Fat Steve's Blatherings

Friday, April 29, 2005

GOOD Judicial News

      Hasan Akbar of the 101st Airborne, who murdered his comrades for religious reasons, has been sentenced to death for said murders.


Can ANYONE Explain This to Me?

      Via today's Best of the Web, we get a story about abortion and murder.

      According to The Houston Press, eighteen year Jerry Flores old got his sixteen year old girlfriend Erica Basoria pregnant with twins.  She decided she wanted to abort the twins, so she asked her boyfriend to stand on her stomach, causing a miscarriage.

      It worked, the twins miscarried, but the doctors noted the bruises on Erica and the cops investigated.  So now Jerry Flores is in jail, charged with two counts of first degree murder.  But Erica is not charged, because, she has a right to an abortion.

      Can anyone rhyme those two propositions?  If he committed murder, than she is an accomplice that should be in jail too.  If she has a right to an abortion, than Jerry might be subject to a charge of practicing medicine without a license, but murder is ridiculous.

      What kind of prosecutors do things like this?


Steyn does it Again, #2

      Go read his latest column in Britain's Spectator, about the relative chances for Russia and China.

      One point worth commenting on:
      In his state-of-the-union address this week, Vladimir Putin, as befits an old KGB hand, was waxing nostalgic. ‘The demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,’ he declared. ‘For the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.’

      Well, why don’t they come home? If there’s one thing Russia could use, it’s more Russians. The country is midway through its transition from ‘superpower’ to ghost town. Russian men already have a lower life expectancy than Bangladeshis — not because Bangladesh is brimming with actuarial advantages but because, if he had four legs and hung from a tree in a rain forest, the Russian male would be on the endangered species list. By mid-century, vast empty Russia will have a smaller population than tiny Yemen. The decline in male longevity is unprecedented for a (relatively) advanced nation not at war. Russia has extraordinary rates of drug-fuelled Aids, hepatitis C, heart disease and TB, all of which are mere symptoms of an entire people unable to pull themselves out of self-destruction.

      Another question might be, if you don't like living among foreigners, why did you leave Russia?  The answer is, they left as conquerors, and got weak, lazy, corrupt, and sloppy, and collapsed.  This is the most frequent fate of empires.  In 1958, Poul Anderson's science fiction short story "The Last of the Deliverers" projected just that fate for the USSR, and now it's happened.

      By the way, I just LOVE to read the "President" of the "Russian Republic" whine about "the demise of the Soviet Union."  OOH, OOH, OOH!  FUN!

      Anyway, read all of Stein's column.  Great, as usual.


The WMD Myth & Main Stream Media Bias

      Thanks to Tom Maguire, at JustOneMinute, and Sammler at StoneCity, we seem to have tracked down where the myth began that the only reason the U.S. went to war with Saddam was "Weapons of Mass Destruction."

      The WMDs were the excuse Kerry gave for voting for the war resolution, so that was THE only reason for it, at least as far as the MSM is concerned.

      As usual, the liberals listen only to each other, and think they've debated the issue.  That's why they sincerely believe they aren't biased in MSM news coverage: they've presented all responsible liberal points of view, so what else is there to say?

      This also helps you understand their tolerance for Marxism.  One party ideology and censorship come naturally to them, since they prefer those things themselves.


Interesting News Story

      The Washington Times reports on Iraq's new government, and makes clear why it took so long.  The Sunnis still can't decide whether they want to play when the game isn't rigged in their favor from the start.  So, they fought over whether they should join the government at all, and bitched about the cabinet seats they got.

      Idiots.  Well, it's another step forward, and we are winning.


Update on the Exploding Toad Mystery

      Apparently the crows did it.

      "Eat your liver" gets a new meaning here.


The Future of Press Conferences

      One day, the Pres. will let bloggers into press conferences.  Consider being very afraid. (Hat tip: Instudpundit)


Television and Toys Today

      There are times I'm awfully glad I don't have children.


An Energy Solution

      The BlogGod Lileks went to hear Jonah Goldberg speak, and the inspired Lileks with solution for the controversy over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Sanctuary:
hire Christo to wrap them. By the time everyone worked through the conflicting issues, the field would be bone dry.

      But apparently Goldberg was at least mildly off his game:
Oh: not one Star Trek reference was made. Not one. But I left early.
      Jonah, hope you're not coming down with something.


Two Factoids: One Expected, One Weird

      The Los Angeles Dog Trainer has an article on the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit's Child Exploitation Section.  It's an interesting article in many ways, but it contains this paragraph:
      On one wall is a "Star Trek" poster with investigators' faces substituted for the Starship Enterprise crew. But even that alludes to a dark fact of their work: All but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie.
      It appears that this paragraph is wrong, despite the four layers of editors that check every Dog Trainer story.  That's the expected factoid, courtesy Corante.com.  (Hat Tip: Instapundit)

      But the unexpected factoid also comes from Corante.  Ernest Miller, who writes for the Corante blog, found the hard core Trekkie story a bit difficult to believe, so he called the Child Exploitation Section to ask about it.  (Hmmm, maybe that's the problem?  The Dog Trainer might not have cutting edge technology like telephones available to them).

      Miller spoke to Detective Ian Lamond, who said the Dog Trainer was wrong, as any sane person would expect.  The weird factoid:
      . . . a majority of those arrested show "at least a passing interest in Star Trek, if not a strong interest."

      They've arrested well over one hundred people over the past four years and Det. Lamond claims they can gauge this interest in Star Trek by the arrestees' "paraphenalia, books, videotapes and DVDs." I asked if this wasn't simply a general interest in science fiction and fantasy, such as Star Wars or Harry Potter or similar. Paraphrasing his answer, he said, while there was sometimes other science fiction and fantasy paraphenalia, Star Trek was the most consistent and when he referred to a majority of the arrestees being Star Trek fans, it was Star Trek specific.

      Mr. Spock, you got some splainin' to do.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Please Help Confused Liberals

      Via Best of the Web for last Monday, I find that liberals are confused about cause and effect again.

      The Associated Press reports that as the crime rate is going down, the prison population is going up.  And The Washington Post is astonished to learn that, as the murder in Baltimore has gone up, the conviction rate for murder has gone down.

      Please escort known liberals to the state home for the bewildered.


Exploding Toad Mystery

      Toads have been exploding in Germany.  I mean, really exploding:
Suddenly, after nightfall, they start to balloon to more than three times their normal size and can barely crawl before popping. Their entrails are expelled distances of up to one meter.

      Biologists are baffled:
The experts' main concern is that the apparent illness could spread, although water samples from the lake have been analyzed and no obvious bacteria or deadly pollution seems to be present.

Other explanations are a virus or a new breed of aggressive crows. The birds have been seen attacking toads, and one theory is that the toads swell up as a defense mechanism, which then gets out of control.

      Personally, I note these are German toads, and suspect they are showing their solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian slimeballs.


Raising the Bar on Illogic

      It's Al Gore, explaining that the rule of law, and respect for the rule of law, is necessary to hold our society together.

      Not the laws that the legislature passes, though.  Just the ones the courts make up.  Those must be respected.  And they won't be, if the Senate Republicans confirm judges on Party line votes.  So the Democrats must be allowed to filibuster judges the Republican Senate would confirm so that . . .

      I'm laughing to hard to continue.  Read it yourself, if you need a good chuckle.  Use it to sharpen your wits, finding the hypocrisies,lies, and non-sequiters in it.  And vote Democratic, if the Republican leadership doesn't nuke the Dem bastards.

      (Hat Tip: Ankle Biting Pundits)


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ah, now I understand

Thanks to Dr. Sanity, we get The Top Ten Reasons Saudi Arabian Women Can't Vote, with additional reasons from the comments.

      #12) The men don't want to let the women find out that they weren't really voting, just betting on horse and camel races.

      #11) (To be unveiled at a later date . . .)

      Go read the rest.  Especially #3.


Interesting Questions

      Via Prof. Reynolds, we get our attention drawn to an interesting exchange between Cathy Young and Prof. Stephen Bainbridge.

      It started with a column Young did for the Boston Globe, where she appears regularly.  Young noted that several Republican politicians and political activists have said that the refusal of some Democrats to allow certain judges to come to a vote is due to the fact that they are devout Christians, and opposed to abortion on religious grounds.

      Nonsense, says Young.  Some secularists oppose abortion on secular grounds, and surely the Democrats would oppose them too?  So, it's not religous predjudice, it's political prejudice.

      'Not so fast', says law prof. Stephen Bainbridge.  Anti-discrimination law has long recognized the principle of "disparate impact."  In disparate impact cases, a test that is neutral on its face may still be illegal discrimination, if it disproportionately screens out members of one group rather than another.  Bainnbridge quotes a legal source, with edits:
      Bigotry is better hidden than it used to be and, thus, proving discriminatory intent is often impossible. Disparate impact provides a useful prophylactic for rooting out intentional discrimination, and it has the important side-benefit of doing away with rules and policies that hold back minorities devout Christians for no good reason. Any qualifying test that hurts minorities devout Christians, and isn’t job-related, is just as well gotten rid of.

      'You're wrong Professor,' says Young.  She offers two reasons.

      Taking the second reason first, Young says:
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't conservatives supposed to be against nebulous standards like "disparate impact"? Creative interpretations of what is and isn't "job-related" have led to some absurd court decisions -- throwing out "gender-biased" physical strength and endurance tests for firefighters, or nixing written tests for promotions in the police force because they are disproportionately flunked by minorities. Do conservatives now want to extend this "logic" to the absurd conclusion that a prospective judge's views on important legal issues cannot disqualify him from the job if those views are based on religion?
      Well, Ms. Young, here I think you are mostly wrong.  Conservatives object to using disparate impact to achieve unlegistlated social goals, but not to root out real discrimination.    If someone comes up with a test whose sole effect is to discriminate against otherwise equally qualified members of some group, conservatives would support government action against that test.  What we object to is things along the lines of shutting down men's sports teams on campus, because there are more male athletes than women, because not as many women wish to be in athletics.  Disparate impact claims must not be frivilous or unrelated to real discrimination, say conservatives.

      Which brings us to the real question.  As Young notes:
      The human resources guide Prof. Bainbridge quotes refers to "any qualifying test that hurts minorities, and isn't job-related" (emphasis added). Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that in order to be a violation of Title VII, an employment practice must be "unrelated to measuring job capability." For instance, job interviews that focus heavily on a prospective employee's familiarity with sports -- tending to screen out women -- are legally acceptable if you're hiring writers for a sports magazine, but not if you're hiring stockbrokers.
      That puts the issue in a nutshell.  What is "job-capability" for a federal judge, and how, it at all, do religious issues relate to it.

      One thing that should be addressed first, though: what is religion, legally speaking?  Last I looked, the legal definition of religion included atheism and agnosticism, which is why atheists can claim standing in religious freedom cases.  That, in turn, means that distinguishing between "religious" and "secular" grounds for an opinion is not necessarily easy.

      Getting back to the question of job qualifications, what are the qualifications to be a judge?  Young says:
      Is Prof. Bainbridge saying that a judge's views regarding the legality of abortion are not "job-related"? If the Democrats were refusing to confirm someone as, say, Secretary of Agriculture based on his or her anti-abortion zealotry, that would be mere prejudice. However, protecting the legal right to abortion is -- for better or worse -- a key part of the Democrats' political agenda. Thus, disqualifying judges who not only oppose abortion but passionately advocate its banning is, from their perspective, directly job-related (hence not discriminatory under the "disparate impact" standard).
        Odd, I thought it was a judge's job to decide legal cases, based on the Constitution, the statutes, and treaties entered into by the United States.  Unless I misunderstand her badly, Young is saying that the Democrats look on the federal bench as a way of pushing its agenda down the throats of the citizenry, regardless of whether they citizens approve said agenda, and therefore the nominee's views on policy are part of his or her qualifications.

      If that is indeed what she is saying, and then I don't see how that excuses the Democrats from the charge of religious prejudice.  Their view, honestly stated, is that people who have views that disagree with theirs are unfit to be judges.  Since religious beliefs will inevitably affect what a person views as proper policy, they do indeed believe that sincere members of certain religious groups are automatically unfit for the bench.  If that isn't prejudice, what is it?

      I'd say the proper standard for judicial nominees is knowledge of the law, and willingness to abide by it.  Whether judicial nominees approve of abortion, in their role as citizens, is unimportant.  The issue is whether their decisions as to what, if anything, the U.S. Constitution requires the states and federal government to do about abortion are well-reasoned and solidly grounded in the law.  In short, does a nominee have the intellectual honesty to say 'As a citizen I disagree/agree with this law, but as a judge, I find it constitutional/unconstitutional'?

      But perhaps I am wrong.  Can anyone point me to a good argument that the judges should be allowed to enact policy that have no foundation in the Constitution or the statutes?

      Finally, I can't help but suspect that Cathy Young, Glenn Reynolds, Eugene Volokh, and Ann Althouse all acquit the Democrats of charges of religious prejudice precisely because they approve of the abortion law the Supreme Court has made, and don't want neutral constitutional reasoning.

      I wonder what the four will say, the next time a constitutional question is decided against their preferences, in a blatantly political way?


Shocking Charge

      Instapundit says that the New York Times told a lie on its editorial page.  Could this be true?


Breaking News

      The United States will apparently be attacking and conquering Europe any day now, with the aim of exterminating the untermenschen and obtaining much needed lebensraum.  World War III to follow.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Good News and Predictable Stupidity

      Via the Blogfather, the Guardian reports good news: Syria has pulled out of Lebanon, both troops and overt intelligence agents.

      But being the Guardian, bastion of left-wing cluelessness, we also end up with editorializing masquerading as reporting, and it's foolish editorializing to boot:
Faced with mass demonstrations in Beirut and international calls for a speedy withdrawal, Syria had little option but to pull its forces out
      RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT.  They couldn't possibly just suppress the demonstrations with machine guns, and tell the world to go jump, because . . .


Monday, April 25, 2005

China: Losing Control?

      A New York Times article suggests that the Chinese government is afraid it's losing control of the anti-Japanese protests.

      Back in the early eighties, I heard Jerry Pournelle predict that computers would destroy the Soviet Union, by establishing free communications internally.  Computers and cell phones now seem to be destroying Red China.



Some Things Parody Themselves

      At the New York Times, Maureen Dowd is shocked, shocked to find out that Pope Benedict views:
the Roman Catholic Church as the one true religion.

      Meanwhile, the Indiana Attorney General is trying to get the records of forty girls twelve and under who had abortions, on the grounds that if twelve year olds were pregnant, statutory rape occurred:
Indiana law stipulates that sexual relations with anyone under the age of 13 as child abuse, including cases where the partner is also a minor. State law requires anyone suspecting child abuse to report suspicions to authorities.
  Planned Parenthood is resisting, though.  They want to 'preserve the privacy of the victims,' they say.  Besides, it might make children under age 13 more reluctant to have abortions.


I TOLD You Terri Schiavo Was Only the First

      In Britain, a judge has made a decision on medical care, in the case of 18-month old Charlotte Wyatt, a child born three months prematurely, in October, 2003.  Charlotte has brain, kidney, and lung damage, and good arrest at any time.  The decision, made
on the basis of Charlotte's best interests and in close consultation with the parents,
is that Charlotte would be better off dead, and therefore a Do Not Resuscitate order has been entered.

      Charlotte's parents, Daren and Debby Wyatt, are deeply disappointed in this.  For some odd reason, they want their daughter to live.  But the wise, all-knowing doctors of St. Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth, don't feel like making much effort if she arrests, and insist she is suffering.  So let her die.

      I say it again: they're coming for YOU, and you'd better think about it now.


On the Other Hand. . .

      Despite the last post, the New York Times is not nearly as bad as the BBC (apparently, anyway).

      Glenn clues us to a story at USS Neverdock, where it turns out the BBC equipped hecklers with radio microphones, and taped them at a Tory party rally.

      Not to worry, said the BBC, just a legitimate news show about the history of heckling, and the fact that the no heckler were taped targeting Labor, or that the Tory hecklers may have been paid expenses, is just a coincidence.

      The BBC will be investigating very thoroughly.  And I will be the next king of England.


Mainstream Media Bias?  What Are You Talking About?

      Remember the "assault weapon" ban that expired last year.  Remember the predictions of disaster?

      The New York Times has a story on the results.  Short Version: "Nothing has happened, and that's a bad thing."

      It is sort of interesting to read reporter Deborah Sontag's frantic attempts to spin the story.  Otherwise, forget it.

      Update: JustOneMinute reminds us of the Times editorial of last Sept. 11th.  If you don't understand gun controllers, the first paragraph lays it out for you:
As regressive milestones go, few are as frightful in this new era of homeland security as the decision by Congress and the Bush administration to allow the expiration of the 10-year-old law protecting the public from assault rifles and other rapid-fire battlefield weapons. [my emphasis -- St.O.]

      You see?  It isn't violent people that are a problem, it's those evil guns, which attack people on their own like rabid dogs.

      If they weren't such a danger, they'd be hilarious. (Hat tip: Prof. Reynolds)


French Troops Arrive in Iraq

      BigBoys.com has the video.  (Hat Tip: Instalawyer).  The French have the cleaning bill.


You May Already Know This

      When it comes to the Oil-For-Palaces scandal, THE source to check is Roger L. Simon, whose blog has more on this than almost anyone else.

      Reporter Claudia Rosette has probably done more overall, per her pieces are episodic.  Simon has a new tip almost every day.

      Keep track of both of them.  And Claudia, baby, start blogging!


A Prediction to Remember

      Curzon at Coming Anarcy goes out on a limb:
      As it happens, the Bush Administration has managed, intentionally or otherwise, to follow Amnesty’s advice: all military aid to Nepal has been suspended since the February coup. The result? The army is running out of ammo and [King] Gyanendra is now getting cozy with China and North Korea, two regimes who will sell him arms on the cheap and won’t give two shakes about his human rights record. So we’ve forfeited any influence we had over the King and have lost geopolitical ground. Thank you Amnesty—mission accomplished.

      When chaos, collectivization, and genocide do arrive in Nepal, don’t expect foreign powers to do anything about it until it’s too late. No one has any interests at stake—sorry, KNF. That’s just the cold hard truth. The US and the EU will say things but won’t lift a finger until it’s all over. Eventually, China and/or India will invade ala Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia in 1979 and only then will the reeducation camps, starvation brought on by collectivization, the torture chambers, the mass graves, the death squads, and the executions come to light. In the aftermath, Amnesty and their myopic ilk will find something about US foreign policy to criticize while solemnly saying “never again,” as if they mean it. Mark my words.

      UPDATE! Despite being so despondent, I was overjoyed to read that New Delhi has lifted the arms embargo on Nepal and is working with the government. This editorial in the Times of India couldn’t say it better: “Talking to Nepal is good, now think out of the box.” Amen—we’re going to need it…

      We'll see what occurs, but I wouldn't bet against Curzon on this one.


Senator Feingold Exposes Himself

      Ann Althouse heard Senator Russ Feingold give a talk about his devotion to the U.S. Constitution.  Sounds like not a bad talk, but notice some of the details:
      Feingold doesn't like Constitutional amendments:
      In his work on the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Feingold said he votes against amending the Constitution. He thinks it is better to craft legislation so that it is constitutional (as in the case of campaign finance reform) or simply to reject the amendment as not important enough (as with flag burning).

      On the other hand:
      Feingold said he said he believes the cases that permit the death penalty are wrong, but that the new death penalty case (making it unconstitutional to execute a person who committed his crime as a juvenile) is an "exciting example of how the Constitution can evolve."

      Now, whatever you think of the policy, there is nothing more constitutional than the death penalty.  It's mentioned explicitly in the text of the Constitution more than once.

      This led a reader to ask Althouse:
      "What on earth can account for the view that amending the constitution is wrong but that allowing the constitution to 'evolve' under the watch of political judges (with no Constitutional basis for this evolution) is preferable."
      Her answer:
      It all just works so much better if you can get a judge to do it for you. Plus it is very hard to amend the Constitution, so if you try, you'll probably fail, and your enemies will rake you over the coals the whole time -- for wanting to change the Constitution. Acting through the courts is so much more politically palatable. And the beauty of it is that you can continue to lavish praise on yourself for your devotion to the Constitution.
      I think that explains the egregiously unconstitutional McCain-Feingold law nicely


Saturday, April 23, 2005

12 Out of 10 People Suffer IQ Loss

      The author of this article read one e-mail too many:
      LONDON, England -- Workers distracted by phone calls, e-mails and text messages suffer a greater loss of IQ than a person smoking marijuana, a British study shows.


      Nine out of 10 people thought colleagues who answered messages during face-to-face meetings were rude, while three out of 10 believed it was not only acceptable, but a sign of diligence and efficiency.


What a Cruel, Ugly Time We Live In

      Dyslexia is defined as:
      A learning disorder marked by impairment of the ability to recognize and comprehend written words.

      What do you call it when someone can't understand spoken words?

      Whatever it's called, one of the sufferers works for the ABC affiliate in Chicago, where they let him do on-camera interviews!  His name is Andy Shaw, and he says of Henry Hyde:
      The veteran republican [sic] is also admitting for the first time that the impeachment of Clinton may have been in part political revenge against the democrats for the impeachment proceedings against GOP President Richard Nixon 25 years earlier. *

      "Was this pay back?" asked Andy Shaw.

      "I can't say it wasn't. But I also thought that the Republican Party should stand for something, and if we walked away from this, no matter how difficult, we could be accused of shirking our duty," said Hyde.

      The asterisk refers to a footnote, that reads:
      *In July 1974, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against President Nixon, charging obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress. The full House did not vote on those articles because Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.

      This is like taking a spastic who can barely walk, and making them dance for your amusement.  In public.  Just to show that this isn't a mistake, but deliberate sadism, note the earlier version, which appeared on Powerline:
Clinton impeachment was retaliation for Nixon, says retiring congressman
by Andy Shaw.

      Republican Congressman Henry Hyde made some surprising comments Thursday on the impeachment hearings of President Bill Clinton. He now says Republicans may have gone after Clinton to retaliate for the impeachment of Richard Nixon. . . .

      The veteran DuPage County congressman acknowledged that Republicans went after Clinton in part to enact revenge against the Democrats for impeaching President Richard Nixon 25 years earlier.

      "Was this pay back?" asked Andy Shaw.

      "I can't say it wasn't, but I also thought that the Republican party should stand for something, and if we walked away from this, no matter how difficult, we could be accused of shirking our duty, our responsibility," said Hyde.

      Hyde's comments reflect what Democrats have been saying for years about the Clinton impeachment. It will be interesting to see what happens when Hyde's comments hit the national media.

        While people like Shaw can never lead normal adult lives, you can a least give them some dignity.  Why didn't you make the poor, mentally disabled man a janitor?  Why let him get in front of a camera, where he will inevitably humiliate himself?  The studied viciousness of letting the retarded "reporter" think he's got a scoop is particularly vile.  Letting Shaw say Nixon was impeached, and then adding a footnote that shows he wasn't is equally low.

      Have you no decency left, ABC Chicago?  At long last, after all these years, have you no decency left?


Man Survives Torture, Barely

      Warning, the following is not for the squeamish.

      The man in question is Matt Taibbi of the New York Press, and the torture is Thomas Friedman's latest bestseller, The World is Flat, which the poor man was forced to read.

      Desperately trying to warn us off, Taibbi describes some of the wounds he suffered:
      Friedman, imagining himself Columbus, journeys toward India. Columbus, he notes, traveled in three ships; Friedman "had Lufthansa business class." When he reaches India -- Bangalore to be specific -- he immediately plays golf. His caddy, he notes with interest, wears a cap with the 3M logo. Surrounding the golf course are billboards for Texas Instruments and Pizza Hut. The Pizza Hut billboard reads: "Gigabites of Taste." Because he sees a Pizza Hut ad on the way to a golf course, something that could never happen in America, Friedman concludes: "No, this definitely wasn't Kansas."

      After golf, he meets Nilekani, who casually mentions that the playing field is level. A nothing phrase, but Friedman has traveled all the way around the world to hear it. Man travels to India, plays golf, sees Pizza Hut billboard, listens to Indian CEO mutter small talk, writes 470-page book reversing the course of 2000 years of human thought. That he misattributes his thesis to Nilekani is perfect: Friedman is a person who not only speaks in malapropisms, he also hears malapropisms. Told level; heard flat.
      I used to work in a trauma center emergency room, and I have to tell you, that almost made me break down.

      It doesn't get any better:
      Predictably, Friedman spends the rest of his huge book piling one insane image on top of the other, so that by the end -- and I'm not joking here -- we are meant to understand that the flat world is a giant ice-cream sundae that is more beef than sizzle, in which everyone can fit his hose into his fire hydrant, and in which most but not all of us are covered with a mostly good special sauce. Moreover, Friedman's book is the first I have encountered, anywhere, in which the reader needs a calculator to figure the value of the author's metaphors.

      God strike me dead if I'm joking about this.
      Understandably, Taibbi nearly despairs:
      The walls had fallen down and the Windows had opened, making the world much flatter than it had ever been -- but the age of seamless global communication had not yet dawned.

      How the fuck do you open a window in a fallen wall? More to the point, why would you open a window in a fallen wall? Or did the walls somehow fall in such a way that they left the windows floating in place to be opened?

      Four hundred and 73 pages of this, folks. Is there no God?
      Pray for Taibbi's recovery, and thank God that no one told him the subtitle of the book: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century.   What kind of warped mind comes up with a sick joke like that?

      As for Friedman's prose, forget it.  I think it's beyond even the help of prayer.


Friday, April 22, 2005

Guidelines for Victory

      The great Victor Davis Hanson has his latest National Review Online column up, containing five general rules for the war against Islamofascism
      1. Political promises must be kept.

      2. Any warnings to use force -- much less unfortunate unguarded braggadocio -- should be credible and followed through.

      3. Diplomatic solutions follow, not precede, military reality.

      4. The worst attitude toward the Europeans and the U.N. is publicly to deprecate their impotent machinations while enlisting their aid in extremis.

      5. Do not look for logic and consistency in the Middle East where they are not to be found.

      Read the whole thing, at NRO or at his website.


A Call to Action!

      Well, we've seen the problem: physicians kill 120,000 people every year.  Now, the question is, what do we do about it?

      As the history of social movements in the U.S. shows, the first thing to do is organize a political pressure group, because that is the only way I have a chance to score some really big bucks we get a permanent presence on the national scene.  So, I hearby announce the the formation of Physician Control, Inc, Stephen M. St. Onge, Founder and CEO.

      The ultimate goal of Physician Control, Inc. (PCI), is the complete elimination of doctors from private hands.  Obviously, the general public inherently misuses physicians.  We will not, however, trumpet this goal immediately because the public hasn't been sufficiently educated for this yet.  Besides, pressure the right legislators, and it won't matter what we claimed we were doing.

      PCI will of course have to raise large sums of money for public education and lobbying.  I've hired an expensive excellent professional fundraiser, S. Michael St. Onge, but we're going to need lobbyists.  Send me your resume and examples of succesful lobbying campaigns you've been involved in.  Salary negotiable.  Experience in bribery WITHOUT GETTING CAUGHT required; videotape or recordings of the mark accepting the cash a definite plus.  Other open spots include members of the board of directors, (Steve St. Onge, Chairperson), Spokesperson, Chief Legal Advisor, Assistant Shysters, and members of our Distinguished Advisory Board.

      Our list of immediate goals is still open, and your suggestions are welcome!  Current ideas include:

      1) Patient licensing.  No one should be allowed to see a doctor without a health-care recipient license.  While we may have to make reluctant concessions to home health care, we insist that no one patronize a physician without first obtaining a license.  These should of course be discretionary licenses, issuable only if the local coroner thinks you need to see a doctor.  No appeals.

      2) Home health care safety.  As a reasonable and necessary first step, only one box of band-aids per month.  Mandatory child-safety locks on medicine cabinets are under study.

      3) Close the emergency room/clinic loophole.  Right now, most physicians operate out of offices and hospitals where an appointment is needed, and we keep an eye on them. But thousands of people per day slip through scrutiny as "walk-ins."  We must require appointments and health care recipient licenses for any ER/clinic client.

      4) Mandatory waiting periods for seeing a health professional.  We do not yet have firm statistics on the number of accidental, physician-induced deaths that would not take place if patients had to wait to see a doctor, but our director of research (S. M. "Fat Steve" St. Onge) has made some stuff up done some pleliminary estimates.  We think that a mere 24 mandatory delay before seeing a doctor would cut the present 120,000 a year death toll by at least 10%.  Just think what a delay of a week would do!

      5) Legal liability for manufacturers of physicians.  It isn't enough to hold doctors responsible for their killing.  By making the sources of doctors liable too, we can cut down on the number of physicians produced in the U.S.  Therefore, whenever a physician kills someone, we should be entitled to sue his medical school, the hospital where he interned, and of course his specialty organization.  Obviously, this will still leave a large number of dangerous physicians practicing for decades, but they do wear out eventually.  And fewer physicians obviously mean fewer physician caused deaths.

      We stress, these are only preliminary goals, and your ideas are needed.  We must and will end the physician menace.  You can start by donating to the cause, but even if you're cheap unable to give at this time, you can help by linking to this blog.  And remember to proudly display our motto:



France Backs Pre-Emptive War!

      But only by those who buy its weapons and feed its delusions of greatness.

      Hat tip: Professor Puppy Blender.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

This is News?

      Headline in today's Ankle Biting Pundits:

Howard Dean is an F--ing Scumbag!

      Fortunately, Ankle Biting Pundits usually tells you things you didn't know.  Steve Bob says check it out!


An Idea too Crazy Even for Me

      Just when I think Europe is washed up, "Spengler" pulls a rabbit out of his hat: maybe Pope Benedict can convert Muslim immigrants to Christianity, thus saving the culture of Europe.


Meanwhile, back at the Strib

      I happened to glance at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's editorial pages for yesterday and today, and for a wonder I learned something.  This wasn't easy, as the Strib's editorials are usually 99.44% liberal imbecilities.  I'm going to start off by bashing them, so those of you who find that boring are advised to skip to the ***** near the end.

      On Wednesday, there was the expected liberal complaints that Benedict won't modify the Doctrine of the Catholic Church to conform to whatever liberals think is a good idea today.  That was only to be expected, and, given the delay in publishing a newspaper has, boring as all hell.

      Digression: there's a great science fiction novel, Weapons of Choice, in which a naval battle group from 2021 gets sent back in time to 1942.  The cultural clashes are rather extreme, as when for example a black Marine colonel from the future has to tell a white southern Marine sergeant from the past that regardless of color of the person who is in the uniform, the sergeant will show the wearer the respect due a Marine, or he, the colonel, will personally put him in the hospital.  I can't help but wonder how the Strib editorial board would have responded in 1976 to the editorials of 2005.

      But the Strib comes through!  It didn't only express its disappointment that the Catholic Church isn't a subsidiary of MoveOn.Org, it also expressed it's disappointment that Benedict probably won't be:
a religious figure, any figure, [who] might emerge to help heal the world's agonizing conflicts being waged in God's name.
      And what are these conflicts?
Global terrorism is only one example. Age-old rivalries in the Middle East and South Asia are another. Africa suffers an epidemic of religious brutality. In Uganda, just to name one instance, the spiritualist leader Joseph Kony tells his followers in the Lord's Resistance Army that his direct line to God and the Bible justifies the butchery of cutting off civilians' lips, hands, nostrils, breasts and other parts as a normal consequence of civil war.
      You see, you can count on the Strib!  They'll die before they mention the brutalities being committed in the name of Islam, but they'll find some obscure and allegedly Christian madman to criticize.  And although the conflict in Uganda has been going on for thirteen years, they'll only mention it now, when a new Pope is selected.  Apparently, Pope John Paul the Great wasn't supposed to work on that conflict, much less secular leaders like President Bill the Unzipped.

      But less you think that mass murder and mutilation is the only problem Benedict won't measure up to handling, the Strib notes other grave religious threats to the world:
America's religious conflict is far more subtle, but important nonetheless as conservative religionists tear away at the precarious wall separating church and state. Catholicism, meanwhile, continues to lose ground in some of its strongholds -- to evangelicals in Latin America and to apathy in Europe, where the church's social doctrines are taken as irrelevant to most people's lives.
      I must say, this is the first time I've ever seen "subtle" used to mean "non-violent and legal."  And note, with admiration, the use of "conservative religionists" instead of, say, "orthodox Christians and Jews."  I don't think I could have come up with a phrase as sneering, bigoted, and stupid as "conservative religionists" to save my life.

      And the paragraph's treasures aren't exhausted yet.  There are two errors of fact and two more stupidities to look at.  First, the "precarious wall separating church and state" is a figment of their imagination.  When the Constitution was ratified, seven of the thirteen colonies had some sort of state support for one or more religions.  The First Amendment was passed to make sure that the federal government didn't touch religion, or the state governments laws favoring various religions.  The "wall" was erected in the twentieth century, by Supremes who thought it ought to be there.  And the Strib calls the wall "precarious" because they fear their drive to expel religious beliefs they don't agree with from public life might be stopped, or even reversed.

      As for the Catholic Church losing ground to evangelicals in South America, well, I know just enough about this to know the Strib doesn't know what it is talking about.  But let's pretend the Church is losing followers in the Americas.  South America was the birth place of "liberation theology," the doctrine that Jesus Christ was really a Marxist.  Evangelical protestants are a variety of those terrible "conservative religionists" the Strib disapproves of when they pollute the U.S.A.  So, the Catholic Church in Latin America turns to left wing political doctrines, and the conservative Protestant sects take followers away from it.  What to do?  Turn the Church left-wing worldwide!

      As for Europe, let's take note that many Protestant Churches there have turned left already.  How are they doing?  They've lost even more parishioners than the Catholics.  Yoohoo, Strib editorial writers, how many hours a week do you spend in religious activities in churches that spout the latest liberal Democratic line?

      In today's, Thursday's, editorials, we start with something approaching sense.  The city is considering building a wi-fi network to provide cheap Internet access to everyone everywhere in town.  The editorial notes the technical uncertainties, the business uncertainties, and the general questions of how it would work:
Whatever Wi-Fi's appealing present-day cost and future potential, it does not transcend the principles that cities and their residents get what they pay for -- and must pay for what they get. As this ambitious proposal goes forward, its balancing of complicated interests will bear very careful scrutiny.
For a moment, you think someone has replaced them with sane people.

      Fortunately, they come through for us in the liberal stupidity department:
Though Minneapolis has far better broadband availability than Philadelphia, it shares the goal of extending access and lowering costs as a way to bridge the "digital divide." But that task requires additional assistance to Internet nonusers hindered by barriers of income, education, language, age and disability.
All segments of the population aren't downloading pornography at the same rate, so there's something wrong that has to be fixed.  TA DA!  The government to the rescue!  The possibility that people of different incomes, education, language, age, and 'disability' might not, on the average, be equally interested in high speed wireless internet access never occurs.

      ***** I won't fisk the rest of the mush head non-thinking on the editorial page.  I've gotten bored.  But I will share the thing I've learned.  In an editorial criticizing the Bolton nomination, they refer to his "neo-conservative" agenda.  I've wondered before why we've seen the spread of the term "neo-conservative" to mean Bush supporter, but today I figured it out.  It's just the new liberal swear word.  Calling a person "conservative" in a political context doesn't have the bite it once did.  Also, "conservative" doesn't imply 'goddamn Jew.'  The Strib called Bolton "neo-conservative" because it's the worst thing they can say about him with straight faces.

      Thanks, Minneapolis Star-Tribune for clearing that up.


Request for Information

      I finally got the Trackback feature installed on this blog, but when I click on the Trackback link, the little window doesn't open.  If some of you would try clicking on various posts' Trackback links, and then leaving a comment telling me whether the window with Trackback info opened for you, I'd appreciate it.

      Thanks in advance.



Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Pope Benedict Roundup

      If you're interested in media and blogger reaction to the new Pope, there's no better place to go than Joe Gandelman's blog, The Moderate Voice.  He's done an outstanding job of rounding up reactions.


Too Bad He Chose the Name Benedict

      Someone suggested the Pope should have adopted a symbol with no pronunciation, thus becoming
"The Pope formerly known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger". That'd be cool as hell!

      Dang!  Now why didn't Ratzi think of that!



      Jonah Goldberg at The Corner on National Review pointed to a CBS News article from a year and a half ago, about laser weapons.

      The technical stuff was OK, but the rest!!!     
For example, it is unclear if the U.S. would use the laser to target people or restrict its use to hitting inanimate targets. It is not known whether lasers would be employed to defend or attack satellites.
Only liberals worry that it is bad to kill someone with a laser, but think it's OK to shoot them in the belly and let them die in agony.
      How will U.S. doctrine accommodate a weapon that can strike without detection possibly hundreds of miles away at relatively little cost? Since no other country is anywhere near developing a militarized solid-state laser, under what circumstances would the U.S. use it in a war?
Apparently, the objection is that it's not fair to use weapons that the other side doesn't have.  Again, a concern only of liberals.  By the way, CBS, we have cruise missiles that can strike without detection from hundreds of miles away.  Have you noticed how we use them?

      But the piece de resitance is undoubtedly this:
In most cases, the "law of war" requires discrimination and proportionality. While a laser could do a better job of discriminating between troops and civilians, it is unclear that its use could be proportional to any enemy threat.
That's too dumb to require comment.

      What is wrong with these people?


Son of a Gun!

      Only the second day, and they've decided?!

      And what was that about 'Entering the conclave as a Pope, and leaving as a Cardinal?'  Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was a bishop going in, and is a bishop coming out -- Bishop of Rome, that is.

      Kinda fun, though, watching the anti-Orthodoxy and anti-Catholic crowd whine, lie, and generally kvetch.

      By the way, why didn't most news stories tell when it happened?  You have to really dig to find that it was 10:49 AM EDT when the smoke was seen, ten or eleven minutes later till the bells rang, and 12:43 till the announcement that it was Ratzinger.  The best coverage I've seen was by blogger Brendan Loy.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Juan Cole, Jew Hater

      For some time now, blogs having been criticizing Juan Cole, one of Main Steam Media's darling "experts" on the Middle East.  Now, The New Republic catches on (registration required).  (Hat tip: the Blogfather)

      MSM: don't thank us, we were just doing our job.  And don't feel bad that you're slow to catch on.  If you were as bright as bloggers, you'd be bloggers.


Republicans, and republicans, Democrats and democrats

      We are not all supposed to be Republicans here in the U.S., but we are all supposed to be republicans, as the Constitution stipulates a republican form of government at the both the federal and state levels.

      The Constitution does not require democracy, but it does allow it, and the people have elected representatives who required a democratic republic in the U.S.

      But now, the Democratic Party has renounced Republicanism, republicanism, and democracy.  The people have elected a President and Senate.  The President has nominated various people to be federal judges, as the Constitution permits and requires.  The Senate, as the Constitution requires, is ready to give or withold its advice and consent to these nominees.  But members of the Democratic Party defy the will of the people who elected the President and the Senate by blocking a vote on some of the President's judicial nominees.

      If you consult the Democratic National Committee's own history of the party, it says "Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party in 1792 as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and against the elitist Federalist Party."  Today, the Democrats have become elitists and hypocrites.  If they had any shred of integrity left, they'd say outright: 'We can't find eleven members of the Republican majority in the Senate who agree with us that these nominees are unqualified.  If we could, we'd vote them down in the regular fashion.  Instead, we'll filibuster.'  They are thoroughly disgusting.

      But the Republicans are almost as bad.  If they had any courage, the Republicans would deal with the "must pass" appropriations bills, then bring the nominees to the floor, and refuse to consider any other business till the votes happened.  They'd force the Democrats to have members standing on the floor at all times, droning on in front of television cameras, making it clear that they were pure obstructionists.  Alternatively, the Republicans would change the rules to stop filibusters of nominees.

      It's past time for the Repulican senators to decide whom they are responsible to.  If the answer is 'the electorate,' then they enforce or change the rules.  If the answer is 'not the electorate,' they we must remember this and vote them out of office at the next three elections.


More on the Schiavo Memo--2

      Michelle Malkin has another excellent piece on the Schiavo memo.  She says that an anonymous source told Mary Ann Akers of Roll Call that at least two other Martinez aides were involved in putting together the memo. Martinez's press secretary, Kerry Feehery, denies the story.

      Further, the Democrats are wondering whether Republican staffers tried to spread a story blaming the memo on Democratic dirty tricks.  The Dems may ask the Ethics Committee to look into this.

      Personally, I'm inclined to believe that more than one aide was involved somehow.  Remember, there were two version of that memo.  The first version had multiple spelling errors, the second cleaned up some of them.  And Darling said he didn't think he'd ever printed it out.  Multiple staffers would be compatible with a scenario in which Darling wrote the memo, someone else cleaned up errors, and someone else printed it out and gave it to Sen. Martinez (and other Republicans?) by mistake.

      Again we see that the coverup is worse than the crime.  If Darling had said, as soon as ABC News reported the story, 'I wrote that memo, but it was something I left on my computer to work on later.  Someone else printed it out, by mistake I presume,' he might have kept his job.  Certainly he would have lessened the damage to his party and his own reputation.


How does the Press Work?

      Last December, the AP published a photo of terrorists murdering two election workers in the streets of Baghdad.  It instantly became controversial, as people wanted to know how the photographer happened to be in position to take this picture.

      The Daily Standard has a story on the subject, here, by D. Gorton, a former New York Times photographer.  It's worth reading.

      Additionally, Susanna Cornett has a great comment on the whole subject:
      One of the things I've found repeatedly in the academic literature about the work of journalism is that one way the media manage the huge task of selecting and organizing information out of the vast pool out there is to bring to their selection process a preconceived notion of what they'll find and how they will interpret it [my emphasis -- St.O.]. That's how you get things like an article written about something that never happened. It's also how media bias finds its way most often into media coverage - they see what they expect to see, and what they expect to see is drawn at least partially from their own life experiences and filters. Gorton is saying that's what happened here - the AP believes the war in Iraq to be chaotic, it's a dramatic paper-selling point, they have a photo showing that what they think about the war is in fact true (or evidently true, based on the photo), so they go with it. The larger questions, about how the photographer knew about the situation or whether he was close enough to indicate a personal familiarity and even approval of the terrorists involved, are not asked.

      We all have meta narratives and biases. That's not the problem. The problem is that the media has them but refuses to admit it.



Monday, April 18, 2005

Powerline has News from Iraq

      One of their Iraqi friends, Haider Ajina, gives poll results from Bagdhad's newspaper al-Midhar: 82% of Iraqis want foreign troops to stay for now, 55% of Iraqis feel the security situation has improved since the new govt. got started.

      Haider Ajina's father adds that watching the new assembly on tv, every member of the assembly wanted us to stay for now, and most expressed thanks for freeing them from Saddam.

      In other words, we're succeeding.


China: Riding the Monster

      Rebecca MacKinnon, ex-CNN reporter who spent part of her youth in China, reports on Vietnam and China (she's currently visiting Vietnam).  One very interesting point (read it all, the whole thing's interesting):
      In China, on the other hand, historical rage has become very much part of the Chinese identity. (As my good friends know, I can still sing the anti-Japanese songs I was taught at age 10 in a Beijing primary school.) The Chinese government cultivates a sense of historical rage in its young people . . . But as the latest anti-Japanese protests around the country show, the government is now riding a monster it created but which it no longer fully controls.

      I haven't been worried much about the Chinese/Japanese tensions.  Reading MacKinnon's comment is making me reassess.


"Accurate, but Fake"

      At the Volokh conspiracy, Randy Barnett writes about Jeffrey Rosen's New York Times Magazine piece, The Unregulated Offensive (registration required), and his, Barnett's, experience with the fact checkers.

      Barnett sums up the whole thing as "Accurate but Fake."  Barnett was interviewed for the story by Rosen.  The fact checkers did an excellent job of making sure that the quotes were accurate, and of weeding out some claims that were wrong (e.g., the number of states that had legalized cannabis for medical purposes).  But the main theme of Rosen's article is that there is a "Constitution in Exile" movement.  The funny thing is, all the people supposedly a part of it say that they aren't part of the movement, and don't know anyone who is, and never use the phrase except when they're denying that they use the phrase!  Barnett also notes that, from the questions Rosen asked, Barnett knew the article would have a hostile slant on the supposed movement, which it does.

      So what we got is, the details in the story are right, but the story as a whole is completely wrong, and thoroughly biased.  Why does that not surprise me?


Much Ado About Little

      The Daily Telegraph has a story about Iraq and al-Qaida ties, headlined Reports undercut Iraq, al-Qaida link.

      But there's less here than meets the eye.

      The same distinguished group that didn't detect 9/11 reports to us.  They say the evidence is: "murky", "not clear", contains "many critical gaps", that there is "limited reporting", sources of "questionable reliability" and "varying reliability", "contradictory" reporting, and reports "cast doubt".

      In other words, 'we're not sure.'

      Given the CIA's history of politicized reporting and general incompetence, this doesn't surprise me.  But there's really nothing new here.  I've been hearing the "maybe so, maybe not" song for years.


I Like Jerry

      Jerry Brown, that is.  "Governor Moonbeam," former Governor of California, current Mayor of Oakland, candidate for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of California.

      Here's an example of why I like him.  On his blog (yes, he has one), he writes:
California Democratic Convention: Day Two

Howard Dean fired up the troops tonight. He spoke about moral values and talking in a language that ordinary Americans could understand. The audience went wild.

There is something strange, though, in this rush to "morals."

Morals represent tradition and custom. In this brave new century, tradition and custom are replaced by fashion and hype. The past is for reactionaries, we are told. Science, technology and the ever-expanding GDP will solve our problems. Yet, no society can hang together without a proper balance between stability, respect for the old ways and openness to the new. In our time—2005—we are way out of balance. Question: who gets it?

      Now, what other politicians ask questions like that, and invite your comments?  None that I know of.

      I was enrolled in the Republican Party before birth, and usually voting for a Democrat makes me physically ill.  But if I were still an Angelino, I might vote for Jerry as Attorney General, and not feel a twinge of discomfort.


More MSM Cluelessness

      Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post is one of the best reporters around.  When he gets interested in finding the truth about a story, he does an excellent job.  But today, he shows some of the big flaws of the Main Stream Media: a lack of concern for the truth, ignoring details that change the whole meaning of a story, and sheer cowardice.  (Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt).

      In his latest "Media Notes" column, "For Every Story, an Online Epilogue," he tells how the MSM are reacting to bloggers. Kurtz starts with seven paragraphs consisting almost completely of complaints by MSM people about the way bloggers treat them.  Fair enough, since the story is about the way reporters feel.  But is this really any different from the past?  Some comparisons with letters to the editor or calls received by the Post would help.  So would some real examples of what bloggers have said.  Some sort of survey would let us know how much of this MSM hurt feelings, and how much is legitimate complaint.  And it might be nice to see some examples of how bloggers are treated by commenters and other bloggers.

      In paragraph eight, Kurtz writes:
Bloggers have scored three major media knockouts since last fall. They were the first to blow the whistle on the suspect National Guard documents used by CBS's Dan Rather in a report on President Bush.

      Howard, Howard, Howard.  Do you really think those documents were genuine?  If so, say it plainly.  Do you think that they may have been genuine?  Then say that.  Are you unable to come to an opinion?  Let us know.  Or do you believe that the memos were frauds?  In that case, just flat-out call them 'phony memos.'  But in any case, grow a pair.  Tell us what you believe.

      In the next sentence of the same paragraph, Kurtz says:
They helped force the resignation of CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan over off-the-record remarks about the U.S. military.

      Were Jordan's remarks off the record?  Two professional reporters in the room when he made them thought they were on the record.  The basis of the belief was the fact that an announcement by the conference organizers that all meetings in that particular room were on the record.  Rony Abovitz, the blogger who got the story rolling, saw the panel being videotaped, and figured that made it public.  Calling Jordan's remarks "off-the-record" without noting that this may have been an after-the-fact excuse to avoid releasing the video seriously distorts the incident.

      In the ninth paragraph, Kurtz quotes ABC's Linda Douglass:
But she says others are "driven by anger" and trying "to snuff out the opinions offered by the other side," undermining journalists who "are trying to provide a more balanced view."

      Hmmm, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't complaints about lack of balance a staple of the blogger criticism of the MSM?  Whether the MSM is biased is what much of the controversy is about.  Kurtz ought to note that fact.

      In paragraph thirteen, we read:
When controversy erupted last month over what ABC's Douglass and The Post's Mike Allen described as a strategy memo given to Republican senators in the Terri Schiavo case, some conservative bloggers denounced the document as questionable, even fake. Not all backed off after GOP Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida admitted an aide had written the talking points.

      Howard, that's not exactly what happened.  The story as it currently stands: Mel Martinez, freshman Senator from Florida, introduced a bill intended to save the life of Terri Schiavo.  He gave some talking points in concerning the bill in a press conference, and on his web site.  One of his aides, Brian Darling, then (Darling claimed) wrote some stuff about the political advantage that he thought would accrue to the Republicans if they passed this bill, and added the Martinez talking points at the end.  Then, something happened: the aide swears he didn't print the memo out, but Martinez ended up with a copy of it.  Martinez gave a copy of the memo to Tom Harkin.  Then, something else happened, and ABC and the Post had stories saying this was a Republican Party memo, distributed to GOP senators by the party leadership.  When questioned, Senate Republican leaders denied distributing the memo, and all fifty-five GOP senators denied knowing anything about it till it appeared in the press.  It was only after Harkin told Martinez, 'You gave me a copy of this memo' that the aide story came forth.

      Did the party leadership distribute the memo?  Did the Martinez aide write it, or is that a cover story to protect the real author?  Who printed it out and gave it to Martinez?  Did somebody hack Martinez's office computers?  Who gave it to the media?  Was the Republican leadership involved in any way?  Did the memo get distributed to Republican senators?  Did the Post or ABC make any effort to check their assertions before they ran with the story?  Lots of unanswered questions here, but Kurtz glosses over the lingering mysteries.  Is he unaware of them?  That's hard to believe.  He quotes John Hindracker of Powerline, where a lot of these points were made.

      It appears that, having found a point where Kurtz can say 'Look, a lot of bloggers thought Democrats wrote this memo!  They were wrong!', he and the rest of the MSM have decided to drop any further inquireries.  That shows a certain dishonesty of attitude on their part.  If it was important enough to report in the first place, it ought to be important enough to track down the truth of the matter.

      After the Schiavo memo section, we get three paragraphs of reporters telling us that the left has been nasty to them.  So?  The idea seems to be the old MSM excuse that if you get criticized from left and right, that means you're unbiased.  Bullstuff!  It may be that both left and right are correct about your bias, or that both left and right are sometimes correct and sometimes wrong, or that one side is wrong, but the other one is right.  But making judgments of that kind is something Kurtz and the Post refuse to do.  I wonder why?

      The second story in the column tells us
ExxonMobil has funneled money to 40 organizations that have either challenged scientific evidence on global warming or are linked to skeptical scientists who do so, says the forthcoming issue of Mother Jones
      So what?  Why is this significant?  No quotes from Mother Jones to tell us why they think so.  Quote from Steven Milloy saying that Mother Jones is insinuating he's been bought, and denying it.  Quote from ExxonMobil saying 'So's your old man' to the MSM.  Nothing on recent reports that left groups have, e.g., subsidized foundations and magazines to support their point of view.  No evidence or opinion on whether such subsidies influence anyone.  So what is the point of this story?

      The column's third section raps Robert Scheer's knuckles with the ruler, lightly, for not bothering to check out a story about William Bennett.  Given Scheer's reputation as a great reporter, doesn't this say something about the first section of the column, namely that criticism of the MSM is deserved?

      The final section is about Boston Globe freelancer Barbara Stewart, who wrote a vivid story about a seal hunt that hadn't taken place.  Here's the whole section:
Premature Journalism

Barbara Stewart, the Boston Globe freelancer dropped over her story about a Canadian seal hunt that had not yet taken place, says she never meant to deceive anyone. She just never checked back to learn that the scheduled hunt had been delayed by bad weather.

"The whole situation, while resulting from an egregious, massive, stupid [screwup] on my part, unbelievable carelessness, was nevertheless not malicious fabrication as in: pretending I was there and deliberately making up a whole scene and attempting to pass it off," Stewart says by e-mail.

"It was stupider and more boring and more flat out dumb on my part. Quite dumb. Remarkably dumb. But not vicious and not really a scandal, for heaven's sake."

      Now, I haven't been able to find an online copy of the story (any of you who know of one, please clue me in as to the URL), but the descriptions I read said Stewart described visual details, number of seals taken, and other things she couldn't possibly have known about in advance, even if the hunt had taken place.  That sure sounds like a scandalous fraud to me.  What does Kurtz think?  He doesn't say.  Neither does he report asking her any of these questions.

      Hey, reporters, WAKE UP!  If you want us to stop criticizing your reporting so harshly, you need radical improvement.

      Michelle Malkin notes Kurtz's spinning of the memo story here.


"Betsy's Page" is Indispensible

      Betsy Newmark points us to a Michael Barone column on voter turnout.  In it, Barone argues that you can't have high turnout and centrist politics at the same time.

      In another post, she notes William Raspberry's utterly clueless column on Fox News.  Raspberry is worried that Fox will:
sell the notion that what FNC presents is just another set of biases, no worse (and for some, a good deal better) than the biases that routinely drive the presentation of the news on ABC, CBS or NBC -- and, by extension, the major newspapers.

      As distinguished from the situation now, when we think the major networks and newspapers are unbiased?  Somebody tell this guy we decided the media was biased a long time ago.  (On second thought, don't bother.  I sent him a letter.)

      Then Betsy tells us about a John Hawkins post on Right Wing News, where some of the top bloggers list their favorite blogs.  She's too modest to mention that Betsy's Page is on three of the ten lists,.

      And Mrs. Newmark's not done with the day yet!  Bookmark her and read regularly.


A Note Concerning Andrea Dworkin

      Andrea Dworkin died last week, and there were the usual obituaries that didn't speak ill of the dead.  Said obituaries, in turn, really cheesed off Cathy Young of Reason, who called it a "whitewash", and apparently wants to burn her in effigy posthumously

      The first thing to remember about Andrea Dworkin is that she wasn't that significant.  In the heyday of feminism she was well known, but soon most people forgot about her.

      I live in Minneapolis, and I moved here just about the time that Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon persuaded the city council to pass an anti-pornography ordinance that attracted nationwide attention.  I remember reading a magazine article, "In the City of Women," which made it sound like Dworkin was the most important thing happening in the city.  In fact, the only affect she had that I could see was that occasionally her name came up in casual conversation.  As for the pornography law, it was struck down as unconstitutional.

      The second thing to remember about Dworkin is that almost anybody can be made to sound like a lunatic by highly selective quotations of their work.  Years ago, for a college class, I read Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape.  There were several notorious quotations, especially one that ran approximately "Rape is the conscious conspiracy by which all men keep all women in subjugation."  Yes, Brownmiller wrote that, but if you crossed out the half-dozen loony lines, what was left was a surprisingly good book on an unexplored subject.

      I never read any of Andrea Dworkin's books.  I don't expect to, either.  But the fact that some of the people who disagreed with her the most found her ideas interesting and provocative makes me suspect that she too might have had some interesting things to say.

      So, Rest in Peace, Andrea Dworkin.  You probably weren't as important as your admirers think, or as wrong as your critics say.  And Cathy Young, lighten up!


Why Liberals Aren't Much Worth Bothering With

      They lie a lot.

      For instance, Michael Kinsley has a column in The Washington Post about 'neo-conservatives,' and how they've changed their mind on foreign policy.

      If you visit the article, the first thing you notice is that there are few quotes, and no links.  Thus does Kinsley prevent you from checking what he says about the subject with the original sources.

      The burden of the article is that 'neo-conservatives' have changed their minds on foreign policy, but won't admit they used to be wrong.

      First, what is a 'neo-conservative,' and who are they?  Kinsley notes:
When the word first surfaced in the 1970s, its sting was in calling people conservatives five or 10 minutes before they were prepared to admit it. The core group had famously been Trotskyists at City College in the 1930s. In the 1950s and 1960s they were anti-communist liberals and supporters of the Vietnam War. The antiwar movement and the '60s counterculture alienated them. Affirmative action was another sore point. Finally Irving Kristol, dubbed the neocon godfather, decided to take it as a compliment. He defined a neoconservative as "a liberal mugged by reality."

      The big neo-conservative idea was supposed to be 'Screw Democracy' or as Kinsley puts it:
The great neocon theme was tough-minded pragmatism in the face of liberal naivete.

To support this, Kinsley quotes a few lines from a Jeanne Kirkpatrick article of 1979, in which she:
mocked "the belief that it is possible to democratize governments anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances." Democracy, she said, depends "on complex social, cultural, and economic conditions." It takes "decades, if not centuries." . . .

And the Bush Doctrine is said to have the fingerprints of neoconservatives all over it.

      So, who are the neo-conservatives that left their fingerprints on the Bush Doctrine, but won't admit they were wrong in 1979?  As far as I can tell, they're aren't any.

      Not a single one of the old codgers from the thirties is mentioned by name as having anything to do with Bush's foreign policy.  The only person named who has contributed to W.'s policy is Robert Kagan, born sometime in the 1950s or '60s.

      So what happened is, Kinsley has applied the "neo-conservatism" label to Kagan, without offering any reason why Kagan should be so labeled; slides from labeling to implying that Kagan once shared Kirkpatrick's ideas (although he doesn't offer any evidence for this, and mentions, in passing, that Kagan publicly differed with Kirkpatrick's views in 1997.); slides from that to implying that all neo-conservatives once believed what Kirkpatrick does, but have now changed their minds and hold Kagan's pro-democracy views (again, no evidence, and no context to allow you to judge Kirkpatrick's ideas); and then asserted that neo-conservatives won't admit to having changed their minds.

      This is an old game: distort what people say, then mock the distortions.  And it's why I don't bother reading Kinsley or most other liberals.  They just won't argue honestly.

      Update, April 20th: The Corner on National Review has a nice post by Cliff May.  I especially like the point that, regardless whether "neo-conservatives" have changed their minds, liberals definitely have, because they now oppose spreading democracy.

      There's another good post by Michael Ledeen, and a third by Jonah Goldberg.


Well, Ain't That Interesting

      You may remember the CBS "stringer" arrested as a terrorist suspect.

      The absolute last paragraph of this story says:
      The U.S. military reported Saturday that a CBS News stringer detained after a gunbattle between U.S. forces and insurgents this month "tested positive for explosive residue."  "Multinational forces continue to investigate potential collaboration between the stringer and terrorists, and allegations the stringer had knowledge of future terrorist attacks," said Sgt. John Franzen of Task Force Freedom in Mosul.
      (Hat Tip: Instapundit)


Original Thinking

      Jane Galt has a way to eliminate most of the problems with the inheritance tax, but still get the Treasury a nice chunk of cash.

      Read it here.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

New laws to control dangerous things needed

      Update: Welcome, VodkaPundit and Cut On The Bias readers.  (Thanks, Stephen Green and Susanna Cornett, for the referals.  Those who haven't visited them, do so, they're great blogs. )  Look around for more deranged blather.

      From Baen's Bar, a posting on a terrible danger:

      Some interesting statistics:


      (A) The number of physicians in the U.S.is 700,000.

      (B) Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year are 120,000.

      (C) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171. (Statistics courtesy of U.S.- Dept. of Health Human Services.)


      (A) The number of gun owners in the U.S.is 80,000,000. Yes, that's 80 million.

      (B) The number of accidental gun deaths per year, for all age groups, is 1,500.

      (C) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is 0.0000188.

      SUMMARY: Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

      Remember: "Guns don't kill people, doctors do."


      Please alert your friends to this alarming threat.  We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand.  (Out of concern for the public at large, I have withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear that the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention.)


More Europe News

      From George Wills's latest column:
      Europe itself is withering. The day of John Paul II's funeral, the European Union's statistics agency reported that the decline of birth rates means that within five years deaths will exceed births in the EU. By 2013, Italy's population will begin to decline; the next year, Germany's will begin to decline. After 2010, Europe's population growth will be entirely from immigration. By 2025, not even immigration will prevent declining fertility from accelerating what one historian calls the largest "sustained reduction in European population since the Black Death of the 14th century."

      In his new book "The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God," George Weigel, biographer of John Paul II, argues that Europe's "demographic suicide" will cause its welfare states to buckle and is creating a "vacuum into which Islamic immigrants are flowing." Since 1970, the 20 million legal Islamic immigrants equal the combined populations of Ireland, Denmark and Belgium.

      "What," Weigel asks, "is happening when an entire continent, wealthier and healthier than ever before, declines to create the human future in the most elemental sense, by creating a next generation?"

      What is happening is that Europe wants to die.  And it will.