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June 30, 2006

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

Am I the only blogger in the country who doesn't think SCOTUS's Hamdan ruling is anything to get especially worked up about? It seems like everyone else I know is either expressing outrage and indignation or popping champagne corks. What am I missing?

No doubt, the decision was certainly a rebuke of the administration's detainee policies, but how much does it really change? With the application of Common Article 3 status to Hamdan and other detainees, it seems that military tribunals are no longer an option.

But (and correct me if I'm wrong) the Supreme Court does not convey Geneva Convention "prisoner of war" or "civilian" status to the detainees (they don't fit the treaty's definition.) The Court doesn't question the administration's authority to detain them until the cessation of hostilities. They still may be trialed by courts martial, or (and this is very important) not tried at all! Moreover, there is even wiggle room on the tribunals, contingent on congressional authorization.

The president's enemies will relish this nominal defeat, but beyond that it seems like much ado about not very much.

UPDATE: Well, I guess I'm not the only one.

June 28, 2006

Too close for comfort

I don't think I have to itemize all the reasons why the flag-burning amendment is a terrible idea. It seems one of the few issues on which rational people on both sides of the spectrum seem to be in agreement. Still, that didn't stop the Senate from coming within one vote of the two-thirds necessary for passage.

Look, I understand that these issues provide great opportunities for congressmen to posture and preen, but this time they just came too damn close to doing some serious damage. I think it's time to try a different approach with these people.

Let's start encouraging them to take expensive junkets. In fact, let's tie their salary to how many boondoogles they take away from D.C. (where they're capable of doing real harm.) Let's give them huge expense accounts so they can buy lavish dinners in the nicest restaurants. Let's distract them with hookers and complimentary booze in the Senate cloakroom. Let's fill their dockets with non-binding resolutions, "sense of the Senate" votes and "congratulate the troops" statements.

How much could all this decadence cost? There are only about 500 of the dudes, so I'm guessing that even with first-class travel, luxury hotels, 5-star hookers and Cristal champagne, we'd still come out under a billion per year to foot the bill for all this distraction. That's a bargain in Washington by any standards. And the side benefit of having them too busy/apathetic/drunk to pass crappy legislation that we'll all have to live with? Priceless.

Bigots and ribbon magnets

I've never been even remotely tempted to buy ribbon magnets for my car, but after reading this woman's bigoted post on Kos, I'm tempted to buy hundreds of them. I want to plaster them all over my suburban assault vehicle, so many that you can't even tell what color it is, and cruise around her neighborhood just to piss her off.

It's about those damn Support Our Troops magnets and the like. Please take them off your car.

I am the wife of an army reservist. My husband has not been called to active duty, but could be at any time. Every day there is a possibility that my life as I know it could be drastically changed. I know other military families who are in the same situation, and I know military families whose lives have already been drastically affected. It is the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

All that being said, what in the world does slapping a magnet on your vehicle have anything to do with supporting our troops? Everytime I see one, particularly when it mixed in with the "W" sticker and the screaming American eagle decal, I am insulted. Many times, the yahoo whose got the sticker on his car is of military service age, but would rather talk tough than put their ass on the line.

If you really want to support our troops, start calling for accountability and truth from this administration. If you really want to support our troops, start bugging your congress critters for a smart and strategic plan of action to bring our troops home. If you really want to support our troops, examine your congress critter's voting record with respect to their votes on legislation the aides our active and veteran military. If you really want to support our troops, ask your congress critter (where applicable) why s/he has voted against legislation benefitting our military men and women. If you want to support our troops, put your money where your mouth is and enlist - I hear they just raised the age to 42 to placate the throngs of folks who want to join

But for gawdsakes, take the damn magnets off your car.

She never explains how the ribbons do any actual harm to anyone -- she just doesn't like them, and she seems rather insistent that we all take them off our cars. Allow me to gently propose a counter-argument, "Tiger-Mom." Let's see, how shall I phrase this? How about: "Fuck you." Yes, I like that. I'll put whatever the hell I want to on my car. You decorate your ride the way you see fit, and I'll do likewise. See, that's how American works.

You know what your problem is? You're a self-righteous bigot. You wantonly pre-judge and categorize people you've never met based on the fact that have a "Support the Troops" magnet. Yes, I'm sure that many ribbon magnet owners do indeed fit the stereotype you describe. I'm equally sure that many others are very much like yourself, and many others still have family members who are actually serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere. Sorry you don't like the ribbons. They're not my favorite fashion statement either, in fact. But at the end of the day, it's really neither your business nor mine what other people choose to put on their car.

You have found your way to support the troops. Good for you. I mean that. But you go too far when you start believing your way (i.e., opposing Bush and opposing the war) is the only way. That's the very definition of bigotry. I find there is much such bigotry among the left these days. They seem to think that as long as it's not directed at blacks or gays that it's okay. Well, it's not.

(Hat tip: Jill)

June 27, 2006

I gotta ask...

Liberals the world over are getting all quivery and emotional (more so than usual) over Warren Buffet's extraordinary act of philanthropy. Think of it! A billionaire giving away his billions? What could be better than that? I mean, besides having the government take them from him, of course?

All right, I understand why they've gone all misty, but what the hell does it have to do with the inheritance tax? I know Buffet is a defender of the death tax, but why are all the lefty bloggers out there conflating his act of charity with the death tax debate?

I mean, if Buffet really thinks the inheritance tax is so damn great, then why did he go out of his way to exempt the vast majority of his fortune from it? Please note that he chose to cut a check to a philanthropic foundation rather than to the U.S. Treasury. I wonder why?

Ah hell, who cares? All of his albums since Floridays blow anyway.

Photoshopping the Grey Lady

Heh. This poster made me chuckle yesterday:

but this offering from Jim Treacher was a bit more to the point.

Yeah, it's a cheap shot. So sue me. What do you think blogs are for?

June 23, 2006

Shredding the Constitution (again!)

I'm appalled by this! If anti-terror officials are allowed to access banking records now, then how long before the IRS has access to them as well?

Congrats to Al Gore

His new movie about polar bears has just won a Humanitas award. I think that's kinda like an Oscar, except that nobody's ever heard of it or gives a shit.

More on the inheritance tax

Following up on yesterday's rant about the inheritance tax, I'd like to share some numbers on the estate tax rates here at home as compared with other rich countries (I've decided to bag that "industrialized" euphemism.) Check it out.

Interesting, right? Much as we like to think of ourselves as lagging the rest of the world in our impulses, that's not always the case. It's also important to note that the current 46% is the effective tax rate right now. If nothing is done, however, the previous confiscatory rate of 60% will return in 2010, and affect all estates in excess of one million dollars. No wonder 67% of Americans favor scrapping this tax altogether.

June 22, 2006

Let's help out ABC

ABC is soliciting (heh) harrowing, real-life accounts of how global warming is affecting you personally. Here's my submission. But I should warn you that my emotions were still a bit raw when I wrote it, so if you're easily disturbed, you might not wish to proceed.

So anyway, I was making this snowman in my backyard? I was trying to get it done before my wife got home so I could show it to her. It was supposed to look like me (except all buff and stuff) but with a Batman mask and cape. I spent hours sculpting it to get it just the way I wanted. But then....

By the time my wife actually got home, the snowman had gone all gooshy. The greenhouse gases from the industrialized economies had caused the snowman's pecs to slip down to the gut area, making the figure resemble me a lot more closely than I had intended. Then, adding insult to injury, the nose carrot fell out and lodged awkwardly in the pec/gut mass, making it look disturbingly like a malformed pee-pee.

Damn you, George W. Bush!! Damn you for not signing Kyoto (even if the Senate had already rejected it by 95-0 years before you got into office. It's still your fault!) Even now, my eyes well with bitter tears of impotent rage as I relive this. God. Damn it....

Are Democrats crazy? (check yes or no)

What's the problem with the Democratic Party? According to my conservative friends, it's that the party has been taken over by wild-eyed, left-wing lunatics. According to my liberal friends, it's that the party is too centrist, and has traded in its liberalism for a Clintonian/DLC-styled "third way."

For the record, I think they're both right. The discrepancy lies in the fact that conservatives are basing their opinions on liberal bloggers, PACs, and 527s. Liberals are basing theirs on Democratic politicians.

To the liberals' point, the party's elected representatives have moved considerably toward the center over the past two decades. Democratic politicians are much more palatable to me now than they were back during the 80's. They're less hostile to wealth and the pursuit of such, less hostile toward guns, and (Iraq notwithstanding) less averse toward military action.

Let's face it -- Hillary Clinton is no Walter Mondale. Neither is John Kerry. Hell, neither is Howard Dean, for that matter. The ideological extremists are not sitting in the houses of Congress. They do, however, comprise much of the party's activist core -- and yes, I'm talking about MoveOn.org, the Kossacks, and who-the-hell-ever keeps posting in Atrios's countless "open threads." These folks are, increasingly, the heart and soul of the Democratic Party -- but they also tend to be barking moonbats. (The most recent example being the fact that Kos anathematized The New Republic as "just another cog of the Vast RIGHT Wing Conspiracy." Yep, I'm sorry, but that qualifies you for membership in the "loony left.")

In other words, there is a real disconnect between the party and its base. Peggy Noonan observes this phenomenon in today's Wall Street Journal.

I got a sense of the distance between Democratic leaders and the base a few years ago when I met up with a Democrat who was weighing a run for the party's 2004 nomination. He hadn't announced but was starting to test the waters, campaigning out of state.

I mentioned to him that the press gives a great deal of attention to the problems of Republican leaders and their putative supporters on the ground in America, but I was interested in the particular problems a D.C. Democrat has with his party's base.

His eyebrows went up in the way people's eyebrows go up when they're interested in what they're about to say. He said--I write from memory; it was not an interview but a conversation--that he was getting an education in that area. He said when he spoke before local Democratic groups they were wildly against the war in Iraq and sometimes booed him when he spoke of it. It left him startled. He had supported the president for serious reasons: He thought Saddam a bad actor who likely had weapons of mass destruction. He wanted to talk about it, but they didn't want to hear him. They were immovable.

But there was something else. He didn't say it, but something in his manner suggested he thought they were . . . just a little crazy.

I thought of him the other day when I saw Howard Dean say something intemperate on TV. I actually can't remember what it was, one intemperate Dean statement blending into another as they do. I was standing near a small screen with recent acquaintances, all of them relatively nonpolitical, and as I watched Mr. Dean speak I blurted, "Why does he say things like that?" A middle-aged woman--intelligent, professional--answered, "Because he thinks they're stupid."

He thinks who's stupid? I asked. The press? "His party," she said. We both laughed because it sounded true.

But today I'm thinking that's not quite it. Howard Dean is actually the most in touch with his base of all D.C. Democrats because he speaks to them the secret language of Madman Boogabooga. Republicans are racist/ignorant/evil. This is actually not ineffective. It's a language that quells the base and would scare the center if they followed it more closely, but they can't because it's not heavily reported because "Dean Says Something Crazy" is no longer news.

It's hard to know exactly how this divergence will play out. On the one hand, Democrats can't cater to their base without losing the center -- and losing elections. On the other hand, they can't ignore their base without risking the "Joe Lieberman" treatment.

I don't know what the answer is, but this dissonance is a real and fundamental problem. It remains to be seen whether growing frustration over GOP leadership will be sufficient for them to overcome it.

Why I hate the inheritance tax

Emily lives down the street from me with her dog and two cats. She's middle aged and lives on a fixed income, and she's one of the kindest people I know. Nearly all of her spare change goes to rescuing stray dogs and cats and finding homes for them.

Emily doesn't come from a family farm, nor did her parents own a small business. She's not the stereotypical inheritance tax victim. She was just a normal lady living out her retirement and minding her own business. Then one day not too long ago, her aunt died. The aunt left Emily her house, as well as a $35,000 inheritance tax liability.

No problem, right? Sell the house. Turns out it's not that simple -- she can't sell it. And by "can't" I don't mean that she can't find a buyer willing to pay her asking price -- I mean she's not allowed to. See, the home inspector found a serious problem with the septic tank system, and the township will not allow the title to change hands until it's been remediated.

There's much finger-pointing about who dropped the ball and allowed this to happen, and whose responsibility it is to clean it up. The legal wrangling could easily take years to sort out. Emily doesn't have years. The tax bill is due in August. She has the option of sucking it up and paying for the work herself, but according to the estimate, doing so would cost more than her $35,000 property tax liability to fix something that wasn't her fault to begin with. Welcome to Screwed-ville, Emily.

I've changed Emily's name to protect her identity, but every other word is true. She's an innocent lady of modest means who has fallen victim to a pernicious tax in a way that I'd never even thought possible before. Stories like hers, obviously, are the downside to the inheritance tax.

So what's the upside? Where's the net benefit? What good does this tax do for anybody?

Peter Beinart and others can argue that keeping the tax is a moral imperative -- that for democracy to survive, we must provide those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder with realistic hope of climbing to the top. Well sure, I agree, but Beinart never explains how the inheritance tax actually helps accomplish this.

I suppose one could argue that the tax pumps money into the government's general revenues, and that the government, in its boundless wisdom and beneficence will judicially apply the funds in such a way as to bring financial success closer within the reach of the working class. There are two problems with this argument, however:

  1. It's utter horse shit.
  2. Revenues from the inheritance tax are no more than drop in the federal budget bucket. Even if the government were accomplishing all of these wonderful, egalitarian goals, there's no reason it needs the inheritance tax in order to do so.

Most advocates for government programs like to point to the positive effects these programs have on people. The inheritance tax, by contrast, is intrinsically negative -- it is rank confiscation of wealth for its own sake, pure and simple. It does no good to anyone, and screws over many innocent people in the process. And mind you, I'm not talking about "Paris Hilton," who would be spoiled, rich and privileged with or without the inheritance tax. I'm talking about Emily and the many others like her who have been caught in the crossfire of the class wars.

June 21, 2006

Wake me when it's over

I'm not sure about the details, but apparently this "soccer" thing is still going on. I know because yesterday in the bar I saw some muted TV images of men in absurd socks kicking a ball aimlessly around some big green field. Below, a Czech player has collapsed from boredom.


I don't normally link to Day by Day, but this one did make me laugh.

June 20, 2006

What's wrong with the youth of today?

The generational decay of our once-great civilization continues apace:

A survey reports that college kids find iPods more important than beer:

Nearly three quarters, or 73 percent, of 1,200 students surveyed said iPods were "in" - more than any other item in a list that also included text messaging, bar hopping and downloading music.

Sic transit gloria mundi....

Thanks, Sam... I guess.

I didn't get the job

Here's a quick celebrity impersonation. See if you can guess who it is. Okay, here goes.


President Bush "dropped the ball" in Afghanistan and "outsourced" the operation, to Dick Cheney's daughter (who is a lesbian)

Kinda makes you want to stop and reminisce, huh? I guess I'm feeling a wave of 2004 nostalgia today because I just learned that my cousin is once again working for trial lawyer and erstwhile vice presidential candidate John Edwards, as his senior policy adviser.

Good for him and all, but I can't help but feel a bit miffed. I mean, I can do at least as good a job formulating Edward's policy initiatives as my cousin can. Look, I'll prove it.

John Edward's policy proposals:
  • Raise taxes.

Granted, I'd probably want to flesh it out into a 200-page policy document, complete with figures, charts and a 20-minute Power Point presentation, but how hard can that be?

June 19, 2006

Odd conversations in pop music

I guess I've had some pretty bizarre dialog with my wives and girlfriends over the years, but for three decades now I've been mystified over the conversation captured in "Undercover Angel."

She said, "What?" I said, "Ooh-ooh-ooh, whee."
She said, "All right!" I said, "Get next to me."
She said, "What?" I said, "Ooh-ooh-ooh, whee."
She said, "All right!" I said, "Love me, love me, love me!"


The Jack Murtha follies

Anti-war Democrats luuuuuuuuv Jack Murtha. He's a vocal war critic who comes with legitimate military credentials. Too bad for them he's a doddering old fool.

Murtha's favorite euphemism for surrender in Iraq has been "strategic redeployment." But redeployment where, you ask? How about Okinawa? (Yes, as in "Japan." No, seriously.) Here's how he defended the idea on Meet the Press:

Well, it -- you know, they -- when I say Okinawa, I, I’m saying troops in Okinawa. When I say a timely response, you know, our fighters can fly from Okinawa very quickly. And -- and -- when they don’t know we’re coming. There’s no question about it. And, and where those airplanes won’t -- came from I can’t tell you, but, but I’ll tell you one thing, it doesn’t take very long for them to get in with cruise missiles or with, with fighter aircraft or, or attack aircraft, it doesn’t take any time at all. So we, we have done -- this one particular operation, to say that that couldn’t have done, done -- it was done from the outside, for heaven’s sakes.

I can't believe Democrats are not embarrassed by this guy. He's like an Admiral Stockdale in the advanced stages of dementia or something (or myself after a few beers.)

It does beg another question, though. What is the "timetable" for pulling out or troops from Japan? Or Germany? Or Korea? Shouldn't we have one of those by now?

Those crazy Swiss

It's a well-known but inconvenient fact among liberal American Europhiles that Switzerland, one of the continent's safest countries, also has the highest rate of gun ownership. Now I learn from Adam that Switzerland's extraordinarily low unemployment rate (and we're talking really low -- 3.8%) occurs in a country that has no minimum wage. Heh, no wonder they don't want to join the EU.

Switzerland's an interesting place. And I know from experience that you just can't beat the Swiss the people (they'll arrest you for that.)

June 18, 2006

Liberals really are nicer than conservatives

Which side is worse about engaging in political hate speech, conservatives or liberals? Did you ever have that debate with anyone? It's fun, isn't it? It's also pointless, since such things are inherently subjective and impossible to quantify.

I've found that debates such as this one tend to follow a certain pattern:

Liberal: Progressives don't engage in vile hateful rhetoric like conservatives do.
Conservative: Of course they do.
Liberal: Oh really? Give me one example of left-wing hate speech that's as bad as what Ann Coulter said!

The remainder of the debate is a tedious, repetitive exercise in which the liberal conjures up excuses for disqualifying every single example the conservative provides.

  • Ted Rall doesn't count because he's not as famous as Ann Coulter.
  • Ward Churhill doesn't count because he's an academic (or because he's got a ponytail, or because he pretends to be an Indian, or whatever. Anyway, he doesn't count.)
  • Randi Rhodes fantasizing about assassinating the president doesn't count because she doesn't shill for a political party the way Sean Hannity does.
  • Kos doesn't count because he made that remark two years ago. Really, are you so desperate that you have to dig back that far?
  • Michael Moore doesn't count because he's a filmmaker, and not enmeshed in the political process (skybox seating at the DNC notwithstanding.)
  • Democratic Underground posters don't count because they're anonymous nobodies.
  • Alan Hevesi doesn't count because he was joking.
  • Kanye West doesn't count because he's a musician.
  • George Galloway doesn't count because he's not American.

On and on it goes, and eventually you learn that the liberals are right. There's not a single example of left-wing hate speech to be found anywhere!

Of course they should really reframe the terms of the argument. It's not that "liberals are nicer." Rather, it's that famous liberals who aren't academics or filmmakers or faux Indians or entertainers and who do shill for the Democratic party and aren't anonymous or Scottish are nicer than Ann Coulter... lately.

Well, why didn't you just say so in the first place?

I guess we can stop defeding the Dixie Chicks' patriotism

Despite my political leanings, I've frequently defended the Dixie Chicks against those who questioned their patriotism. I guess I can officially stand down now. The Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines questions whether patriotism is even a virtue.

"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."

Let's face it, folks. The Sean Hannities of the world were right on this one. I was wrong. Sean, lots of people owe you an apology. I'll extend mine to you, because it's the only one you're likely to get.

When breaking news happens...

...you read about it here days later.

Sorry, I would've reported on Daryl Hannah's Julia Butterfly Hill act earlier, but I spent several days trying to figure out how I could work in a joke about Jackson Browne busting her lip for finding her in a tree. I gave up.

So anyway, Daryl Hannah was arrested in a tree.

June 16, 2006

The Hudson ruling

I'm ill-equipped to comment on the legalities of the recent Supreme Court ruling on no-knock searches (I know, when does that ever stop me?) Still, no matter what judicial reasoning went into deciding Hudson, I can safely say that I'm unhappy with the outcome.

First, just to be clear, this is not about warrantless searches. It's about whether warrants have to be served politely. I'm aware of no such constitutional guarantee, but I do think that as a matter of police etiquette, knocking is far more desirable than not.

Granted, there are certain circumstances in which the police must maintain the element of surprise. Imagine, for example, raiding a house in which violent, armed resistance is expected -- a safe house full of heavily armed drug dealers, or militant terrorists, for example. There's no sense in giving them time to pick up their Glocks or AK's and assume battle positions.

Nevertheless, I worry about the implications of this ruling for normal, garden-variety police searches. My prediction? More police officers will be shot. Many people, if awakened in the night by people forcibly and violently entering their homes, are going to reach for their guns. I can't say I blame them. I wish the case of Cory Maye had better informed this ruling. I have a bad feeling that we might see more Cory Mayes in the post-Hudson future.

A bittersweet moment

On the one hand, it's with a wistful sense of nostalgia that I note that I'm no longer the top Google hit for "Corzine sucks." I've lapsed into second place.

On the other hand, that might be appropriate. I'm beginning to think electing him governor wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Republicans are getting a "two-fer" from Jon Corzine's decision to leave the Senate for New Jersey's governor's mansion last year. First, as a sitting Senator with a willingness to spend enormous sums of his personal wealth, Mr. Corzine would have been a very difficult incumbent for Republicans to unseat. In his win in 2000, Mr. Corzine outspent his opponent Bob Franks $63 million to $6 million.

Second, as governor, Mr. Corzine has done his best to reenact the politically disastrous politics of the Florio administration. Like Gov. Jim Florio in 1989, Mr. Corzine has called for higher state taxes, causing his approval ratings to plummet. In 1990, this led to a political environment where the relatively unknown Christie Todd Whitman came within three points (50%-47%) of beating incumbent Senator Bill Bradley -- despite the fact that she was outspent by a margin of 15 to one.
While President Bush's woes and Republican angst on Capitol Hill are dominating most of the national headlines, the political environment may be quietly shaping up for Republicans to pick up a Senate seat in the blue state of New Jersey.

Oh well, the New Jersey Democrats wanted this tax-hungry billionaire as their governor, and now they've got him. Careful what you ask for, as the saying goes.

June 15, 2006

If I were Karl Rove...

I think I'd wait until the White House front lawn was full of reports for some reason or another, and then I'd recruit a couple of federal marshals to handcuff me and frog-march me across the lawn like this:

I'd be looking all panicked and stuff, and then after they'd taken a bunch of pictures I'd take the cuffs off and be all, "Dude, LOL!!"

Can we stand any more?

I should just officially rename this site the "Good News" blog. But then of course people would think it had something to do with a cheesy, contemporary bible translation or something. Anyway, today's good news is that George Soros's insider trading conviction has just been upheld in France. (Insert sarcastic, whiny liberal comment about how "the streets feel safer already" here.)

Reality-based unreality

In the fever swamps of the DU and Kos, the moonbats' connection with reality is growing ever more tenuous. They're having a hard time accepting the fact that they got a pile of horse crap for Fitzmas, and are desperately shoveling through heaps of steaming shit looking for the pony.

Many of them think they've found it, and the logic seems to go something like this: There must be a reason that Rove wasn't indicted (apparently the notion that Rove might actually be innocent is too ludicrous for them to entertain for even a nanosecond.) That must mean he's cut a deal with Fitzgerald, which in turn must mean that Fitz is out for bigger game -- Dick Cheney.

All right, let's just forget about Occam's Razor and the complete lack of any evidence for this fantasy. I have a legal question. Can the vice president even be indicted? I seem to remember that it sparked something of a constitutional crisis the last time it was tried (Spiro Agnew.) Doesn't he have to be impeached? Any constitutional lawyers out there? If not, people with half-baked, uninformed opinions will do. Rank speculation is acceptable too.

Spiderman = dumbass

Peter Parker, evidently, is going to reveal his secret identity, in a press conference in Times Square, no less.

I'm sorry, but what the hell is he thinking? Doesn't he remember that whole ugliness with the Green Goblin? Gwen Stacy, his first girlfriend (who was way hotter than that chick he eventually married, I have to say) ended up dead.


June 14, 2006

Just curious...

...is there some... "soccer" thing going on or something?

The deluge of great news just continues!

A San Francisco Superior Court judge has just struck down the most extreme and restrictive gun control measure in the country. I guess the Second Amendment isn't quite a dead letter, even in California. Man, how often do I get to be happy about a San Francisco judge's ruling?

Man, I don't know how much more celebrating my liver can take. Better head to Starbucks.

Rudy and the right

Political junkies of varying stripes are always fond of asking how Rudy Giuliani, a "social libera,l" can energize and consolidate the Republican Party's conservative base, which will be necessary if he is to win the nomination. As I've pointed out here 'til I'm blue in the face, Rudy's strength among conservatives needs a lot less help than most people believe. Still, Ryan Sager offers us a preview of one way in which Rudy's trying to reinforce his conservative credentials: school choice.

...[T]he former mayor launched into an impassioned brief for school choice. "A president has to know the role" of the federal government, he said. "It's more of a leadership role." But as that leader, he would emphasize, "choice and vouchers."

As mayor, he said, he thought he could do for the schools what he did for the police department and other city agencies. But he learned he was wrong. The education bureaucracy and the teachers unions were too deeply entrenched. What's needed, he said, "is to go to a choice system and break up the monopoly."

Even if they believe it, "most Democrats can't say to you what I just said," he told the crowd. "They're not allowed to."

Most excellent. One of my favorite potential contenders for 2008 just got a lot more favorite-y.

June 13, 2006

This is just too great!

Is this like the best news week ever, or what? I mean, first Zarqawi gets blowed up (not that I gloated, of course), a Kennedy cops a guilty plea, Karl Rove walks, and now? I can drink all the booze I want so long as I drink a lot of coffee too -- which I already do anyway!

Sometimes lately it seems that every day is just like Christmas or something.

(Hat tip: Ace)

Get that beer on ice!

Merry Fitzmas, baby!!! Rove has been cleared and it's party time at our house tonight!

Now granted, I've never really liked the guy, and I resent the direction he's taken the Republican Party, but anything that gets the moonbats this upset is definitely worth celebrating.

Dang, I was only now recovering from my "Zarqawi getting blowed up" party (which was not "gloating," BTW. Just a tasteful gathering with a few close friends... and a screwed-up cake -- the decorator misspelled "virgins." I swear, you can't get decent service these days.)

June 12, 2006


Adam, who has been following the predictive markets more closely than I have, notes that both TradeSports and the Iowa Electronic Markets now show the Republicans maintaining control of the House. Is this a temporary, post-Zarqawi effect?

(Heh. "He blowed up good. Blowed up real good." I'd offer a gilt-edged no-prize for the first commenter who can identify that obscure pop culture reference, but Google makes it too easy to cheat. Who says they don't do evil?

And anyway, we should not be gloating over Zarqawi blowing up. That's not right, and America is better than that. Hey, I wonder if anybody out there has put together a video of Zarqawi blowing up and set it to that "You Had a Bad Day" song that they play on American Idol when someone gets turboed? That would be cool.)

Viva Fidel

The DUers have started their pro-Castro crap again. Maybe they should just give the guy his own Kos diary.

June 09, 2006

Why the double standard?

Alan Dershowitz wants to know.

As the civilized world justly celebrates the long overdue killing of Abu M Zarqawi, it must recall that his death was brought about by what has come to be known as "targeted assassination" or "targeted killings." This is the same technique that has been repeatedly condemned by the international community when Israel has employed it against terrorists who have murdered innocent Jews. When Israel targeted the two previous heads of Hamas, the British foreign secretary said: "targeted killings of this kind are unlawful and unjustified." The same views expressed at the United Nations and by several European heads of state. It was also expressed by various Human Rights organizations.

Now Great Britain is applauding the targeted killing of a terrorist who endangered its soldiers and citizens. What is the difference, except that Israel can do no right in the eyes of many in the international community.

Dershowitz had better watch out. Harvard's going to try to figure out how to gid rid of him if he keeps this up.

Some people should just stay clothed...

...and I think Margaret Cho would top most anybody's list. Yet human nature is a peculiar thing. You know you don't want to see her naked, but you know you're going to click here anyway. Well go ahead, then. Do it. It's too big a burden for me to shoulder alone. My eyes. My eyes....

(Hat tip: Ace)

Is this a record?

I think Atrios has officially moved beyond parody. As of right now, 11:30 AM EDT, the top 12 (TWELVE!) posts on his site are "open threads." Even the throwaway lines in the message bodies are identical ("Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.")

Please explain this to me. If you're not going to post any original comments all day (or even a link to someone else's content) then what's the point of having a dozen separate open threads? Wouldn't one suffice? Or three?

While you're at it, maybe you could also explain how he's maintained his status at #13 in the TTLB ecosystem. There's something I don't "get" here, clearly.

Karl Rove is at it again

This time he's leaving bags of dog crap at the offices of a Republican congresswoman. Apparently he delivered the goods from a stolen car that belonged to a blameless Democratic activist, in a splendidly brilliant misdirection ploy. Truly an evil genius, this guy. The report doesn't say whether Rove set the dog crap on fire and rang the doorbell for fleeing.

June 08, 2006

It would've been better without all that "gay" stuff

Hah, just kidding. As promised, I just finished watching Brokeback Mountain, the move that Hollywood snubbed for Best Picture because it hates gay people. I actually thought it was quite good. The cinematography was beautiful and the soundtrack kicked ass. The movie's message was that it's possible to be gay without looking gay -- unless you grow a moustache. It was a bit too long, in my opinion, but I guess Crash was a bit too ham-fisted in its delivery. I guess I'd give a slight edge to Brokeback, but my wife enjoyed Crash marginally more. I'd call it a wash. We're doing Capote soon, but only after I catch up on a few Battlestar Galacticas.

Be sure to check back here at CN whenever you need half-assed movie reviews six months late.

Mission accomplished!

John Kerry said so.

"Our troops have done their job in Iraq," said Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

Speaking of Zarqawi...

Has anyone else noticed that there seem to be a lot of one-legged people in the news lately? Zarq? Heather Mills? That drunken Kennedy kid who wants to be treated like a black guy?

I finally saw Crash

This is one of those movies that had a lot to say. I think what it said was "Everyone is an asshole."

Up next? Brokeback Mountain. Then I'll finally be able to assess which film really should've won Best Picture.

(Can you tell I'm a bit behind in my movie viewing these days?)

Drinks are on me

If you find yourself in Hoboken after 5 PM this afternoon, stop by Oddfellow's Rest on River Street. I'm buying rounds to celebrate the untimely demise of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.

June 07, 2006

What the Dems must do to win

Kos has an interesting bit advice for his fellow Democrats when it comes to winning elections: be libertarians. Kos isn't trying to convert his party into a collection of Murray Rothbards and Ayn Rands, of course. He's merely saying they should adopt a general predisposition in favor of individual liberty. This would go beyond issues involving privacy and sex, to include (but not be limited to) gun rights and deregulation for small businesses.

This is sage advice, and I've offered very similar sentiments myself. Coming from Kos, however, it's going to carry a lot more weight, particular among progressives. There are many small-l libertarians like myself out there who are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the Republican Party. We are not only willing, but eager for other parties to compete for our vote.

On one hand, Kos's post is music to my ears. It's exactly what I've been begging for for years now. On the other, I suspect I can already see the fatal flaw in Kos's strategy. Any type of libertarianism that I can imagine (be it with an upper or lower case "L") is appalled by the burden of taxation on the private sector -- a burden that, in total, approaches or even surpasses the 50% mark for many of us.

This country has reached a point at which the upper half of income earners are shouldering essentially the etire burden of the federal income tax. Consequently, any proposed tax relief measure is instantly disparaged as "tax cuts for the rich," because it disproportionately benefits those at upper income levels. It's all to easy, politically, to call for tax increases on "the rich" -- an absurdly broad designation that seemingly includes such decidely non-rich folks as myself, and those like me who work hard every day to amass some degree of wealth and to obtain a higher standard of living for ourselves and our families.

Kos didn't address this point, and I'm afraid I know why. He knows that if he speaks his mind on tax policy, it will alienate the very demographic he's hoping to attract. I still think Kos's message is a welcome one, but I'd like to supplement it with a message of my own:

To the Democratic Party: If you really want my vote, you can probably get it. Your party is already markedly more palatable than it was during the days of Walter Mondale. If you want my vote, however, you'll have to abandon this reflexive, knee-jerk hostility to the pursuit and accumulation of wealth. I'm not even asking for you to become supply-siders or tax-cutters, but a pledge simply to leave taxes exactly where they are for everyone would almost ensure my support in the next election.

I know, I'm only one person -- a lone, individual, fourth-rate blogger, and there's no reason that any political party should care about my vote alone. But I can guarantee this: If you do what it takes to win my vote, you will also win the votes of enough people out there who are like me to become the next majority party.


Obligatory post

This is my obligatory post about how Ann Coulter is very horrible and terrible, and should be condemned for her hate-filled vitriol, and blah blah blah. (Plus she looks like a man, don't you know? Insert favorite Adam's apple joke here.)

Now that I've got that out of the way, maybe I should point out the rather obvious fact that all of Coulter's detractors are just helping her sell books. Prior to the Bush administration, Coulter languished as a fourth-rate pundit specializing in constitutional law (*yawn*.) She quickly learned that she could get all the attention she wanted by being as outrageous as possible. She embraces her image as some kind of evil, satanic harridan. Glenn was joking when he observed that the pub date for her latest crappy book was 6/6/06. As someone who works in the publishing industry, however, I can assure you that this was no coincidence.

I've taken Ann Coulter to task before for her stupid comments, but, as with Ted Rall, I'm not sure why I bother. Giving either of them any additional attention would be giving them exactly what they want.

Feminists annoy me

After following some discussions on other sites about this, I'm reminded exactly what it is about feminists that piss me off. First of all, just to save you the time and headache of reading this ludicrous WaPo piece from this whiny, irresponsible woman, I'll summarize it for you: George W. Bush forced her to have an abortion because she couldn't buy the morning-after pill without a prescription.

Now before I go any further, let me say that I think "Plan B" as it's called should be available over the counter. So should most drugs, in my opinion. For you see, I am a libertarian, and I believe that adult citizens should be given very wide latitude in determining what treatments are appropriate for them, and, absent serious public health risk, we should trust them to make the right decisions for themselves.

I also happen to think it's ridiculous that I need a prescription for Propecia. How am I going to abuse that? By trying to become a lycanthrope? A friend of mine with rosacea needs a doctor's okay to buy medicated lotion with zero abuse potential. And why am I forced to get a permission slip signed by my ophthalmologist every time I want to buy some more contact lenses, even though I know perfectly well what my prescription is? And don't even get me started about being forced to show ID to buy OTC antihistamines, an increasingly common phenomenon.

In short, I think it's ridiculous to put obstacles in the way of obtaining all of these treatments, including Plan B. So why do the feminists bug me on this issue? Presumably, they're not libertarians. They're not campaigning for a general overhaul of the FDA's policies -- they want a special exemption for their own pet drug. It's as if some "men's rights" group wanted to leave the existing prescription system more or less intact, with the exception that Viagra would be freely handed out like Pez.

Well excuse me, but that's just bullshit. "Plan B" is nothing more than a megadose of the very same hormone used in normal oral contraceptives. A prescription is needed for the pill, of course, yet many believe that one should be able to obtain megadoses of the same substance as easily as they supersize a value meal. Once again, just to be clear, I happen to agree with these people. Still, they need to learn that everybody who disagrees with them is not necessarily a right-wing religious fanatic who wants to punish women for having sex. I hate that shit.

The tide has turned

Republican Brian Bilbray (almost) lost in California! This is HUGE for the Democrats! The Dems haven't enjoyed a victory like this since Paul Hackett (almost) won in Ohio.

June 06, 2006

No matter how the elections turn out today...

... I am prepared to spin them to support my own pet political theories.

Who cares. I'm just glad there wasn't any apocalypse today and stuff.

I propose new legislation

How's this? The penalty for vandalizing a car whose alarm has been sounding for longer than five minutes shall be zero dollars and zero cents.

Another pirate update

Here are some photos from the Stockholm demonstration in support of Pirate Bay. You may also be interested in this speech Rickard Falkvinge gave at the event.

Bad hair day

Granted my hair never looks great, but today I look like James Trafficant.

June 05, 2006

Did I get that right?

Did the DNC just officially cede the mantle of "party" Party to the Republicans?

"The College Republicans' ignorance toward the seriousness of global warming and climate change shows a Party more focused on partying than talking seriously about the issues facing young people across America."

I have dreamed of and labored toward this goal since my college days in the early 80's, when this day seemed like an impossible dream. w00t!!

Interesting phone call

I just had an odd conversation. I picked up the phone, said hello, and listened as a youngish sounding college kid haltingly read through a prepared script about how the dire circumstances of New Jersey's current education system, and how Jon Corzine's tax-laden budget (not his term) was our only hope of saving New Jersey's children from a lifetime of functional illiteracy. Did he have my permission to transfer me to my state senator so that I could leave a message in support of Corzine's budget?

"You can transfer me if you like," I said, "but I'm opposed to the budget, and I'll urge my representative to vote against it."


"I'm waiting to be transferred. Do you need the name of my state senator?"

"I don't think I can do that," he said.

"Why not? Aren't you in favor of representative democracy in general? Or only when people agree with you?"

"I just don't think I'm allowed to do that."

"Well why don't you go find out?" I asked. "I'll wait on the line."

The youngster, to his credit, did indeed put down the phone and go consult his supervisor. He returned with a response in the negative. "Sorry," he said. He was not allowed to put me through.

"Fine, I understand," I said. "Just tell me the name of your organization once more, if you don't mind." He had blurted it out at the beginning of his sales pitch, but I didn't realize at the time that it might be worth remembering so that I could blog about it later.

"I don't know," he said.

"You what?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know who you're working for?"


"But you told me yourself at the beginning of this conversation. Don't you remember?"


"I'm not allowed to tell you who I work for."

"But that's not what you said. You said you didn't know who you worked for."

"This is a stupid conversation."

"Yes, it is."

"Maybe someone will call you later who is opposed to Corzine's budget and will agree to transfer you to your senator themselves. But I'm not allowed to do that."

"It's okay, I can use the phone book."

"Okay sir, you have a good day."

"Good luck."

That's a high-quality staff you've got there, governor. And while I don't normally make a habit of calling politicians on the phone, I am halfway tempted to call my representatives and register my opinion on Corzine's bloated, tax-the-air travesty of a budget... but only halfway.

Good news

As a follow-up to this depressing report from last week, it seems that reports of Pirate Bay's death were greatly exaggerated.

Hundreds of people waving signs and skull-and-crossbones pirate flags demonstrated in Stockholm on Saturday against a police crackdown on a popular file-sharing Web site with millions of users worldwide.

Dozens of police officers conducted raids in 10 locations Wednesday, seizing servers and other computer equipment in their crackdown on The Pirate Bay site.

But the site was back up Saturday, and spokesman Tobias Andersson said it would be "bigger and better than ever."

"We want an apology from the police and from the Justice Ministry, and we want our servers back," Andersson said.

He said the site is now mirrored on other sites around the world.

"It will be much stronger now. If police shut down a site, these other sites will be there to keep Pirate Bay working."

"The Johnathan Swift of our times" strikes again

Stephen Colbert, the finest political satirist in the history of Christendom, has delivered a commencement address. What this means, of course, is another three weeks of conservative bloggers posting "THAT WASN'T FUNNY!" while lefty bloggers tax the Internet's backbone to its breaking point, forwarding it to all their friends so they can masturbate over it together.

I, for one, intend to blog incessantly about how unimportant and unworthy of coverage it was.

June 02, 2006

Refresh my memory

Wasn't there a Paula Abdul song about this?

Conservatives against ID

I'm not much of a petition-signer, but I went ahead and signed this one.

Conservatives Against Intelligent Design (CAID) was founded to give a voice to Republicans, Independent Conservatives, and Libertarians across the country who stand opposed to the teaching of ‘intelligent design’ and other forms of creationism in the classroom. In recent years Republican legislators at all levels of government have authored, sponsored, and voted for various anti-evolution bills with perceived immunity, confident that those who vote for them are creationists like themselves. CAID is intended as a wake-up call to these legislators, to remind them that the teaching of evolution is not a partisan issue, but rather one of the separation between theology and science.

I'm working on a long-ish post about evolution and ID in more detail, and why conservatives (or anyone else, for that matter) should be hesitant to jump on the ID bandwagon, but it's not quite done yet. In the meantime, consider checking out the petition if you have an interest.

(Hat tip: Derb)

Fair-weather theocrats

Has anybody but me noticed that we haven't heard diddly-squat about the gay marriage amendment since the 2004 election? Not, that is, until recently, now that another election is about to roll around. I swear, politicians are so transparent.

See, this is precisely why I can't get all worked up about incipient theocracy, and "The Handmaid's Tale." The truth is, no one wants such a thing to pass, not even the social conservatives. They don't want to lose it as an election issue. And Rovian Republicans aren't slavering theocrats, nor are they Christian Talibani. They are merely disingenuous, crassly cynical politicians -- not that there's anything right with that.

Proper use of the term "traitor"

Let's be clear. Nancy Pelosi is not unpatriotic. Dick Durbin is not a traitor. Bruce Springsteen and the Dixie Chicks are not "anti-American." All of these people, whether I happen to agree with them are not, are loyal Americans who genuinely want what's best for their country. I hate it when right-wing idiots carelessly toss around that kind of slander. Not only does it make our side look like jingoistic morons, but it also blunts the impact of these terms when they're properly applied, such as to people like Michael Moore. Michael Moore, you see, is not anti-war. He is, as the saying goes, simply on the other side.

That's why I read with glee that Moore is being sued by Peter Damon, an Iraq war veteran who was very unhappy with the way Moore used his image in "Fahrenheit 911" (not the first such complaint, I should point out.) I really don't know whether Damon's claims have any legal merit or not, and I really don't care. I'd be very happy to see Damon take every dime that that intellectually dishonest, anti-American piece of crap has ever thought about making. Every damn dime.

June 01, 2006

This is pretty funny

But who's surprised, really?

Before President Bush touched down in Pennsylvania Wednesday to promote his nuclear energy policy, the environmental group Greenpeace was mobilizing.

"This volatile and dangerous source of energy" is no answer to the country's energy needs, shouted a Greenpeace fact sheet decrying the "threat" posed by the Limerick reactors Bush visited.

But a factoid or two later, the Greenpeace authors were stumped while searching for the ideal menacing metaphor.

We present it here exactly as it was written, capital letters and all: "In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]."

(Hat tip: Radley)


This sucks.

It seems The Pirate Bay, a popular Torrent site, has been raided by the Swedish police. The police came in, armed with HAPRA pine chairs and POOGLE throw pillows (now in blue, red, and lime green! $5.95 each!), and took down all of TPB’s servers, including some owned by their host, Rix|Port80. Then then all enjoyed the Manager’s Special with delicious meatballs, some potatoes, and Lingonberry sauce. We suspect that the Bay might return sooner than later, in a more powerful form, but that’s just us.