Thursday, July 31, 2003

Saudi Justice according to Jon Stewart

Laugh out loud moment last night while I was watching “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” First they showed a clip of that Saudi guy at the White House saying that the U.S. should declassify the infamous blanked-out 28 pages so that Saudi Arabia can respond to the scurrilous charges against them. Cut back to Stewart who then said: “Because in Saudi Arabia, you’re innocent until proven Jewish….I mean, female!….I mean, foreign!….oh, nevermind.” Classic.
Nice imagery

I’ve seen this vaguely scatological line included in several articles from New Hampshire and Iowa on John Kerry’s current stump speech. Is this the best Senator Splunge can do? From the Portsmouth Herald:

Kerry also criticized what is called the "trickle down" economy of the Bush administration, claiming that it brings money only to those who already have it.
"The reason we call the rich, rich is because they already have the money," he said, and the crowd laughed. "As I crisscross this state, most of the average Americans that work are just plain tired of being trickled on."

And the crowd winced.
Robert Musil (GMTA?) gets the jump on Paul Krugman by reviewing his gloomy predictions in the light of today's economic announcements.
Howard Bashman makes it official: Filibuster number three is officially underway
(Estrada, Owen, and now William Pryor, for those of you keeping score.)
PoliPundit links to a Black Table article around the Democratic Presidential hopefuls and their soft money woes. Thanks for passing McCain-Feingold, suckers!
Hover your mouse over Occam's Toothbrush for the time. Weird and cool!
Jobless claims fall - Krugman surrenders

Also from CNN Money:

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - New claims for jobless benefits fell last week, the government said Thursday, staying under the key level of 400,000 for the second consecutive week to signal improvement in the nation's struggling job market.

Things are looking up...
This just in: Economy grew at a healthy 2.4% last quarter

From CNN Money:

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The pace of U.S. economic growth improved in the second quarter of 2003, the government said Thursday, coming in much stronger than economists expected.

Gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic activity, grew at a 2.4 percent annual rate in the quarter after growing at a sluggish 1.4 percent rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported. Economists, on average, expected GDP growth of 1.5 percent, according to a Reuters poll

Right now, Paul Krugman is furiously re-writing tomorrow's column. Plan 'B' - back to the "quagmire."

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The Ten Worst Songs of the past 25 Years

Outside the Beltway is having a contest on the worst songs of the past quarter-century. I already submitted my choices without explanation, but here's the annotated version for you music buffs:

In reverse order:

10.) "Don't Come Around Here No More" by Tom Petty. Why this was a top 40 hit is beyond me. Awful.

9.) "Waterfalls" by TLC. Do you know the song "Cherish" by the Association? It's basically one note over and over. Same with this except "Waterfalls" manages to throw in some brainless lyrics like "Don't go chasing waterfalls." Why? Are they hard to catch?

8.) "Too Shy" by Kajagoogoo. Their name is aborigine for "Complete crap crap."

7.) "Nothing's gonna stop us now" by Starship. Well, somebody took "We Built this City" which is much worse, but I'll claim this one.

6.) "Get Over It" by the Eagles. The Eagles put out this piece of dung after they reformed for the "Hell Freezes Over" tour. It would have been honest for them to just say: "We needed money." But instead they tried to gloss over this obvious fact by presenting "new material" that was so slapdash, you can tell Frey and Henley spent a weekend in Malibu smoking weed. The defensive "Get Over It" is a musical mess with a bad 'tude.

5.) "Please Forgive Me" by Bryan Adams. "No"

4.) "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" by the Crash Test Dummies. A plodding tempo, inane non-rhyming lyrics, and a "melody" that sounds like guitar strings plucked by screwdrivers.

3.) "Just a Gigolo" by David Lee Roth. Did you ever hear this old-time song? It glides like Fred Astaire's shoes over a well-waxed floor. Roth took this stylish lounge standard and "YEOWED"! it to death. A crime against music.

2.) "Broken Arrow" by Rod Stewart. Another cover ruined. The original by Robbie Robertson of the Band was smooth and spiritual. Stewart practically barks the lyrics, accentuating every syllable with equally overblown intensity. It's exhausting.

1.) "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston. I had to think about the other nine choices a little, but this one rose to the top of the list faster than a line of coke up Whitney's nose. This is supposed to be a song about losing a lover and Dolly Parton's original was nuanced and emotional. Houston's version is a relentless catharsis, drained of subtlety, culminating in what can only be called a triumphal coda that is utterly out of step with the meaning of the song. She should follow it up with Hank Williams "And Iiiiiiiiiiiii'm So Lonesome I could Cry-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y." Whitney showboats her vocal range and destroys the artistic vision – worst ever.
Follow the Money

From The Hill:

A controversial Chinese-American businessman embroiled in the much-investigated 1996 fundraising scandal has re-emerged as a donor to three Democratic presidential campaigns.

Campaign records filed with the Federal Election Commission show that George Chao-chi Chu, of San Francisco, contributed $2,000 each to the campaigns of Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Bob Graham (D-Fla.), and $1,000 to that of Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.)

“No controlling legal authority,” anyone?
Dubya discovers Helen Thomas is out of town - calls for emergency press conference (only the 9th of his Presidency).
The world’s smallest violin for Spicoli

From today’s NY Post Page Six:

July 30, 2003 -- SEAN Penn is green with envy over the success of everyone's favorite lusty leprechaun, Colin Farrell. Penn was overheard outside the Mercer Hotel Monday afternoon complaining about Farrell's Hollywood heat. A spy reports, "Sean was yelling into his cell phone, saying, 'Why is Colin Farrell getting all the movies that I should be getting?' " While no one doubts Penn's talent, his visit to Iraq earlier this year cost him some fans. He claims his grand-standing caused producer Steve Bing to dump him from "Why Men Shouldn't Marry" (Penn promptly sued Bing). Another factor is that Penn turns 43 on Aug. 17 while Farrell is only 27.

Any word on when the Baghdad Boys, David Bonior and Jim McDermott, are going back to Iraq? Maybe they can get a package deal with Sean Penn and Janeane Garofalo.
Another try for Estrada today: How Appealing has all the latest judicial filibuster info.
Teresa Heinz Kerry: Insane or just a rich eccentric? You make the call

From Boston Magazine, via Political Wire:

In 1996, during the Kerrys' first Halloween on Beacon Hill, where the evening is an important tradition and celebrity status doesn't excuse anyone from door duty, their house was attended by the couple's housekeeper. Neighborhood resentment was immediately focused on Heinz Kerry. "Who does she think she is?" one mother whispered.

After most of the trick-or-treaters had finished their rounds, Heinz Kerry made an appearance when three children about 10 years old rang her bell, two dressed as hippies and one as a cat. "I had a big barrel of candy, and it's all gone!" she screamed, shutting the door on the bewildered youngsters.

After word got around, the next Halloween was a different story. Both Kerrys were on the front stoop. The senator himself handed out the goodies while a smiling Heinz Kerry snapped photos of the children

The “goodies” were bottles of ketchup – the kids weren’t thrilled.
Good news: Saddam was captured!
Bad news: So says the UK tabloid The Sun

Here's the funny part: "But experienced observers pointed out that, if the fugitive Iraqi dictator HAD been seized, the government would deny it until crucial DNA tests were carried out to provide absolute proof."

Foolish Brits. Karl Rove is obviously waiting for another dip in GWB's poll numbers. Maybe we'll even hold onto Saddam until Fall 2004.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Social Security crisis? All is well!

In a timely follow up to my "FICA Freedom Day" post below, Fox News notes that the General Accounting Office thinks we need to do something now: "GAO: Congress Best Not Wait to Fix Social Security" A key passage:

Younger Americans confront tax increases, cuts in government programs and services and reduced retirement benefits -- or a combination -- to restore long-term financial health to the current system. Social Security faces a $3.8 trillion deficit during the next 75 years. To fix the system permanently, the cost would be $10.5 trillion -- or more than $99,000 for an average family of 1.5 workers, said James Lockhart, deputy Social Security commissioner.

If the system is not overhauled, workers eligible for Social Security income in 2042 would see a 27 percent cut in promised benefits. In 2077, a 35 percent reduction in promised benefits would be required, Lockhart said in his testimony.

If payroll taxes were raised to fully fund the shortfall, the current 12.4 percent rate would rise to nearly 16 percent in 2043. Annual increases thereafter would reach almost 19 percent in 2077.

Well, there are the numbers. I'm not crazy about partial privatization or individual accounts, but they're a far sight better than the Democrats' imitation of Kevin Bacon in Animal House: "All is well! Remain calm! All is well!"
Exactly: Fark mirrors my thoughts on the report that Al Qaeda may be planning more hijack attempts: “Osama Bin Laden may be planning to hijack another airliner. Unclear how hijackers will avoid being stomped on by 130 fellow passengers the second they stand up
A proposal: FICA-Freedom Day

I was trying to get some hard numbers for this little essay, but Social Security appears to be like the elephant being examined by blind men: everybody has a different perspective. So I’m going to approach this thesis from a purely philosophical basis (bear with me).

For someone who loathes Social Security as a Ponzi-type pyramid scheme, I’m put in an untenable position. As much as I hate paying into FICA right now (when I could be investing for my kids’ college education) the structure of Social Security is such that when I turn 67, I’m going to greedily lust after all the money I’d “saved” in the program. In other words, Social Security is geared to turn me into a hypocrite.

But consider this: if I were to renounce my Social Security benefits upon retirement, surely the government would be willing to stop sending me several thousand dollars a year. Since seniors are living ever longer, this could add up to several hundred thousand dollars in savings over the course of my post-work years. But then why should I bear additional financial burden in my golden years by giving up SS cash, no matter how I might feel about it?

So here’s my proposal: on the date of my retirement, my future benefits have some fixed value based on my income and my expected lifetime. If I agreed to give up these future benefits, in exchange there should be some date during my working years when I can stop paying into Social Security. I’m not sure when this date may be, but assume that I’m expected to collect $1000 a month for 20 years, or just about a quarter-million dollars before my death. Calculating backwards from retirement, there must be a break-even point where that sum is balanced by the money withheld in FICA (adjusting for interest). What I’m suggesting is that at that date, I’m allowed to opt out of FICA withholding in exchange for renouncing any future Social Security benefits.

What’s the downside to this proposal? The government gets to keep all the FICA withholding up to the “break even” date; essentially they take additional tax revenue with no benefit payout. I can take the money that I would be paying into Social Security and invest it on my own (undoubtedly with a better return). Supporters of the status quo would surely argue that Social Security exists to prevent old-age poverty, which is true, but as the demographics shift dramatically with the retirement of the Baby Boomers, I don’t expect the program to stay solvent anyway. I’d rather take my chances controlling my own money and keep my beliefs intact.
Maguire has been busy – Krugman, Graham and Kerry all take a body shot. Ooof!
DB’s Medical Rants on malpractice insurance driving up medical costs in Pennsylvania (and elsewhere).
Rantburg says Idi Amin is dead but I can’t find confirmation yet. Hold the champagne.
Quote of the Day

From Lt. Col. Steve Russell on the capture of one of Saddam’s bodyguards:

The stocky bodyguard struggled to break free as soldiers arrested him, and they had to wrestle him to the ground and drag him down the stairs, Russell said.

"Were we surprised? He's a bodyguard. That's why we went in with our steely knives and oily guns," Russell said. "If everything else had failed and we just got that one guy, we would be happy."

I think somebody’s been listening to “Hotel California”.
Dog bites man story: NAACP maligns Republicans

Interesting exchange in the Q&A format “Media Backtalk” with Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz:

Washington, D.C.: There was a lot of flack from the NAACP over some Democratic presidential candidates not being there. Was there anything out there on their comparison of Republicans to Nazis? If not, why not? They (NAACP) promote themselves as apolitical, but this seems over the top.

Howard Kurtz: That comparison, by Julian Bond, drew very little press attention. I was greatly surprised that it didn't become more of a media issue.

I’m greatly surprised that Howard Kurtz is greatly surprised. This kind of rhetoric has become standard fare for the NAACP, and it's therefore un-newsworthy.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Fisking Tom Tomorrow

Tommy T. gets away with a lot of left-leaning rhetoric because he's kinda-sorta funny. But Radley Balko gives Tom a righteous fisking on his latest comic which tries (vainly) to ridicule Social Security privatization and school vouchers. My favorite part:

Well what makes more sense? The market always pays off in the long run!

This is meant to be sarcasm. But it's true. There's no 40 year period in the history of the stock market that has yielded worse returns than what you get from the Social Security program. That includes the Depression. That includes World War II. That includes the dot-com bust. Tomorrow's trying to be funny here. If he'd look at the numbers, it's his ignorance that's laughable.

Nice one, Radley - wish I had beaten you to the punch.
FauxPolitik joins the pantheon of New England bloggers - check him out. Try out Duck Season, too.
This headline: “Bush Courts Black Voters in Speech to Urban League” will almost certainly lead to a litany of acerbic, half-crazed, critical press releases tomorrow from the DNC, the NAACP, and the Congressional Black Caucus. Stay tuned.
Dead heat in New Hampshire

A Boston Herald poll has Dean slightly ahead while an American Research Group poll puts AWOL Kerry on top. It’s all margin-of-error analysis at this point. (Hat tip to Command Post).
Two great writers

Mark Steyn: “Wherever he [Saddam] is, he's dependent on a dwindling band of aides and, after the way his sons were sold out, he's gonna be a bit twitchy if Ahmed's trip to the 7-Eleven seems to be taking a little too long.”

James Lileks:

That sentence stuck in my head, and made me think back to October 01, to all the discontent over the Afghan campaign. We’ve forgotten what that was like - the marches in Europe, the predictions of mass casualties, the accusations of empire-building, how it was all about (cue Twilight Zone theme) an oil pipeline, how it would become a quagmire, how it was a quagmire, how we should have used international law to bring OBL to justice. It was the dress rehearsal for Iraq. The same blind sputtering fury; the same protests with Bush = Hitler posters and giant mocking puppets; the same inability to accept that a byproduct of the campaign would be a freer society for the very people the protesters supposedly cared about.

Any mass executions at the Kabul soccer stadium recently? No?

Wonder why.

Right on.
Bob Hope dies at 100

Bob Hope, 100, one of the premier American comedians of his time who delighted and amused television, radio and motion picture audiences for half a century, entertained hundreds of thousands of American soldiers overseas at Christmastime for four decades, and became a friend and golfing partner of U.S. presidents, died yesterday of pneumonia, his longtime publicist Ward Grant said Monday
Kerry Vote Watch

The Senate had a three-day workweek last week and only one vote was cast on Tuesday, so it was really like two days. Do you think John Kerry could have showed up to vote even once on this extremely abridged schedule? Nope. He’s been so busy traipsing around the country criticizing the President on national security, he failed to vote on H.R. 2555, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.

If you’re a Massachusetts resident (like me) you can tell the Senator that it would be super-great if he would do his job. That job would be representing Massachusetts when the Senate is in session – not running for President. Kerry’s Washington office phone (where he won’t be) is 202-224-2742; the fax # is (202) 224-8525.

Days worked last week: 0
Votes missed: 16

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Energy requires work and work requires sacrifice

Coal miners have to work underground and wildcat oilmen get covered in black goo. But when rich liberals are asked to give up their view of the ocean - they go crazy. Here's John Stossel on the Nantucket Sound/windmill controversy:

Although the Natural Resources Defense Council, and its attorney, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., support wind power (Kennedy says he's "strongly in favor of wind-energy production at sea,") Kennedy doesn't want a wind farm on Nantucket Sound, where his family might see it from their elegant compound in Hyannis Port.

Energy production is for the "little people" right?

Saturday, July 26, 2003

News story of the night: "The blaze started about 9 p.m. at Chicago Flame Proof & Wood Specialties at 1200 S. Lake St.. " (via Fark)

Good night everyone!
Personal sacrifice kicks ass: I've added the Bitch Girls to my blogroll. Know why? Just because of this act of self-sacrifice by Bitter Bitch. Nice.
Gee, Officer Krupke!

Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke,
You gotta understand,
It's just our bringin' up-ke
That gets us out of hand.
Our mothers all are junkies,
Our fathers all are drunks.
Golly Moses, natcherly we're punks!

Insignificant Thoughts, in a post he titles "Rules, what rules?…just racism" links to a Tongue Tied post called "That Card Again" about a woman kicked off a bus for, well, let's listen in:

An Arab-American woman who was kicked off a city bus in Juneau, Alaska when she refused to stop eating says the incident was racially motivated and caused her at least $150,000 worth of severe emotional distress, reports the Juneau Empire.

As I may have mentioned before, I have an hour-long commute to work everyday up and down I-91 running through Massachusetts and Connecticut. Sometimes, as I'm tooling along at a healthy 70-75mph, I'll see a car in the rear-view mirror obviously moving at meteoric rate. I mean, the kind of speed that causes you to freeze in your lane because you don't want to get in the way. It's unnerving to see a ton of metal moving at such a rate – the kinetic energy is enormous. As the car passes, I always look over and – take my word for it – half the time it's a black guy behind the wheel.

Now, for the country in general, but New England in particular, my informal research would lead me to conclude that as a percentage of the general population, blacks (black men) speed more. But here's the thing that bothers me: when these men get pulled over for triple-digit speeding, you know they're blaming it on "driving while black".

The only problem with this is that a study by an independent group found that black drivers do speed more:

The Public Service Research Institute used specially designed radar gun cameras to photograph tens of thousands of drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike last spring. The photos were shown to teams of three evaluators who tried to determine each driver's race without knowing whether the driver was speeding.

The study, which has not been formally released, found black drivers went 15 mph or more over the speed limit much more than other drivers, and the racial gap widened at higher speed limits. It found little difference in 55 mph zones.

Mark Posner, a Justice Department lawyer who asked that the findings be withheld, said he feared the results had been skewed by factors such as glare on windshields, weather and camera placement

That's right, the study was buried by the Bush Justice Department because it disturbed the popular notion of racial profiling. But Heather MacDonald of City Journal will not be swayed in an article for City Journal titled "The Racial Profiling Myth Debunked":

The driver identifications are not reliable! whined the Justice Department. The researchers had established a driver’s race by agreement among two of the three evaluators. So in response to DOJ’s complaint, the researchers reran their analysis, using only photos about which the evaluators had reached unanimous agreement. The speeding ratios came out identically to before.

The status of the study is unknown; it will probably never see the light of day. Meanwhile, every African-American leadfoot, candy-chewing Arab-American, and member of the Jets gang will shift the blame for their guilt away – always away – from their own behavior.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Gephardt misses vote - and there are consequences

I've been criticizing my senator (John Kerry) so much for missing votes, that I forget about Dick Gephardt who has skipped around 90% of all the House votes in this past session. His dereliction of duty has finally caught up with the Missouri representative:

Democratic presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt missed a House vote Friday on a Republican-backed bill that would overhaul the landmark Head Start education program, a measure that survived in the House by a hairbreadth margin.

The 217-216 Republican victory came after midnight Thursday and was so tenuous that Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., recovering from a car accident, was brought in by wheelchair. But Gephardt, the former House Minority leader, had left Thursday evening for a two-day campaign swing through South Carolina, and the Head Start vote became one of hundreds he has missed this year

"Hundreds"! Might I be so sanguine to say that this may be a deadly blow to Gephardt's presidential bid? After all, it just doesn't look good to go out on the campaign trail and say you're fighting for the people, then miss votes on critical legislation. As the Brits would say: "Bad form, old chap."
No, you cannot have my phone number

I'm not sure how I got on the mail list, but I get E-mails all the time from "George W." giving me the latest spin and then asking for a donation. And for the first time in my life, I was willing to give a couple of bucks so that Dubya can get re-elected. Excuse me, so that President Bush can get re-elected. (Here the words "President" and "re-elected" are used just to tick off Terry McAuliffe). So I filled out the form, leaving the "Phone Number" section blank. And they wouldn't take my donation because I had left it out.

No, no, no, a million times no. I don't want anyone calling. I have an unlisted number and signed up for the "do-not-call" list. I have no CVS, Stop & Shop, or Blockbuster scan cards. My keyring is unadorned by Disney World doo-dads or electronic gadgets; it's a ring, plain and simple. If I can't purchase a diode from Radio Shack without giving my address, well, I'll just have to take my diode business elsewhere. Sorry George - I tried.
Closer and closer.....Saddam's Bodyguards Captured in Tikrit
Somebody has been watching Junkyard Wars.
What the....? Jayson Blair has been hired by Esquire and Stephen Glass has been hired by Rolling Stone. Radley Balko is not happy.
School vouchers or ‘Mo Money

Liberal columnist E.J. Dionne has an opinion piece in today’s Washington Post titled “Beyond Vouchers.” He’s pretty much a fence-sitter on the issue, but here are the first two sentences from his concluding paragraph - can you, dear reader, fill in the missing words?

What's required would make both liberals and conservatives uncomfortable. We need to _____ _____ to upgrade the quality of teaching in our poorest schools and to demand accountability from teachers to make sure the money produces results.

The “answer” – the only answer that the left ever offers – is “spend money.” But even Dianne Feinstein can’t escape the failure of the “more money” policy on Washington D.C. schools:

We all know D.C. public schools need improvement. According to the most recent census, the District spends $10,852 per student annually -- the third highest level of per-pupil spending in the nation -- yet test scores lag far behind. In the most recent math and reading assessments administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress:

• Seventy-six percent of D.C. fourth-graders performed below grade level in math, and only 10 percent read proficiently.

• Seventy-seven percent of eighth-graders performed below grade level in math, and only 12 percent were proficient in reading.

Based on the substantial amount of money pumped into the schools and the resultant test scores, I do not believe that money alone is going to solve the problem. This is why I believe the District should be allowed to try this pilot -- particularly for the sake of its low-income students
. [Emphasis added]

Benjamin Franklin said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” It’s time to look for new solutions to education in America.
Let them eat yellow cake

That's every country from the Khyber Pass to the Mediterranean Sea.” – Charles Krauthammer lists twelve positive developments in the war against terrorism in today’s Washington Post.
Democrats Do Not Cooperate

That’s the title of this John Nowacki article in today’s USA Today.

The Constitution states that the president "shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint" judges. Their roles are not co-equal: One selects; the other votes up or down. But one would never know it listening to Senate Democrats, whose calls for consultation are really demands for an equal share in the president's power.

Let’s have some real, round-the-clock talkfest, filibusters. As a minimum, it would force John Kerry (and the other Democratic Senators) to show up for a vote.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Knock Knock

Flames erupt from a building hit with a TOW missile launched by soldiers of the Army's 101st Airborne Division in Mosul. The sons of deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Qusay and Uday, who were in the building, were killed in the gun battle.
Too much sugar

Found in the Washington Post, via the Greatest Jeneration: "On the floor where Saddam's sons had chosen to make their last stand lay clothes, bloodstained bedding, a Pepsi can and a box of Mars Bars."
Snopes says that "Hunting for Bambi" – the Las Vegas operation to hunt naked women with paintball guns – is a hoax.
Isn’t there a better word for Michael Moore than “Humbug?”

If you hate that fat liar, then you’ll love Kay Hymowitz’s article in City Journal: “Michael Moore, Humbug.” Key quote: “But the awful truth is that Moore himself is a virtuoso of lying—which is the only way he can give the appearance of truth to his untenable theories” A very comprehensive article – go now. (Hat tip to Arts & Letters).
Dianne Feinstein (hearts) vouchers

In a fine follow-up to my Bizarro post below, Robert Musil explains why California Democrat came to the side of school vouchers.
Public policy v. private policy

Here’s an excerpt from an Opinion Journal article today: “Betraying D.C.’s Children”:

Outside the committee's meeting room last week, nine-year-old Mosiyah Hall, a D.C. public school student himself, politely asked Sen. Landrieu where she sent her own children to school. "Georgetown Day," came the response, a reference to one of Washington's most exclusive private schools. Mosiyah's mother says an obviously agitated Sen. Landrieu then came over to a group of local mothers to explain that a voucher would be no help for them here, because even with the $7,500 voucher this bill offers, they still couldn't afford Georgetown Day.
"It was an ugly moment," says Virginia Walden-Ford, head of D.C. Parents for School Choice and one of the moms demonstrating

Let’s pass a law requiring public officials to send their kids to public schools; then watch the opposition to vouchers crumble.
People who write letters to the New York Times

From today's NYT:

To the Editor:
To my knowledge, Saddam Hussein's sons had not been found guilty of any offense by an international court of law. Their killing by United States troops (front page, July 23) is therefore extrajudicial.

San Francisco, July 23, 2003

San Francisco....natch.
Qusay, Idi and Uday

I was going to write a song parody based on “Abraham, Martin and John”, something like:

Anybody here seen that bastard Uday?
Do you know where he’s gone?
He killed a lot of people
Now he’s going straight to Hell
The Airborne soldiers made sure he’s gone

But that MF Idi Amin is still alive, floating in and out of a coma. Damn. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Meanwhile, Democrats meditate on their purpose in life

I headed over to the Democratic National Committee web page to see if the Dems had put out a press release or a statement about Uday and Qusay. Nothin’ – not even a perfunctory remark about supporting the troops.

Let’s see: the Democrats can’t raise money, they don’t offer any solutions of their own, and they won’t say a positive thing about any foreign action that makes the U.S. a safer place. So what do they do? Well, they’re very good at making up little cartoons to mock and criticize President Bush. That and filibustering.
Bill Pryor update

Here’s Byron York on the Corner: The Senate judiciary committee has just approved the Pryor nomination on a straight part-line vote: 10-9

The Democrats have sworn to filibusterjust like I predicted a month ago.
Iraq roundup

Here are some of the perspectives that caught my fancy this morning:

The New York Post’s “Critics Lose One”:

I suspect that those who have been making such a fuss over the supposed misuse of intelligence by the White House and the president experienced more than a little disappointment. They were momentarily crushed. Then they realized how unseemly that reaction was and swallowed it.

Right Wing News has the Democratic Underground reaction.

Doctor Weevil has updated his Baath Poker Deck.

And Midwest Conservative Journal has already turned its crosshairs onto the Saudis.
Digestible thoughts in conversational language” – this Boston Globe article on weblogs tragically fails to mention the always-excellent Viking Pundit of Western Massachusetts.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Blogger response

Some bloggers put clever titles on their posts; here's a couple about Uday & Qusay.

What a relief
Ding Dong
Hey, where are all the virgins? And who set the thermostat so high?
Saddam's sons dead – French fear Kerry and Chirac with them
It's only a matter of time...
Lads bite the dust
Uday and Qusay join the choir invisible
Color me ecstatic
Ding Dong -- Saddam's Boys Are Dead!
Acey Deucy
Buh bye to two sick bastards
Saddam's Sons: Dead and Deader!

This story broke kinda late in the day, so I expect some more tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm going to keep my eye on those left-leaning blogs. I'm sure tinfoils hats are being folded in full-force tonight.

Here's the news release from CentCom:

July 22, 2003
Release Number: 03-07-68



Statement from US Central Command:

On Tuesday, July 22, forces associated with the 101st Airborne Division and Special Operations Forces conducted an operation against suspected regime figures at a residence in Mosul, Iraq. The site is currently being exploited. Four Iraqis were killed in the operation. We have confirmed that two of the dead were Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay.
Quote of the Day (so far)

Although sporadic Saddam sightings have been reported, specific information is rare and acted on quickly, said Col. Frederick Rudesheim, the brigade commander.

"We don't have the luxury of waiting for near perfect intelligence," he said. "We can't afford not to pay attention to that kind of information."

Got that, Bush ankle-biters? Damn, I'd make that quote bolder if Blogger would let me.
Fingers crossed

The Hussein Boys may be dead. Whenever there's fast-breaking news like this, I head over to Free Republic since the posters there will usually update with the latest news. Here's the post so far (700 comments!). According to one poster, Al-Jazzera said that the owner of the house said that it was Udai and Qusai. Obviously, take everything with a grain of salt at this point.
At War for Freedom

Arts and Letters links to this insightful article in the Guardian-UK by former CIA director James Woolsey. An excerpt:

I was in a taxi a year ago last February, the day after former President Bill Clinton gave a speech in Washington in which he said that September 11 was a payback in part for American slavery and the treatment of the American Indian. I saw right away that the newspaper on the front seat was open at that article and that the driver was one of my favourite substitutes for polls - a black citizen of the District, wearing his Redskins cap, a guy of about my age, who had probably been driving a cab for a long time.

So I asked him what he thought about Clinton's speech. He said: 'Those people don't hate us for what we've done wrong; they hate us for what we do right.' I would submit that is the essence of the matter.

We and you are cordially loathed for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, open economies, equal - or almost equal - treatment of women, and so on. It is not what we have done wrong that is creating the problem; it is what we do right.

Yes. Tim Blair follows up the same article with this blurb: "Or we could just sit around like idiots and argue about African uranium"
Bizarro world update: Democrat supports school vouchers

And not just any Democrat: uber-liberal Dianne Feinstein has an opinion piece in today's Washington Post titled "Let D.C. try Vouchers." (For more, see my post below).

Cats and dogs living together! It's madness!

Monday, July 21, 2003

Kerry’s new slogan: “I saved dolphins from tuna fishers”

From: "Kerry's Senate career marked by investigations, not legislation"

Asked what he has accomplished during his 19 years in the Senate, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry gives a lengthy answer but has a short list of laws that bear his name.

“Did you know I have the same initials as John Kennedy?”

The Massachusetts senator is known for using his investigative powers to shine a light on problems and corruption, but not as someone steeped in the process of making bills into law. Asked recently what he has accomplished that wouldn't have happened had he not served in the Senate, Kerry replied: "There are actually a lot of things."

“Laws!?! I don’t make ‘em, and I don’t vote for ‘em!”

"Can I say that it wouldn't be done, that somebody else might not have picked up the cudgel?" he said in an Associated Press interview. "I don't know. But I know I led a lot of fights in the Senate that nobody else was doing and that made a difference."

Why all the fighting? Al Gore used to annoy the hell out of me by constantly swearing that he would “fight for the common man.” I don’t want you to fight – I want you to work. Draft bills, go to committee meetings, give speeches, offer amendments, and vote. Is that so hard?

His response prompted an examination of his record. Kerry has been the lead sponsor of eight bills that have become law. Two are related to his work on the Senate panel on oceans and fisheries -- a 1994 law to protect marine mammals from being taken during commercial fishing and a 1991 measure for the National Sea Grant College Program Act, which finances marine research.

I’m such a baby, yeah, the dolphins make me cry

In 1999, President Clinton signed his bill providing grants to support small businesses owned by women.

Sounds like Teresa Heinz Kerry put him up to that one.

The rest of the laws he saw passed were ceremonial -- renaming a federal building, designating Vietnam Veterans Memorial 10th Anniversary Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and World Population Awareness Week in two separate years.

I thought I had heard – vaguely – that Kerry was involved with Vietnam in some way.

"There isn't a bill where you say ah-ha, this bill has John Kerry's name written all over it," said David King of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "His strength isn't as much in legislation than in pointing the klieg lights on a problem and going from there, and he'll be able to do that a fair amount in the presidential race."

Wonderful: a professional kvetch. Kerry’s the kind of guy who stands behind you during a game of chess and mutters: “There’s a competency gap in your strategy.”

Kerry said he has been responsible for laws to pay for 100,000 police officers and support fishery and environmental laws and small-business aid programs. He also pointed to his advocacy of democracy in the Philippines and the end of the Marcos regime there.

He did almost nothing as a Senator, therefore we should make him President. The mind reels. (Mental note: Kerry supports democracy and opposes dictators. Bold positions!)

And he spoke of the investigations from earlier in his career -- his probe of the Nicaraguan Contra armies, international money laundering and American prisoners of war in Vietnam. He also led the effort to normalize relations with Vietnam, where he was wounded in combat as a Navy officer.

So when you think of “probe” – think of Kerry (not that other word).

Former Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., who served with Kerry on the Finance and Foreign Relations committees, said Kerry was steadfast in the positions he took and not always willing to cut deals with Republicans. He said it was an effective strategy that he admired, although it could rub others the wrong way.
"The hallmark of John Kerry has always been his independence," Torricelli said. "That independence has always irritated his colleagues. I don't think John Kerry would ever been characterized as a member of any club

Praise from Bob Torricelli! Wow! Was Jim Traficant unavailable?
Kerry Vote Watch

The Senate had a four-day workweek last week and there were 16 floor votes. Senator John Kerry, who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, cast no votes.

Days worked: 0
Votes missed: 16
Howell Raines sez: “What paper?”

Not to beat a dead horse, but what is up with the former NYT editor? Maybe he really is as unbalanced as we think he is – from the NY Post’s Page Six:

July 21, 2003 -- LOOKING laid-back and relaxed, Howell Raines was the only editor to be honored Thursday night at the Eddie Adams Workshop Tribute Awards Ceremony. After emcee Peter Jennings presented the ousted Times editor with the Joe Rosenthal Award - named for the photographer who captured the flag-raising at Iwo Jima - Raines got a call from Rosenthal, 92, himself. He was later overheard chatting with a guest who observed that since he left the Times, "It has become flat-footed again in the photography department." Responded Raines, "I wouldn't know. I haven't seen the paper!"

He added: “The aliens beam all the latest news directly into my cerebellum. It’s blissful.”
More NAACP backlash

Michelle Cottle has issues with the NAACP; here’s an excerpt from “Uncivil Affair” in The New Republic:

Obviously, the NAACP is an old and venerable group that has done immeasurable good for the cause of civil rights over the years. But when its leaders choose to pull such hysterical stunts, screeching like unhinged lunatics for the absolute delight of the media, they only serve to convince the rest of the country that black America has lost all sense of perspective. It's one thing to come unglued over police brutality or the sorry state of America's inner cities--but over Dick Gephardt's unwillingness to break a family obligation or Dennis Kucinich's stated commitment not to skip a House vote? Please. Such misbehavior also makes the Democrats look like they're kowtowing to a bunch of self-important extremists who cry racism every time someone hurts their teeny wittle feewings.

“Look like”?
Bad news for the Dems: They can't decide on a candidate and the Greens are going to run in 2004.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Twelve words I never thought I'd see in sequence: "Don't make my child grow up in a world of Canadian mimes."
Bush suckers the Democrats - Outside the Beltway expands on this great Bill Kristol article (which, by the way, starts off "Karl Rove is a genius.")
He's toast: California court upholds Davis recall effort
The elephant in the room

Toren Smith, who double-dog-swears that he's on hiatus - not blogging, no sir - sent me a post that perfectly complements my Social Security rant below. It's the ballad of Wanda and Gary; Wanda saved her money for retirement while Gary spent it away. Toren concludes:

(Any similarity between me and Wanda; and between Gary and certain people I know in the Bay Area is purely coincidental.)

Heh. He also links to a Kim Dutoit post on the inevitable introduction of "means testing" to the Ponzi scheme of Social Security. Watch for it.

Thanks Toren! I guess now that comments are off, I'm going to have to check my mail more often. It's worth it: the page definitely loads much faster now (at least for me).
My review of "To Engineer is Human" is now available on Blogcritics.
What will it take to make people pay attention?

In the mid-eighties, there was a satiric current-events show on HBO called "Not Necessarily the News." The format was like an extended "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live with "news" stories presented in a humorous form. A skit that I always remember is one where a correspondent is talking about the rising budget deficit under Reagan. But, instead of standing in front of the Treasury Building or the White House, he was giving this particular report from a woman's gym. As he talked about unprecedented federal borrowing, beautiful women could be seen in the background doing exercises. Finally, the female anchorwoman back at the station indignantly asked "Why are you giving your report from a gym?" The reporter got wide-eyed and yelled: "It's the only way to make people pay attention! We are swimming in a sea of debt! Something must be done!"

I think about that skit whenever the issue of Social Security is raised, as in this article "Is Social Security the most destructive program ever devised?" It's really all the same arguments about the federal pyramid scheme – but will anyone listen? Not a chance. That program is going to suffocate taxpayers in about ten years when payments start to outstrip revenues and billions of Treasury bonds will have to be redeemed. But no politician in Washington has the nuts to face the looming reality. So on we go.

As I've noted here before, I'm not depending on Social Security. Right now, I'm dumping a large portion of my salary into my 401(k) plan and whenever I calculate retirement funds, I always leave out Social Security. I would have opted out of the program a long time ago if I could have. But here's my new fear: in the next 20 years, as the strain of the Ponzi trick plays out, I'm afraid that politicians will start eyeballing the huge amount of money in 401(k) plans and look to seize tax them also.

Why shouldn't I believe it will happen? The other day, on NPR (natch) I heard a woman comment about a proposal to impose a "millionaire's tax." She said [paraphrasing]: "Why shouldn't we ask more of people who have done well and will be least effected in their lifestyle by this tax?" Why? Because it's their money. What right does the government have to take away money just because somebody's got more than somebody else? The kindest word I can apply to that philosophy is "class warfare," but "communism" sounds just as apt.

I want to retire in 2030. And I should be able to, as long as the government keeps their meat hooks off my 401k. But if they should start to take my money, I always have this dream scenario where I'm testifying before Congress and I say: "If I had known you were going to take the money I had saved all these years, I would have bought a new car every two years. I would have vacationed in Florida hotels, instead of camping at KOAs. I would have eaten filet mignon at every meal. In short, I would have lived the life of the grasshopper, because you're now punishing the ant that saved up for winter."

It's impossible to escape the demographics of the eventual crisis in Social Security. I've given up: now I just want to hold onto my own savings.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

What Liberal Media?

Here's the latest from U.S. News & World Report's Washington Whispers:

Last year's loosey-goosey boycott by Republican leaders of CNN, which they viewed as too lefty, is spreading to Democrats and Fox News Channel. Dems are acting on info from former Clinton pollster Mark Penn that Fox not only has a richly Republican audience but that moderate voters they're trying to woo might not watch it. Penn doesn't want his side to just ignore Fox interview requests; they should also spend their political advertising dollars elsewhere. "If you want to talk to your base," he tells Whispers, "then go on CNN or public radio." Penn's sweeping poll of voter characteristics is part of the New Democratic Network's project aimed at identifying swing voters and turning them Democratic. Dems and independents like CNN, Penn says, not Fox. They also like the West Wing and the Simpsons, good targets for ad dollars. Fox political director Marty Ryan said his viewers are rich, smart, and account for more audience than CNN and MSNBC combined. "They'll be missing out," he scoffs, "on a real strong political audience."

Did you catch that? A Democratic pollster told Democrats: "If you want to talk to your base, go on CNN or NPR."


Friday, July 18, 2003

Memories I'm not terribly proud of: Tonight, while I was driving home, I caught a song on the radio I hadn't heard in easily ten years. And - as if a light had been turned on in my brain - I started singing the lyrics in perfect synchronicity. Man, it was weird, like I was speaking in tongues.

Here's the part I'm not proud of: it was "Lovergirl" by (almost) one-hit wonder Teena Marie. Yes, yes, shake your head in disappointment. If there's any redemption for me, I also knew all the lyrics to "Heat of the Moment" by Asia.

"And now you find yourself in '82"
Please, sir, may I have an education?

From the Washington Post story: “Foes Halt Vote on School Vouchers: Democrats reject Senate’s D.C. Bill

"I very much regret that vouchers have returned to haunt and halt another D.C. appropriations bill," [D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes] Norton said. "People really underestimated how unpopular vouchers are in Congress." [Emphasis added]

Yet vouchers are favored by Washington Mayor Anthony Williams:

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), who endorsed a voucher plan on condition that it include money for public schools and charter schools, was traveling yesterday. His chief of staff, Kelvin J. Robinson, said he expected the measure to pass. "We believe there are some Democrats for whom this is not a partisan issue but rather it's a parental choice issue," Robinson said.

Choice!?!” – said the Senate Democrats in a voice from “Oliver Twist” – “CHOICE!?! We shall tell you how to spend money, dear Mayor!”

On the editorial page, the WashPost criticizes Democrats from Louisiana and Illinois for blocking the voucher program for the distressed D.C. schools:

Perhaps the Democrats are suffering from a misapprehension: The school choice initiative is not some partisan program being foisted on the District by the White House. This is an experiment that many of the city's Democratic leaders, most notably the city's mayor, have finally concluded is worth trying, to help the city's poorest children. It is inexcusable for a group of senators, many from distant states, to turn this into a partisan issue of their own. Instead, they should fight to make the D.C. school system work better for more children, in public, private and charter schools across the city.

And the WSJ Opinion Journal also concluded:

Polls show that black parents are the nation's strongest, most consistent supporters of educational choice. For decades they have waited for some acknowledgment of this from the black political establishment. Thanks to Mayor Williams and a few other brave local leaders, it's finally come. What an outrage it will be if a GOP White House and Congress can't get their act together to capitalize on this golden educational opportunity.

Agreed. If only vouchers were more popular….in Congress.
Democrats on bended knee

Here’s the Miami Herald’s take on Lieberman, Gephardt, and Kucinich’s debasement before the NAACP (via Political Wire):

The contrition from Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich followed a fiery scolding Monday by NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, who charged that the three had lost their legitimacy among black voters and equated their political capital to ``Confederate dollars.''

The format seemed designed to humble the would-be presidents, allowing each man ''no more than five minutes for the purpose of public apology and explanation,'' a parameter announced ceremoniously as each candidate took the podium at the Miami Beach Convention Center

Damn….don’t these guys have any self-respect? Kucinich at least could claim he was casting votes in Congress; does he really have to apologize for doing his job? Even Jesse Jackson (!) thought the supplication was too much.
Brevity is the soul of wit: A well-placed "Deal!" from Ryne McClaren.
Looks like Croooow has moved here - update links.
Frugal Babs

I found this to be hilarious - emphasis added at the right spot (from today's Page Six):

July 18, 2003 -- BARBRA Streisand has not forgiven Joe Lieberman for his pointed comments about how Hollywood debases American values. Bush-hating Babs gave bucks to every other major Democratic presidential contender - Howard Dean, John Kerry, Bob Graham, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt and even Al Sharpton - but conspicuously left Lieberman off her list. Could it be Iraq? Well Gephardt, Edwards and Kerry all voted for the Iraq war, as Lieberman did. Lieberman spokesman Jano Cabrera tells The Post's Deborah Orin: "As someone once said, people need people. And we look forward to returning to the way we were in the future and earning the support of our funny valentine in the general election." Not that Babs was overly generous for a multimillionaire - the maximum donation now is $2,000 but she gave $1,000 apiece. Also missing from her gift list was the only woman in the race, ex-Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, and the very most liberal contender, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio.)

She even gave money to Gebhart.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Mark Steyn makes the one-millioneth "yellowcake" pun today

Here's an excerpt from the Spectator:

Nonetheless, the Democrats smell blood and don’t want to be told that it’s their own. ‘President Bush Deceives the American People’ roars the Democratic National Committee, headed by Clinton stain-mopper Terry McAuliffe. Bush did not wag his finger and say ‘Saddam Hussein did have radioactive relations with that yellowcake, Miss Niger.’ All he did was report that America’s closest ally had asserted something which it continues to assert to this day.

Yes, this very day, as Tony Blair repeated the assertation during his joint press conference with President Bush.
Taranto is in rare form today on Best of the Web – great stuff.
The Case for War - Revisited

The Economist states: "Why we still think, on present information and trends, that the war was justified" An excerpt:

None of that [Hussein’s evasions over WMDs] has been called into doubt by the lack of discoveries since the war. Mr Hussein had a clear record of developing these weapons, using them and concealing them. There can also be no doubt both that he was a brutal, ruthless dictator who murdered hundreds of thousands of his own citizens and that he harboured ambitions to dominate his region: he had fought Iran during the 1980s, had invaded Kuwait in 1990, and threatened Israel, Saudi Arabia and (in 1994) Kuwait again. He was thus plainly a dangerous man, in whose hands such dangerous weapons could pose a real threat, both to regional peace and, through the power that dominance of the world's oil reserves would bring, to the whole world.

A measured article from the Brits.
Jonathan Adler has the latest on the William Pryor nomination. It’s not pretty. A vote is still expected later today.
What is the half-life of the uranium “scandal”?

I haven’t commented on the whole Iraq-Africa connection because – swear to heaven – I never thought this news story would last more than a week. What’s the worst thing than can be said about President Bush? He was overzealous in presenting the case for removing Saddam Hussein? Even the most partisan Democrats don’t accuse him of lying (although they’ve been flogging the “credibility gap” meme). Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe sums up my feelings:

Americans are not dismayed that the United States led a successful war to crush a savage dictatorship. Their opinion is reinforced with every newly discovered mass grave - the most compelling evidence of Saddam's mass destruction. And their opinion is not likely to change because of anything the president did or didn't say about uranium in January.

Today, the Wall Street Journal broke open the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and concluded: “As we interpret that NIE language, the President was entirely accurate in what he said in that speech about Saddam pursuing uranium in Africa.”

In the past, it’s possible I’ve given too much credit to the Karl Rove political machine. But could this all be yet-another clever plan to lure the Democrats into wild, intemperate, and inchoate remarks only to have them backfire spectacularly? As Jacoby notes: “…do Democrats really imagine that the way to unseat Bush is to run against the war?”

The corollary question might be: “Are Democrats really this dumb?” Wait…don’t answer that.
Hoy 1 / Tapped 0 - I was all prepared to leap to the defense of Matthew Hoy after reading this snide posting from Tapped, but then I saw that our boy was doing quite well on his own. Hee-hee.
Sid shuts up

From today's Page Six in the New York Post comes a story about a symposium called "Is Bush Unbeatable in 2004?":

Al Gore would be the biggest threat to President Bush's re-election and Hillary Clinton the next most dangerous opponent, Republican strategist Ed Rollins said yesterday at the "Is Bush Unbeatable in 2004?" forum sponsored by The Week magazine.

If that's the best the Democrats can do, they really are hopeless. But wait! There's more:

When former Clinton strategist-turned-tormentor Dick Morris called in to note that Bush's "built-in base" is somewhat soft, he said, "Hello, Sidney, we haven't spoken in years." Blumenthal, who used to work alongside Morris, refused to return the greeting.

Blumenthal must still be smarting from Morris' recent review of his book, "The Clinton Wars," which Morris dismissed as an "800-page job application for a job in a Hillary White House" that "shows his willingness to buy any line she hands out and treats it as gospel

"Sid? Are you there? Did Hillary put your collar on too tight today?"
Judiciary update

The Senate Judiciary committee has scheduled a vote on William Pryor today. According to Howard Bashman, the Democrats are already gearing up to block the vote. Byron York is almost certain to have an update later today on National Review Online. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

News Flash: Paul Krugman still a jerk

Well, Krugman's back from vacation to harsh our mellow. Here's the latest analysis from Lying in Ponds about the DNC's operative the New York Times' columnist:

Over these two and a half years of columns, Paul Krugman's commentary has been one-sided to an extraordinary degree. It is simply astounding that not a single one of his 243 columns has been devoted mainly to criticism of Democrats or praise of Republicans. At first, Mr. Krugman wrote many witty, thought-provoking and completely apolitical columns about economics, but they have dwindled as the frequency of partisan screeds has increased. In 2000, 53 of his 98 columns contained no party references, but in 2002, only 8 of 99 did, and so far this year only one lonely column of 46 was non-political. Although Mr. Krugman himself has explicitly denied the charge of partisanship, the data doesn't seem to support any of the proposed explanations for his one-sided punditry

There's much more, with compelling data, at Lying in Ponds. Go read the whole post.
Success! I think I got everything ironed out. Let me know if you have problems. Also, I guess you're going to have to Email me if you have an urgent comment.
Damn - I apologize again. I'm trying to remove all the YACCS code from my Blogger template and I think I'm just making things worse. Sorry if you had click past twenty "Object missing" error prompts. Bear with me....I probably should have just asked Moe (again).
(turn up your sound)
I can't take the slowdown anymore - Comments are permanently disabled and won't return....unless I find a (free) service that is more reliable. Sorry for the delays.
Here’s a time waster from Refdesk: Nation Master will generate statistical graphs for countries around the world.
Den Beste thinks it’s time to turn the screws on the Saudis. Faster, please.
I thought I was the only one who read the Economist, but Capt. Scarlet on Silent Running found a great picture. Who said the English are stuffy?
Very simple humor…or humour, from Dodgeblogium: “How Very Rock & Roll
A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money

As readers of this page (both of you) know, I’m a staunch supporter of President Bush. But more and more I’m troubled by the lack of fiscal responsibility evidenced by a half-trillion dollar deficit. Yes, I know the economy is struggling and tax breaks/deficit spending are expected during a slowdown. But at the same time, federal spending has increased 18% over the past two years and Congress is looking to pass a monstrously large new prescription drug entitlement. I’m very concerned.

Chill out – relax!” says N. Gregory Mankiw in today’s Washington Post
No, be concerned” says Andrew Sullivan on his blog
Fundraising follies

Polipundit makes a good point regarding President Bush’s small-donor fundraising:

Isn't this precisely the sort of hard-money, small-contribution, fundraising that campaign finance "reformers" claim to look favorably upon? And isn't the extraordinary amount of disclosure - much more than the FEC requires - noteworthy? Let's see if campaign finance "reformers" will praise the president for his clean campaign. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Me neither.
Carnival of the Vanities - this week at the hard-to-pronounce Caerdroia

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

The Village Voice slams Democrats

Boy, you know the Dems are in trouble when even the Village Voice is bringing down the hammer. Here’s the Voice’s criticism of the Democrats who were absent from Washington as a critical vote on overtime regulations moved through Congress:

Where were the Democrats? Nowhere to be found. Gephardt was in Iowa getting an endorsement from the International Order of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, promising veterans of the picket line they'd be part of a new American prosperity. Among the leading Democratic contenders, neither Gephardt nor senators John Edwards, John Kerry, or Joe Lieberman returned repeated Voice calls for comment. The office of Representative Dennis Kucinich, a staunch labor supporter who voted against the measure, at least returned a call, as did former Vermont governor Howard Dean's office. Dean spokesperson Tricia Enright says of Gephardt's absence, "It's disgraceful. . . . Don't votes like this keep people off the picket lines?"

As I’ve noted on a weekly basis, it is disgraceful.
The Democrats can't win! (from Boots & Sabers)
Multiple link madness

Caerdroia links to Smallest Minority links to Clayton Cramer who links to this National Review page with the funniest legal opinion you’ll ever read. Seriously, I was crying with laughter.

Since we’re doing multiple links: this Cox & Forkum cartoon (“a dangling modifier!”) was linked to Zogby and Little Green Footballs and probably many others. Nice one.
Victims of their own success

In April 2002, the Wall Street Journal published an editorial drawing upon census data that stated: “By any honest measure, blacks are significantly better off today than at any time in U.S. history.” Of course, you’d never suspect there was any cause for celebration at the recent meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) meeting in Florida. Starting from Julian Bond’s opening speech (with the risible “We are nonpartisan” line) it was all vitriol, anger over perceived “oppression”, and bitter evocation of the Civil War:

"In essence, you now have become persona non grata," NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said of the Democrats who passed on the event. "Your political capital is the equivalent of confederate dollars."

"Anytime we can give a party 92 percent of our vote and have to still beg some people to come talk to us, there is still an ax-handle mentality among some in the Democratic Party," Sharpton yelled from the podium, waving a wooden ax handle.

Bond said the decision "gave legal sanction to what we knew to be morally, socially, and educationally correct." He urged states that have abandoned affirmative action policies to "come back into the Union."

"[Republicans] idea of reparations is to give war criminal Jefferson Davis a pardon. Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and Confederate swastika flying side by side” (Julian Bond’s speech).

Why does the NAACP dwell on the past when the present (and future) seem so much brighter than ever before? In part, it’s because hatred is such an accessible and effective motivator. In “The True Believer”, Eric Hoffer wrote: "Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil." So the NAACP leadership rolls out that old time religion of the good fight against the evil oppressors, ginning up the crowd with the university quota issue and the mythology of voter disenfranchisement. In return, they extract political power and large donations from the organization’s base.

What exactly the NAACP does with the money they collect seems beside the point. Bond barely mentions anything positive between the relentless GOP-bashing. It would appear that the NAACP is taking a page from the Southern Poverty Law Center. In a November 2000 article in Harper’s titled “The Church of Morris Dees”, Ken Silverstein noted that the SPLC raked in $44 million in donations and revenue in 1999, but spent only $13 million on civil rights programs – not bad for a “non-profit” group. Furthermore: “The American Institute of Philanthropy gives the Center one of the worst ratings of any group it monitors, estimating that the SPLC could operate for 4.6 years without making another tax-exempt nickel from its investments or raising another tax-deductible cent from well-meaning "people like you." The SPLC modus operandi is not that different from the NAACP’s: establish an enemy, emphasize the struggle, and ask for a donation.

To be fair, this methodology is not dissimilar to the game played by nearly every non-profit in the business. The problem is that the rhetoric of these advocacy groups is increasingly out of step with the reality. The website for Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) has an “urgent” request for donations splashed across the homepage with dire statistics posted next to a “Victim’s Tribute.” Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that drunk-driving fatalities have dropped significantly over the past twenty years, but this is unmentioned on the MADD page. Progress doesn’t bring in donations – crisis does. Similarly, the ongoing crisis of “woman’s rights” takes center stage on the National Organization of Women’s webpage, despite the fact there is growing concern that the “new gender gap” has detrimentally affected the status of boys in America. Finally, there’s the hilariously ironic “MoveOn” organization that had its genesis as a group dedicated to derailing the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Far from “moving on” from its original mission, this Internet-based group, punch-drunk on tax-exempt donations, now fights the endless grass roots battle against…whatever. And whatever that thing is, it must be overcome! (exclamation point!) – won’t you help with a secure online contribution?

The Republican National Committee is going to send out fundraising letters with Hillary Clinton’s picture, just like the Democrats send ‘em out with a scowling John Ashcroft or Tom Delay. But that’s to be expected – that’s politics. The NAACP is an organization dedicated to a defined socio-economic goal: the advancement of its members. Unfortunately, for the NAACP and too many other advocacy groups, the Association became the more important part of their name.

College: A place where you should never feel uncomfortable

Here’s Stuart Taylor Jr. in the National Journal: “How Campus Censors Squelch Freedom of Speech”:

Steve Hinkle, a student at California Polytechnic State University, was posting fliers around campus last November 12 that advertised a speech to be given the next evening. The fliers contained a photo of the speaker, black conservative Mason Weaver, and the words "It's OK to Leave the Plantation," the name of a book in which Weaver likens African-American dependence on government programs to slavery.

Boy, you can see where this is going. Read on.
News from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts

This past November, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly voted for Question 2, which led to the law requiring English immersion in public schools. Yesterday, the Democratic legislature overrode vetoes by Republican Governor Mitt Romney and essentially ignored the will of the people.

Shawn Feddeman, a spokeswoman for Romney, criticized the Legislature's actions as the handiwork of elected officials who ''seem confused about the way democracy works.''
''The people dictate to them, not the other way around,'' Feddeman said

From Bart's Comet:

Kent: With our utter annihilation imminent, our federal government has snapped into action. We go live now via satellite to the floor of the United States Congress.
Speaker: Then it is unanimous, we are going to approve the bill to evacuate the town of Springfield in the great state of --
Congressman: Wait a minute, I want to tack on a rider to that bill: $30 million of taxpayer money to support the perverted arts.
Speaker: All in favor of the amended Springfield-slash-pervert bill?
[everyone boos]
Speaker: Bill defeated. [bangs gavel]
Kent: I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply doesn't work.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Let me take a break from criticizing Democrats to say: Go to Right Wing News where John Hawkins is working over Bob Graham. Wheeeee!!! OK, break's over.
John Leo onCreeping Transnationalism

Here's A Useful Rule Of Thumb about international conventions, United Nations documents, and the findings of foreign courts: Anytime a judge cites one in an American court, something alarming is probably about to happen. The source of the alarm is usually that the judge has spotted some important "emerging world consensus" that requires him to defy the plain meaning of American law.

Lileks is a stone-cold genius

Occasionally, somebody will mention that they like my writing, which is a nice compliment. [Cue: “Something Stupid” by Frank & Nancy Sinatra] But then I have to go and spoil it all by doing something stupid like read Lileks.

Today he takes apart an opinion piece in the Minnesota Star Tribune with such deftness of phrase, I’m simultaneously thrilled by his prose and depressed to think that I’ll never reach his level of ability:

Let it be noted that today, virtually any adult can drive across a bridge to Wisconsin and buy enough fireworks to make Chinese New Year sound like a fat ant jumping up and down on bubble-wrap.

Evocative + provocative + superlative = Lilekative

(Choke on that, spell checker)
Zogby Blog has moved. I updated that link on my blogroll a month ago and finally Zogby has abandoned Blogspot. Viking Pundit – ahead of the curve!
The Union Leader: Kerry “Not Prepared”

Every four years, the Union Leader of New Hampshire becomes the 300-pound gorilla of presidential politics, thanks to the Granite State’s early primary. So when they put out an editorial titled“Not Prepared: Is Kerry Even Paying Attention?” (brief registration required), it’s a problem for the non-voting Senator. Here’s the concluding sentence: “Either Kerry is not paying attention to what’s going on, or he’s deliberately misleading the voters.”

Ouch. Is Kerry-fatigue setting in just as Howard Dean is showing signs of a surge? Watch the N.H. polls.
(Hat tip to Real Clear Politics)

And....since I'm piling on Kerry this morning, I might as well post the latest Missed Votes watch (thanks to Insignificant Thoughts). Kerry has moved up to 49% missed votes, second only to the unbelievable 89% of Dick Gephardt. Wow.
Unclear on the concept

New York Times’ reporter James Bennet filed a story from Ramallah about a Palestinian political scientist who was attacked by a mob because he had the temerity to present data showing that most Palestinians didn’t support the “right to return” as part of a peace settlement with Israel. Dr. Khalil Shikaki was roughed up and pelted with eggs; the mob then marched over to Yasir Arafat’s headquarters:

The rioters marched from Dr. Shikaki's office to Mr. Arafat's compound a few blocks away, where he received them, Palestinians here said. It was not clear if Mr. Arafat knew what they had done. [Emphasis mine]

Gosh, too bad there wasn’t a reporter nearby who could have ascertained what Arafat knew and when he knew it. Did Mr. Bennet even try to interview Arafat? Instead, the NYT unwittingly bestows Arafat with gift of plausible deniability.
Kerry Vote Watch

The Senate had a four day workweek last week, meeting from Tuesday through Friday and there were 12 floor votes. John Kerry, who hasn’t cast a vote for Massachusetts since June 12th, finally showed up to vote on Thursday, July 10th so he could lend support to health of the nation. Unfortunately, the nation was Mexico.

For some reason, although he was clearly in the vicinity of Washington, Kerry skipped the next two votes on Thursday but then re-appeared to vote for a resolution To express the sense of the Congress that the United States remain engaged in Iraq in order to ensure a peaceful, stable, unified Iraq with a representative government.”

Of course, the only vote of real consequence last week in the Senate was the motion to invoke cloture on the “Patients First” bill; the Democrats successfully filibustered this Republican-led effort for tort reform. But Kerry was nowhere to be found. Is this the beginning of a “Rose Garden” strategy by the Kerry campaign? It appears he has no intention of putting his mark on anything remotely controversial. He wants to be a blank slate – a tabula rasa – to the voters, unencumbered by any vote he may or may not have made.

Days worked: 1
Votes missed: 10

Thursday, July 10, 2003

My stapler!

I'm taking the day off work so I can go on a little weekend camping trip with the kids. See you (late) Sunday.
Democrats and 2004

Washington Post writer David Von Drehle had an online live chat where he fielded questions about the Democrats heading into 2004. There were a lot of queries about Howard Dean, suggesting that he’s the favorite son right now. Here’s perhaps the key question of the session:

Los Angeles, Calif.: How can progressive Democrats build an appealing message of positive change from virulent criticisms of Bush?

David Von Drehle: The $64,000 question.

I have been interviewing Democrats from across the spectrum for a couple of months now about where the party is and where it should be heading. And everybody says: "We need a positive message beyond just being against Bush." And everybody also says: "We don't know yet what it is."

I hear again and again that this message-shaping project is the most urgently important function of the presidential primary. People are counting on one of these candidates to come up with a compelling positive vision/agenda to go with the increasingly sharp criticism of Bush

“Message shaping?” I find it amazing that the Democrats simply do not know what they believe in. Anything cobbled together at this late date is going to look like the artificial product of a focus group.
Gray Davis recall update/song parody

My eyebrows shot upward when I read this in “Gray to Fade” from today’s Opinion Journal: “Pollsters note he is the first politician in anyone's memory to have less than 50% support in all demographic groups.”

And – just to show you how my diseased mind works – the first thing that popped into my head was the Armour Hot Dog song:

Davis! Gov’ner Davis!
Why kind of groups hate Gov’ner Davis?
Seniors, children, blacks and Hispanics
Whites and Asians
Drivers of Honda Civics
Hate Davis. Gov’ner Davis!
The Gov they want to boot

I need therapy.
Doctors for tort reform

Yesterday, I noted a posting on DB's Medical Rants about the need for tort reform with regard to medical malpractice. Today, in the comments section of that post, a former doctor from Florida puts in his thoughts on the matter. Read the whole thing, but here are the key grafs:

Nothing in terms of reforming our medical system will work until we take steps to repair our damaged tort system. The system is skewed towards the trial lawyers who make off like bandits collecting those hefty awards, sometimes in millions, leaving little to the victims and imperiling the access to basic medical services. That is already happening in a number of states, with ER and trauma centers closing, and with a number of specialists like obstetricians and neurosurgeons cutting off services or quitting. Mammograms in Orlando, for example, now take weeks to get scheduled since a number of radiologists have quit reading them.

It appears to me nothing short of a widespread public outrage will convince the Democrats that the liability crisis is real and getting more serious every day. They need to stop acting as shills and toadies for the trial lawyers. If they don't heed the public cry, they may find there won't be too many of them in the next U.S. Senate

I'm all for that.
Avert your eyes!

When it comes to the frothy rantings of Ted Rall – Paul Krugman turned up to eleven – my general inclination is to pay no mind. I wish I could have told Matthew Hoy to just look away, but he has posted a lengthy rejoinder to Rall’s latest paranoid, malnourished screed. At least Mr. Hoy concludes his post thusly: “Congratulations Ted, you're certifiably wacko. Now I'll go back to ignoring you.”

Good advice.

Update: Ryne McClaren stares at the crazy man also “The last paragraph is brilliant for its sheer, unadulterated bat-shittery. What in the hell planet is this guy from?”