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Monday, May 10, 2004

Over the weekend... 

Saw Van Helsing over the weekend. Stupid and fun, but mostly stupid. Hugh Jackman plus vampires plus Kate Beckinsdale in leather really should add up to more than it did. Not the worst thing I've ever seen (that'd be John Carpenter's Vampires), but it's the reason God made Netflix.

While waiting for the movie to start, hung out at Borders, where I got the new P.J. O'Rourke book, Peace Kills. I'm in the middle of it right now, and the way I read, I should be done later this week. Very similar to Give War a Chance, (in a good way). If anyone cares, I'll probably put up a thought or two after reading the book. (I'm a huge P.J. fan).

By the way... 

The first sentence that popped into my head when I read about Specialist Joe Darby was "He's a bigger hero than Pat Tillman." Silly to compare the two, I know, but I've had cause to think about what Tillman, and those who serve there today, are trying to do in Afghanistan.

When talentless jackass Ted Rall and wannabe courageous journalist Rene Gonzales spit on Tillman's grave by accusing him of racism (Rall), and calling him an idiot who got what he deserved (Gonzales, and come to think of it, Rall again), they cast aspersions on the mission in Afghanistan. Gonzales claimed the Taliban were "more Afghani then we were" and Rall said Tillman should have taken the money and left Afghanis alone.

Had there been no invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban would still be in charge. And men who poisoned little girls for attending school would not be condemned by the government as "beasts."

They would be the government.

Don't cry for me, Uzbekistan... 

I'm not a fan of the way President Bush has handled Uzbekistan. I understand (to some degree) the strategic value it has, but President Islam Karimov is a buttsponge who has no quarrel brutally putting down anyone he thinks is in his way, and I've always been wary of the idea that Karimov thinks his strategic usefulness is giving him a pass.

Then I read this report, about a pastor in Uzbekistan who is praying for Bush to be re-elected. Why? According to the pastor, Captain Unilateral scares Uzbek officials, so they don't crack down so much.

I'm not sure I'm wholly convinced that the U.S. is dealing with Uzbekistan the right way, but it's interesting to hear someone who actually lives there express this level of support for Bush.

Michael Moore - bald-faced liar, or fatuous windbag? 

Sigh...nothing's ever easy when the one-man Blue Collar Comedy Tour that is Michael Moore is involved. A British newspaper reported that Moore misrepresented Disney's obligations for the purpose of drumming up publicity. With the general tendency of European press to go easy on people like Moore (the right kind of American), my own general disdain for the man, and Moore's own well documented willingness to put his own agenda above the truth, I believed the story credible.

Well, if the word of Michael Moore himself helps, he has issued a statement claiming his deal with Miramax included distribution (emphasis added.) If so, (and assuming there is no out clause that was validly exercised), Moore may have grounds to sue the crap out of somebody.

On the other hand, Disney appears to be standing behind its statement that Moore is full of it. I'm sure those who believe most corporations are evil incarnate and the Bush brothers are willing to take time out of their days to ineffectively silence documentary filmmakers will believe Moore, and those who do not list Zach De La Rocha liner notes as a news source will not.

I don't outright believe Moore, but since I 1.) own an autographed copy of Downsize This!, and 2.) have a mustard stain on my shirt from lunch, I think I can try to empathize. I don't wonder if there wasn't an option to Disney to distribute, that Moore, for one reason or another, assumed would be executed until he learned otherwise. That would explain both why Disney can say the deal was for financing only, and why Moore thought they were going to distribute it. (Although Moore is quoted as saying he knew Disney wouldn't distribute it...nevermind, I'm trying to give the man an out...)

But if somebody's gotta be lying like a rug...

Unsung hero... 

I haven't said anything about Abu Ghirab and all the abuse allegations that have been made. No particular reason, just didn't think I had anything to add prior to today. A quick summary of my thoughts leading up to what I do have to say today:

- The abuse depicted in the photos is horrifying and beyond defense. While the fact that worse occurs in other countries makes their selective outrage laughable, is does not justify a lack of outrage from people who expect better.

- I'm undecided as to whether or not Rumsfeld should resign. The soldiers involved should be prosecuted to the fullest. Their commanding officers should be prosecuted as well if they knew of the abuses, or stripped of their commands and drummed out of the military as incompetent boobs if they didn't. Rumsfeld can prove he's worthy of his job by how the whole discipline thing turns out.

- I like Tacitus' suggestion about decommissioning the offending unit. I'm inclined to agree that those particular shoulder patches have been tarnished forever, beyond repair.

- I think what was done in Abu Ghirab borders on treason. It made every possible positive outcome in Iraq more difficult and far off in the future, and it will result directly in the deaths of American soldiers.

All this leads to my point, which is Specialist Joseph Darby, revealed last week as the man who blew the whistle on the abuses. From the report, he doesn't at first sound like the kind of guy who'd step off the reservation, which just goes to show how people are capable when the right thing presents itself.

There are all sorts of heroes fighting overseas, from Pat Tillman to all the people doing the same thing as Pat Tillman that we don't hear about cause they never made the NFL, to these guys passing out soccer balls in a small town near Fallujah. (The latter being the sort of thing we're not going to hear about thanks to the crapsacks who brought us Abu Ghirab.)

Anyway, my point, is Spec. Darby belongs on that list.

Wow... 

Blogger looks like it's grownup. Must have gotten tired of everyone moving to Movable Type once they get the hang of this thing.

I'll probably be fouling this thing up over the next few days as I play around with it. Should be good times for everyone.

Friday, May 07, 2004

All you need to know about Illinois politics... 

The state of Illinois is basically Iowa, plus Chicago. The non-Chicago portion of the state is known as "downstate", and a lot of downstate Illinois politics, especially campaigns, involves downstaters carping about Chicago. Democrats are always at a disadvantage downstate because most Chicago politicians are Democrats as well, and downstaters frequently use the phrase "Chicago Democrat" as a quick and easy substitute for "lying crapweasel." (Not an entirely fair characterization, since Illinois Republicans are the ones who foisted George Ryan on the state, the man whose picture will soon adorn the dictionary definition of "lying crapweasel", but that's another story.)

My point is, via Volokh, I heard about Chicago Alderman Arenda Troutman, who is convinced that she is entitled to have a police squad car park outside her home when she's not there. I'd like to say I never would have believe she'd say this:

"Deserve it? Damn right," she said. "I should receive the protection I am receiving. I am an elected official. You're darn right."

...but then, I grew up in downstate Illinois. Clayton Cramer's aghast. Me? I'm not even surprised.

Chicago Democrat.

Whoo-hoo!! 

First, I'm thrilled to learn that Rachel Lucas is back and blogging. It was her blog that made me really wish I had one of my own, and besides, the word "asshat" is funny all by itself.

Also, I'm pleased to add Scott at Right Moment to the roll o'blogs on the right. Tight little ship he's running over there. Check it out.

Remember, if you're reading this, and you have a blog of your own, let me know so I can drop by.


Shocked, yes shocked I am... 

OK, Disney didn't want to distribute Michael Moore's new movie. Moore told us all that this was censorship, and more than a few people have claimed that this was pretty clearly Disney trying to silence criticism of Bush.

Now, if you thought Michael Moore was a lying sack of wind, you would probably not be surprised to learn that Moore has known for a year that Disney had no intention of distributing Fahrenheit 9/11.

Also, "Moore told CNN that Disney had "signed a contract to distribute this [film]" but got cold feet. But Disney executives insists there was never any contract. And a source close to Miramax said that the only deal there was for financing, not for distribution."

I personally, could care less whether this film sees the light of day or not. For me to think that our national debate required distribution of Fahrenheit 9/11, I'd have to believe Moore's dedication was to the truth, rather than himself, and frankly, that bacon cheeseburger was digested a long time ago.

Besides, if he has no problem lying in talking about the film, why should we believe he bothered to get his facts straight while making the film?


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Just wondering... 

As I understand it, if I shoot a 30-second TV commerical attacking John Kerry with the goal of turning the election against him, I am governed by a veritable dead forest of regulations.

Now, Michael Moore wants to release a two-hour or so movie attacking George Bush. He wants this to come out in the Fall of 2004, and I'm sure everyone agrees a major goal of Moore's is to have his film influence the electorate against George Bush. (Film's release subject to Moore finding a new distributor - he is, once again, the victim of a fast and far-reaching conspiracy to keep his brilliant light of truth from shining on the great unwashed.)

Anyhoo, my question - what, if any regulations govern's Moore's clear attempt to influence our election?

And don't tell me free speech allows Moore to say anything he wants about Bush at any time. That don't fly when the NRA wants to buy an ad going after someone who voted for gun control, it ain't flying here.

Just noting... 

It's been alleged by some folks, like for instance the President, that part of what fuels opposition to efforts in Iraq is the racist belief that Arabs are incapable of democracy. Not everyone on the right is cool with this idea, someone on the Corner, I believe, pointed out that accusing someone who disagrees with you of being a racist was annoying, stupid, unfair, and wrong when liberals did it, and it doesn't automatically become a good idea just because the opportunity to do the same presents itself. (I pretty much share this view - I think the general sense on the left is that Arabs are capable of democracy, and they would be glad to have that democracy manifest, provided it does so at a time and in a fashion where no conservative (and especially not Bush) can claim any credit for helping to bring it about.)

Bottom line, I dinna agree with it, and I agree with Dawn for pointing it out, and citing a George Will column going after this point of view.

But, because we hew to the fair-mindedness and sense of balance that makes blogging great, we feel compelled to point out that Ms. Irshad Manji has raised the question as well. Ms. Manji is a Canadian of African descent, a Muslim, a lesbian, and a feminist, so while it's possible she's a member of Dubya's right wing hit squad, I'd file that under "long shots." And, on the subject of Islam's capacity for Democracy, she says...

"There is I believe, such a thing as the soft racism of low expectations. And I believe that there is more virtue in expecting Muslims like anybody else, to rise above low expectations, because you know what? We're capable of it."

Say what you want about Bush's claim, but apparently people smarter than Bush, with a closer connection to the issue, seem to think something very similar.

Just saying.

Pave the West Bank... 

There is virtually nothing Israel can do that would move me to feel sympathy for the Palestinian "plight" anymore. Through Karol, here's the latest example of who exactly we're supposed to empathize with. A pregnant woman, four daughters, aged 2 to 11, gunned down and then shot in the head to confirm they were dead. This is billed as a "heroic attack" on "terrorists" by people who lack the guts to actually describe what was done. The people whose struggle for statehood we're supposed to support call these killers "heroes." Meryl Yourish does a fine job putting some perspective on all this.

To hell with them. To the killers, and the organization that helped them pull this off, to hell with them. To everyone who celebrated the murders, to hell with them. To everyone who refused to come out and call this atrocity a cowardly act of cold-blooded murder perpatrated and celebrated by ghouls unworthy of any kind of support, to hell with them.

Whatever Israel feels is necessary to ensure their security, I'm down with. And when our moral superiors at the UN and EU criticize those steps (and they will), remember the equivocating condemnation of this act, as though it were merely a bad tactical decision.

Then say to hell with them. To hell with them all.

Wicked cool geek stuff... 

Tired of getting your ass kicked in NCAA tournament pools? (Kentucky vs. Ole Miss final, anyone?) Put your nerd skills into an arena where they'll do some good, and hop on the John Kerry Veepstakes bracket. Set up like a pool, with "regionals" like Battleground States, Gravitas, and Chicks (They may use a different term) it's everything a guy who thought Stanford was a real Final Four contender could want!

The horrible bigotry of American Idol... 

I didn't want to believe it, but there it is, apparent for everyone to see. The horrible, blatant bias of the American viewing public. Who would believe, in this day and age, that we would still be seeing this kind of sexism from Americans?

George, the final male contestant, was sent home in the greatest miscarriage of justice since, well, since most everything that's happened on The Practice in the last three months. I just don't know what to believe in anymore.

And, just to get all TV-related thoughts out in one post, why is frickin' Andrew the only Buffy cast member hard enough up for work to do a guest spot on Angel?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Punks... 

Via the Corner, I learn that the Iowa Hawkeyes have backed down from a scheduled baseball game against Bradley, the college team from my beloved hometown of Peoria, IL, because Bradley's baseball team is named the Braves. And, you see, Iowa has a policy against playing teams with Native American mascots. It's apparently a "human rights issue."

Unless, of course, big money's at stake. You see, Iowa is in the Big Ten, where they routinely play the University of Illinois, whose Chief Illiniwek has been derided as a racist symbol. (I think those people take themselves way too seriously, but if offensive mascots are the problem, the Chief dances at football games. Bradley uses, I believe, a bobcat.) According to the article, "The U of I makes an exception for the fighting Illini of Illinois in the Big Ten and for any tournament games."

So, if lots of people are watching, the game really counts towards something important, like a Big Ten or NCAA title, and there's big money involved, then offensive mascots are OK. (Also, if this were a big principle, someone might ask why they've been willing to play Bradley several times in recent years, but not this year. A cynical man would feel the need to point out that Bradley's baseball team is much improved this year, while Iowa, well, sucks.)

The University of Iowa. Where the mascot is the punk.

Since we're not sincere, why aren't you handling it? 

I believe the UN's primary function is to legitimize dictators. Sure, they do other stuff, some of it even noteworthy, (such as for instance, argue for walk-on roles in Nicole Kidman movies.). But there main purpose is to serve as a forum for the likes of Castro and Kim Jong-Il and various other crapsacks to act like they are the legitimate voice of their respective nations. Short answer, I'm not a fan.

Of course, those of us who average out right-of-center don't count as legitimate UN critics. Here, Kevin Drum essentially concedes that "UN bashers" are right, but they don't have the best interests of the UN at heart. The UN outrage du jour is their belief that the Sudan is qualified to investigate human rights violations. (And here's my main beef with the UN. The fact that they say "The Sudan" when what they mean is "Omar Hassan al-Bashir and some of his goons.") And once again, the UN defenders will sigh and say, "fine, you're right. The UN is whitewashing dictators and covering up for mass murderers, but you guys aren't sincere about reform. You just like bashing the UN."

Assume this is true. Could someone explain to me why UN reform isn't John Kerry's big issue, why reform proposals aren't decorating the pages of the Nation and the American Prospect, and why anti-war demostrations don't include speeches about the UN cleaning up its act enough that they can push for more UN responsiblity without being laughed out of the room?

You're right, we don't like the UN. You do. And people who want the UN to be trustworthy should act like it. If you want the UN to be a global joke, let the UN-bashers be the ones being heard.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Courage... 

I once read somewhere about a test that was given - there was only one question: "What is courage?" While all the other students wrote furiously, spending pages expounding on the concept, one student quickly wrote on his paper "THIS IS," turned it in, and left. He got an A.

It's not a perfect analogy, but it's what I thought of when I read about Hashem Aghajari. He was sentenced to death for daring to criticize Iran's ruling theocracy by the band of thugs who have attempted to equate all criticism of their despotism with apostasy and blasphemy. Aghajari's popularity is such that the mullahs are actually afraid of what would happen if they went ahead and executed him. It has been suggested, pretty strongly, that there could be some technical grounds by which the sentence could be overturned.

Aghajari is having none of it. Refusing to play the game set up by an illegitimate system of government, he has dared the Iranian government to execute him. And the mullahs are scampering away like frightened chipmunks. Still, if they feel they have to execute him, don't put it past them.

It boggles the mind to imagine what a nation like Iran could accomplish if the people running it cared enough about their country to let men and women like Hashem Aghajari and Shirin Ebadi to help in directing things. Here's to the day when Iran is ruled by those who love Iran, rather than by those who love running Iran.

Dixon freed... 

The lead story all around Atlanta today is the release of Marcus Dixon, who had his conviction overturned. The media coverage of the Georgia Supreme Court's ruling suggests that the Floyd County DA somehow should have disregarded all the serious charges and just recognized that this was nothing more than two teenagers having consensual sex. And I started to get annoyed again. I recognize that all the cool kids really like the Legend of Marcus Dixon, which is that he was locked up for crimes we all know he didn't commit, just to send a message to all those young black men about working their magic on the white women, and since every major news story caters to the legend, it should be accepted as fact (if it isn't already) within the next few months.

However, in defense of at least the Georgia Supreme Court, I actually read their opinion, and it seems perfectly reasonable to me. The decision was 4-3, and the dissent makes a number of perfectly reasonable points as well. It's actually a pretty complicated issue involving a number of conflicting legal doctrines. Which means, for those following the legend, that the actions taken by the prosecution were, while not ultimately upheld, well within the bounds of acceptable conduct.

It was a close call, they erred on the side of the defendant. (And for those who have used this case to impugn the entire state/region, please note it was the Georgia Supreme Court, made up of Georgia justices who rendered this decision.)

Tip of the cap to Dawn, where I first saw the news.

They're kidding, right? 

At first I was scared this was going to be tonight, but next year is bad enough. I mean, Bob Dylan on American Idol?

Back... 

I wanted the one post I made yesterday to stand alone, so I didn't post on anything else, despite other things happening. Back now.

Monday, May 03, 2004

In memorium... 

We take cops for granted. We expect nothing less than perfection from them. We blame them for not stopping every crime that was ever committed, and second guess every step they take. We don't pay them enough, and we never, ever say thank you to them. Until it's too late. Like now.

Even though we know better, we stand by while others compare our police to the secret death squads of the world's most totalitarian societies. Maybe we let a similar analogy escape our own lips once or twice. We're perfectly comfortable questioning their motives, their professionalism, or their integrity, just because we don't want to have points on our driving record. We have no way of knowing how many lives are saved because good police officers do their job day in and day out. The men and women on the road keeping the speeders in check, working the traffic accidents, and arresting the impaired drivers are keeping untold thousands alive, and all we can do is complain about that bleeping cop who wouldn't let us off with a warning. And we never, ever say thank you. Until it's too late. Like now.

Like when you hear about a career police officer, out working the road during hours when decent people are in bed. And how a traffic accident occurred that wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been his job to get the bad drivers off the road so I could have an uneventful morning commute. And how a wife is now without a husband, children without a father. And how everyone who lives around here is without a good man who worked hard to make this area safer. And how you think you'd come to grips with it after hearing it on the news, until you pass a car wash whose owner felt compelled to lower his tattered American flag to half mast. Saying thank you. Too late, just like I'm saying it now.

Still, saying it too late is better than never saying it at all. Rest in peace, Jimmy. God keep your family.

And thank you.


Friday, April 30, 2004

And this is one of the funniest things I've heard in weeks... 

...years, maybe. A female Muslim comedian offers a test to see if the founder of Ansar Al-Islam is really a fundamentalist.

She then picks him up in front of a big crowd, saying that a real fundamentalist couldn't be carried around by a woman. Crowd busts a gut, Mullah blows a gasket...

...and I will think that's funny years from now.

Thanks, Oxblog

Heh heh heh... 

A while back, we heard that a couple of DJ's got fined by the FCC for crank calling Fidel Castro without his consent.

Well, the good news, the station has raised the money...in pennies.

I am pretty much always in favor of smartassed compliance with stupid rulings.

Fake apologies... 

God, how I hate me some fake apologies. But I love The New Republic. And why do I love TNR?

Because they have published a story about how the fake apology has cheapened the whole concept of "expressing remorse" and "accepting responsiblity."

I also love TNR because I just saw the movie Shattered Glass. If that's even remotely factual, they handled that whole made up stories thing very well.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I can't say anything other than... 

Read this. It's a first person account from a Marine who escorted a the body of a soldier named Chance Phelps home to his family.

Just read it.

I've been wondering something for awhile now... 

How would it play if the Democratic nominee for President ran on some version of this: In the aftermath of September 11, America was faced with a brand new enemy, fighting an entirely different kind of war. Recognition of this required a President willing to recognize the threat, and stand up to meet it, even in the face of a recalcitrant global community unwilling to change with the times. Whatever else one can say about him, George Bush did this, and led us into a battle that needed to be fought.

But being the right man in 2002 doesn't make him the right man in 2004. Setting Iraq on the right course is a noble aim, but frankly, it's beyond the capabilities of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania avenue. Voting for me is not a rejection of the job that needed doing then. It's an awareness of the new job that needs doing now.

Or some version of that. I don't know if Kerry can credibly say anything like that, given that he seems to have settled on being against the war he voted to start, but picking Edwards or Gephardt as his veep would at least give him someone who could say something like that credibly. I think this post on Tacitus' site kind of articulates what I'm talking about. Basically pro-war, but anti-how the aftermath has/is turning out.

The question is, would the ANSWER/Move On.org/Democratic Underground/Indymedia crew shut up, drink the Kool-Aid, and vote for the guy without making enough waves to scare off the independent voters who would probably love to hear something like that? One thing the conspiracy theorists are right about: The right is unified. Conservatives have already forgiven Bush and Santorum for endorsing Arlen Specter, for Pete's sake.

Like it or not, part of the baggage that comes with being anti-war is the result of that would have been Saddam still running things. Supporting leaving him in charge is not going to get Bush bounced. But being credible as the man to rebuild Iraq requires, I think, a bit more enthusiasm for the task then the heavy sigh, eye rolling, "fine, I'll clean up your mess" that Kerry supporters currently sound like.

Just wondering.

Idol hands... 

Everyone on talk radio today was threatening the downfall of western civilization if tonight isn't John's last night as an American Idol contestant. Personally, I like the kid, and I'm tired of both Diana and Jasmine, at least to the extent I can remember either is on the show.

But apparently, we have to get rid of John, because if we don't, we're racist, according to noted sociologist Elton John. OK, I liked Jennifer too, but somehow, an African American contingent making up a mere 50% of the remaining finalists is apparently the result of what a bunch of racist bastards we all are.

Or, and I'm just throwing something off the top of my head, call me crazy, or American Idol is a show watched by every teenage girl in the country, and Johnny Red is the only teenage boy remaining, and that has something to do with it. For scientific verification of this theory, please note the comments to this Jeff Jarvis thread, where pretty much everyone agrees with me.

The guy who pointed out the big black guy winning last year and the bi-racial guy finishing second the year before had a point too.

Please people, take care of your traffic tickets... 

...pay them, go to court and challenge them, whatever, just do it. Because when people let them slide, we get stuff like 97 year old women getting arrested on warrants.

I trust no one is under the illusion that anyone wanted to arrest the old woman. I'll grant cuffing her was probably unnecessary, but keep in mind that what the officer did was by the book, and police officers deviate from the book at the risk of their jobs. Police officers do not get paid enough, and do not receive enough appreciation for taking crap from people convinced that just this once, maybe the nice officer could do things differently from the way he'd been told to by his commanding officer.

Make life better for all of us. Take care of your tickets.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I was being sarcastic, dammit! 

Awhile back, I posted a wise-ass comment about how the left was pretty much ignoring the UN Oil-For-Food Scandal. (April 19, first post below the date line) - My point was that people who like the UN and want the US to show them a little more respect know, or should know, that they have a bit of a credibility problem. That should bug the heck out of UN supporters, and it is they who should be leading the charge to get to the bottom of this with the fullest, most thorough investigation the world has ever seen, because goddammit, the right is dead wrong about the UN being just a Dictator Protection Society. They are worthy of your trust! Just look at the open and transparent way we responded to allegations that some of us colluded with Saddam Hussein to profit off sanctions! (The very sanctions much of the current crop of UN huggers called responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.)

OK, the wiseassery is getting a little thick. My point was I have yet to see anyone even approaching the left side of the aisle address it. (Granted, I lack the constitution to search the archives of John Kerry's sweet bloggy goodness.) But I did read my recent issue of The Nation when it arrived at my doorstep. (Yes, I subscribe. Have for a few years now. Decent source of liberal thought, but not the same since Christopher Hitchens left.) Anyhoo, there was finally an article, by Ian Williams, that is sadly not on the web. In it, Williams basically says "scandal? What scandal? Please, the people accusing the UN of taking bribes from Saddam Hussein are right-wingers. 'Nuff said."

I do have a snippet from Democracy Now, where Williams addresses it. If you doubt my admittedly terse paraphrasing of his article, he is quoted here as personally voucing for Benon Sevan, who I believe is the highest ranking UN official accused, then saying "The real issue is that the -- sort of the people that have been making these allegations are trying to dump the whole of the $10 billion that Saddam Hussein got from oil smuggling on the U.N."

Oh, yes, he also says "And really I think if you look at the sources of this, it's Ahmed Chalabi, who will almost certainly be ousted in any U.N.-brokered deal that comes out on June 30, regardless of anything else, and secondly the Wall Street Journal and the people who are writing it, you suspect that this is the neocons who 12 months ago said that the U.N. is dead and they cheered for it."

And so far, that's it. One guy, who blames Ahmed Chalabi and the Wall Street Journal.

If I were as inclined as Williams to leap to conclusions, I'd conclude this: The left knows damn well the UN cannot effectively run a fantasy football league. (You all do know about the Zionist Conspiracy to keep Michael Vick off the Palestinian team, don't you?) However, the UN supporters are so blinded by their hatred of Bush that they will ignore any corruption, even corruption that takes food out of the mouths of starving children, in their quest to keep the focus on the true "bad guy."

That's the conclusion I'd jump to, if I were so inclined. But I'm not as smart as Ian Williams, or the people who knew that his conclusion was so obvious that they didn't even need to mention it. So, I'll just play fantasy football instead.

What? Kordell Stewart?

CURSE YOU AMERICA!!! CURSE YOU ISRAEL!!!

I know I feel good about this... 

...I'm just not sure why. You see, over in the Gaza strip, two guys decide that they're going to supplement their income with a little armed robbery. They pick a target, and deliver the standard "your money or your life" spiel.

(Jack Benny: I'm thinking. I'm thinking.)

OK, that's the old punchline. The new punchline is this: The victim was a Hamas suicide bomber en route to target, complete with loaded explosive belt. The bomber chose to set off his belt, killing himself and the two robbers, and raising the collective IQ of the neighborhood in the process.

Keep up the good work, guys!

We have a new record... 

I have seen a criminal defendant claim that someone snuck into his house in the middle of the night and plant marijuana on his kitchen table. I have seen my favorite baseball team trade Sammy frickin' Sosa for an aging slugger they then declined to use in the playoffs. I have seen grown men wear their hear in the style of the lead singer of "A Flock of Seagulls" despite not being in a band. I have seen Pauly Shore's stand up act. And I have seen Michael Dukakis in a tank.

Point is, I have seen some stupid-ass stuff in my life, but this takes the cake. This article appeared in a government approved Egyptian newspaper (as if there are any other kinds.) Let's read a bit, shall we?

"If you want to know the real perpetrator of every disaster or every act of terrorism, look for the Zionist Jews. They are behind all the violent and terror operations that have occurred everywhere in the world."

Madrid? Jews. 9/11? Jews. Gigli? If you have to ask...

If you need me, I'll be holding my breath until this guy gets laughed out of Egypt for being stupid on a truly cosmic scale.


Monday, April 26, 2004

Good riddance, jackass... 

Peoria, Illinois village idiot Matthew Hale has been found guilty of solicitation of murder.

We'll miss you, Matt. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Would this qualify as appeasement? 

Everyone remembers how the murder of Fabrizio Quattrocchi turned out to be an unmitigated disaster for his killers. Hopefully, no one has forgotten that Quattrocchi's killers are still holding three of Quattrocchi's co-workers.

They have now demanded that Italians dance for them, ordering a "big protest in your capital to protest against the war" in exchange for the three men's lives.

Wonder what they'll get. I'm sure someone will try to organize a protest, and I'm sure people will turn out. But if Quattrocchi's final words are still resonating, they may say something different than the kidnappers were expecting.

Cause this is where I vent... 

As I lived in St. Louis when we finally got a football team again, I have been a loyal and devoted fan of the St. Louis Rams. I watched Jerome Bettis leave, only to find out he actually had several more good years still in him. I watched Lawrence Phillips turn out to be a huge mistake. I watched Tony Banks fumble what felt like every other snap. And, finally, I watched Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, and Isaac Bruce put together the greatest offense in NFL history and win the most exciting Super Bowl ever. (I then watched them lose the second most exciting Super Bowl ever a couple years later.)

And, like everyone else in St. Louis, I remember the debate that ensued when up-and-coming defensive end Leonard Little killed a woman while driving drunk. He got 90 days in jail (plus probation, fines, and boatloads of community service). He didn't get special treatment because he was an NFL player, 90 days is about average for a first offender. He completed his probation, and the offense was wiped from his record. I remember thinking I didn't want him around anymore. I didn't begrudge him his living, once he'd paid his debt, but with 32 NFL teams, I didn't see why he couldn't earn it someplace he hadn't killed anyone.

But he stayed, and he turned out to be one hell of a football player. The commentators stopped mentioning what he'd done. I could watch him play without thinking about what he'd done. Maybe his sentence wasn't a slap on the wrist. Maybe it was just what he needed to learn his lesson and allow a man who deserved a second chance to go on with his life.

Just found out he got arrested again. No facts about this have been released, so it is possible that the guy with the DUI manslaughter conviction may have only appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, and this is all a huge misunderstanding...but still...

Oh, and him learning that lesson? Apparently not much proof of that, either.

"He was offered a chance to work with MADD and I'm still waiting on the return phone call," Boland (chairman of MADD Missouri) said. "I would try to give back to my community. He could have been the greatest spokesman ever."

He could have been a lot of things.

How I know we're the good guys... 

Because we are so committed to justice for all that our FCC will actually fine a radio station for crank-calling Fidel Castro, because they did not obtain his permission before using his voice.

Hey, rules are rules, but if the station needs contributions to help pay the fine, let me know.

Hat tip: Jeff Jarvis, who will probably still continue to attack the FCC as a right-wing hit squad because of their assaults on Stern.

God Bless Australia... 

Aussie Prime Minister John Howard stops by to greet Australian troops in Iraq.

"Howard has insisted the troops serving in Iraq would stay until their job was done and has not set a deadline for their withdrawal. Opinion polls show that most Australians support that position."

Good man, Howard. Sure going to Iraq under heavy guard and staying in the airport ain't like going to Fallujah, but remember, the man's operating under a curse.


Gotta admire the honesty... 

Despise George Bush, but less-than-enthralled about John Kerry? Tired of waiting the fifteen minutes or more it takes him to change positions to ones you support? Know getting rid of G. Dub requires you to vote for him, but pulling the lever for this dink makes you queasy?

Fear not. For all your rationalization needs, just log onto John Kerry is a douchebag, but I'm voting for him anyway.

Not just a website. It's a bold new vision for the future!

I love this woman... 

OK, Jennifer Garner has a new movie out. It's called 13 Going on 30, and all the critics say it's chick-flicky goodness.

My wife, being of the female variety, really really wants to see this movie. I, despite being a fan of some of Garner's other work, would rather remove my own appendix with a spork. Nevertheless, she is the love of my life, and if she wants to watch Sydney Bristow hit on junior high school boys, who am I to deny her?

Now, here's the thing. I had expected at some point over the weekend that I would need to go and see it. But, when I come inside after doing yardwork, my wife calls from the road, where she has been off running errands of the dry cleaning and going-to-Target variety.

She is going to see the movie without me.

I love this woman.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Siamak Pourzand update... 

Karol's friend has provided an updated list of people to contact to agitate for the release of Siamak Pourzand. His story is here. (He's an elderly journalist being held by the Iranian government, if you want the Cliff Notes version.

I'll quote the update from Karol's blog:

"Banafsheh writes:

Tell them to send a VERY SIMPLE e-mail saying FREE 74 YEAR OLD, SIAMAK POURZAND, JOURNALIST, UNCONDITIONALLY...FREE ALL IRANIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS UNCONDITIONALLY... they should send it to istiftaa@wilayah.org , Khatami@president.ir

Then the U.N. various offices...crueda-castagnon@ohchr.org , lventre@ohchr.org , csaunders@ohchr.org , llupoli@ohchr.org , scronin@ohchr.org , mdelalama@ohchr.org

Thanks Darling...PLEASE help me get this info out there Karol. These bastards have now hit an all time low..."


Rest in peace... 

Arizona Cardinal Pat Tillman joined the Army Rangers in the aftermath of Sept. 11. He turned down every interview and photo op, and every attempt made to single him out as a hero, wanting to be a soldier like everyone else, even though he turned down millions to risk his life.

He wouldn't have wanted to be singled out now, that his name has been added to the list of those killed in Afghanistan.

Sorry, Pat. I just couldn't help it.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I didn't want to believe it... 

I came across this article about a National Lawyers Guild visit to North Korea, and my first reaction was...this has to be the type of shrill overreaction that puts off left-wingers. Sure, the National Lawyers Guild is where the leftiest of the left-wing lawyers go, but come on, they know better than that. They wouldn't whitewash Kim Jong Il.

Nope, that's pretty much exactly what happened. I actually went ahead and read the damned thing. They actually shatter several "myths" about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

• MYTH #1 - North Korea is isolated from the rest of the world.
- This is established by counting foreigners. For a fun exercise, go to any city in the world and count the North Koreans. Cause, if they're not isolated, I'll bet they go on vacations abroad all the time. I'm also sure they surf the net and check out CNN, but they just didn't have time to put it in the report.

• MYTH #2 - People are being Starved to Death by the Government
- No, they're being starved to death by us. And in any event, I'm sure the people the NLG met were wholly representative of the Nork populace as a whole. The fact that they didn't talk to anyone who suffered through a famine was I'm sure because there were no such people. (Well, there aren't anymore, are there?)

• MYTH # 3- The U.S. Military can’t cross into North Korea without being shot or killed
- Yeah, guys on tour at the DMZ take leave in Pyongyang all the damn time. I used to be proud of the fact I've passed four state bar exams. If these bozos passed one, maybe it wasn't such a big deal.

• MYTH #4 - North Korea has one of the largest most frightful armies in the world and uses its military to threaten and intimidate its people.
- OK, I thought even the Norks admitted they had one of the largest armies in the world. And if the people aren't intimidated? Fine, easy to prove. There is no such thing as 100% agreement on any issue. Find me one North Korean who will publicly disagree with Kim Jong Il on any issue of substance while still being in North Korea. Get back to me when you have that.

• MYTH #5 - North Korea wants to be a nuclear power - this is only a myth if they already are.

And that's what they address. Myth #6 - North Korea does not permit its citizens to travel at will or leave the country, Myth #7 - North Korea houses thousands in concentration camps, and Myth #8 - You practice a religious other than Kim Worship in NK at the risk of your life are sure to be discussed in upcoming reports.

I can think of no other explanation other that these people are willing to rationalize or explain away any level of suffering and oppression to avoid standing next to a U.S. Government currently run by Captain Unilateral.

It's evil. I really can't describe it any other way.

Why don't I care? 

Well...I'm a Republican. I'm not supposed to care, unless it's about money, environmental ruin, or self-righteously preaching puritanism while running a bordello out of my garage.

All...ok, most kidding aside, Walter Russel Mead writes in the NY Times that a source of much of the Arab anger at the U.S. is the belief that we don't care about the Palestinian plight. Israel's existence, our fondness for same, all these things could be tolerated if there was just some sense that we cared about the wretched status of the denizens of the occupied territories.

And he's right. I don't care. Well, I care, but I think the Palestinians have pretty much brought American disdain upon themselves, which isn't the same thing in theory, but has very similar effects in practice. But it's true. I like Israel. A lot. I admire their people, I admire them as a nation, and when they are hit, I feel it. The Palestinians...not so much. And while this kind of sentiment may very well bug the heck out of those in the Middle East, but has anyone asked themselves why?

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not a wholly owned subsidiary of AIPAC. I'm not Jewish, and I came from a small enough hick town that I didn't have a Jewish friend until college. I arrived at my pro-Israel perspective honestly, through years of the Palestinians screwing things up royally. If the Palestinians want our sympathy, they've spent virtually their entire history going about getting it the wrong way.

I mean, there are a few things everyone should know by now about Americans. We like democracy. The Palestinians don't have one, don't appear very keen on wanting one, and spend all their time bitching about the only one in their neck of the woods. Students take to the streets to call for Jewish blood, not elections. Israel lets Arabs serve in the Knesset. Arabs sometimes let Israelis have a ten second head start before the mob comes out. (Not usually).

Israel is by no means perfect. They have been known to overreach, there are elements of hate in Israeli society. When Israel attacks, there is an effort to limit collateral damage. Palestinian attacks seek out civilians, and children are taught to glorify murderers. This stuff horrifies Americans. How else should we react.

And as far as us not caring when bad things happen to Palestinians, remember the reaction when something bad happened to us.

After years of this, no one in the Middle East should be surprised if a call to pave the West Bank meets with a collective shrug. There is a way to get American sympathy. It involves being serious about reforming the culture that brings about these horrors. It involves seeing children shredded by nails as murder victims, rather than PR problems. And it involves not turning rhetorical backflips to blame us for everything that has ever gone wrong in the region, and continuing to hold grudges based on the Crusades. You're not obligated to do any of that, but we're not obligated to deny reality either.

So, claim I don't care about the Palestinians. More or less, you're right. I don't. And why is that?

Because they don't want me to.

Hat tip - Yglesias

The hell? 

Jennifer? Really? OK, I didn't watch, because if there's one thing that breaks a reality show addiction, it's Barry Fricking Manilow. (Although I would watch if he were a contestant on Fear Factor).

I'm also concerned that America seemed to think my girl was one of the bottom three performers. You know, maybe those folks at my Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy meetings were right. Maybe the American people can't be trusted with democracy.

Wait, did I say that last sentence, or just think it?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Just wondering... 

Apparently, there's a really interesting Republican Senate Primary going on in Pennsylvania. Conservative Pat Toomey is going up against Arlen "Beloved Moderate, But If You're a Right Winger, Remember When I Ripped Anita Hill a New One?" Specter. Conservative writers believe Toomey to be the much better choice, and have not been shy about saying so.

This internecine warfare has caused great consternation among people who ultimately want Democrat Joe Hoeffel to win the seat. These folks are deeply concerned that tossing Specter over the trivial offense of voting against his party's platform - a lot - would send a message to independant voters that they are not welcome in the GOP.

I appreciate their concern about the GOP's need to welcome members who do not march in lockstep with party orthodoxy. It is truly a horrible thing when a party goes after one of its members for daring to dissent.

The reason I bring this up? Well, you see...I live in Georgia. And down here, we've got this guy who breaks with his party, probably as often as Sen. Specter. He still calls himself a member of the party, though, and wishes it would open itself more to people like him. Unfortunately, his heresy has caused him to be cast out, his purpoted allies lump him with their political opponents, the sense of betrayal that he dare speak out against what his betters have deemed to be the right course of action. In some circles, his death is longed for. Now, if what the NRO crew is doing to Specter is so horrible, this ought to rank, too, right? I mean, the guy is so hated by his own party that he's retiring from the Senate, virtually guaranteeing the other side pick up the seat.

Sure, he's endorsed the other party's candidate for President, but it's not like that's what started all this. He endorsed the other guy because he felt marginalized within his own party. What's happened since to prove him wrong?

Just wondering.

Crapsackistan... 

Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov should make any reasonable list of the world's worst dictators. (Not as bad as Kim Jong Il, slightly worse than Castro.) He has, unfortunately, taken advantage of geographic reality (convenient staging ground for the whole Afghanistan thing), to behave like R. Kelly at an 8th grade slumber party. Via Oxblog, we learn that Karimov has made it a crime akin to treason to give damaging information about his government to international organizations. Picture Bob Woodward getting the chair for giving Kofi Annan a signed copy of his book.

(That visual was probably more pleasant that you meant it to be. - ed. )

Karimov is also in the process of throwing out a group that actually dispensed a lot of aid in Uzbekistan, on the grounds that they also annoyed the government while they were there.

It's important not to forget the bad guys who have gotten ahold of their own countries, either because they have funny sounding names or are allies of convenience. There needs to be a reckoning in Uzbekistan, sooner rather than later, and when it comes, the why shouldn't be news.

Read between the lines... 

OK, I'm sure we've all heard of the Air America flap in Chicago and LA...

Air America? Air America? The liberal talk radio station that was going to bring Limbaugh to his pudgy, drug-infested knees? The shining light of truth that was going to reflect of G. Gordon Liddy's dome, searing the pages of Sean Hannity's Tome of Falsehood? The voice in the darkness, speaking truth to power, finally persuading the American people of the criminality of George Bush, the duplicity of Dick Cheney, the need for Ann Coulter to eat something for Pete's sake. The virtuous voice, bringing the rugged sex appeal of Michael Moore...

(OK, this post has reached its quota of self-indulgent smart-assed remarks. Get on with it. -ed.)

Yes, sir, Mr. Poopypants. Anyway, Air America got booted off the air in Chicago and LA. The guy who owns the stations that booted the jaw-droppingly original O'Franken Factor (watch it - ed.) says Air America bounced a check. Air America responded with the Sludge Report, where they basically said the guy was a lying boogerhead. I'm paraphrasing. In any event, AA filed suit, demanding to be put back on the air immediately.

Anyhoo, the dispute is settled. No one's allowed to talk, but Air America is going off in Chicago, and staying off in LA. Reading between the lines, I get the sense that somebody got their asses beat.

I'm just not sure who.

Spread the word... 

The more people who know the name Siamak Pourzand, the better his chances of being released by the jackals currently running Iran.

Mr. Pourzand is the father of a friend of Karol's. Keep an eye there should his family have any suggestions for how we can help.

Does liking bad songs make me uncool? 

Answer to rhetorical question: No, the fact that you're a huge geek makes you uncool.

Anyhoo, Maxim's Blender is coming out with a list of the worst song's of all time. I'm sure this will be a huge discussion topic, so here are the bottom ten, with my thoughts on same:

1. "We Built This City" - Jefferson Starship - Apparently, what's wrong with this song is it's a sellout from Starship's more radical 60's days. I thought it was a decently catchy little pop tune. Moral of the story: If this song offends you, you are old.

2. "Achy Breaky Heart," Billy Ray Cyrus - OK, I have no defense of this one. This song got real annoying, real quick.

3. "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" - Wang Chung - I kind of liked this one. "Everybody Wang Chung tonight" is still a funny line. I suppose this song's on the list because the band wasn't kidding. They genuinely wanted everyone to Wang Chung, and they wanted it done tonight!

4. "Rollin'" - Limp Bizkit - Not defending Limp Bizkit, but there are songs who badness eclipses this one.

5. "Ice Ice Baby" - Vanilla Ice - Sorry, but this was a damn good song. If you must put the Iceman on the list, try "Every Other Song Vanilla Ice Recorded Ever".

6. "The Heart of Rock & Roll" - Huey Lewis and the News - OK, now me and these folks are going to fight. Not Huey's best work ("Power of Love"), but still a perfectly good pop song.

7. "Don't Worry Be Happy" - Bobby McFerrin - Don't kid yourself. Think back. You liked this song the first 500 times you heard it.

8. "Party All the Time" - Eddie Murphy - This one had it coming.

9. "American Life" - Madonna - Ditto

10. "Ebony and Ivory" - Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder - This is a nice song. Don't blame these guys because they've done better in the past.

Let the great debate begin.

Fun with headlines... 

From the Boston Globe: Polish troops will stay in Iraq despite Spanish withdrawal, official says


From Al-Jazeera: Poland considers Iraq troop withdrawal

Rejected Al-Jazeera headline: Will somebody blow up a train in Poland, already?

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Sometimes, there's nothing to add... 

I doubt too many stop by here who don't already check out Dawn Summers' corner of cyberspace on a regular basis, but in case there are, please read this post, about the legacy of the phrase "Uncle Tom."

I've been reading political commentary from all sides for years, and I've never heard the issue addressed from the point of view Dawn presents.

Just wonderfully put, and I hope all the praise from her right-wingish readers doesn't hurt her liberal street cred. (I promise to question your patriotism at some undetermined point in the future, if it will help.)

The road to hell being paved with good intentions... 

Apparently, there is a Victim's Rights Amendment being proposed to the Constitution. Constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein thinks it's a bad idea.

He's right.

I really wish Congress would sit down, take a deep breath, and repeat the following mantra prior to legislating...

Caring about someone's plight does not obligate you to pass a law. Not passing a law does not automatically imply heartlessness.

OK, first, the feds stick their noses into state issues way too often. Every state in the union has victim's rights laws requiring that steps be taken to inform victims of court dates, ensure their right to be heard prior to sentencing, and advise them of compensation funds and other services available. The reason these protections aren't in the Constitution is lynch mobs going after crime victims hasn't been a historically serious problem.

(Insert your own analogy involving Kobe Bryant's accuser here.)

The heightened protections given defendants helps create confidence in the system. You feel better about people going to jail if they've been given lawyers, trials by jury, and the various and sundry rights that get in our way of dropping some crapsack under the jail where the truly deserve to be. Victims actually have an interest a system that produces confidence in the convictions obtained, even if said convictions become more difficult to get.

Prosecutors have a moral (and usually legal) obligation to ensure that victims are involved in the process to the point that they can understand and accept the outcome. Anything added beyond that point is just legislators wanting to "show us they care," which victimizes everybody.

Here's a cool idea... 

Check out Opinion Duel, where writers from The New Republic and The National Review will apparently write point-counterpoint articles arguing whatever. Currently Jonathan Chait and Ramesh Ponnuru are discussing the whole intelligence thing.

A nice, safe harbor for reasoned debate. The over under on when they descend into Lord of the Flies style chaos is six weeks.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Go figure... 

OK, here's what I don't get. Folks who think the U.S. should defer, or at least consult, more with the "international community" usually mean the UN. Unless these folks have been living under a rock, they know that much of the U.S. views the UN with the same skepticism that MENSA would view an application from Jessica Simpson.

Since these folks, generally leftish in bent, have a vested interest in the credibility of the UN. And, given the current scandal regarding the U.N.'s allegedly corrupt, dishonest, and potentially life-threatening handling of the Oil-For-Food program in Iraq, you'd think that it would be these selfsame leftish supporters of the U.N. rising up, vocally demanding the highest level of accountability from the U.N. at every conceivable opportunity.

My point? Oh, just another story from the conservative side of the media concerning U.N. recalcitrance. This time, it's the Wall Street journal pointing out that Russia is standing in the way of a Security Council resolution that would give the investigation real teeth. Geez, one country with a vested interest in the status quo has the power to keep the U.N. from doing the right thing? If I didn't know better, I'd say you could make the case for ignoring the U.N. and proceeding unilaterally.

I'm sure I'm just not reading the right web sites. I mean, you can even work Bush-bashing in, since people are now alleging that the U.S. is stonewalling an effective investigation to ease the U.N.'s involvement in Iraq. It seems far too many Iraqi's remember the U.N. as the Nero who fiddled while Iraq burned, or at least, starved and got its hands amputated. Someone who loved the UN and wanted to go off on Bush could pitch a fit, arguing that the Oil-For-Food scandal needs a thorough investigation, so that Iraqis quit looking at Lakhdar Brahimi like the MENSA Admission Board being told "With You" is the modern equivalent of Handel's "Messiah".

But, for some reason, I hear it from Roger Simon, who draws a parallel to l'affaire Gorelick. I'm sure that's just because I'm not looking in the right places. The people who care about the UN want this discussed, and they want it discussed openly.

Right?

My hometown... 

As someone who grew up just outside Peoria, Illinois, I can't help but feel a little regional pride seeing this.


Just another brick in the wall... 

We've heard much about the supposed "wall" that was built between law enforcement and intelligence that may or may not have contributed to 9/11, depending on who you want to win the Presidency this fall. 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick wrote a memo cited by Attorney General/Boogieman John Ashcroft as part of the problem, causing all sorts of hullaballoo.

(And speaking of hullaballoo - if someone is threatening Ms. Gorelick, knock it the hell off. It is morally wrong, highly illegal, contrary to all forms of human decency, and it occasionally causes people to travel to very weird places. And it is not good for this country to go to those places.)

Since Gorelick is involved in the situation, there have been calls for her to resign from the commission due to a conflict of interest. Those who define "conflict of interest" to mean "anything that conflicts with my interest in embarassing the President" have defended her. Still, Gorelick clearly has knowledge of matters relevant to what the commission is studying, and she should probably discuss them under oath, as even John Satan-Himself Ashcroft has done. To the surprise of no one who believes the 9/11 commission is a dog-and-pony show with no purpose other than bashing Bush, Gorelick has declined to do this, choosing instead to bravely avoid questioning and cross-examination for the much harsher scrutiny of a Washington Post op-ed.

I agree with the idea that simply by writing the editorial, Gorelick is acknowledging that she needs to be a witness, not a panelist. Andrew McCarthy goes into great detail, rebutting her column, and clarifying the point that she has no business on the commission. And, lest anyone (such as Ms. Gorelick herself) think this is a partisan hitjob, I would note that Matthew "Taller Than He Looks in Cyberspace" Yglesias thinks she should step down.

I don't blame Gorelick for 9/11. For that matter, I don't blame Bill Clinton, Janet Reno, George Bush, John Ashcroft, or any other US Government official. I blame the 19 hijackers, Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda's top lieutenants, and the various Saudi, Iranian, and other Middle Eastern government officials who gave aid and comfort to them, knowing what they were and what they wanted to do. To me, the commission is useful only if they try to see what holes were present in our security, and what we can do about plugging said holes. It has to be neutral, and it has to look neutral.

And whether it is or not, it definitely doesn't look neutral.

For the love of God, Sully... 

Add James Lileks to the chorus of people pointing out Andrew Sullivan's clueless articulation of his support for higher gas taxes.

In addition to pointing out my real problem with Sully's argument - his complete lack of any understanding about how life works in flyover country - he adds an argument I'd not thought of, which is the devastating effect higher gas taxes will have on independant owners and operators of gas stations.

Sully's way off base on this one. Does he care? Apparently not.
Come on, just a sign that you understand the issue is all I'm asking for.


Diplomacy works... 

Or, at least, it's appearing to. Everyone, including local leaders, is calling on insurgents to lay down their weapons in Fallujah.

I'm sure it helped that everyone was crystal clear what the alternative was.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Next... 

Israel takes out Hamas leader Sheik Yassin. Abdul Aziz Rantisi takes over. Hamas threatens revenge on a grand scale. Israel says no one in Hamas' senior leadership is safe. Which of these two entities actually backs up their words with action?

If you have to ask, you haven't been paying attention. A hearty good riddance to Rantisi, and I look forward to hearing how the new leader of Hamas...

...anyone...anyone? Bueller?

Well, I'm sure they'll sort it out. In any event, who are the Palestinians holding responsible for Rantisi's death? Rantisi himself, for his fiery anti-Semitic rants, and constant threats against Israeli civilians? Themselves, for allowing schmucks like him to assume positions of influence? The Arab world, for continuing to foster Palestinian misery and resentment for their own selfish agendas?

Once again, if you have to ask, you aren't paying attention.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I love Canada... 

It's a great country, really. No inferiority complex whatsoever concerning their neighbor to the south, nosireebob. I used to live in Detroit, and the only good thing about Detroit is that it's easy to get to Windsor, Ontario from there. Windsor rules. You should go.

But, of course, like any great country, Canada has occasionally passed some stupid laws, that jerks take advantage of. Take the whole free health-care thing. The upside, you're Canadian, you get free health care. The downside? People with Canadian passports who got shot because they belonged to Al-Qaeda can make other, better Canadians pay for their hospital bills. A consolation is the pretty much explicit admission that Canada is a much better place than anywhere people listen to Al-Qaeda.

OK, I'm mocking. But note, I'm not mocking Canadians. Canadians hate these people. Which is why I love Canada.

You have the right to remain silent...please! 

Folks, cops have a hard job. The work can veer from mind-numbingly tedious to life-threatening in a heartbeat. The pay sucks. No one ever expresses any appreciation. If you have a chance to brighten a police officer's day with a little well-timed humor, please do so.

Do not, however, consider Courtney Love to be an authority on what constitutes "well-timed humor."

She said she told them, "... you guys got to leave soon. My pimp is coming home. ... Someone is holding my place in the methadone line. ..."

And when police asked where her daughter her 11-year-old daughter with Cobain, Frances Bean was, Love said she told them: "She's in the trunk."

Thank God she's still famous. Otherwise, we wouldn't get to hear about her.

Oh, no, wait. It'd be wonderful not to hear about her.

Reality show Superbowl... 

I wasn't too surprised with Bill getting the Apprentice gig. But I don't quite understand JPL being the one to get the boot. I mean, come on, Diana sang that damn Titanic song. She should have been bounced for that alone.

Still, I'm sure there's no need to restate who's going to win.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

"I'm going to show you how an Italian dies." 

The last words of Fabrizio Quattrocchi, one of the four Italian hostages being held in Iraq, delivered shortly before being murdered. Words like "brave" and "hero" barely seem adequate.

Apparently, hearing of Quattrocchi's death has caused Italians to unite behind Prime Minister Berlusconi and the Italian troops still in Iraq.

And I wonder if the crapsacks who killed Quattrocchi have any idea how much they've helped us.

Tokens wanted... 

I'm sure now that word is getting out about how George Bush's committment to diversity blows John Kerry's out of the water, the Kerry camp will move swiftly to rectify the situation. Applicants should be willing to demonstrate the following:

1. An ability to react indignantly to any suggestion that they were hired because of race. The fact that minority staff members suddenly started appearing prominently on Kerry's team after negative press about the lack of diversity is wholly coincidental. Suggesting otherwise is racist.

2. An ability to refer to Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Rod Paige, Mel Martinez, and other minority members of Bush's staff as not being really members of their respective minority groups, because it would be unseemly for the rich white guy at the top of the ticket to have to use the phrase "Uncle Tom."

3. A belief that minorities can do anything in this country...except see any merit to conservative or Republican positions.

Get your applications in now! Time is of the essence.

Great. Cesear's. Ghost. 

Oliver Stone is human sewage. Since Fidel Castro won't allow any "scrutiny" of him that isn't done by fellow travelers or sycophants, at least we can have some actual scrutiny of the suck-ups. Ann Louise Bardach does her best to pull Stone's head out of Fidel's ass to ask some actual tough questions, and point out the things Castro doesn't let people see or hear about, but anyone actually committed to the truth can learn.

Stone actually seems to think that Fidel can haul people out of his prison, ask them how they're being treated, and get a straight answer, delivered with no fear of reprisal. There are only two possible reasons for this: 1.) Oliver Stone is on Fidel's side, actively working with him to cover up the truth, or 2.) Oliver Stone is dumber then Jessica Simpson after drinking two bottles of Nyquil.

They can't not know. Castro's sympathizers, I mean. They have to know what kind of railroad is being run down there. But they come back and gloss over the imprisonment of independant journalists and librarians, justify everything with "universal healthcare and education." I wonder, if George Bush decided to stay in power for life, took away your right to vote against him, changed all the school cirricula to indoctrinate students about the joys and wonders of "compassionate conservatism," and threw everyone in jail who dared write or speak a word against him, would you be cool with that if he also agreed to pay your doctor bills and tuition, at least for as long as you sang his praises. (Try getting some of that health care and education if you're related to a dissident.)

Check Andrew Sullivan for more venting at Stone. Perfect quote from Sully: "Just when you think Stone couldnt get more morally depraved, he says something like that. The man is laughing - laughing - at a gulag."

Damn straight he is. If Western liberals and leftists would abandon Castro, really abandon him, things would change. They'd have to. But God forbid any ground ever be yielded to the evil right.

Hat tip to Karol for setting me off.

Fake Apology Alert! 

There are few things that annoy me more than fake apologies. Case in point, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who has "apologized" if his tribute to Robert Byrd offended anyone. Further details about why Dodd may have felt compelled to apologize here.

Not to put to fine a point on it, but Dodd is a sissy-faced snivelling little weasel-boy. One of two things happened:

1. Dodd said something stupid. People got offended because of your stupid comments, they had every right to get offended, and you need to apologize for saying something stupid.

2. Dodd said nothing stupid. People got offended because they're either easily offended by trivial items or they're jerks trying to seize partisan advantage from something that bothers them not a whit. You owe nobody an apology for anything. In fact, they owe you one for blowing your perfectly understandable comment out of proportion.

Dodd is trying to have it both ways. "I didn't do anything wrong, but I'm sorry if you thought I did," solves nothing, and only encourages the jerks if, in fact, you did nothing wrong. This crap is starting to become de rigeur for people caught with their hands in the cookie jar, and it needs to stop.

And I'm sorry if anyone has a problem with that.

Why not just let the quagmire take hold? 

I thought Al-Qaeda was getting stronger. People in positions of strength don't sue for peace, unless they're kind and decent and generous and forgiving. And yet, here's Osama Bin Laden his bad self, offering to let Europe off the hook.

Nice to see Osama offering to be so reasonable (not to us, of course, but hey, longest journey, single step, yada yada yada). Wonder what brought it on?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

This is so cool! 

Why the hell is it taking John Kerry so long to pick his Vice-President? All he has to do is plug his desired criteria into the Veep-O-Matic and the best candidate presents itself!

Want a Southerner, from a battleground state, with experience in Congress and Foreign Policy and good name recognition? Just plug it in, and PRESTO! The best candidates are Wesley Clark, Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida. Or, for a different tack, a well-known female candidate with good outsider credentials? You're screwed! (Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Carol Moseley-Braun sort of qualify)

I could do this all day! Thanks for the link, Oxblog!

Still doubters about this whole "I'm a geek" thing?

Try to remember you like him... 

A while back, Andrew Sullivan wrote about how he'd like to see the gas tax rise. He said he thought it'd be an "easy way" to fix all sorts of problems. Of course, it'd be easy for him as he lives in an urban area easily conducive to mass transit. How the hell this would be an "easy way" for people in rural and suburban areas is less clear. Despite also living in an urban area easily conducive to mass transit, Karol is still willing to call a dumbass post a dumbass post.

Well, first the good news...then the...actually, there is no good news, unless you count the fact that Sully has cleaned up his argument somewhat for Time magazine. He finally addresses the difficulties his proposal would impose on those of us in fly-over country:

"Others say it penalizes those in remote and rural areas. So what? Very few taxes are perfect, and our electoral system — with its over-representation of big agricultural states in the Senate — already pampers the rural. (I'd gladly exchange a gas-tax hike for abolition of agricultural subsidies. Any takers in Iowa?)"

Now, I know he's not this stupid. I know he doesn't mean to come off as pretty much every cynical midwesterner's idea of the east coast. Surely he knows how few people in these areas receive farm subsidies, and the majority of people living in "farm states" go to regular jobs, which in rural areas, requires a drive.

There may be a reasonable case to be made for higher gas taxes. However, raising gas taxes imposes a disproportionate burden on people who don't live in cities, can't afford a brand new Insight, and can't move to cities cause y'all got rent so damn high. To responsibly raise the issue, you have to be aware of the costs you plan to impose, and discuss how people should deal with those costs.

Sullivan has done neither. From a dumbass post comes a dumbass column.

And I wouldn't mind so much except I know he knows better.

Here are the conditions under which I will let you refrain from blasting me into grease... 

Evil troll doll Muqtada Al-Sadr has apparently decided to negotiate with Coalition forces, without preconditions.

Personally, I was looking forward to the Marines taking him up on that "ready to die" promise he was apparently willing to stick to right up until the point we convinced him we were cool with that. Still, I suppose if there's a deal to be made, it should be.

Still, there are somethings not worth bargaining away. Al-Sadr is looking for a way out that preserves him as someone worth giving a crap about. The man seems to think there's an opening for him to either carve out a section of the country all his own, or possibly even take it over, to the extent Iran is willing to let him pretend to be in charge. It's important that any "deal" struck with Al-Sadr has two key public components: No private armies; and he recognizes he don't run squat. This may be more than Ayatollah Wannabe can accept, in which case we should go ahead and arrange the meeting between him and God. Treating anyone, especially a minor league cleric like this bozo, like a legitimate authority is only going to ask every two-bit Mullah Omar aspirant who got some fans through a good performance at a Friday Open Mic Night to form their own army and start trouble. And while we could kill them all eventually, if we can avoid having to, that would be better for everyone long-term than letting the snake continue to slither around on the expectation he won't bite.

Source material via Andrew Sullivan.

Just a localized outbreak of stupidity... 

Just to finalize the story about a group of Democrats calling for Donald Rumsfeld to be shot, it should be noted that establishment Democrats have been made aware of it, and they do not approve.

"We are calling the Pinellas County Democratic Party chair about this ad and demand that it be retracted," Kerry campaign spokesman Stephanie Cutter told CNN. "John Kerry does not condone this type of advertising and believes that it is wrong."

Pinellas County Democratic Party Chairman Kevin Jensen told CNN that he, too, was outraged by the ad, and said party officials "don't condone this type of stupidity."

Properly handled. Case closed.


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Marcus Dixon - analysis... 

In the alternative, feel free to weigh in on the perils of Red-Blue dating in this polarized age.

I've been waiting for the GA Supreme Court to hand down its verdict, first because I wanted the final resolution, second because I'm not sure how I feel about this case, honestly. Dixon had better grades and SAT scores than I did when I was his age, and was a star athlete to boot. He had everything going for him, and it's heartbreaking anytime someone loses that, regardless of whether or not they brought their misfortune on themselves. I do know I get less sympathetic towards Dixon every time I hear someone allege that Dixon was victimized solely because he was black. The general tenor of the racism charge is that the only reason the aggravated child molestation (hereafter, ACM) charge was brought is to spread the word about black folks messing with white women.

People who claim this either 1.) don't know the mechanics of the criminal justice system, or 2.) are deliberately misleading people. Neither group should be consulted as to how a criminal case should turn out. Check out this CNN interview. It suggests that prosecutors didn't think Dixon was a rapist, which is completely untrue. At the time the ACM charge was brought, law enforcement believed Dixon to be a rapist. (They believe it to this day. If you knew what rape victims go through to make sex cases, if you saw how hard it is - you'd find it difficult to believe that someone would go through that to advance a lie. My personal take is coming.) At the time of the charging decision, you charge every crime the facts fit, and you trust the jury to sort it out properly. (I believe Dixon's jury was racially mixed, but I'm not sure.) I have also never heard any evidence that the Floyd County D.A. is racially biased, other than this case. I've heard Rome in general smeared, but if Rome were such a hotbed of racism, why couldn't they find 12 people to brand Dixon a rapist.

This brings us to the jury. Some jurors have appeared on TV around here, expressing shock and dismay at the sentence parameters for the crimes they convicted Dixon of. I'll admit, I'm at a loss how people could hear the words "aggravated" and "child molestation" and think they didn't describe a serious offense. Still, the sentence isn't their call. I can't tell a jury that a guy with 14 DUI's is facing at most a year in jail, and the defense can't tell a jury that a guy charged with ACM is facing 10 years. They just have to decide whether or not the facts fit the law.

And, apparently, they do. Consent is not a defense to ACM. The only defenses are 1.) no child, or 2.) no injury. It's this latter one that interests me. The victim in this case was a virgin, and her injuries could potentially have resulted from that, rather than any force or struggle (either option can be claimed with a straight face). Dixon was obviously capably defended at trial, but I've never heard if this line was pursued. I think it's a viable issue to claim that vaginal bleeding, etc., resulting from consensual sex with a virgin is a natural consequence of sexual contact and therefore, not an injury. I don't know if it would (or even should) work. I don't know if it was raised. I think it'd be a reasonable point, however. If it is being raised, it's not getting any attention. The thrust of the appeal seems to be, OK, technically the facts fit the crime alleged. It's still not fair.

Personally, I still struggle with the question of whether I think he's a rapist. People who actually have been raped rarely come forward, I find it hard to believe someone would say they were raped when they weren't. (Regarding the guy who said she told him she made it up - I find it at least plausible that someone would make up a story to get in with the Big Man On Campus) That point of view contrasts with another strong view I have - I trust juries. They hear only relevant evidence, while the rest of us hear all the nonsense surrounding it. They come together for the sole purpose of resolving the question. I guess I believe he's not guilty of rape as strongly as I believe he's guilty of ACM. Either the jury took its job seriously and applied the facts to the law or they didn't. I have no reason to doubt their work.

I believe prosecutors were presented evidence that a young man with a history of sexual misconduct raped a 15 year old girl. I believe they did their level best to light him up, and would have done the same had he been white or she been black. I believe the jury did its best and returned a fair verdict that makes sense, given the facts I've been made aware of. I know of no reason to suspect any impropriety in the cops, prosecutor, judge or jury. There is no evidence of any pattern suggesting racial animus anywhere, save a result that some do not like. For those people, the result is enough to prove their case.

Of course, if Marcus Dixon's jury were that easily convinced, he'd never get out of prison.

Marcus Dixon - facts... 

Feel free to scroll down to weigh in on which celebrity breakup shattered your faith in love.

I figured at some point I'd feel compelled to weigh in on the Marcus Dixon case. Dixon, for those not in the know, is one of the bigger local interest stories here in GA, and it's gotten a fair amount of national play. More or less, the facts are as follows: Dixon is 18, a star athlete and scholar in Rome, GA. He is also black. He meets a 15 year, 7 month old white female classmate in an empty school trailer and sex occurs. She claims it was rape. He admits the sex, denies the force. The girl was a virgin at the time, and suffered vaginal tearing and bruising during the encounter. Age of consent in GA is 16. Sex with a minor is a felony here in all circumstances except when the victim is 14 or 15, the offender is no more than three years older than the victim, the encounter is consensual, and the victim is not injured as a result.

He's charged with rape (carnal knowledge of a female against her will); aggravated child molestation (an immoral or indecent act with a child under 16 to gratify the offender or the child in which the child is physically injured - emphasis mine); misdemeanor statutory rape (sex with girl at least 14 not yet sixteen, less than 3 year age difference); and a few other serious offense related to battery and false imprisonment. At trial, the sex is conceded, consent is offered as the defense to the other charges. A key defense witness is a classmate who claims the girl admitted making the rape charge up, because her racist father would be furious to learn she'd had sex with a black guy. She denied this vehemently at the trial, and denies it to this day.

Nevertheless, a jury acquits him of rape, battery, false imprisonment, etc., finding him guilty of statutory rape and aggravated child molestation. Now comes the big surprise at the end. Here in Georgia, jurors are not told about the range of punishment available to ensure that they apply the facts to the law. The minimum sentence for aggravated child molestation is 10 years in prison. That's what Dixon got. Dixon has appealed the sentence, claiming the molestation statute was misused in his case. It is claimed Dixon is being singled out based on race, and that he is the only person ever charged with child molestation in a case like this. If they're talking about all across Georgia, I know for a fact this is false. I have personally seen a case where it happened, where the defendant is white.

Dixon makes for a highly sympathetic figure. His grades and SAT scores were exceptional. He was an outstanding football player, and apparently had his pick of Southeastern football powers begging to give him a scholarship. He chose Vanderbilt, which has a laughingstock of a football team, but also has a fabulous reputation for academics. (His scholarship was rescinded after his conviction.) Less known is he also had a history of sexually inappropriate behavior regarding his female classmates. (Dixon either pleads youthful hijinks or denies it, depending on which incident you're talking about.)

His case is currently before the Georgia Supreme Court. Analysis about some of the claims commonly made about this case will be posted separately.

Wow. 

St. Petersburg Democrats run an ad calling for Rumsfeld to be shot.

Now, they say that wasn't what they meant. Putting someone up against a wall and pulling the trigger means "letting someone know how you feel," to a certain group of people.

That group is either idiots, or Democrats. The response of the national party will tell us which.

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