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July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Misanthropic Troll

Just FYI: Kay Bailey Hutchison has been gleefully posting Harry Potter spoilers in the comments section of this site, and I'm too busy to delete them all as they come in. You have been warned.

UPDATE: For the best HP spoilers site ever, go here. No really, just do it.

July 19, 2007

Plamegate and BDS

And so it ends, not with a bang but a whimper. A federal judge has dismissed Valerie Plame's lawsuit against the Bush Administration. And why not? I dismissed the entire Plame melodrama as a non-issue ages ago.

Plame's civil suit was clarifying in a way that Fitzgerald's criminal investigation was not, in that it cut right to the core of the supposed root cause of the non-crime: an imaginary conspiracy to deliberately "punish" Plame and Wilson by wantonly blowing her cover for no other reason than petty revenge for an Op-Ed they didn't like.

The fact that there was no evidence whatsoever for this conspiracy didn't prevent the nutroots from accepting it as established fact -- almost as an article of faith. That's why they were so disappointed on Fitzmas morning when there was nothing in their stocking other than a peripherally related perjury charge by a bit player. They seethed because "the bastards got away with it," sprung on a technicality of the IIPA act, while the underlying conspiracy remained unpunished.

But the underlying conspiracy was all in their heads, and that's why conservatives understand that Bush Derangement Syndrome is a serious problem. It's not because we're unquestioningly adoring of the 43rd president, but rather because we're nervous about living in a society in which a significant percentage of the population throws all logic out the window on matters related to this administration.

Seriously. Here's another example of how BDS is a real problem. Just yesterday, I saw this video on the site of a fellow blogger who's a very familiar acquaintance of mine. It's a very funny, cleverly spliced and edited ad for the South China Morning Post. It depicts a bumbling, stumbling, idiotic President Bush at a press conference, desperately consulting the SCMP on his laptop so he can answer a difficult question.

The video was very obviously a heavily edited joke, but the blogger in question (who shall remain nameless) presented it as accurate. For the record, this blogger is an extremely intelligent person who is no stranger to critical thinking and skepticism. Nevertheless, she suffers from a severe case of BDS, and as a result she shuts down all critical thought when it comes to examining a piece of anti-Bush information, no matter how obviously spurious it is (and you really should watch the video to see what I'm talking about.)

Similarly, this whole Plamegate "scandal" is nothing more than a manifestation of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Is it possible that there was a willful conspiracy to deliberate imperil a secret agent by wantonly publishing her secret identity? Yes. But absent any evidence of such a conspiracy, there's no reason to believe it took place. Particularly when there are much simpler explanations available -- you know, Occam's Razor and all.

Here's the Occam's Razor narrative, as far as I'm concerned.

  • Joe Wilson publishes an Op-Ed in the New York Times that's very critical of the Bush Administration, while strongly implying that he was sent on his fact-finding mission about Saddam's attempted uranium purchase by the vice president.
  • Various journalists, who realize this makes no sense, start asking questions of the administration. "Why did you send this guy?" they (understandably) ask.
  • "Well, we didn't. Despite his claims to the contrary."
  • "Well... then who did?"
  • "His wife works for the CIA on proliferation matters. I'm guessing that has something to do with it."

And that's it, as far as I'm concerned. Dick Armitage was already cleared of outing a covert agent, because he had no idea Plame was covert to begin with. If someone believes there's something more sinister at work, fine. Let them present evidence to that effect. Until then, they can STFU, and consult a therapist who specialized in BDS.

July 18, 2007

I know this will come as a shock...

...to almost no one, but George Galloway was on the take from Saddam.

July 17, 2007

The truly controversial issues of the day

Guess what? The most frenzied commenting activity on my blog of late has been on this two-year-old post in which I suggested that Dolly Parton might be a satanist.

I thought I got hate mail during the 2004 election, but it all pales in comparison to Dolly. Here are a couple of samples.



Right. And this.

you know what this song says backwards... you are a fuckin dick head la la la... retard no one likes you you full of SHIT and you need to go eat cow shit byotch

Anyway, check out the thread. There are 57 of them altogether, as well as some great photographs of Dolly herself. Meanwhile, I'm going to avoid the hot button issues of the day and stick to safer topics like Iraq.

Another defeat for Bloomberg!

On the same day the Dow Jones breaks 14K, Bloomberg gets his ass handed to him again by lawmakers.

Life is good.

July 16, 2007

Is he insane?

John Edwards has been my least favorite presidential candidate for some time now, for the simple reason that he alone strikes me as an unreconstructed, 70's-era liberal, with all the negative baggage that said stereotype entails. All the other serious Democratic contenders are, in varying degrees, post-Clinton, Wall Street-friendly corporatist types. And say whatever else you will about those folks, they're not exactly the Bolsheviks storming the Winter Palace.

But Edwards is different. No "Third Way" for him, thank you very much. You'd probably have to go back to LBJ to match his expansionist view of government, and as far back as Huey Long to find the equal of his economic populism.

Still, even I was unprepared for Edwards' latest policy initiative: busing.

Yes, that's right. Busing. If someone had asked me even a week ago to predict which tired, discredited nostrum of 1970's liberal inanity would make a guest appearance in the upcoming presidential election, I'd have probably guessed the windfall profit tax.

But busing? Sorry, that almost descends to the level of bad parody, the kind of stuff you'd expect to find here. But no. It's not "The Onion," it's reality. Which is why I'm glad that my wife, the registered Democrat of the family, is campaigning for Hillary.

Look, I'll give Edwards this much. He's exactly right when he says that the public school system serves monied white folks and poor minorities inequitably. But what does he propose as a remedy? Freedom of choice among public schools? Vouchers? Competition within the system? Hardly. He wouldn't dare offend the almighty teachers unions. He's correctly diagnosed a real problem, but in responding to it, he's shown all the worst political instincts, and underscored the reason he remains my least favorite presidential candidate for 2008.

July 15, 2007

Still a pro-gun Congress (and Bloomberg loses one)

I'm starting to like this new batch of congressional Democrats more and more. That's a good thing, because as I like Republicans less and less, it helps to have someone to turn to.

One reason the new Democratic freshman class is so cool is that many of them were moderates recruited from rural red states. The end result is a Democratic congress that's not prone to be taken in by every bit of anti-gun posturing to come down the pike.

But it wasn't only Democratic freshmen who helped keep Tiahrt in place. Committee Chairman David Obey was on board as well. And as an added bonus, the whole thing is a stinging defeat for Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who's now learning that just because he's New York City's Nanny-in-Chief doesn't mean the rest of the country is going to be as pliant and accommodating as his constituents east of the Hudson.

Heh For gun rights folks, this story is good news on almost too many levels to count. :-)

July 14, 2007

Requiem for a McCain

Believe it or not, I was a pretty hard-core McCainiac back in 2000. To this day John McCain remains the only politician I have ever donated money to in my life, a distinction he seems likely to maintain for the forseeable future. To the extent that the Republican Party "stole" an election in 2000, they did not steal it from Al Gore, but rather from John McCain. I was so angered by his treatment at the hands of the GOP machinery that I wrote in McCain's name in the 2000 ballot.

This time the GOP establishment was prepared to give him his turn, but McCain is well past his "best used by" date, and, barring a miracle, his time in history appears to have come and gone. I think that's damned sad, although others will no doubt disagree. I know it's stylish for the very same liberals who were gaga over McCain in 2000 to openly despise him today. But if they were honest about it, they'd have to admit that they've changed in the past 8 years more than McCain has. Their odd infatuation with the guy never made any sense, and there was no way the honeymoon could have lasted. That's one reason the magic of the 2000 campaign has proved so hard to recapture. The stars simply aren't aligned that way anymore.

A lot of liberals (and some conservatives as well) are going to derive much satisfaction from watching the McCain campaign melt down so spectacularly before our eyes. That's too bad, because even the most anti-McCain lefty out there would have to admit that we'd all have been much better off had the Republicans nominated him seven years ago. I don't see anything to be gleeful about. Watching McCain's faltering campaign stands as a reminder of what might have been. It stands also as a damning indictment against our broken two-party system that stacked the deck to guarantee that the most popular politician in America never appeared on a national ballot. Given what we've seen the past seven years, I'd say that's pretty near a tragedy of history. For all these reasons, I'll be sad to see McCain go. The current Republican field will be poorer without him. I think we all will.

July 02, 2007

President Bloomberg: A bad idea gets worse

The reason I mention Mike Bloomberg's trans fats ban so often is not because I enjoy sitting around eating bowls of Crisco (although I do.) The real problem is that a mayor who's willing to mandate how french fries be cooked in his kingdom probably has troubling and worrisome views as to the proper role of government in a free society. It's not just about grease, in other words.

The most recent proof is probably this:

City May Seek Permit and Insurance for Many Kinds of Public Photography

Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks.

And as for Bloomberg's undeserved reputation for frugality and fiscal conservatism, Pat Toomey offers a few reminders in today's WSJ.

Mr. Bloomberg began his first term with a firm pledge not to raise taxes, declaring in his 2002 inaugural address: "We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. We cannot drive people and business out of New York. We cannot raise taxes. We will find another way." Seven months later, Mr. Bloomberg raised taxes on cigarettes 94% from eight cents to $1.50, followed by another 50-cent increase in 2006.

Mr. Bloomberg followed the initial cigarette tax hike by proposing a whopping 25% property-tax increase, eventually reduced to 18.5% by his Democratic City Council. In 2003, the "fiscally conservative" mayor added insult to injury by piling on a raise in the city's income and sales taxes. Although Mr. Bloomberg offered tax rebates and is now implementing property- and sales-tax cuts, this relief is small compared to the additional burden imposed on homeowners and businesses in his first term. A study by New York City's Independent Budget Office published this year concluded that the tax burden is 90% higher than the average of other major cities. Amazingly, Mr. Bloomberg appears indifferent to the effect his fiscal policies have on beleaguered taxpayers, justifying them, in part, by arguing that New York City is "a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product."

Naturally, these tax hikes went hand-in-hand with a dramatic increase in city-funded spending. Over his first term, spending increased by an average of 10% per year according to New York City's Independent Budget Office -- wildly outpacing inflation and population growth, easily surpassing the 2.84% average during Rudy Giuliani's two terms and even beating out David Dinkins's four-year spending spree.

I remain utterly mystified by this Bloomberg boomlet. And since the whole thing seems deliberately calculated to piss me off, I wonder who his running mate's going to be? Lou Dobbs?

Thompson's faux pas

I hate to agree with Blue, but I find this video of Fred Thompson unimpressive. Not only are Cuban-Americans very powerful politically, but they may well be the only genuine Republican ethnic minority. Thompson's comments here are not going to be helpful.

The video also demonstrates that Thompson doesn't come across nearly as well when he deviates too much from his prepared text, a point that Bob Novak made very early in Thompson non-campaign.