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August 31, 2005


I hope all my regular commenters on this site stick to their best behavior. It looks like I can be sued for stuff they write!

In a legal case being watched closely by bloggers, an Internet company has sued the owner of a Web log for comments posted to his site by readers.

Traffic-Power.com sued Aaron Wall, who maintains a blog on search engine optimization -- tactics companies use to get themselves to appear higher in searches at Google, Yahoo and elsewhere -- alleging defamation and publication of trade secrets. The suit, filed in a Nevada state court earlier this month, also listed as defendants several unnamed users of the blog.

At issue are statements posted in the comments section of Mr. Wall's blog, SEOBook.com. Many blogs allow readers to post comments, often anonymously, and Mr. Wall's blog included several reader submissions that blasted tools sold by Traffic-Power.com.

Traffic-Power.com said in the suit that confidential information about the company has been published on the blog, and it accused Mr. Wall of publishing "false and defamatory information," but it didn't identify any of the material in question.

A helpful reminder from Chris Hitchens

...in the current Weekly Standard. My favorite bit:

A broken Iraq was in our future no matter what, and was a responsibility (somewhat conditioned by our past blunders) that no decent person could shirk. The only unthinkable policy was one of abstention.
Two pieces of good fortune still attend those of us who go out on the road for this urgent and worthy cause. The first is contingent: There are an astounding number of plain frauds and charlatans (to phrase it at its highest) in charge of the propaganda of the other side. Just to tell off the names is to frighten children more than Saki ever could: Michael Moore, George Galloway, Jacques Chirac, Tim Robbins, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson . . . a roster of gargoyles that would send Ripley himself into early retirement. Some of these characters are flippant, and make heavy jokes about Halliburton, and some disdain to conceal their sympathy for the opposite side. So that's easy enough.

The second bit of luck is a certain fiber displayed by a huge number of anonymous Americans. Faced with a constant drizzle of bad news and purposely demoralizing commentary, millions of people stick out their jaws and hang tight. I am no fan of populism, but I surmise that these citizens are clear on the main point: It is out of the question--plainly and absolutely out of the question--that we should surrender the keystone state of the Middle East to a rotten, murderous alliance between Baathists and bin Ladenists. When they hear the fatuous insinuation that this alliance has only been created by the resistance to it, voters know in their intestines that those who say so are soft on crime and soft on fascism. The more temperate anti-warriors, such as Mark Danner and Harold Meyerson, like to employ the term "a war of choice." One should have no problem in accepting this concept. As they cannot and do not deny, there was going to be another round with Saddam Hussein no matter what. To whom, then, should the "choice" of time and place have fallen? The clear implication of the antichoice faction--if I may so dub them--is that this decision should have been left up to Saddam Hussein.

Public service announcement

Those who are rushing to assign political blame in the wake of Katrina, even as the greatest natural disaster in American history is still unfolding, are low-life assholes.

Thank you, that is all.

August 30, 2005

Something positive

There's not much good news tonight, but it did do me some good to read this. It's the "free stuff" area of New Orleans' craigslist. Most poignant to me were the offers of free housing to victims of Katrina.

Some longish posts I'd been working on are on hold for now, needless to say. Such stuff seems pretty unimportant right now, as I'm watching one of my favorite cities get buried under muddy water. For those who wish to help out, Glenn has a nice roundup of ways you can contribute. Also, don't make the mistake I made in the wake of the Indonesian tsunami. In my haste to contribute, I forgot that my company offers matching funds for such donations. It's worth checking whether your company matches such gifts as well.

All stick and no carrot

True to my word, I barely glanced at a newspaper during my recent two-week vacation. I did, however, happen to catch some of the images from the forcible removal of Israeli settlers from Gaza.

Whatever you may think about the pullout (I'm personally torn) you'd have to admit that it was a bold move. Sharon expended an enormous (and likely fatal) amount of political capital to effect this extraordinary de-occupation.

Let's face it, if this forcible removal had been done to anyone other than Israelis it would be called "ethnic cleansing." So you would think, after all the angst and heartache and the upheaval of thousands of lives, that Israel, the big bad "occupier," would at least get a pat on the back or two, right? Maybe a "nice first step," or at least a qualified "attaboy" from its critics?

Guess not. The New York Times editorial on the subject (which I cannot link, as its already been archived and costs money) was little more than a carping bitch piece about how the Gaza pullout was wholly inadequate, and Israel needed to do much, much more.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if Israel simply said, "Fuck it, we're tired of the hassle. We're going back to 1967 borders." What would the Israel-bashers find to complain about then? Most likely, they would begin to address the issue of Israel's very existence directly. At least then we'd get more honesty than we're accustomed to from the anti-Zionists.

Stuck in my head

That high black water, she's the Devil's daughter,
She's hard and she's cold and she's mean.
But we finally taught her that it takes a lot of water
To wash away New Orleans
That's a stanza from a fairly obscure country song from the 1980's about a hurricane hitting the Crescent City. Let's hope we don't find out exactly how much water it takes....

August 29, 2005

Bolton Speaks Out

While the US media was focused on the Cindy Sheehan saga, John Bolton was getting down to business at the UN:

"Funding this kind of activity is inappropriate and unacceptable"

"We plan to raise the issue with UNDP and with others".

John Bolton, the controversial new American ambassador to the United Nations, has lodged a protest about its "inappropriate and unacceptable" funding of a Palestinian propaganda campaign to accompany the Gaza withdrawal.

Jewish groups reacted with fury to banners, mugs, bumper stickers and T-shirts bearing the slogan "Today Gaza, Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem" which bore the UN Development Programme logo.

Israelis view the slogan, and particularly the reference to Jerusalem, as an aspiration to destroy the Jewish state.

The dispute became more acrimonious when the UNDP appeared to state that, while it was improper to use the logo, there was nothing wrong with its money being used to produce what has been denounced as incitement.

Kemal Dervis, a UNDP official, responded to a complaint from the American Jewish Congress by saying that the UNDP "cannot be involved in political messaging" and it was "not at all acceptable" that its logo was used.

Yet Timothy Rothermel, head of the organisation's Palestinian programme, was quoted on Fox News, the American cable channel, as saying that the slogan was "consistent with the relevant UN resolutions and Security Council resolutions about the status of Palestine".

UNDP officials argue that the Palestinian Authority has the freedom to use the UN money without each element being reviewed by the world body.

August 27, 2005


Looks like my hosting company royally effed up Cynical Nation while I was gone. Almost none of the CGI scripts were working when I got back in tonight, and I'm not sure how long it's been that way. Anyway, I think everything should be working now. Sorry about that.

And thanks to CRB for keeping this place alive during my absence. I'm still getting settled in, but as soon as I'm caught up, I'll be back at full force. I have a lot to say. :-)

August 22, 2005

A Stem Cell Solution?

How can you get new stem cells without killing embryos? Harvard scientists may now have an answer...

Scientists for the first time have turned ordinary skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells - without having to use human eggs or make human embryos in the process, as has previously been required, a Harvard research team announced yesterday.

The new technique uses laboratory-grown human embryonic stem cells - such as the ones President Bush has already approved for use by federally financed researchers - to "reprogram" the genes in a person's skin cell, turning that skin cell into an embryonic stem cell itself.

Moreover, since the stem cells made this way are essentially rejuvenated versions of a person's own skin cells, the DNA in those new stem cells matches the DNA of the person who provided the skin cells. In theory at least, that means any tissues grown from those newly minted stem cells could be transplanted into the person to treat a disease without much risk that they would be rejected, since they would constitute an exact genetic match.

Great news indeed.

A Father Speaks

Belated, but worth repeating anyway.

She Does Not Speak for Me

My son died in Iraq--and it was not in vain.

Thursday, August 18, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

I lost a son in Iraq and Cindy Sheehan does not speak for me.

I grieve with Mrs. Sheehan, for all too well I know the full measure of the agony she is forever going to endure. I honor her son for his service and sacrifice. However, I abhor all that she represents and those who would cast her as the symbol for parents of our fallen soldiers.

The fallen heroes, until now, have enjoyed virtually no individuality. They have been treated as a monolith, a mere number. Now Mrs. Sheehan, with adept public relations tactics, has succeeded in elevating herself above the rest of us. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida declared that Mrs. Sheehan is now the symbol for all parents who have lost children in Iraq. Sorry, senator. Not for me.

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times portrays Mrs. Sheehan as a distraught mom standing heroically outside the guarded gates of the most powerful and inhumane man on earth, President Bush. Ms. Dowd is so moved by Mrs. Sheehan's plight that she bestowed upon her and all grieving parents the title of "absolute moral authority." That characterization epitomizes the arrogance and condescension of anyone who would presume to understand and speak for all of us. How can we all possess "absolute moral authority" when we hold so many different perspectives?

I don't want that title. I haven't earned that title.

Although we all walk the same sad road of sorrow and agony, we walk it as individuals with all the refreshing uniqueness of our own thoughts shaped in large measure by the life and death of our own fallen hero. Over the past few days I have reached out to other parents and loved ones of fallen heroes in an attempt to find out their reactions to all the attention Mrs. Sheehan has attracted. What emerges from those conversations is an empathy for Mrs. Sheehan's suffering but a fundamental disagreement with her politics.

Ann and Dale Hampton lost their only child, Capt. Kimberly Hampton, on Jan. 2, 2004, while she was flying her Kiowa helicopter. She was a member of the 82nd Airborne and the company commander. She had already served in Afghanistan before being deployed to Iraq. Ann Hampton wrote, "My grief sometimes seems unbearable, but I cannot add the additional baggage of anger. Mrs. Sheehan has every right to protest . . . but I cannot do that. I would be protesting the very thing that Kimberly believed in and died for."

Marine Capt. Benjamin Sammis was Stacey Sammis's husband. Ben died on April 4, 2003, while flying his Super Cobra helicopter. Listen to Stacey and she will tell you that she is just beginning to understand the enormousness of the character of soldiers who knowingly put their lives at risk to defend our country. She will tell you that one of her deepest regrets is that the world did not have the honor of experiencing for a much longer time this outstanding Marine she so deeply loved.

Speak to Joan Curtin, whose son, Cpl. Michael Curtin, was an infantryman with the 2-7th 3rd ID, and her words are passionately ambivalent. She says she has no room for bitterness. She has a life to lead and a family to nurture. She spoke of that part of her that never heals, for that is where Michael resides. She can go on, always knowing there will be that pain.

Karen Long is the mother of Spc. Zachariah Long, who died with my son Kyle on May 30, 2003. Zack and Kyle were inseparable friends as only soldiers can be, and Karen and I have become inseparable friends since their deaths. Karen's view is that what Mrs. Sheehan is doing she has every right to do, but she is dishonoring all soldiers, including Karen's son, Zack. Karen cannot comprehend why Mrs. Sheehan cannot seem to come to grips with the idea that her own son, Casey, was a soldier like Zack who had a mission to complete. Karen will tell you over and over again that Zack is not here and no one, but no one will dishonor her son.

My wife, Robin, has a different take on Mrs. Sheehan. She told me, "I don't care what she says or does. She is no more important than any other mother."

By all accounts Spc. Casey Sheehan, Mrs. Sheehan's son, was a soldier by choice and by the strength of his character. I did not have the honor of knowing him, but I have read that he attended community college for three years and then chose to join the Army. In August 2003, five months into Operation Iraqi Freedom and after three years of service, Casey Sheehan re-enlisted in the Army with the full knowledge there was a war going on, and with the high probability he would be assigned to a combat area. Mrs. Sheehan frequently speaks of her son in religious terms, even saying that she thought that some day Casey would be a priest. Like so many of the individuals who have given their lives in service to our country, Casey was a very special young man. How do you decry that which someone has chosen to do with his life? How does a mother dishonor the sacrifice of her own son?

Mrs. Sheehan has become the poster child for all the negativity surrounding the war in Iraq. In a way it heartens me to have all this attention paid to her, because that means others in her position now have the chance to be heard. Give equal time to other loved ones of fallen heroes. Feel the intensity of their love, their pride and the sorrow.

To many loved ones, there are few if any "what ifs." They, like their fallen heroes before them, live in the world as it is and not what it was or could have been. Think of the sacrifices that have brought us to this day. We as a country made a collective decision. We must now live up to our decision and not deviate until the mission is complete.

Thirty-five years ago, a president faced a similar dilemma in Vietnam. He gave in and we got "peace with honor." To this day, I am still searching for that honor. Today, those who defend our freedom every day do so as volunteers with a clear and certain purpose. Today, they have in their commander in chief someone who will not allow us to sink into self-pity. I will not allow him to. The amazing part about talking to the people left behind is that I did not want them to stop. After speaking to so many I have come away with the certainty of their conviction that in a large measure it's because of the deeds and sacrifices of their fallen heroes that this is a better and safer world we now live in.

Those who lost their lives believed in the mission. To honor their memory, and because it's right, we must believe in the mission, too.

We refuse to allow Cindy Sheehan to speak for all of us. Instead, we ask you to learn the individual stories. They are glorious. Honor their memories.

Honor their service. Never dishonor them by giving in. They never did.

Mr. Griffin is the father of Spc. Kyle Andrew Griffin, a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star, who was killed in a truck accident on a road between Mosul and Tikrit on May 30, 2003.

August 19, 2005

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Add me to the list of those who think this plan is a dumb idea:

Lions stalking deer in the stubble of a Nebraska corn field. Elephants trumpeting across Colorado's high plains. Cheetah slouching through the West Texas scrub.

Prominent ecologists are floating an audacious plan that sounds like a "Jumanji" sequel -- transplant African wildlife to the Great Plains of North America.

The authors contend it could help save Africa's poster species from extinction, where protection is spotty and habitat is vanishing.

They also believe the relocated animals could restore biodiversity on this continent to a condition closer to what nature was like before humans overran the landscape.

Yes, how dare us humans "overrun the landscape". If at this point common sense isn't enough to convince you, read on:

Scientists point to Australia, which was overrun by rabbits and poisonous cane toads after misguided species relocations.

"It is not restoration to introduce animals that were never here," said University of Washington anthropologist Donald K. Grayson. "Why introduce Old World camels and lions when there are North American species that could benefit from the same kind of effort?"

Still not convinced? Keep reading:

Given the continuing political struggle over the reintroduction of wolves in the rural West, others wonder how African lions would be at home on the range.

"How many calves or lambs would it take to feed a family of lions for a month?" said Steve Pilcher, executive vice president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. "We sort of know what it takes for wolves, but something tells me we would be in a whole new ballgame."

All at taxpayers expense, no doubt.

August 16, 2005


Q: Why is the price of oil shooting upwards when there is no supply shortage?

A: Speculators.

Developments in the Middle East have also helped to push prices up. Iran's defiant stance on nuclear power has raised the spectre, however remote, of military action. King Abdullah, the new Saudi monarch, is not known as a price hawk. But observers worry that his accession has come at such a politically precarious time that he may favour higher prices, to give him cash to buy off dissent. This view was reinforced by news this week that America shut its diplomatic offices in the country briefly, because of threats of terrorist attack.

All this feeds what may be the biggest force moving the oil price: speculation. On one estimate, $22 billion of net new investment has entered the oil futures market this year, $8 billion of it flooding in since the end of June. As a result, forward prices have risen by even more than spot prices.

August 14, 2005

The Complex War in Iraq

Two current examples of the ever-shifting nature of the Iraq War.

Inside Iran's Secret War for Iraq

The U.S. Military's new nemesis in Iraq is named Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani, and he is not a Baathist or a member of al-Qaeda. He is working for Iran. According to a U.S. military-intelligence document obtained by TIME, al-Sheibani heads a network of insurgents created by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps with the express purpose of committing violence against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. Over the past eight months, his group has introduced a new breed of roadside bomb more lethal than any seen before; based on a design from the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia Hizballah, the weapon employs "shaped" explosive charges that can punch through a battle tank's armor like a fist through the wall. According to the document, the U.S. believes al-Sheibani's team consists of 280 members, divided into 17 bombmaking teams and death squads. The U.S. believes they train in Lebanon, in Baghdad's predominantly Shi'ite Sadr City district and "in another country" and have detonated at least 37 bombs against U.S. forces this year in Baghdad alone.

Sunnis rally to defend Shiites

Rising up against insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraqi Sunni Muslims in Ramadi fought with grenade launchers and automatic weapons yesterday to defend their Shiite neighbors against a bid to drive them from the western city, Sunni leaders and Shiite residents said.

Dozens of Sunni members of the Dulaimi tribe established cordons around Shiite homes, and Sunni men battled followers of Zarqawi, a Jordanian, for an hour yesterday morning. The clashes killed five of Zarqawi's guerrillas and two tribal fighters, residents and hospital workers said. Zarqawi loyalists pulled out of two contested neighborhoods in pickup trucks stripped of license plates, witnesses said.

The leaders of four of Iraq's Sunni tribes had rallied their fighters in response to warnings posted in mosques by followers of Zarqawi that ordered Ramadi's roughly 3,000 Shiites to leave the city of more than 200,000 in the area called the Sunni Triangle. The order to leave within 48 hours came in retaliation for alleged expulsions by Shiite militias of Sunnis living in predominantly Shiite southern Iraq.

"We have had enough of his nonsense," said Sheik Ahmad Khanjar, leader of the Albu Ali clan. "We don't accept that a non-Iraqi should try to enforce his control over Iraqis, regardless of their sect - whether Sunnis, Shiites, Arabs or Kurds."

August 12, 2005


Like many of my fellow bloggers, I also write some fiction -- you know, stuff I actually edit and revise and think about for more than half a second before I dash it off. I often try to justify the daily discipline of blogging as keeping me "limber" and in the habit of writing. The truth is, I sometimes think it's actually more of a distraction than anything else.

But I'll leave that as an open question. I merely bring it up because once a year during the summer I usually try to get away from everything and focus on producing something a little less ephemeral (cool "writer" word, huh?) Long story short, I'm going to Maine for two weeks, starting today. That probably means I won't be posting here, but CRB (hopefully) may.

Take care, all. See y'all when I get back.



Blowing the lid off a scandal

I hate Radio Shack. In fact, I was going to title this post "I hate Radio Shack," but then I realized I was onto something much larger here. So before I blow the lid off this huge scandal, I'll provide the background. (If you're impatient, please feel free to skip the next few paragraphs about Radio Shack.)

But anyway, what started it was buying a cassette recorder for my wife. In the town where I work, Radio Shack is sort of the only game in town for buying such things, and I was really too lazy to go into the city and too impatient to use mail order. I already disliked Radio Shack because of their inferior products and their pushy sales people, but convenience won out. I bought a recorder there.

It sucked. It worked for a day or so and then quit. I took it back and got a replacement. That one sucked too. I finally gave up on that model and went for the more expensive one. Mind you, my vintage Radio Shack cassette recorder from 1972, with its enormous white plastic buttons the size of piano keys, would have worked just fine for what she wanted, but they don't sell anything so simple anymore. Everything has a jillion different hi-tech features like voice activation and speed garbling that

  1. I don't give a shit about, and
  2. don't work

But again, I didn't have many options, so I took the more expensive model. Unfortunately, it was a couple of weeks before my wife got around to trying it out, and guess what? This one didn't work at all.

So screw it, I'm going to Best Buy at this point, but I did decide to try to get my money back from Radio Shack.

But then, guess what? I finally dug the receipt out of my wallet... and it's illegible. Practically all the ink had worn off. I could tell from the back of the receipt that it was from Radio Shack, but beyond that I couldn't tell a damn thing. Check it out.

I hadn't had the receipt in my wallet that long. I've kept other things -- ticket stubs, coupons, magazine clippings -- much longer, and they're still legible. So why did this receipt just go poof and disappear?

It wasn't just that one, either! Check out this receipt I pulled out of my wallet from Barnes & Noble:

Even though it's hard to make out from this photo, I was finally able to discern the name of the store on this one, although it's impossible to decipher what I actually bought.

And this one's my all-time favorite. I can tell it used to be a receipt at some point, but now it looks for all intent and purposes like a blank piece of paper:

Wake up, people! Stores are giving us receipts written in disappearing ink! Don't stand for it anymore! And until we do get things changed, perhaps you'd better save those receipts in hermetically sealed little envelopes, like the kind they have for philatelists.

Ha ha

Birmingham is more liberal than New York, according to a study by this group.

All I'm going to say about Cindy Sheehan

This is all I'm going to say about the grotesque political spectacle surrounding Cindy Sheehan. You can excuse a lot in the name of grief, and I will not sit in judgment of Ms. Sheehan for her actions. But I will, however, judge those professional grievance-mongers and partisan activists who have leeched onto her and are exploiting her grief to forward their own political agendas. I judge them very harshly.


Why does everything have to taste and smell good these days? Am I the only one who still wished Listerine tasted like, well, Listerine? If I'd wanted to buy Scope, I'd have bought Scope. And what's wrong with Off smelling like insect repellent instead of baby powder?!

August 11, 2005

Standing up to NARAL

I'll be a bit more blunt (but only a bit) than FactCheck.org and say that NARAL's anti-Roberts attack ad is a vile, malicious, libelous lie. Predictably, conservative groups and Roberts' defenders have come out swinging against this slander, but what I want to know is where is the rest of the pro-choice community? Why aren't decent and well-meaning people in the abortion rights camp stepping up to distance themselves from this kind of filth? Is stopping Roberts at all costs really worth discrediting their entire cause? Are they really going to allow NARAL to wreak such violence on their reputation without a word of protest?

This is a bit of a challenge

I wonder how they plan to blame Bush for this?

Sept. 11 ringleader Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers were identified by defense intelligence officials more than a year before the attacks, but information about possible al Qaeda connections never was sent to law enforcement, Rep. Curt Weldon said Tuesday.
Weldon, vice chairman of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, said the hijackers were identified in 1999 by a classified military intelligence unit known as "Able Danger," which determined they could be members of an al Qaeda cell.

Weldon said that in September 2000 the unit recommended that its information on the hijackers be given to the FBI "so they could bring that cell in and take out the terrorists," Weldon said in an interview.

However, Weldon said Defense Department lawyers rejected the recommendation because they said Atta and the others were in the country legally.

"In fact, I'll tell you how stupid it was, they put stickies on the faces of Mohammed Atta on the chart that the military intelligence unit had completed and they said you can't talk to Atta because he's here" legally, Weldon said.

Perhaps one of those Star Trek time travel plot devices?

August 09, 2005

Is anyone else sick...

... of having to use light tricks to try to recreate what Islamic extremists have destroyed?

This is just downright depressing

The good news in this widely-linked piece is that a sensible Democrat is finally doing some soul-searching and asking the tough questions: Why do we keep losing elections? And how can we tailor our message for more widespread acceptance? The bad news is the conclusion the author draws -- that Democrats must become the party of economic liberalism and social conservatism.

Christ Almighty, just shoot me now. That's right, just at the point that I'm becoming increasingly disenchanted with the Republicans, please see to it that I have no other viable alternatives. Rest assured that if the DNC were to take this advice, I would officially have nothing, absolutely zero in common with the Democratic Party. The only appeal they have for me now is their (relative) tolerance towards abortion, gay rights and other such issues that are anathema to cultural conservatives.

Want to drive me back into the arms of the GOP? This is exactly the way to do it. And it's not just me, either. There are plenty of socially liberal fiscal conservatives out there, as any avid blog reader knows.

Doesn't it sometimes seem that Democrats have just an uncanny ability to assimilate data, process it, and draw exactly the wrong conclusions? How else to explain the prevailing sentiment among lefty bloggers that the Democrats can only achieve electoral success by purging their ranks of the DLC -- despite the fact that the DLC has provided the party its only successful president of the past half-century?

God, to think of it is to weep.


... a picture is worth a thousand words.

Cherished notions are slow to die

Believe it or not, some segments of the American Left still have not overcome their schoolgirl infatuation with the Scandinavian welfare state.

August 05, 2005

Well said

I like Ariel Sharon's statement on the Israeli militant who went on a murderous rampage.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called the shooting "a reprehensible act by a bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist who sought to attack innocent Israeli citizens."

Nice. Now wouldn't it be refreshing to hear this kind of statement from Ahmed Qurei from time to time?

(Hat tip: K-Lo)

Two not-quite scandals

For those wondering why I haven't yet commented on the Air America scandal, well, it's because I don't find it particularly scandalous. Not in a politically interesting way, at least.

The real scandal seems to be with the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club rather than Air America. What the hell are they doing financing left-wing radio with money that was intended to help underprivileged kids?

Michelle Malkin and others would no doubt disagree, but I don't think there are any partisan points to be scored here -- not based on what we know so far, anyway. Granted, if the situation were reversed and it was right-wing radio that was mired in a financing scandal, the lefty bloggers would be all over it like a pit bull on a pot roast. Still, that's not the criterion I like to use in determining what to blog about.

In a similarly not-quite-scandalous vein, the New York Times is reporting on a $470,000 "loan" that New Jersey Senator John Corzine gave to his then-girlfriend to buy a house. I use the word "loan" in quotations, because he promptly forgave the debt and paid the gift taxes due.

So why was this even worthy of reporting? Because Corzine's "girlfriend" was Carla Katz, who in addition to being a babe is also the head of one of the largest unions of state employees.

This is a bit of a gray area. Although I'm sure it's going to prove a bit of an embarrassment for Corzine in his gubernatorial campaign, it's fairly clear that no laws were broken. Had Corzine already been governor at the time of the loan, I'd say that yes, there would have been a clear conflict of interest. But that's not the case, of course, and moreover, the pair are no longer an item. I think it would be mistake for the Forrester campaign to make too big an issue over this.

The Novak walkout

Heh, since everyone else is linking to it, I might as well too. It was definitely the most interesting thing I'd seen on CNN in years. It cracked me up, but it was still pretty unprofessional on Novak's part. Besides, what if everyone stalked off the set every time Carville was being an asshole? There'd be no more Sunday morning TV.

Santorum surprise

I never cease to be amazed. Right on the heels of yesterday's post anathematizing Rick Santorum comes this little tidbit, in which he breaks rank with Bush over "Intelligent Design."

Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a possible 2008 presidential contender who faces a tough re-election fight next year in Pennsylvania, said intelligent design, which is backed by many religious conservatives, lacked scientific credibility and should not be taught in science classes.

Read the whole article. The guy actually makes a reasoned, intelligent case for what should be taught in public schools regarding evolution.

I'm surprised, but pleasantly so. Frist would have been less surprising, since he's had scientific training, but, well, there you go. Anyway, I don't really feel like rescinding my anti-Santorum post, but I do welcome any sign at all that the Republican Party isn't completely controlled by Ralph Reed.

Thanks, Senator, for a reasonable statement. I owe you that much, at least. If I'm going to slam you for your attacks on libertarianism, it's only fair to give you props when you do something like this.

August 04, 2005

I kinda figured this

They were all talk. No follow-through. I guess that's why they're so enamored of the U.N.

In the days after President Bush won a second term, the number of U.S. citizens visiting Canada's main immigration Web site shot up sixfold, prompting speculation that unhappy Democrats would flock north.

But official statistics show the number of Americans actually applying to live permanently in Canada fell in the six months after the election.

Rick Santorum is a dill-hole

Yeah, I know I'm arriving late to the piss-on-Santorum party, but up until this point I figured anything I could possibly say would be redundant. I mean, if one were of a mind to, one could easily read anti-Santorum screeds pretty much 24/7 on the port side of the blogosphere.

But this time I want to attack him for something a bit different. Via Jeff Jarvis, check out Ricky's smear against the libertarian right:

One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a libertarianish right. The left has gone so far left and the right in some respects has gone so far right that they come around in the circle.
This whole idea of personal autonomy -- I don't think that most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. And they have this idea that people should be left alone to do what they want to do, that government should keep taxes down, keep regulation down, that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, that we shouldn't be involved in cultural issues, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world. And I think that most conservatives understand that we can't go it alone, that there is no such society that I'm aware of where we've had radical individualism and it has succeeded as a culture.

With all due respect, Senator Santorum, what the hell are you talking about? Conservatives have always been a bit stodgy, but up until fairly recently, you could at least count on them to, well, keep taxes down, keep regulation down, and (with a few admittedly significant exceptions which proved the rule) essentially allow us to run our lives unmolested. You take all that away from me, and what reason am I left to support you, exactly? This ties in with my earlier post on Republican fiscal profligacy. The reasons for my joining the Republican Party in the first place would seem to no longer exist.

And another question, Senator. Since you've explained to us what conservatives don't stand for (by essentially itemizing everything conservatives are supposed to stand for), how about explaining what they do stand for?

No, on second thought don't. That would just be too damn depressing. But you need to know that you don't speak for all conservatives. I'm a conservative, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing that your perverted, bastardized philosophy shares with mine.

If I were a resident of Pennsylvania I would be looking forward to voting against you. Meanwhile, I suppose I will content myself with sitting here nearby and hoping for your electoral defeat. And yes, I fully realize that you will likely be replaced by a Democratic candidate whom I will like no better than you. Nevertheless, this hijacking of the American conservative tradition, and your brazen insult to the remaining faction of your party that still has a brain cannot go unpunished.

In the meantime, go on about your business in the Senate while you still can. You and Senators Clinton and Lieberman can work on your latest plans to ban titty movies. I sincerely hope this coming year will be your last.

(PS -- and the horse you rode in on.)

Care to place any bets?

Now we have word that John Roberts once did some legal work for gay rights groups -- not that there's anything wrong with that. It's been pointed out that some of Roberts' written briefs from the Reagan administration, for example, might not be reliable guides to his decision making on the high court, since he was acting as a hired lawyer advocating for a client. That's a valid point, but the legal stuff in this case was pro bono work. It'd be a tough sell to argue that Roberts worked for free for a cause he opposed.

Now I find this story vaguely interesting, but there's nothing there that really impacts my opinion of Roberts one way or the other. My real question is this: How long before lefty bloggers begin slyly insinuating that Roberts himself is gay, to drive a wedge between the nominee and his support on the right?

They will, of course, carefully couch any such insinuation within layers of rhetorical bubble-wrap ("Well, of course, we don't care whether he's gay or not! Our side would never take such a perverse interest in the private sex lives of politicians! But you see, it's about the hypocrisy, not about the homosexuality!")

So let's place bets: How long before it happens?

Tiebreaker question: Which blog will stoop to it first?

Ginko Biloba?

No thanks, I'll have a bourbon.

Official: drinking improves thinking

A study of 7,000 people in their early 20s, 40s and 60s found that those who drank within safe limits had better verbal skills, memory and speed of thinking than those at the extremes of the drinking spectrum. The safe consumption level was considered to be 14 to 28 standard drinks a week for a man and seven to 14 for a woman.

Questions ranged from verbal reasoning problems to tests of short-term memory. Surprisingly, perhaps, teetotallers were twice as likely as occasional drinkers to achieve the lowest scores.


Funny headline:

Bush Holds Latin American Ally at Ranch

That conjures up quite a mental image.

But what's all this about, anyway? I thought Bush was supposed to be on "vacation," shirking and neglecting the duties of his office?

With Republicans like these....

Check out some of the spending project line items that were included in the big transportation bill recently passed by Congress.

  • $220,000 for one line-item for trolley buses in Puerto Rico
  • $366,000 for one line-item for intermodal transportation at the Bronx Zoo
  • $835,000 for a second line-item for intermodal transportation at the Bronx Zoo
  • $4.2 million for intermodal transportation at the Philadelphia Zoo
  • $146,000 for a second line-item for trolley buses in Puerto Rico
  • $1.3 million for sidewalk lighting and landscaping around Cedar's-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles
  • $1.3 million for a daycare center and park-and-ride facility in Champaign, IL
  • $1.7 million for an intermodal park and ride facility at the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA
  • $2 million for a third line-item for intermodal transportation at the Bronx Zoo
  • $440,000 for a bike path in Powers, OR
  • $480,000 for pedestrian and bicycle sidewalks, lighting, and handicapped ramps in Miramar, FL
  • $200,000 for trails and bike paths on Bird Mountain, TN
  • $960,000 for a bike path in Riverhead, NY
  • $2.3 million for landscaping enhancements "for aesthetic purposes" along the Ronald Reagan Freeway, CA
  • $240,000 for boardwalks at Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, CA
  • $1.6 million to enhance the Battery Park bikeway perimeter, New York City
  • $200,000 for a historical trolley project in Issaquah, WA
  • $200,000 for trails, bike paths, and recreational facilities on Black Mountain, TN
  • $235,796 for extensions to the Mesabi Trail, Aurora, MN
  • $144,000 for paths and trails at the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, OH
  • $160,000 for a bike path, Petal, MS
  • $200,000 for a bike path "network", Evanston, IL
  • $2.9 million for a bike path, Delta Ponds, OR
  • $240,000 for bike and pedestrian improvements, Windermere, FL
  • $2.4 million for bike trail, Smyrna, TN
  • $1.2 million for a bike trail, LaVergne, TN
  • $800,000 for regional bike routes on existing highways, Austin, TX
  • $480,000 to rehabilitate a historic warehouse, Lyons, NY
  • $320,000 for a bike path from San Luis Obispo to Avila Beach, CA
  • $280,000 for a bike path, Fairview Park, OH
  • $600,000 for horse-riding trails, Jefferson National Forest, VA
  • $2 million for a bike trail, Cookeville, TN
  • $2 million for an intermodal bikeway, Independence, OH
  • $640,000 for bike, pedestrian and other improvements at Georgia Veterans Memorial Park
  • $1.2 million for pedestrian bicycle access project, Newark NJ
  • $1.2 million for a bike path, East Long-meadow Redstone, MA
  • $8 million for the Harlem Hospital parking facility
  • $1.8 million for a bike path, Portage, WI
  • $2.6 million for pedestrian walkway and bikeway improvements along the NYC Greenway System in Coney Island, NY
  • $400,000 for a bike path in Dunkirk, NY
  • $532,000 for a bike and pedestrian trail, Gallatin, TN

Despite some objections by Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake and a handful of others, this pork-fest passed the House with a final vote of 412 to 8.

Is that it? Have we lost? Is the battle for fiscal conservatism dead? Restraining government spending was always an uphill battle, but without politicians who at least make an effort it seems altogether doomed. So what's the point in having a Republican Congress, exactly? I suppose it helps prevent income tax rates from rising back up to 70%, but with no desire to rein in spending, how long can taxes be restrained?

I can't delude myself that the Democrats would be any better. And the Libertarians? God bless 'em, but I've voted for Libertarians more often than not over the past fifteen years, and what has it got me? Exactly pea shit.

So is Clinton-era style gridlock the best we can realistically hope for? Is that what I should do from now on? Decide how I want to cast my vote for president and then vote for congressmen from the opposite party? A depressing thought, but what's the alternative?

And here's an even more depressing thought. Limited government has always been the defining characteristic of traditional conservatism for me. But it's hard to pretend you're for limited government when you're happily allocating more than a million dollars for "sidewalk lighting" and "landscaping" at Cedar's-Sinai.

But if you discard the principle of limited government, what's left of conservatism as we know it today? A "culture of life?" Faith-based initiatives? "Defending" marriage? Sorry, I have no interest in any of that. Sometimes it can be damned discouraging being a Goldwater conservative in a Tom DeLay party.

August 03, 2005

Galloway on Arab TV

Let's make no mistake about it. George Galloway is not anti-war -- he's merely on the other side. You think I'm joking? I'm not. Check out a montage of some of his appearances on Arab television, or read the transcript here.

It's a long clip, nearly eight minutes, but I encourage you to watch it in its entirety. After all, you wouldn't want to miss Galloway's metaphor of Baghdad and Jerusalem as "two beautiful Arab daughters" being "raped" by infidel invaders. You wouldn't want to miss his sardonic, anti-Semitic mocking of Ariel Sharon's Israeli accent. You wouldn't want to miss his hagiographer's glorification of the Iraqi insurgents in their noble struggle against the "real terrorists," Bush, Blair and Berlusconi.

Many Western leftists, including here in America, fawned over Galloway in recent months because of his harsh skewering of the Bush administration. But the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend, and I'd be surprised if even the looniest American moonbat can watch this entire clip without concluding that George Galloway is nothing more than foul, repellent human offal.

Paul Hackett election analysis

So what does it mean when a Democratic candidate loses an election in a district that hasn't elected a Democrat in nearly 40 years? Why, it means the Republicans stole it, of course! You see, Democrats don't lose elections anymore. They merely get pickpocketed.

To be fair, not all members of the "reality based" community have the tinfoil hat quite so firmly in place. They've dealt with Hackett's defeat somewhat differently -- by declaring victory.

"Are you now or have you ever been a member...

...of a gym?"

Yes, even the president's physical fitness is now cause for partisan attacks. And check out this piece from veteran Bush hater Jonathan Chait.

...Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy.

This has gone well beyond pathetic, people. It's downright pathological. I don't think anyone can continue to deny the existence of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

August 02, 2005

Lost frog

If anyone's seen him....

Holy crap!!!

If you're like me, you probably saw the footage of the Air France plane on fire on TV and wondered how many survivors there could possibly have been. Can you believe all of them?!? I never would have believed it, watching that video footage.

God damn, it feels great to post some good news every now and then. :-)

An opportunity?

If you Google "corzine sucks t shirts," this humble site comes up fourth. How do I know this? I've been noticing an increasing number of these in my server logs of late. Clearly there's a consumer demand here that isn't being met. Perhaps we should print some up, CRB?

I guess he is running for president after all

Governor Pataki has signaled that he will veto a bill allowing the "morning after" pill to be sold without a prescription. It's hard not to see this as a flip-flop, since this is the same governor who implemented Medicaid funding for RU-486.

I'm now convinced he's running for president. God, could there be a more depressing thought for Republicans?

More suspicious activity in London?

Let's hope this is a false alarm.

First report: Smoke pouring out of bus from suspicious package causes London police to seal off busy streets around Gray's Inn Road in central London.

Bomb squad on way to check package, also ambulances - possibly as precaution.


Words of wisdom on John Bolton from The Washington Post, of all places. They're not crazy about Bolton, of course, but correctly note:

An ambassador who lacks the explicit support of Congress speaks less securely for the nation than one who enters the U.N. Security Council with the Senate's blessing. But, again, whose fault is that? Democrats had every chance to muster the votes to defeat the nomination; they couldn't do it. If Mr. Bolton is now heading to New York without the Senate's imprimatur but with a figurative asterisk beside his name, that's only because, having failed to defeat him, a minority refused to lose gracefully.

Special election in Ohio today

Ever hear of Paul Hackett? If you're part of the Kos/MoveOn axis you certainly have. He's a lawyer and a veteran of the war in Iraq, and he's facing Republican Jean Schmidt in a special election today. The winner will represent Ohio's second congressional district in the House. Desperate for any electoral victory, no matter how meager, progressive activists nationwide have pumped billions of dollars into Hackett's coffers (okay, that's probably an exaggeration.)

Hackett is pro-gun, wants to finish the job in Iraq, and opposes the current system of financing Social Security. On paper, he is exactly the kind of Democrat I would consider supporting over the lackluster Ms. Schmidt. In fact, one might wonder why the progressives are so enamored of the guy.

Well that's easy! In the moonbat universe, street cred is earned not with your resume or positions on the issues, but by hurling inflammatory invective at the commander-in-chief. Hackett has some real doozies to his credit. He's said that president Bush is the greatest threat this country faces, and has referred to the president as that "sonofabitch that lives in the White House." The moonbat money poured in.

Now I can't imagine that such intemperate remarks won't hinder him in Ohio's second district, but the truth is that I haven't been following the election closely enough to predict its outcome.

I will predict one thing, however. If Hackett loses the race, it will remain an obscure special election in flyover country, of interest only to hardcore political addicts. But if he wins, you can count on the New York Times and other MSM outlets to suddenly "discover" Hackett. You'll see a series of breathless, swooning editorials and opinion pieces heralding a harbinger of a Democratic renaissance, a portent that the tides are turning, and "as Mariemont goes, so goes nation," and all that crap. Hell, they've probably got it written already.

August 01, 2005

Bolton, finally

Did anyone else see Chris Dodd on TV this weekend? He had the chutzpah to oppose a Bolton recess appointment on the grounds that Bolton would be "damaged goods," since he lacks the support of the Senate.

Well, there's one problem with that. Bolton does enjoy the support of the Senate, which is precisely why Dodd and his crew refuse to allow a vote on the guy. You don't like Bolton? Think he's a terrible candidate? Fine, vote him down, and he'll go away. Permanently.

But no, that didn't happen, and now Bush has just installed Bolton via a recess appointment.

Democrats will no doubt cry foul and George Voinovich will probably cry, but you know what? If you refuse to even vote on the guy, you have no grounds to complain when the White House feels compelled to circumvent you. It's that simple.

Open source beer

The open source movement has clearly come of age. The recipe actually looks fairly simple. I'll try it, as long as I can find "Guarana beans."

Some astonishingly candid thoughts over at Kos

Glenn posted a link to a Kos diarist who took exception to Howard Dean's ludicrous claim that "The president and his right-wing Supreme Court" are responsible for the appalling Kelo decision expanding the power of eminent domain.

Well, props to azizhp, whoever he is, for calling Dean down on this one, but to me the most amazing aspect of this thread was the tone of some of the comments that his post generated. Here's a jaw-dropper:

I'm 100% behind it. Why? Because it resonates, and I'm perfectly willing to go for a false statement that illustrates a truth.

The GOP is the party of Big Business. Big Business (business in general) is who benefitted from the Kelo case.

So, frankly, I say it's a great line of attack. Screw accuracy -- remind people that now big business can take their homes away to make a shopping mall, and that's A-okay by the GOP.

Dayum. I mean, it's no surprise that some of these people think that way, but to be willing to admit it? Publically, on the internet, for the whole world to see?

One pernicious myth I'd like to dispel

Max Boot looks at recent polls showing an uptick in world opinion of the U.S. That's not too surprising, I suppose. The enmity that followed in the wake of the invasion of Iraq was bound to wane with time.

What I thought was more interesting, however, were these numbers:

Muslim opinion also challenges jihadist orthodoxy that proclaims that giving power to the people, rather than to mullahs, is "un-Islamic." The latest Pew poll found "large and growing majorities in Morocco (83%), Lebanon (83%), Jordan (80%) and Indonesia (77%) -- as well as pluralities in Turkey (48%) and Pakistan (43%) -- [that] say democracy can work well and is not just for the West."

So much for the notion that Arabs and Muslims "don't want" democracy. Can we please bury that patronizing and insulting meme once and for all?

The London arrests

Like everyone else, I celebrated the arrests made in connection with the London bombings this weekend. These guys certainly seem globally connected, so I'm hopeful we can get some very useful information out of them.

But we have to be careful, of course. No Christina Aguilera music, the thermostat must be set at a comfortable 72° at all times, and for Christ's sake, we can't dog-ear any of their reading material.

I'm sure they'll cooperate and tell us everything they know, though.