google.com) for a combination of specific words. These results never have anything to do with my original search, but appear to be an aggregation of seemingly random words. It's clearly a code of some sort, but it's not done at the binary or character level. It's always a collection of common, English words put together in a seemingly nonsense fashion.

Most often I will find these posts in groups devoted to extremist or hate-based causes. It's not a surprise that these people would want to encode their messages, but I've never seen or heard any discussion about it, or about how the code works.

They're easy enough to find when doing a search on random combinations of words. Here is a sample excerpt of such a post I ran across recently:

Wearily he transcended up a silk. It has not been every tweedy
black. Another cinder - billion times every enough - and they have
our reminder characterize sleuthing, neither seeing correctly seep its
potentiality since aurally before traditionally a libelous warmth
decided mine emptying reserve. Assuredly, Zen, whatever do we moisten onto him? Horn intruders paled after their wooden employment, minus the insoluble, charge constructed merchants headed below with a milieu session, expelling after collonaded polymerizations in a levies
under no custodial suffixes.

Weird, huh? What the hell does it mean? Anyone know? If you want a link to the post I quoted, it's here. But let me warn you: Whatever this means, I'm sure it's offensive. The very title of the newsgroup it was posted to guarantees that. If you're especially sensitive about such things, you should probably give this one a pass.

Otherwise, can anybody tell me what these mean?

More on the torture debate

Power Line has an interesting piece on how Gonzales' critics responded to the hypothetical "ticking bomb" scenario -- a detainee has knowledge that could prevent an impending attack on a civilian target, but he's not talking.

It's a contrivance, certainly, and a scenario that as far as we know has been confined, thus far, to Hollywood films. Still, it's a worthwhile thought experiment. I've posed this scenario to a number of people at different points, and they usually simply mumble something about how the premise is "unrealistic."

Well, let's hope so! But that answer is still a cop-out. A scenario doesn't need to be likely in order to illustrate the logical limitations of an argument. Actually, it's not an "argument" we're talking about -- it's merely a pious, emotion-driven, high-minded mantra, such as "The U.S. should never engage in torture! Period!"

But how realistic is that, really? Once you have admitted that there is a conceivable situation, no matter how contrived, in which torture may be the less distasteful alternative, you are forced to come down off your moral absolutist high horse and engage in a dialog.

The real discussion is not to be had at the extreme margins of the debate. It's the big gray area in between that needs to be explored. The "ticking bomb" exercise is only useful in helping people acknowledge that we're all on the slippery slope here, whether we like it or not.

We can all agree that the U.S. should eschew thumbscrews and bamboo shoots as a matter of policy -- but where does that leave us concerning less severe techniques, such as sleep deprivation, psychological operations and others? The whole debate is far too complex (and dare I say "nuanced"?) to be dismissed with simplistic Tonto reasoning ("Torture bad, Kemo Sabe!")

Heather MacDonald explores the big gray area in an excellent article in City Review. It's well worth reading in its entirety, no matter which side of the debate you're on. She points out some of the grim realities of interrogation in the post-9/11 world, as well as some of the dangers of tying interrogators' hands too tightly. Again, we're not talking about thumbscrews here, but very effective stress techniques which are not pleasant, but which few reasonable people could consider torture. Often, in fact, merely convincing the prisoner that you are willing to use torture can be sufficient to get them to crack.

Don't expect a substantive debate on these issues in the Gonzales confirmation hearings, however. That will be left to the blogosphere and the opinion journals. I think Gonzales' critics in the Senate will stand up and preen and posture and bloviate and then most of them will end up voting for him anyway. It'll just be further proof that the whole thing is pure political theater, devoid of any real substance.

That's my prediction, anyway. We'll see how it plays out.

January 08, 2005


How do I get on this gravy train?

Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.

Is this common? Am I chump because I support Bush's Social Security plan for free? Would it help if I were a minority? A quarter mil is some serious scratch. I mean, how many viewers could the man have? Let's face it, we're not talking Bill O'Reilly here.

All right guys, look. Cynical Nation probably has a smaller audience than Armstrong Williams, but I can offer you a deal! How about a thousand bills to hawk the president's tax reform plan in 2005? That's a bargain, folks! It's about bang-for-your-buck, ROI! Lemme know. Call me, Karl.

January 07, 2005

The Gonzales challenge

Liberals across the country are wringing their hands and weeping over their soy lattes at the very prospect that such a dreadful Mexican could become our next Attorney General. To listen to the hysteria, one would think Alberto Gonzales is Torquemada made over.

If that were the case, you'd think his detractors would be able to cite any number of damning quotes from Gonzales' extensive paper trail to buttress their case. I have been challenging anti-Gonzales crowd for days to show me a single, direct quote from Alberto Gonzales that casts him in the light of a torture-hungry Inquisitor. The challenge continues.

So far, the responses I've got have been either

  • silence, or
  • vague mumbling about how Gonzales determined that al Qaeda and the Taliban were not covered by the Geneva Convention.

That's it? That's what all the wailing and gnashing of teeth is about? That we haven't granted formal POW status to detainees?

Well, here's the problem with that. The 1949 Geneva Conventions were very specific about who was entitled to protection and who was not. The thinking was that soldiers fighting for their country's armed services are simply doing their jobs, and (presumably) are guilty of no wrongdoing. As far as we know, they may even serve unwillingly. Therefore, signatories to the protocols engaged in a reciprocal agreement to treat each other's prisoners of war according to certain rules.

Stateless gangs of fanatic, murdering thugs, who wear no uniform and swear allegiance to no country, are quite obviously and explicitly exempt from the agreement. Some may find this objectionable, but their problem is with the Geneva Convention itself, and not with Alberto Gonzales. The rules set forth are very clear, and al Qaeda and the Taliban simply do not satisfy the criteria. They are illegal combatants.

Moreover, if that's what this whole melodrama is about, then surely Gonzales is far from unique. I'll bet you'd be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of Congressional Democrats who want to afford al Qaeda formal POW status. Certainly, there was never any chance that Bush would appoint such a bleeding-heart to head the Justice Department. So again, I ask, what is the big freakin' deal about Gonzales? I suspect it has much more to do with raw emotionalism and political posturing than anything substantial or logical.

If the question is really about nothing more than whether these detainees need to be handled according to Geneva Convention protocols, then so be it. Let the Democrats, who already suffer from a perception that they're soft on terror, insist on having a debate about whether we should treat al Qaeda more generously than the Geneva Convention requires. Let's have that debate publicly and loudly. But when the smoke clears, Democrats, remember -- you asked for it.


Bevis Lake Misnamed Butthead Lake In Census Bureau Records

"The Kerry Miracle!"

That's doubtless how this news would be reported if a hundred thousand votes had gone the other way in Ohio.

2004 Job Creation Was Highest Since '99

U.S. employers added 157,000 workers overall to their payrolls in December, bringing the year-end total of new jobs to 2.2 million, the best showing in five years. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.4 percent.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the 2.2 million new jobs created in 2004 were the most in any year since 1999, when employers added 3.2 million positions, based on a government survey of businesses.

Gonzales and toture

Look, just to be clear, I do not endorse the torture of battlefield detainees as a matter of policy, and I never have. Go back and read my posts from when the Abu Ghraib story broke and see for yourselves what I had to say.

On the matter of Alberto Gonzales, my point is this: I have challenged a number of administration critics to provide me with specific quotes from the White House Counsel that's got everyone's panties all wadded. Guess what? So far I've come up empty. In my own internet searches, I have found no smoking gun in which Gonzales approved of the use of torture, either explicitly or tacitly. I have found numerous instances, on the other hand, where he has expressly rejected such tactics.

So in defending Gonzales, I am not defending torture. But the offer's still open. If anyone out there can show me anything from Gonzales' paper trail that condones torture, I'll immediately join your side. Until then, I will continue to support Gonzales.

January 06, 2005

Democratic Party, R.I.P.

Today, in one 24-hour period, I watched the Democrats

  1. Formally contest the results of a presidential election that Bush won by 3 millions votes,
  2. Attack a Hispanic nominee for AG because he didn't make nice-nice with al Qaeda terrorists, and
  3. Beg Terry McAuliffe to remain their leader for at least another two years.

What the hell? Is Karl Rove the DNC's chief strategist?

What is wrong with the Democrats?! President Bush is politically vulnerable on scores of issues, and yet the Democratic congress insists on attacking him on terrorism and questioning electoral victory that he won handily. What the hell are these people thinking?

My more cynical critics wonder why I care about these Democratic missteps. In the short term, I don't. I'm happy enough to have an enfeebled opponent. In the longer term, however, I think both our nation as a whole and my own political party benefit from vigorous competition.

Why do American automobiles not suck today? Because twenty years ago, when they did suck, they were exposed to competition from Japanese automakers. That spurred a drive to excellence on the part of Detroit that ultimately benefited American consumers. Likewise, in the long run, I think the Republican Party will benefit from competition with a viable alternative party.

Look, let's face it. The Republicans did not deserve re-election this year. I'm talking about the congressional leadership as well as the presidency. The only way they were allowed to stay in power was by facing an ineffectual, inept opposition party.

Sorry, but I don't want my party's future victories to transpire that way. I want them to be the results of intense competition between two viable political parties.

So Democrats: For your sake, for our sake, and for the sake of the country we all love, please, please, for the love of God, get your act together, and become an effective opposition. Put this election behind you, and pitch a message that's actually saleable to the American people.

I had to run an errand...

...and I was away from C-SPAN for about an hour. Did they elect John Kerry yet?

Objecting to the vote count

Well, Stephanie Stubbs Jones' fifteen five minutes of fame are up. What a pointless, masturbatory exercise. I don't know why, but I'm a bit surprised that Senatrix Boxer signed onto this farce. California can recall a governor, so why not a senator?

Sixty-seat majority, here we come.

Puppy heroin smugglers

I'd heard of the old "swallowing a condom" trick before, but these bastards used puppies!

You've got to wonder how they got the poor things to swallow condoms. I mean, you ought to see the grief I go through to get my lab just to take a damn heartworm pill.

The article goes on to list some other horror stories in the history of drug running, including a woman cocaine surgically implanted in her buttocks.

Just something to remember the next time you run up on smack or do a line of blow -- man, you don't know where that junk has been!

I nominate MoveOn.org...

...as the most ironically titled website on the 'net.

I can't believe these people are falling into the same "live in the past" trap they did after 2000. Hey, do you people really want to elect a Democratic president? There's a much better way to do it: Nominate a decent candidate!!!! You've got four years to come up with one. Get started.

Babs Boxer to the rescue!

Remember that heartrending scene in "Fahrenheit 9/11" when challenges to Florida's electoral vote went unheard for want of a single, heroic senator to strap on his armor and step forward to do battle with the Forces of Darkness?

Well Michael Moore won't be able to repeat that scene is his much-anticipated sequel, because California's Barbara Boxer has signed off on a challenge to the voting process in Ohio! Whether she'll actually accomplish anything other than making a cracking ass of herself remains to be seen, however. Stay tuned.

This is too good to be true!

See? I told you 2005 was going to be a good year. It's getting off to a great start already.

Senior Democrats are trying to persuade national Chairman Terry McAuliffe to continue his service as party chairman, especially if none of the current candidates gains momentum in the race to replace him.

My God, can you imagine? Two more years of this guy, and Republicans will finally have that filibuster-proof majority!

By the way, here's my favorite recent Terry McAuliffe quote, from November 3, 2004: "This is the best election night in history." I mean, how can you not hate to see this guy go? Well I guess we're not the only ones. There were some heavy hitters pressing him to remain, including Harry Reid and Charles Schumer. Let's hope they had some success.

January 05, 2005

Murder, he wrote

It's been a while since we've checked in on the moonbat's moonbat, Ted Rall. Check out the kind of responsible commentary his blog readers are being treated to these days.

It Ain't Paul Wellstone...

...but Rep. Matsui's death comes at a damned convenient time at a time when Republicans are starting down the road towards eliminating the Social Security system. Any Ukrainian waiters at the House cafeteria?

Don't f*ck with us!

Why not? Because we own an average of 1.7 guns each, that's why!

I now officially pronounce the gun control issue "dead" for the Democrats. Most of them have realized this already, which is why you hardly ever hear a Democrat mention guns these days, unless it's to brag about how much he loves them.

In the ideological battleground in the marketplace of ideas, you win some, you lose some, and most of the biggies are forever left unresolved. But we've won this one, friends. Decisively. Let's go celebrate. Dig out that old Walther or Sig-Sauer and take it down to your neighborhood range and plink through a brick or two of ammo!

Here are some more interesting stats from the poll:

More than half (53%) of Republicans own guns, compared with 36% of political independents and 31% of Democrats. Whites are more likely than nonwhites to own (44% and 24%, respectively), according to Gallup.

Residents of the South are significantly more likely than those living in other regions to report owning a gun. More than half of those living in rural areas (56%) own a gun, compared with 40% of suburbanites and 29% of those living in urban areas.

Abbas uncut

Mahmoud Abbas broke a lot of hearts here and in Israel with his increasingly strident rhetoric, including such gems as "Zionist enemy." None of us likes to hear that kind of stuff, but I do think it helps to put it in perspective.

First of all, the man is a politician running for office. The bigger his margin of victory, the more power he can marshal to negotiate a settlement. To ensure such a mandate, he likely feels the need to make some statements which to us seem distasteful.

Second, anyone who is really surprised or disappointed by this probably had unrealistic expectations in the first place. The man is on record as a Holocaust denier, after all. The "moderate" label, when applied to Palestinian leadership, can only be understood in the most relative sense.

Let's face it, there was never any chance they would elect Gandhi. Let's just wait until after the election and hope for the best.

Trafficking in tsunami orphans?

The U.N. fears so.

The United Nations said on Tuesday it was concerned children orphaned or separated from their parents by Asia's tsunami may be falling prey to criminal gangs bent on selling them into slavery.

Of course anyone worried about these kids would do well not to leave them unsupervised with U.N. personnel, given what happened in Congo.

January 04, 2005

Cautious optimism on Social Security

It appears that the Bush administration will soon unveil a plan to allow workers to own a portion of their Social Security accounts. The details won't be in until next month, but it looks like they're considering allowing workers to contribute 4% of their FICA taxes to private accounts. At first glance, the 4% figure seems bolder than the expected 2% -- but then comes the fine print. The president's commission also recommended capping contributions at $1,000 a year. That means that while someone salaried at $25K can contribute the whole 4%, someone earning $50K will effectively be limited to 2%. I'm not sure why they would structure it this way, but my guess is to inject an element of progressivity into the plan in an effort to pre-empt the charge that privatization would unfairly benefit high income earners.

Who knows? But whatever the details, this is truly encouraging. I never thought I would see the day when privatization was actually seriously proposed by a sitting president. Granted, it will be an uphill battle. Bush may not succeed, but I do not doubt that he will try. Say what you will about him, but he is not afraid to cash in political capital to fight for something he believes in, and he has a largely friendly congress to work with. It's a bold move, and it may not yet be politically possible. But if it is, this president will do it.

I love conflicts like this one...

...because no matter who loses, my right-leaning schadenfreude will be gratified.

A prominent U.S.-based animal rights group urged former President Jimmy Carter on Monday to give up fishing on the grounds that the activity was inconsistent the Nobel peace laureate's humanitarian efforts.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals made its appeal in a letter faxed to Carter's non-profit Carter Center on Monday.
"We're asking President Carter to think this through and to grant fish peace by leaving them in the water where they belong," PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a press release.

Could this be true?

It's probably a false alarm, but Tass is reporting that al-Zarqawi has been arrested in Iraq. I'm not getting my hopes up, but I'm keeping an eye on it all the same.

Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, whom the US occupation authorities declared to be the "target number one" in Iraq, has been arrested in the city of Baakuba, the Emirate newspaper al-Bayane reported on Tuesday referring to Kurdish sources. Al-Zarqawi, leader of the terrorist group Al-Tawhid Wa'al-Jihad, was recently appointed the director of the Al-Qaeda organisation in Iraq.

UPDATE: The Pentagon is denying it, at least according to Drudge.

House Republicans reverse themselves

I'm happy to see that congressional GOP leaders have backed off from a loosening of ethics rules intended to help Tom DeLay. I'd be happier, of course, if they'd never considered the rules change in the first place.

I criticized the DeLay rule change from the get-go. Some of my Republican friends disagreed with me, pointing out that it left party leaders vulnerable to politically motivated, baseless indictments by any unscrupulous partisan D.A.

Well, they've got a point. But to suddenly reverse your own rule that you've been perfectly happy with for a decade as soon as someone on your team is affected by it just looks sleazy. Sorry, but that's the way I see it. Had the Republicans persevered on this course, they would have handed the Democrats a huge campaign issue, and I don't think that's wise. Passing tax code and Social Security reform will be hard enough without that kind of distraction.

Yes, it is possible that DeLay may have to give up his leadership position over an unjust indictment. No, that wouldn't be fair. But rewriting the rules is not the way to deal with it. When the preservation of your own party's power is of tantamount importance, and when you damage your own legislative agenda to preserve incumbency, it's time for you to go.

Remember the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994? Why did that happen? Ideology played a role, sure, but the dominant factor was what Newt Gingrich called the "arrogance of power" -- the entrenched corruption of the ruling elite. That's what took Jim Wright down, and it can take Dennis Hastert down too. We need to remember that.

She'd better be careful

Sandra Bullock might run the risk of alienating some of her friends in the entertainment industry by donating a million bucks to the tsunami relief effort. Stuff like this could make them look bad.

Doesn't she know she's merely supposed to talk and act concerned and deliver angry anti-Bush sermons, but she's not, you know, supposed to actually do anything? I mean, if she really wanted to send money, she should've done what a normal celebrity would do: hold a "benefit" and charge working class people hundreds of bucks to attend. She's show up for an hour or two and get good publicity, and the tsunami victims would receive aid without any celebrities actually having to sacrifice. Doesn't she know how this works? Crimminy, don't they explain this stuff to you in the Screen Actors' Guild or something?

January 03, 2005

Check it out

A belated Christmas present from wifey. Eat your heart out, Ace!

I guess she's not untalented after all

I guess I'll have to re-think my assessment of Ashlee Simpson.

Ashlee Simpson says she can burp the alphabet.
The 19-year-old star also admitted that older sister Jessica also shares the same talent reports Femalefirst.co.uk.

She told America's New York Post newspaper: "Jessica burps the alphabet better than me. She has better wind and she is a much louder belcher."

What the hell's she talking about?

I'm an admirer of Governor Whitman's, and I'd love to see socially liberal Republicans like herself assume a more prominent role within the party. Nevertheless, some of the quotes from her new book have left me scratching my head. She suggests, for example, that "antiregulatory lobbyists and extreme antigovernment ideologues" hold the GOP in thrall.

What the hell is she talking about? I would to God that there were "antigovernment ideologues" in this administration, but frankly I don't see it. If anything, this administration seems emblematic of the fact that conservatives have effectively surrendered the "smaller government" argument, having lost that debate in the marketplace of ideas.

I have plenty of complaints against this administration, but almost without exception, they seem to be examples of government doing too much rather than too little (the prescription drug bill, detaining U.S. citizens as enemy combatants, a proposed gay marriage amendment, and the FCC crackdown to name a few.) Add to this the runaway spending that has characterized Bush's first term and you really have to wonder what a Christie Whitman presidency would look like.

Kerry won't disappear

Let's see, Kerry, Kerry.... Oh yeah, I remember him. French-lookin' fella. Flip-flopped a lot. Obnoxious wife. Say, whatever happened to old John, anyway?

John Kerry's loss in the 2004 presidential election hasn't broken his will.

"I'm not going to go lick my wounds or hide under a rock or disappear. I'm going to learn," he told Newsweek.
But Kerry hasn't ruled out an '08 presidential bid.

January 01, 2005

Mission accomplished!

It appears that I have won the war against the comment spammers. The final solution turned out to be surprisingly easy. If you use MovableType and have been plagued by comment spammers, send me an e-mail and I'll tell you what I did. I'm a bit hesitant to post the trick here publicly.

Having settled that whole bit, I'll be looking to migrate to a new server over the course of the next few days. With any luck, the move will be seemless, but if you see any weirdness between now and then, that's likely why.

Happy 2005 to one and all!