Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Amazing Race 9 update – Back to basics

The Race is back on. After some brief team biographies, everybody starts out at Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado. Phil gives them the rules, drops his arm and the teams sprint up the amphitheater steps to their backpacks and the first clue: fly to Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Teams may only get tickets at the airport but Team Ole Miss fails to read their clue and pull off the highway to book by phone. Later, Michelle informs husband Lake that they can't call in the flight and he says: "That's partially my fault." Heh. As in all his fault.

Three different flights arrive in Sao Paolo and teams must race to the roof of the Unique Hotel. All the cab drivers in the city are very well dressed in shirts and ties. Team Glamazon realizes that they speak Portuguese, not Spanish, in Brazil.

Team Boricua (formerly Mom-Sis) arrives at the hotel first thanks to some smart language skills and find the next clue directing them to a bridge (with a weird name). The hippies from San Francisco have been on TV for about 40 seconds total and they're already annoying beyond description. We're free spirits! Wheeee!

At Viadutu something something bridge, Wanda & Desiree find the next clue which is a Detour: Motor Head or Rotor Head. Teams must either go to a motorcycle factory and assemble a bike that can be kickstarted or take a helicopter and search for one of four buildings in the city and then find the clue in the offices. The motorcycle build seems straightforward (to me) but everybody seems to want to tour the skies of Sao Paolo. Both Fran & Barry of Team Kukla walk right by the clue box; the trailing cameraman stops to focus on it before we cut to commercial. After the break, they walk past it yet again. Observant, they're not.

Team Nerd, who listed their skills as "card playing" and "test taking" somehow arrive at the heli-port first with Team Burning Man and Team Track seconds behind. Team Boricua arrive a couple minutes later and the four choppers take off. Meanwhile, Team Pink decides to build the motorcycle (?) and the girls seem surprised that they're going to get dirt under their well-manicured fingernails. The guys from Team Buddies are hopelessly stuck in traffic and Team Glamazon is, I don't know, somewhere. Fran & Barry find the clue box only after following Joseph & Monica; they seriously believe the box was moved while they were searching for it.

Flying over Sao Paolo is a wild reminder of why old-style Amazing Race is better: the sight over the city is amazing. Team Track finds the next clue first which directs them to the next clue in the neighborhood of Santa Cecilia. The hippies, Team Nerd, then Team Boricua are close behind. They take the copters back to the airport where Team White Teeth is just arriving; Monica has been in a meltdown since Denver.

Back at the motorcycle factory, the girls give up and decide to try the copters just as Team Kukla is arriving. Lake of Team Ole Miss, who has been a bit of a jerk up until now, really seems to know how to build a motorcycle. Ray & Yolanda also arrive to build a bike. Meanwhile, John & Scott and Lisa & Joni are just arriving on the bridge, so it looks like one of these two teams will be eliminated.

Team Frat Boys (formerly Team Track) arrive back at the heliport with Team Burning Man close behind. As they leave, Team Mojo (formerly Team White Teeth) arrives. MoJo = Monica and Joseph. Team Nerd and Team Boricua are close behind. Back at the motorcycle factory, Lake finishes the build and tries to tell Team Kukla how to build the bike, but they seems as confused as they were on the bridge - as in "Where's the engine?"

After the commerical break, Fran & Barry give up and head to the helicopters. They arrive at the same time as Team Buddies and Team Glamazon, who make fools of themselves with their yelling once they realize they're not last. Unless Team Volcano completely flubs the bike build, one of these three teams will almost assuredly be last.

Meanwhile, a bunch of teams are heading to Santa Cecelia where they must take part in a traditional dance ceremony and light a candle. That's all they have to do. Team Frat Boys arrive first, followed closely by Team Burning Man, and they both head toward the city's soccer stadium and the Pit Stop. David & Lori are next, followed by Wanda & Desiree. Ray & Yolanda finish their motorcycle and head to Santa Cecelia. Team Pink finds their clue. Team Kukla heads back on their copter. Team Glamazon is next. Team Buddies appears heading towards elimination. Monica is in a much better mood once she receives the Pit Stop clue.

All teams are now racing to the soccer stadium or the brief stop in Santa Cecilia. Here they come:

Team #1 - Team Frat Boys - Eric & Jeremy - First prize: $10,000 each
Team #2 - Team Burning Man - BJ & Tyler
Team #3 - Team Boricua - Wanda & Desiree
Team #4 - Team Nerd - David & Lori
Team #5 - Team Ole Miss - Lake & Michelle
Team #6 - Team Mojo - Joseph & Monica
Team #7 - Team Volcano - Ray & Yolanda
Team #8 - Team Kukla - Fran & Barry
Team #9 - Team Pink - Danielle & Dani
Team #10 - Team Glamazon - Lisa & Joni
Team #11 - Team Buddies - John & Scott - PHIL-LIMINATED

Next week: The Frat Boys and Team Pink - surprise! - flirt with each other. There's lots of climbing down and climbing up.

Extra – Here’s Kris’s recap over at Dummocrats. Also, is Pat doing reviews this season? If so, I can’t wait up. So sleepy.

More – From Hillary in Vancouver. Everyone loves the nerds.
Another classic Fark headline: "IAEA quoted as saying "Iran not producing nukes." To join other famous quotes such as "Hitler won't go beyond Poland" and "She's the first unsinkable ship"
Amazing Race 9 begins

Forget about TAR8. We’re back to eleven teams of two and they’re going all the way around the globe, maybe twice. Based on the team biographies, I’m starting out with these team names, although I reserve the right to change them as personalities are revealed:

Team Ole Miss – Lake & Michelle
Team Pink – Dani & Dani
Team Burning Man – BJ & Tyler
Team Volcano – Ray & Yolanda
Team Buddies – John & Scott
Team Nerd – David & Lori
Team Track – Eric & Jeremy
Team Kukla – Fran & Barry
Team Amazon – Lisa & Joni
Team White Teeth – Joseph & Monica
Team Mom-Sis – Wanda & Desiree

Check back later for a review of tonight’s premiere.
Fun with math (here’s the explanation how it works)
Condemned to repeat history again

Economics lesson #1 – If you gouge “the rich,” they’ll leave:

It takes hard work to drive anyone away from California's sunshine and scenic vistas, but politicians in Sacramento have been up to the task.

The latest Census Bureau data indicate that, in 2005, 239,416 more native-born Americans left the state than moved in. California is also on pace to lose domestic population (not counting immigrants) this year. The outmigration is such that the cost to rent a U-Haul trailer to move from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho, is $2,090--or some eight times more than the cost of moving in the opposite direction.

What's gone wrong? A big part of the story is a tax and regulatory culture that treats the most productive businesses and workers as if they were ATMs. The cost to businesses of complying with California's rules, regulations and paperwork is more than twice as high as in other Western states.
Economics lesson #2 – If you soak businesses to pay for expanding government spending, they’ll pack up too:

What's now dawning on Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott is that his company is a middleman in this exchange. So on Sunday he spoke directly to the governors and said there was "too much politics" in state bills taking aim at his company. Of course, that's exactly why more states will target Wal-Mart and other employers in order to raise revenue to expand Medicaid, unless someone in Washington puts a stop to it.
Economics lesson #3 – Private enterprise will always fill a public need:

The Cambie Surgery Center, Canada's most prominent private hospital, may be considered a rogue enterprise.

Accepting money from patients for operations they would otherwise receive free of charge in a public hospital is technically prohibited in this country, even in cases where patients would wait months or even years before receiving treatment.

But no one is about to arrest Dr. Brian Day, who is president and medical director of the center, or any of the 120 doctors who work there. Public hospitals are sending him growing numbers of patients they are too busy to treat, and his center is advertising that patients do not have to wait to replace their aching knees.

The country's publicly financed health insurance system — frequently described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of its national identity — is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.
Coming soon: oil companies are blamed for high gas prices.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Slipped his mind – This morning, I heard the C-Span Q&A interview with the Instapundit, Prof. Glenn Reynolds. When listing some of the blogs he reads on a regular basis, he glossed over Viking Pundit. Oh well. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Prof because he threw me some traffic before he got really huge.
You learn something new everyday – I always thought “Go Now” was originally done by the Moody Blues, but it was actually recorded by Bessie Banks a year earlier (1964). To differentiate from Banks, the Moody Blues added the exclamation point: “Go Now!”
Worst job ever – Yawn, another Zarqawi “top aide” captured. Soon to be replaced by another top aide. That Zarqawi - he's got aides.
Democrats lead in poll among people who won’t vote

From the Washington Times, via Free Republic – “Polling analysis finds GOP in the lead”:

Most polls say a majority of registered voters would vote Democrat if the congressional elections were held today, but a new independent polling analysis now finds that Republicans could lead among people who actually vote.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll reported last week that the Democrats led Republicans among registered voters in the generic congressional survey by 50 percent to 43 percent, a seven-point margin that could give Democrats enough victories to take control of the House, if their supporters participate in November's elections.

But a deeper analysis of these numbers by David W. Moore for the Gallup Poll said, "It is likely many voters will not do so" because turnout among registered voters tends to be lower than that among "likely voters" who say they plan to vote and usually do.

In his analysis, Mr. Moore writes that Gallup's "experience over the past two midterm elections, in 1998 and 2002, suggests that the [registered voters] numbers tend to overstate the Democratic margin by about 10 percentage points."

"Given that Democrats currently lead by seven points, that could mean that among people who will definitely vote, Republicans actually lead by three to four points," he said.
The party without voters is also, coincidentally, without a message. Hat tip to Florida Cracker who notes: “Bonus word power entry: fissiparous!” Oh yeah!

Extra – From RCP, here’s President Bush’s approval/disapproval numbers. Man, that CBS poll is brutal.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

By the twitching of my thumb / Phil’s arching eyebrow comes – Kris at Dummocrats has the Amazing Race 9 preview. I hate BJ & Tyler already. Joseph & Monica have that Kris & Jon thing going for them. Now let’s all forget about the recent unpleasantness of the Family Edition and get Racing!
How Wal-Mart buried Huffy – That’s just one of the anecdotes revealed in this Boston Globe book review of “The Bully of Bentonville.” Huffy had to cut costs to the bone to meet Wal-Marts price demands, ended up moving operations from Ohio to China, but still went bankrupt. It’s assets were sold to a Chinese creditor and – as a final insult – Wal-Mart built a supercenter on the site of the abandoned Huffy plant in Ohio.
Albert Aaronson in Boston, here’s your chance

From Jeff Jacoby’s analysis of Harvard’s problem with Lawrence Summers – “Anatomy of Summer’s fall”:

Harvard's motto is ''Veritas," Latin for ''truth." But at Harvard, as in much of academia, ideology, not truth, is the highest value. Nothing exemplifies the moral and intellectual rot of elite academic culture like the sight of Harvard's president falling on his sword for the crime of uttering statements that the vast majority of Americans would regard as straightforward common sense.

''I would sooner be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory," William F. Buckley Jr. avowed more than 40 years ago, ''than by the 2,000 members of the faculty of Harvard." There was a time when Buckley's words might have seemed hyperbolic. No longer.
Another motto some of us in Massachusetts like is: “Live free or here.”
This morning’s obvious news

Authorities: Powder in Texas dorm likely not ricin
John Bolton: U.N. riddled with ‘bad management, sex and corruption’
Bode Miller wins only fool’s gold

Saturday, February 25, 2006

“The Old Man” has died

Yes, you probably heard that Don Knotts has passed away. But also today, Darren McGavin – who will be forever remembered as the furnace-fighting father in “A Christmas Story” has also passed away. Here’s a little trivia for you: both Knotts and McGavin appeared in the 1976 Disney flick “No Deposit, No Return.”

I blame the Bumpus's smelly bloodhounds.
Sunday morning lineup – Expect a lot of chatter about the Dubai port deal and Iraqi violence. John McCain and Joe Biden to appear.
Yeah, you’re gonna need those

Check out this video: Canadian aerial skier Jeff Bean attempts a jump during practice at the Torino Olympics and his skis go flying off. Taken from Swedish television.
Amazing Race approaches – TAR fans! As Wendy at Boots & Sabers reminds us, the new season of the Amazing Race starts 10pm (EST) on Tuesday, February 28th. I hope these two make it far enough to a challenge involving bikinis, although I’m rooting for Team Geek. (Note: “His one phobia is heights” – you’re in the wrong game, dude.)

Friday, February 24, 2006

What security problems? - Americans win bronze medal in curling (Warning: disturbing picture.)
Cindy Sheehan’s European tour

From Stars and Stripes:

With the Kaiserslautern military community home to more than 50,000 Americans with military ties, Sheehan could face a rough welcome. When asked for comment Wednesday on Sheehan’s upcoming visit, several soldiers in Kaiserslautern asked if they could be quoted anonymously.

One soldier, who recently returned from Iraq, did give his name but didn’t have much to say about Sheehan.

“Anything I would have to say about her, you couldn’t print,” Army Staff Sgt. Mark Genthner said.
Sheehan was “too busy” for an interview with Stars and Stripes.
The wheel. Fire. Sliced bread. Now: Ozzy telling you where to drive
Karl Rove, call you office. Immediately.

From Real Clear Politics: “New Rasmussen Poll: Dems Favored Over Bush On National Security”:

Everyone has been saying the politics of the Dubai Ports World deal is bad news for President Bush. Well, now we have an idea of just how bad. Rasmussen Reports hasjust released a poll showing that Americans now trust Democrats in Congress more than President Bush on the issue of national security by a margin of 43% to 41%. Only 17% of those polled favor the DPW deal, 64% oppose.
Do you know what the immediate effect of this poll will be? The UAE port deal is dead. If Bush uses his veto, the GOP will revolt on Capitol Hill and override. It may not be right, but that’s democracy.
Bad news - You made a mistake while preparing your taxes.
Worse news - You're H&R Block.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Good one – The New England Republican has the quote of the day.
Democrats agree: we deserve to be the minority party

From the WashTimes: “Democrat voters low on enthusiasm”:

Democrats, after 11 years as the minority party in Congress, still can't get it right with their own voters, a poll shows.

The poll suggests that many Democratic voters accept their party's minority status. Nearly a quarter of Democrats -- 23 percent -- say Republicans do a better job running Congress.
Harsh. But then John Zogby often appears to be more interested in attention than solid polling; take this with all caveats.
Subtle! – Ace has a post about the Vanity Fair cover showing Keira Knightly and Scarlett Johansson naked. After some spurious jabs at actual commentary on “societal taboos” and such, it’s really just an excuse to troll for some Google link-love.

(By the way, hottie Rachel McAdams refused to pose nude for the photo shoot, but that’s beside the point). Ahem, the point is, you see, that Viking Pundit will not resort to cheap, lascivious tricks to lure traffic. This is not the place to hear about Britney Spears romp on a Hawaiian beach or Lindsay Lohan’s lesbian crush.

Now back to business.
The Askariya shrine before and after

WashPost: “What was and never shall be In the destruction of a golden dome, the debris of certainty.”

Update – From Iraq the Model: “In the aftermath of the shrine attack” Also, Publius Pundit has “The politics of Iraq’s shrine attack.”
Two days and $600 later

Well, I got my car back and it’s riding smooth as glass now that there’s a wheel bearing in there that, you know, turns. I’ve consoled myself with the thought that if I can just stretch this car out another year, it’s not like losing $600, but gaining $3000 since I would be paying $300/month on a car loan. It’s what Click and Clack would want.
The truth is out! - Today’s WashPost blog: “Social Security Scam

Oh, wait, it’s just a story about an SSA warning about a new E-mail scam. Because those seniors are totally wired in to all the Internets. It’s not, you know, about the huge Ponzi scheme that’s going to go belly up in 30 years. That’s not a “scam.” Unless you’re under 37.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Best review of the Dubai port debate – From Jim Geraghty on NRO. Long with many links.

Extra – From the WashPost blog: “The facts on outsourcing port management”: “Sounds like knee-jerk xenophobia to me, and you can bet that's how it sounds in the Middle East, too. And, frankly, it's not fair. One can't assume that a country poses a security risk just because it has "Arab" in its name.”

Yeah, well, recent history would suggest there’s a basis for concern.
Can you feel the excitement? No? – Dick Morris writing in The Hill: “Look out, here comes Al Gore
The terrible, no-good, horrible day

I had been hoping that a new alignment would take care of the vibration in my car, but no such luck. Brought it down to Midas who declared (as I predicted) I needed a new wheel bearing pack for the right-rear wheel. Later they called to say that 1.) they broke off a rusted part trying to take the wheel apart 2.) a new part wouldn’t be available until (maybe) tomorrow 3.) it was going to be an extra $200 for the job and, worst of all, 4.) the car is undrivable until the piece arrives. So now I’m sunk with an additional expense of $50/day for a Ford Focus from Enterprise.

Farewell, federal tax return. I barely knew ye.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I forgot to remember to forget – Why and how do we remember, or forget, things? Herman Ebbinghaus devised a test to chart the “learning curve” and “forgetting curve.” Psych 101 stuff, but interesting.
But, hey, who are we to judge? - Logical Meme: “Babies born to unwed mothers approaching 50% in UK” The breakdown in the traditional family is blamed. Duh.
Hillary will run

Writing in the Weekly Standard, Douglas MacKinnon predicts “Hillary won’t run.” He believes the Democrats will fall back into their pattern of picking the most “electable” candidate and, right now, Hillary isn’t it:

So with that lesson well learned, I am here to say that Senator Hillary Clinton will not run for president in 2008. Guaranteed. Why? Because, from the Democratic party's point of view, it makes no sense for her to run. I'm talking, none.
Two points. First of all, since when was the Democratic party rational? The Democrats are desperate to shed their image as a party of Northern liberal elitists, so they nominated John Kerry (from Massachusetts) for president and a crazy doctor from Vermont as their chairman. Their own pollsters beg them to stand for something, but they can’t get beyond “Bush bad.” Second, the Clinton money machine will steamroller over the competition:

There are two things you need for success in politics. Money... and I can't think of the other. ~ Senator Mark Hannah (R-OH), 1903
Finally (three points!), there’s the powerful pull of nostalgia. The Democrats will suppress their doubts about Hillary, hoping to capture that “Clinton magic” again. Barbra Streisand will be involved.
It’s a bluff – “Bush says he’ll veto laws to sell ports”: “President Bush on Tuesday defended a deal that would let a United Arab Emirates-based company run some key U.S. seaports, telling reporters that he would veto any bill to hold up the agreement.” I don’t believe Bush knows where his veto pen is, otherwise he would have cut some spending.

Extra – Gay Patriot says: “Bush goes all Harriet Miers in UAE port decision

MoreLinkage love from Sister Toldjah.
Sad but true

From Bruce Bartlett - “Republicans sell out on entitlement reform”:

One of the more amusing lines in President Bush's State of the Union Address last month was his call for yet another commission to study the problem of entitlement spending. Entitlements are programs that do not require annual appropriations. The money is paid out automatically to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria. Spending cannot be capped because people have a legal right to their benefits. Hence, spending for entitlements can only be reduced by changing the basic law applying to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
And that ain’t gonna happen, even if Alan Greenspan, Jesus and Elvis chaired the new commission. With millions of baby boomers about to belly up to the entitlement bar, I fear the opportunity for reform has come and gone.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Threat to voting fraud turned back in Pennsylvania

From the Philadelphia Inquirer - “Rendell vetoes voter identification bill”:

On Presidents' Day at the National Constitution Center, Gov. Rendell announced his veto of a bill that would have required all voters to show identification when they go to the polls.
Ed Rendell claims the law would disenfranchise the 13 people in Pennsylvania without I.D. despite provisions allowing these voters to prove they’re who they say by other means. A great day for democracy.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

NASCAR updateJimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500. Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth are not happy with each other. But the most surprising thing today: Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas sang one of the best renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner” ever. Who knew?
Bush is evil” he explained

From the Boston Globe - “A Chappaquiddick comparison”:

Vice President Cheney's delay in reporting last week's hunting accident to the public drew comparisons from commentators to Senator Edward M. Kennedy's delay in reporting his 1969 Chappaquiddick car accident to the police. The outlines of that event by now are part of political legend: Capitol Hill secretary Mary Jo Kopechne was inside Kennedy's car when it tumbled off a narrow bridge and into the water. Kennedy waited eight hours to contact police, an action he later described as ''indefensible" and prompted by ''panic, confusion, and shock." The tragedy, along with speculation that Kopechne might have lived had Kennedy reported the accident earlier, has seeded a thriving industry of Ted Kennedy haters.

While no one died in the Cheney accident -- Harry Whittington was whisked to the hospital and the local police were called -- at least one TV talking head dubbed the affair ''Cheney's Chappaquiddick." Both incidents, wrote Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, illustrate ''how wealthy, powerful people can behave as if they are above the law."

When asked for a comment on Cheney's handling of the incident, Kennedy's office issued this statement: ''Whether it's covering up the absence of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] in Iraq, clandestine energy meetings with oil executives, or failing to own up to who was involved in the Plame case, this is the most secretive White House since the Nixon administration. The way they handled the vice president's shooting accident has only bolstered their cover-up reputation. This time it didn't work."

Asked about comparisons to Chappaquiddick, Kennedy spokeswoman Laura Capps would say only this: ''The White House is in crisis, and rule number one is to try to defuse a scandal by dragging others into it. But these campaign tactics aren't going to work and won't cover up their six-year record of abusing power and hiding the truth."
Classic. How's this for a bumper sticker: "Nobody expired when Cheney retired." Or maybe: "Nobody passed away when Cheney delayed."

Update - Yeah, what he said.
Today’s cautionary tale – Woman’s arm is severed in car crash. The arm is found still clutching the cellphone that caused said accident. Roaming charges still apply.
The cartoons go deep - Expat Yank: “Now we're getting somewhere at last. The cartoon controversy is about not just the freedom of speech, which has itself emanated from modernity. It is a revolt against the modern economy, which helped created modernity (and the notion of freedom of speech) in the first place.”
The mother of all confirmation battles

John Roberts for Williams Rehnquist was one thing.
Samuel Alito for Sandra Day O’Connor was another.
But replacing John Paul Stevens with another Bush appointee? That’s a whole other ballgame. Here’s Paul Weyrich in “Rumors of a third nominee to the Supreme Court”:

That is what is likely to happen with another rumor which absolutely has swept the Nation’s Capitol since the swearing-in of Justice Samuel J. Alito, Jr. as the 116th Associate Justice. That rumor is that President George W. Bush will have another vacancy on the Supreme Court when the term ends this coming June.

One Senator claims he has specific knowledge that the vacancy is coming. The speculation revolves around 85-year-old Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.
Despite recent history, John Hawkins is still down on the “Gang of 14” agreement:

This shows why the Republicans in the Gang of 14 really blew it. Had they voted for the nuclear option, the Democratic threat of the filibuster would have been off the table. But, imagine the situation we could be in if we lose 2-3 seats in November, including guys like Santorum, who were ready to vote for the nuclear option the first time around. Suddenly, the Democrats could be in a position to block conservative nominees to the Supreme Court and the GOP simply may not be able to muster the votes to stop them. And you can be sure of one thing -- if the Democrats come to the conclusion that the GOP can't trigger the nuclear option, they will filibuster again. You can take that to the bank.
Well, as noted here and elsewhere, the Gang of 14 agreement restrains the Republicans from using the ‘nuclear’ option but it also restrains the Democrats, who would have to (somehow) demonstrate “extraordinary circumstances” to oppose a judicial nominee. For a qualified nominee, this is an almost-impossible hurdle for the Democrats to clear since it’s insufficient to merely state the nominee is conservative or somehow “out of the mainstream.” The Gang of 14 deal essentially affirmed the concept of an up-or-down vote for judicial nominees, rhetorically if not concretely. It’s been a big win.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Q.E.D.Bryant Gumbel is a clown. (Warning: possible Olympics spoiler)
Imperfect defense - Mac has an update on Plame Gate: “But the sham, as I told you back here, is beginning to unravel.”
Did the Democrats “Swift Boat” their own candidate?

That’s what Mother Jones alleges Harry Reid did to Ohio candidate Paul Hackett:

Swift boats soon appeared on the horizon. A whisper campaign started: Hackett committed war crimes in Iraq—and there were photos.
Hat tip to Mark Noonan at GOP Bloggers: “I can't help but point out, however, how out of touch the Democrats are - rather than just having their establishement candidate point out how absurd Hackett's views on the war are, the Democratic leadership had to resort to skullduggery.” The Democrats forced out Hackett because they wanted Congressman Sherrod Brown to run against Republican senator Mike DeWine. DeWine’s senate seat was considered vulnerable but a Rassmussen poll shows the incumbent with a 9% lead over Brown.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to see what all the Kos Kids are saying about this.
Blogger has bugs. In other news, the sky is blue.

All day yesterday, every post I put on my blog…vanished. They would be there for a couple of minutes but when I checked back, they were gone. Very frustrating. I E-mailed to prolific bloggers Ann Althouse and Betsy Newmark, who also inadvisably use Blogger, and they reported no problems (thanks for getting back to me!) So maybe it’s fixed but there are still others reporting problems.

What am I going to do? I’m simply not going to pay an Internet service to blog, so I guess I’m stuck with the get-what-you-pay-for service of Blogger. Oh well.

Sorry for the disruption. I tried.

Update – On the up side, the Blogger problems shut down Americablog for a couple of hours.

Update 2 – Well, I posted this very message this morning, it disappeared, but now Blogger says everything is fixed although everything posted for the past 18 hours is lost. Eh.
Eva Green is the new Bond girl!Oh, and hundreds killed in Philippine mudslide. I have no idea why this story has been on the Google News main page for a week. Eva Green must have the greatest publicist in the world, or she’s sleeping with someone over at the Googleplex.
Let’s try this again – The Cracker Barrel Philosopher is just asking for a fatwa. John Hawkins, too. Oh heck: we’re going to have to behead everyone at Fark also (my favorite: “Allah in the Family”)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dis-union – Red State has “More bad news for the AFL-CIO” as two more unions bolt from Big Labor: “This brings a total of about 7 million unionized workers outside of the AFL-CIO. These latest two quit because -- stop us if you've heard this one -- the AFL was doing nothing to stem the decline in organizing. How could they? They're busy putting all their members' money down the political rathole. It's all about priorities.”
Bla bla bla – Funny story out of Massachusetts: a testy E-mail exchange between two lawyers. (Found via Boston Globe)
Fed chair Ben Bernanke sez: “Reform entitlements

From Reuters - “Congress should act on entitlements soon”:

Congress should address the growing cost of entitlement programs in the federal budget to assure financial markets and give people time to adjust and plan their retirement, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Thursday.

"It's important to get that going soon, first of all to assure financial markets that Congress will be responsible and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, to give people the time they need to plan for retirement and make provisions based on any changes that you might decide to make," Bernanke told the U.S. Senate Banking Committee in his first appearance before that chamber as Fed chief.
Interesting wording there: a key aspect of Social Security/Medicare reform (and responsible government) is that people will prepare accordingly if they’re aware of the changes that must be made. If Americans were told that they’re going to lose 26% of their benefits in 2041, they would save more for retirement. Ignoring this reality will just exacerbate the entitlement problem when the crisis hits.

Follow-up - My apologies, but for some reason, the Reuters story was pulled. The text is from the story that appeared earlier (Google News still lists it - go figure).

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

TranscriptDick Cheney talks with Brit Hume on Fox News.
Don’t bother them, they’re hunting Cheney

From Roll Call, here’s “On terrorist wiretaps, Democrats’ position is absurd and untenable.” Well, as titles go, it doesn’t get any more straightforward than that:

Most Capitol Hill Democrats seem to have adopted what amounts to the inverse of a Biblical approach to the problem: Love the sin but hate the sinner. They are desperately trying to straddle the national security fence, telling everyone who will listen that they now are enthusiastic supporters of the program. It is the real and growing threat to America’s civil liberties posed by President Bush that’s got them worried.

In reality, their conundrum, whether on the NSA anti-terrorism program, the USA PATRIOT Act or the war itself, reflects a party in disarray in two disturbing ways. First, Democrats simply have been unable to come to terms with what they believe, deep down, as a party about national security. They have no ideas, no alternatives, so they try to pass off criticism as content.
Democrats are in a box because, deep down, they are just not serious about terrorism. But many Americans rank national security as the most critical issue, so they have to fake it, depending on how the political winds blow.
The last word on Al Gore – From Tom Bevan on Real Clear Politics “Al Gore: International Man of Mystery”: “…the damage done by Gore’s willingness to stand in the heart of the Islamic world and confirm the most deeply held fears and prejudices of Muslims against the United States by grossly exaggerating the treatment of Arabs after 9/11 far outweighs any goodwill he may have generated with an apology.”
Et tu, Turkey? – Our NATO buddy in the Middle East is taking a dim view of the U.S.: “On Turkey’s big screen, America cast as villain.”
Turbulent times at GM; fear and loathing in the workplace

Robert Samuelson looks at the Rodney Dangerfield economy and ventures a guess on why it gets no respect in “Anxiety amid the prosperity”:

A puzzle of our time is why the economy has become increasingly stable while individual industries have become increasingly unstable. The continuing turmoil at General Motors and Ford simply reflects this more pervasive industrial instability -- also in airlines, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and the mass media, among others. Hardly a week passes without layoffs from some major company, which is ``downsizing,'' ``restructuring'' or ``outsourcing.'' And yet, the broader economy has undeniably become more stable.
Samuelson suggests, based on the work of two economists at NYU, that while the economy as a whole is healthy, the churning of globalization and competition is leading to uncertainty in the workplace. In a related vein, Fortune magazine has a cover story titled “The tragedy of General Motors”:

It is the instinctive wish of most American businesspeople, even those unlikely to be directly affected, that General Motors not go bankrupt. True, some people will say, "They had it coming to them." But the majority will be more practical, telling themselves that the company is so central to the economy, so sprawling in its commercial reach, that bankruptcy--"going into chapter," as restructuring folks say--is ominous almost beyond contemplation. And yet the evidence points, with increasing certitude, to bankruptcy.
Yikes. The depressing Fortune article casts blame all around but the most accessible metaphor is that General Motors is a dinosaur among the mammals. As I’ve said many times when referring to Social Security: things that can’t go on forever, don’t. General Motors must experience accelerated evolution or it’s heading for Chapter 11.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Great Pumpkin Satan

More cartoons that might offend the Middle East (Hat tip: Tim Blair)
Today’s my birthday – Yeah, that’s right, it’s on Valentine’s Day – big whoop, you wanna fight about it? Anyway, how about adding me to your blogroll? That would be just super.

By the way, I'm starting to feel "old" because I just don't recognize and/or like any of the popular songs today. I used to consider myself pretty hip when it came to music, but now the only top 20 tune I like is "Feel Good Inc." by Gorillaz. Everything else is just a lump of noise.
Is it real or is it Photoshop? – Ryne links to an alleged photo of a lightning strike from a couple yards away. Hmmm.
Poll positions – Dave Wissing has tons of new polls over at the Hedgehog Report. For political junkies only.
Democrats assemble in the Granite State - Boston Globe columnist Peter Canellos was in New Hampshire last week, listening in on former governor Mark Warner at a Democratic fundraiser. Canellos says that Warner seems eager to gloss over national security issues and resurrect Michael Dukakis’ “competence-over-ideology” campaign of 1988.
S’more Gore - Investor’s Business Daily: “The Shame of Al Gore” – “What possesses a former vice president of the U.S. to travel to the birthplace of Islamist terrorism and denounce his country? Only a special breed of demons, apparently, can explain Al Gore.”
The danger of the “weak horse” image

Victor Davis Hanson has an article on Real Clear Politics today titled “What will Europe really do?” It’s an extended speculation on the trajectory of history; interesting that Hanson ties in the pliability of the European culture with the danger of the radical Islam:

If the most liberal and tolerant states in Europe such as Holland and Denmark have the most problems with Islamic radicals, then what does that say about the continent as a whole? Why were not the calculating jihadists singling out a more unapologetic Catholic Poland that has larger contingents in Iraq and is far prouder of its Christian roots?

Do the Europeans sense that the more open, free-wheeling and non-judgmental the culture, the more it is hated by the jihadists? If Europe as a whole is more pro-Palestinian than the United States, disapproved of Iraq, and yet is still hated as much, is magnanimity at last exposed as appeasement—earning only contempt from an emboldened enemy?
Once again, this is the danger of Al Gore’s big paycheck speech in Saudi Arabia. The Wahabbis don’t wring their hands worrying about appearances: they’re convinced that Allah will lead them to Dar al-Islam. Thus, to the radicals, every accommodation is an opportunity for exploitation, a concession from a weakened foe.

Extra – Like I said, the Muslims never apologize. They’re always on the offensive: “The publication of cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohamed has had the effect of the September 11 attacks on the Islamic world, argued Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Conference.” Man, these people are nuts.

Monday, February 13, 2006

One VP shoots a lawyer, while another defames the country

You know, I hate writing about Al Gore. On the one hand, he’s a sad but sympathetic character who came so close to the Presidency. I appreciate his self-deprecating appearances on Futurama (his daughter was a writer for the show.) But Gore’s speech in Saudi Arabia apologizing for so-called “abuses” is really beyond the pale. I don’t think Roger Simon is too far off when he suggests that Gore has lost it:

I think Gore has a secret wish to implode. Al is no rocket scientist (no Internet jokes, please) but he is a reasonably intelligent man. Let's assume he is aware, as most readers of this blog are, of Bin Laden's pronouncements about the strong and weak horse. At least he must sense the great gulf between our culture's response to self-analysis and theirs. For Wahhabi culture, such apology is nothing more than a display of weakness. Deep down Al must have some idea of the Saudi reaction to the statements he made. They would have contempt for him.
Does Al know? Does he care? Surely a statesman like Gore realizes that one of the reason Al-Qaeda attacked us because they believed we would not respond. Osama Bin Laden saw retreat in Beirut and Somalia, along with high altitude attacks in Serbia, and assumed that Americans did not have the stomach to fight. By apologizing to the Saudis – home of 15 of the 9/11 hijackers – Gore has reinforced this misconception to the peril of the country.

ExtraThe Moderate Voice: “Even a potato that was just taken out of the sack would know that the location — Saudi Arabia, a country not exactly role model for the observance of human rights, democracy and a country of origin for many of the 911 hijackers — was a bad one. By choosing to deliver his speech there he was virtually ensuring that a controversy about it being on foreign soil, and from Saudi Arabia, was BOUND to overshadow its actual content.”

Jim Geraghty: “I'm sorry, you just don't trash America and its policies on foreign soil. And you sure as hell don't rip America for what you believe are human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, that paragon of human rights, religious freedom, and civil liberties.”

Tigerhawk: “Al Gore has travelled to the heart of the Wahabbi Muslim world and attacked the United States. One is almost forced to wonder whether he has completely lost his mind.”

Neocon Express: “For some time now many have suspected that Al Gore has simply fallen off the deep end. Gore’s latest speech to the Jeddah Economic Forum in Saudi Arabia will serve to confirm these suspicions.”
Will ElBaradei be returning his Nobel Prize? – “Iran begins uranium enrichment” I’m sure a sternly worded letter is being drafted somewhere at the United Nations.
A bad year for the continents

Newsweek: “The Decline and Fall of Europe
WashPost: “The West Can’t Save Africa

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Oh. My. God.

Fox News: “Dick Cheney accidentally shoots hunter in Texas

Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, his spokeswoman said Sunday.

Harry Whittington, 78, was "alert and doing fine" after Cheney sprayed Whittington with shotgun pellets on Saturday at the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas, said property owner Katharine Armstrong.
How careless can you be? Man, I hope the old-timer is OK. As for Cheney, if shooting a guy doesn't give you a heart attack, nothing will.
The obligatory Sunday Mark Steyn linkage

Chicago Sun-Times: “Toon deaf Europe is taking the wrong stand”:

In a world in which Danish cartoons insult the prophet and Disney Piglet mugs insult the prophet and Burger King chocolate ice-cream swirl designs insult the prophet, maybe it would just be easier to make a list of things that don't insult him.
This reminds me a joke I saw in an old copy of Esquire or something: “What is Salman Rushdie’s follow-up to ‘The Satanic Verses’? ‘Buddha, you fat bastard.’”

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Here comes cabin fever – I’m going to be snowed in tomorrow by a major Nor’easter. Good thing Mark Kilmer has all the guests for the Sunday talk shows. Let’s see: Joe Biden makes his triumphal return on This Week while Tom Daschle (yes, “the” Tom Daschle) shows up on Meet the Press. Howard Dean provides comic relief on Face the Nation.
N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestle’s buckles under stress – From Time: “Nestle, for example, took out ads in the Middle East early this week pointing out that its products are Swiss, not Danish.” Better switch to Hershey's.
Not ZawahiriBut: “Pakistan's president said Saturday that an American missile attack last month killed a close relative of Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader and a terror suspect sought by the United States.”

Friday, February 10, 2006

Amazing - Both the North Korean and South Korean athletes arrived in the Olympic stadium as a united "Koreas" country.
Later, they discovered it was just Sharon Stone

From CNN: “Valley of the Kings tomb found; first since King Tut’s

The 3,000-year-old face of a woman -- her eyes lined in black kohl -- stared out from a sarcophagus funerary mask through the freshly unsealed door of a tomb.

The five mummies inside -- possibly members of a pharaoh's court -- are already celebrities amid archaeologists' excitement over the first tomb discovered in Egypt's Valley of the Kings since that of King Tut more than 80 years ago.
The mummies were discovered by a team of Americans, thereby proving that even Egyptians can’t do Egyptology.
In case of emergency, break glass and blog – The Economist looks at the corporate love/hate affair with bloggers in “The blog in the corporate machine - Bloggers can be vicious, but they can also help companies avert disaster.”
The power of fire (to burn Danish flags) - How come nobody got worked up over this cartoon representation of Muhammad? Hmm. I guess they don’t get cable.
Best news today: Rock the Vote flops

From the American Spectator: “Rock the Vote crumbles”:

The Rock the Vote movement, which began in 1990 in an effort to get young people to register to vote for any candidate they wished as long as it was a Democrat, is in dire straights.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Rock the Vote is the proud owner of $700,000 in debt, and the group has cut its staff from 20 people in 2004 to just two today.
Rock the Vote’s greatest crime is that it failed to be an advocate for the very demographic it purported to represent. Instead the group invested in every aspect of MTV liberalism: vacuous, context-free morality without a trace of seriousness about important issues. In 2003, Rock the Vote sponsored a debate for the (then) Democratic nominees that did not include a single question about Social Security or other long-term economic issues as they relate to younger workers. Instead, we got this gem:

The last question – God in heaven help me – was “What other candidate would you like to party with, that is, who would hold back your hair or be your wingman if you saw a hottie across the room?”
Rest in peace, Rock the Vote. You shant be missed.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sounds like fun! – Spartacus looks at the travel reviews for Turkmenistan.
Travel tips for dummies

Well, I’m back from Galveston, freshly reminded of why air travel stinks. Here are some tips for the permanently clueless:

1. Don’t bring that portable armoire onto the plane.
2. That monstrosity will not fit into the overhead.
3. Don’t stand in the aisle blocking everyone while you try to stuff that thing into the overhead.
4. Only people 6’ or taller should be allowed to sit in the emergency aisle seats.

I could go on, but I need to get caught up on the news.
The glass house collapses on Harry Reid

From the Associated Press: “Reid aided Abramoff clients

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid wrote at least four letters helpful to Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff, and the senator's staff regularly had contact with the disgraced lobbyist's team about legislation affecting other clients.
Not to worry: Howard Dean is on the job and he’s going to “keep hammering” on this scandal.

Extra - Prof. Reynolds has it right: “As I've said before, this can't help being a Republican scandal, but the Democrats hurt themselves by trying to pretend that it's only a Republican scandal.”

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Best post title today – From Ace: “Dems rue clues they may lose anew” I don’t think “Wellstone II” is going to help their image.
The other white meat – While Instapundit and others glory in their Porkbusters crusade, Will Franklin reminds us how much pork spending compares to entitlement spending. That’s one tall column (see graph).
Memo to Jimmy Carter – Who authorized the illegal wiretaps of Martin Luther King, Jr? Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, presidents JFK and LBJ. Loser.
Social Security reform lives?

From Allan Sloan in Newsweek – “Sleight of Hand - Bush buried detailed Social Security privatization proposals in his budget. Can the surprise move jump-start bipartisan reform?”:

Last year, even though Bush talked endlessly about the supposed joys of private accounts, he never proposed a specific plan to Congress and never put privatization costs in the budget. But this year, with no fanfare whatsoever, Bush stuck a big Social Security privatization plan in the federal budget proposal, which he sent to Congress on Monday.
His plan would let people set up private accounts starting in 2010 and would divert more than $700 billion of Social Security tax revenues to pay for them over the first seven years.
Shhhh! It’s a secret.

Update – Whoops, did Newsweek get it all wrong? Nevermind. (HT: Lorie) And here’s more from Memeorandum.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Alone in the Lone Star state

Remind me again why I hate to travel? Oh yeah. Yesterday at Bradley airport, the line to get through security was literally - not figuratively - a football field long. It extended the entire length of the concourse and made a little loop at the end. At least I got the only seat on a Southwest plane where I can stretch my legs (next to the emergency exit).

Since there are no direct flights to Galveston, I had to rent a car at Houston Hobby airport and drive about 45 minutes. I saw more boot stores on that drive than I've seen in my entire life. Apparently, Texas buy a new pair of boots with the same frequency that Greenwich Village residents visit Starbucks. It seems like every store beside the highway sits on an acre of land. Big country.

Otherwise, I've been stuck inside the hotel/convention center all day with my meals provided by Shell, Chevron, and Halliburton. Apparently it's been a good year for the oil companies.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Deep in the heart of Texas

Or, rather, off the coast. I’m heading to Galveston, Texas for a convention on optical sensing technology in oil wells. Posting will likely be light to non-existent; be back Thursday. In the meantime, be sure to check all the swell sites on my blogroll. Later.

P.S. - Hey, I figured out how to upload images! That's me in Baden-Baden strking a Kraftwerk pose.
Free speech under assault - Here’s Jeff Jacoby in today’s Boston Globe with “We are all Danes now”: “Make no mistake: This story is not going away, and neither is the Islamofascist threat. The freedom of speech we take for granted is under attack, and it will vanish if it is not bravely defended. Today the censors may be coming for some unfunny Mohammed cartoons, but tomorrow it is your words and ideas they will silence. Like it or not, we are all Danes now.”
Superbowl prediction – I’m picking the Seattle Seahawks over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-16. I got my snackies this morning (including Havarti cheese) so I’m ready to go.

Update – Wow, what a great prediction. I thought the Seahawks got some bum calls, but the Steelers still beat them convincingly. Final score: 21-10. Congrats to the Steelers.

Still more – Jerome Bettis just announced his retirement: “The bus stops here.”
Political correctness on a global scale

Mark Steyn: “Sensitivity can have brutal consequences”:

Thus, NBC is celebrating Easter this year with a special edition of the gay sitcom "Will & Grace," in which a Christian conservative cooking-show host, played by the popular singing slattern Britney Spears, offers seasonal recipes -- "Cruci-fixin's." On the other hand, the same network, in its coverage of the global riots over the Danish cartoons, has declined to show any of the offending artwork out of "respect" for the Muslim faith.

Which means out of respect for their ability to locate the executive vice president's home in the suburbs and firebomb his garage.
For the record, on Fox News Sunday this morning they showed one of the Denmark cartoons (the one with the bomb-turban). Better get an intern to start your car, Chris Wallace.
GOTW update - USS Cole Bombing Mastermind Escapes Prison – I notice the AP didn’t put scare quotes around “escapes”

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Super Bowl commercials – Tonight CBS ran a special on the greatest Super Bowl commercials and it totally stunk, immersed in that annoying VH1 format of celebrities talking over the content. Before the show started, I had already picked my favorite and it did not appear anywhere on the list: it was the one where the two guys have to choose between Bud Light and toilet paper. They choose the beer and when the clerk asks “paper or plastic” they emphatically say: “Paper!”
If loving global warming is wrong, I don’t wanna be right – It hit 46 degrees here in Western Massachusetts today and, instead of huddling under blankets, the family went out on a geocache today. Plus, my propane bill has been about half of what it normally is in the winter. Love it.
Dismissed? - American Thinker, um, thinks that the “Death knell for the case against Scooter Libby?” is at hand.
Lying about nothing? - Tom Maguire reviews the latest maneuvers in the Scooter Libby case in “Fitzmas never comes.” The perjury case is still in a nascent stage, but it’s noteworthy that the special prosecutor has essentially admitted there was no underlying crime in the Valerie Plame kerfuffle. Maguire: “Oh, that will irk my friends on the left.”
One - Happy first blogoversary to Wunderkraut!
Get happy!

From Business Week: “Why the economy is a lot stronger than you think”:

You read this magazine religiously, watch CNBC while dressing for work, scan the Web for economic reports. You've heard, over and over, about the underlying problems with the U.S. economy -- the paltry investment rate, the yawning current account deficit, the pathetic amount Americans salt away. And you know what the experts are saying: that the U.S. faces a perilous economic future unless we cut back on spending and change our profligate ways.

But what if we told you that the doomsayers, while not definitively wrong, aren't seeing the whole picture? What if we told you that businesses are investing about $1 trillion a year more than the official numbers show? Or that the savings rate, far from being negative, is actually positive? Or, for that matter, that our deficit with the rest of the world is much smaller than advertised, and that gross domestic product may be growing faster than the latest gloomy numbers show? You'd be pretty surprised, wouldn't you?
This cover story for Business Week maintains that investments in research, development, product design, and other innovations are setting the U.S. to drive the world economy for as far as the eye can see.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The danger of transferring frozen assets

From the AP: “Ice Cream Shop Owner Gets 15 Years for Funding Terror”:

An ice cream shop owner from Yemen was sentenced to 15 1/2 years in prison Friday for illegally funneling nearly $22 million overseas in a case stemming from a major terrorism investigation.

Abad Elfgeeh, 51, was convicted last year of running an illegal money-transmitting business and structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting laws. Prosecutors alleged that at the behest of a radical Yemeni sheik, he sent money around the world from bank accounts linked to his tiny storefront in Brooklyn.
Well, this story just begs for new ice cream flavors. How about “Hamas fudge swirl”? “Moose tracks of the unclean animal”? “Crazy infidel vanilla”?
It’s Vegas, baby! - Harry Reid got a lot of money from Indian tribes…after they retained that evil Jack Abramoff. The Senator from Nevada says “what I do?”
Thanks for all this cool technology, infidels!
Stay tuned - Blogger has been acting up tonight.
The Old Gray Traitorous Lady - Commentary magazine asks: “Has the New York Times violated the Espionage act?” Blogs for Bush adds some thoughts.
The Herbert Hoover economy strikes againUnemployment at 4.7%, a 4 ½ year low
Everything you thought about John Kerry is true – This New Republic article “By pushing for a filibuster, Kerry alienated fellow Democrats” is behind a registration wall, but you can read the whole thing on Free Republic. Basically, it reveals that Democrats did not want this fight and were irritated at Kerry for forcing a filibuster against Samuel Alito. The Dems looked fractured and helpless while Kerry fed into his haughty caricature by opportunistically calling for the maneuver from the slopes of Switzerland. It’s a win-win!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Western Union declares telegram service to STOP – Wired has an article on the Internet of the 19th century: “For more than 150 years, messages of joy, sorrow and success came in signature yellow envelopes hand delivered by a courier. Now the Western Union telegram is officially a thing of the past.”
Social Security reminder – Since Will linked me (twice!) in this post, I feel obligated to reciprocate. Scroll down to the graph from the Congressional Budget Office and the widening gap between revenues (taxes) and outlays. Says Will: “At best, it's a bad situation. At worst, it's a BAD situation.” Indeed.

Extra - A high school teaching friend of the Anchoress recounts how her class reacted to the Democrats at the SOTU: ““My kids thought it was hysterical when the Demos stood up and applauded themselves for preventing any change to Social Security. They said they were like Wyle E. Coyote, blowing themselves up.”
Riot act

Remember when all those Christians rioted because of a cartoon representation of Jesus? Yeah, neither do I. Yet these pictures have driven hundreds of Muslims to protest in the streets. This is only going to get worse: in the global locker room, the guy who cries “cut it out” is just asking for more. Watch for videos of anonymous pranksters handling Korans without gloves.

Extra – AJ Strata thinks this brouhaha will wake Europe to the growing danger of radical Islamists.

Update – As I predicted, here comes a Mohammed Photoshop contest.
Talk about a towering intellectTall men get better education
Coming up next: the sock puppets – Daniel Gross has a funny article titled “Presumed Ignorant” in Slate about the Enron trial. It appears that in an effort to simplify the complexity of the financial scandal (and, for the prosecution, avoid a mistrial) both sides in the case are throwing out a steady stream of clich├ęs and boiled down concepts. "If the accountant did not remit, you must acquit!"
Standing for nothing

Wow – I thought I was peeved about the Democrats’ celebration for inaction at the SOTU. Tony Blankley portrays it as the defining moment for the Democrats:

If one recalls, last year, the official position of the Democratic Party was not only that they opposed President Bush's Social Security reform, they argued there was no crisis -- no major problem that required rectification.

(In fact, Social Security has $4 trillion of unfunded liability, and if major changes are not made quickly, we will only be able to pay the retired baby boomers about 70 cents for each dollar of promised benefits.)

Social Security is the single most iconic Democratic Party issue of the past hundred years -- the Democrats created Social Security in 1935, and have won countless elections since then by beating up Republicans for allegedly not supporting it. It was the Democratic Party's sacred virgin. They would lie for it, die for it, steal for it, demagogue for it -- but never cheer its demise or harm, even sarcastically.

Their collective decision to cheer the failure of the body politic to provide for sufficient revenues to pay the benefits was an act of historic shame for the Democratic Party.
Writing on Opinion Journal, Peggy Noonan picks up the nihilist theme:

It was the first State of the Union Mr. Bush has given in which Congress seemed utterly pre-9/11 in terms of battle lines drawn. Exactly half the chamber repeatedly leapt to its feet to applaud this banality or that. The other half remained resolutely glued to its widely cushioned seats. It seemed a metaphor for the Democratic Party: We don't know where to stand or what to stand for, and in fact we're not good at standing for anything anyway, but at least we know we can't stand Republicans.
Actually, the Democrats have one firm belief: they should be elected to public office. To do what, even they don’t know.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Send in the clowns

John Tabin on silly time at the SOTU:

On paper, this is a retreat: a tepid non-policy has replaced the ambitious ideas laid out at last year's address. But the Democrats clapped and hooted as soon as Bush said "Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security," giving Bush an opening to turn his bromide into a scathing attack: When he said "partisan politics," he had a visual aid to point to.

Suddenly it was as if Bush said "we mustn't act like clowns," and the entire Democratic caucus had shown up in multicolor wigs and greasepaint.
Of course, the Democrats know a “better way” – but they’re not telling you! Psyche!
Blog news

Happy first blogoversary to Ex-Donkey!

HoyStory has moved. New format includes a link to Viking Pundit, so right away it’s off to a good start.
Scooter moves - Tom Maguire has the latest legal filings in the Scooter Libby case.
Spending like a screaming Dean – Right Side Redux posts the FEC filings for the major political parties. The GOP raised more money and now holds massive 6-to-1 advantage on cash reserves over the Democrats. Howard Dean’s DNC spent $1.5 million more than it raised since December; at this burn rate, the Democrats will be bankrupt by June.