Saturday, May 31, 2003

Dang - the Devils lost 3-2 in OT. On the plus side, only three teams in NHL history have come back from a 2-0 game deficit in the finals to win the Stanley Cup. The "Mighty Ducks" won't be the fourth.
Tom Daschle: Dedicated to wasting taxpayer money

Here's an article in the Washington Post about Tom Daschle campaigning to hold his Senate seat

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Tom Daschle was pumping more than gasoline Wednesday morning at the Gas Stop convenience store.

The Senate's top Democrat was working the pumps and the crowd here to promote ethanol, the homegrown corn-based fuel additive and lifeblood of local farmers. Yet Daschle had a bigger, less obvious task on this day: convincing the locals that he's the irreplaceable protector of corn growers and other struggling South Dakotans -- not just Washington's chief antagonist of President Bush, who remains highly popular in these parts.

The minority leader, up for reelection next year, is embarking on the earliest and costliest campaign of his political career, trying to hold off a wave of attacks over his outspoken criticism of Bush. This week was "ethanol week," a Daschle staff member said, a time for the senator to break ground on a new ethanol plant and spend several days talking about how "two out of every three rows of corn" will be turned into Made in the USA corn fuel if he gets his way.

Now here's a Business Week article about a study from a Cornell scientist, proving that ethanol is a huge waste of energy and government subsidies:

"UNSUSTAINABLE." But to one agricultural scientist, the idea of distilling alcohol from corn for fuel just doesn't compute. David Pimentel of Cornell University has done the math. His bottom line: It takes more fossil-fuel energy to produce a gallon of fuel-grade ethanol than burning it will produce. Growing crops to produce fuel amounts to "unsustainable, subsidized food burning," charges Pimentel.

A professor at Cornell's College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, Pimentel conducted a detailed analysis of the corn-to-car-fuel process, which was published in the Encyclopedia of Physical Sciences and Technology in September.

According to Pimentel, the 7,000 pounds of corn produced on an average acre of land can yield about 325 gallons of ethanol. But planting, growing, and harvesting that much corn requires about 140 gallons of fossil fuels and costs $347 -- or about $1.05 per gallon of ethanol. And that's only to grow the grain. The corn must be crushed and fermented, then distilled and processed to extract the alcohol and produce 99.8% pure alcohol suitable for fuel.

ENERGY DEFICIT. At the end of it all, alcohol production is gushing red ink, says Pimentel. He calculates that it takes 131,000 BTUs to produce a gallon of ethanol. But a gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 BTUs. "About 70% more energy is required to produce ethanol than the energy that actually is in ethanol," says Pimental. The deficit: "Every time you make 1 gallon of ethanol, there is a net energy loss of 54,000 BTU."

And the price at the pump? Ethanol from corn costs about $1.75 per gallon to produce, compared with about 95 cents to produce a gallon of gasoline. In addition, it takes 11 acres of land to produce the 850 gallons of alcohol needed to travel 10,000 miles -- the amount of cropland needed to feed seven people for a year, Pimentel says.

Even the approximately $1 billion a year now shelled out in the form of federal and state tax breaks doesn't balance the books, says Pimentel. Since about 70% of the corn grown in the U.S. becomes animal feed, the artificially high prices are reflected at the supermarket in the cost of meat, milk, and eggs.

Tom Daschle wants to promote ethanol so he can keep his job as South Dakota's Senator. In exchange, Americans get 1.) tax money spent on ethanol subsidies 2.) higher gas prices and 3.) higher food prices. What a deal! Thanks Tom!

This is maddening I'm watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs right now and there's a player on the (eventual champions) New Jersey Devils named Scott Niedermeyer. Meanwhile, his brother Rob Niedermeyer plays for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The play-by-play commentary is "Niedermeyer shoots!" and "Niedermeyer moves the puck!" and such. Crazy.
Acidman dissolves

I'm an occasional reader of Gut Rumbles and, sorry to say, it looks like he's packing it in. Someone set him off since his Links section now says: "If my blog does not meet your standards, then LOWER YOUR STANDARDS or go away. Who the hell do you think you are, anyway?" Ouch.
The Big Me and Jeb Bush

Here's an excerpt from Sean Hannity's radio show interview with Florida Governor and Presidential brother Jeb Bush - from NewsMax

HANNITY: Bill Clinton has been very critical of your brother, on the other hand. Now he's even talking about repealing the 22nd amendment - not for him, of course. . .

BUSH: [laughing] Yeah

HANNITY: . . . But for future presidents. You want to weigh into these waters or . . .

BUSH: Oh boy. I'll tell you what. All I'll say is that Bill Clinton is the most self absorbed person living in America. And the tradition of former presidents not being critical of their successors, I think, is a very good one. It's why we've had transitions since the beginning of the Republic. And almost all presidents have been very respectful of that. But President Clinton wouldn't view himself being critical of anybody because he's always thinking about himself. It's all about Bill.

"Well, enough about me....what do you think of me?"
The Big Me and Bob Dole: Here's a NY Post article on the 60 Minutes duo (thanks to Henry Hanks)

Friday, May 30, 2003

If you like "Trading Spaces"

Read this article in the Washington Post:

The instant she opened her eyes -- after two grueling days and nights of giving her neighbors' kitchen a facelift -- Ruth Nelson was stunned by her own tarted-up Alexandria living and dining rooms. "I love it," she blurted as TV cameras recorded the moment.

Trouble was, she didn't.

Hat tip to Ben Domenech - great find.
Winds of Change examines the corpse of the Democratic party: “Dead and damned – Democrats after 9/11
Joel Engel spells out the difference between “free speech” and “censorship” for Danny Glover and Sean Penn in “Celebrity Injustice” on NRO.
"''The good news is, 52 percent of Americans are waking up today and they now have a Democratic governor." - Terry McAuliffe spinning the 2002 midterm elections.

From World Net Daily: "Dump Davis effort moving fast!"

The latest Bush tax cut

George Will likes it.
The Economist does not.
Discriminations on racial preferences

John Rosenberg calmly explains the paradox. An excerpt:

It's fine for the Jayson Blairs and Janet Cookes -- and the Neil Henrys for that matter, if it's the case -- to be hired or admitted or promoted at least in part because they're black. And if they succeed, one can almost hear the unspoken chorus in the background, they're "a credit to their race." But if they fail or commit some transgression, their failure is purely and totally individual; it "has nothing to do with race or diversity efforts at all."

New York Times editor Gerald Boyd won the “Journalist of the Year” award from the National Association of Black Journalists in 2001; he had been nominated by Jayson Blair. Obviously, race was an important component to the award. So, now that things have soured, why try to disingenuously spin the Blair fiasco as a product of an individual? Can’t have it both ways.
March to the Stanley Cup update: the Devils won again last night, taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Vincent at Insignificant Thoughts is not happy (yet he put up a nice picture of the Devils celebrating. Good for you!)

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Doctor, self-medicate thyself

Poor DB...everytime he starts writing about medical malpractice insurance rates and their deleterious and demoralizing effect on medicine, he starts acting like someone in serious need of lithium. Here are comments lifted from three recent posts on need for tort reform:

1.) I rant so often on tort reform, that I may have to take some law courses.
2.) When will the madness end?
3.) I am obsessed! I see social injustice and I cannot control my fingers. I must type incessantly. Malpractice lawyers are hazardous to patient care. They hide behind hyperbole and obfuscation, yet they are slowly depriving Americans of adequate health care.

That last one is from a post today titled "The true cost of increased malpractice - redux". Please go and read it. Do it for DB.

The math of the Simpsons

(Link lifted shamelessly from The Corner)
Sasha has a great post called “Zimbabwe: Whitey’s fault” where she gives a Guardian writer a brutal Fisking because he blames Zimbabwe’s problems on colonialism.

Zimbabwe has been independent since 1980. Isn’t there some statue of limitations where Robert Mugabe takes responsibility for the mess he’s created?
Cool! I got a link on Damian Penny's blog. Apparently there's not as much bitterness as I thought about my New Jersey Devils knocking off the Ottawa Senators. Thanks Damian! Game 2 tonight!
Lewis Lapham wrote the script for the New York Times

Andrew Sullivan, call your office! The Village Voice connects the dots between one liberal press institution and another. In an article titled “Blair Follows the Rules” Press Clips columnist Cynthia Cotts details how Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham wrote the playbook for sycophantic journalistic bootstrapping and how NYT “reporter” Jayson Blair followed its advice:

Blair's sordid rise to stardom is compelling but not unique. In 1999, a year after the budding celebrity was hired at the Times, Harper's editor Lewis Lapham wrote an ironic book called Lapham's Rules of Influence, in which he anticipated Blair's m.o. exactly. Consider just a few of Lapham's commands: Socialize with big shots ("never take an interest in people who cannot do you any favors"), polish your résumé like a work of literature, trade in gossip, dole out flattery ("cannot be too often or too recklessly applied"), and learn to tell lies ("always more welcome than the truth").

The full title is Lapham's Rules of Influence: A Careerist's Guide to Success, Status, and Self-Congratulation, and it fits Blair to a tee.

The humor here is that Lapham appeared to have written the book as a criticism of modern journalistic trends and unwittingly revealed the blueprint for Jayson Blair’s subterfuge.

In his fin-de-siècle primer on self-promotion, Lapham recalls how, sometime after 1980, ambitious college grads began to concentrate less on learning, merit, and morality and more on perfecting the navigational and social skills of a courtier. Courtiers first flourished under a monarchy, according to Lapham, but the "arts of deference" became indispensable in a status-obsessed and way-fluid democracy.

If there’s a more prescient account of King Raines and the imperial structure at the New York Times, I haven’t seen it. The liberal media saw the future and ignored it.

Happy Birthday Bob Hope!

Shirley Duenckel, President of the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce places balloons near an Al Hirschfeld caricature of comedian Bob Hope during the celebrations of his 100th birthday.(AFP/Hector Mata)

Here’s the IMDB biography on a great American and a great entertainer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

War on Terrorism update

This headline says it all: Alleged Casablanca Mastermind Caught, Dies

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco said on Wednesday it had captured the alleged mastermind of suicide bombers who killed dozens of people in Casablanca this month but said he had died from electrical shocks and savage beatings chronic heart and liver disease.

Hmmm…that’s a little suspicious how he died a couple of hours after being taken into custody.

Hosting Matters tries to emulate Blogger and denies access

Is this all part of some Cartman-esque plot?

The latest Carnival of the Vanities is up at Dean Esmay’s site. Good clean fun for all.
A Clinton comeback? Bring it on

In yesterday’s Slate, William Saletan took stock of the Democratic candidates for President at a gathering for EMILY’s list. In the morphing campaign, Saletan took note that Clinton is cool again:

The return of Bill Clinton. Last year, Joe Lieberman was the only prospective presidential candidate willing to praise Clinton by name. Now others are joining in. At this forum, Dick Gephardt credited "the first Clinton budget" for "the best economy we've had in 50 years." Gephardt also spoke of youth programs for which "Bill Clinton and I" worked. But the big surprise came when John Kerry declared, "It was President Clinton and the Democrats who had the courage to expend their political capital" to pass Clinton's economic program. Kerry added, "President Clinton said a month or two ago that the Democrats lost in 2002 because we were voiceless, and we were. … We saw it proven that strong and wrong, as he said, can beat weak and right." Kerry is as calculating as anyone in the race. If he thinks the Clinton stigma is over, the Clinton stigma is over.

Oh really? Maybe the Dems got wind of these latest Presidential poll numbers. More likely, they’re grasping for an edge on the economy issue, and Clinton is the Democrats’ symbol of a healthy bubble…er, economy. But the new effort to embrace Clinton carries political risk, amply displayed in today’s WSJ Opinion Journal, running two articles today reminding everyone why the Clintons were an embarrassment to the nation.

The first is a book review of sorts by Robert Bartley on the “parallel universe of Clinton spinmeister Sidney Blumenthal”; Bartley antiseptically reviews Blumenthal’s omissions and the Clintons’ transgressions. The second is an exhaustive review of Whitewater from the Wall Street Journal’s archives.

George W. Bush ran in 2000 constantly intoning that he would restore dignity and honor to the office of the Presidency. Democrats, on the other hand, appear poised to embrace the Clinton legacy to score some temporary political gain. Let them pay tribute.

Torn between two lovers, looking like a fool

Senator Handsome can’t run for President without appealing to the liberal Democratic base, but he’s going to have trouble running for re-election to the Senate if he alienates the conservative swing voters in North Carolina. Here are the details, with links, from Political Wire: Edwards Hurts Possible Senate Re-Election

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

New Jersey Devils march to the Stanley Cup update

The Devils took game 1 tonight, defeating the Mighty Ducks by a score of 3-0. Martin Brodeur scored another playoff shutout. Surrender Anaheim - the Cup will be ours. (Evil laughter!)

Accentuate the negative: That’s the Democrats’ strategy, according to this opinion piece in today’s USA Today. Without any policies of their own, it’s all they got.
Kerry Vote Watch

It’s Monday, so it’s time to review how our favorite Senator fared in meeting his basic duties. The Senate had a full five-day work week leading up to the holiday weekend and a total of 19 votes taken on the Senate floor. Kerry is listed as “not voting” on all the Monday, Tuesday and Thursday votes for a total of 11 missed votes.

Days worked: 2
Senate votes missed: 11

Hope you enjoyed your weekend, Senator. You earned it!

Monday, May 26, 2003


President Bush places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Memorial Day: All right, no more posting on those unserious matters for today. Scroll down and click on the link for Arlington National Cemetery or check out some of the editorial page links on Real Clear Politics.
The NYT has a story on weddings at Disney World. I just got back from a vacation at Disney World, and there were newlyweds all over the place easily recognizable by the black tophat with Mickey ears for the groom and the white ears with veil for the brides. Cute.
New site: Boots and Sabers is a run-of-the-mill blog, but I like it if only for the subheading "The blogging will continue until morale improves....." Ha-ha! (I'll get you on my blogroll as soon as Blogger fixes their template subroutine. Who do I contact about Movable Type?)
More on Tubby

What a strange coincidence. Arts and Letters Daily links to a story on Dissent Magazine about Michael Moore. Kevin Mattson has an excellent article on Moore's confrontational style titled: "The Perils of Michael Moore: Political Criticism in an Age of Entertainment." Here's from the concluding paragraph (with some emphasis added):

None of what I've discussed here would matter if Moore's techniques didn't symbolize bigger weaknesses in the American left today. Moore is not just a quirky guy with enough talent and dough to reach a wide audience. His political criticism signals problems faced by the left more generally: marginalization, a tendency to seek the purity of confrontation rather than to work for long-term political solutions, a cynicism about the possibilities of politics today, and questionable political judgments. Moore exhibits all these weaknesses. Unfortunately, an effective left cannot draw energy or inspiration from a deeply cynical view of politics that blurs entertainment and argument. Moore takes short-cuts when it comes to politics. He entertains, but he doesn't always do much more. That speaks to the state of the left; we are angry and sometimes vocal, but we have too little to offer those looking for or needing social change. Meanwhile, the entertainment industry chugs on, denigrating serious political argument and avoiding deliberation. That is the depressing world Michael Moore has broken into.

Go read the whole thing, as they say.
Update: It looks like Michael Moore's lackeys fixed his site, but Occams Toothbruth has the text and Silent Running has a screen shot. Scroll down for fun.

Update again: The ever-vigilent Freepers over at Free Republic captured the screen and links.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Michael Moore's website has been HACKED - go quick!
Curmudgeonly & Skeptical links to this Heartwarming & Optimistic article from Tennessee about a crippled boy who placed flags on the graves of servicemen for Memorial Day. Nice find.
Remember those who gave their lives so that we can be free - Arlington National Cemetery
Why the Democrats will lose big in 2004

Today the New York Times carried a story on the rise of the Republican Party titled: "Buoyed by Resurgence, GOP strives for an Era of Dominance." The story covered all the usual reasons for the rise of the Republicans, but a smaller story on the National page illustrated the descent of the Democrats.

It was a story about the World Series of Poker. Bear with me.

For the uninitiated, the World Series of Poker is a yearly Las Vegas competition where card players try their skill at No-Limit Texas Hold 'em Poker. Texas Hold 'em is somewhat unique in that each player is dealt two hole cards and then bets are made on shared cards in the center of the table, turned over in succession. First three cards are turned over (the flop), then two more in a row; players use these community cards along with the cards in their hand to make the best hand possible. Because there are so many shared cards in any given hand, winning hands take the pot on the slimmest of margins. Losing a hand, usually on the turn of the last card, by the vagary of luck is known as a "bad beat." Bad beats are war stories of the poker table where great hands are suddenly, memorably, infuriatingly, slapped down. It's the enervating, soul-death of watching your ace-high flush bested by a nothing two-pair hand suddenly transformed into a full house. All the chips were so close…now you're crushing your cigarette and putting on your coat.

For the Democratic Party, the contested 2000 presidential election was their bad beat and, two-and-a-half years later, they still can't shake it off. At a recent campaign event, Senator Joe Lieberman declared that he knows he can beat President Bush in 2004 because "Al Gore and I already did it." DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe uses every speech to paint Bush as an illegitimate president. The Democratic Convention next year will be dominated by a party base that takes it as an article of faith that Al Gore really, truly won the 2000 election. For these politicos, their hatred of President Bush will crowd out any reasoned dialogue and debate over real policy issues. Sure, they'll mouth the words about the economy and education, but they won't be able to suppress their bitterness at that 537-vote bad beat they suffered in Florida.

This bitterness will only amplify the Democrats' downward spiral, especially since they seem incapable of formulating an opposing policy to the President's plans. They simply cannot fight the Republicans on security issues. On the domestic front, the Democrats bemoan tax cuts but lack the will to forcefully oppose them. On a whole host of issues, from education to the environment, they offer the one-note solution of more spending. Even on Social Security and Medicare, the Democrats are slowly losing their edge because they refuse to face up to the looming long-term solvency problem.

With their cash sapped away by the very campaign finance reform they advocated, the Democratic Party is approaching bankruptcy in both real and philosophical terms. As the party fractures and stumbles, the leadership will search for unifying agents. And, as Eric Hoffer wrote: "Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents." Stoked by their "bad beat", the Mcauliffe Democrats will bring the bile and attack a President with the longest-sustained approval rating in polling history. Right or wrong, President Bush offers a vision of tax cuts and world security. The Democrats thus far have only offered a policy of "not Bush" and "he didn't win anyway" – they can't help themselves. The 2004 election will be leadership versus petulance. Suddenly the thought of a Bush 50-state sweep doesn't seem so far-fetched.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Now the Volokh Conspiracy bails out on Blogger. Gotta update links again.
Was Jayson Blair a "Manchurian Candidate" for the KKK?

I can't stop shaking my head in disbelief at Jayson Blair. Today the Washington Post carried a story about his book proposal called – get this – "Burning Down My Master's House." According to the Post story, Blair calls the New York Times (among other things) "my slavemaster." Oh. My. Heck.

It looks like Blair intends on playing a two-of-diamonds racism card. Problem is, there's not a scintilla of evidence that Blair suffered at the New York Times. In fact, an incredibly apt argument that could be made that the only racism the Blair suffered was the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

For God's sake – he didn't even graduate from college! Which should give great comfort to all the budding black journalism majors out there when Blair states:

In the book proposal, however, Blair said he resigned after the plagiarized story because there was "no point" in trying to hang on to "a job I could hardly imagine any black man really wanting."

Even drunk and high on coke, Jayson Blair must realize that he's doing an inestimable amount of high-profile damage to the affirmative action cause. Boy, if you hate the New York Times and racial quotas, Blair is a dream come true.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Tim Blair & Damian Penny have been updated on links. Canadian Penny vows to never add Viking Pundit to blogroll because of Devils victory. Oh well...

YESSSSSSS!!!! Bring on the Mighty Ducks!

The Devils posing with the Prince of Wales trophy, after beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 to win the best of seven series 4-3 tonight.

The next pose will be with the Stanley Cup.
My first impulse upon seeing Bigwig blogging as his wife is giving birth was "What a dick." But now that a bouncing blogging boy has been born, I'm compelled to say "Congratulations!"

We're happy!

Patrick Ruffini links to this Harris Poll showing that Americans are much more satisfied and optimistic than Europeans. France appeals to the United Nations for "international pessimism" but discovers there's nothing to veto.
If it had been a Republican, this would have been a front page story

Here's a report from the New York Post's Page Six about a Daschle gaffe:

May 23, 2003 -- SENATE Minority Leader Tom Daschle blundered yesterday when he accidentally mixed up two black reporters who've been covering him for years. PBS off-camera reporter Linda Scott, who has covered Congress for more than 20 years, raised her hand at a press conference to ask the South Dakota Democrat a question about the Republican economic stimulus package. Daschle apparently got her confused with CBS producer Evelyn Thomas, the only other African-American female television producer who regularly covers Congress. Thomas was not even in the room at the time. "Yes, Evelyn," said the Senator, nodding at Scott. The other reporters present at the time gasped. Daschle's slip left Scott visibly angry; she pointedly told Daschle that she looks nothing at all like her black colleague. "It's Linda, and I know we don't look alike," fumed Scott, who then asked Daschle about the tax cut. Later, Scott told The Post's Vince Morris she's bitter, but that Daschle isn't the only politician to do it: "To me it's that old thing about 'oh, they all look alike,' " said Scott. But she praised Daschle for later calling to say how sorry he was.

I'm tempted to make a comment, but I think I'll leave it as is. (Although you're welcome to comment, dear reader).

Trouble at the New York Times? Here's a report from the New York Daily News.
Trouble at NASA? Rod Dreher of the Corner says: "A good Washington source says that there will be "explosive" news on Friday about the space shuttle Columbia. NASA is said to be bracing."
Morning humor

I gleefully lifted this joke from Patio Pundit:

One time there was a young woman about to finish her first year of college. She considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat and her father was a rather staunch Republican. One day she was challenging her father on his beliefs and his opposition to programs like welfare.

He stopped her and asked her how she was doing in school. She answered that she had a 4.0 GPA, but it was really tough. She had to study all the time, never had time to go out and party and often went sleepless because all of the studying. She didn't have time for a boyfriend and didn't really have many college friends because of all her studying.

He then asked how her friend, Mary, at the same college, was doing. She replied that she was barely getting by. She had a 2.0 GPA, never studied. Was very popular on campus and was at parties all the time. She often wouldn't show up for classes because she was hung over.

He then asked his daughter why she didn't go to the Dean's office and ask to take 1.0 off her 4.0 and give it to her friend that only had a 2.0. That way they would both have a 3.0 GPA.

The daughter fired back and said, "That wouldn't be fair, I worked really hard for mine and my friend has done nothing."

The father smiled and said: "Welcome to the Republican Party

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Public education update

The juxtaposition of these articles is too ironic not to mention: first, here’s Jeff Jacoby taking on the NEA in the Boston Globe – “The Bottom Line for Teachers Unions

According to the Department of Education, the number of public school teachers in Massachusetts soared from 33,629 in 1991 to 70,236 in 2002, a 108 percent rise. During roughly the same period, public school enrollment in Massachusetts grew by only 17 percent. The explosion in teacher payrolls may not have led to better grades or more effective schools, but it certainly gave a boost to the union's bottom line.

Teachers unions, like all unions, want to make money and amass power. Those are the motives behind everything they say and do. They're not in business ''for the children.'' They're in business for themselves.

And now this: Home-schooler wins National Geography Bee

WASHINGTON -- The competition went to a second tiebreaker before James Williams, a 14-year-old from Vancouver, Wash., claimed victory Wednesday in the 15th annual National Geographic Bee.

It was the second straight year a home-schooler has won the bee.

Now about those vouchers……
Broken record time: Blogger is running slow-fast-slow this morning (last night too). Sorry if it's taking long to load. It looks like the Archives keep disappearing.

Anyone else having problems? I've been having a heck of a time getting on How Appealing and Damian Penny's site (for example).
K-Lo has been up past midnight and rising before the dawn to post for you on the Corner. Lots of stuff this morning - check it out.
Correction: it was a 1335-vote difference on 24 million votes cast. Wow, that's razor-thin. Here's the Washington Post story on American Idol.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Oh well...looks like I was wrong. According to Seacrest, there were only 1300 votes separating Ruben and Clay out of 10+ million cast, so it was very close. I could make baseless claims about white voter turnout being suppressed...roadblocks in North Carolina...but that would be petty.

Well, good for Ruben. Congratulations to him and to everyone else.

Darn...and the NJ Devils just lost to Ottawa. Bring on Game Seven.
American Idol prediction

Clay Aiken will win.

Here’s why: Ruben is a great singer, but his vocal style seems permanently stuck on “Luther Vandross.” When he strays too far from Motown, it seems like he’s reaching. Also, I hope he doesn’t win for his own health. Have you seen this guy after a two-minute performance? He looks like he’s been performing underwater, he’s so covered with sweat. What’s Ruben going to do once he has to start singing the National Anthem at baseball parks? Better keep the crash cart handy.

In terms of talent, Clay is equal to Ruben. But Clay has a little more showmanship and knows how to use his whole range. Last night’s performance of “Bridge over Troubled Water” was inspired and Simon was right to say that it may win him the competition.

A little history: in last year’s American Idol, runner-up Justin was named as one of the bottom two vote-getters in one of the elimination shows. Kelly Clarkson never was in the bottom two. This year, Ruben was in the same situation, while Clay never had to stand and wait (endlessly) for the final verdict. This indicates that Ruben’s support may be a little soft.

Both of them are going to do very well – probably better than Clarkson – in their post-AI careers. There are no losers on the stage tonight (well, except for the insufferable Ryan Seacrest). But I’m putting my chips on Clay.

Well, how about it Dean? Vincent? (This was posted at 8:15 EST - just as the 2 hour drag-out is starting. I'll be tuning in at 9:50 p.m.)

Maine Rx

Whenever a universal health care proposal is floated (take heed Democrats) I’m reminded of a quote by P.J. O’Rourke: “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it’s free.” In the spirit of free stuff for everyone, read Ronald Bailey’s critique of the Maine Rx program: “This is Maine on Drugs” in Reason Online.
Dumber Harper’s

As some of you know, I also publish the monthly Smarter Harper’s page where I take on the liberal flotsam of Lewis Lapham’s increasingly irrelevant rag. Today, Andrew Sullivan points out that the New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, who gave a poorly received anti-war commencement speech at Rockford College, also wrote a boneheaded article for Harper’s (or, as Sullivan calls it, an “infamous piece of factually-challenged anti-Israeli propaganda”). Here’s the clarification from CAMERA which is nearly as long as Hedges’ original.

I let my subscription to Harper’s lapse – I just couldn’t bear to give another cent to Lapham. He and Howell should have a couple of single-malt scotches together and wallow in their own hauteur.
New Massachusetts poll: Kerry would lose to Bush in MA
Jayson Blair – psychotic

There’s so much disturbing material in Howard Kurtz’s column about Jayson Blair, I scarcely know where to start. Blair “laughed” about his misrepresentation of Jessica Lynch’s home. He suffered under the “racism” of the New York Times newsroom – no specific examples are given, but it’s implied that they wanted him to…you know…write articles that were factual. It’s all everybody else’s fault:

The only point at which Blair, 27, appeared to blame himself was when he said he might have been too young for "a snake pit" like the Times.

But he kept returning to the question of race, telling the Manhattan weekly: "I was under a lot of pressure. I was black at the New York Times, which is something that hurts you as much as it helps you. I certainly have health problems which probably led to me having to kill Jayson Blair, the journalist. . . . So Jayson Blair the human being could live, Jayson Blair the journalist had to die
." [Emphasis added]

What kind of a person says things like that? Loser. Here’s some advice, Jayson: I’m guessing you’re going to be unemployed for some time. Kick the cocaine habit and save your cash, because you’re going to need it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Susanna at one of my favorite sites - Cut on the Bias - has this week's Carnival of the Vanities. And her link to my post below works! So everything is right in the world. Go check it out.
A Modest Proposal

One of the fundamental problems with the operation of the Federal Government is that the spending of taxpayer money falls into what economist Milton Friedman described as “Category IV” of his famous “Four Ways to Spend Money.”

In the book “Free to Choose”, Milton and Rose Friedman note that spending attitudes depend largely upon 1.) whose money is being spent and 2.) who is receiving the benefit of the spending. In most cases, you are spending your money on yourself and, therefore, you have a high incentive to gain the maximum value for your money; this is Category I spending. Category II is like buying Christmas presents: you still want a bargain but you don’t care so much about how the recipient feels. Category III is the “expense account” scenario: you want to maximize your benefit on somebody else’s dime (thus, the lobster dinner charged to the company credit card). Finally, there’s Category IV which entails spending somebody else’s money on somebody other than yourself. There’s little incentive to economize and you really don’t care that much about the value of the product or benefit received. All government spending falls into Category IV.

My proposal to imbue some accountability into government spending is to link Congressional salaries to the budget surplus and/or deficit. Right now, Senators and House members receive a kingly $154,700 to endure three-day workweeks for several weeks a year. For the purpose of this proposal (and to simplify the math) let’s raise Congressional paychecks to $200,000 a year. However, this is not a fixed salary, but a floating one, depending on the spending habits of Congress. If the federal budget is balanced, everyone gets their 200 Gs.

But let’s say it’s 1990. In that fiscal year, the U.S. government ran a deficit of $221 billion on total outlays of $1.253 trillion dollars, or a 17.6% overrun. Under my proposal, everyone in Congress forfeits that percentage in salary ($35200) to bring the Congressional salary down to $164,800. Conversely, let’s take 2000 FY numbers when the government ran a $236 billion surplus on $1.788 trillion in spending. Now Congress has shown the fiscal responsibility to gain themselves a 13% pay raise, bringing the salary for that year up to $226,000. Easy, no?

The idea is that, in some small way, Congress should aspire to the same instinct towards fiscal responsibility as everyday Americans. It’s a way to interject some Category I behavior into the federal government’s propensity to tax and spend. The sacrifice of millions of taxpayers would be felt (in a minor way) by those spending the taxpayers’ money.

The salary cut itself is probably insignificant to a Congressperson. However, the pay cut (or raise) is the kind of tangible metric that Americans can latch onto as a kind of job assessment. Think of “Congressional Pay Cut” as a side-by-side measurement with “Tax Freedom Day.” And this is important: tax policy would be forever tied to the compensation policy. Congress couldn’t easily raise taxes without explaining why this isn’t a facile way to increase their own salary on the backs of the taxpayers (in the same vein, this would be the case for drastic budget cuts). A tax increase would be viewed as a failure by Congress to engage in fiscal discipline. The compensation policy would also influence spending policy since Congress would have to face up to morsel of Category I spending every time an expenditure bill is passed.

To be sure, there are national emergencies (war, recession) that require deficit spending. In these cases, the stigma of overspending in Congress would be mitigated based on the extraordinary times. However, in times of peace and prosperity, there is little excuse for Congress to avoid the hard decisions of Category I spending faced by Americans in their household budgets on a daily basis.

Gephardt offers ice cream, piggyback rides, to Labor

On the same day that this article ran in the Boston Globe – “Who Will Get Labor’s Nod?” – Slate had a report on the Democratic debate in Iowa this past weekend. Here’s an excerpt:

Dick Gephardt. He takes the prize for Most Shameless Bribe. To the AFSCME audience: "If you want to give a billion and a half dollars from the federal government to state and local government here in Iowa in the next three years, then I am your candidate."

Oh Dick, Dick, Dick.
Bush on course for second term

That’s the assessment of UPI Senior News Analyst Martin Sieff in this article.

The first and main reason for this is very simple. As Nicholas Murray Butler, future president of Columbia University, said of the attempt to deny the Republican vice presidential nomination to Theodore Roosevelt in 1900, "You can't beat someone with no one." Bush is very clearly "someone." The Democrats are still stuck with no one.

But what about Senator Splunge?

Every time Kerry opens his mouth, it is as if all his listeners have just taken an overdose of Valium. He addresses every public gathering as if it was a solemn committee hearing in Congress. He just cannot lighten up. He has enough negative charisma to equal all of Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan's positive excess of this quality.

C’mon now! He’s at least as charismatic as Michael Dukakis…..zzzzzzzzzz
I thought Kerry was bad!

Here’s a report from today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Gephardt has missed more House votes than rivals during campaign

WASHINGTON - Rep. Richard Gephardt is ahead of his Democratic presidential rivals in at least one arena: the number of votes missed since he launched his campaign for the White House.

Gephardt, D-St. Louis County, has missed 162 House votes, or nearly 85 percent, since the beginning of the 108th Congress in January, according to a running tally by the Republican National Committee

Holy cow – 85% of the votes! If I was from Missouri, I would ask Gephardt to “Show Me” the money (his Congressional salary that is.)

What about the other Democrats vying to give a concession speech?

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., ranked second on the latest GOP committee list, missing 63 Senate votes, or 34 percent, so far this year. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., has missed 40 votes, or 22 percent. Sens. John Edwards, D-N.C., has missed 22 votes, or 12 percent, and Bob Graham, D-Fla., whose presidential bid got off to a late start, has missed 11 votes, or 6 percent.

Let’s see, as a Massachusetts resident, I pay for Senator Kerry’s $154,700 annual salary. He’s been absent for 34% of the votes – looks like I should be getting a $52,600 rebate!
Sports interlude

I don’t talk too much about sports here. When I moved to Massachusetts from NJ, I became a casual Red Sox and New England Patriots fan (just in time! - Greatest Superbowl EVER). But I held onto my allegiance to the New Jersey Devils as evidenced by my NHL-official Martin Brodeur jersey. And, despite last night’s loss, the Devils are going all the way this year. Bring on the Ducks!

Here, for your amusement, is Jim Armstrong’s “Jerky Awards” on ESPN. Send in the clowns.

Monday, May 19, 2003

A dilemma...solved!

Sometimes you have to use the Internet to do research. For example, let's say you're studying for an advanced physics class and you need to bone up on semiconductor physics (light-emitting diodes and such). But what you really want to do is look at pictures of Britney Spears.

In the past, you had to choose one or the other. But not anymore!

Now Britney Spears has all the answers at Britney's Guide to Semiconductor Physics! Yay!

Just posted: my Blogcritics review of Rainy Day Music by the Jayhawks. Thumbs up!
Blogger is acting funky again today.
Kerry Vote Watch

Starting today, there will be a new Monday feature here at Viking Pundit: the Kerry Vote Watch. This oversight effort will track the votes of Senator John Kerry to see if he can fulfill the basic duties of his position. As a resident of Massachusetts, I would expect my senator to earn his $154,700 paycheck.

The Senate had a three-day work week last week, stretching from Wednesday May 14th to Friday May 16th. There was one vote on the 14th and Kerry is listed as “not voting.” The senator showed up and made all the votes on the 15th before heading back out on the campaign trail to miss all the Friday votes. Among the votes he missed: an amendment offered by Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy “To provide for the procurement of certain pharmaceuticals at the lowest possible price for products of assured quality.” (I guess he doesn’t care.) Senators Lieberman and Edwards managed to shake free of their presidential campaigns for that vote; Kerry couldn’t make it.

Days worked: 1
Senate votes missed: 4

I like Medical Rants - and it's DB's one-year blogoversary today. Happy Birthday!
Biting British wit on the NYT scandal

Here’s the concluding paragraph from an article titled “Unfit to Print” in the Economist:

In the past year of business scandals, the Times has not shied away from making tough calls, including criticising a lack of accountability of bosses for corporate failures. The executive editor, Howell Raines, won plaudits after being appointed two years ago and quickly guided the paper to seven Pulitzer Prizes. Yet Mr Raines's apparently close relationship with Mr Blair, and the paper's prolonged failure to unearth a pathological liar within its midst, has raised questions about what other “low points” might yet emerge. After Mr Blair's failings were made public, Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of the Times, said “let's not begin to demonise our executives—either the desk editors, or the executive editor or, dare I say, the publisher”. Other troubled corporate titans would no doubt conclude that the Times is finally getting religion.

Or as Tim Blair blithely noted:

Talk about the pot criticising the kettle's commitment to minority hiring through a company-wide diversity policy.

These crazy Britz and Auzzies – what iz up with their averzion to the letter “Z”? “CriticiZe!” Geez.
Sadly unsurprising: Al Qaeda Arms Traced to Saudi National Guard
White House counsel Alberto Gonzales says "Time to Vote, Senators" in the Wall Street Journal Online.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Random Saturday night thought on responsibility: It's interesting to watch the New York Times editors talk about how the Jayson Blair is the worst "black eye" in the history of the paper and they accept responsibility but nobody will resign.

There's an old Doonesbury I tried to find but greedy Garry Trudeau has moved onto Slate and wants a subscription to gain access to the Doonesbury archives. So I'll just describe it: upstanding Congresswoman Lacey Davenport is announcing at a press conference that the savings and loan scandal is a dereliction of the oversight of Congress. Her staff thinks her rhetoric is designed for a Presidential run...until she abruptly resigns, noting that somebody has to take responsibility for the scandal.

I understand that Davenport is a fictional character and that there are real careers (and paychecks) to consider. But Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd had a rare opportunity to stand up for the New York Times and journalistic integrity by resigning. In fact, I think they would have been hailed as heroes by the NYT staff and journalists across the U.S. Instead, they held tight to their positions and paychecks. In my opinion, it will take years - if not decades - for the Times to recover from this scandal and its uninspired aftermath.
A tree grows in Berkeley

Fox News reports:

SAN FRANCISCO — Like thousands of other conservative-minded college students across the country, some at U.C.-Berkeley are waging war against what they call rampant liberalism on campuses. Their weapon: a right-leaning monthly newspaper called The California Patriot.

Well, a place like Berkeley where free speech is valued and protected should welcome diversity of thought, right?

The students admit that there are risks involved in taking on liberal teachers and administrators. At Berkeley, thousands of copies of a controversial right-wing newspaper were recently stolen, and student reporters have received death threats.

Um, nevermind.
Interesting - Here's Robert Novak on Townhall

WASHINGTON -- High-ranking Justice Department lawyers privately express hope that the Jayson Blair scandal at the New York Times could push the Supreme Court to rule against racial quotas in the University of Michigan case.

No matter how the Michigan decision goes, the Blair scandal provides cover to those who would overturn special privileges. Hope Jayson's happy with his book deal.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Profiles in Courage

Here's the latest on the state of our national democracy, via Political Wire:

"House Democrats may try to mimic in their own way Texas Democratic state lawmakers who brought their state House to a standstill this week by fleeing to Oklahoma," Roll Call reports. "House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said the stealth and precision with which 53 Texas Democrats fled to a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Okla., -- denying Republicans in the Texas Legislature the quorum they needed to bring up a Congressional redistricting plan pushed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) -- could be 'a galvanizing event' for Democrats on Capitol Hill."

Though House Democrats "cannot stop action in their chamber by simply walking out as the Texas lawmakers did" he was "cagey about what specifically they might be considering as a way to either stop House action or effectively impede the House Republican agenda.

Is this what the Democratic party has come to? Government by truancy? Jefferson and Hamilton would be proud.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

After a couple days of rest, Tom at Just One Minute went on a prolific streak today, taking on Tapped, Calpundit, and (who else?) the New York Times. A good read.
Humor break: Joanne Jacobs links to this post on plagarism in schools. Make sure you scroll down to the comments - hilarious.
Kicking the Old Gray Lady while she’s down

I was going to pile on Howell “Forrest Gump” Raines today and his silly justifications for keeping his job, but it would be a drop in the blogging ocean by this point. Just go read Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus.

Instead I wanted to focus on a excerpt from Slate’s “Today Papers” about a recent report fronted on the NYT about looters in Iraq:

Yesterday's NYT went above-the-fold Page One with an anonymously sourced piece saying that GIs "will have the authority to shoot looters on sight." In retrospect, TP should have noted that the Times never explained what that might mean in terms of actual rules of engagement. (Try to drive away with a stolen car and get shot? How about meandering out of a store with a toaster?) In fact, the story didn't really clarify to what degree the new "shoot-on sight" concept was actually an order versus something more akin to an out-loud brainstorm. As it happens, it now seems that it was closer to the latter (unless, as is possible, the administration just did a quick flip). "Unless the soldier's life is threatened, we are not going out and shooting looters," said the commander of the U.S. 3rd Division yesterday.

Pop quiz: Given that the above quote directly disputes yesterday's big-time report in the Times, where do you run think it runs in today's NYT? If you answered "23rd paragraph of a stuffed story," congratulations, you seem to have what it takes to be a newspaper editor. [Emphasis in original]

This obscured clarification, along with many others, illustrates that the problem of sloppy reporting and bias is not isolated to a rogue reporter. It is a culture of scoop-addicted news-hawking that has become endemic at the Times. How else to explain this reference in the New York Times story about the New York Times’ scandal?

But Mr. Raines made clear that he viewed the session as something more: a forum on his 20-month tenure as the newsroom's leader. During this period the paper has won eight Pulitzer Prizes — six for its coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — but it has also been a time of dissension.

Congratulations Howell. With a big fat pitch (like 9/11) you can churn out Pulitzer Prize stories. Meanwhile, the rest of your team can’t run, catch, or throw straight.
Homegrown Fanatics

A Saudi writes in the New York Times today on terrorism coming home. Excerpt:

Because of the dominance of Wahhabism, Saudi society has been exposed to only one school of thought, one that teaches hatred of Jews, Christians and certain Muslims, like Shiites and liberal and moderate Sunnis. But we Saudis must acknowledge that our real enemy is religious fanaticism. We have to stop talking about the need for reform and actually start it, particularly in education. Otherwise, what happened here on Monday night could be the beginning of a war that leads to the Talibanization of our society.


Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Senator Splunge update

The Boston Globe give a “scouting report” on John Kerry. For someone who plays up his “courage” angle at every chance, Kerry appears hobbled by guarded rhetoric.

Here's a small example of Kerry's caution, chosen not because the matter is of great moment but precisely because it isn't. A standard Kerry trope is that those who survived Vietnam have a unique sense that every day is extra. But with the TV cameras rolling, this is how Kerry put it recently when keynoting a Vietnam veterans event in South Carolina: ''As all of you know, those of us who came from Vietnam, survivors, came back with, I think, a special gift that a lot of our fellow Americans don't necessarily -- though many do, but not automatically -- share: And that is the sense that . . . every day is extra.''

Now, why, exactly, would Kerry feel compelled to qualify that harmless blandishment? For fear of offending the Civilian Carpe Diem Caucus

When another Bay Stater was running for President against a Bush, my old college roomie and I used to snicker at his bland and uncontroversial call for “Good jobs at good wages.” Kerry seems to be tiptoeing down the same path of saying nothing consequential at all.
Humor break: Letterman’s Top Ten Signs Something is Wrong at “The New York Times”
Morning cartoon

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Permalink kicker - republish archives - good night!
Bush still riding high at 67% approval

More troubling for Democrats is the question that asked if people could name any of the Democratic candidates for President: 66% said they couldn't. Here's the kicker: 64% of people who identified themselves as Democrats couldn't name a single candidate from their own party.

Now here is the first paragraph from a biography on DNC chair Terry McAuliffe found on the Democratic National Committee web site.

Terry McAuliffe was elected Chairman of the Democratic National Committee in February 2001. He has re-energized and revitalized the Party, using new state of the art technology to connect grassroots activists with the Party's new information infrastructure.

Yes! Democrats are energized at the grass roots and loaded with information! Uh…now who are the candidates again?

Good news: Minnesota – going from a blue state to a red state?
Better news: “A series of suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia has turned the war on terrorism into an issue that could unseat the oil-rich kingdom’s ruling dynasty.”

It was inevitable

The New York Times corrects its story about corrections: “An accounting of reporting flaws on Sunday with an article about plagiarism, misstatements and possible fabrications uncovered in a review of work done by Jayson Blair before his resignation from The New York Times misstated a name in a sentence from a Washington Post article he apparently lifted.

Homer: Look kids! I just got my party invitations back from the printers.
Lisa: [Reading the invitation.] "Come to Homer's BBBQ. The extra B is for BYOBB."
Bart: What's that extra B for?
Homer: That’s a typo.

(from "Lisa the Vegetarian")
We report, we decide

John Rosenberg at Discriminations has a remarkable story of a New York Times' reporter's bias during interviews about the University of Michigan admissions case. According to a UM student, the reporter (not Jayson Blair) seemed to want the story to fit with her views on the "diversity" issue.

Hmmm...maybe it's not all that remarkable. For the NYT, I mean.
Modern-day hoaxes

Microsoft is developing an Internet-ready bathroom called the “I-Loo”
Oregon is looking for Klingon translators
The Baghdad museum was looted of 170,000 artifacts
The New York Times is the “Paper of Record
Saudi Arabia is an ally in the war on terrorism

Attention-grabbing book titles

This Fox News story on parenting is pretty standard stuff, but check out that book title:

Experts generally agree that parents aren't doing their children any favors when they buy underage drinkers beer in an effort to win affection or popularity.

"It's an extension of the same type of parent who ... would consider having graduation parties and serving alcohol to kids and saying, 'Oh, I'm taking keys,' and considering they are being the cool parents, actually thinking they should be voted parents of the year," said family therapist Carleton Kendrick, author of Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We're Going to Grandma's.

"It is more important for them to be perceived as cool than it is for being a parent

My wife and I have something of a middle ground attitude on under-aged drinking. I feel that by prohibiting alcohol to minors, it encourages them to 1.) disobey authority and 2.) view drinking as a sign of rebellion rather than as a social activity. That’s why, in my opinion, there’s such a problem with binge drinking in college. Drinking is viewed as a taboo, to be done quickly and behind closed doors. I’d like my kids to understand their own limits before they go away on their own.

Personal anecdote: I knew a girl at Rutgers who – it was pretty obvious – just couldn’t hold her liquor. She was bombed after two beers (weighing about 80 pounds didn’t help). But she wasn’t intoxicated just on alcohol, but by the liberating feeling she got by letting down her inhibitions…which caused her to drink more. She became a concern to us because it was clear she was ripe for exploitation in her condition. Anyway, we watched out for her for the most part, but I developed the opinion that I wouldn’t want my kid to learn about alcohol consumption from peers. Not that I'm going to buy my kids a case of Coors, but I think some watered-down wine at dinner is a good way to remove the criminal stigma of drinking in a controlled environment.

Just my two cents. Some twelve-steppers out there may disagree.

Monday, May 12, 2003

The Blair Watch Project

As a frequent business traveler, this one jumped out at me: "Between October and April, Blair filed articles from 20 cities in six states but did not submit a single receipt for a hotel room, rental car or airplane tickets."

News to make Terry McAuliffe’s head explode

Here’s the DNC Chair in November 2002:

Tim Russert: Now, you said in The New York Times last week, "Jeb Bush is gone." You want to take those words back?
DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe: Of course not. I'm very excited about what's going on in Florida.
Russert: He's going to lose, guaranteed?
McAuliffe: Yep. That is why the president was down there yesterday for his 13th visit. People in Florida are energized. They've already started the early voting. And if you look at Broward and Dade counties, there are lines already, huge lines, people--record vote coming out in Florida . . . we are going to win Florida, which is going to set us up, Tim, very nicely for 2004.

--From NBC's "Meet The Press," November 3, 2002

And here’s the latest from the Miami Herald: “Governor can do no wrong with Florida voters

Even when his fellow Republicans in the Legislature earn humiliatingly low ratings, [Jeb] Bush is riding high with some of the most adoring numbers of any second-term governor in the nation.

Looks like the Dems are going to have to wait until 2008 (minimum) for “Payback Tuesday”

Perhaps a white flag to go with your croissant, Senator?

Christopher Buckley has a wickedly delicious satire in the New Yorker called "John Le Kerry" - check it out, mon amis.
School vouchers in D.C.

An editorial in today’s Opinion Journal praises Washington mayor Anthony Williams for supporting school vouchers in D.C. Meanwhile, the Washington Post criticizes Eleanor Holmes Norton for loaded poll questions on vouchers. An excellent background review on the voucher issue can be found at The Atlantic in a 1999 article titled “A Bold Experiment to Fix City Schools.” It contains a classic exchange between the author and the head of a teachers union which must be read to be believed. Here’s the setup, author Matthew Miller asks former Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander if he could support a school vouchers if they were tied to a 20% boost in education spending [emphasis added]:

At length he said yes. Higher per-pupil spending wouldn't be his preferred solution, of course, but if that's what it took to get a bold voucher plan into failing cities, he'd live with it. "I would go high because the stakes are high," he explained, "and to expose the hypocrisy of the unions. If I told the National Education Association that we'd double it in the five largest cities, they wouldn't take it."

Was he right? I met with Bob Chase, the president of the National Education Association, in the union's headquarters in Washington. He made the familiar case for why vouchers are ineffectual today and would be a threatening distraction for public schools if tried more broadly. Only 25 percent of the adult population has children in the schools, he explained. We need to help the other 75 percent understand why financial support of schools is important. In this regard I sketched the deal: a handful of cities, higher spending, but only through vouchers. My tape recorder captured the staccato response.

"Is there any circumstance under which that would be something that ... "
" ... you guys could live with? Why?"
"Double school spending ... "
" ... in inner cities?"
"Triple it ... "
" ... but give them a voucher?"
"'Cause, one, that's not going to happen. I'm not going to answer a hypothetical [question] when nothing like that is ever possible."
"But teachers use hypotheticals every day."
"Not in arguments like this we don't.... It's pure and simply not going to happen. I'm not even going to use the intellectual processes to see if in fact that could work or not work, because it's not going to happen. That's a fact."

He then proceeded to cover his ears and loudly scream: “I’m not listening! – LA LA LA LA LA” (OK, I made that last part up).

Constitutional interpretation for me, but not for thee

Nat Hentoff has a reputation as a Constitution mensch and as someone who writes for both the Village Voice and the Washington Times, his opinions carry a certain apolitical credibility. One of the best dissertations on First Amendment rights can be found in Hentoff’s “Free Speech for Me – But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other.”

In today’s Washington Times, Hentoff weighs in on the Constitutionality of the Senate filibuster of judicial nomimees. But Hentoff goes much further, saying that the idea of a judiciary committee is an unconstitutional barrier to the intention of the Founding Fathers, who stated that candidates need to be considered by the full Senate.

There have been times when the Senate Judiciary Committee itself — when either Republicans or Democrats are in the majority — has refused to even hold hearings, or to send nominees to the floor, for votes by the entire Senate. Article II, Section II of the Constitution says clearly that the president nominates "by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate." Not the advice and consent of the Senate Judiciary Committee alone.

And in No. 76 of the Federalist Papers — a collection often cited by the Supreme Court as a reliable road map to the Constitution — Alexander Hamilton says plainly that the "advice and consent" responsibility is to be exercised by "an entire branch of the legislature" — not just by a single committee. Hamilton also warned about "the spirit of cabal and intrigue" that can be attendant on getting nominations confirmed

The obstruction by the Senate Democrats on judicial nominees has exasperated me. Now I take comfort in the words of George Will who said on “This Week” yesterday that: “There’s nothing in this judicial crisis that an election couldn’t fix” – a clear indication that Will believes the judicial fight will play a part in tipping the Senate further to the GOP in 2004.

The Awful Truth from Down Under

Joanna Murray-Smith gives props to America in the Australian newspaper The Age: “The Awful Truth: Arrogant America got it right

Many of us from other Western countries, Australia included, have an entrenched view of America that oscillates between fury and hilarity at its blinkered patriotism, at its presidential high-jinks with Bush as cowboy, complete with wardrobe, at its growing Fox and Friends right-wing self-congratulation and its seeming inability or refusal to search its own soul.

And yet, the World's Policeman did something no one else could or would do. It could have all gone horribly wrong, but it didn't. Civilians died, young men and women paid all kinds of prices and both Western and Iraqi children who lost fathers or homes have had their personal maps drastically redrawn by the hand of fate. But the fear and the torture is over. America, in all its infuriating arrogance, acted. Not so long ago, I dreaded this. And now, I have to admit, I was wrong

(Hat tip to Real Clear Politics)

The New York Times takes the heat

Wow - the blogosphere is pouring gasoline on the NYT's Jayson Blair scandal, with Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus in the forefront. I'm waiting for some input from Media Minded (now you had to go on vacation?!?) and Susanna at Cut on the Bias. The most even-handed review I've seen thus far was by Matthew Hoy at Hoystory - check him out this morning.

I don't have much to add except to say that I'm having a Michael Corleone-Carlo moment here. Remember when Michael suspected that Carlo had something to do with Sonny's murder and urged Carlo to confess saying: "Don't lie to me...because it insults me."? Now the New York Times - mortally wounded by their own "diversity" program - is trying to convince readers that the newsroom affirmative-action program had nothing to do with the shoddy work and willing oversight of a substandard reporter. Why insult us by trying to contradict something so obvious based on the Times' own evidence?
Medical Rants fails to mention Jayson Blair!

But he does post on a disturbing omen: medical school applications are down 30% this past year. The high cost of education, endless paperwork, and spiralling malpractice insurance rates are among the factors blamed for pushing possible doctors away.
American Realpolitik has a nice trio of editorial cartoons this morning.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Happy Mothers Day, with a special hug-and-kiss out to my one-and-only. I love you.
Jenna won "Survivor". Rob is a sphincter.
Ouch - Andrew Sullivan twists the knife

SUDDENLY: Being barred from writing for the New York Times by Howell Raines feels like a huge compliment.

He's got a lot on the Jayson Blair scandal, including (as I read it) the revelation that he didn't even graduate from college. Is this true? If so, how can the Times claim it was ability and not diversity that allowed Blair to skip ahead of other candidates?
Misfiring at Top Gun

The Washington Post wonders out loud if Democrats attacking President Bush's aircraft landing are working for Karl Rove. Concluding paragraphs:

Not since the ado over whether Mr. Clinton held up Air Force One on the tarmac for an hour to get a $200 haircut has there been a controversy this fundamentally silly. The difference is that the Republicans scored political points with haircut-gate; here, Democrats are only hurting themselves with churlish and petty complaints. Their real gripe with Mr. Bush is that he looked great; the president pulled off his "Top Gun" act as much as Michael Dukakis flubbed his spin in a tank. And what was the result of their agitating? Even more showings of the same dramatic footage of a triumphant commander-in-chief. The only rational explanation for this conduct is that it is a brushback pitch designed to intimidate the Bush campaign from using carrier footage in campaign commercials -- but even then, it seems destined (a) not to work and (b) to backfire.

Yes, yes, Republicans seemed to demand investigations every time Mr. Clinton -- or Hillary Clinton, for that matter -- went outside the Beltway, but Democrats are sorely mistaken if they think the "they did it too" argument is going to have any sway with voters. Mr. Bush's visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln may have been the real kickoff of his presidential campaign. If the Democrats' tone-deaf handling of this episode is any indication, he may well get his four more years

This morning on "Fox News Sunday" Brit Hume gleefully called for Democrats to lead an investigation, headed by Robert Byrd, on the Lincoln landing. Watching Senator Pork attacking the frivilous spending of taxpayer money would be high comedy indeed.
OK, well, I'm going to republish my archives in the off-chance somebody wants to link here. Goodnight.
CalPundit is troubled

I don't stick monolithically to the conservative web sites, since it's important to get viewpoints from the other side. But it seems like everytime I wander over to Calpundit or Tapped, the arguments always depend on visceral thinking rather than logical argument. Moral outrage is par for the course.

So Kevin Drum is troubled, it seems, by the Jayson Blair coverage because he feels it has focused too heavily on the fact that the dishonest New York Times reporter was black. But Drum seems to entirely miss the point readily evident to conservatives, if not the general public: the NYT tried to live by their liberal standards and pushed affirmative action in their newsroom - and it backfired spectacularly.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

The always tendentious NYT

You would think that a paper recently embroiled in a journalism scandal would be a little more careful on their editorial page, the conscious of the paper. But the New York Times seems unperturbed and launches into this intellectually dishonest account of the judicial filibusters in the Senate.

Just to focus on one half-truth - and I could do a full-blown fisking on this editorial - the NYT believes the Advice and Consent clause of the Constitution gives Democrats the right to filibuster. But the filibuster is a parliamentary procedure to force more debate. And it would be fine if the Senate Democrats gave any kind of indication that they want to debate on Bush's judicial nominees. However (as NRO's Byron York has noted) when Senators were invited to submit questions to the candidates, none were submitted. The Senate Democrats are singularly uninterested in further debate. But they won't allow the whole Senate to vote.

If the Democrats don't like a candidate and think he/she hasn't answered questions, then vote against that candidate. But to deny the full Senate a straight up-or-down vote is tyranny of the minority.

Terpsboy at Curmudeonly & Skeptical tried to link my cartoon post below but the Blogger permalinks didn't work.

Can you believe that? They didn't work! Well, thanks anyway Terps for the potential traffic.
Mr. Cranky gives Daddy Day Care only three bombs. What's up with that?
My other page: OK, well, I just updated my Smarter Harper's page. Not my greatest effort. I grow weary of Harper's. I'd much rather blog.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Have a great weekend everybody!
It’s too late, they’ve gone too far, they’ve lost the sun – they’ve come undone

Noemie Emery details the Democrats lemmings-to-the-sea behavior in a Weekly Standard article titled: “Holes: The Democrats keep digging bigger and bigger ones.”

GIDDY WITH FAILURE, Democrats are breaking new ground in political strategy. Deep in a hole, they are digging still deeper. They have found a new method of dealing with setbacks: They find out what caused them, and do it again.

I dismissed it yesterday, but maybe that 50-state scenario isn’t as far-fetched as I thought.

(Music buffs: I know that the Guess Who song is titled “Undun” – I didn’t want to confuse people unnecessarily).
I didn’t care about the Jayson Blair story, much as I loathe the New York Times. But Media Minded relays a personal anecdote that illuminates both media and affirmative action flaws, then takes the Gray Lady down a couple of pegs.
I try to check out Tech Central Station on Fridays because that’s when they seem to upload a bunch of new essays. James K. Glassman has a particularly good one called “Humanists vs. Naturalists” with this nifty graf:

And here is Dyson's powerful conclusion: "The humanist ethic does not regard an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as evil, if the increase is associated with worldwide economic prosperity, and if the poor half of humanity gets its fair share of the benefits."

Mickey Kaus on Rule 22

Kausfiles had a late-night post on the Senate’s Rule 22, which sets the three-fifths rule to stop a filibuster: he calls it “an anti-democratic, extra-constitutional tradition, started by accident in 1806” and “a gratuitous monkey wrench thrown into an already balky governing machine.” [Emphasis in original].

My gut tells me that the 3/5ths rule has a place in the legislative process, but not in the nomination process because it is an extra-Constitutional imposition on Executive power. That is, forget about party politics, I don’t think the Founding Fathers intended for a minority from the legislative branch to have essentially a veto power over the “Advice and Consent” framework in the Constitution.

I am not a lawyer, but I play one on TV.
American Realpolitik has a good rundown of the "nuclear option" on judicial nominees. But I laughed out loud at the editorial cartoon (scroll down) that reads: "Which suit most offends Democrats?" Good find.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Fox News - Majority thinks Bush will win second term

In hypothetical match-ups with all the major Democrats, Bush beats them by a 2:1 margin.
The NYT's hollow cant on Zimbabwe

Sometimes it’s not hard to see why the New York Times has been shedding readers. Witness, for example, today’s editorial “Zimbabwe at the Breaking Point.”

Zimbabwe is a mess. There are drastic shortages of food and fuel, the rates of inflation and unemployment are soaring, coercive land reforms have shrunk agricultural production, and public frustration is at a breaking point. Mr. Mugabe, one of the main leaders of the struggle against white minority rule, blames whites, political opponents and Britain for his woes. But nobody really questions any longer that the greatest blame lies with Mr. Mugabe's inept, corrupt and brutal rule. In national elections last year, Mr. Mugabe's victory was so tainted that Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth.

But their solution reveals the kind of childlike naiveté that could only exist in the polished halls of Berkeley, the New York Times, or the United Nations.

It is imperative for the [African] presidents — Mr. Mbeki, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi — to demand that Mr. Mugabe open immediate talks with the leading opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, on ways to end the crisis and hold free and fair elections.

This is the plan? What possible evidence does the NYT have that would suggest the monster Mugabe would listen to these men? This cheap feel-good moralizing in the face of real suffering is worse than useless. But at least the NYT got one thing right in the final sentence:

Zimbabwe cannot endure five more years of Mr. Mugabe's misrule.

Too bad the NYT’s answer is of little more use than slapping on a “Free Zimbabwe” bumper sticker.

It's a grand old flag

GLASSPORT, Pa. - Borough officials here learned just how behind the times they were when they noticed that their American flag was missing two stars.

At 48 stars, Glassport's Old Glory was a little too old for council members' liking.

While no one knows how long the old flag had been draped around a flag stand in the council chambers, it's a good bet it has been at least 44 years.

Inside a studio at Channel Three, Abe helps them decorate by hanging a large U.S. flag behind Homer's podium.

Marge: "There are only 49 stars on that flag."
Abe: "I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missourah!"

New York Times - oops - Washington Post bias watch

Sorry! Force of habit. From Slate's Today's Papers:

The president's jet landing on a carrier last week continues to generate ink. USAT fronts it, emphasizing Democratic criticism. The WP puts it inside, headlining, "SHIP CARRYING BUSH DELAYED RETURN, Carrier That Spent Night off San Diego Could Have Gone Straight to Home Port." That's true in a literal sense, but misleading. While the ship was indeed close to shore and did hang for a night, Navy officials insisted there's a good, non-presidential, reason for that: It's standard operating procedure. Ships, as in this case, often arrive early but wait until their scheduled time to dock so that they don't arrive before family members do. (Of course, the papers should double-check that contention. The Post, which focuses on partisan trash-talking, doesn't.)

Western Massachusetts update

Hat tip to Denbeste - University of Massachusetts Considers Dropping Minuteman Mascot

White men, guns, militarism - you know the drill.
John Hawkins of Right Wing News handicaps the Democrats for 2004

He calls John Kerry “Michael Dukakis Redux” – but doesn’t take note that Teresa Heinz Kerry is NO Kitty Dukakis. She’s much, much worse. (Hat tip to Tim Blair).
The cost of Bush on the Lincoln vs. the cost of Clinton - on Pejmanesque.
First James Woods, now Dennis Miller

From the Washington Times:

Mr. Miller, who once described himself as a "lifelong Democrat," became a Bush stalwart.

"I didn't know what to make of Bush in the beginning. I liked his father, but I didn't know the son," Mr. Miller said. "Then President Bush got the whole September 11 thing in his lap, and Iraq. And he's dispatched it all beautifully."

He added: "Do I think he led a frivolous life in previous years? Yes. Do I think he saved himself? Yes. He's become a great commander in chief. He's stayed on message — and I admire him."

[waving red flag] - Yeah but what do you think of the French?

"I would call the French scumbags, but that, of course, would be a disservice to bags filled with scum," he told Jay Leno on NBC's "Tonight Show" in February, after France refused to give its blessings to the war in Iraq.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Lieberman’s energy plan

WASHINGTON Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman said Wednesday that his administration would work to reduce foreign oil dependence by two-thirds in 10 years and put the nation on a path to eliminate it completely within two decades.

It’s a great plan: it calls for absolutely no additional domestic production of petroleum. Presumably, bicycles and Geo Metros will follow.
A hateful anti-Israel screed – from a former Congressman

Don’t ask me how I stumbled upon this venomous article from the Saudi Gazette titled "Liberating America from Israel”. As I started reading, I muttered to myself “here they go again” until I noted the white-bread name “Paul Findley” who was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Illinois.

Thanks to the suffocating influence of Israel's U.S. lobby, open discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been non-existent in our government all these years. I have firsthand knowledge, because I was a member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in June 1967 when Israeli military forces took control of the Golan Heights, a part of Syria, as well as the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza.

Just marched right in! Unprovoked by the peace-loving Palestinians and their Arab brothers!

All joking aside, this is a bitter and nauseating diatribe, untethered from reality. I’m saddened to think that civic-minded people once voted this rodent to Congress.

Extra credit: Read Joseph Farah’s World Net Daily article on how PLO cheerleader Findley was driven out of office and how he spends his shadow-world days blaming Israel for 9/11.

John Kerry’s telcom deals

Here are the main points from a report by the Center for Public Integrity:

1.) Boston-based Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C. has been the biggest financial backer of the Massachusetts Democrat’s two decades-long political career in elected office, with its employees contributing nearly $187,000 to various Kerry races, including his current presidential campaign.

2.) Mintz, Levin advertises communications law among its areas of expertise and lobbies on behalf of wireless industry clients such as AT&T Wireless Service, XO Communications Inc. and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association. CTIA is the trade association of the wireless industry; its more than 320 members include carriers, manufacturers and wireless Internet providers. CTIA-affiliated companies and their employees have contributed at least $152,000 to Kerry.

3.) Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry have substantial holdings in telecommunications companies.

4.) Kerry, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of bills favorable to the industry and has written letters to government agencies on behalf of the clientele of his largest donor.

All points copied from the report: go read the whole thing.
Estrada & Owen filibuster update

The American Center for Law and Justice says: “Change the rules and vote!” Sounds too good to be true:

The ACLJ determined that there is existing legal and Senate precedence that would permit the majority to act - relying on a simple majority - 51 Senators - to change Rule XXII, bring an end to the filibusters, and call for a vote by the full Senate on Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen - two nominees who are being blocked.

But…and correct me if I’m wrong…under current rules, couldn’t the Democrats filibuster the rule change also?
Hypocrisy, thy name is Democrat

There was an interesting exchange on “This Week” this past Sunday between DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. (ABC doesn’t provide transcripts, so I’ll try to relay the conversation.) Host George Stephanapoulos asked McAuliffe if the Democrats would start raising “soft money” now that an appeals court overturned much of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. McAuliffe hedged a little, then said that DNC lawyers were looking into the legality of raising unregulated money until the Supreme Court gives the final say on the matter. Since it was McAuliffe, it goes without saying that his body language sent out the vibe that he was being dishonest (again).

Lindsey Graham jumped at the bait, declaring in no uncertain terms that CFR was good legislation, good for the country, and that the Republicans intended to follow the law. In one swoop stroke, McAuliffe was covered with the stink of a money-grubbing politico while Graham smiled in his cleanliness. And why shouldn’t the Republicans support McCain-Feingold? As this Washington Post story notes:

Some Democrats do not feel they have time to wait. With a soft-money ban in place, Republicans raised more than three times as much as Democrats during the first three months of this year. In recent years, Democrats had much better luck raising seven-figure checks from union leaders, trial lawyers and Hollywood moguls.

The same WashPost article starts out with this paragraph that could have been written by Karl Rove:

Democrats today are kicking off a roundabout way of helping to finance their 2004 congressional campaigns with the very type of unlimited donations from corporations, unions and individuals that many party leaders had vowed to flush from the political system. [Emphasis mine]

After castigating Republicans as being in the pocket of big business, it was the Democrats who agitated for McCain-Feingold (see: “Democrats push campaign finance reform”). Now that they are being hoisted by their own petard, they’ve decided to break circumvent their own law.