Sunday, December 31, 2006

Media Bias in War Coverage

Media Research Center has this special report detailing media bias in coverage of the Iraq war.

The results show clear editorial differences between the three cable networks. CNN and MSNBC resemble the big broadcast networks, emphasizing a bad news agenda of U.S. misdeeds and mistakes, while FNC was better able to balance the bad news with news of U.S. achievements in Iraq. Key findings:

FNC was the most balanced network. All three cable news networks ran more stories reflecting bad news about the situation in Iraq than stories about coalition achievements. But FNC was the most balanced, with 20 percent of stories emphasizing optimism, compared with 30 percent that stressed pessimism.

CNN was the most pessimistic network. Fully three-fifths (60%) of all CNN stories on the war emphasized setbacks, misdeeds or pessimism about progress in Iraq, compared to just 10 percent that reported on achievements or victories. MSNBC’s tilt was closer to CNN, with four times more bad news stories (48%) than reports stressing good news (12%).

CNN and MSNBC sensationalized charges of U.S. wrongdoing. While FNC provided significant coverage to unproven claims of U.S. military misconduct in Iraq (12 stories), the other networks took a much more sensational approach to the story. MSNBC aired three times as much coverage of alleged misconduct as FNC (36 stories), while CNN aired a whopping 59 stories — nearly five times the coverage of FNC.

Fox News Channel aired more stories about coalition success in Iraq. FNC aired a total of 81 stories announcing coalition victories in Iraq, nearly as many as MSNBC (47 stories) and CNN (41 stories) combined. During the ten weeks of our study, most coverage of Iraq’s political process reflected optimism about the democratically-elected government, a topic that FNC also showcased more than either MSNBC or CNN (63 stories vs. 34 and 38 respectively).

Even on the best day, CNN and MSNBC found negative themes to promote. While all three networks presented news of Zarqawi’s death as a victory for the U.S. coalition, CNN chose that day to interview a Middle East journalist who complained, "There’s no good news in Iraq. There’s no corner that’s been turned, there’s no milestone....I just feel very depressed and hopeless." Over on MSNBC, the network took time away from covering the breaking news of Zarqawi’s death to feature positive profiles of United States military deserters.

But this wouldn't affect public opinion about the war, would it?

Get Your Hands Off the Gay Sheep!

Via the Raw Story, this story about political correctness and science:

SCIENTISTS are conducting experiments to change the sexuality of “gay” sheep in a programme that critics fear could pave the way for breeding out homosexuality in humans.

The technique being developed by American researchers adjusts the hormonal balance in the brains of homosexual rams so that they are more inclined to mate with ewes.

I've heard rumblings against finding the so-called "gay gene" before. It's understandable, given the fear that people would exercise their right to abortion by killing off their gay offspring in utero. Still waiting to hear from those pro-choicers who will say, "Stop trying to enforce your moral standards on us!"

Evidently, former tennis star Martina Navratilova has waded into the frenzy to defend gay sheep.
Navratilova defended the "right" of sheep to be gay. She said: "How can it be that in the year 2006 a major university would host such homophobic and cruel experiments?" She said gay men and lesbians would be “deeply offended” by the social implications of the tests.

But others herald the study, saying it will allow parents greater freedom to raise the children they want.
Michael Bailey, a neurology professor at Northwestern University near Chicago, said: "Allowing parents to select their children’s sexual orientation would further a parent’s freedom to raise the sort of children they want to raise."

For the record, I'm against aborting gay babies--er, fetuses--er, embryos, as well as straight ones.

UPDATE: Now there is a study out of Denmark which evaluates social factors in sexual orientation.

Conyers Accepts "Responsibility" for Ethics Violations

Phew! I know everybody was really worried that Democrat John Conyers wouldn't accept responsibility for his staffers baby-sitting for him, running personal errands, and doing political work for the Congressman.

"The House ethics committee concluded its three-year inquiry into incoming Judiciary Chairman John Conyers on Friday, voting to take no punitive action against the Michigan Democrat but warning him not to use Congressional staff for any campaign or personal purposes in the future," Susan Davis reports for Roll Call.

"The inquiry was self-initiated by the ethics panel following news reports in December 2003 that Conyers had on multiple occasions demanded his Congressional staff do both political work outside of their official duties as well as personal errands and favors for the lawmaker and his wife, such as babysitting and tutoring his children," the article continues.

However, The Hill notes, "The finding by the ethics panel could spark debate, and perhaps eclipse, the first week of the incoming-Democratic majority’s plans to change the House ethics rules, as well as raise questions about Conyers’ standing to chair the Judiciary Committee."

It's easy to accept "responsibility" when there are no consequences--er, punishment. I keep forgetting that, for conservatives, consequences is just code language for punishment. At least, that's what I've been told.

"her un-wingnutlike desire for conciliation"

More unbiased reporting from the New York Times. The above quote is from a story about Patricia Heaton, who played Ray Romano's wife in Everybody Loves Raymond.

The article is about the rough time Heaton has had finding good roles since the show ended two years ago. Reporter Jesse Green says that Heaton's outspoken conservatism, her honorary chairmanship of Feminists for Life, and her appearance in an anti-stem cell research ad have made life rougher than usual for the actress.

The Internet floodgates opened. Web sites weighed in on "Fox v. Heaton" and generally eviscerated her. On, April Winchell, a California radio personality, posted a 38-second remix of Ms. Heaton’s clip. It starts out saying, "I’m Patricia Heaton, and I’m a religious zealot who thinks she knows what’s best for everybody" and gets uglier from there: "I could give you the whole story, but I’d rather beat you over the head with my Bible. And besides it’s not like stem-cell research makes you look younger. I mean, if it did, I’d be all over it."

That was in reference to Heaton's plastic surgery after having four children.

The "un-wingnutlike desire for conciliation" comment comes directly after this paragraph. I guess Green assumes "wingnuts," the perjorative term liberals give for conservatives, don't like conciliation. If he thinks narrow-mindedness and harsh criticism are the sole property of the right, I guess he didn't get to this take on his Heaton story. I'd like to think he'd say it was an example of the "typical moonbat desire for division, hostility, and argument," but I'm not sure he'd actually notice it.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Importance of God and Religion

Christian researcher George Barna has some interesting statistics and predictions from his 2006 study of religious attitudes in America.

(A)lthough large majorities of the public claim to be "deeply spiritual" and say that their religious faith is "very important" in their life, only 15 percent of those who regularly attend a Christian church ranked their relationship with God as their top priority.

I think this disconnect between being "deeply spiritual" and making God the most important part of one's life can be traced back to the narcissism regularly on display in our culture. The most popular churches are those least grounded in tradition and doctrine, but, rather, are built on emotions and experiences.

Barna describes three spiritual patterns evident in our society.
In his year-end review, Barna describes what he sees as three general spiritual patterns that are likely to gain prominence in the coming years. The first of these, he says, is diversity: along with new forms of spiritual leadership and expressions of faith, he predicts that ecumenism will expand as the emerging generations pay less attention to doctrine and more attention to relationships and experiences.

The second prediction from the head of Barna Research has to do with what he calls "bifurcation." He expects to see a widening gap between the intensely committed and those who are casually involved in faith matters. The difference, Barna says, will become strikingly evident between those who make faith the core of their life and those who simply attach a religious component onto an already mature lifestyle.

Barna's third prediction deals with the use of media. He says new technologies will significantly reshape how people experience and express their faith, as well as the ways in which they form communities of faith.

"The latest debate centers on whether simulated intercourse is an appropriate dance style for the high school gym."

A father complains about the dances girls perform at a junior high talent show. (Via Ann Althouse):

The scene is a middle school auditorium, where girls in teams of three or four are bopping to pop songs at a student talent show. Not bopping, actually, but doing elaborately choreographed re-creations of music videos, in tiny skirts or tight shorts, with bare bellies, rouged cheeks and glittery eyes.

They writhe and strut, shake their bottoms, splay their legs, thrust their chests out and in and out again. Some straddle empty chairs, like lap dancers without laps. They don’t smile much. Their faces are locked from grim exertion, from all that leaping up and lying down without poles to hold onto. “Don’t stop don’t stop,” sings Janet Jackson, all whispery. “Jerk it like you’re making it choke. ...Ohh. I’m so stimulated. Feel so X-rated.” The girls spend a lot of time lying on the floor. They are in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

I know I'm middle-aged, but it is amazing to me what pre-adolescent girls are being told is normal behavior. At least when Starlight Vocal Band sang about Afternoon Delight, they used a few euphemisms.

Worse than the girls' behavior was the parents' reactions:
As each routine ends, parents and siblings cheer, whistle and applaud. I just sit there, not fully comprehending...

What surprised me, though, was how completely parents of even younger girls seem to have gotten in step with society’s march toward eroticized adolescence — either willingly or through abject surrender. And if parents give up, what can a school do? A teacher at the middle school later told me she had stopped chaperoning dances because she was put off by the boy-girl pelvic thrusting and had no way to stop it — the children wouldn’t listen to her and she had no authority to send anyone home. She guessed that if the school had tried to ban the sexy talent-show routines, parents would have been the first to complain, having shelled out for costumes and private dance lessons for their Little Miss Sunshines.

I’m sure that many parents see these routines as healthy fun, an exercise in self-esteem harmlessly heightened by glitter makeup and teeny skirts. Our girls are bratz, not slutz, they would argue, comfortable in the existence of a distinction.

My oldest daughter performed in a community youth association drill team when she was in first and second grade. The first year, they performed the sorts of routines I expected from 7-, 8-, and 9-year-olds: lots of stepping this way and that, moving arms in half circles, shaking little pom pons.

But the second year, the coach wanted the squad to be more competitive, and so she had a dance studio create a new, more "mature" routine, which included shimmying their non-existent breasts. I was appalled, particularly when the squad went to a state competition (yes, I let her stay in that long) and I saw that our squad's routine was tame by comparison with the vamping, strutting, and slinking around exhibited by other elementary school girls. That competition was the end of drill team for us, and I'm still ambivalent about allowing the youngest daughter into dance classes.

I like to encourage my daughters to be proud of themselves and their accomplishments, but I don't think teaching them that simulating sex for a talent show is the way to be proud of themselves.

Saddam Hussein Executed

According to this story by the Associated Press, Saddam Hussein was executed last night.

Saddam Hussein struggled briefly after American military guards handed him over to Iraqi executioners. But as his final moments approached, he grew calm.

He clutched a Quran as he was led to the gallows, and in one final moment of defiance, refused to have a hood pulled over his head before facing the same fate he was accused of inflicting on countless thousands during a quarter-century of ruthless power.

A man whose testimony helped lead to Saddam's conviction and execution before sunrise said he was shown the body because "everybody wanted to make sure that he was really executed."

"Now, he is in the garbage of history," said Jawad Abdul-Aziz, who lost his father, three brothers and 22 cousins in the reprisal killings that followed a botched 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the Shiite town of Dujail.

Not surprisingly, the moonbats have found a way to turn Saddam's actions into America's fault.

At Pandagon:
R.Mildred: the trouble is that saddam was no less barbaric than the british when churchill was in charge of the area, no less despotic...more humane and better for women than we are...

Weep for Saddam’s death, weep for the way his death and his joke of a trial is being used to obfuscate the role american politicians, many of whom are still running the government, played in putting saddam in charge of iraq, put the weapons he used into his hands, funded his wars and suppression of uprisings, how htey told the kurds to rise up with the promise of american support during Iraq I and then chickened out at the last minute, how every single badness that has happened ot iraq for the past 20 years can be traced to one or more current standing politician, civil servant or plutocratic businessman with an ear in congress or the senate or the white house.

Mark Foxwell: I mainly weep that he never got a chance (or didn’t have the inclination?) to spell out just how complict we Americans (the real powers behind his executioners) were in just about every vile offense against humanity he ever committed.

The nutjobs at DailyKOS were more explicit:
Kdoug: What should be the punishment for Bush?
He is responsible for the deaths of 650,000 Iraqis (Lancet); and nearly 3,000 Americans? Those looking for Justice ... what should be the punishment?

Bakabear: At the end of the war in Italy, Mussolini was executed on April 29, 1945, and his body, along with others, was hanged at an Esso gas station in Milan. As much as this would be so very appropriate for Bush, I'd rather see him in on trial in the Hague answering to charges against humanity.

vassmer: Of course, there will be those who are delusional and believe a man who was responsible for 9/11 was executed today (of course Bush will continue making connections to that fallacy."

Or the ones cheering are those that really get a kick out of murder/executions/war or killing darker skin people because somehow it makes them feel they are winning the war on terror.

Of course, tas at Liberal Avenger was a little more subtle:
Why has Saddam been sentenced to die for killing over 100 Shia? Did the Iraqi judicial system somehow forget about Saddam’s Anfal campaign wherein he used chemical weapons to kill over 100,000 Kurds? Why isn’t he being tried for this crime? Is it because the Reagan administration supplied Saddam with some of those chemical weapons, and Bush and his handlers don’t want the full extent of his Republican predessor’s involvement to become well known? And since George Hebert Walker Bush was vice president at the time, did he have direct involvement in our tax dollars being used to arm Iraq so Saddam could murder thousands? Or, to a lesser extent, did he know what was going on? Does Bush not want to see his Dad brought up for war crimes?

Just connecting the dots, maybe? asking. Speculating.

Because, you see, to the freakfest on the left, everything is eventually America's fault. Then they wonder why we question their patriotism.

UPDATE: More moonbat idiocy here.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Yes, Virginia, There Are Feminist Issues Other than Abortion!

After reading Amanda's post at Pandagon and the comments after it (which stated unequivocally that abortion is the defining issue of feminism), I decided to go look at some other feminist sites to see if there were other defining issues of feminism. Not surprisingly, I found a ton of them.

At, there were numerous issues discussed:

--Building self-esteem in young girls
--Health (including issues about breast cancer and depression)
--Violence against women
--Work and career

It was encouraging to discover that abortion didn't seem to be the issue that defined these feminists. In fact, it was encouraging to discover feminists who didn't define themselves solely by their wombs, but who considered a variety of issues to be important to women. What a refreshing notion!

But there are other feminist organizations who seem to be interested in more than abortion.

There's, which contains information about a variety of issues affecting women (not just abortion!).
The National Council for Research on Women includes a variety of female health issues (not just abortion!)
Centre for Women's Research includes articles about issues facing women around the globe (not just abortion!)

It is understandable that Teh Sex is the most important part of feminism for some feminists and that abortion available 24/7/365 is critical. Whenever someone states that abortion is the defining feminist issue, however, they should really bother consulting feminists. Most of them consider contraception and abortion to only be two issues of concern. After all, most feminists recognize that we are more than a sum of our body parts.

Weird Contraceptive Advertising

Dawn Eden has this post about new T-shirts being promoted by Planned Parenthood of Connecticut.

I don't imagine many women who would buy this T-shirt from Margaret Sanger's organiztion would really "♥" taking four-to-40 times the amount of hormones in one birth-control pill within a 12-hour period. Nor do I believe they would ♥ tripling their odds of a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy. Nor would they ♥ it so much if they knew that, based on studies in Scotland, Sweden, and the states of Washington and California, even after shelling out to Planned Parenthood for their EC, they're just as likely to return there for an abortion as they would have been had they not bought the pill.

Funny, I don't see any mention of those risks on Planned Parenthood of Connecticut's site, nor on any Planned Parenthood site — with the notable exception of Planned Parenthood Federation of America's helpful chart showing how many birth control pills equal one complete dose of EC. (It ranges from four Ovrals to 40 Ovrettes.

According to the comments, there's more to the shirt:
This "I heart EC" t-shirt is for the true activist! This is a standard unisex t-shirt. The message on the back message [sic] reads, "Birth control is basic healthcare."

Then there's the fitted version of the shirt:

This adorable fitted "I heart EC" t-shirt will make heads turn! Show people how much you care about "EC", Emergency Contraception. The back says "You have 5 days" which indicates how many days after unprotected sex, a condom breaking, or sexual assault, a woman can take EC to prevent pregnancy.

I have to wonder about the person who would wear such a thing, but, then again, the same people who like this shirt hate the I Love My Boyfriend T-shirts.

It's Christmas--Time to Mock the Christians

This may be a few days late (hey, it's the fifth day of the 12 days of Christmas, though), but Frank Lockwood has this thought-provoking blog post about mocking Christians at Christmas.

It's a point my husband pointed out in a slightly different context the other day. Christianity seems to be the only religion in the U.S. that it is perfectly acceptable to mock, denigrate, and try to ban its discourse from the public sphere. Since tolerance is the most important virtue, supposedly, the intolerance shown to Christians, particularly at Christmas, is astounding.

When was the last time you saw news stories or columns, entertainment pieces or documentaries dissecting and dismantling Muslim or Buddhist theology? I doubt you have because if such things do exist, they are rare.

My husband calls it persecution. I'm not willing to use that term yet, but there is definitely an effort to discredit Christianity at the very least.

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Duke Lacrosse Prosecutor


North Carolina's association of lawyers filed ethics charges Thursday against the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case, accusing him of breaking four rules of professional conduct when speaking to reporters about the sensational case where a black woman said she was raped by three white men.

The punishment for ethics violations can range from admonishment to disbarment.

Among the rules District Attorney Mike Nifong was accused of violating was a prohibition against making comments "that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused"...

Another rule Nifong was charged with breaking forbids "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation." The association said that when DNA testing failed to find any evidence a lacrosse player raped the woman, Nifong told a reporter the players might have used a condom.

The association said Nifong knew that assertion was misleading because he had received a report from an emergency room nurse in which the accuser said her attackers did not use a condom.

This isn't surprising at all, given that Nifong's behavior damages the credibility of rape cases in general, racially motivated rape cases in particular, and tarnishes the reputation of all prosecutors.

I'm trying to find feminists who condemn what happened to the Duke lacrosse players. So far, what I'm finding looks more like this, defiance in the face of reality. The writer claims she is still "agnostic" about whether the rape happened. Even blogs dedicated to this rape case seem to have disappeared (I wonder why no concluding post about Nifong's incompetence?). More defense of ruining white boys' lives if it advances the matriarchy here, here, and here.

The Duke rape case is illustrative of two overarching problems in our country: sensationalism and victimization.

The MSM has become addicted to high-profile, sensational stories, many of which shouldn't even get the national attention they do (remember Chandra Levy?). This isn't to say that stories of child kidnappings, rapes, murders, et al are not newsworthy. They simply aren't worthy of the wall-to-wall coverage particularly cable news outlets give these stories. And when it comes to sensitive issues of race and sex, the propulsion of a questionable rape charge to the front pages of major newspapers and the top of the broadcast on television and radio is unconscionable.

For months, the Duke lacrosse players have been subject to a high-tech lynching, as Clarence Thomas once characterized it. Because of American sympathy for victims, there was only tepid skepticism about this victim's story. To question her motivations for accusing these white men of raping her was tantamount to racism and sexism, a double-shot accusation few people are willing to stand up against.

I don't know what happened at the frat party that night, but, frankly, the story told about what happened that night is falling apart. It's time for those who supported it the most when it suited their agendas to admit they were wrong.

UPDATE: Mary Katherine Ham tells us who the Duke lacrosse players really are.

There are no feminists who think it’s wrong and immoral for a woma(n) to make her own decisions about her own body"

So says our old pal Jesurgislac on this thread at Pandagon.

The Pandagonistas are up to their old tricks, mainly stating that anyone who doesn't think sticking a fork in a baby's head on his/her way to birth is a good idea can't be a feminist.

I always enjoy the comments on a Pandagon thread, especially when someone has the audacity to disagree with the regulars. Usually, it only takes two comments before they want the interloper to leave, given that the Pandagonistas use circular logic and strawmen arguments in support of most of their points. Anyone who questions this "logic" is liable to be ridiculed in the most scathing way they know how: to be labelled as favoring the patriarchy! (big gasp)

I had to laugh at the exchange Jes had with commenter Robert. Robert gave up in disgust after Jes repeatedly refused to actually read and comprehend his points before commenting on them. Of course, I've had lots of experience with that, as well.

But the most intriguing part of the exchange was the quote I used as a headline for this post:

There are no feminists who think it’s wrong and immoral for a womam [sic] to make her own decisions about her own body and to have control over her own fertility. That’s bedrock feminism, and anyone who claims that they’re a feminist but women mustn’t be allowed to make decisions is, as Amanda has been carefully explaining, lying through their rotten teeth.

The link she uses takes you back to Amanda's various disengenuous posts about Feminists for Life and what their "real" agenda is. I have no problem with Amanda arguing for abortion or why it is part of the feminist agenda. But most of the posts Jes linked to are chock-full of hyperbole and extremely low on logic or real points.

What was truly bizarre in this statement is the idea that abortion is THE defining issue of feminism. That would come as a big surprise to a lot of pro-life feminists, not just Feminists for Life, but this site, or this site, or this one.

It comes as quite a surprise to me, as well. I consider myself a feminist. I'm all for equal wages, opportunities, education, and protection under the law. I don't think women who get raped are asking for it or that women are the property of their husbands or fathers. I'm all for women having the same rights and responsibilities under the law that men do.

It sounds silly to have to articulate those things as feminist positions, but, according to the Pandagonistas, those things don't matter. Abortion is the only issue that defines feminism. If you think motherhood is good and children are a blessing, that raising one's children is the most important task you'll be given in life, then you must want a return to 1950's patriarchy. Only if you agree that a woman's "right to choose" to kill her fetus is the most fundamental right there is can one be a feminist.

Of course, this extreme position doesn't take into account the pro-life feminists who favor contraception but don't think a 12-year-old should get an abortion without either parental notification or consent. Or the pro-lifers who think adoption is good, but don't want abortion illegal just so there will be more white babies for adoption (I can't make this stuff up).

It's sad, really that so many so-called feminists are so obsessed with keeping abortion legal for any and every reason that they can't find issues with which they can agree with pro-life feminists. It isn't that both sides don't deserve to be called feminists. It's that there seems to be only one issue that can define feminism for some people.

UPDATE: I just discovered that Jes has a blog! And for someone who spends a great deal of time in her comments talking about me (see here, here, and here), her site is just more of the same creepy stuff only worse. What's most interesting is the amount of time she spent (say, here, here, and even here) replaying arguments from my blog, not unlike a teenager thinking up zingers long after her boyfriend broke up with her. I really do feel sorry for Jes. If she'd only stop lying about what other people post and stop repeating herself, she just might write something interesting some day. But I really doubt it.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

"(T)he best of the blogs do a better job than the best of the mainstream media"

So says Hugh Hewitt while conducting an interview with Joseph Rago, the Wall Street Journal assistant editorial features editor who said blogs were "written by fools to be read by imbeciles." (Via Ann Althouse)

Hewitt does an excellent job of skewering Rago, hoisting him on his own petard that journalists do a better job covering stories than bloggers because, well, they're journalists.

Rago suffers from that self-importance journalists are loathed for (I know because I was one). Rago argues that most blogs are awful and that the MSM (a term he hates) does a better job of covering events.

It's understandable that the 23-year-old Rago would be defending his chosen livelihood so fiercely. With the precipitous drop in readership of newspapers, most of the lifers at the WSJ are probably calculating what they can get if they retire now.

The problem confronting Rago, and all print journalists, is that, while blogs aren't necessarily written by journalists and go through four editors who nitpick for style and comma errors, many of them are written by people who are experts in a given area, be that area law or military affairs (including people actually on the ground in Iraq and not hiding out in the green zone), or medicine. In fact, there are so many blogs out there that individual readers can, in a sense, become their own reporters, gleaning facts and opinions from a variety of sources.

There are numerous constraints on print journalists that don't happen in the blogosphere. Blogs aren't constrained by space limitations, nor are they beholden to advertisers who might yank all those car ads if you run a piece on how consumers can get a better deal on their car. Bloggers also don't have to stick with one "beat" day after day, trying to find a new angle to a story they might tell annually (like about the state fair). And bloggers don't have to get their stories approved by editors who might not like them (either the reporter or the story).

Are there awful blogs? Sure. Most blogs are personal blabberings created to satisfy the egos of the creator, and those blogs may last a few days, weeks, or months. But most of the blogs that follow the news, that do interviews, that cover events, are at least as good as anything you can read in a newspaper.

Part of the reason bloggers are outperforming print journalists is that journalists have done such a crappy job with major stories like Iraq or politics that readers don't trust them. At least with bloggers, you know up front what their biases are. They aren't afraid to wave the flag or burn the flag (metaphorically speaking). Readers are much more forgiving of someone who is honest, even if they don't write real pretty every day.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

UPDATE: Hot Air has responses from WSJ readers.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Lonely Senator

Hot Air has this story about how John Kerry is a lonely man in Iraq.

Sen. Kerry found himself all alone while he was over here. He cancelled his press conference because no one came, he worked out alone in the gym w/o any soldiers even going up to say hi or ask for an autograph (I was one of those who was in the gym at the same time), and he found himself eating breakfast with only a couple of folks who are obviously not troops.

Full story at Powerline and more at Ben of Mesopotamia.

UPDATE: It turns out Kerry was not being shunned by soldiers, but was simply waiting for an interview. My apologies for jumping to conclusions.

The Katrina Boondoggle

Michelle Malkin has an excellent piece on the bipartisan Katrina boondoggle. That is, the billions of dollars wasted on behalf of the Hurricane Katrina victims.

Malkin points out:

Federal investigators now estimate the total for Hurricane Katrina waste could exceed $2 billion next year. Some $1 billion in aid has already been squandered on everything from unused trailers to empty cruise ship cabins, junkets, and disaster aid debit cards that covered strip club and champagne expenses. Investigators reportedly will release the first of several audits examining more than $12 billion in Katrina contracts next month.

But when the Democrats take control of Congress next month and start their "oversight" (read: Republican bashing), it is doubtful that they will be concerned about $68,000 for dog booties or the $5.3 million FEMA gave away to registrants claiming P.O. boxes as their addresses. Nope. they'll focus on big companies with GOP ties.
When they hold their windy hearings and press conferences decrying wastefraudandabuse, they'll bray about countless hurricane contractors with GOP ties. They'll turn over the microphone to corporate shakedown hypocrites such as Jesse Jackson to moan about favoritism in government contracting. And they'll assail the Republican culture of corruption while looking the other way at Katrina's Democrat profiteers.

You will hear a lot about the Shaw Group, for example, which snapped up major disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Mainstream media outlets and Democrat mau-mauers have zeroed in on Shaw's "ties to the Bush White House" and the multibillion-dollar conglomerate's status as a "major corporate client of Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

But then, there's always a flip side to all these stories.
What Nancy Pelosi and company will not mention, though, is that the Shaw Group was founded by major Louisiana Democrat player Jim Bernhard -- a former chairman of the Louisiana Democrat Party who worked tirelessly for Democrat Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco's runoff campaign and served as co-chair of her transition team. Bernhard was palsy-walsy with Blanco, whom he has lent/offered the Shaw Group's corporate jets to on numerous occasions. Another Shaw executive was Blanco's campaign manager.

Whenever I get accused of being a partisan hack because I love pointing at Democrat hypocrisy, I just pull out stories like this one. All skullduggery is bipartisan. The quicker the real partisan hacks (those who think only Republicans run big businesses) realize that the muck runs deep, the sooner we can start cleaning up the messes they leave.

St. Louis Judge's Book Causes Furor

In the Impartial Juror file, we find this story about Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr. and his new book, The Tyranny of Tolerance: A Sitting Judge Breaks the Code of Silence to Expose the Liberal Judicial Assault.

Dierker's book, which is set to be released next week, is causing quite a furor among his colleagues, who say he may have violated judicial ethics codes in publishing the book, and from targets of the book, namely liberals and feminists whom Dierker calls femifascists. I guess Rush Limbaugh has a copyright on feminazis or something.

I can understand the concern from anyone likely to end up in front of a judge who has written a book that is so pointedly opinionated. We have, however, heard for years about how, for instance, Ruth Bader Ginsberg's work for the ACLU wouldn't necessarily reflect on her impartiality on the bench. I suppose it would only be fair and just if a sitting judge were allowed to do the same.

Some choice quotes from the book:

— "Just as we saw with the femifascists, illiberal liberals don't want equality; they want to make some people more equal than others. And they've made it happen through their dominance of the courts over the past seventy-five years. Liberals have converted the courts from the 'least dangerous' branch of government envisioned by the Founding Fathers to the most dangerous." (from a chapter titled "Making some Americans more equal than others" about the 14th Amendment and equal protection under the law)

— "This is liberal law in a nutshell. History and tradition count for nothing; the language of the Constitution itself counts for little; the only criterion is whether a ruling will advance the liberal agenda." (from the chapter "Ozzie and Harriet are dead" about abortion and the attack on the traditional family)

— " ...The Constitution died on April 18, 1990, as a direct result of the liberal pursuit of racial 'equality.'" (from the chapter "Taxation for Tolerance" about school desegregation and desegregation rulings that allow judges to impose taxes)

It sounds similar to sentiments expressed by a variety of conservatives, both legal and nonlegal, for quite some time. I can't wait to see what the rest of the book is like.

President Gerald Ford Dies

Former president Gerald Ford died today at age 93.

Ford ascended to the presidency after the resignation of Richard Nixon. He pardoned Nixon, an act that was unforgivable to a large portion of the American population, who wouldn't forgive Ford and instead elected the peanut farming noob Jimmy Carter as president in 1976.

Ford had the distinction of being the only president to never be elected.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Comparing Apples with Oranges

Or comparing innocent people killed in a surprise attack with soldiers in a volunteer army killed in a war.

I'm not sure which part of the A.P.'s story is more despicable: the trivializing of the deaths for a cheap shot story or that they've been waiting to file this one for a while now. Either way, it's just another notch in the belt for those "objective professionals" called journalists.

About that Sex Survey

You know which one I'm talking about. This one from the Alan Guttmacher Institute which says that 99% of people have sex by the time they are 44 and that 95% had sex before marriage. You know, the one some people believe because it fits their built-in biases.

I suppose it isn't surprising that liberals who think a condom in every Christmas stocking was a terrific gift idea (or maybe it was an IUD...I forget which) would see these results and not use 1/10th of the skepticism they use on, say, screeds on Feminists for Life.

But, no, they haven't. There are other groups who are a bit more skeptical of results so skewed, however, according to this piece from Agape Press:

Dr. Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America (CWA) sees Finer's report as a ploy to cast doubt on the need for abstinence-until-marriage programs. "My eyebrows went up when I first saw the numbers," she recalls, "and I thought that the results were a bit too pat because they fit so specifically into the agenda of Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute."

For that reason, Crouse says she is "quite suspicious" about the numbers cited in the Institute's report. "They are so extreme," she contends, "I think you'd have to have another study done to replicate those results before I would buy into them."

One reason the CWA spokeswoman feels the credibility of this report on Americans and premarital sex needs to be questioned is that Finer works for a group which she believes actually favors both extramarital sex and abortion. The Guttmacher Institute, a private New York-based think tank that investigates sexual and reproductive issues, is an organization that strongly discourages government-funded abstinence-only programs and instead promotes so-called "comprehensive sex education," which is condom-based and emphasizes the concept of "safe sex."

I've looked at the Guttmacher site and can't find a list of the questions they asked. I am highly skeptical of any research that says 99% of anybody has done anything other than breathe (the 1% not breathing are liberals). For one thing, I was interested to know what the Guttmacher definition of sex was. Are they talking only intercourse or are they talking about the whole variety of activities that Bill Clinton insisted weren't sex?

Secondly, what is "premarital sex"? Does that include a person who has been divorced but has sex before they remarry? And isn't that a different category from people who have never been married but have sex before marriage?

Finally, is it really amazing that 99% of people (supposedly) have sex by the time they are middle-aged? I don't find it unbelievable at all that halfway through life most people had sex at some point. This could include people who are now chaste but had sex at some earlier point in their lives.

In short, without the questions asked and a better breakdown of the information, the conclusion that has been touted by so many liberal blogs is, shall we say, unsubstantiated.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

Making that Fine Arts Degree Worth Something

Instead of asking, "Do you want fries with that?", at least one fine arts major is putting his art degree to use...making bobbleheads. According to

this A.P. story, anybody can have a bobblehead now, not just rich and famous.

Ralph Trumbo is neither an athlete nor a celebrity. Nevertheless, he has a bobblehead likeness of himself sitting on his mantle.

Bobbleheads, those shaky-headed 3-D caricatures, have jiggled free of their mass-produced roots of an earlier generation. Once merely featureless figures decked out in team colors and handed out on game day, they now depict just about anyone who wants one.

Even Trumbo, a Des Moines letter carrier.

"It's really cool," he said. "I take it to work and they say 'It's you.' It looks just like me."

Trumbo's bobblehead was sculpted by Bryan Guise, who creates the toys in the cramped basement of his home.

Guise, 29, has made bobbleheads for Iowa's governor, police officers, a woman with a deformed face, even a rush job for a dying man. Typically, he takes orders over the Internet and relies on photos of his subjects...

Guise, who graduated from the University of Iowa with a fine arts degree in 2002, has been drawing caricatures since he was a child. He turned that interest into a job making bobbleheads after graduation.

He won't say how many he makes beyond "quite a few." Prices range from $150 to $200.

Sounds to me like a fun and creative way to use his degree.

James Brown Dies

I don't usually do obits here. There are better places than this measly blog for one. But I was shocked to discover that James Brown died sometime while the rest of us were ripping open presents and eating the turkey dinner.

I'm not the world's biggest James Brown fan, but it would be hard for any American to not have some James Brown song in their Top 100 list.

One of the major musical influences of the past 50 years, James Brown was to rhythm and dance music what Bob Dylan was to lyrics.

From Jagger to Michael Jackson, David Bowie to Public Enemy, his rapid-footed dancing, hard-charging beats and heartfelt yet often unintelligible vocals changed the musical landscape.

"He was a whirlwind of energy and precision, and he was always very generous and supportive to me in the early days of the Stones," Jagger said. "His passing is a huge loss to music."

What's in a Deficit?

Bruce Bartlett takes President George W. Bush's accounting methods to task in this article at

Bartlett does an excellent job of laying out the problem with the president's recent announcement that the deficit was about half of what recent Office of Management and Budget projections had been.

If this is the standard for success, one wonders why we didn't do even better. All Bush had to do was order OMB to make an even bigger mistake than it did in estimating what the deficit would be. If it had wrongly projected the deficit to be $500 billion or $600 billion in 2006, then Bush could have announced an even bigger improvement. Maybe next year he should tell OMB to project a deficit of $1 trillion. Then even if the budget deficit rises, Bush can congratulate himself once again for beating expectations.

President Bush, right, accompanied by first lady Laura Bush, gestures as he addresses the media about his visit with troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 22, 2006 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) In the real world, of course, people measure their progress not against some incorrect forecast, but against actual results. By this standard, the numbers don't look as good. Bush inherited a budget surplus of $128 billion in fiscal year 2001, which the government was already in the midst of when he took office. By the following year, FY 2002, the surplus was gone and the government had a deficit of $158 billion, which rose to $378 billion in 2003 and $413 billion in 2004, before falling to $318 billion in 2005 and $248 billion last year.

Bartlett goes on to point out that none of these budget projections include Medicare and Social Security, the two biggest budget busters in our government. Without including those, all other budget projections are completely inaccurate and useless.

There's good reason why neither of these programs are included in budget projects. They cannot be curbed nor dropped and will be funded regardless of the cost to the rest of the budget. They will be, that is, until there are so many people in those systems versus people paying into those systems that it is no longer sustainable. But no one wants to discuss that, as was evidenced when President Bush wanted to reform Social Security back in 2004. I wouldn't say it will be "fun" to see Democrats suddenly rediscover the problems of Social Security and Medicare, but it will be interesting, to be sure.

Monday, December 25, 2006

10 Trends in Media

Peter Kann has this excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal on 10 trends in the press that need fixing. (Via GetReligion's Mollie.

I won't list all of them, but it is a great list that should have most people nodding halfway through it. Several of them have to do with the blurring of news with something else (whether opinion, advertising, or entertainment). For me, this is a critical problem with the modern press.

The so-called new journalism, which could be quite entertaining, is also so completely submerged in the opinions and biases of the writer that one cannot treat the stories as factual. If one tells a story of a car wreck from one witness's perspective, is it factual? Well, yes, from that perspective. But what about others?

This is where much of modern journalism is falling down. In its attempt to humanize stories from environmentalism to unemployment to war, journalists are creating impressions that may be true on a microbial level, but may not be true in a larger sense.

While Kann's list is not exhaustive, it is instructive. I only wish I were more hopeful that journalists would take it to heart, but I'm just not that hopeful.

Merry Christmas to All!

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Rush Was Right!

Remember when liberals howled because Rush Limbaugh (and others, including President Bush) said that voting for Democrats in the mid-term elections was voting for terrorists? Well, now the terrorists want some credit.

Al Qaeda has sent a message to leaders of the Democratic party that credit for the defeat of congressional Republicans belongs to the terrorists.

In a portion of the tape from al Qaeda No. 2 man, Ayman al Zawahri, made available only today, Zawahri says he has two messages for American Democrats.

"The first is that you aren't the ones who won the midterm elections, nor are the Republicans the ones who lost. Rather, the Mujahideen -- the Muslim Ummah's vanguard in Afghanistan and Iraq -- are the ones who won, and the American forces and their Crusader allies are the ones who lost," Zawahri said, according to a full transcript obtained by ABC News.

I'm still waiting for the Democrat rebuttal.

UPDATE: The second link has been fixed, per a note from Dana. Thanks!

They Still Give Me the Creeps

Japanese marine biologists have captured on film the elusive giant squid, but killed it in the ensuing struggle. (Via Jules Crittenden):

Japanese marine biologists, however, have lured a giant squid to the surface of the ocean, off the Ogasawara Islands south of Tokyo, capturing it on camera as it reached out to eat one of its relatives.

They filmed it as they reeled it in. And, according to Tsunemi Kubodera, the team’s leader, it "put up quite a fight".

It was not quite as long as the largest squid yet recorded — a specimen found in 1887 that measured 18.2m (60ft) from the top of its head to the tip of its tentacles. But the young female was still twice as long as the average person is tall, at 3.5m.

Alas it did not survive the experience. "It took two people to pull it in," Dr Kubodera said, "and they lost it once, which might have caused the injuries that killed it...

"It struggled furiously to escape by spouting water from its funnel. This means they can actually swim pretty fast, in addition to their normal movement just drifting in deep waters," he said as he showed the film to reporters.

For years, I've thought that the best horror movies are those taking place underwater. For some reason, being in the dark in the woods never scared me as much as those movies where the scientists were stuck miles under the ocean in complete darkness.

After I first heard about these giant squids, I was completely freaked out. There's just something about a creature whose eyes are as big as a human head and whose tentacles are longer than a London bus that scares me more than King Kong, Michael Myers, Jason, and Freddy Krueger combined.

Now, I guess, we'll be seeing the film of these gigantic monsters all over the Discovery Channel. I'll be waiting for the Halloween movie.

P.S.--I originally titled this post "They Still Give Me the Willies," but given that the post under it is about Monica Lewinsky, I thought it would be better to change it.

Dumb-but-Smart People

Libby Copeland discusses Monica Lewinsky's graduation from the London School of Economics in this Washington Post piece.

After the initial gasp of surprise at this startling fact, Copeland goes on to describe a subset of humanity she calls "dumb-but-smart people."

Dumb-but-smart folks defy our low expectations. They appear dull or ditzy but possess unpredictable pockets of intelligence...

We all know a dumb-but-smart person -- the airheaded clotheshorse who holds an Ivy league PhD; the mulleted townie who grows up to be a Wall Street tycoon. These people are smart in spite of themselves. At high school reunions, the pleasure of looking better than a former flame is completely undone by the mysterious success of the dumb-but-smarts, who seem too stupid even to appreciate their own unlikely journeys.

To me, the examples she gave were people who we used to call "book smart." The opposite were the people who were "street smart," and we always put our money on those people over the book smart people. Street smart people tended to be savvy and intuitive, capable of thinking on their feet, taking a gamble, and having the gamble pay off.

Book smart people, on the other hand, could hold multiple post-graduate degrees and still be living with their parents because their degrees were in useless things like European Literature or Fat Studies. They are more introverted, focused on task, follow rules, and risk averse. I confess to being a book smart person. :)

There's a whole feminist screed that could be written about the infamous Ms. Lewinsky and her thesis, In Search of the Impartial Juror: An Exploration of the Third Person Effect and Pre-Trial Publicity. About the low expectations people have of women, particularly women who flaunt their sexuality. How sexually-expressive women get punished for showing interest in Teh Sex.

But the moral of Lewinsky's story (at least to me) wasn't about sexually-expressive women getting punished. It was about doing stupid things when you are young that you will live to regret later. I can't imagine Monica reliving her thong-snapping flirtation with the president for her children or grandchildren, at least, if she really is a smart person.

Sadly, though, no matter how many degrees Monica gets, no matter how many purses she sells, no matter how many reality shows she hosts, her obit will be about thongs, cigars, blowjobs, and a little blue dress. I guess that's the epitome of the smart-but-dumb person.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Amanda at Pandagon misses the point.

"Finally I am logged off from the incessant broadband stream of information of my daily life."

So says Mike Albo in this New York Times piece. (H/T to Ann Althouse).

WHENEVER someone asks where I’ll be for the holidays, I always do the same thing: roll my eyes and say, exasperatedly: “I guess I’m going home for Christmas. Hope I don’t go insane!”

It’s been part of my conversational repertory since my early 20s, the time when you start having to prove to yourself that you are a self-governing adult, but before you realize that adulthood basically involves complex and enervating tasks like Internet dating, shopping for jeans, trying to remember your 15 various log-on codes and passwords, and deciphering your Verizon bill.

Now I am 37 years old and I can’t wait to go insane at Christmas in that comfortable padded cell known as “home.” Instead of being tedious, going home has become an indulgent retreat from my fried-out issue-driven city life. It is a place where I line my mind and body with the fatty lard of my suburban youth and experience not one moment of regret.

For a brief week, I get to be as ugly and out of it as Americans are always accused of being, and no one has to see it.

Ahh, to go home and not have to be an adult for a week. I don't know what I'd do with such a luxury. Or what my husband or kids would do, for that matter.

When my mom was alive, every Sunday was a little bit of Christmas break that way. It was a chance to go back, eat lots of stuff I'd never fix for myself, play several games of Scrabble with Mom, laugh at my (now oldest) niece and nephew, and then dump all the minutiae of my life on my mother.

Dad was always there, too, ready to argue politics, liberal media bias, and why 60 Minutes was undermining the American way of life. I didn't pour out the details of my life to him for some reason. To Mom's "local," Dad was "global." The big picture guy. The philosophical debate person.

But Mom--Mom!--She was homemade biscuits and cream puffs, arts and crafts projects, sewing lessons, and kitchen table chat. She was hugs and kisses and stroking your hair. She was 80 gifts under the Christmas tree because she kept finding things she thought you'd like and so she just kept buying them or making them.

Since my mother passed away nearly 11 years ago, Christmas has moved on to my house and my brother's house and my sister's house. We don't have a single unitary Christmas like we once did. We all have our own family Christmases with their own quirks and traditions. My in-laws come over, usually with more gifts than I've ever seen outside a department store, and my husband and I make the dinner. Then we go see my father, who doesn't like to get out much except to Denny's these days.

These days, we also have to juggle doing our celebration with the schedule for the oldest daughter. Divorce is terrible and one of the consequences is that the holidays always have an undercurrent of "who's turn is it this year?" to them. So, this year, we'll do the bigger celebration the day after Christmas, only doing quiet stuff Christmas day.

I miss going home for Christmas, but mostly, I just miss my mother. Every day.

Feminist Illogic

If you go look at the pictures at this post at Pandagon, ask yourself this question:

Why are so many of the commenters outraged at the original T-shirt ("Problem Solved"), but not at similar anti-male ones?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

And the Most Outrageous Outrage Is...

Media Matters has a piece titled Most Outrageous Comments of 2006. Of course, it should be titled Most Outrageous Conservative Comments of 2006--And Have We Said Lately How Much We Hate Ann Coulter?

Media Matters is another of those supposedly "neutral" watchdog groups which, amazingly, never find anything negative to say about liberals (I know, it's shocking, isn't it?).

The list is predictable hyperbole from columnists and commentators, and most of the top 10 consist of Ann Coulter snippets. Remember Ann Coulter? She's the one who says that she likes to say things just to piss off liberals.

Compare the list at Media Matters with this extensive piece at Media Research Center.

Interestingly, most of the quotes MRC uses are from supposedly straight news sources. Sure, there is a lot of punditry as well, but most of the awards were for hyperbole in what is ostensibly objective news. For example, this about Hurricane Katrina:

ABC’s Steve Osunsami: "In many black neighborhoods, they actually believe that white residents sent the barge that destroyed the levee and flooded their communities."
Unidentified black man, in HBO’s film by Spike Lee: "They had a bomb. They bombed that sucker."
Osunsami: "To this day, the conspiracy theories are so widely held, director Spike Lee put them on film...."
Spike Lee, director: "As an African-American in this country, I don’t put anything past the government."
— ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson, August 29.

Or this about moonbat conspiracy theories about lower gas prices last fall:
Anchor Katie Couric: "Gas is the lowest it’s been all year, a nationwide average of $2.23 a gallon. It hasn’t been that low since last Christmas. But is this an election-year present from President Bush to fellow Republicans?"
Reporter Anthony Mason: "...Gas started going down just as the fall campaign started heating up. Coincidence? Some drivers don’t think so."
Man in a car: "And I think it’s basically a ploy to sort of get the American people to think, well, the economy is going good, let’s vote Republican."
— CBS Evening News, October 16. As Mason spoke, the camera zoomed in on the driver’s bumper sticker, "GOP: Grand Oil Party."

To be sure, there are tons of quotes from nutbag Keith Olbermann, but, frankly, I expect him to be a nut, mostly because there are only about three people watching his show (and all of them have lefty blogs so they can quote him extensively).

The left's obsession with Ann Coulter (she got four of the top 10 quotes at Media Matters) is both laughable and disturbing. I think it says a lot that they could find so few conservatives to bash. The MRC piece quotes dozens of sources for its outrageousness awards. You think it says something about the sheer number of liberals saying stupid things on television?

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

Friday, December 22, 2006

"I am a 'progressive democrat,' but I can't help but feel a little anger at the 19-year-old with a baby on her hip and pregnant with the next one"

So says a commenter at this post by Joan Blades at Huffington Post.

Blades is shilling for, a group advocating more government intrusion and regulation of business and family life and higher taxes. Well, that's not what they say they're for. They say they're for maternity and paternity leave, flexible work, TV and afterschool programs, health care for all kids, excellent childcare, and "realistic" wages. Everywhere I look on their site, though, I can't find where they think this money is going to come from (although a few seem to think that if we just get out of Iraq the money spent on defense can pay for these things...yeah, right).

Hey, I'd love to get paid for staying home raising my kiddoes, too. And I don't know anyone advocating terrible childcare. And most people would say they'd like better wages.

But who is gonna pay for those things?

Why, the same people who pay for the other things. The taxpayers.

Blade doesn't go into any of that in this piece. Mainly, she's defending herself against the hordes of anti-breeder trolls condemning her opinions.

It's interesting to read the comments. On one side are the commenters who agree with Blades that yes, yes, yes! We need the government to mandate paid leave, flexible hours, better wages, better childcare (with no increase in price), etc., etc. That side doesn't explain how on earth we will pay for all this new regulation without a spike in unemployment for the very people Blades wants to help.

The other side--and in some ways, the more interesting side--is completely anti-children--er, breeder.

Here are a few comments from this side:

Blacksheep: I am a "progressive democrat," but I can't help but feel a little anger at the 19-year-old with a baby on her hip and pregnant with the next one -- solely supported by the taxpayers at large. I know she's not living a life of luxury, but her luxury is being able to stay home and watch and help her children learn and grow.
I wouldn't want to deprive any mother of this, but I think that we need to reform the way welfare works -- I know this is going to sound completely totalitarian and against civil rights, but I strongly feel that as soon as a woman enrolls for welfare after birthing a child, she must go on norplant, depoprovera, or get an IUD (long-term birth control methods). If she cannot personally support one child, her freedom to have more must be removed until she has a way to support more children.

ORSunshine: Having a child might require a good deal of sacrifice on the part of the parents, but it is still an inherently selfish act. Feeling the need to reproduce when there are already so many children in need says that you care more about the experience of pregnancy, childbirth, or spreading your own genetic material than you do about caring for children.

charon: Why should responsible people who choose not to further overpopulate the planet be held responsible for the choices--or "accidents"--of those who do contribute to overpopulation, often not unselfishly, but with extreme ego and self-gratification in mind. As for women earning less--well, moms are the first to leave work and take time off to go to school functions, etc. But that leaves their colleagues to do extra work, so why shouldn't those colleagues earn more and be more often promoted? To do otherwise would be discriminatory...

What I found interesting in all the discussion was that no one discussed the role private charities, religious organizations, and civic groups can and do play in helping families. Is it really so hard to conceive of private institutions helping families instead of the government? Welcome to the legacy of FDR, I suppose.

Creating a Loophole in McCain-Feingold

The Associated Press has this story about a three-judge panel which ruled that issue ads may run during the election season. (Via The Brothers Judd blog).

The federal government cannot prohibit advocacy groups from running issue advertisements during peak election season, a panel of federal judges ruled Thursday.

The 2-1 ruling was issued in a case involving a Wisconsin anti-abortion group that challenged congressional restrictions on ads by corporations, labor unions and other special interest groups that mention candidates two months before a general election.

Some lawmakers have predicted such a ruling would create a loophole in the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign law, which attempted to reduce the influence of big-spending special-interest groups in elections.

The case automatically heads to the Supreme Court for review.

The three-judge panel upheld the government’s right to prohibit corporate and union-sponsored advertisements that attempt to influence voters but said organizations have a First Amendment right to speak out on genuine political issues.

Wisconsin Right to Life has been fighting the law since 2004, when it sought to run an advertisement urging voters to contact Wisconsin Sens. Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, both Democrats, and ask them not to hold up President Bush’s judicial nominees...

The judges said Thursday that the Wisconsin advertisements were genuinely addressing policy, not the election, and thus were constitutionally protected speech.

This doesn't surprise me at all. You can't muzzle people from speaking out about issues two months before an election. It's absolutely contrary to the First Amendment's intentions.

Legal Liability and Blogging has this article discussing what potential legal liability bloggers may face.

While it may seem like an eye-rolling "what next?" moment to all us little bloggers out here, there could be liability issues for others, particularly bloggers for firms, businesses, and bigger political bloggers.
Lawrence Savell outlines a few questions that will end up being answered in court at some point:

A threshold issue is whether blogs are any different from more traditional means of communication. Among the questions that the courts have yet to answer fully are:

--What is the significance of the increased immediacy of blogs?

--Are blogs more likely in the defamation context to be construed as protected "opinion"?

--Are they more likely in the copyright or trademark context to be construed as a permissible "fair use" of the intellectual property of others?

--Do traditional communications law principles apply and, if so, in what manner?

--Are bloggers journalists, such that both the privileges and the responsibilities of journalists are applicable to them?

This is all new territory, legally speaking, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out in the courts. Read the rest of Savell's article to think about some of the issues facing blogs today.

Christmas--er, Non-Sectarian Day Off Anecdotes

Just a few stories to liven up those last days before Christmas:

-- The local high school (public) had its Christmas and holiday concert last week. There were five different bands/ensembles who played, complete with approximately 10 versions of Jingle Bells. Most interestingly, they also played variations on a variety of Christmas carols such as Good King Wenceslas, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Silent Night, O Come, All Ye Faithful, and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. I had to thank God that the ACLU must not have known about this abominiable violation of church/state separation.

-- At the church's youth Christmas program Sunday night, we were treated to a slightly different version of the wise men's gifts. During her reading, one of the girls informed us that the wise men brought "gold, Frankenstein, and myrrh."

-- Today, my son's class will enjoy a Winter party, as he informed me.

"It's a Christmas party," I said.

"No," he answered solemnly. "It's a winter party."

"Other than the birth of Christ, why would you be celebrating winter? Do you have a spring party, as well?"

"Actually," said my husband wryly. "It is a spring party. You can't call it an Easter party."

-- Admittedly, even I have been conditioned to ignore the obvious Christmas overtones to my son's winter party. I'll be helping the Room Mom, and I volunteered to bring goody bags for all the kids.

At the party store yesterday, I searched for properly non-Christian, non-Christmas goody bags.

"Snowmen, ok," I thought to myself. "Are pointsettias ok or are they too Christmas-y? What about Santa Claus? Is he still all right or has he been dumped, too? No bags with Merry Christmas emblazoned on them. A picture of mittens? That should work. No bags with Christmas trees on them. Hmm."

Making non-sectarian goody bags for a non-sectarian unmentionable day off party seems like a lot of work and not much fun.

-- The youngest child informed me (at the same seating) that there is a girl in her class who can't even hear the word Christmas.

"We aren't supposed to say it," she said. "We can't have a Christmas party. That's why it's a winter party, because she can't hear the word Christmas."

"What happens if she hears the word Christmas?" I asked. "Does she melt?"

My daughter shrugged and continued eating. It made me wonder how the girl had completed the project we'd been given the week before. We had to cut out a Christmas tree diagram and then decorate it with whatever we liked (buttons, feathers, beans, macaroni, etc.). If hearing the word Christmas was so offensive, what would actually decorating a Christmas tree do to such a person?

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And then All the Feminists Exploded in Anger. The End

Mary Grabar has a great column discussing that vapid, estrogen-laden talk show The View.

I say great only because I agree with her, of course. But after reading it, I couldn't help but wonder what on earth the Pandagonistas would say about statements like this:

This was the danger of giving women the vote. The danger to conservatives (and the survival of this country) is the voting bloc of single women, i.e., those who lack the guidance of a man in the form of a husband or intellectual mentor.

These are women who pride themselves on being independent and empowered when they dress like prostitutes (look at the view of cleavage on the View!). These are the women who watch the View. These are the women who support Hillary Rodham Clinton. These are the women on the show who ask Senator Clinton questions like "Do you think being a mom will help you in the White House?" as they did on December 20. These are the women who think it matters that a potential presidential candidate waxes on about the same themes in her re-released book, It Takes a Village: that preschool programs need to be expanded, that working parents should have time off to take care of their kids. This is the potential presidential candidate who was applauded on the show for allowing one of her staff members to bring in her baby’s playpen.

This is a woman who started off with a discussion about how much she likes to do crafts at Christmas time.

Yes, I can imagine: we’ll have playpens and parenting classes and crafts classes in the new Clinton White House, maybe even a special prayer room for the Muslims and breaks five times a day for them. This will bring peace to the world by setting an example, for all the terrorists will supposedly drop their weapons in awe of this "village." Hillary’s answer to the Iraq question was that she wanted the country to have a "conversation" again. What—like the one they have on The View?

News flash: there are fanatics who want to annihilate us and Hillary Rodham Clinton is talking about crafts and "conversations."

I suppose this is the warm-and-fuzzy Hillary on display, the baking-cookies-and-standing-by-my-man Hillary that will get the estrogen vote. I prefer when Hillary doesn't do the touchy-feely stuff, not just because I think it's fake but because I don't care about it. I want to know exactly what she wants to do about Iraq and the environment and taxes and business regulations and the United Nations. I want to know what sort of judges she thinks should be on the Supreme Court: the kind that make shit up from international law when it suits 'em or the kind that stick with our Constitution?

Of course, I think most of us know what Hillary is really like. We've been watching her for at least a dozen years and I don't think she's gonna change now. But the trouble with the inanity of The View and other gaggles of women is that they reduce all of us to the stereotypes I thought feminists had fought against all those years ago. Did they do that so that Hillary Clinton could discuss how she likes to do crafts at Christmas time in an interview? And are these the same questions we would expect Rosie O'Donnell to ask, say, Mitt Romney were he to actually make it onto their show?

I doubt the giggling henfest on The View would ask Romney what his favorite Skittle was or how being a dad has affected his political philosophy. Everybody knows that Republicans are Nazis. After all, Joy Behar compared Donald Rumsfeld to Adolph Hitler. And we all know how perceptive she is.

UPDATE: Amanda covers Grabar's column at this post on Pandagon and the post and comments are predictable.

On the Associated Press, Straw Men, and Didn't They Teach You about Accuracy in J-School?

Allah at Hot Air has an excellent post discussing the latest in the Jamil-Jamail Hussein affair.

Evidently, Michelle Malkin has found out...something...about Hussein, but it is still unclear if anyone knows exactly who this man is. Allah thinks the man used a pseudonym, which is a violation of A.P. ethics (I know, oxymoron) without explanation.

But the better part of Allah's post is his dismantling of Eric Boehlert's silly piece slapping at warbloggers and their interest in the Jamil-Jamail Hussein story. Here's a bit from Boehlert's column:

The warbloggers’ strawman is built around the claim that if the AP hadn’t reported the Burned Alive story, which was no more than a few sentences within a larger here’s-the-carnage-from-Baghdad-today article [Actually, Allah notes that the burning bodies was the only element of the story when it first hitThe Drudge Report], then Americans would still gladly support the war in Iraq...

Chasing the Burned Alive story down a rabbit’s hole, giddy warbloggers deliberately ignore the hundreds of Iraqi civilians who are killed each week, the thousands who are injured, and the tens of thousands who try to flee the disintegrating country. None of that matters. Only Burned Alive matters, as if an AP retraction would change a thing on the ground in Baghdad, where electricity remains scarce, but sectarian death squads roam freely...

[D]espite the hundreds of stories AP files from Iraq each week, and the thousands posted annually since the invasion, warbloggers can only find fault with a single story, yet insist that one is enough to tarnish the AP’s Iraq reporting and all mainstream news reporting from Baghdad.

The disengenuousness of Boehlert's small, petty claim is palpable. He knows that there are more than 60 stories using Hussein as a source, according to Malkin. And if Boehlert worked anywhere other than his high school newspaper, he knows that the credibility of a news outlet is only as good as its sources. If the sources are suspect, so is the news agency that reports it.

So, it isn't like Boehlert is naive enough to honestly believe this is just about one story. He knows better.

Allah goes on to dismantle Boehlert's argument bit by bit:
He also knows that the AP originally claimed four mosques were burned and that that claim has since disappeared into the ether without so much as a clarification. Just like he also knows, courtesy of Robert Bateman, that it’s unlikely in the extreme based on Hussein’s location that he’d be a credible witness for the wide variety of attacks sourced to him by the AP. All of which make this story highly dubious, yet none of which Boehlert sees fit to mention anywhere in his piece. Why?

Because he doesn’t care if the story’s bogus or not. He’ll say en passant that he does because he knows, as a journalist and media critic, that he has to. But it’s strictly pro forma. His position seems to be that the story’s true in the Larger Sense, as a microcosm of the brutality in Iraq, even if it’s not, you know, technically true (”as if an AP retraction would change a thing on the ground in Baghdad, where electricity remains scarce, but sectarian death squads roam freely”). In other words, “fake but accurate.” That’s his bottom line here and that’s why it’s dishonest of him and his pals to even pretend to care whether the report’s accurate. As far as they’re concerned, if Jamil Hussein turns out to be real, the story’s true; if he turns out not to be real, the story’s True. They can’t go wrong. Meanwhile the AP, if it’s guilty of bad facts to whatever greater or lesser degree, gets an almost completely free pass.

At the risk of suggesting that I know What Warbloggers Believe better than Eric Boehlert does, let me assure you that we’re not using this story as a fig leaf for the war. There are Shiite death squads roaming hospitals in Iraq — just one of many “bona fide, grim realities on the ground,” as Michelle puts it, but gruesome enough in itself to convey the magnitude of the emergency. No one, or almost no one, is under any illusions about how awful conditions are and how Bush mismanaged the occupation when we had our best chance to get it right. On the contrary, it’s Boehlert who’s using the war as a fig leaf for yet another credible accusation of shoddy, possibly ideologically motivated war journalism. He’d have you believe that to challenge this report is, essentially, to be guilty of historical revisionism, which is not only ironic vis-a-vis the AP but a nifty way of cowing a critic into backing off. It’s more important that Michelle Malkin be wrong, you see, than knowing for sure whether the world’s biggest news agency is passing off crap stories about the most important issue of our time.

The problem Boehlert isn't willing to address is that this story is just the latest of example of journalistic malfeasance. How is anyone supposed to believe anything written by the Associated Press if they use bogus sources and don't correct their mistakes publicly and loudly? If the A.P., which used to have a valuable reputation for accuracy and honesty, can't be held accountable by supposed media watchdogs like Media Matters, then why should the average guy reading and/or watching the news trust them?

Instead of spending so much time trying to trash Michelle Malkin for asking the questions, Boehlert should spend his time figuring out why journalists are more interested in truthiness than truthfulness.

Sandy Berg(l)er Destroyed Documents and It Was a Misdemeanor?

Patterico discusses the latest information in the Sandy Berg(l)er shredding documents story. This information from an A.P. story:

But Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., outgoing chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said he's not convinced that the Archives can account for all the documents taken by Berger. Davis said working papers of National Security Council staff members are not inventoried by the Archives.

"There is absolutely no way to determine if Berger swiped any of these original documents. Consequently, there is no way to ever know if the 9/11 Commission received all required materials," Davis said.

Berger pleaded guilty to unlawfully removing and retaining classified documents. He was fined $50,000, ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and was barred from access to classified material for three years.

Officials told The Associated Press at the time of the thefts that the documents were highly classified and included critical assessments about the Clinton administration's handling of the millennium terror threats as well as identification of America's terror vulnerabilities at airports and seaports.

Patterico had questioned back in 2004 whether Berger had taken originals or not. Evidently, we will never know for certain, since Berger "had 'destroyed, cut into small pieces, three of the four documents. These were put in the trash.'"

But I'm sure he did it for the good of the country, right?

School Accuses 5-Year-Old of Sexual Harassment

From the I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up file, this story via The Raw Story:

A kindergarten student was accused earlier this month of sexually harassing a classmate at Lincolnshire Elementary School, an accusation that will remain on his record until he moves to middle school...

According to a school document provided by the boy's father, the 5-year-old pinched a girl's buttocks on Dec. 8 in a hallway at the school south of Hagerstown.

I'm curious what led the kid to do this, but does a 5-year-old have the mental capacity to sexually harass someone?

I'm not trying to downplay the inappropriateness of the boy's behavior, but it seems to me that branding this "sexual harassment" both dillutes the seriousness of real harassment and inflates the numbers of children who are sexually harassed in school.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

Liberals and Free Speech

One of the intellectual disconnects I notice most frequently in liberals is the one surrounding freedom of speech.

Liberals usually spend a great deal of time talking about free speech and demanding their right to speech, but they also want to stifle speech with which they disagree (such as religious speech in schools, for instance). An elementary school girl is barred from singing Awesome God because a principal thinks it is "proselytizing," for instance, but gay pride T-shirts are ok. (Aside: judges determined that student rights to free speech were violated in both instances).

But one of the oddest disconnects for liberals is between speech and action. They seem to have a very hard time noting the difference between them. That's why they try to use anti-racketeering laws against abortion protesters. It's why you will frequently hear arguments that boil down to the idea that a woman's right to abortion is sacrosanct, whereas a protester's right to free speech should be limited.

I bring this up in connection with this post from Pandagon that I linked to yesterday.

Once you get past the pro-life- and Catholic-bashing, there was a quote from the Center for Reproductive Rights which concerned attempts to add forced pregnancy to the International Criminal Court's definition of a crime against humanity.

The part that caught my attention was this:

If such a general formulation had been accepted, the spouse’s objection to terminate a pregnancy could have been a punishable act - crime against humanity.

And Amanda's comment after it:
God forbid that a man forcing his wife to bear a child against her will be considered a crime against humanity.

This transformation of objection to force made me ask this question:
How is objecting to an abortion the same thing as forcing someone not to have one?

There were a few of the typical responses to this. One person discussed how, in poor countries, men will control all the finances and so by "objecting" to the abortion by not paying for it, he is effectively forcing her to have the baby. I understand this practical approach to the situation. But is a person objecting to an abortion really a crime against humanity? And should a man be forced to pay for an abortion he doesn't approve of under penalty of law?

I next posted this:
So, now you expect him to pay for her to kill the child he objects to her killing? How does that make sense?

I'll admit that I knew at this point that I was poking the cranky tiger with a stick. But the responses became more predictable:
bluefish A: what do you think, sharon? that the husband should have the ultimate say over whether or not a woman terminates a pregnancy? (notice i didn’t say killing a baby or child because that’s not what abortion is, in my mind)
regardless of her thoughts, concerns, doubts, fears, health, etc. should the husband should decide when, where and how his wife/property will reproduce?

Dorothy: Does it make sense for him to be able to force her to continue a pregnancy she objects to continuing?

Inky: Sharon: the point of it is that the entire society is set up so that him objecting does prevent her from getting the abortion, because he controls her financial resources.

aimai: This makes Sharon’s annoying “how is it fair to ask/force a man to pay for an abortion he doesn’t want” so stupid–women work, and work hard, from dawn to dusk at labor that is either unpaid, or whose payment is handed over to their husbands.

I tried repeatedly to separate the money issue from the speech issue by explaining that of course the woman should have her own money to do with as she wanted. And I wasn't even trying to debate abortion per se. I wanted people to recognize that a person objecting to their spouse having an abortion shouldn't be a crime against humanity (although, frankly, I do think abortion could be categorized as a crime against humanity).

Unfortunately, the Pandagonistas aren't really interested in free speech, at least where abortion is concerned. That much is obvious.

It isn't that the financial independence of women is insignificant. Obviously, if women have more control of their resources and become more empowered that way, then that is better for everyone. But it seems illogical to me that they cannot admit that a man objecting to his spouse's abortion doesn't rise to the level of a crime against humanity, a distinction usually reserved for slavery, genocide, and extermination of a population.