Friday, September 29, 2006

Time for Optics East – I’ll be away the next couple days for yet another fiber optics conference. At least this one’s in Boston, so I don’t have to fly. Mrs. Viking Pundit promised she’ll try an Amazing Race update on Sunday night. Be back soon.
For history buffs – Five-thousand years of the Middle East in 90 seconds (HT: Ace)
The reenactment of “Lord of the Flies” didn’t go over well at the mosque - “It is a very sensitive time for Muslims and since 9/11 we are facing a lot of problems which are unwanted.” Yeah, everybody’s got problems.
Air America now under criminal investigation – Brian Maloney has the latest on the liberal radio network and the cash-grab from a New York boys & girls club. No stations, no listeners, and no income - how much longer can this go on?
Anyway the wind blows - Daniel Henninger writes “Democrats can’t beat policy with politics”: “The Democrats' problem is this: They are trying to beat policy with politics and weaken belief with polls. This may work for Social Security. I don't think it works with war. Don't be surprised if come November, Democrats are still on message--Iraq as failure--and still in the minority.”
Religion of peace update

From the Boston Globe: “Radical teachings in Pakistan schools

In a bustling, prosperous corner of this capital city stands the gated campus of a religious school, or madrassa, where some 10,000 students study the teachings of the Koran every day.

Abdul Rashid Ghazi, assistant headmaster at the school, sat cross-legged on the floor flanked by a Koran and a Kalashnikov, and asked that a reporter not photograph the weapon because it would “give the wrong impression."

Then Ghazi proceeded to praise Osama bin Laden's call to ``jihad," or holy war, against the West. He expressed “great pride" that “at least hundreds" of graduates from his school have answered the call to takeup arms against US forces in Afghanistan. And he openly described himself and his students as “pro-Taliban."
Give the wrong impression” – that’s just priceless.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Jim rejected twice? – Did anybody see “The Office” tonight? Jim said that he “laid it on the line” for Pam and she rejected him…twice? I guess you can count “Casino Night” as once but did he say something else before the transfer to Stamford? Enquiring Office minds want to know!

Well, I'm sure Michael will be discreet about Jim's admission once he gets back to Scranton [/sarcasm off]
The GOP’s secret weapon: Howard Dean

How great is the Doctor from Vermont? First, he flies to Austin (a considerable expense) to attend a fundraiser attended by 100 people. Then Robert Novak reports that the DNC plans to spend less on House races nationally than the Republicans plan to spend in each contested race:

Whereas DNC chairmen in past cycles have dedicated as much as $20 million to the election of Democratic House members, DNC Chairman Howard Dean will provide a mere $2 million. By contrast, the Republican National Committee (RNC) this year is expected to spend that much in each of 18 contested congressional districts, for a total of nearly $40 million.
No wonder Rahm Emanuel is ticked at Dean. He's on to us!
Destroy your archives – From the Boston Globe: “In court, blogs can come back to dog the writers” - “Blogs are also being cited in a growing number of civil cases, most commonly claims alleging libel, defamation, or invasion of privacy. Unlike e-mail, which usually remains private unless it is forwarded by a recipient, blogs are public by nature unless privacy settings limit their audience. They are also easily findable by Internet search engines, in contrast to e-mails, which lawyers generally can obtain only through the discovery process.”
New Jersey Senate is a lock for the GOP

And that’s a pickup as Tom Kean, Jr. will doubtlessly supplant the current Senator, that corrupt puppet of Jon Corzine, Robert Menendez:

A psychiatrist who worked as an FBI informant in a criminal investigation of several northern New Jersey politicians has linked Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez to a scheme to manipulate government contracts, several published reports said Thursday.

In court papers filed in New Jersey in March, Oscar Sandoval said he was pressured in 1999 to hire a doctor Menendez preferred or he would risk losing $1 million in government contracts. Sandoval taped the 20-minute telephone call with Donald Scarinci, a longtime friend of Menendez who is also a powerful lawyer and has been a fundraiser for Menendez's campaign.
Despite the current polls, this will sink Menendez as New Jersey voters turn away from corrupt officials. Even the “switcheroo” won’t work since Kean is a popular scion of New Jersey. Chalk it up.
Today’s must read

Here’s Fouad Ajami with “Intelligence, jihadists and the Iraq war debate”:

Strictly speaking, the National Intelligence Estimate--another "canonical" document--is not a finding: It is an assessment of Islamic terrorism and its perceived links to Iraq. (It is odd, and ironic, that the intelligence agencies that had been mocked by liberal opinion for their reporting on Iraq before the war have now acquired an aura of infallibility.) Islamic terror did not wait on the Iraq war. The assertion that Islamic terrorism has "metastasized and spread across the globe" because of Iraq takes at face value what the jihadists themselves proclaim. It would stand to reason that their Web sites, and the audiotapes of their leaders, would trumpet their attachment to the cause of Iraq. It is inevitable that American analysts glued to jihadist cyberspace, and lacking intimate knowledge of Arab ways, would take the jihadists at their word. But Islamic radicals have not lacked for grievances. The anti-Americanism and antimodernism that brought them onto American soil five years ago predated Iraq. For the good part of two decades, jihadist terror blew at will, driven by the conviction in the lands of Islam and its diaspora communities that America was a pampered land with little zeal for bloody struggles.
Before 9/11 it was (almost) accepted that Americans would absorb a terrorist attack every once in a while, from the Marine barracks in Beirut to the USS Cole. The challenge now is whether we choose to keep bailing out this boat or to plug the hole once and for all.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

You’re gonna make it after all!

Mary Tyler Moore responds to the news that the Republicans have chosen Minneapolis/St. Paul for their 2008 national convention.
Written before the Mozart opera silliness – James Lileks: “Now history is off-limits lest we offend Islamicists
Take your choice for jihad: reform or retreat

Here’s Jeff Jacoby in “A war we have to win”:

After 9/11, the United States went to war against Islamic totalitarianism; since 2003 that war has focused most dramatically on Iraq. It stands to reason that Iraq is therefore the focal point in the jihadis' war against the West. President Bush has made that point repeatedly, quoting Osama bin Laden's declaration that the war in Iraq is "the most serious issue today for the whole world " and will end in "victory and glory or misery and humiliation." Has US military action in Iraq inflamed the global jihad? Undoubtedly. But just imagine how galvanized it would be by a US retreat.
Once again to cite “The Looming Tower,” it was said that the Arab fighters started to pour into Afghanistan once the Soviets started to retreat. Thus, firing a gun at a retreating Russian tank because mythologized into a glorious victory. Do we inflame the Islamofascists by staying or encourage them by leaving? Nevermind answering that question, lurking Democrats.
Big Dig update – When you’re in an underground tunnel, what could be worse than the ceiling collapsing? Calm down, says Mitt Romney, there’s “no undue risk.” Whatever that means.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Any excuse for jihad

Despite the headlines suggesting that the Iraq war has bred a new generation of terrorists, a closer reading of the NIE report reveals a mixed bag. If Iraq forms into a liberal democracy, it would be a huge demotivator for the jihadist movement.

I’m reading Lawrence Wright’s “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11” and there’s an anecdote about how Osama Bin Laden purportedly praised America for its support of the mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan. However, after the Russians withdrew, Osama immediately turned his hatred to the United States. Initially it was for supporting Israel but after the Americans set up in the Arabian peninsula at the request of the Saudis, it was for occupying holy land. But really – Afghanistan, Israel, Saudi Arabia – take your pick. Andy McCarthy fills in the blanks:

Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, jihadism is attractive to tens of millions of people in what is called the Muslim world. Out of a total population of about 1.3 billion, that may not be a very high percentage (although I daresay it is higher than we like to think). But it is the ideology that attracts recruits. Grievances are just rhetoric. If the bin Ladens did not have Iraq, or the Palestinians, or Lebanon, or Pope Benedict, or cartoons, or flushed Korans, or Dutch movies, or the Crusades, they’d figure out something else to beat the drums over. Or they’d make something up — there being lots of license to improvise when one purports to be executing Allah’s will.
For the umpteenth time, I going to suggest that everybody read Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer” about how mass movements foment hatred as a unifying agent.

Extra – From Q&O: “Those for whom the NIE assertions are not obvious on the most basic level, are no doubt completely perplexed about why so many people lined up in front of recruiting offices on 8 Dec 41.”

MoreHugh Hewitt: “The Times' reporters and editors that ran Sunday's stories were either chumps who got played by anti-Bush leakers, or purposefully deceptive agenda journalists from the anti-Bush fanatics division.” And LGF: “Dems and media are trumpeting in the latest manufactured scandal—and lo and behold, its conclusions are exactly the opposite of the New York Times’ defeatist version.”
Good riddance – From the WashPost: “Syndicate says ‘Boondocks’ may not return
Turkey protects Ataturk’s legacy

From the Boston Globe: “Top general warns of Islamic influence

A top Turkish general said yesterday that increasingly powerful Islamist forces are threatening the country's secular system, and that the army would play its role in defending the country against them. General Ilker Basbug's comments appeared to be aimed at the Islamic-rooted government and the European Union officials who have called on the military to limit its role in state affairs. "The Turkish armed forces have always taken sides and will continue to do so in protecting the national state, the unitary state, and the secular state," Basbug said. Secular generals have led three coups since 1961.
Turkey is a strange place: it’s a democratic, Muslim, NATO country but politicians are strictly forbidden from mentioning religion. (This caused the current prime minister some problems several years ago.) The army is the ultimate check against intermingling of church and state to keep Turkey a secular state.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Hulk smash! – Wuzzadem delineates the subtleties of Islamic concern.
NJ switcheroo update – By the twitching of my thumb, some Garden State switching has begun: “New Jersey Democrats are privately expressing buyers' remorse over Gov. Jon Corzine's decision to appoint then-Rep. Robert Menendez to an open Senate seat last year.” In the latest poll, Tom Kean Jr. leads Menendez by 6%.
Wait and see – Fareed Zakaria proposes “a policy of patience” towards Iran: “Instead of getting scared and spooked, America should view Tehran with a healthy dose of calm and confidence. Iran's fortunes will wane. Oil prices might head downward; Iraq could become less of a burden one way or the other; Arab regimes will get more assertive in responding to the rise of Iranian power. Washington could take the initiative on Lebanon and Palestine, which would vastly improve the political atmosphere.”
There goes Pennsylvania – I think Rick Santorum might have had a chance for re-election if Carl Romanelli picked off some votes from Democrat Bob Casey. Unfortunately, a state judge ruled that the Green Party candidate did not have a sufficient number of signatures on his nominating petition to qualify for the November ballot. Color that Senate seat blue.

Since we’re on the topic, Scott Elliott has updated his latest Election Projection along with new polls and commentary. Pop on over and check it out.
Promises made that cannot be kept, a continuing series

As a companion piece to my usual rantings about Social Security, here’s a story in the Boston Globe about the massive bill coming due when public officials hit retirement: “Public retirees’ benefits adding up – New rules reveal staggering debt

The bill is coming due for years of benefits bestowed upon the nation's public employees, and it's a stunner: hundreds of billions of dollars over the next three decades, threatening some local governments with bankruptcy and all but guaranteeing cuts in services like education and public safety.
Forget about pensions, it’s healthcare coverage that will sink cities and states into unimaginable debt. JP Morgan estimates the present value of unfunded healthcare and nonpension benefits at somewhere between $600 billion and $1.3 trillion. Yikes. Sorry kids, no more free lunches.
Renewable energy in an unlikely place

Maybe the proponents of renewable energy have a point: a new industry can spur economic growth, create jobs, and serve as a counterbalance to fossil fuels. That’s why wind energy is making inroads in…Texas? From the Boston Globe: “Texas is more hospitable than Massachusetts to wind farmsEconomy, culture fueling a boom

Across sparely settled, middle-of-nowhere Nolan County, Ussery is among dozens of ranchers joining an energy boom that has helped Texas surge past California as the new leader in wind power. Long known for its oil and gas riches, Texas now produces enough environmentally friendly wind power to light 600,000 homes, and more wind farms are on the way.

That's in sharp contrast with Massachusetts, where developers have struggled to complete the controversial Cape Wind project, which would put a 130-turbine wind farm off the coast of Nantucket. The project has been before Congress several times over the years -- with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, leading the fight against it.
When California couldn’t meet its energy demands, the state was forced to purchase energy from Texas (Enron) at exorbitant prices. This led to the unprecedented booting of a sitting governor and the election of an Austrian. Where will the energy come from when the crisis hits Massachusetts? Don’t bother Ted.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Amazing Race update – In the home of Genghis Khaaaaaaaannnnn!!!

Teams started out from the Great Wall of China on their way via bus to Outer Mongolia and the capital of Ulaan Bator. The first five teams are on the 12am bus while the remaining teams are on the the 2am bus. While everybody is waiting for the bus, Team 16 Tons (aka “Coalminer and wife”) reveal that they’ve never met an Asian person or a gay person before the Race. After the bus rides, all teams are bunched up on the train from China deep into Mongolia.

Everybody’s racing to a temple where they must view a ceremony. The cheerleaders arrive first to discover that performances are every ten minutes. After the ceremony, teams must take a Soviet Jeep to the village of Telelj where they will meet up with a Mongolian guide and ride some horses. Everybody seems to get lost but a surprising number of Mongolians and/or fellow travelers seem to speak English enough to help out. Team Rehab gets a flat tire and their jack appears to be broken; Rob & Kimberly stop but they can’t remove their jack so they drive on. Team Alabama slows down long enough to hear Tyler & James beg for help before they speed away. Fortunately, a kindly Mongolian stops and helps them change the tire.

Team Leg-Up arrives at the horses first and they don traditional hats for the ride. David & Mary get completely stuck in the mud up to the axles and the other teams ride ahead. Peter and Sarah arrive to the clue box first and it’s a Detour: Take it down or Fill it up. Teams may either break down a traditional Mongolian tent (a yurt?) or take a cattle cart to a river bed and fill up water cans. Most everybody chooses to collect water except for Team Leg Up and Team Gay Daughter decide to break down the tent. This seems a very bad choice as the tent needs to be packed up in a certain way on a camel and neither team can figure it out. Team Leg Up surrenders and decides to transport water but they get a yak that is completely crazy; Sarah starts to cry and Peter can’t figure out what to do. Team Blonde complete their Detour first but they lost their horse helmet and need to find it before they can continue on. Rob & Kimberly are in an abusive relationship. The cheerleaders arrive last and start breaking down the tent. The beauty queens, who would have left first, finally find their helmet and leave in eighth place. Team Gay Daughter is in first place on the drive to the next clue at the Hotel Mongolia.

More car trouble: Team Ergo’s jeep breaks down and a couple teams pass by before they get some help. The last two teams, Team Alabama and Team Rah-Rah try to leave the Detour but neither of their vehicles will start. They need to crank something in the front, like those cars from the Depression era. The cheerleaders turn their engine over leaving Team Alabama behind (karma, anyone?)

At the Hotel Mongolia, it’s a Roadblock: one team member must fire a flaming arrow into a pit 160 ft. away and ignite a torch. Peter of Team Leg Up gets it on his second shot and Peter & Sarah arrive at the mat as team #1. Just as a reminder, Sarah has an artificial leg so it’s pretty funny when Phil asks if they thought they’d be this far along after “only two legs.”

Everybody’s firing arrows through the sky but Team Alabama and Team Rah-Rah haven’t arrived yet, so one of these teams is going home. Rob is pestering Kimberly to the edge of tears again. David fails to exhibit much “Deliverance” acumen but eventually hits the target. Back at the clue box, Team Alabama arrives and they finish their task as Team #9. The cheerleaders arrive much later (it’s getting dark) and eventually give up after firing dozens of arrows.

Final standings:

#1 - Team Leg Up – Peter & Sarah – Prize: trip to Mexico
#2 - Team Rehab – Tyler & James
#3 - Team Gay Daughter – Duke & Lauren
#4 - Team Stonewall – Tom & Terry
#5 - Team Blonde – Dustin & Kandace
#6 - Team Bicker – Rob & Kimberly
#7 - Team 16 Tons – David & Mary
#8 - Team Ergo – Erwin & Godwin
#9 - Team Alabama – Lyn & Karlyn
#10 - Team Rah-Rah – PHILIMINATED

Next week: A catfight between Team Blonde and Team Stonewall.

Last week’s review.

Extra – This space reserved for reviews by Kris and Pat.
And lo the Seventh Seal was broken…

…and Rutgers was ranked #23 in college football:

The Scarlet Knights, long a college football laughingstock, also moved into the Top 25 for the first time since the final poll of the 1976 season.

No. 23 Rutgers (4-0), led by tailback Ray Rice, the fourth leading rusher in the nation, is off to its best start since 1980 after beating Howard 56-7 on Saturday.
My junior year, Rutgers beat Ohio State and Michigan State on the road and then came back to New Jersey to lose to Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt! Oy.
The Clinton follies – Hillary may be unelectable while her hubby wigs out on Fox News and inadvisably shakes his finger at us again.

Extra – Ann Althouse has more on Clinton’s interview. He’s not a Fox News fan.

More – During that interview, Bill Clinton mentioned Richard Clarke eleven times. Here’s what the White House terrorism expert said in August 2002:

RICHARD CLARKE: "Actually, I've got about seven points, let me just go through them quickly. Um, the first point, I think the overall point is, there was no plan on Al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration."
And Byron York has much more from Clarke’s much-cited book.
Good advice – From the Huffington Post (!!!): “Don’t vote Democrat

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dig those plaid fashions – The Bay City Rollers lip-synching their hit song. Note that the drummer never hits the cymbal – not once. Heh.
Taking bets on Osama – It’s a mad scramble for information but since all this speculation spawned from a French Intelligence report (leaked by the Saudis), there’s no earthly way to be sure. However, when things get murky, I always like to check out the online contract trading: the Tradesports “Capture Osama” contracts are skyrocketing.
Mehlman and Dean spar – Tom Bevan gives his assessment: “So the Wall Street Journal gave the chairman of each political party equal time in today's paper, and this is what we got (Dean Mehlman). Honestly, Ken Mehlman is probably still doing backflips in his office even as I write, because Howard Dean did him a tremendous favor by helping clarify the choice for voters in the coming election.”
How to know when your Bush Derangement Syndrome is terminal

Even the New York Times can’t stomach it. Almost too good to excerpt, here’s part of a book review of Lewis Lapham’s book about President Bush:

But unless you agree with it 100 percent — and are content to see almost no original reporting or analysis in support of these claims — you may feel less inclined to throttle Lapham’s targets than to throttle Lapham himself. For this book is all about Lewis Lapham: the breathtaking lyricism of his voice, the breadth of his remarkable erudition. He goes across the street and around the corner to confirm the worst stereotypes about liberals — that they’re condescending, twee, surpassingly smug.
Sounds about right. (Hat tip: Tigerhawk)
Bob and Larry (and God) too hot for NBC

From the NY Times: “NBC draws protests from conservatives

NBC has drawn protests this week from religious conservatives over the content of two television shows, but for different reasons — in one instance for excluding references to God and in the other for possibly including religious imagery.

The disputes, over the network’s proposed broadcast of a Madonna concert that includes a crucifixion scene and over its cutting religious references from the animated children’s show “VeggieTales,” have some critics charging that NBC maintains a double standard toward Christianity.
How tired is Madonna’s shtick? If she really wants to stir controversy, she would perform in a burka and maybe touch a Koran with an ungloved hand.
What media bias? – Via Sister Soldjah, here’s a former WashPost columnist speaking to Hugh Hewitt: “It’s transparent. Okay, that I would agree. And I agree that whatever you want to call it, mainstream media, presents itself as unbiased, when in fact, there are built into it, many biases, and they are overwhelmingly to the left.”

Are we really still having this debate? The Sister has much more.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dateline: three weeks ago

Here’s that unbiased reporter, Al Hunt:

Barring an unexpected and big event, Democrats will win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November and conceivably the Senate, too. Whether it's a tsunami or just a powerful wave, the political dynamics are moving in that direction, or more accurately, against the Republicans and President George W. Bush.

Democratic insiders, who months ago thought their chances of winning a majority in the House were no better than even, and that the Senate was a lost cause, have become far more optimistic. Now, they say, winning the House is a lock, and the Senate is within reach.
Did I miss the tsunami? Or did the Democrats simply revert back to their default position of taking no position on anything? Yeah, I think that’s what happened somewhere between “culture of corruption” and “a new direction” which mostly involves hiding behind John McCain.

"We have to go back to 1974 (during Watergate) to find such a favorable environment,'' says James Carville, who ran Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. "If we can't win in this environment, we have to question the whole premise of the party.''
Some would opine that the purpose of a political party is to take a stand on an issue and let the voters decide. But that’s just crazy talk:

Why has the public not taken their anger out on congressional Republicans and the president? We think the answer lies with voters’ deeper feelings about the Democrats who appear to lack direction, conviction, values, advocacy or a larger public purpose.”
So say those well-known GOP undercover agents James Carville and Stanley Greenberg.
Well, of course we have your…oh, it’s gone - Bulldog Pundit reminds us that your “guaranteed” Social Security benefits are only guaranteed until the money runs out. Then they’re just “scheduled” benefits. Good luck with that at the supermarket.
What voter fraud? – A Blog for All notes that the Times reported a year ago that thousands of dead New Jersey voters cast ballots in Hudson County in 2004. I presume these votes could have been counted electronically, by Diebold machines even.

Extra – Gateway Pundit has much more here and here.
Where Bin Laden hides – AJ Strata has an interesting post titled “Waziristan deal nets Afghan terrorists” about U.S. & Pakistani maneuvers in the tribal region widely believed to hold the world’s top terrorists. Maybe this is the October surprise that Karl Rove promised.
I guess the tour bus won’t be stopping in Lubbock – Dixie Chick belittles her own hometown. Classic BDS.
Brilliant editorials fail to float the NY Times – Via Free Republic “New York Times’ earnings and stock value down” Maybe they should sack Paul Krugman or Frank Rich. Maybe both. (Click link for graph of the Times' stock price. Rock lobster!)
Bad blood – From the Anchoress: “Chavez clearly listened to Dems and Air America” - "If tinpot tyrants and madmen now come to the United Nations and believe they can say anything they wish about The American President, it is because - as some of us have been warning, for some time - while all manner or irresponsible nonsense and hate has been directed at this president…the world has been watching."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How low the threshold for civic responsibility?

The NY Times editorial page is now indistinguishable from the rantings of “The Nation”, the AFL-CIO, or Daily Kos. Today, they hyperventilate over the idea that Americans should present identification at the voting booth as a task worthy of Hercules, while painting Republicans as the enemy of the downtrodden in an orgy of self-righteousness:

One of the cornerstones of the Republican Party’s strategy for winning elections these days is voter suppression, intentionally putting up barriers between eligible voters and the ballot box. The House of Representatives took a shameful step in this direction yesterday, voting largely along party lines for onerous new voter ID requirements. Laws of this kind are unconstitutional, as an array of courts have already held, and profoundly undemocratic. The Senate should not go along with this cynical, un-American electoral strategy.

That’s right: a cornerstone. Right from the first sentence, the Times sets the tone with such outrageous slander that, as Blue Crab Blvd notes, it may be actionable for libel. Every adjective that follows is a falsehood: “shameful”, “onerous”, “unconstitutional” and “cynical.” Cynical, what, to expect a clean election?

The bill the House passed yesterday would require people to show photo ID to vote in 2008. Starting in 2010, that photo ID would have to be something like a passport, or an enhanced kind of driver’s license or non-driver’s identification, containing proof of citizenship. This is a level of identification that many Americans simply do not have.

How many is “many?” This seems a critical point but the Times won’t share.

The bill was sold as a means of deterring vote fraud, but that is a phony argument. There is no evidence that a significant number of people are showing up at the polls pretending to be other people, or that a significant number of noncitizens are voting.

I’m sure the Times believes voter fraud is only something that Karl Rove engineers.

Noncitizens, particularly undocumented ones, are so wary of getting into trouble with the law that it is hard to imagine them showing up in any numbers and trying to vote. The real threat of voter fraud on a large scale lies with electronic voting, a threat Congress has refused to do anything about.

Yeah, that would be a bummer if noncitizens couldn’t vote, along with dogs and the residents of Chicago cemeteries. As for electronic voting fraud, the Times doesn’t and hasn’t bothered to present any facts supporting this claim. But, you know, it’s the gospel of the Democratic Underground, so good enough.

The actual reason for this bill is the political calculus that certain kinds of people — the poor, minorities, disabled people and the elderly — are less likely to have valid ID. They are less likely to have cars, and therefore to have drivers’ licenses. There are ways for nondrivers to get special ID cards, but the bill’s supporters know that many people will not go to the effort if they don’t need them to drive.

Note that the Times specifically omits that the bill provides for free identification, framing the issue as one of “effort.” Hard to believe, but some people actually expend gas, time and energy to vote. But an ID card, also? The line stops here! By the way, I spent an hour today trying to find some statistics on how many Americans don’t have some kind of identification. It seems inconceivable that the elderly, after say 60 years, haven’t picked up something to open a bank account. Does the Times have any information – whatsoever – on how many people would be burdened by this “onerous” task of obtaining a laminated card? Either they’re too lazy to find out, or they don’t consider it necessary to prove their point.

If this bill passed the Senate and became law, the electorate would likely become more middle-aged, whiter and richer — and, its sponsors are anticipating, more Republican.
Court after court has held that voter ID laws of this kind are unconstitutional. This week, yet another judge in Georgia struck down that state’s voter ID law.

And yet other courts have upheld voter ID laws. Let’s gloss along.

Last week, a judge in Missouri held its voter ID law to be unconstitutional. Supporters of the House bill are no doubt hoping that they may get lucky, and that the current conservative Supreme Court might uphold their plan.

Hey, maybe they’ll even heed the will of the people and the 81% of Americans who believe identification should be presented at the polls.

America has a proud tradition of opening up the franchise to new groups, notably women and blacks, who were once denied it. It is disgraceful that, for partisan political reasons, some people are trying to reverse the tide, and standing in the way of people who have every right to vote.

“Disgraceful” – finally, an appropriate adjective for this self-satisfied, fact-challenged editorial.

Extra – From Don Surber: “NY Times: Let voter fraud continue” (HT: Bright & Early)
Cheap drugs for all!

The coincidence of these two events are so perfect, the conspiracy-based side of the blogosphere is sure to call it a election year ploy even more sinister than lower gas prices:

Wal-Mart to offer discounted generic prescription drugs

House, GOP agrees to relax ban on importing drugs from Canada

Another domestic issue off the table. Who said this was a lame-duck Congress?
Back to The Office

Well. Jim moved to another branch of Dunder-Mifflin, Pam called off her marriage to Roy, and Oscar was outed. Ryan was promoted to Jim’s old position (and desk). But how long can Jim stay away from Scranton, especially with a new co-worker who is clearly unbalanced? Slate looks at all the national version of the BBC hit in “Foreign Office
I’m almost positive he says things like this to drive Howard Dean nuts – From NewsMax: “Karl Rove promises October surprise
What, us govern? – “Democrats sit out debate on terrorism suspects

It’s probably best to leave that to the adults.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The ACLU stands for voter fraud – How else to explain its opposition to the Voter Integrity Act which asks voters to present the same identification required to purchase beer or cash a check? The spurious “poll tax” argument is belied by the fact that the current bill before Congress provides for free government-issued identification. Digger’s Realm sums it up: “The only reason someone would be against a bill like this is if they actually want voter fraud to continue.”
Quote of the Day – Here’s former House Majority Leader Dick Armey on Social Security reform: “That's clearly the biggest issue of our generation and it's an issue that's plagued by Republicans who don't dare and Democrats who don't care.”
Stupid SNL – They fired the only funny guy on that show: Chris Parnell. Let’s look back on his brilliant “Lazy Sunday” video.
Blanche DuBois of the United Nations:

And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here.” [crosses himself]

And it smells of sulfur still today.”
Heavens! You’ll give this Southern Hemisphere flower the vapors!
Wal-Mart for me but not for thee – VA Senatorial candidate Jim Webb invests in Wal-Mart, condemns Wal-Mart
Four decades of service to Somalia, snuffed out by the Religion of Peace

Jeff Jacoby discusses the murder of Catholic nun Sister Leonella in “Muslim violence” in the Boston Globe:

Sister Leonella was gunned down less than two days after a prominent Somali cleric had called on Muslims to kill Pope Benedict XVI for his remarks about Islam in a scholarly lecture last week.

“We urge you, Muslims, wherever you are to hunt down the pope for his barbaric statements,” Sheik Abubukar Hassan Malin had exhorted worshippers during evening prayers at a Mogadishu mosque. “Whoever offends our prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim.” Sister Leonella was not the pope, but she was presumably close enough for purposes of the local jihadists.

If it weren't so sickening, it would be farcical: A line in the pope's speech suggests that Islam has a dark history of violence, and offended Muslims vent their displeasure by howling for his death, firebombing churches, and attacking innocent Christians. One of the points Benedict made in his speech at the University of Regensburg was that religious faith untethered by reason can lead to savagery. The mobs denouncing him could hardly have done a better job of proving him right.

Extra – From LGF: “Honor killing in Birmingham.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Massachusetts primary returns – It looks like it’s going to be a good night for Deval Patrick.

Update – Before I could even post this, the local news is declaring Patrick the winner. He’ll face Kerry Healey for the governor’s office in Massachusetts.
The Laffer curve in action – Via Polipundit, the U.S. has set a one day tax receipts record of $85.8 billion. To put this in perspective, the federal government pulled in more revenues in one day than the Ukraine or Kuwait makes in an entire year.
Election 2006 – According to Slate’s numbers guy, the Democrats are mathematically incapable of taking control of the House.

Of course last week I declared that my NASCAR fantasy league was mathematically incapable of losing for the season. Thank you very much, Kurt Busch.
Head-in-the-sand liberals

Writing in the LA Times Sam Harris believes that the West faces a genuine threat from Muslim extremists:

Perhaps I should establish my liberal bone fides at the outset. I'd like to see taxes raised on the wealthy, drugs decriminalized and homosexuals free to marry. I also think that the Bush administration deserves most of the criticism it has received in the last six years — especially with respect to its waging of the war in Iraq, its scuttling of science and its fiscal irresponsibility.

But my correspondence with liberals has convinced me that liberalism has grown dangerously out of touch with the realities of our world — specifically with what devout Muslims actually believe about the West, about paradise and about the ultimate ascendance of their faith.
Harris continues on to speculate that security-minded Americans will reject liberalism for the certitude and fervor of the religious right: “Increasingly, Americans will come to believe that the only people hard-headed enough to fight the religious lunatics of the Muslim world are the religious lunatics of the West.” Yeesh - is it end of days already? I’d like to think that the West is made of tougher stuff.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Melllvar summons! – The best Futurama episode is on tonight: the “Star Trek” themed “Where no fan has gone before.” Here’s a review with the rare combination of words: “Roddenberryian bouillabaisse.”
Gabrieli who? – Here in Massachusetts, Democratic primary candidate Chris Gabrieli has been running TV commercials ad nauseum in his bid to be governor. Nevertheless, after spending millions of his own money, he’s at least 20% behind Deval Patrick in the latest polls. The guy seems nice enough but I can’t help but think his endless barrage of media has put off a lot of Massachusetts voters.
Election Projection 2006 – Scott Elliott has his latest analysis of all the national races and he still has the GOP holding onto both houses of Congress, although the Democrats will grab the majority of governor seats.
Michael Steele loves puppies – The WashPost fix looks at the Maryland Senate race and asks “Can the GOP win with with Steele?” It’s certainly an uphill battle but Democratic candidate Ben Cardin barely won the primary after outspending Kweisi Mfume five-to-one per primary vote. David Wissing’s Hedgehog Report is keeping tabs on the Maryland race.
Answer: With great difficulty and expense.

Question: “How do you fire an autoworker?”
Tell it like it is - The screenwriter of “Path to 9/11” defends his portrayal of President Clinton: “My sin was to write a screenplay accurately depicting Bill Clinton’s record on terrorism.”
Viking politics in Sweden

From the Boston Globe: “Center-right coalition captures a narrow win in Sweden Promises changes in welfare model

A center-right opposition vowing to revamp Sweden's welfare state ousted the Social Democratic government in a close parliamentary election yesterday.

Prime Minister Goran Persson, a Social Democrat who had governed for 10 years, conceded defeat and said his government would resign after the party's worst election showing in decades.

Persson said Sweden's social model, a market economy blended with a high-tax welfare state, was at stake in the election. But the opposition led by [Fredrik] Reinfeldt's Moderate Party insisted that it would not dismantle the system, but rather, help it survive by promoting jobs over welfare handouts.
That’s a seismic culture shift for a country that is the model of cradle-to-grave socialism.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Amazing Race 10 season premiere – And they’re off!

The brand new season of the Amazing Race starts out in Seattle and twelve teams of two are on the run to the first destination: Beijing, China. There’s the usual mix of pretty people (beauty queens, male models, cheerleaders) along with the requisite gay couple, the bickering couple, and the “Flyover” couple (described as “Coalminer and Wife”). The special teams include the Muslim team, the triathlon couple with one artificial limb, the Indian couple and the Korean brothers. No oldsters this season.

All teams start out in a phalanx of SUVs heading for the airport. It’s the usual mad rush, interrupted by traffic and airport confusion. At the check-in line, one of the Muslim guys refuses to shake the hand of one of the cheerleaders (with a smile, though). The brothers squirt other teams with water pistols, which are promptly confiscated by security – stupid! The tri-athlete woman with the artificial leg gets on pre-boarding due to her “handicap.”

Once in Beijing, teams must find the Gold House restaurant for the first clue. It’s a Roadblock and the first eating challenge: one team member must eat a bowl of fish eyes. The best friends from Alabama finish first and must head to the Meridian Gate at the Forbidden City where they must pick departure times for the following day. We’re warned about a “twist” in the Race. Later, it’s revealed that one of the departure times simply reads “Last Team.” Unfortunately for Team Mecca, they are the last to arrive and suddenly there’s Phil with a TAR mat. All the other teams watch on as – quite suddenly – Bilal &Sa’eed are eliminated from the Race.

Ouch. We’ve been robbed of a dozen episodes of culture clash and I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing.

The next morning, teams must travel in the sidecars of motor bikes to a taxi stand. There it’s a Detour: Labor or Leisure. Teams travel by pedal-rickshaw and they must either put together sidewalk blocks in a particular pattern, or perform a kind of Tai Chi-type exercise sequence. Everybody chooses the bricklaying except for the cheerleaders and Team Spike, who decide to dance with a racket and ping-pong ball. The pretty boys in Team Rehab finish bricks first and head to the Pit Stop at Juyonguang at the Great Wall.

At the Great Wall, the teams must scale the wall to reach the Pit Stop. This is no problem for Tyler & James but one-legged Sarah unsurprisingly has some trouble. Eventually, she figures out how to use her good leg and get up the 20-ft. wall. Meanwhile, Team Alabama simply can’t get five feet off the ground. Back at the Detour, Kimberly jumps into a taxi and tells the driver “Great Wall of China” which strikes me as funny. Team India is the last to leave the Detour.

Back at the Great Wall – the one in China – the cheerleaders and the brothers whip up the wall while other teams are moving more methodically. All the teams except Team India are now at the wall and it’s pretty obvious that unless somebody falls they’re going to be eliminated. Mary of Team 16 Tons is the last to climb up and she’s already weeping as she steps onto the mat since she assumes (seeing no other teams behind her) that they’re history. Not so and Phil announces they are team #10. Team India finally arrives, scales the wall, and is eliminated.

Final standings

#1 - Team Rehab – Tyler & James - $20,000 prize
#2 - Team Daughter – Duke & Lauren
#3 - Team Leg Up – Peter & Sarah
#4 - Team Blonde – Dustin & Kandace
#5 - Team Couple – Rob & Kimberly
#6 - Team Rah-Rah – Kellie & Jamie
#7 - Team Ergo – Erwin & Godwin
#8 - Team Spike – Tom & Terry
#9 - Team Alabama – Lyn & Karlyn
#10 - Team 16 Tons – David & Mary
#11 - Team India – Vipul & Arti – PHILIMINATED (2nd leg)
#12 - Team Mecca – Bilal & Sa’eed – PHILIMINATED (1st leg)

Next week – Looks like Mongolia and some serious runaway animals.

Extra – Kris is back on the job! Read her review: “Where’s your Allah now?” If I must pick a team right now, it would be Kellie & Jamie just because I have a thing for cheerleaders.
Private pensions go the way of the Edsel – The Boston Globe has a looong article today about the end of generous company pensions and how many would-be retirees need to keep working. All the more reason to repeat this hard reality: the only person you can – and should – depend on for your retirement is yourself. Corporations dissolve and the government cannot meet future Social Security obligations. But nobody can touch your 401(k).
Big Dig update – From the Boston Globe “Designer proposed more bolts in Big Dig”: “Big Dig managers were so confident of the strength of the bolts that would hold up the heavy, concrete ceiling in the Interstate 90 connector tunnel that they successfully pressured the ceiling's designer to cut in half the number of bolts suspending each ceiling hanger, according to a 1998 memo obtained by the Globe.”

Using half as many bolts kept the project from going over budget.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Asia rising

The Economist notes that a new global benchmark has been set in “The New Titans”:

Last year the combined output of emerging economies reached an important milestone: it accounted for more than half of total world GDP (measured at purchasing-power parity). This means that the rich countries no longer dominate the global economy. The developing countries also have a far greater influence on the performance of the rich economies than is generally realised. Emerging economies are driving global growth and having a big impact on developed countries' inflation, interest rates, wages and profits. As these newcomers become more integrated into the global economy and their incomes catch up with the rich countries, they will provide the biggest boost to the world economy since the industrial revolution.
What does this mean for the United States economy? The answer is complex (read the article) but it’s fairly certain that the expanding Asian economies will put a squeeze on global capital and the labor market. However, in the larger scheme, there's more good news than bad.
Lighten up, Francis

Muslim Street: The name's Muslim Street, but everybody calls me Ummah. Any of you guys call me Muslim Street, and I'll kill you.

Pope Benedict: Ooooooh.

Muslim Street: You just made the list, buddy. Also, I don't like no one touching the Koran. So just keep your infidel meathooks off. If I catch any of you guys drawing pictures of Mohammad, I'll kill you. And I don't like nobody talking about me. Any of you infidels talk about me, and I'll kill you.

(Apologies to Harold Ramis)
The NY Times states the obvious – From “What would the Democrats do?”: “Democratic candidates around the country are trying each of these approaches in a cacophony of frustration and sorrow, reflecting divisions in the party at the national level. If it is hard to see a Democratic plan to end the war, it’s because there isn’t one.”
Republicans on the defense – But Tom Bevan takes a page from sports and writes defense wins championships.” It may all hinge on money and turnout and the GOP has the advantage in both.

Extra – Of course, this could be a powerful de-motivator for fiscal conservatives.
Can’t possibly be true

This sounds like a bad Hollywood movie: “Intruder killed by nurse was hit man, police say

When Susan Kuhnhausen returned home from work one day earlier this month, she encountered an intruder wielding a claw hammer. After a struggle, the 51-year-old nurse fended off her attacker by strangling him with her bare hands.

Neighbors praised the woman for her bravery, and investigators said they believed the dead man -- Edward Dalton Haffey -- was burglarizing Kuhnhausen's home.

But after an investigation, police now say the intruder Kuhnhausen strangled was apparently a hit man hired by her estranged husband -- Michael James Kuhnhausen Sr. -- to kill her.

The 58-year-old husband was taken into custody Thursday and charged with conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder. He was ordered held on $500,000 bail.
Do it now! – Support conservative candidates by clicking over to Rightroots.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The “social loafing” of teams – Business Pundit reviews the unconventional wisdom that business teams are an unproductive waste of time. Runaway individualism (Ayn Rand anyone?) is the only way to go.
Blocking the switcheroo – New Jersey Republicans are trying to block the expected candidate switch in the Senate race. From the Star-Ledger: “With Robert Menendez' U.S. Senate campaign under unexpected pressure, his Republican rivals are trying to prevent Democratic leaders from bumping him from the race and replacing him with another candidate.” Stay tuned.
Six in ‘06” = The Democrats’ different campaign slogans

What do the Democrats believe in? Apparently that one vapid campaign slogan deserves another. From Dana Milbank writing in the WashPost: “Democrats meander in a new new direction

Among the party's campaign slogans this year: "Culture of Corruption," "Culture of Cronyism," "Do-Nothing Congress," "Rubber-Stamp Congress," "Together, We Can Do Better," "Together, America Can Do Better" and, most recently, "Six for '06."

For those keeping score at home, Democrats arrived at "New Direction" yesterday by downgrading one of the "Six for '06" issues (health care) and upgrading three others (honesty, civility and fiscal discipline), for a total of eight items on the contents page.
The only topic on which the Dems don’t need to take a poll is their unified dislike for President Bush. As Peggy Noonan opines, this may be their unraveling:

The Democrats' mistake--ironically, in a year all about Mr. Bush--is obsessing on Mr. Bush. They've been sucker-punched by their own animosity.

"The Democrats now are incapable of answering a question on policy without mentioning Bush six times," says pollster Kellyanne Conway. " 'What is your vision on Iraq?' 'Bush lied us into war.' 'Health care? 'Bush hasn't a clue.' They're so obsessed with Bush it impedes them from crafting and communicating a vision all their own." They heighten Bush by hating him.

One of the oldest clichés in politics is, "You can't beat something with nothing." It's a cliché because it's true. You have to have belief, and a program. You have to look away from the big foe and focus instead on the world and philosophy and programs you imagine.

Mr. Bush's White House loves what the Democrats are doing. They want the focus on him. That's why he's out there talking, saying Look at me.

Because familiarity doesn't only breed contempt, it can breed content. Because if you're going to turn away from him, you'd better be turning toward a plan, and the Democrats don't appear to have one.

Which leaves them unlikely to win leadership. And unworthy of it, too.
The Democrats should take a lesson from the slow disintegration of Air America, where a 24/7 format of “Bush sucks” resulted in Bush’s re-election and Air America’s bankruptcy. There was no content, no stab at analysis or entertainment – eventually, everybody tuned out.
There it is again – The Wall Street Journal takes note of the brewing “New Jersey Switcheroo": "For pure entertainment value, not much can compete with the blood sport of New Jersey politics."
Top 10 things never before said by a NASCAR driver

From the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska ...

10. Kasey Kahne: "Anyone know how to drive a stick?"

9. Jeff Gordon: "Does this gas taste funny to you?"

8. Jeff Burton: "I don't care much for country music or beer."

7. Mark Martin: "Switch the 'R' and the 'C' in 'racing' and you get 'caring.'"

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: "Wow, Letterman looks so young in person."

5. Denny Hamlin: "You're looking at a guy who can drive 500 miles without taking a leak."

4. Kyle Busch: "A truly great driver doesn't mind asking for directions, am I right, ladies?"

3. Kevin Harvick: "It would be nice if the guys in the pits occasionally surprised me with a piece of carrot cake or something."

2. Jimmie Johnson: "The Nextel Cup is great, but what I'm really excited for is the Late Show Ventriloquist Week."

1. Matt Kenseth: "If you think I'm fast in my car, you should see me in the bedroom."

Heh-heh. Video here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

NJ switcheroo update – I’m getting the sinking feeling that Robert Menendez is a soon-to-be-ex-candidate: he’s turned down a chance to debate Tom Kean Jr. on “Meet the Press.” (Hat tip: Wizbang Politics)
Not dead yet – Air America staffers are not ripping copper wire out of the walls and pocketing ink cartridges. Vicious lies, all of them.
The rest of the NY Times story – Michelle Malkin takes note of an extended correction from a NY Times smear job against Wal-Mart: “A phony controversy--and as the correction underscores, another rancid piece of shoddy journalism from the newspaper of wreckage.”
Senator Splunge is rarin’ to go! – If you want to get a feel for John Kerry’s chances for another run at the Presidency, scroll down to the “pros and cons” listed by three political analysts at the end of this article.

Abridged “pro” – He has a big Rolodex.
Abridged “con” – He’s an awful, unlikable candidate and the Democrats will never nominate him again.

Extra – Tom Maguire adds some thoughts.
Our national scolds

George Will excoriates the Democrats today as the party of condescension in “Democrats vs. Wal-Mart”:

When liberals' presidential nominees consistently fail to carry Kansas, liberals do not rush to read a book titled "What's the Matter With Liberals' Nominees?" No, the book they turned into a bestseller is titled "What's the Matter With Kansas?" Notice a pattern here?
As Will reminds us, Wal-Mart has been “the most prodigious job-creator in the history of the private sector in this galaxy,” has accounted for 13% of all productivity gains in the latter part of the 1990s, and draws in over a hundred-million shoppers a week saving a cumulative $200 billion a year.

Those poor, poor, duped Americans.

Extra - From Willisms: "Wal-Mart - A Goliath fighting for David"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Quote of the Day – Here’s a cool and confident House majority leader John Boehner: “I have no fears about losing our majority. None.”

Thank you, Diebold!
The New Jersey switcharoo

One of the best chances for a GOP pickup in the Senate is the New Jersey seat vacated by Democrat Jon Corzine, now held by stand-in Robert Menendez. However, Menendez is facing a strong challenge by Tom Kean, Jr., son of former governor and current 9/11 commission chair Tom Kean, Sr.

Four years ago, when an ethically-challenged Robert Torricelli was in danger of losing his New Jersey seat, the Senator dropped out of the race and ex-Senator Frank Lautenberg ran in his stead, coasting to victory. Is history about to repeat itself? From the NY Observer: “Jersey turns, Dems panic; Torricelli, anyone?”

A powerful clue that U.S. Senator Robert Menendez might ultimately be forced to withdraw from his bid for a full term in New Jersey emerged last Friday, when he addressed the question head-on just hours after the world learned that he is the subject of a federal criminal investigation.

“The answer is no,” he said.

That may sound a touch familiar to New Jerseyans. It was, after all, around this time four Septembers ago that Senator Robert Torricelli’s re-election campaign—besieged by similar speculation—spent a weekend attaching a simple, defiant message to Torricelli lawn signs around the state: “Nobody fights harder.”

The very next week, of course, Mr. Torricelli quit the race in tears.

And the rest was history—and the subject, no doubt, of recurring nightmares for many Republicans: Former Senator Frank Lautenberg was recruited to replace Mr. Torricelli at the last minute, and the Democrats ended up with a double-digit win.
Unbelievable. So then the best case scenario for NJ Republicans is if Menendez stays close enough in the polls so Boss Tweed the Democrats don’t trigger the switch until it’s too late.
Just for the record – Neil Armstrong is not a Muslim. (By way of this Slate Explainer column).
Air America bankrupt – Brian Maloney has been ahead of this story for weeks, so give him props and check out his latest updates. Just keep scrolling.
I saw the light - The "check engine" light on my Subaru came on while driving home tonight. Well, that's just great.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Primary night in the Ocean State – Wow, Chafee pulled it out in Rhode Island. Maybe that anti-incumbent “storm” is only going to be a light drizzle. Interestingly, the Tradesports political market now predicts a coin flip for House control and a virtual lock for the GOP in the Senate.
YouTube’s Lonelygirl15 revealedReal name: Jessica Rose, a twentysomething graduate of the New York Film Institute.
Islam’s tolerant past

The Chairman over on Maggie’s Farm has a list of “what 9/11 revealed to me” about Islam and the West. Although I can sympathize with much of what he’s writing, he’s simply misinformed in statements such as:

Unlike Christianity, which is commanded to spread the good news via example and preaching, Islam is commanded to spread their word via submission or death.
Alas, it wasn’t always thus. When Islam was a more successful and confident religion, Jews and other “infidels” were allowed to live among Muslims, tolerated as second-class citizens:

In the lands under Muslim rule, Islamic law required that Jews and Christians be allowed to practice their religions and run their own affairs, subject to certain disabilities, the most important being a poll tax that they were required to pay. In modern parlance, Jews and Christians in the classical Islamic state were what we would call second-class citizens, but second-class citizenship, established by law and the Koran and recognized by public opinion, was far better than the total lack of citizenship that was the fate of non-Christians and even of some deviant Christians in the West. The jihad also did not prevent Muslim governments from occasionally seeking Christian allies against Muslim rivals—even during the Crusades, when Christians set up four principalities in the Syro-Palestinian area.
Then came, as Bernard Lewis called it, “the great change” in 1683 when Ottoman invaders were turned back at the siege of Vienna. From then on “jihad” no longer denoted the original meaning of “striving” but instead came to mean “holy war.”
Let them eat tabouli

Surely one of the worst-presented characters in “The Path to 9/11” was the Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine who is seen belittling FBI chief John O’Neill and berating one of his agents for her manner of dress. She defends her role after the bombing of the USS Cole in the Los Angeles Times, but this excerpt from a Frontline special…well, it doesn’t paint her in a sympathetic light. Here’s FBI agent Clint Guenther from the New York City Counterterrorism squad:

Do you remember his [John O’Neill] first phone call back to you where he mentioned [Ambassador] Bodine and what his reaction to all this was?

One of his first calls back where you knew that he was having problems with the ambassador was when he had gotten his people into Aden and realized that there were no facilities available for them to stay. There was no hotel available. A lot of other government agencies had sent people over there. A lot of intelligence groups had sent people, and there was absolutely no place for FBI personnel to stay. The ambassador basically just said, "Let them sleep on the floor in the ballroom, because we're not finding additional facilities for them."

And John, being a guy who always took care of his troops was just incensed that she would not try to find some sort of accommodations so that he could make his people as comfortable as possible also. Right then and there, you knew that there was going to be strife between the two, because John was going to take care of his people, and he was going to do everything he possible could to make sure that they had what they needed to conduct their investigation.
Not exactly rolling out the red carpet.
It’s OK when a liberal says it

Imagine if such a paragraph had appeared in the Weekly Standard or the National Review:

Has the Republican Party suddenly caught a case of jungle fever? This year Republicans will most likely run three African-Americans in statewide elections: Kenneth Blackwell (for governor in Ohio), former NFL star Lynn Swann (for governor in Pennsylvania) and Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, who is seen as the frontrunner for the Republican Senate nomination there.
The article is from The Nation which sums up by essentially calling these black Republicans “Uncle Toms” for failing to settle in to their expected political allegiance. (Hat tip: Taranto)
Winers and diners – Here in the Bay State, it’s currently against the law to sell alcoholic beverages in supermarkets. However, a referendum is on the ballot and Stop & Shop is spending tons of cash to support the measure.

I’m partial to Syrah.

Monday, September 11, 2006

On 9/11 - President Bush’s speech tonight

Unfortunately, I don’t think his speech changed any minds. It seems that the United States is now firmly split between those who believe we’re at war with Islamofascists and those who don’t.

More – From Outside the Beltway: “The Left remembers 9/11
I got young kidsAudio of Kevin Cosgrove to a 911 operator. Really not for the faint of heart, especially the end.
Lileks and Steyn on 9/11 + 5

Here’s James Lileks in part of a National Review symposium on 9/11 and “Did it change us?”:

Half a decade later the changes seem small, and perhaps that’s a blessing. If 9/11 had been followed by 10/17, 11/02, 12/24, the Smallpox Epidemic of ’02, the EMP blackouts of ’03, and so much promiscuous anthrax distribution that mailmen tottered around in Hazmat suits on the hottest day of July, America would look quite different. But the other shoe didn’t drop — or rather, Richard Reid was KO’d before he could light it — and consequently we don’t look at the paper for news about the latest attack. We look at the ads in the paper for news about plasma-TV sales.
Mark Steyn also contributed and he added an article in the Chicago Sun Times titled “9/11 enemies are still hiding in plain sight”:

As the years go by, it's these curious examples of cultural interconnectedness that stay with me. "Interconnectedness" is the word used by the late Edward Said, the New York-based Palestinian grievance-monger and eminent America-disparager: A couple of weeks after 9/11, the professor deplored the tendency of commentators to separate cultures into what he called "sealed-off entities," when in reality Western civilization and the Muslim world are so "intertwined" that it was impossible to "draw the line" between them. National Review's Rich Lowry was unimpressed. "The line seems pretty clear," he said. "Developing mass commercial aviation and soaring skyscrapers was the West's idea; slashing the throats of stewardesses and flying the planes into the skyscrapers was radical Islam's idea."
Five years of distance from 9/11 may have made us more complacent as our enemies re-tool, but then it’s human nature to seek for normalcy.

More – The co-chairmen to the 9/11 Commission list their points for action in “Unfinished job of safety.”
Zoo Mass to lose Frat row – Every Sunday morning on the way to the church in Amherst, we have to drive by unkempt lawns and houses festooned with plastic beer cups, ratty couches, and various bodily fluids. Finally, the University of Massachusetts is taking action by purchasing the houses on Frat Row for “expansion.” Whatever gets you through the night.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The rules of “jinx” are unflinchingly rigid – One of my all-time favorite scenes from “The Office” was when Jim, rendered speechless due to a “jinx”, employed the old fake crying ruse to escape a conversation on office drug policy. Classic. I’m going to have to do a top-10 Office list before the season premiere.
Sunday morning lineup – It’s a 9/11 retrospective with Dick Cheney and Condi Rice making the rounds. John Kerry will be on Late Edition trying to look Presidential.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I can’t believe they cancelled “Heil Honey, I’m Home!” – A list of television shows cancelled after one episode. (HT: Fark)
Onboard were the poet, the magician, and the other Gods of legend

From CNN: “CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Space shuttle Atlantis and its six astronauts blasted off Saturday into space to rendezvous with the orbiting International Space Station and install new equipment.”

Friday, September 08, 2006

YouTube fiction - Lonelygirl15’s video diary appears to be a buildup for a Hollywood project. Feh.
New Jersey Senate - Like I said in December: “Running on his father’s name, Tom Kean Jr. is elected Senator from New Jersey.

Via Betsy: Robert Menendez is under criminal investigation. Since when did New Jersey become the New Orleans of the Northeast?
It took two NY Times reporters to write this story – The Times is moderately surprised to learn that Wal-Mart supports pro-business think tanks to the tune of thousands of dollars a year. Daniel Drenzer sums up in “The NYT blows the lid off of pissant think tank contributions”: “These sums of money buy a B.A.-level RA and some cockatil shrimp at a reception. After reading the article, I'm not amazed that Wal-Mart is giving money to these think tanks -- I'm amazed they’re giving so little.” Regretfully, Viking Pundit has received no Walmart payoffs.
Lamont is weird – The NY Times had an article today titled “Lamont criticizes Lieberman’s 1998 rebuke of Clinton over affair” and I can’t help but think that Democratic candidate Ned Lamont might be losing it. During a dinner with some reports, he criticized Joe Lieberman for turning the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal into a “media spectacle.”

“You go up there, you sit down with one of your oldest friends and say, ‘You’re embarrassing yourself, you’re embarrassing your presidency, you’re embarrassing your family, and it’s got to stop.’ ” he said.
Um, OK. For a guy who desperately needs to energize Connecticut voters to his side, this seems like an issue far down on the list.
Bay State governor’s race – After barely capturing enough caucus votes to continue on, I dismissed gubinatorial Democratic candidate Chris Gabrieli as another rich guy buying his way into politics. Judging by the Boston Globe write-up this morning and Jeff Jacoby’s commentary, he’s quickly earned front-runner status among the Democrats.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Social Security refresher

If you’re 30 or younger, there’s a fair to excellent chance that your Social Security benefits will be dramatically reduced:

Furthermore, current law will force an actual cut in benefits eventually, under official projections. The Social Security trustees estimate that under current law, without a tax increase, all benefits would have to be cut 27% when the Social Security Trust Fund is exhausted in the year 2042, and would continue to be cut each year thereafter. The Congressional Budget Office has a more optimistic projection, predicting that the trust fund wouldn't be exhausted until 2052 -- ten years later -- and that benefits would have to be cut only 22% at first.
The unfunded liability of Social Security is over $12 trillion. Never fear. The Democrats have a plan called “Golden Promise”:

House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid kicked off the Democrat’s new nationwide “Golden Promise” campaign concerning Social Security. And what is their plan to preserve Social Security for today’s seniors and future retirees?

Have members of Congress sign a petition and pledge to oppose efforts to privatize Social Security. Yep, that’s it. Nothing else. No plan – nothing.
All that fritters is not gold.
Something’s gotta give – Speaking of George Will, he has an excellent article today titled “Japan’s wrenching choices.” Japan views itself as an egalitarian society that values both its elderly population and labor force. Unfortunately, because of negative population growth the workforce is dwindling rapidly just as the population is aging. The economic strain is going to upset Japanese sensibilities.
Luck, vigilance, Homeland Security, and luck

Writing in Slate, Jacob Weisberg examines “Five Years Free - Why haven’t we been attacked again?”:

Does President Bush deserve the credit he implicitly claimed in today's speech forwhat hasn't happened? One might argue that our half-decade of immunity from domestic terrorism is the result of circumstances largely beyond his control. Contrary to the alarmism spread in the wake of Sept. 11, al-Qaida did not have thousands of operatives nestled inside the country. We also turn out to have had some unappreciated strengths when it comes to fighting terrorism. The most important—as Daniel Benjamin and Steve Simon argue in The Next Attack—is that America's Muslims are more moderate, prosperous, and assimilated than Europe's and have not been willing to serve as hosts for jihad.

But any honest appraisal has to recognize that President Bush has indeed played a role in keeping the United States free from another attack. To say this is not to say that his policy choices have been wise or that they have truly made America safer over the long term, but simply that our avoidance of domestic terrorism over the past five years is not entirely coincidental.
I tend to side with George Will that America’s greatest asset against the jihadists is 300 million pairs of eyes looking out for trouble. Before 9/11, an airline passenger watching Richard Reid try to light up his sneakers might have looked on with puzzled detachment. Instead, the would-be terrorist got a punch in the head and a lifetime sentence in a SuperMax prison.
Can’t fool these guys – From Fox News: “European nations warn Iran trying to weaken opposition to nuke program”: “Key European nations warn that Iran is trying to weaken international opposition to its contentious nuclear program by stalling on giving a clear response to terms set by six world powers for negotiations, according to a confidential document obtained Thursday.”

Wait…stalling and failing to give a clear response? Sounds like President Dinner Jacket’s 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace.
I come to defend Clinton

Yes, you read that right. It’s clear from all the news reports that the ABC show “Path to 9/11” has some glaring inaccuracies about the Clinton administration's actions in the fight against terrorism. Dale on Q&O sums it up nicely in “Fake but accurate isn’t good enough.” We on the conservative end of the spectrum kvetched at Michael Moore’s fabrications, the Dan Rather TANG “memos” and the media’s false accusations thrown at Karl Rove. We should similarly condemn these mistakes and keep the debate based in facts.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

In the House – American Thinker says that Democratic control of the House “might happen.” But Scott at Election Projection has decreed the GOP will retain control and he’s sticking to his guns. I stand by my assertion that the Democrats will sink due to a lack of money and message.
No more innuendo, hearsay, and bias for the New York Times

They want answers!

Last week, it was reported that Richard Armitage, then deputy secretary of state, was the first to mention Valerie Wilson to Mr. Novak, and that the federal prosecutor knew this more than two and a half years ago.

The revelation tells us something important. But, unfortunately, it is not the answer to the central question in the investigation — whether there was an organized attempt by the White House to use Mrs. Wilson to discredit or punish her husband, Joseph Wilson.
Answer: there wasn’t! Oh, and Joe Wilson is a fraud:

Over time, it became clear that almost every detail of Joe Wilson's original story was false. Wilson's appointment was engineered by his wife. The report he filed did not acquit the Iraqis. Wilson had not detected forged documents. Above all: An Iraqi trade mission had in fact sought uranium in Niger in 1998--the President had spoken accurately.
AJ Strata has it right: “NY Times doesn’t like Plame answers, wants new ones.”

Extra – The blogosphere’s premier Plameologist on the NY Times: “NY Times editors go insane” – “This editorial is absurd - the Times will just have to wait with the rest of us for this investigation to fizzle out under its own lack of evidence.” (HT: Decision 08 who takes a shot at FireDogLake’s silliness)
The learning engine – Robert Samuelson praises community colleges and the American system of learning that keeps the economy rolling.
No Khatami cops in Havahd Yahd

It’s probably 80% Presidential politics, but I applaud it all the same. From the Boston Globe: “Romney bars state security for Iranian’s Harvard visit”: “Governor Mitt Romney declared yesterday he would not allow any state resources to be used to protect a former Iranian president during his visit to the Boston area this weekend, and he sharply criticized Harvard University for inviting Mohammed Khatami to speak on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”

Also in the BG, Jeff Jacoby wonders whatever happened to the axis of evil:

Having warned repeatedly that Iran would face serious consequences if it defied international demands to shut down its nuclear weapons program, the Bush administration wasted no time when Tehran blew off the Security Council's Aug. 31 deadline to stop enriching uranium. It issued a visa authorizing one of Iran's leading theocrats, former president Mohammad Khatami, to embark on a propaganda tour of the United States. It is the first visa issued to an Iranian president since 1979, when Islamist radicals loyal to the Ayatollah Khomeini seized the US embassy in Tehran and held American diplomats hostage for nearly 15 months.

That'll show `em.
It’s not a high point.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Does Islam violate the First Amendment?

While doing a little background research on a WashPost article on conservative Muslims trying to segregate themselves from a corrupting American society, I came across this Wikipedia entry on “Apostasy in Islam”:

Apostasy in Islam (Arabic: ??????, irtid?d or ridda) is commonly defined as the rejection of Islam in word or deed by a person who has been a Muslim.

All five major
schools of Islamic jurisprudence agree that a sane male apostate must be executed. A female apostate may be put to death, according to some schools, or imprisoned, according to others.
So, essentially, if you’re a Muslim in America you have no freedom of religion. You may choose another religion besides Islam, but you’re sure going to be deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It seems to me the First Amendment provides protection for religion as an extension of free speech; that is, an American is free to believe, and express his or her personal or religious beliefs, without fear of reprisal. I’m no legal scholar, but the Hobson’s choice of Islam or death is tantamount to a negation of these First Amendment rights.

Anybody with a law degree want to weigh in here? Thanks.