Monday, June 30, 2003

Race confusion

Jay Nordlinger opens up the mailbag in today’s Impromptus column and one letter writer had a devilish proposal:

“Jay, what would happen to affirmative-action programs if a significant portion of college applicants intentionally misreported their races? Even if most applications were marked correctly, by either dutiful whites or unashamed minorities, a little civil disobedience could introduce just enough margin of error to really bring out the pure intellectual chaos and moral repugnance of affirmative action.

"Think about it: Schools would be forced to visually confirm the race of every applicant who claimed to be a minority. The explicit process of racial classification . . . the naked barbarity of the data collection . . . would render affirmative action politically indefensible. What dean of admissions wouldn't be a little uncomfortable in front of Fox News cameras turning away a previously accepted student on the first day of orientation because he or she had the incorrect skin pigmentation?"

This could work for some applicants but I don’t think I’d be able to fool anybody into believing that “Lindholm” is of African descent.
I apologize if this page is loading slowly; it looks like the Yaccs comment server is acting up.
Kerry Vote Watch

I think the time has come to demand that John Kerry resign from the Senate. Do the honorable, Bob Dole thing and recognize that running for president is a full-time job and, in the interest of democratic representation, somebody else should fill the Senate seat for Massachusetts. As a bare minimum, he should return his paycheck to the Treasury.

The Senate had a three-day workweek last week, culminating in a Saturday vote on a Medicare prescription drug benefit that passed 76-21 with three “not voting.” Here it is: arguably the most important domestic issue vote before Congress this session and three Senators couldn’t make it to Washington to do their sworn duty. Want to guess who one of them was?

In fact, it was another banner week for the peripatetic Senator Splunge who worked no days and cast no votes. That’s right: Kerry failed to make a single Senate floor vote last week.

Days worked: 0
Votes missed: 30
Last vote cast: June 12th

Terpsboy has the best picture of Katharine Hepburn I’ve seen so far, and includes this trenchant observation: “She lived 96 years without ever, to my knowledge, saying anything Streisandesque or Fondafoolish.” Heh-heh.
P.J. O’Rourke reviews Hillary’s “Living History” – ‘nuff said.
How could you confuse a Dixie Chick with Pam Anderson? Boots and Sabers has the story.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

People who write letters to the New York Times

A couple Sundays back the New York Times Magazine ran an article about how the mostly-liberal denizens of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket were fighting a plan to erect large turbine windmills in Nantucket Sound to generate renewable energy. Today's magazine has a basketful of letters on the article. By a strange coincidence, those letters opposing the offshore wind farm are all from…Massachusetts! One, by a Charles Manker of Chatham, denounces the "aesthetic pollution" that the seabased windmills would pose. Let me ask something: is there a single energy-producing infrastructure that does not cause "aesthetic pollution"? For that matter, is there a modern structure – hospital, football stadium, Starbucks – that doesn't despoil nature in some way? Is this a valid reason to avoid our God-given right to coffee, football and X-rays? No, I say!

But another letter grabbed my attention, strictly for etymological reasons:

I don't have a house overlooking Nantucket Sound or a yacht to sail its waters. But whenever I walk along the shores of the sound, I become more convinced that this priceless natural resource is simply not the place for the controversial wind-turbine development proposed by Cape Wind Associates. [Emphasis added]

The remainder of this letter by one Paul Kemprecos of Dennis Port, Massachusetts, who must have composed it on a manual typewriter, is hereby snipped.

Here's my question: at what point did this project become "controversial"? In fact, it's remarkably straightforward: clean, renewable energy is available. The tradeoff, like any power plant, is an economic effect (e.g. reduced property values) and an environmental effect (e.g. power plant emissions) in exchange for electricity. This is basic. We like electricity: we like our washing machines, refrigerators, and DVD players. But if we want power, we need power plants. What is the controversy?

The answer is there is none. Instead, the word "controversial" has been transformed into a one-size-fits-all argument against anything that is patently obvious but that if an interested party raises objection, the issue is ipso facto "controversial." This technique has been used by Senate Democrats to hold up the nominations of Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen (and probably Bill Pryor when his vote comes up). All received high marks of "qualified" or "well-qualified" by the American Bar Association and all have demonstrated sharp legal minds. But Estrada "hasn't answered questions" and Owen handed down a ruling and Pryor made some remarks – controversy! The validity of the objections is distant and irrelevant; these candidates are "controversial" and shall be denied the vote afforded to every other judicial nominee in American history.

"Controversy" is defined in my dictionary as "disagreement on a contentious topic" but the disagreement needs to have a valid basis. If I tell my son he has to eat his broccoli and he disagrees, there is no controversy here. Supreme Court decisions are, by nature of their legal complexity, controversial. The 2000 election, closest in a century, fits the definition of "controversial" no matter which side you supported. But the topic of an offshore wind farm is not "controversial" in any meaningful way. Instead, it's about as black-and-white as you can get and here's the bottom line: the rich liberal yacht-scrubbers like Walter Cronkite want electricity. They just want it made somewhere else, so there is no meaningful sacrifice on their part. Not only is that uncontroversial, it's downright predictable.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Democrats cry "Play"

From Fox News: "WASHINGTON — House Democrats have declared war on the Republican leadership, vowing to gum up the legislative process in retaliation for what they say is systematic and unfair treatment by the majority"

Here's my favorite part: "[Steny] Hoyer (D-MD) testified that, “when Democrats controlled the House, we did not always provide for fair debates. We should neither excuse those past practices, nor countenance the current ones."

Translation: "We screwed the Republicans when we were in power, but let's put all that behind us now."
Fred Barnes on the coming Bush landslide

Here's Fred in the Weekly Standard:

The stars consist of six factors, all of which appear favorable to Bush at the moment. They are: an improving economy, a successful war, a big domestic triumph, a boatload of campaign money, an opposition party in disarray, an a discredited big media.

If I remember correctly, George Will once commented that no President lost re-election with an approval rating below 48%; Dubya's approval has rarely dipped below 60% in national polls.
Look, I'm only in my mid-30s, but I love the Platters. Does anybody remember them? They, you know, sang songs with harmony and beauty, back in the fifties. Well, here's my Blogcritics review of one of their greatest hits CDs.
We suckered them Democrats real good!

As a partial follow-up to my post below about how the Democrats invite their own problems, here's the bottom line on campaign finance reform - it's killing the Dems. From the Washington Post:

The evidence is growing that Democrats shot themselves in the foot by forcing passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law restricting what had been unlimited "soft money" donations to political parties.

A report released yesterday by the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group, found that, contrary to common perceptions, Republicans have a big advantage over Democrats in donations from small donors, while Democrats are king among only the biggest.

The study, analyzing donations during the 2002 campaign cycle, found that those little guys giving less than $200 to federal candidates, parties or leadership political action committees contributed 64 percent of their money to Republicans. By contrast, those fat cats giving $1 million or more contributed a lopsided 92 percent to Democrats. The only group favoring Democrats, in fact, were contributors giving more than $100,000.

I thought the GOP was the party of fat-cats and big donors. Guess it's the other way around. The 2004 election is going to be so much fun.
Right We Are is sponsoring the editorial cartoons on American Realpolitik this week - thanks girls!

Friday, June 27, 2003

Speaking of conspiracy, here’s Donald Luskin and “Plan 9 from Planet Krugman” on the sharp-tongued “Conspiracy to Keep you Poor and Stupid.”
An honest mistake

Los Alamos National Laboratory equipment buyer Lillian Anaya thought she was ordering $30,000 worth of transducers. But she dialed a number that had been changed from an industrial equipment dealer to an auto parts shop, and wound up buying a Mustang with government money instead.

(Hat tip to Hit & Run)
That Wacky Chief Justice

From National Review's Corner: "NRDC intern James Justin Wilson was hanging around the Court this morning. After the five decisions of the day were issues, Chief Justice Rehnquist paused and said (paraphrasing): "I'd like to announce the retirement...[SILENCE FILLS THE CROWD] of the Court librarian."
Gaffe = accidentally telling the truth

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (Democrat, of course, from Rhode Island) had some words for the bar crowd Wednesday night: “I have never worked a [bleeping] day in my life”. I think the punchline writes itself here.
It’s a conspiracy!

David Brooks the other day: “Second, there is the frequent and relentless resort to conspiracy theories. If you judged by newspapers and magazines this spring, you could conclude that a secret cabal of Straussians, Jews, and neoconservatives (or perhaps just Richard Perle alone) had deviously seized control of the United States and were now planning bloody wars of conquest around the globe.”

Krugman today: “Next year, George W. Bush will spend two or three times as much money as his opponent; but he will also benefit hugely from the indirect support that corporate interests — very much including media companies — will provide for his political message.
Naturally, Republican politicians deny the existence of their burgeoning machine.

From “Homer the Great”:
Homer: So anyway, Lenny and Carl are never around on Wednesdays and they don't tell me where they go. It's like a conspiracy.
Bart: A conspiracy, eh? You think they might be involved in the Kennedy assassination in some way?
Homer: I
Paul Krugman’s lonely crusade

Here he is on Tuesday: “Yet if we can't find people willing to take the risk — to face the truth and act on it — what will happen to our democracy?”

Here he is today: “Why isn't the ongoing transformation of U.S. politics — which may well put an end to serious two-party competition — getting more attention?”

Get a whiff of that self-congratulatory pretentiousness. Phew.
It makes a big difference

The New York Times made a correction today:

An article on Wednesday about Congressional committee testimony by a top State Department expert on chemical and biological weapons misstated the response of other officials from several intelligence agencies who were asked whether they had been pressured to tailor their analysis on Iraq and other matters to conform with the Bush administration's views. All said no; they did not remain silent.

Silent? Like a conspiracy?
Political Wire on a roll

First there’s this post and excerpt from a Los Angeles Times story:

"At that point [after the Democrats pick their nominee], Democrats could face a nightmare scenario: a nominee with little money left after a bruising primary fight; a Democratic National Committee weakened by the ban on the unlimited contributions known as "soft" money that previously accounted for most of its budget, and a president sitting on more cash than any White House candidate ever."

May I be so bold to say that all of these problems were invited by the Democrats. Their inability to field a strong and credible nominee opened up the gang-of-nine free-for-all; they pushed through campaign finance reform, which the Atlantic acidly dubbed “The Democratic Party Suicide Bill”; and Bill Clinton set the new (lower) standard for presidential fundraising, leaving the Democrats little opportunity for criticism on that issue.

But if John Kerry is the Dems nominee, at least he’ll look good in cartoons, thanks to his insane wife. Here’s “How to Draw John Kerry” copied from Political Wire:

Theresa Heinz Kerry instructed 150 political cartoonists from around the country on "how not to draw her husband," Sen. John Kerry, in the coming months of the presidential campaign, the Pittsburgh City Paper reports.

Using an overhead projector, she displayed cartoons she disliked: "My husband should not be confused with Punxsutawney Phil. He isn't a basset hound. Please resist the impulse to use Heinz products when drawing my husband. Concentrate on his noble chin, focused gaze and and smile. In other words, draw him like this...

"Up on screen flashed a cartoon of John F. Kennedy."

Oh man……

Thursday, June 26, 2003

David Letterman's Top 10 List

Top Ten Things The Iraqi Information Minister Has Admitted Since Being Captured

10. "Okay, Iraq didn't win the war. It was a tie"
9. "Iraq's weapons scientists were secretly developing our own Hulk"
8. "Tariq Aziz had Botox"
7. "Saddam Hussein's not the innocent angel everyone thinks he is"
6. "Dr. Germ looks really hot when she's synthesizing VX gas"
5. "You picked the right guy for the 'Queen of Clubs,' if you know what I mean"
4. "Howard Dean will win the 2004 election"
3. "Uday Hussein's birth name -- Gary"
2. "I've been offered a job as editor of 'The New York Times'"
1. "The rumors are true -- I'm dating Ashton Kutcher"
I tried to give James Lileks a donation tonight, but the Amazon tip jar said it can't take it. I'm going to re-read a Screed or two (what am I, Dr. Seuss?) then try again tomorrow.
Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby

Here’s one excerpt from Jay Nordlinger’s great Impromptus column today:

John Edwards told an adoring (activist) audience, "We have to show this president as the absolute phony he is. He is a phony through and through." Oh, no. You wish, baby, you wish. George W. Bush is anything but phony: He is the anti-phony. In fact, the reason the Left (and perhaps some others) hate him is that he is ridiculously authentic — scarily himself: conservative, tough-minded, sincere, confident, Christian, and all those other yucky things.

*ZING*, Senator Handsome!
So much for fixing permalinks. Anyone know how to republish archives with the new Blogger setup?
Democrats pay homage to Maynard Jackson and Lester Maddox

It’s been a dark time for Georgia Democrats who lost two historical figures this past week. Maynard Jackson Jr. who was elected Atlanta’s first black mayor in 1973, passed away on Monday. Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe released this statement of mourning on behalf of Democrats.

Then, on Wednesday, former Georgia governor Lester Maddox also passed away. Here’s the opening paragraph from the obit in the Washington Post:

Lester G. Maddox, 87, a Georgia restaurateur who drove blacks from his business with ax handles and parlayed the resulting publicity into political power, becoming in 1967 the state's last openly segregationist governor, died June 25 at a hospice in Atlanta after a fall while recuperating from intestinal surgery. He had pneumonia and prostate cancer.

So far there hasn’t been a press release from the DNC on this prominent Democrat from the Peach State. I’m sure they’re just fine-tuning the wording.
Lileks update

Going down my blogroll list, I hit Tim Blair before James Lileks and found myself nodding furiously at this quip:

Something is wrong in Jasperwood, and if it stops James Lileks writing his Bleats (or anything else), Mossad-level vengeance must be deployed.

But then I got to the Bleat and JL revealed that his wife had lost her job, throwing his life into a temporary crisis. The Bleat will go on, at least for now.
Bear with me - I've been "upgraded" to the "new and improved" Blogger.

It's a little flashier, but I'm not sure if it's much better. In any event, permalinks seem to work without having to refresh the archive after every post.
Keep this man away from the White House

From a Boston Globe article: “Kerry calls weapons proliferation nation’s greatest challenge”:

''This is the most serious issue in front of the country today, the world,'' he said. ''I intend to go to the United Nations and the world, through NATO and elsewhere and put this squarely in front of other leaders ... I believe I can put this issue on the table and get the United States of America to raise to a much higher level the imperative of our doing this.''

Whatever. Tell it to Kim Jong Il.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Do the benefits of “diversity” apply at MIT?

A letter to the editor in today’s New York Times (top letter) unwittingly raises a new question about the so-called benefits of affirmative action programs. By applauding the SCOTUS ruling on the University of Michigan cases, one Douglas Zolkind notes: “In every class that I have taken at college, it has been enlightening to hear the varying perspectives of students of different ethnicities, races and cultures.

The same theme that a variety of cultures enhances the educational experience was also propounded by counsel for the University of Michigan, John Payton, who noted: “When Justice Powell said in Bakke that it’s not too much to say that the Nation’s future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to the ideas and mores of students as diverse as this nation of many peoples, I think that statement was absolutely correct then. I think it is, you know, it has never been truer than it is today.” Maureen Mahoney in the law school case answered a question thus: “But your Honor, there is a compelling interest in having an institution that is both academically excellent and richly diverse, because our leaders need to be trained in institutions that are excellent, that are superior academically, but they also need to be trained with exposure to the viewpoints, to the perspectives, to the experiences of individuals from diverse backgrounds.”

Certainly it could be argued that a diversity of backgrounds has a beneficial effect when discussing issues of law, or literature, or sociology. But in what way does a diversity of viewpoints add to the study of physics or chemistry? How does the “black experience” illuminate the discussion of differential equations or civil engineering? Assuming that diversity of opinion is a goal worthy of overriding equal protection rights, isn’t the case for affirmative action weakened considerably for certain colleges like Caltech and MIT, or even certain majors?

The lawyers for the University of Michigan would certainly echo the major points of their own case and the various amicus briefs in that diversity helps to foster racial understanding and break down stereotypes. UM lawyer Payton noted: “Their education is much more than the classroom. It’s in the dorm, it’s in the dining halls, it’s in the coffee houses. It’s in the daytime, it’s in the nighttime. It’s all the time.” But what might be true for cappuccino slackers at Cornell or Marxist-studies majors at Berkeley may be entirely false for the hacks and nerds of MIT, who are famously anti-social and apolitical. When there is discussion, it is much more likely to focus on an engineering problem or a campus prank than on the cultural perspectives of “Othello.”

In the UM ruling, an undefined value was placed on the diversity of opinion brought about by affirmative action programs. But my feeling is that, at least for science and engineering types, the search for diversity does not rise to the standard of a “compelling interest,” enough to override the 14th Amendment.

Slumping Foreign Investment

This Economist article might be a little dense if you’re not, well, an economist, but it explains one component that fuels the American economy: Foreign Direct Investment.

The M&A [mergers and acquisitions] volatility has probably been felt most keenly in America and Britain, both traditional investment hot-spots. FDI [foreign direct investment] inflows declined sharply last year in America (down by 77%) and Britain (down by 60%). Foreign investment in both countries is a mere shadow of what it was at the peak three years ago—in America, FDI inflows last year were a mere tenth of the amount received in 2000; in Britain, about a fifth.
Trans-national regulations and global uncertainty are largely blamed for the slow-down that funnels hard cash into American business. Meanwhile, China is racing ahead in FDI, outpacing both America and Britain combined.

The Gullible Mr. Kerry

Here’s Christopher Hitchens on the easily-fooled John Kerry:

Meanwhile we have learned that Sen. Kerry considers himself to be gullible both ways, which ought to mean that he is ineligible for the nomination, let alone the presidency.

For extra credit, check out this Boston Globe opinion piece on Senator Splunge.
Morning roundup

Lots of good stuff this morning, so I’ll group them together here:

A Small Victory has the nastiest editorial cartoon of the week.

American Realpolitik reviews some of the better dissenting comments from Scalia and Thomas in the U-Michigan cases. Occam’s Toothbrush vents on the same topic.

Ben Domenech lists the songs that the Democrats are using on the campaign trail. Best irony: Howard Dean’s use of “A Little Less Conversation”. Worst choice: Gephardt’s “Simply the Best.” Ugh.

What is up with Lileks? Is this the end of the Bleat?

Andrew Sullivan on justifiable action

Sully is responding to a vile Slate article, but this retort (excerpted from a longer post) applies just as well to Paul Krugman’s hysterics:

The premise is that after 9/11, only rock-solid evidence of illicit weapons programs and proven ties to terrorists could justify a pre-emptive war to depose Saddam. But the point of 9/11 was surely the opposite: that the burden of proof now lay on people denying such a threat, not those fearing it. Would I rather we had an administration that remained Solomon-like in the face of inevitably limited and muddled intelligence and sought the kind of rock-solid consensus on everything that would satisfy Jacques Chirac or the BBC (or John Kerry)? Or would I rather we had a president who realized that post-9/11 it was prudent to be highly concerned about such weapons and connections and better, by and large, to be safe than sorry? Condi was clear about this distinction: "There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly [Saddam] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Damn straight

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Lies, damn lies, and Krugman

Well, it’s Tuesday so it’s time for crazy Paul to unravel another string of logical fallacies. It’s fun and easy – follow along.

There is no loner any serious doubt that Bush administration officials deceived us into war.” = Begging the Question – the truth of the conclusion is assumed by the premises

Paragraphs 3 & 4 = Fallacy of distraction from ignorance – because something is not known to be true, it is assumed to be false (e.g. presence of WMDs, Hussein’s link to Al-Qaeda)

For example, some commentators have suggested that Mr. Bush should be let off the hook as long as there is some interpretation of his prewar statements that is technically true.” = “Straw Man” – the author attacks an argument different from (and weaker than) the opposition’s best argument

So why are so many people making excuses for Mr. Bush and his officials? Part of the answer, of course, is raw partisanship.” = Fallacies of Explanation – Non-support & untestability & limited depth (not to mention raw partisanship).

One important difference between our current scandal and the Watergate affair…” = False Analogy – the two objects or events being compared are relevantly dissimilar

Yet if we can’t find people willing to take the risk – to face the truth and act on it – what will happen to our democracy?” – Appeals to motive: Prejudicial Language – value or moral goodness is attached to believing the author.

The overarching flaw in Krugman’s house-of-cards argument is that if it’s reasonable to believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, then Bush’s motivation to protect the country (esp. post-9/11) is completely defensible. And as many have noted, the intelligence on Iraqi WMDs was considered valid long before Bush took office. Sorry, Paul, try again Friday.

(Borrowed from the Safety Valve)

Finally! A tax cut bill that Ted Kennedy can support!
Howard Dean announces candidacy – Republicans rejoice

In case you missed it, Real Clear Politics found the link to Howard Dean’s disastrous appearance on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday. Apparently I wasn’t the only person to think the doctor was totally unprepared (what? you ask questions on this show?) for Russert’s typical assault. In light of Dean’s non-answers, why haven’t there been more “Howard the Duck” jokes? Too obscure?

Speaking of unintentional humor: Political Wire takes note of this interesting choice of phrase during Dean’s speech.

Update: From the Washington Post: "Dean regrets quip about club break-in"
My two cents on the University of Michigan case

There’s no point in trying to compete with Bashman or Reynolds or Volokh on the legal questions, but I’ll just say this: several of the Justices voiced the opinion that affirmative action programs should be “time-limited” or “sunsetted” after, say, 25 years. (Here’s the Opinion Journal’s take on Justice O’Connors’ pretzel logic). My questions would be 1.) why are racial preferences unconstitutional in 2028 and not now? and 2.) By what yardstick could the United States determine that the racial gap has narrowed sufficiently to eliminate racial preferences?

Antonin Scalia is right: this was a muddled ruling that only served to kick-the-can down the road and invite more lawsuits.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Stupid VH1 and their stupid list vs. my awesome mix

VH1, in their latest rating-grabbing "list" show, named the top 100 songs of the past 25 years. Number one is "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. At #4, bizarrely, is Eminem's "Lose Yourself" and – "criminally" is the only adverb that comes to mind – Whitney Houston's awful, endless, catharsis "I Will Always Love You" is #8.

When I got my new computer a couple years back, I burned a compilation CD that I'm very proud of called "Did Not Chart". They are songs that never made the Billboard Top 40. In my opinion, seeing as "Disco Duck" went to #1 in 1976, being on Billboard may not be something to brag about anyway. Here's my "Did Not Chart" mix:

1.) I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better – Byrds
2.) Underground – Ben Folds Five
3.) Soothe Me – Sam & Dave
4.) Old Brown Shoe – Beatles
5.) Happy Birthday Mr. Burns – Ramones
6.) Save Me – Aimee Mann
7.) Whole Lotta Trouble – Cracker
8.) Don’t think twice, It’s All Right – Bob Dylan
9.) Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy) – Jim Croce
10.) Jacksons Monk & Rowe – Elvis Costello
11.) Wind Me Up – Fastball
12.) (Wish I could Fly like) Superman – Kinks
13.) I’m Wrong About Everything – John Wesley Harding
14.) Behind the Wall of Sleep – Smithereens
15.) I Can’t Turn You Loose – Otis Redding
16.) Come to Love – Matthew Sweet
17.) Let Me Make it Up to You Tonight – Jody Whatley
18.) Can’t Get There From Here – R.E.M.
19.) Gimme Some Money – Spinal Tap
20.) What is Hip? – Tower of Power
21.) Kyle Quit the Band – Tenacious D
22.) (Nothing But) Flowers – Talking Heads
23.) Love Grows (Where my Rosemary Goes) – Wayne Newton
24.) Just a Closer Walk with Thee – Venice Beach Boys

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Democrats go off the cliff

That’s the title of this great article by David Brooks in the Weekly Standard about how powerlessness has twisted the minds of the Democrats so that they ascribe the most evil motives to everything the Republicans do. A perfect complement to Brooks’ thesis is this article in the Washington Post about the Democratic Presidential candidates at a Jesse Jackson meeting. I thought Howard Dean’s allegation that “Bush intends to enslave Americans to work in underground mines for Morlock overlords” was a little over the top.

The perils of a potential Pryor filibuster

Quin Hillyer writes that Southern (and Catholic) Democrats may face a voter revolt if they try to block judicial nominee Bill Pryor:

But if the liberal activists pull the filibuster trigger in this case, their attempt at character assassination is likely to backfire on several southern Democratic senators who will be forced to explain why they joined a patently anti-southern attack. It could also hurt Rust Belt Democrats by angering millions of Catholic voters.

I’m wondering if Bill Pryor is the nominee that breaks the filibuster logjam. Even if the Republicans fail to get a cloture vote, they could force the Democrats to use up political capital defending their obstruction of a well-qualified judicial candidate. It’s a win-win.

Kerry Vote Watch

Well, this is a new low. The Senate had a three-day workweek last week, and held only six roll call votes. With such a reposeful schedule, do you think my Senator could have found the time to…oh, I don’t know…do his job? Nope. Senator Splunge didn’t work a single day last week; he’s listed as “Not Present” on every vote.

Days worked: 0
Votes missed: 6

Sunday, June 22, 2003

People who write letters to the New York Times

Here's a letter to the editor (registration required) in today's New York Times Magazine regarding an article from a couple weeks back about the solvency of Social Security. I've added some emphasis so you'll know what I consider the key sentiment of the missive:

"One beef I have with some conservatives is the rhetoric they often use when referring to entitlements: "unsustainable" and similar words invoking impending doom have the effect of fueling a public paranoia that Social Security won't be around for me when I get old. If we applied the FICA tax to all income, instead of only to the first $87,000 as will be done for 2003, we wouldn't have a thing to worry about. So we raise taxes a little. Big deal."

David Fine, Perrysburg, Ohio

Doesn’t that just about sum up the kleptomaniac attitude of the liberal left?: "You got more than me…hand it over." What is the chance that Mr. David Fine makes more than $87,000 a year? Exactly zero would be my guess.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Clay on top of the charts and on magazine covers, in a rare victory for freckled geeks

Vincent at Insignificant Thoughts notes that American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken has topped the Billboard Top 100 chart this week with his new single, edging out AI-winner Ruben Studdard. This, and his Rolling Stone cover, should get him some action.
Dubious stories from the Drudge Report

The Pentagon is testing DNA samples from a convoy to see if they got Saddam
Governor Gray Davis of California may quit
"The Hulk" opens huge this weekend

Dubious story update from Instapundit: U.S. may have found documents on WMDs

Friday, June 20, 2003

Speaking of John Kerry: He's now missed 41% of all the Senate votes in the current session. Here's the rundown on all the Democratic candidates via the RNC.
Blogroll additions: Here are some sites that deserve a link and more traffic. On the Third Hand has some good blogging (and a great URL address). Outside the Beltway gets points for Dilbert cartoons, which are so welcome after a day at work. And the Angry Cyclist and Ryan McClaren make the list for loathing John Kerry as much as I do. Now let's pound his sorry ass into Boston Creme.

Update: The Ranting Rationalist too. Welcome!
Muggles with too much time on their hands: On my way home tonight I stopped at the Barnes and Noble and there were already about 50 people lined up to buy the new "Harry Potter" book at midnight. Hey, I like the series too, but c'mon.
Picking on the New York Times is fun

David Appell caught this goof from a front-page article in the New York Times (still not corrected online):

The Bush administration and agricultural businesses view the policy as simple protectionism because American companies, which dominate the biotechnology industry,would benefit most from lifting the ban. Without it, American companies would export about $300 billion more in corn each year than they do now, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. [Emphasis added]

Um...that's $300 million.

Not for nothing, but didn't anybody at the Times say: "Hey, we sell a quarter-trillion dollars worth of corn to Europe?!? That's a lot of corn!"
Howard Bashman has this handy-dandy guide to the remaining cases to be decided by the Supreme Court. Some decisions are likely to be released this Monday.

White Western Massachusetts update

A lot of people are linking to this Washington Post article on “Whiteness Studies” at various colleges, including the University of Massachusetts. Here’s an event listing (scroll down a little) in the local paper for a twelve-step program in Hadley, which is right next to UMass:

White People Addressing Racism: A 12-Step Approach: ongoing Sat: Using the 12-step model, this free, weekly group helps people with white skin privileges identify and let go of those false entitlements. 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m., Florence Savings Bank, Route 9, Hadley.

I can’t make this stuff up.
Congratulations on your birthday, sir, despite the new situation” – graffiti in Tikrit, Iraq

Krauthammer: Pump the Oil, Raise the Tax

Well, I’m not sure about the “raise the tax” although CK makes a good argument, but I wholeheartedly agree with this graf:

Since the invasion of Kuwait 13 years ago, the U.S. military has been on active patrol in the world's oil patch. With American soldiers at risk securing our oil economy, liberals have to be willing to discomfit a few caribou and allow us to start pumping new oil from Alaska. If we'd listened to their arguments the last time around, we would today be without the million barrels a day we get from the North Slope.

Every barrel pumped in Alaska is money in our pocket and revenue denied the Saudis.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

The New York Times on the Rosenbergs

Here’s the next-to-last sentence from a sympathetic editorial in the NYT about the Rosenbergs who were executed 50 years ago today for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviets:

There is no reason to believe either Rosenberg passed on secrets so valuable that they should have been blamed for tens of thousands of deaths.”

So remember: People who give the nuclear bomb to Joseph Stalin don’t kill people. Stalin kills people.

What are you gonna believe? That pile of money or the New York Times?

Here’s the New York Times on the capture of “Ace of Diamonds” Abid Hamid Mahmoud al-Tikriti: “But officials warned that little had been learned from Mr. Mahmoud in the early stages of his interrogation.”

But then here’s the Daily Telegraph (UK) on what happened the day after Mahmoud was nabbed:

No details of Abid Hamid's capture were released by the Pentagon. But yesterday a huge operation was launched.

American troops raided two farmhouses and found £5.3 million in US dollars, up to £250 million in Iraqi dinars, quantities of British pounds and euros and £600,000 in gems.

Up to 50 people believed to be part of Saddam's security or intelligence apparatus or members of paramilitary groups were taken prisoner

Must have been a coincidence.

The new motto of the Democratic Party: “I don’t like stuff that sucks”

Here’s George Will in “A Political Landscape Inhospitable to Democrats”:

They seem reactive, a party of protest, more capable of saying what they do not like -- George W. Bush, his judicial nominees, tax cuts and other works -- than what they like.

To be fair, criticism of the current government could be the natural effect of having the Republicans in charge of everything. But in a strictly forensic framework, the Democrats bring nothing to the debate other than contradiction and pugnacity. For example, look at the vacant desperation of the Dems’ attack on a yet-to-be-named Supreme Court justice. For that matter, take note of the home page for the Democratic National Committee: there is not a single positive message. It is entirely composed of attacks against President Bush and the Republicans.

What are the Democrats’ positions on the important issues of the day? Apparently, it can be distilled down to “whatever the Republicans are for, we’re against.” Or, in the pithy words of Butthead: “We don’t like stuff that sucks.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Another reason to hate the French

Paris named cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal an "honorary citizen" and France gave safe-haven to trunk-stuffing murderer Ira Einhorn. Here's an excerpt from a Dec. 2001 article by Peter Wood in the National Review:

Last year Paris made Mumia an honorary citizen. But then the French seem to have a strange affection for vintage American murderers. For years they harbored Ira Einhorn, the Leftist activist who murdered his Bryn Mawr girlfriend, Holly Maddux, in 1977 and stowed her body in a trunk in his apartment for 18 months. Einhorn was arrested in France in 1997, but not extradited to the U.S. until July 2001, because of French doubts about the probity of American justice.

Of course they would.
Senator Splunge loves renewable energy…or not

Here’s an article about John Kerry’s support for wind farms – somewhere else: “Wind farm is an issue for Kerry” The best quote is at the end:

People think if you live in the right area you don’t have to put up with anything,” [Myron] Ebell [of the Competitive Enterprise Institute] said. “Well, where are they going to get their energy? From little squirrels in wheels?”

Of course, it would be somebody else's squirrels on wheels in Montana and the electricity wired to Cape Cod.
Robert Musil is finally back from his fortnight blogging vacation. Lots o' good stuff - go see.
Captured: The Ace of Diamonds
Rantburg comments on: “Saudi Arabia Says Mecca Group Linked to Al Qaeda”

"Police seized 72 pipebombs and a number of booby trapped copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, the ministry said, as well as rifles, revolvers and ammunition."

Booby trapped copies of the Koran, huh? Those may have been intended for other members of the Religion of Peace(tm).

Susanna sez: “I love Bluegrass music” – hey, me too!

She also has a pretty good post about the untapped power of Blogs within the Information Matrix.
My “Paul Krugman meets The Pirates of Penzance” post has catapulted me into “Marauding Marsupial” status in the Blogging Ecosystem.

(Note to self: More funny stuff = more traffic)
Advocacy for Democrats in the Washington Post

What in the hell is the purpose of this “opinion” piece in the Washington Post today? Harold Meyerson, editor of the left-wing American Prospect magazine, heaps lavish praise and gives high exposure to the equally left-wing website, which is currently in the process of raising copious cash for Democratic presidential nominees. (MoveOn’s original raison d’etre was to stop the Clinton impeachment.) How could the Post editors have allowed this full-blown advertisement for a liberal advocacy group onto the op/ed page?

If you think I’m being too excitable about this, ask yourself: would the Post have allowed the same kind of article for a conservative group like the Heritage Foundation or Americans for Tax Reform? Not a chance.
Samuelson on affirmative action

Robert Samuelson is what Paul Krugman could be if he put aside his polemic sophistry. Samuelson is always clear and rational and (*gasp*) supports his positions with history, facts, and pragmatic thoughts. Here’s his take on the University of Michigan case and the shifting principles of college admissions in “Affirmative Ambiguity.”
Silflay Hraka makes the logical move off Blogger. Update links.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Flag Wars on PBS

The flags in question in this PBS documentary are the "rainbow" and "African" flags associated respectively with gay pride and African pride. They are the symbols of two sides in a gentrification battle in Columbus, Ohio.

"Flag Wars" is a poignant account of the politics and pain of gentrification. Working-class black residents in Columbus, Ohio fight to hold on to their homes. Realtors and gay home-buyers see fixer-uppers. The clashes expose prejudice and self-interest on both sides, as well as the common dream to have a home to call your own.

I missed the first half-hour but caught the rest. The whites and gays moving into the community view themselves as trying to revitalize a rundown neighborhood; the blacks who are being forced out see institutional racism at play. Low-level racism and stereotyping bubble up when emotions take over. Fascinating stuff. Catch it if it's repeated over the weekend.
Soundbite of the Day

Tom at Just One Minute has the most comprehensive takedown of "columnist" Paul Krugman today, which includes this body slam:

Careful readers need to bring their decoder ring to interpret Prof. Krugman's column of June 17 titled "Dereliction of Duty". The title leads us to hope that the Earnest Prof is finally going to reveal the truth about the editing process at the NY Times. But, and can you believe it, he is attacking the Bush Administration again.

Heh-heh. Nice one.
This just in from the DNC

President Bush (news - web sites), foreground, and his father, former President Bush, left, fish together off the coast of Kennebunk, Maine, Friday, June 13, 2003. The president arrived in Maine Thursday and is visiting his parents in their Kennebunkport residence over the Father's Day weekend. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

President Bush used a spinning lure during his recent fishing trip in Maine, reminding us of his Administration’s spinning over the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” DNC chair Terry McAuliffe noted in a press release this morning. “Also, the President’s fishing boat is adrift, just like the ship of state.”

Maybe I should have a contest for the most brain-dead attack on President Bush. Nominees are welcome. (P.S. - that was a parody above...did it fool you?)

Liberal ankle-biters cry: “He fell off a Segway!”

When Clinton was president, I recall that I was often in a low-simmer seethe, particularly when a new scandal came to light. The travel office, the FBI files lying about, the Marc Rich pardon, the abuse of executive power – repeated transgressions that would darken my mood for several days. But at least there was legal or moral justification for my anger. Democrats today are being driven into paroxysms of outrage because President Bush is doing his job. Their complaints are increasingly incoherent, irrelevant, and transparently peevish.

Take, for example, this inchoate article from the American Prospect’s blog. The author draws a spiderweb-thin comparison between President Bush falling off a Segway and foreign policy: “In any event, it's now clear that Middle Eastern policy isn't the only area in which Bush can be unbalanced from time to time.”

Is that the best you got, buttercup?

Flummoxed by both foreign and domestic successes (Dow’s back over 9000, Donks!), the Democrats are jettisoning reasoned discourse for ever-shriller attacks. Witness this Fox News story: “DNC launches E-mail cartoon lampooning Bush

WASHINGTON — The animation is not all that sharp but the Democrats' message is: President Bush is Dr. Frankenstein and he wants to put a monster on the Supreme Court

And, as James Taranto noted in Best of the Web yesterday, the Dems are on their perpetual search for the next Watergate. With little to work with, they’re trying to widen the definition of Presidential misconduct to include faulty information over WMDs in Iraq:

Of course, no sensible person thinks the Iraq war is Watergate, any more than it was Vietnam. There's no crime here. The complaint seems to be merely that administration officials spoke with too much assurance when they described their beliefs about the present state of Iraq's weapons programs. In other words, they did what politicians always do when trying to win public support for a policy: They made the most compelling argument they could. It's hardly a scandal that the administration didn't make its opponents' case for them.

These mindless attacks on the President are a symptom of a party in disarray. The Democrats are in full arm-flailing mode, scratching for anything to damage the President. What’s next? A condemnation of Bush’s foreign policy because he mispronounces “tiramisu”? Chomp away at those shins, Dems.

American Realpolitik wakes up early to post the latest and greatest editorial cartoons. Unfortunately, “the Man” demanded they license the drawings, so they’re asking for help to keep the page going; help if you can.

Monday, June 16, 2003

“Whales will bump their heads”

Exit Zero pointed the way to a delicious story about how the liberal elite of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard is vigorously opposing plans to set up windmills in Nantucket Sound. This New York Times’ article is so full of great quotes, I strongly urge you to read the whole thing. Nothing can beat the bald-faced hypocritical squirming of Walter Cronkite:

Walter Cronkite squirmed a bit at this characterization [of his “not-in-my-backyard” position]. ''The problem really is Nimbyism,'' he admitted when I reached him by phone not long ago, ''and it bothers me a great deal that I find myself in this position. I'm all for these factories, but there must be areas that are far less valuable than this place is.'' With prodding, he suggested the deserts of California. Then, perhaps realizing that might be a tad remote to serve New England's energy needs, he added, ''Inland New England would substitute just as well.''
As we talked, his discomfort was so keen that he interrupted his thought and pleaded, ''Be kind to an old man,'' before summing up. ''We have a lot of interesting wildlife, like porpoises and whales,'' he said. ''It's a very important commercial fishing ground, and it's a marvelous boating area for recreational fishermen, for sailors. Last -- but this is not inconsequential -- it will be most unsightly for what is now open bay. Everybody will see it, anyone who wanders on the water, who has a home that faces the water.''

A very expensive home, right Walter? Just dump those windmills on the Western Massachusetts crowd – they’re not as important as us boaters.

Problem is, Walt, is that the “inland New England” crowd doesn’t want wind power either. This past week, the local art weekly here in the Pioneer Valley ran a letter to the editor from a resident of Florida, Massachusetts, which is up near the Mohawk Trail. In the letter, titled “Monstrosity on the Horizon”, one Charles Cutler also professes his love for renewable energy….someplace else.

Let me say at the outset that I'm totally in favor of renewable energy (a no-brainer), including, in some situations, wind power. But here's the hitch: In this pocket of northwestern Mass., ever vulnerable to rapacious development, we have to be profoundly skeptical about a project -- no matter how "green" in its intentions -- that might compromise the scenic beauty that's left. Wind farms, with their clear-cuts, oil-rig size towers, blades, beacons and God knows what else, are particularly suspect.

Thus, once again, the liberal ideology is stripped down to its bare form: sacrifice is for everybody else.

Kerry Vote Watch

Apparently, being a Democrat in Massachusetts means never having to say you’re sorry. Kerry is suffering absolutely no backlash from the electorate over his profligate absence from the Senate while he runs for president. The good news is Howard Dean kicked his French ass in the Wisconsin straw poll.

Anyway, the Senate had a full workweek last week, but Kerry only showed up for three days; on one of those days (June 11th) he made the first vote and then disappeared for the next five votes. In all, he missed 10 out of the total 16 Senate votes.

Days worked: 3 (more like 2.2)
Votes missed: 10

Friday, June 13, 2003

The Ballad of Paul Krugman
(sung to “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” by Gilbert & Sullivan)

I am the very model of a New York Times columnist
The facts are inconvenient, my opinion is the very best
So listen very carefully as I pronounce with biased zest
I am the very model of a New York Times columnist

I’m blind to every transgression by leftist, Green, or Democrats
I love a larger government, enamored by more bureaucrats
So I’ll encourage statism and ignore every Clinton tryst
I am the very model of a New York Times columnist

The government exists to generate brand-new entitlements
So raise those taxes high, take all the dollars, nickels, dimes and cents
And I’ll be sure to vilify those like Hastert, Delay and Frist
I am the very model of a New York Times columnist

On issues foreign policy, my views are academical
Republicans starting wars are treasonous and heretical
Unless you are a Democrat, I’m strictly isolationist
I am the very model of a New York Times columnist

The war upon Iraq will be a failure ‘til we find anthrax
I don’t care ‘bout those mass graves or the stories of Saddam’s attacks
Don’t want to hear about the rape, the torture and his iron fist
I am the very model of a New York Times columnist

I’m full of moral vanity and my virtue is beyond review
I’m blind to my own prejudice and operate without a clue
With Bush there in the White House, I’m an eternal pessimist
I am the very model of a New York Times columnist

America: The Scut Farkus of the World

Here’s a book review in Business Week on “Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions” by Clyde Prestowitz. (Hat tip to Arts & Letters Daily). It’s an even-handed review that both supports the author’s thesis of American high-handedness in world affairs, but also holds out that some of these claims are exaggerated. Take particular note of this excerpt on that touchstone of American unilateralism: the Kyoto treaty.

Although Prestowitz is critical of U.S. environmental policies, he also points out that Europeans used the Kyoto Treaty negotiations to score lots of cheap shots off the big bad U.S., as this played well to their domestic audiences. If there was a prologue to the policy split over Iraq, it was here.

In April, 2001, the freshly inaugurated George Bush announced he wouldn't sign the Kyoto Treaty, a decision that galvanized the Europeans more than almost any other move by Washington. "The Kyoto decision," says Prestowitz, "became a metaphor for American profligacy, unconcern, and arrogance
." [Emphasis added]

I’ve always viewed the United States as the overbearing father in the world. You (or, for the sake of this metaphor, the “teenager” Europe) hate him for all his dominance and control, you rebel against his ideology, but when you’re in a jam, he’s there to support and protect you.

Now say “Uncle!”
Trouble ahead for the Motor City

The Economist thinks America’s automotive industry is heading for a breakdown in “Extinction of the Car Giants

MOTOWN is celebrating. One hundred years ago Henry Ford set up in business, and America's love affair with the automobile began. Ford is staging a party that would not have disgraced Jay Gatsby. And why not? The American car market has been roaring, with annual vehicle sales over 16m. It could be close to 20m in a decade's time, with another 26m young Americans clamouring for their first set of wheels.

Yet the ride is not going to be smooth: it will be more like cruising in a Ford Thunderbird while ignoring a nasty rumble from its mighty V8 engine. For all the signs are that things are going badly awry in Detroit. Unless something changes, the industry could go broke—with Ford, the most troubled of the big three carmakers, leading the way (see article). The 100th birthday party could swiftly be followed by a wake

Everybody talks about the weather…and they’re usually wrong

I recall there used to be a football prognosticator in my local paper who would give his predictions on the weekend NFL games. Now presumably this guy was some kind of pigskin expert to get this column. But after about six weeks of predictions, he was so consistently wrong that the column suddenly disappeared.

That’s how I feel about weather predictors. They have all this equipment and training, but they’re wrong so often, they may as well ditch the Doppler radar and stick a finger in the air. That’s why this post from Amish Tech Support is so satisfying: a Texas news station was hailed as the most accurate in the area, even though they lack the much-vaunted Doppler radar. Instead, they use a pickle jar with a balloon stretched over the top, a windsock, and the Farmer’s Almanac.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Viking Pundit and Best of the Web in a Vulcan mind-meld?

According to Blogmatcher, my blogmate is Howard Bashman’s How Appealing. And me without a law degree! But then I perused through Best of the Web today and, for not the first time, I found myself wondering if James Taranto is a big Viking Pundit fan. Here’s an excerpt from today’s BOTW:

Here's a mischievous thought: What if administration officials actually know where the weapons are, but are withholding the information? The idea would be to get the Bush-haters as far out on a limb as possible in their insistence that Bush lied and Saddam wasn't really so bad--then saw off the limb by revealing the weapons finds.
Don't get us wrong; we don't actually believe this. Our view is that the Bush administration is an unusually honest one, and there's no reason to think it was untruthful about either prewar intelligence or the postwar search for weapons. But the conspiracy-minded folks who are intent on discrediting the liberation of Iraq assume everything Bush says is a lie, so from their point of view, our little theory ought to be eminently plausible. We bring it up only because we relish the thought that it'll drive them crazy--or, we should say, even crazier than they already are

And here’s a similar thought I made two months ago:

Now here's my prediction for the aftermath of Iraq: it will be maddening for the left-wingers in San Francisco and the New York Times to see free people in Baghdad cheering U.S. troops. So, then, the theory will be proposed that the U.S. war in Iraq will be illegitimate and a failure unless weapons of mass destruction are found. The pressure to find chemical and biological weapons will grow and grow and the enemies of Bush – driven more by personal animosity than principled opposition – will get louder and shriller until the attacks reach a critical mass. Then, only then, all will be revealed, and Bush will once again pull in the pot from those who bet against him and the United States.


Yeah, that’s what I said. What of it?”

Byron York has a great review of yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for William Pryor who has been nominated to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Coming from York, it’s an eye-opener when he says: “The result was one of the most extraordinary Judiciary Committee sessions in recent memory.”

Pryor is strongly anti-abortion and, when confronted by Senate Democrats, he didn’t vacillate, didn’t equivocate, and didn’t backtrack. He stood his ground. I guess he figured he wasn’t going to get a Democratic vote anyway, so he might as well lay it all out. The problem for the Dems is that Pryor also has a strong record of upholding the laws – even the ones he seems to personally disagree with – while state attorney general of Alabama.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t suffer yet another filibuster by Senate Democrats. And here’s where I’m a little surprised at York:

So maybe he will be filibustered and maybe not. In the end, Pryor's nomination might be the ultimate illustration of the capriciousness of the confirmation process as currently practiced in the Senate. How could Democrats filibuster Pryor when they confirmed [anti-abortion conservative Michael] McConnell? On the other hand, how could they not filibuster Pryor when they are filibustering Priscilla Owen, the Texas judge who angered Democrats by her views on the decidedly tangential issue of parental notification for teenage girls seeking abortions?

Believe you me: Pryor will be filibustered. There’s not a doubt in my mind. The Democrats will do it for several reasons, not least of which is they’d like to have a white guy held up just to show that they’re not picking on women (Priscilla Owen) and minorities (Miguel Estrada). But more importantly, Democrats would like to elevate the abortion issue since their other avenues of attack on Republicans have narrowed. Finally, Pryor’s a white guy from the South and you know what that means. Despite the favorable testimonials from black leaders in Alabama, the Democrats will find some oblique way to interject their other weapon of choice: the race card.

Sorry, Bill, it’s gonna happen. At least you stood like a man

Prediction from the McLaughlin Group

I could have sworn that Tony Blankley said this, but the McLaughlin website said it was Pat Buchanan. Either way, a prediction from this past weekend’s show:

John Edwards is running fifth in the Iowa caucuses and about fifth in New Hampshire. That would be fatal to him. I will predict that John Edwards, if he wants to save his Senate seat, will be the first major Democratic candidate to drop out of this race before the first caucus or first primary.

Goodbye, Senator Handsome.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

This is good for a chuckle

This guy was convinced that signing a credit card receipt is a waste of time. He was right. He signed receipts with stick figures, an "X", hieroglyphics, a black rectangle with a grid, "Mariah Carey", "Please Check ID" and "I stole this card." Nobody gave him a second look. Make sure to scroll through all the pages.


Handsome B. Wonderful aka Rembrandt Q. Einstein
Dean Esmay liberates another from the Matrix. Zogby Blog is now Zogby Blog. Update links.
Most gutless Senate vote of the week

Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted 99-1 on the Landrieu amendment to the pending energy bill “to reduce the United States’ dependence on imported petroleum.” This was immediately followed by a vote to strip from the energy bill a measure to provide loan guarantees to encourage nuclear energy. This motion failed – just barely – by a vote of 48 for and 50 against.

In other words: the Senate stood up and loudly declared “Something must be done about our dependence on foreign sources for energy!” Then there were many “Harrumphs!” and they (almost) all agreed “Yes! Something must be done!” Perhaps a small cheer went up after the near-unanimous vote. Then, on the very next vote, the Senate declared: “Well…something….but not that.” Voting “to strike the provision relating to deployment of new nuclear power plants” were Senators Kerry (he showed up!), Graham, and Edwards of the Democratic Nine. Joe Lieberman skipped the vote.

So what are the positions of these Presidential candidates on energy policy? In the “Issues” section of their web pages, there is no separate section for “Energy.” Only John Kerry brings up the issue and he rolls it into environmental policy along with slogan “Energy answers for future generations.” And what are those answers? After bragging about helping to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – which would reduce our dependence on foreign oil – Kerry lists exactly two things relating to energy policy.

Drumroll please: They are “Encourage Renewable Energy” and “Conserve Energy and Cut Pollution with Efficient Vehicles.” For the supply end, Kerry proposes more “wind, solar, geothermal, ethanol and biomass” even though these sources have never added up to more than a miniscule fraction of the total U.S. energy demand. The only renewable source that has reliably produced energy is hydroelectric, but Kerry doesn’t propose damming more rivers. On the consumption end, the Senator wants us to handout tax credits to people who drive Geos (watch for Kerry to weasel out of these proposals once he starts campaigning in Michigan.)

These vacuous proposals masquerading as energy policy reveal an unrealistic approach to federal energy requirements over the next decades. Kerry doesn’t make a serious proposal to reduce petroleum imports, which the Energy Information Agency predicts will rise from 55% of all demand today to 68% of all oil used in 2025. Needless to say, such a heavy energy dependence on unstable Middle East regimes is a source of serious economic – and military - concern. It’s not enough to shove more ears of corn into our car tanks. Serious decisions have to be made and it’s a complete waste of time and taxpayers' money to stand up on the Senate floor and bray that “something must be done.” Take a stand or take a seat.

Didn’t I just say that?

Here’s the concluding paragraph from Robert Samuelson’s article in today’s Washington Post “The Good, the Bad and the Complicated

All government spending must be paid for by either taxes or borrowing (deficits). So unless spending is controlled, we will get much higher taxes, much higher deficits -- or both. Either may impose a burden on the economy. Because this is an unpopular message, no one is discussing it. And that, folks, is politics.

Sounds familiar.

Nice find by the Cracker Barrel Philosopher: Al Sharpton’s SUV is being repossessed. But he doesn’t drive anyway.

So, why did he have a vehicle? Maybe he was practicing wasteful spending, just in case he’s elected.
I don’t own a gun, but I strongly support gun rights. In that spirit, I’m lovin’ this poster on Boots and Sabers.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils update

Here's the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wondering: "Are the Devils a Dynasty in the making?" and here's the box score from last night's game.

Also, check out the Mighty Ducks after the Devils got through with them:

What a bunch of dorks.
Now Between the Coasts has moved off Blogspot. I am the cheese, updating links.

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy strikes again!

From the New York Post: Janeane Garofalo’s ABC sitcom squashed. Garofalo blames her complete lack of talent the VRWC: “Janeane is convinced her politics and all the hate mail the right-wing lobby stirred up during the war is behind all this.”

Moe celebrates Occams Toothbrushs’ one-year blogoversary

A little more than six months ago, Moe Freedman was bugging me to move my Smarter Harper’s Index over to Blogger and run it more like a web log. I resisted for reasons that seem distant now, so Moe just set one up for me. Didn’t ask….just set it up and there it was. I changed the name to Viking Pundit and started to write while Moe provided valuable advice on HTML code and Weblog plug-ins.

After a half-year of posting my random thoughts, I can’t imagine not having a blog. It’s been a wonderful outlet for my frustrations and inspirations. I’ve “met” a lot of people and on a small level, I feel part of a larger movement (even with my measly 100+ hits a day). So, mucho gracias to Moe – a real mensch. Keep on bloggin’! (You! Go visit Moe's site and wish him a happy birthday)

Mensch (n) (informal) A person having admirable characteristics, such as fortitude and firmness of purpose (Microsoft Bookshelf)

Worst self-congratulatory comment this week

Joanne Jacobs discusses her tutoring experience and concludes her post thusly: “I've spent most of the past month trying to help kids graph quadratic equations, which I don't really know how to do. It's nice to be competent, for once. I may be weak on my parabolas, but I wield a mean colon.”

Oh dear.
Matthew Hoy has two great posts this morning: "The Associated Press imitates Ted Rall" and "The New York Times imitates Indymedia". Lots of background research, accurate data, measured prose and convincing exposition: could Hoy be the Anti-Krugman the prophecy foretold of?
Dean Esmay has a mini-slideshow from Dissent Frogman about WMD in Iraq. It’s a little graphic, but packs a powerful message. See: “No WMDs? We don’t mind
New Jersey Devils win 3rd Stanley Cup


Update: Fellow Devils fan Vinny at Insignificant Thoughts has another great picture of the Devils celebrating their victory. Yay!

Monday, June 09, 2003

Go Devils!
Social Security is doomed

In the Sunday New York Times Magazine, former Commerce secretary (and fellow Republican) Peter G. Peterson excoriates the Republicans for abandoning fiscal responsibility: “Among the bedrock principles that the Republican Party has stood for since its origins in the 1850's is the principle of fiscal stewardship -- the idea that government should invest in posterity and safeguard future generations from unsustainable liabilities.” But that all changed with Reagan, says Peterson, and George W. Bush is carrying on the legacy of irresponsible tax cuts threatening government entitlements.

Peterson has been a long-time activist for fiscal sanity in government and a dogged crusader to save Social Security for future generations. I’ve been something of a fan: the only “60 Minutes” transcript I ever purchased was when Peterson was arguing his case about saving entitlements and I even picked up a copy of “Facing Up”, Peterson’s manifesto about how shifting demographics will overwhelm Social Security unless critical reforms are made. But sometime in the middle of the Clinton administration, I decided that there was no hope to save Social Security, no matter what the numbers or demographics or pundits suggest.

Practically nobody with half a brain believes that Social Security can survive long into the 21st century without significant – perhaps sweeping – reforms. Once baby-boomers start retiring, the deluge of entitlement spending (Social Security and Medicare – forget about a prescription drug benefit) will overwhelm the federal government. Either benefits will have to be cut, or crippling taxes will have to be forced on younger workers.

In my mind, Bill Clinton had this one chance to save entitlements. Just as only Nixon could go to China, only a Democrat could reform the cornerstone of FDR’s New Deal. Clinton could have proposed modest changes to Social Security such as increasing the retirement age or adjusting the cost-of-living allowances (COLA), but he chose not to face the problem and instead used Social Security has a cudgel to beat the Republicans. Budget surpluses gave Clinton room for fiscal maneuvering, but it was much more useful to Clinton to keep entitlements alive as a political issue.

George W. Bush dared to touch the “third rail of American politics” by proposing individual accounts to stave off the bankruptcy of the Social Security system, and he was pounded relentlessly in 2000 by the Gore campaign. Now nobody wants to talk about Social Security, least of all the Democrats who only want to use it for political football. Here’s Peterson from the same article:

I have often and at great length criticized the free-lunch games of many Republican reform plans for Social Security -- like personal accounts that will be ''funded'' by deficit-financed contributions. But at least they pretend to have reform plans. Democrats have nothing. Or as Bob Kerrey puts it quite nicely, most of his fellow Democrats propose the ''do-nothing plan,'' a blank sheet of paper that essentially says it is O.K. to cut benefits by 26 percent across the board when the money runs out. Assuming that Democrats would feel genuine compassion for the lower-income retirees, widows and disabled parents who would be most affected by such a cut, I have suggested to them that maybe we ought to introduce an ''affluence test'' that reduces benefits for fat cats like me.

To my amazement, Democrats angrily respond with irrelevant cliches like ''programs for the poor are poor programs'' or ''Social Security is a social contract that cannot be broken.'' Apparently, it doesn't matter that the program is already unsustainable. They cling to the mast and are ready to go down with the ship. To most Democratic leaders, federal entitlements are their theology

Such is the state of our government: the Republicans cut taxes and the Democrats propose more spending. Meanwhile, there’s this huge elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. The Republicans are silent because they keep getting accused of kicking Grandma into the street; the Democrats strategy is to blankly repeat the mantra “All is well, all is well” as Social Security slips inexorably below the surface.

An opportunity for political mischief

I just noticed on that Feinstein amendment (link below) that all the Democratic Senators running for President missed the vote: Edwards, Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are all missing in action. The vote was very lopsided with the amendment rejected 60-35, so maybe the Senators saw no point in showing up to their jobs that day.

The Republicans ought to have some fun with this chronic truancy among the Dem Senators. Make sure the Donks are all in Iowa or New Hampshire (far away from the Senate floor) then tailor the votes so they are within the difference of the missing senators. Thus, if the Feinstein vote was, say, 49-47, the talking heads can say: "That motion could have passed, if only those Senators had shown up. Too bad."

Kerry Vote Watch

It’s Monday, so it’s time for the Kerry Vote Watch. The Senate had a three-day workweek last week, but our favorite Senator only worked one day. He missed four out of eight Senate votes, including this Feinstein amendment To allow the ethanol mandate in the renewable fuel program to be suspended temporarily if the mandate would harm the economy or environment.” Doesn’t Kerry care about the economy or the environment? How about showing up for work? How does he feel about that?

Days worked: 1
Votes missed: 4

March to the Stanley Cup update

Of course, we all know that New Jersey threw the last game just so they could win the Stanley Cup in front of the home crowd tonight. Go Devils!

By the way, I noticed in the TV Guide that if the game had not gone to a Game Seven, ABC was planning to show “The Audrey Hepburn Story.” That’s just about the polar opposite of professional hockey now, isn’t it?
This is a Hillary-free zone. I didn’t see the interview, I won’t read the book, I don’t care.
Donald Luskin has an open letter to Joseph Lelyveld of the New York Times, imploring him to re-establish journalistic verisimilitude to the editorial/opinion page. Unsurprisingly, Luskin singles out Paul Krugman for criticism.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Global Warming helps the Amazon rainforest - Sting's swollen head explodes

From National Geographic: Earth Becomes Greener as Climate Changes

For most of the world's plant life, the effect of the pace of climate change over the past two decades has been productive, according to an analysis of climate and satellite data collected between 1982 and 1999.

Heh-heh. That reminds me, I have to order a copy of Lomberg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist."
Ipse Dixit notes that Congresspersons, espcially Dick Gephardt, forfeit their pay if they fail to show up for votes. Of course, the money doesn't matter to these guys, but maybe they can be nudged into feeling some shame.
New Smarter Harper's Index!

OK, I just updated my other page, the Smarter Harper's Index, and for the first time in a couple of months, I'm really happy with it. Class warfare, Israel, Martin Sheen - check it out - this one has it all.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Where's the love?

I'm in serious danger of slipping from "Adorable Rodent" into "Flappy Bird" status on the Blogging Ecosystem. C'mon, everyone, I need links. I'm sweating blood here trying to pump out quality material. All for you.
Hollywood liberals, working on pure inertia, protest war

From the New York Post’s Page Six this morning:

THE H'wood peaceniks who were so vocal until we won the war vowed they'd be heard from again, and they're keeping their promise. "M*A*S*H" star Mike Farrell, organizer of Artists United to Win Without War, is staging a "War Is Over" benefit for the group on July 18 at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. There will be a dramatic reading of Tony Kushner's new play, "Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy," in which Karen Black will portray First Lady Laura Bush, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Bush-basher Janeane Garofalo is slated to appear, along with a bunch of B-listers like former Romeo Void singer Debora Iyall. So far no RSVPs from Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon or the Dixie Chicks, who were full of gas till we kicked Saddam's butt.

There's a lot of good stuff on Page Six today including Jayson Blair's girlfriend problems and Howard Dean receiving a divine message while talking about gun control.

Mickey Kaus sez: "Short run for the Howell-O-Meter!"

Thursday, June 05, 2003

The Devils take game 5. Awesome.
Mixed emotions

Serena Williams lost her semi-final match at the French Open and, as the Telegraph reports, was "loudly booed off court by an outrageously partisan French crowd."

Now, normally I'd be stomping my size 11 boots all over the cheese-eating surrender monkeys. But last month, Serena's loudmouth father said the following things to a French magazine as reported by ESPN:

In an interview with the French magazine L'Equipe on Saturday, Williams blasted the tennis world for racism, claimed no one will ever defeat his daughters all while saying he thought his daughters should take some time off from tennis.


"So women's tennis is getting boring. And you know why? Because two lovely black women dominate it.
"They're better than the white girls and that's intolerable. It's downgrading, lamentable," he said.
Williams said his daughters were the victims of racist prejudice from within the tennis world.


Williams also said he will never salute the flag because of racism in America.
"It has no meaning for me," he said.

Yes, America has been awful to Richard Williams. Maybe it's time for a Reebok boycott.

Slam of the Day: Andrew Sullivan on the New York Times. Brutal.
Not-too-perceptive chicks

My buddy and I used to have a running gag about the Daily Planet’s investigative reporter Lois Lane. For somebody who is supposed to doggedly search out the facts and be aware of the world around her, she’s incapable of noticing that her co-worker Clark Kent looks a lot like Superman. Alas, her perception is easily foiled by those glasses.

“Lois,” we’d laugh, “You’re a reporter! Didn’t you notice any similarities?”

Now there’s Hillary Rodham Clinton who knew about her husband’s past sexual exploits, found out about the visits and late-night phone calls, but right up to the end never suspected that Bill could have been foolin’ around.

"I could hardly breathe," the AP quotes the dramatic narrative by New York's junior senator. "Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him, 'What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?' I was furious and getting more so by the second. He just stood there saying over and over again, 'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I was trying to protect you and Chelsea.' "

Oh, c’mon, Hillary. You had no idea? Really? I’m not sure America is ready for somebody so easily duped as President…or Senator for that matter.

Common Sense & Wonder is celebrating its one-year anniversary today. In honor of this occasion, they're moving from Blogger to Movable Type.
Quote of the Day - From Roger Ebert "I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than "The Brown Bunny."
The Howell-O-Meter - instantly moot!
Mickey Kaus introduces the Howell-O-Meter – currently at 70% chance of Howell Raines’ departure from the New York Times.
Cut on the Bias asks: “Can blogging improve Media?”

I’m a day late on this, but Susanna lays out the case that blogging can make the mainstream media more accountable, if not less biased. Suzie-Q notes:

So what possible role can bloggers have in regards to the media? I've identified three: original reporting; original punditry; and criticism of media coverage.

It’s a great post that everyone in the Fourth Estate should read. It also dovetails nicely with this article from the Weekly Standard about the role of blogs – especially the “Big Four” – in shaping contemporary political debate.

Shudder, establishment media.

Print out this article

Arts and Letters Daily links to a fine article from the National Post about how futurists have been consistently wrong predicting the advent of the paperless office. It concludes with this little inside joke:

When Arts & Letters Daily or another source sends me to something interesting, I immediately print it out for comfortable reading. Even if it's one of those misguided articles predicting the coming of the paperless office.

So that’s how you get a link on A&L!
Tom Tomorrow and the dilemma of the Democrats

Sometimes Tom goes a little overboard with the anti-Bush parody, but I think his cartoon this week beautifully frames the battle for the soul of the Democratic party:

I’m assuming that Howard Dean is “Goofus” and Joe Lieberman is “Gallant”. Either way, they're doomed.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Mistreating the "little people"

Here's a site I check out once in a blue moon: Bitter Waitress. Basically, wait-people send in horror stories and gossip, but the best section is where they recount brushes with celebrities. Here's a surprise: Barbra Streisand was a bitch. Ditto for Julia Roberts and Sharon Stone.

Check it out and give them some traffic. Hopefully the site will get more attention and then more celebrity stories.

It’s a sign of the times

At work, I’m always getting catalogs for technical equipment, such as the kind of laboratory paraphernalia offered by Cole-Parmer. Today I received a catalog from them with “New Products” including “Biowarfare Agent Detection Devices.” You can get detection kits for anthrax, botulinum toxin, or ricin toxin.