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April 30, 2005


This is not meant as a slight to the AccuWeather service, which is one of the best out there. But is it me or are weather forecasts in general becoming less reliable?

Just a guess, but sometimes I wonder if the industry is becoming a little too reliant on computer models instead of human meteorologists looking at the data and using their experience to arrive at a forecast.

April 28, 2005

My New Favorite Senator

Dr. Tom Coburn, newly elected Senator from Oklahoma. Seems he believes that government should spend less wastefully and actually has the audacity to speak up about it.

Coincidently, he is also the subject of a Senate Ethics complaint because he is still a practicing doctor. Go figure.

(I hope Barry doesn't mind me filling in a little while he's on vacation...)

April 27, 2005

Jamaica blogging

Just wanted to see if I could do it! I'll be here all week. See ya when I get back.

April 25, 2005

Closed for vacation

See y'all soon!

April 23, 2005

Republican filibuster hypocrisy?

A blog called "Hoffmania" tries to demonstrate it, but falls laughably short. He cites seven whole examples of GOP filibusters from the past 70 years, including two by Democrats (Huey Long and Strom Thurmond)!! That's an average of about one GOP filibuster per decade (or about one per 14 years, if you weed out the, you know, Democrats).

This post actually does nothing but reinforce the GOP's contention that the filibuster, once reserved for extreme cases, has now become routine, forcing a 60-vote majority on almost any controversial vote.

Look, let's be clear. There is nothing inherently evil about a filibuster. Majorities hate them and minorities like them, that's just the way it is. And yes, it's to be expected that senators hypocritically change their rhetoric about the practice as the fortunes of their own party shift. But Hoffmania's post, attempting to show that the current state of affairs in the Senate is business as usual, has in fact done the opposite. Go check it out now, before he edits it out of embarrassment (of course I've saved a copy just in case.)

UPDATE: Just to clarify a point about Strom Thurmond, he did indeed run for president in 1948 on the "Dixiecrat" ticket, but he was not a Dixicrat in 1957; he was a Democrat, plain and simple. He was elected to the Senate in 1954 as a write-in candidate, and was re-elected in 1956 after successfully winning the Democratic primary. He remained a Democrat until 1964, when he switched to the Republican party.

Programming note

I'm leaving for Jamaica for a week on Tuesday morning, and I've got about 10 kajillion things to get done between now and then. The upshot is that I probably won't be blogging much for the next couple of days, and probably none at all for the following week. I know it'll be hard to cope without the partcular brand of half-assed news analysis you've become accustomed to here at CN, but it's been a fairly quiet time anyway, so hopefully we'll all survive. See you when I get back!

PS -- I was cleaning up some spam this morning and I may have inadvertently deleted one or two readers' comments from this site. If this happened to you, I apologize. It was unintentional.

April 21, 2005

That was quick

Glenn points out that there's already an anti-Voinovich ad out. Normally I find this type of radio ad cheesy and annoying, but just knowing it's out there did make me feel a little better. Plus, my guess is that it reads better than it sounds, without all the dopey acting. Anyway, it's a dinner conversation I could (almost!) imagine having in my own house:

Wife: Honey, were you watching C-SPAN today? Did you hear how disloyal Senator Voinovich was to Republicans and President Bush? Voinovich stood with the Democrats and refused to vote for John Bolton, the man President Bush has chosen to fight for the United States at the UN

Husband: No, I was streaming it on the Internet at the office, but from what I could tell, Senator Voinovich played hookey from the hearings?

Wife: Yeah that's right. He's missed most of the Bolton confirmation hearings, but then shows up at the last minute and stabs the President and Republicans right in the back.

Husband: That's ridiculous -- the United Nations needs reform, we need someone who will stand up for the United States and fight the UN's corruption and anti-Americanism.

Wife: Shame on Senator Voinovich. After the Democrats smeared Condoleeza Rice for Secretary of State and Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General, how could Voinovich side with the Democrats in smearing John Bolton?

Husband: It seems like Senator Voinovich has become a traitor to the Republican Party.

Wife: Enough's enough. I'm logging on to Move America Forward dot com to register my protest with Senator Voinovich's office.

Well, I guess it would sound slightly different in my house. For one thing, there would be a role reversal:

Me: Honey, were you watching C-SPAN today? Did you hear how disloyal Senator Voinovich was to Republicans and President Bush? Voinovich stood with the Democrats and refused to vote for John Bolton, the man President Bush has chosen to fight for the United States at the UN

Wife: Whatever. Bush is an asshole.

Me: Yeah that's right. He's missed most of the Bolton confirmation hearings, but then shows up at the last minute and stabs the President and Republicans right in the back.

Wife: Honey, please no ranting at the dinner table. I thought that's why you took up blogging in the first place, so you wouldn't torment me with all this crap. Now eat your pasta, it's getting cold.

Me: Shame on Senator Voinovich. After the Democrats smeared Condoleeza Rice for Secretary of State and Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General, how could Voinovich side with the Democrats in smearing John Bolton?

Wife: Jesus, knock it off already! I've had a hard day at work, and I come home and make this nice dinner, and I'd like to enjoy it and relax, and not hear you spew from your soapbox all night!

Me: Enough's enough. I'm logging on to Move America Forward dot com to register my protest with Senator Voinovich's office.

Wife: (storming away from the table) God, just forget it! I'm going to eat in the living room. It's almost time for "The O.C."

Foreign policy goal number one

What do you suppose is the single, overarching principle guiding our current foreign policy these days? The promotion of democracy? Nope. Opposition to tyranny? Guess again. Fighting terror? Where have you been?

The guiding principle of our foreign policy apparatus is simple: Under no circumstances should you ever do or say anything that might potentially offend or embarrass this man:

Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan are two people who failed to appreciate this rule. They were senior investigators in Paul Volcker's committee to investigate the U.N. "Oil for Food" scandal. They have just resigned their positions in protest over the whitewashing of Annan's role in the whole sordid mess. Naifs. What did they think the purpose of the probe was? Were they not properly briefed before signing on?

Another potential casualty of our new global mission statement is, of course, John Bolton. He still harbors the incredibly naive notion that the job of America's ambassador to the U.N. should represent and advocate American policy within the world body rather than simply to lick Kofi Annan's ass. Where do we find these rubes?

Let's be honest. Once you strip away all the ridiculous sideshows, the real core of the opposition to Bolton is because Bolton is an outspoken critic of the United Nations, plain and simple. I, frankly, fail to see the problem with that. In fact, I think it's about goddamn time. Even staunch defenders of the U.N. should recognize that it's in their own best interest for the world body to face up to some tough questions. Burying our collective heads in the sand and ignoring the cesspool of sleaze and corruption that Turtle Bay has become helps no one, least of all the U.N. itself.

Guess what? There are times when you need to be outspoken. I don't want someone who was a shrinking violet in the face of the U.N.'s "Zionism is racism" blood libel! I want someone who called "bullshit!" and got it changed. That's John Bolton. I don't want someone who was a Milquetoast mama's boy in the face of Libya's WMD program. I want someone who stood firm and went to the mat to get them to stand down. That's John Bolton.

I don't want someone who places a higher premium on being "polite" and "diplomatic" than on telling the ugly truths about the "Oil for Food" scandal, or the sexual abuse/pedophilia scandal, or the defining away of the genocide problem in Darfur. This last, far from being an isolated incident, is simply par for the course for the United Nations under the disgraceful tenure of Kofi Annan, persevering in the patterns he established in the Balkans and in Rwanda.

Despite the hand-wringing in some circles, the Bolton nomination appeared to be pretty much on track. Until, of course, we witnessed the sorry spectacle of George Voinovich (RINO - OH), who hadn't bothered to attend the confirmation hearings themselves, suddenly showing up with his panties all in a bunch over some recent "allegations" regarding John Bolton. (One of the more ridiculous charges against Bolton, levied by the founder of "Mothers Opposing Bush," is that Bolton once chased her through the corridors of a Russian hotel.)

Since Voinovich hadn't seen fit to actually, you know, show up for the hearing, Bolton was no longer present to respond to these allegations in person. But with all these "troubling" signs, Voinovich saw no option but to delay the vote, allowing Democrats more time to scrounge up further absurd allegations (expect someone to come forward and testify that John Bolton drove Michael Jackson through the Chuck E. Cheese parking lot so he could cruise pre-pubescent cub scouts or something,) and providing cover for the other girly-men Republicans on the committee to oppose the nomination.


Senator Frist, you've been under a barrage of heavy criticism from your enemies lately. Now is the chance to prove your mettle to your allies. Let me be blunt: If you can't herd these simpering pantywaists together for long enough to deliver a freakin' U.N. ambassadorship, then what the hell value are you to your party?

And Mr. President, it is imperative that you do everything in your power to line your boys up on this. If you need to play hardball, then do it; I know you're capable. And if our side proves to be too late in joining the battle and Bolton gets Borked, you need to make sure the Borkers live to regret it. Deeply. If Bolton gets turboed, nominate Rudy Guiliani. If he doesn't make it, pick Douglas Feith. Hell, if you have to, appoint Michael Savage, or simply leave the post unfilled. I am dead damn serious.

Your enemies will turn this whole sorry fight into a referendum on your foreign policy, and that's a war you cannot afford to lose. Even if you lose the battle over Bolton, you cannot lose the war.


Want lots of hits on your blog? Simply include the words "Ratzinger" and "Nazi."


April 20, 2005

In his own words

Via Dean Esmay, I found a collection of articles written by Cardinal Ratzinger before becoming Pope Ben. I think they make worthwhile reading, especially for those who are concerned he's some kind of hell-roaring extremist.

Tom DeLay is insane

Now look, there are some perfectly valid reasons for criticizing Justice Anthony Kennedy (His name is "Kennedy," for example.) But because he uses the internet? Hell, one of my biggest fears about Supreme Court justices is that they don't use the internet enough, and have an insufficient understanding of networking technologies to render a fair verdict on the Grokster case, for example. It's all too easy to imagine these dudes buying into the entertainment industry-supported fallacy that using a peer-to-peer network is an equivalent act to walking into Tower Music and shoplifting a physical CD off the shelf.

Now normally, when people complain about "activist" judges, they find a sympathetic ear with me. What I find bizarre about DeLay's latest jihad, however, is that it was prompted by the whole Terri Schiavo case, in which I believe the judges' decisions were uncharacteristically non-activist, relying strictly on the letter of the law.

But I digress. This whole Tom DeLay thing is now well past embarrassing. The guy very simply needs to go.

Politics is a tough business, and sometimes a politician acquires so much baggage that he can no longer be effective. I think many of DeLay's problems are legitimate and self-inflicted, and I think many of them are not, but are merely the results of the "Let's get DeLay!" herd mentality.

It doesn't matter to me. I have neither the patience nor the inclination to try to parse out which allegations are legit and which are bogus. The point is, he was sleazy and careless enough to allow an opening for the feeding frenzy to take place. He's outlived his usefulness as a politician, and it's time for him to be cut loose. The GOP needs to set aside their misplaced loyalty and take the attitude, "Fine. You got one. Now let's move on."

That's harsh, I know, but like I said, politics is a tough business.

Our Lady of the Overpass

Some people are seeing the Virgin Mary in this thing.

I guess maybe if you squint, and hold your head at just the right angle...

Nah, looks more like Munch's "Scream" to me. Ah hell, things like this are nothing more than a Rorshach test. People see in it what they want to. Andrew Sullivan would probably see an image of President Bush persecuting homosexuals.

Funny no more?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed.

Through sheer force of habit, I still dutifully check out The Onion first thing every Wednesday morning. Before I'd read this post by Jim Treacher, I'd just made a mental note that today's Onion may well be the most horrifically un-funny thing I've ever read in my life. Christ, Margaret Cho's blog is even funnier than The Onion these days. That's how bad it is. If Joe Piscopo had a blog, there might be at least one item tucked away somewhere that might at least elicit a mild chuckle every once in a while.

Read today's Onion if you haven't already. Is there anything that provoked so much as a smile? Pay particular attention to the "Pope Remembered" photo essay. Since it's a special section, you'd think the writers must have had some inspiration for putting it in there. But no, clearly they didnt. I didn't see one photo in there that wasn't just abysmally, depressingly, mind-numbingly, unfunny. I wasn't offended, mind you, just incredibly bored.


Scalp trading?

It looks like the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has delayed its vote on John Bolton indefinitely, casting the entire nomination in doubt in the process.

I'm wondering whether all this grand theater is really the most efficient way of doing things? Why not simply say "Look, we'll give you guys DeLay if you'll let us have Bolton." Too simple, I suppose. I guess that's why I'll never make it to chairman of the RNC.

Repositioning Sully

I've never delinked another blogger, and if I were to do so I'd probably do it quietly, without making a big deal over it. I have to admit, however, I am sorely tempted to delink Andrew Sullivan after his hysterical meltdown yesterday upon learning that the new pope is, well, you know, Catholic.

That's a fairly small thing in itself, but it's kind of the last straw for a guy who's been steadily pissing me off for more than a year now. His devolution on the war is, of course, at the core of my problems with Sully. It's not just that he's gone squishy -- there are many principled opponents of the war on both sides whom I respect deeply. It's that prior to the war, he was as gung-ho as any one human on this planet. He made Wolfowitz look like Ramsey Clark.

Hell, even I approached the conflict with a deep, gnawing sense of dread in my gut. Sullivan seemed completely unburdened by any such doubt, however, sitting there in P-town, watching Fox News with a flag in one hand and a Zima in the other, shouting "America, fuck yeah!!"

Then, of course, when people started actually getting hurt, the hand-wringing began in earnest, and now he's a full-fledged basket case. At the risk of sounding harsh, Andrew, what the hell did you think war was all about? Drop a few bombs from outer space, no one gets hurt, and everybody loves us, except for Saddam and a few Ba'athists? Maybe next time you'll think a little harder on the sacrifices involved when you support sending our bravest kids halfway around the world to fight and die in a war that you support today but will oppose tomorrow.


Well anyway, I'm not delinking Sully just yet. He still occasionally makes sense, unlike some other fixtures of my blogroll, such as Ted Rall and Oliver Willis.

But he certainly no longer deserves to be at the very top of my blogroll either, so I'm burying him. He's still in there somewhere, if you're intent on finding him, but I won't tell you where. That's kind of the point. And yes, I'm still planning to clean up and organize my blogroll in the very near future, but this adjustment could simply no longer wait.

And the other good thing about this? I don't have to worry that he'll retaliate... because he doesn't have a blogroll!!!


April 19, 2005

Pope Ben

First of all, I didn't have a cardinal in this fight. I vaguely thought it would be kind of cool if the pope were a black dude, but beyond that I didn't really care. I don't have to; it's not my religion.

But the people around me obviously care, some intently. There's a cluster of people here at work, presumably all Catholic (although one of them I know for a fact barely believes in God), who are talking about the new pope, and the mood is funereal. One girl is actually weeping.

Why are they so upset? As near as I can tell, it's because the new guy doesn't share their liberal, Northeastern sensibilities. They're upset because the conclave didn't elect someone who supports birth control, or abortion, or women priests, or gay rights, or a cross dresser, or a Muslim, or Michael Moore, or God knows what.

Reality check, people: None of those things was ever going to happen. None of them. Ever. Let's not pretend that there was any suspense surrounding the outcome here. And guess what? The next pope after this one isn't going to be Hans Kung or Bishop Spong either. If you're really that upset, maybe now would be a good opportunity to ask yourself why you're a Catholic in the first place.

Seriously. Look, people's views and opinions change over time. Mine certainly have, and I have not hesitated to adjust my political and/or religious affiliations accordingly. Why would you continue to self-identify with an organization with which you disagree so vehemently on so many fundamental issues? Yet many self-described Catholics continue to do exactly that. Why? Are they all brainwashed?

Let's imagine for a moment that through the baggage of my upbringing I considered myself to be a Democrat (ha ha!) Let's also imagine that I cried and moaned and beat my breast every time my party nominated a candidate who didn't support the flat tax, or Social Security privatization, or wasn't a member of the NRA. Let's imagine I wept when John Kerry was nominated, and went on Zoloft when Howard Dean took over the DNC. You guys would probably be patient for a while, but eventually you'd grab me by my shoulders, shake me violently, and be like, "Dude! You're not a Democrat!!"

So for all my depressed Catholic friends out there, I have two bits of advice.

First, why not at least consider a different church? You don't have to commit, just investigate. God knows there are tons of Christian churches out there, with such a breathtaking diversity of beliefs that you're almost sure to find one that's a pretty good match for you.

Second, cheer up. I'm sure things could be worse. However terrible this new guy may be, I'm sure he'll never be as bad as Stephen VII, who had the corpse of his predecessor, Pope Formosus, exhumed and placed on trial. The corpse (perhaps not surprisingly) was pronounced "guilty," and the sentence meted out involved severing three of his decaying fingers and tossing his body into the Tiber River.

April 18, 2005

Thank God for Mississippi the E.U.

All right, normally I consider it redundant to link to something that Glenn has already linked to, but today I couldn't resist.

American progressives and socialist wannabes have long idealized Nordic Europe as a sort of socialist Eldorado, where an enlightened government has achieved the perfect balance between a wealthy, thriving economy and a societal safety net that might as well be a hammock.

A story from yesterday's New York Times, however, deflates the myth of Europe's "wealthiest" worker's paradise. The article focuses primarily on Norway, but check out this fascinating tidbit:

...[I]f the E.U. was treated as a single American state, it would rank fifth from the bottom, topping only Arkansas, Montana, West Virginia and Mississippi. In short, while Scandinavians are constantly told how much better they have it than Americans, Timbro's statistics suggest otherwise. So did a paper by a Swedish economics writer, Johan Norberg.

There's also this:

After adjusting the figures for the different purchasing powers of the dollar and euro, the only European country whose economic output per person was greater than the United States average was the tiny tax haven of Luxembourg, which ranked third, just behind Delaware and slightly ahead of Connecticut.

Are you listening, Peace and Moonbeam?

Mmm, cookies...

The Decadent West makes a brilliant foray into recipe blogging. (Don't forget to click on the "modified recipe" link.)

April 16, 2005

BA 0215 update

Annie Jacobsen has penned a piece about the strange events that took place on British Airways flight 0215 recently. It's the 7th installment in her ongoing "Terror in the Skies" series. Thanks to Annie for following up on this story.

Well, so much for not using her as a political tool

Remember the outrage at those heartless, sinister Republicans, who had the gross indecency to use Terri Schiavo as a political issue? Remember the fury over the GOP talking points memo, drafted by one of Mel Martinez' staffers?

Well I hope they reserved some of that outrage for DNC chairman Howard Dean (emphasis mine.)

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Friday that his party would wield the Terri Schiavo case against Republicans in the 2006 and 2008 elections, but for now needed to stay focused battling President Bush on Social Security.

"We're going to use Terri Schiavo later on," Dean said of the brain-damaged Floridian who died last month after her feeding tube was removed amid a swarm of political controversy.

You know, it never fails. Anytime I write something halfway positive about Howard Dean, he promptly makes me regret it. At least when Republicans are crassly cynical and exploitative, they typically have the good sense not to trumpet it proudly in public.

Meanwhile, the lefty bloggers must be positively apopletic that this poor woman is still being wielded as a political cudgel. I'll bet Josh and Kos and Duncan and Oliver are furiously penning scathing anti-Dean pieces even as we speak. I guess we'll be able to read them any minute now.

Any. Minute. Now....

UPDATE: While there is some disagreement over at Democratic Underground, the majority there seem to think Dean's put his foot in it again. It's not a good sign when even the DUers admit he screwed up. Here's a sampling.

SO wish he hadn't said that.

Yup. Really stupid.Didn't anyone learn from the Martinez memo??

Can't see folks taking any more kindly to the Dems politicising a family matter than they did when the Repugs did it.

Not at all helpful, Dr.

I have a lot of respect for Dean, but I have to agree this is sort of a fuckup.

I have defended Howie at every turn, particularly with the DNC chairmanship. At times like this, though, I'm tempted to think the conventional wisdom may be right -- that he's the answer to Karl Rove's prayers.

April 15, 2005

What liberal media, part whatever

Can I just ask a dumb question? How do they know it was fake?

Bush Feigns Sore Shoulder From First Pitch

President Bush feigned a sore shoulder on Friday after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals' baseball game here, a matchup with the Arizona Diamondbacks that marked the national pastime's return to the nation's capital after 34 years.

For the benefit of reporters and photographers standing on the South Lawn, Bush playfully swung his right arm around and grimaced to indicate stiffness as he walked to Marine One on his way to a Social Security event in Ohio.

Dean: Cut the condescension

Howard Dean says Democrats need to stop talking down to voters if they are to be successful. This is the thing I like most about Dean. He speaks unpleasant truths when they need to be spoken.

I know exactly what he's talking about. Hillary Clinton and Al Gore are both extremely intelligent and articulate individuals, and yet I cannot tolerate listening to them deliver a speech that's targeted for consumption by the general public. They sound as if they're speaking to a class of bedwetting preschoolers, and that just drives me insane. It's not merely a matter of poor speaking skills either, because neither of them adopts this patronizing tone when they believe they're speaking for an erudite audience.

Moreover, I'm sick of hearing how Southerners (for example) "don't realize" they're being screwed by voting for Bush. I swear to God, one of the biggest reasons for my voting for Bush was that I was sick of hearing how half the country was "stupid" for foolishly supporting Bush against their own best interests.

The Democrats' core strength has always been their populist message. When they shed that image in exchange for an arrogant elitism, it's a recipe for continued electoral disaster. Howard Dean understands this, but it remains to be seen whether he can bring the party around to his way of thinking.

As regular readers know, I still have something of a soft spot for Howard Dean. I think he is unfairly maligned by most Republicans and even some Democrats as a dangerous fringe figure. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Dean is not some crazed, neo-McGovernite leftist. He's more pragmatic and more centrist than most people give him credit for.

But you know what his problem is? His base, the MoveOn crowd, is a bunch of crazed, neo-McGovernite leftists. They love the guy, but are they going to fall in behind him in his campaign to reach out to voters on the other side of the cultural divide?

It remains to be seen, but the future of the Democratic Party may very well depend on it.

"Oil for Food" mystery solved!

It's all America's fault! Thanks for clearing that up, Kofi.

Annan, addressing a seminar on the United Nations and the media, said most of the money Saddam earned was by oil sold to Jordan and Turkey outside of the $67 billion U.N. program.

Only countries like the United States and Britain had interdiction forces that could have stopped it, he said.

Scaramouche wonders what Annan's reaction would have been had the U.S. actually used military force to intercept Iraqi oil shipments. Yeah, I wonder that too.

You know, I always gave Kofi Annan the benefit of a doubt and simply assumed he was merely incompetent. I think that was too charitable. The man's an ass.

Lethal injection may be painful

Some experts now believe as many as 40% of inmates suffer physical pain from lethal injection. I'm not really sure how they know this, but the solution seems obvious. If we've learned nothing else during the past month, we've learned that starvation is the funnest way to die ever. Just make sure the feedwagon doesn't stop on death row anymore, and in a few weeks they'll all check out in a blaze of ACLU-sanctioned euphoria.

April 13, 2005

"Secular" vs. "Islamist" terror?

I wonder when we can stop pretending that "secular" Arab nationalist terror groups have no connection to radical Islam?

Hamas admits its gunmen shot betrothed woman in 'honour killing'

Hamas has mounted a desperate damage-limitation exercise after one of its units shot dead a 20-year-old Palestinian woman for "immoral behaviour" as she enjoyed a day out with her future husband.
The masked Hamas gunmen shot dead Yusra Azzami as she sat in the front passenger seat of her fiancé's Mitsubishi after they had forced it to stop. They went on to beat up her fiancé, Ziad Zaranda, and his brother, Rami, before escaping in the victims' car. Yusra's terrified sister, Magdalen, who was engaged to Rami, ran away before she too was beaten.

The article goes on to describe much infighting within Hamas over this killing, but note that the controversy is not over "honor killings" per se, but rather whether the gunmen were "mistaken" in their belief that "immoral behavior" was taking place.

NYSE scam prompts a question

Fifteen specialists for the New York Stock Exchange were indicted yesterday for "interpositioning" and "trading ahead," pocketing millions of dollars at the expense of legitimate traders.

Now I have a simple question. In this modern age of computerized everything, why does the NYSE still rely on human beings to match orders? Is there something I'm missing here? Perhaps some hard-core traders can write in and tell me what advantage, if any, this might have over something like the NASDAQ, but my gut tells me that any "advantage" would be to people trying to game the system.

Sharon pressures Bush on Iran

It seems lots of lefties are working themselves all into a lather over this.

In a conversation lasting more than an hour, Mr. Sharon argued that European nations negotiating with Iran were softening their position and may be willing to allow it to hold on to technology to enrich uranium.

American officials said the evidence Mr. Sharon presented, including aerial photographs of sites in Iran, was neither startling nor new to Mr. Bush. But they said the prime minister was clearly pressuring Mr. Bush not to allow the European negotiations with Iran to drag on.

Those scheming Jews, you see, are once again manipulating the United States into another bogus, unnecessary war.

Here's a bit of advice for you folks. There is still time for your vaunted "international community" to deal with this problem, and that's clearly the scenario that Sharon is lobbying for. I would submit that the energies and efforts of liberals and progressives should be spent similarly, pushing the international community to address the issue of a nuclear Iran squarely and firmly, rather than engaging in empty hand-wringing over what the U.S. or Israel might do should the international community drop the ball.

If the U.N. Security Council does deal with the issue head-on, then great, everyone's happy. If, on the other hand, they merely sit around and yammer, as they did in the Balkans and Rwanda, and as they're doing now in Darfur, then don't start complaining if Bush or Sharon feels compelled to order an Osirak-style raid to prevent Iran from acquiring fissile material.

If that were to happen, you complaint would not be with Bush or Israel. Your complaint would be with an international security apparatus that is utterly ineffectual.

For completeness' sake

At first I wasn't even going to post about this, but for anyone who's keeping track of the current trend of liberal gay-baiting, you might want to add this one to the list.

Former President Bill Clinton wasn't about to let just anybody attack his wife -- especially a gay Republican operative.

Clinton fired back yesterday, suggesting that political consultant Arthur Finkelstein, who has launched a "Stop Her Now" campaign, is suffering from "self-loathing."

Finkelstein married his male partner in a civil ceremony in Massachusetts in December, with a few of his conservative clients at the nuptial.

"... He went to Massachusetts and married his longtime male partner and then he comes back here and announces this," Clinton said at a Harlem news conference.

"I thought, one of two things. Either this guy believes his party is not serious, and is totally Machiavellian in his position, or there's some sort of self-loathing there. I was more sad for him."

Bill, did you ever stop to consider a third alternative? That maybe, just maybe, he believes your wife would make a lousy president?

Liberals will no doubt respond that "Heavens no, Clinton said nothing insulting to gays. He's merely pointing out Republican hypocrisy on the issue."

Sorry, but I'm not buying that. Almost none of us agree with every position our candidates hold when we vote. We make choices, balancing the total packages against one another. I'm sure that's as true for Finkelstein as it is anyone else. No doubt he disagrees with his party's position on gay marriage, as do I. But for Finkelstein, just like the rest of us, there are other issues as well. To imply that the only way Finkelstein could honestly oppose Ms. Clinton for president is some psychological pathology is beyond the pale.

Clinton should be ashamed. But, well, we know that's never going to happen.

April 12, 2005

Is Dolly Parton Satanic?

I was probably about fourteen when I first heard the "Satanic" backwards messages on "Stairway to Heaven." I thought it was pretty cool and spooky, but it was also a pain in the ass, because you had to manually spin the turntable backwards, and it was almost impossible to keep it at the right speed.

Well computers make all that stuff easy! So the first time I heard Dolly Parton's cover of "Stairway to Heaven" (don't laugh!) I naturally wondered whether her version would sound spooky played backwards as well (one could perhaps argue that Dolly's version is sufficiently frightening when played forward, but whatever.)

So anyway, you be the judge. Below are the actual lyrics from the song, followed by the lyrics as they have traditionally been interpreted when played backwards. Click on either set of lyrics to hear the audio.

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow
Don't be alarmed now
It's just a spring clean for the May Queen

Yes there are two paths you can go by
but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on

And now the backwards version:

Oh here's to my sweet Satan
The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan
He'll give those with him 666
There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan....

We make stuff up, you decide.

(By the way, what's this business about a "bustle in your hedgerow," anyway? Is that a normal British expression? My British readers? Anyone?)

For more on this subject (I've been sounding like NPR lately), visit Jeff Millner's backmasking site, which I learned about from Son of Nixon.)

Bolton hearings

Did anyone watch the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's John Bolton hearings yesterday? I caught pieces of it on C-SPAN's website, and I must say that for someone who's been repeatedly characterized by the MSM as "blunt," "pugnacious," and "a bull in a China shop," Bolton remained remarkably subdued and composed.

The strategy was clearly to provoke an outburst from Bolton which would provide fence-sitting senators cover to vote against him (one does wonder whether that's really what the framers had in mind with "advise and consent," but, well, there you go.) Ironically, however, Bolton remained unflappable while his inquisitors came across by turns as cranky, belligerent, churlish, irascible, or (in the case of Barbara Boxer) just plain damn loony.

I don't want to count any chickens prematurely, but so far it seems as if the Bolton nomination is in very good shape. For more on the confirmation hearings, check out Dana Milbank's piece in today's Washington Post.

April 10, 2005

BA Flight 0215 update

Thanks to everyone for their continued interest in this story. I wish I could report that I've gotten completely to the bottom of it, but alas, that is not the case.

After initially refusing to comment on the incident, British Airways' official position is now that a passenger requested permission to deboard the plane prior to takeoff, and, in accordance with standard operating procedure, a police officer was sent aboard to escort the passenger off the aircraft.

The problem is that this account seems at odds with both eyewitness testimony as well as the account given by the flight's pilot. My eyewitness saw three police officers board the plane, directed by a flight attendant. These include two heavily armed "S.W.A.T."-style officers as well as a standard, bobby-type cop, also armed. The three policemen entered the cabin with guns drawn and pointed. Two individuals were removed from the plane, and the police then began a thorough search of the lavatories and the rest of the cabin, while the other passengers deplaned.

It's difficult to imagine a scene such as this one transpiring in today's hypersensitive and "profiling"-phobic West, simply because a passenger requested permission to leave the flight. Moreover, recall that in 2003, Tony Blair deployed the military to prevent an attack at Heathrow Airport which he believed imminent, based on intelligence from MI5. Blair was savaged by the British press, and accused of using the "politics of fear" to manipulate public opinion in support of the war in Iraq. Given such recent history, it is doubtful the British government would be engaging in such theatrics unless they were thought absolutely necessary.

Still, the biggest discrepancy comes from the flight's pilot himself. Five hours after its scheduled departure, Flight 0215 left Heathrow with the same flight crew, but aboard a different aircraft. The pilot then announced that he himself had made the call to have the men removed from the flight after the crew had observed them behaving suspiciously. This directly contradicts BA's assertion that the request to deplane originated with the passengers themselves.

Granted, it's still possible that there was nothing more here than an overly cautious flight crew, but it does beg the question of why British Airways feels the need to provide an official account that seems at odds with what actually happened.

In my efforts to get to the bottom of this story, I have solicited help from journalists with much more clout and better credentials than this dumb blog, so with any luck we may eventually get some answers. As I learn them, I will, of course, pass them along.

UPDATE: Thanks to jic for catching the typo.

By the way...

Yes, the self-loathing Americans post below is what I was pissed off about last night. Wasn't really worth the wait, was it? I didn't mean to overhype it, but I was too tired last night to go into further details. :-)

Sensible people should realize that both America and Europe have plenty to recommend them, and plenty of faults as well. I'm particularly envious of Europe's extensive train system, for example. Wouldn't that be cool if we had something like that here? There's a reason Amtrak depends on federal subsidies: Amtrak sucks.

April 09, 2005

Self-loathing Americans

Why do so many people around here feel so compelled to rag on this country at every opportunity? Why is it so damn fashionable to run down the USA, not only on the fronts where we have legitimate shortcomings, but from every angle, on every issue? Now before the usual suspects get offended, I want to be clear that I'm not accusing anyone of "hating America," or (God forbid!) being unpatriotic, because I don't think that's what's at work here. I think it's far more superficial than that, honestly. I don't even think it's about Bush. I think it's an affectation, quite frankly, and I just want to know where it comes from.

Yesterday I was walking my dog in a park here in Hoboken when I struck up a conversation with two lades who were also there with their mutts. All three of us lived in Hoboken, and, as it turned out, we had all lived extensively in Europe in the past. Two of us wanted to go back there -- or claimed to, anyway.

The ladies (and I never caught their names, so I'll just call them... Peace and Moonbeam. Yeah, that'll do) started prattling on about how much better life is in Europe because of affordable health care and generous vacation policies. Well, after 5 years of living in New York City and Hoboken, I'm very accustomed to this kind of prattle, so I said nothing. (Believe it or not, I never start these altercations myself, but I do occasionally finish them.)

But it didn't stop there. Then they went on to bemoan how much better the standard of living is in Europe than here. People can barely afford to live here anymore, they said. Simply having a decent place to live costs many people 50% of their salaries, Peace said. Yes, Moonbeam nodded sadly but wisely, it's true, too bad.

"But wait a minute," I said. "That's specific to this area. It's not representative of the United States as a whole. Furthermore, anyone trying to maintain a residence in Paris or London will quickly find themselves in the same boat."

Weeeeeellllll, but you have the same problem everywhere, Moonbeam said. Besides, you have to live in the city, because the rest of the country is a cesspool of ignorance, racism, and anti-Semitism(!), none of which is a problem in Europe.

"Now wait a minute!" I said. I began to recount some of my own encounters with racism and anti-Semitism when I lived in France. I reminded them of the recent ascension of far-right candidates and parties throughout Europe, LePen's run-off with Chirac, and the growing number of violent crimes against synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. Moonbeam was looking down at the ground, and digging a small hole with the toe of her shoe, "Well, I don't agree," she mumbled.

Weeeellllll, but you have the same problems everywhere, Peace said. (Are you getting the pattern yet? If America has a problem, you're supposed to shake your head mournfully, and assent to Europe's superiority. If Europe has a problem, you're supposed to go, "Weeeellllll, but you have the same problems everywhere.")

I was just beginning to wonder whether either of these women would concede that there was anything at all good about living in America, when Peace made it explicit: "It really sucks here," she said. "Everything is better in Europe."

I was flabbergasted. "Really?" I said. "Everything?"

"I can't think of anything that's not better in Europe, can you?"

I responded with the first thing that popped into my head. "How about double-digit unemployment? Is that better in Europe?"

Peace stared at me silently for a while, presumably considering how best to respond, when Moonbeam rode to the rescue. "Well," she said. "I don't really believe the unemployment numbers the government gives us. I think they're actually much higher."

"Yeah, me too." Peace said, happily. How does one respond? Perhaps one considers it's not worth one's time, and simply takes one's Labrador Retriever back home where one's wife and in-laws are waiting.

My in-laws, who are visiting this week from Switzerland, actually provide an interesting contrast to the girls from the park. They clearly prefer Europe to America, because they have chosen to live there permanently. But

  1. they would never say anything so vapid as "Everything is better in Europe," and
  2. they actually live in Europe! They're not all talk. They've put their money where there mouth is.

At the risk of sounding like a redneck, Peace and Moonbeam really do beg the question: If Europe is so damn great that you can't think of a single advantage to living here, then why are you living here? They couldn't even use the jobs excuse, because one of their pro-Europe arguments was (preposterously) that it was easier for Americans to find decent jobs in Europe than here.

Once again, I'm not accusing my friends from the park of being traitors or America-haters. I think it's all an affectation. I don't really think they even believed half the B.S. they were spewing.

So why is this kind of attitude so faddish? Peace and Moonbeam may have been an extreme example, but it's by no means an isolated occurrence. I've routinely had such encounters since I moved to the city. Where does this compulsion to run down the U.S. come from? Is it some kind of bogus, self-deprecating modesty, along the lines of, "I hate this raggedy old dress," or "My car is a piece of crap?" Is it a pathetic attempt to appear sophisticated? "Open-minded" (although it's difficult to imagine anyone less open-minded than Peace and Moonbeam.) It's hard to write their Europe fetish off to the "grass is greener" phenomenon, because they'd both lived their extensively.

To my liberal readers: Granted, I may not know a single American who "hates America." But I do know a hell of a lot of them who never miss an opportunity to talk this country down, even if what they say is absurd and nonsensical.

My question is simply, why?

I am pissed off!!

I'll vent as soon as I can collect my thoughts.

April 08, 2005

Lookin' for a cheap date?

CNN Money recommends you try Wal-Mart.

But bear in mind, these things always end up costing more than you think. For example, you'll probably end up greasin' this dude's palm to score you a good table in the canteen area. Your gal's not going to be impressed if you end up sitting too close to the cheese nacho machine.

(Hat tip: Jerzy)

Stalled WTC development

Steve Cuozzo has written a depressing piece on the status of the WTC project. Basically it's still a big hole in the ground, with little indication that that's about to change.

Meanwhile, VodkaPundit has posted a redevelopment plan that he likes.

I like it too. When my five-year-old nephew came from North Carolina to visit us in the city, he stood quietly in front of the fence looking down into the pit of Ground Zero for a few moments, then asked, "Why don't they just build them back?"

Perhaps the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. needs more five-year-olds.

A failed pope?

Am I the only one who's annoyed by the growing number of critics (like Andrew Sullivan) who regard JP2's papacy as a "failure" because of decreased church attendance (primarily) in Western Europe?

The subtext is clear. The pope was just too darn "conservative" and "rigid." Had he been more liberal and moved to "modernize" the church, this wouldn't be a problem. Had he merely been enlightened enough to incorporate strippers and lapdances into Catholic liturgy, the church might actually be popular again.

Yeah, I know that only 10% of French people attend mass, but France's long slide into secularism has endured for a century, and I suspect it has much more to do with the evolving mores of the French than with our recently departed pope.

Look, let's just forget for a moment about the enormous role he played in ending Communist tyrrany in Eastern Europe, his struggle to end apartheid, and his efforts to build bridges with the Jewish and Muslim communities. He was the first pope to reach out to the third world in a meaningful way. His tenure at the Vatican has seen explosive growth in the Catholic Church in Africa and South America. Since 1900, for example, Christianity in Africa has experienced a 4,400 percent increase. Doesn't ignoring all that to focus exclusively on the doldrums of the Western church seem a bit... Eurocentric?

Yeah, that's a polite way to put it. I think I'll call it that.

Who'd have thought we'd see this day?

Iraq has a Kurdish president. Jalal Talabani was sworn into the largely ceremonial post yesterday, and is expected to appoint Shi'ite Ibrahim Jaafari prime minister.

No doubt many Sunnis are regretting their ill-conceived strategy to "de-legitimize" Iraqi elections by boycotting them. The boycotters, unfortunately, received much encouragement in this folly from the Western left, who could not stop fretting and wringing their hands about whether an election could be legitimate in the face of a Sunni sit-out.

The attitude all along should have been, "Vote if you want to, and if not, fine, but don't complain about the results afterwards." In the end, the boycott was not terribly effective, but it certainly would have been less so had the Western doomsayers not lent so much credence to the idea.

April 06, 2005


Click here for the unfortunate BBC headline of the day.

(Well actually, it was from two days ago, but I've been slow lately)

Hat tip: Garfield Ridge

Trust funds and lockboxes: They still don't get it

Many critics of Bush's Social Security plan still lack a basic understanding of the principles involved (and yes, I'm talking about you, Josh Marshall, although there are many others as well.) All they understand is that the plan comes from the Bush White House, so it must be bad, and they are going to oppose it with any argument that's handy, even if said arguments are fallacious or self-contradictory.

In today's post, Marshall has great fun mischaracterizing the "conservative" position that all government bonds are "worthless pieces of paper." Do a quick search through his post, and you'll find variations on such high wit repeated about a gajillion times.

That's a grievous distortion of Bush's position, of course. Let's be clear: treasury bonds are not worthless paper. They represent an extremely sound investment option for you, me, or the Chinese government. Nevertheless, it's senseless for the government (or any other entity) to "invest" in its own debt instruments.

Sure, we've all done it from time to time -- borrowed twenty bucks from the cookie jar and replaced it with a note promising to pay it back. There's nothing wrong with that per se, unless and until you start regarding this practice as an "investment." Then if you begin doing it systematically, on a regular basis, as a plan to "save" for the future, well, you're just nuts... or Josh Marshall.

Make no mistake, this is not about whether or not the government will default on these obligations. The point is much more fundamental than that. When the borrower and the lender are the same entity, it's still a dumb idea, whether the borrower defaults or not.

Josh Marshall, as a status quo liberal, thinks investing payroll taxes in government bonds is just fine. He's entitled to that opinion, of course. But astonishingly, he ends the piece by championing Al Gore's "lockbox" idea!

Do you understand what Al Gore was talking about now with the 'lockbox'?

Yeah, exactly.

Uh, Josh? Al Gore pushed for a lockbox precisely to avoid the current bond-financed system. He understood that the FICA surpluses were being diverted into general revenues as fast as they came in and he understood that this posed a serious threat to the system's long-term solvency.


I certainly sympathize with the view of Gore and others, that the real problem is Congress' systematic "raiding" of the Social Security trust fun, but I do have a small problem with the term "raid." More precisely, Social Security gives Congress the money and says, "Here, spend this. Just pay us back later, okay?" That's sort of what it means to purchase a Treasury bond.


Al Gore wanted to amend the current system, although he offered few details as to how the funds in his lockbox would be invested. President Bush has a specific (if partial) remedy for these problems, but the majority of the public seems to oppose his plan. That would be fine, except that there is abundant evidence that most people don't even understand the details of our present system and its fundamental problems. Frankly, it's hard to see how the system can ever be fixed so long as there is such widespread misunderstanding concerning the basics -- even on the part of people who should be smart enough to know better (*cough*Josh Marshall*cough*)

Count every vote?

Once again this year, the real voter disenfranchisement story is the U.S. military.

The votes of at least 1 in 4 U.S. soldiers and overseas voters in last fall's election never were counted.
This disenfranchisement rate was a bit better than that of the 2000 presidential election, where widespread voting and mail glitches left about 29 percent of the ballots uncounted.

Remember this the next time you hear Barbara Boxer or Jesse Jackson caterwauling that people were "disenfranchised" because they had to wait in a long line, or were felons, or failed to present the proper ID.

April 05, 2005

Memories of JP2

I can be a heartless bastard at times, but I read something on my way to work yesterday morning which made me tear up. The New York Post had a collection of readers' memories of John Paul II, and this one, from Tony DiGiacomo, jumped out at me.

I was a hell-raiser at school and my principal -- a nun -- said I would be "in purgatory" for a millennium if I didn't get "redeemed." So, in 1980 when the pope was at Madison Square Garden, I was ushered up to get a blessing.

I whispered to him what my nun had said and he hooted with laughter and said, "You're a good boy. God loves you. Do not fear!" I treasure this memory always.


More server log strangeness

You never know what you're going to find. In a web search for "gay dwarfs having sex", this humble site comes up third.

I am so proud....

NPR needs some flava

Eric Deggans thinks it's way too white.

A creative blogger might offer us a conceptual glimpse into what a more "diverse" NPR might look like, complete, perhaps, with "An Urban Home Companion." I, however, am not venturing into those waters. Iowahawk?

BA 0215 update

Still scant new information about this. I'm now told the security team was called in by the pilot after the crew noticed the men behaving suspiciously. Several of us continue to follow the story, and if I learn more I will certainly post it. Meanwhile, we can hope it was merely a case of an overly cautious pilot.

April 04, 2005

New York Times, then and now

Via The Weekly Standard, we see two very different viewpoints concerning the tactic of filibustering by Senate minorites -- both from the New York Times:

A January 1, 1995, Times editorial on proposals to restrict the use of Senate filibusters:

In the last session of Congress, the Republican minority invoked an endless string of filibusters to frustrate the will of the majority. This relentless abuse of a time-honored Senate tradition so disgusted Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa, that he is now willing to forgo easy retribution and drastically limit the filibuster. Hooray for him. . . . Once a rarely used tactic reserved for issues on which senators held passionate views, the filibuster has become the tool of the sore loser, . . . an archaic rule that frustrates democracy and serves no useful purpose.

A March 6, 2005, Times editorial on the same subject:

The Republicans are claiming that 51 votes should be enough to win confirmation of the White House's judicial nominees. This flies in the face of Senate history. . . . To block the nominees, the Democrats' weapon of choice has been the filibuster, a time-honored Senate procedure that prevents a bare majority of senators from running roughshod. . . . The Bush administration likes to call itself "conservative," but there is nothing conservative about endangering one of the great institutions of American democracy, the United States Senate, for the sake of an ideological crusade.

It would be understandable, if hypocritical, for a given senator's opinion of the filibuster to vary as a function of his party's political fortune, but when the "newspaper of record" performs such an about-face, it just goes to show how strongly they have become identified with the Democratic Party.

(Hat tip: mal)

Consumption tax?

George Will takes us on a tour of Rep. John Linder's (R-GA) new proposal for scrapping the current tax code and replacing it with a national consumption tax.

His bill would abolish the IRS and the many billions of tax forms it sends out and receives. He would erase the federal income-tax system -- personal and corporate income taxes, the regressive payroll tax and self-employment tax, capital-gains, gift and estate taxes, the alternative minimum tax and the earned income tax credit -- and replace all that with a 23 percent national sales tax on personal consumption.

If you're like me, you might've just experienced a fifteen-minute, toe-curling orgasm after reading that paragraph, so I'll give you a moment to regroup. Care for a cigarette? Okay, let's move on.

Linder plans to add an element of progressivity by instituting a universal rebate program to ease the tax burden on low-income earners. Moreover, he argues that such a tax structure would have salubrious effects on the economy.

Furthermore, by ending payroll and corporate taxes, America would become the only nation selling goods with no tax component -- such as Europe's value added tax -- in their prices. With no taxes on capital and labor, multinationals would, Linder thinks, stampede to locate here, which would be an incentive for other nations to emulate America. "This," Linder says, "would unleash freedom around the globe."

So where's the downside? I can think of two things.

First, any bill remotely resembling Linder's will encounter fierce opposition by some very powerful and well-connected foes: not only tax lawyers and accountants, but the politicians themselves, who have come to rely on our current tax code as their primary tool for bestowing government largesse on their favored constituents. Don't expect the recipients of said largesse to go quietly either.

Secondly, there is a huge political obstacle as well. No matter how generous the rebate system, the sad reality is that many people today place a higher premium on punishing the wealthy than on being fair to the poor. Anything that looks, on paper, like a further tax cut on the wealthy is going to be a tough sell. Nevermind that the current top marginal rate of 27% is completely theoretical, given the amount of loopholes and deductions that a good tax lawyer can find for a wealthy client. A move to replace it with a 23% sales tax will be easy for the bill's opponents to demagogue.

Still, one can dream, I suppose. And we can always hope that Linder's bill can at least provide a starting point for a national dialog on reforming our present, chaotic tax structure.

First new pope of the Internet Age

It's remarkable that throughout Christianity's two thousand year history only two popes have served longer than John Paul II, and that's if you count the apostle Peter. The world is a very different place from the last time we elected a pope. Much of the centuries-old rituals surrounding the transition remain intact, such as tapping the deceased pope's head three times with a golden hammer, and removing and destroying the Fisherman's Ring.

Still, it will be interesting to see how much of the inner political machinations and backstabbing we will be privy to before the final white puff of smoke goes up, and it is announced that God has chosen a new successor.

Rest assured, the politics is going on already, and probably has been for some time. Remember Francis Arinze, the Nigerian cardinal and possible "first black pope," about whom there was so much media buzz recently? It seems that he's now all but dropped off the radar screen. One wonders whether he's been sidelined already.

In any case, the whole process will be fascinating, and with any luck, the tools of the modern communication era will give us a better glimpse of it than we've ever had before.


Brother-in-law arrived safely at Logan airport last night, albeit five hours late. Last night I reported how his plane was stormed before takeoff at London's Heathrow airport by heavily armed agents who forcibly removed several passengers of Middle Eastern descent.

There is still no mention of this incident in the media. With any luck, it will prove to have been a "false alarm," at least inasmuch as no specific, credible plot was uncovered. Still, one might think such an event would merit at least a mention in the local press, even in a pope-dominated news cycle.

It leads me to wonder how frequently events like this occur that we never hear about. If I learn more, I will, of course, pass it along.

April 03, 2005

Terror scare in London?

This hasn't hit the news yet, but my brother-in-law is sitting on a plane in Heathrow Airport as we speak, and there is apparently some action going on. It seems his plane was stormed by agents with machine guns, who seized a Middle Eastern passenger from my brother-in-law's row and removed him from the plane.

This is happening as I type this. The wonders of modern technology. More to follow, no doubt....

UPDATE: The flight in question is British Airways flight 0215, from London to Boston.

UPDATE: Multiple passengers were removed from the plane by force. My brother-in-law is now off the plane as well, but he has been herded into some special area at Heathrow....

UPDATE: According to the BA website, the flight will be experiencing an "estimated" two-hour delay.... make that four....

According to the BA website, it looks like the plane finally took off, 5 hours and 1 minute late....

UPDATE: BA's not talking about it. They've given out a press contact number: (347) 418-4729 -- if anyone with press creds wants to take a shot at it. Something tells me the official statement, if any, won't be especially informative, however. (Hat tip: Janet)

April 02, 2005

A belated congratulations...

...to Paul Wolfowitz, for his confirmation as president of the World Bank.

Wolfowitz's appointment sparked much liberal ire because Wolfowitz had committed the unpardonable sin of wanting to bring democracy to the Middle East.

Now exactly why this should render him unfit for duty at the World Bank was unclear to me. It seems it was unclear to the World Bank as well. The board's vote was unanimous.

Goodbye, John Paul II

Needless to say, I disagreed with the pope on a goodly number of issues pertaining to religion. But guess what? That's why I'm not Catholic. His views on contraception or abortion simply didn't impact me. He forced no one to belong to his church, so I couldn't begrudge his running it the way he saw fit (BTW, for all the Catholics out there, I know I'm probably being terribly heretical by referring to the Catholic church as "his" church and all that, but, theology aside, that's kind of how it looks to an outsider.)

But at the end of the day, he was much, much more than simply the leader of a faith to which I don't belong. He was a citizen of the world as well as of the Kingdom of God, and he's made an impact here on this planet far greater than all but a handful of men have ever done. As much as any one individual, John Paul II was responsible for the collapse of the global communist empire. That is a gift, a legacy, for which all freedom-loving people should be thankful, regardless of their faith (or lack thereof.)

I saw him once, nearly twenty years ago. It was a beautiful September day on the "Horseshoe" of the University of South Carolina. Classes were cancelled, and we waited for him there on the grass for many hours, and the atmosphere was much more Woodstock-like than one might expect for the occasion: semi-naked chicks, boom boxes, and dudes with tie-dyed shirts playing Hackey Sack.

I remember that I almost didn't go, but I can't now remember why. Something stupid, no doubt. But I went, in the end. I was there, I saw the pope, and it was an experience I won't forget. "It is wonderful to be young," he ended his speech. "It is wonderful to be a student at the University of South Carolina."

Well yeah, it was. And you played no small role in that.

Good Bye.

Women's hair care question

Can some woman out there explain "highlights" to me?

The way it seems to work around here is that you pay $300 to go sit in a chair for three hours while they put stinky stuff on your head, and the measure of a "successful" job is when you can't tell they've done anything.


April 01, 2005

I object to this headline

Pope closer to death as world's Catholics pray

It ain't just the Catholics, buddy.

It ain't just the Catholics.

Finally, he makes sense

This could explain a lot.