Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bush Envisions Korea-like Role for U.S. in Iraq

It's odd that it has taken President Bush so long to say bluntly that our presence in Iraq should mirror our presence in South Korea. I understood that this would be our role there when the president talked about a long, hard war and that we wouldn't be in and out in a few months.

Stabilizing the Middle East and making it a place habitable for democracy are not goals that can be achieved in 12 months or whatever the timetables desired by Democrats are.

Naturally, the Left doesn't like this comparison at all. In fact, they want to tell you what a horrible place South Korea is.

But Jules Crittenden points out that we've had a presence in South Korea, Germany, and Japan for a total of more than a century, and we don't seem to be inclined to leave those places any time soon. Why isn't the Left more concerned about that, and why do they insist that our presence shouldn't be in a strategic area like Iraq?

And this is our role in the world:

Superpower. Defender of freedom. Promoter of trade. Facilitator of third-world development. Provider of unprecedented and unmatched aid to large parts of the world. Democrats were not always isolationists, and some of their greatest heroes, FDR, HST and JFK, each a stalwart on most if not all of those fronts.

The Middle East has been one of the most problematic regions in the world for decades. A lot of people made a lot of mistakes there, locals and foreigners like us, going way back. It has valuable resources, which invite trouble. The Middle East is not headed anywhere good, nor has it been for some time, thanks to people like Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and his ilk, the mullahs of Iran, their proxies in Lebanon and Gaza. It needs to be stabilized. This is hard work and will take time. Without our significant involvement, it won’t happen. If you think that our withdrawal from Iraq will result in peace, you are dreaming.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Socks" Berger Forfeits Law License

Sandy "Socks" Berger has forfeited his law license to avoid embarrassing questions about his classified document theft.

In 2005, Judicial Watch filed a complaint with the Office of Bar Counsel of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and the matter was subsequently referred for investigation by the court. After two years, it seems that Berger forfeited his law license because he did not want any more public attention given to his reckless and illegal behavior.

Berger pled guilty in April 2005 to stealing classified documents from the National Archives. The documents concerned the Millenium 2000 bomb plot and the Clinton administration's handling of it.

What was in those documents that Berger needed to cover up so badly he was willing to risk jail time? We'll never know, since Socks destroyed the information he pilfered.

Losing one's law license seems to be de rigeur for the Clinton administration. First, Bill Clinton was disbarred for lying in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and now we have Socks Berger forfeiting his license for stealing and destroying documents. But remember, theirs was to be the most ethical presidency in history.

Was She Covert or No?

The Agency says yes.

An unclassified summary of outed CIA officer Valerie Plame's employment history at the spy agency, disclosed for the first time today in a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, indicates that Plame was "covert" when her name became public in July 2003.

The summary is part of an attachment to Fitzgerald's memorandum to the court supporting his recommendation that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former top aide, spend 2-1/2 to 3 years in prison for obstructing the CIA leak investigation...

The unclassified summary of Plame's employment with the CIA at the time that syndicated columnist Robert Novak published her name on July 14, 2003 says, "Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for who the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States."

But, as Captain Ed notes, if the Agency truly was trying to keep Plame's identity secret, they were doing a very poor job of it.
Plame drove into the office in Langley. She traveled abroad under her own name. She helped arrange for her husband to do some fact-checking on a sensitive intelligence matter. Her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, then came home and leaked his observations to two nationally-known journalists, and then wrote his own op-ed in the New York Times under his byline.

And her husband managed to list her in Who's Who, where any journalist could look up the entry -- and where Robert Novak did just that.

If that's keeping an agent covert, it speaks volumes about the agency's competence during the George Tenet years.

So now we have confirmation that Plame did get her cover blown. I suppose the only reason that Fitzgerald didn't bother to indict Richard Armitage for the crime was that it would have meant explaining how the CIA tried to hide its NOC asset in plain sight.

The problem, of course, is that had Fitzgerald actually tried to assert that Plame was covert, the defense and the media would have had a field day with the sloppy way "covertness" was handled by the CIA.

We're not talking James Bond, cloak and dagger stuff here. If Plame was driving her car to work daily, used her own name while traveling, and, as Richard Armitage says, "Everybody knew," then either the CIA does a piss poor job protecting its agents identities or Mrs. Wilson was "covert" in name only.

UPDATE: Dan Collins has more at Protein Wisdom.

Now That Rosie's Gone, Can She Please Go Away?

Back when Rosie O'Donnell was an actress, I actually liked her. I didn't mind her when she had her own TV show.

But somewhere along the way, Rosie O'Donnell went into batshit crazy moonbat mode and the switch got stuck.

I'm not sure what Barbara Walters thought she was doing when she hired O'Donnell to moderate The View. Maybe she knew Rosie would go nuts on the air. Maybe she thought turning The View into Jerry Springer was a good idea.

One of the dumbest arguments I hear in Rosie's defense is that The View "never had higher ratings." Well, a catfight in front of a bar on Saturday night will get a lot of gawkers, as well, but I don't think many people consider it appropriate.

No, Rosie is a victim of no one but her own big fat mouth. Now, apparently, we're supposed to sob that Rosie says her friendship with Elisabeth Hasselbeck is OVER. OMG!

"I never tried harder to be friends with anyone than I did with Elisabeth but I don't think we ended up there anywhere close," Rosie said.

Really? Never tried harder? If that's Rosie trying hard, I wouldn't want to go to a Rosie cocktail party. Rosie constantly slammed President Bush, Republicans in general, conservatives specifically, and Christians as being "as dangerous" as the nuts who attacked us on 9/11. Of course, she famously questioned whether fire melts steel and is evidently a 9/11 truther. And don't forget when she insinuated that the British sailors taken prisoner by Iran was a "Gulf of Tonkin" incident.

If Rosie wanted to "try harder," she could have started by shutting her big, fat mouth every time she wanted to say something nasty. I'm certain that, by the end, the higher ratings was due to curiosity watching Rosie's train wreck.

But whether you agree with Rosie speaking her mind, there comes a point where enough is enough. It's time for Rosie to go into seclusion and wait another 10 years before we see her mug on TV again. Maybe by then she won't be so unhinged.

Looks Like That New Immigration Policy Is Working Already!

Evidently Mexicans are unhappy about the new immigration bill. So unhappy, in fact, that they booed Miss USA during the Miss Universe pageant.

Booed mercilessly at the Miss Universe pageant by a Mexican audience angry at U.S. immigration policy, and seen by millions of TV viewers as she slipped and fell on the pageant stage, Miss USA Rachel Smith nonetheless managed to take the high road and offer her Spanish-speaking hosts an enthusiastic, "Buenas noches Mexico. Muchas gracias!"

Smith, 22, from Clarksville, Tenn., who was crowned Miss USA last March, was continuously jeered by the mostly Mexican audience during the pageant's interview phase.

But don't worry. They weren't booing Miss USA. They were booing America. That makes it better!
"We believe it wasn't Rachel being booed but the USA and some of our policies as a country," pageant spokeswoman Lark-Marie Anton told "The booing was unfortunate, but Rachel represented the USA with style and grace. She was extremely dignified."

And we should be welcoming more immigrants because...?

Allahpundit has more at Hot Air here.

Worst Family Feud Question Ever

From one of the new Family Feuds, hosted by Richard Karn:

Name a reason you think making love in the bathtub might not be so romantic.

And the answers are...

1. Too small (not sure if this means the man, the woman, or the tub)

2. Splashes/messy (must have been women saying this since men never care about messes)

3. Water gets cold (how long are you taking?!)

4. Might slip (that's why you have those little rubber mats in the tub!)

And my personal favorite:

5. Might drown (Good grief, how deep IS your tub?!)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Did You Hear Cindy Sheehan Left the Democratic Party? Neither Did I!

That's the interesting point NewsBusters makes about Sheehan's announcement.

It’s been a full 48 hours since antiwar icon Cindy Sheehan publicly announced that she was leaving the Democrat Party due to Thursday’s bipartisan agreement on an Iraq war funding bill.

Yet, Google News and LexisNexis searches have identified that not one major media outlet has covered her announcement.

Not one.

Given the media’s fascination with this woman since she traveled to Crawford, Texas, in August 2005 to picket near President Bush’s ranch, one must wonder why they have abandoned her now?

The obvious answer is that they don't want to cover Sheehan when she isn't bashing President Bush. But if Sheehan is newsworthy camping out in Crawford, why isn't her announcement that she is quitting the Democratic Party over Congress' war funding bill news? It couldn't be...bias, could it?

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

Because You Can't Escape Your Sock Puppetry Past

Glen "Sock Puppet" Greenwald attempts to mock rightwing bloggers who questioned the veracity of a memo without an official logo on it. Granted, the blogger in question (Little Green Footballs) actually apologized for the mistake, but that's just not enough to stop Mr. Sock Puppet.

I dunno, maybe it is understandable that Greenwald would be so pissy about somebody else's mistakes, since he tried to cover his ass by using sock puppets to back up his various claims. Unfortunately for him, there are enough bloggers out here mocking him that he can't get away with it. For the best in-depth post on Greenwald's sock puppetry, read this post by Patterico. But don't be drinking anything because it is coffee-spewing hilarious.

It Just Wasn't the Match Game Without Him

A friend of mine just sent me the sad news that Charles Nelson Reilly has died at 76.

He gained fame by becoming what he described as a "game show fixture" in the 1970s and 80s. He was a regular on programs like "Match Game" and "Hollywood Squares," often wearing giant glasses and colorful suits with ascots.

His larger-than-life persona and affinity for double-entendres also landed him on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson more than 95 times.

Reilly ruefully admitted his wild game show appearances adversely affected his acting career. "You can't do anything else once you do game shows," he told The Advocate, the national gay magazine, in 2001. "You have no career."

I loved the Match Game when I was a kid, and especially liked the banter between host Gene Rayburn and celebrity panelists Reilly, Brett Somers and Richard Dawson. Although I was way too young to understand the double entendres and sometimes adult humor, I was still fascinated by it.

I've done closed captioning off and on for the last four years or so, sometimes full-time, sometimes part-time, and sometimes not at all. The reason I keep going back is because I enjoyed so many of the shows I've worked on. We worked on hundreds of Match Games, and I loved watching Reilly's dry sense of humor.

One of the more interesting things about rewatching those game shows as an adult was realizing how many gay jokes Reilly and the other panelists (and Rayburn) told on a regular basis. He was the first openly gay person I had regular contact with (if that's what you can call television). Sure, there were others, but not with the daily dose of humor with which we saw Reilly. Of course, as a child, references to his homosexuality were subtle enough I didn't get it.
Reilly's openly gay television persona was ahead of its time, and sometimes stood in his way.

He recalled a network executive telling him "they don't let queers on television."

That's certainly not the case these days. Reilly lives on on the Game Show Network, but he will still be sorely missed.

Memorial Day

I won't say "Happy Memorial Day," as Memorial Day should be a day of reflection as much as celebration. It's a day when we honor our war dead from all our wars--Revolutionary through Iraq--and think about the freedoms we have because of their sacrifice.

I'll take my dad to the cemetery to see Mom today. He is old-fashioned and still usually calls this Decoration Day. Back in West Virginia, they always decorated the cemeteries this day, and so we will do so for Mom.

We're fortunate in this country for so many things, among them the fact that so few soldiers die in conflict these days. Not like in World War II, where 418,500 Americans died. All in all, more than 72 million people died in that conflict.

I'm grateful that I haven't had any family members or close friends die in that conflict. Yet. My niece's husband spent seven months there and returned unharmed. He's not scheduled to go back. But having a father who served in three wars, I know that you can never count on not going back.

And so, we honor our war dead, those brave men and women who fought and died so that Americans can complain and protest, cheer and support, this greatest nation on Earth.

Neptunus Lex has this very nice tribute to our fallen soldiers.

Blogger Sued for Publishing Stories about Muslims Linked to Terror

I've been waiting for something like this to emerge ever since CAIR wanted to sue the passengers on a US Airways flight who reported suspicious behavior by six imams. Now we have the spectacle of a blogger getting sued for writing about Muslims linked to terror.

Bill Warner has a lot of stories on his site about Muslims trafficking in stolen goods (cars, pirated CDs, DVDs, etc.) and how federal authorities are falling down on the job in pursuing the bad guys in Tampa, Florida.

Naturally, when you start examining a dog with fleas, some of the fleas are gonna jump on you. That's pretty much what has happened with this lawsuit.

(O)n 5/21/2007 I was served summons of Complaint and an Injunction by the Mcintrye Law Firm of Tampa Fl who represent Abdul Raouf M. Dabus in a Defamation Law Suit against myself and my company for supposedly linking Mr. Dabus and his company VIP Motors in Tampa with shipping vehicles to the Middle East for resale in support of terrorism and that Mr. Dabus had worked at the Islamic Academy of Florida with Sami Al-Arain (The School that Terrorism Built) as an instructor from 1999 to an unknown point and that Mr. Dabus was linked to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and that such information is posted on my web site .

Clearly, the point of the suit is to shut down Warner's site and to serve as a warning to others not to write about these sorts of events.

Let's look at a bit of libel law.

Libel occurs when one "communicat(es) a statement that makes a false claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may harm the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government or nation."

First, truth is always a defense. Warner will always have the option of showing the veracity of the statements on his blog. If, in fact, he has information which shows what he wrote is true, then he will have that as a defense.

Second comes the issue of public versus private actors. In this case, Abdul Raouf M. Dabus would probably be considered a private person, therefore subject to a lower standard of culpability.

The most interesting part of this situation is whether Warner will be considered a publisher or not. I'm not sure how many bloggers have been sued as publishers, which is clearly what this is about. As uncomfortable as this is for Warner, his case illuminates the lengths to which people like CAIR are willing to go to shut down any negative publicity.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Crossroads for Environmentalism and the War on Terror

Tim Blair makes an interesting suggestion in this Daily Telegraph column: just replace "environmentalism" with "war on terror" and see what a difference individuals can make.

Blair's point is a good one. All the talk about individual efforts paying off (and paying off quick!) do little more than make people feel good about reducing their use of fossil fuels. On the other hand, individuals can make a significant difference in the WoT.

Your Son Died So That You Have the Freedom to Protest

Andrew Bacevich says he didn't do enough to stop the war, and that, in this way, he failed his soldier son who died in Iraq.

Jules Crittenden asks the $64,000 question: short of insurrection, what could Bacevich have done?

One of the frustrating things about having adult children is that they have that gosh-darn freedom of will thing going and they get to make decisions with which we disagree. At that point, we are supposed to support those decisions, regardless of our personal feelings.

I'm too old for military service. My husband wouldn't have passed the physical because of health concerns. None of my children are old enough for military service. But I can say unequivocally that I would be proud of them if they chose the military for a career.

Bacevich seems to think that he "didn't do enough" to oppose the war and that his Congressmen and Senators failed him by putting the brakes on the war immediately. But the truth is, this is still a democracy and there are other states filled with people who supported the war at the beginning and still support it now. Why is their opinion less worthy of consideration?

It's hard to lose a child under any circumstances. Bacevich should be proud of his son's service to his country in a time of war and let the political consideration fall to the wayside. His son's sacrifice allows his own protest. That should be a heavy enough burden to bear.

UPDATE: This guy thinks you are too ignorant because you supported the war in 2003 (and/or still do). Since you don't vote the way he thinks is logical, he suggests that certain people who pass tests get extra votes to cancel yours out. Given that this would be entirely unconstitutional--we do have that whole one-man-one-vote thing--it's a ridiculous suggestion. But I wouldn't be surprised if someone took it seriously.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Importance of Language, Part 2

A couple of days ago, I had a post about Michael Medved's column concerning the importance of language in framing a debate.

Whenever I want to point out liberal bias in the media, I usually use the abortion debate as a prime example. This is because the media's bias for abortion is so blatant as to be virtually indisputable. Nearly every term used by journalists sounds like it was written by NARAL or Planned Parenthood. From describing people as "for abortion rights" or "against abortion rights" to the constant description of any restrictions on abortion as being an "undue burden," journalists' bias is always on display.

One of the examples Medved didn't use was the description used almost uniformly by the Left when discussing the Gonzales v. Carhart case. The statute passed by Congress is the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Yet you will frequently see pro-abortion sites refer to so-called "partial birth abortion" bans (see here, here, and here). But that isn't accurate. The legislation isn't "so-called," it is called the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.

Reactions on lefty blogs after the Supreme Court's decision in Gonzales v. Carhart were uniform in the use of "so-called." Many commenters said that they wouldn't use the term because it wasn't the medical term for the procedure, that it was a euphemism contrived by pro-lifers.

But there are other euphemisms pro-abortion supporters like. Mollie at GetReligion has a post critiquing a Washington Post Magazine story on selective reduction.

Selective reduction is a euphemism for feticide (also known as embryoctony), that is the killing of fetuses or embryos in the womb.

According to Mollie, the story is remarkably honest, brutal and objective. But why the euphemism "selective reduction" if we are all into medical terminology these days? Could it be that feticide would turn off a lot of potential clients?

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

"Weight" and "Height" May Be Added to Anti-Discrimination Law

I've heard before that fat people and short people are the only ones left we can make fun of without running up against anti-discrimination laws.

That's only a matter of time if new restrictions against weight and height discrimination are added to Massachusetts' anti-discrimination law.

The bill, which would make Massachusetts the second state in the United States to offer such protections, applies mainly to the workplace but also covers landlords and real estate interactions.

Rep. Byron Rushing, a Boston Democrat who is sponsoring the bill, said it is a question of civil rights.

"This is one of the last physical aspects of people that you can acceptably laugh about," said Rushing, who is black, slim and of average height. "You can be a shock jock on the radio and talk about fat people for a solid week and no one would ever think of having you lose your job. It's still acceptable."

Do we really think companies should be as concerned about fat jokes as racist jokes? Do they honestly think weight carries the same baggage (sorry) historically as race does? Rush Limbaugh--no small man himself--would have a field day with this legislation.

I've always thought about discrimination law being based on basic immutable characteristics. I can't change my race. And while I could have a sex change operation, my DNA would always say I was something different. Weight can be changed, although it is easier for some people than for others.

Height is an immutable characteristic, but is there really that much discrimination based on it? I'm of average height for a woman, but my husband is really tall. Would he have a case against an employer if someone made a joke about his height?

What's the next thing to be added? Ugliness? Cross-eyes? Bad teeth? Big ears? Where does our criminalization of being offended end?

Fort Worth Students Protest Failures

Some days it's hard to be proud to be a Texan.

This is one of those days.

Some Fort Worth high school students staged a protest against a school board policy. The protest was over a decision by the Fort Worth ISD not to allow students who flunked the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test (a test required to graduate) from participating in graduation ceremonies.

Unfortunately for them, this picture that accompanied the story says it all:

Students who had been planning to walk across the stage at graduation ceremonies this weekend were instead walking a picket line Thursday morning.

The Trimble Tech High School seniors marched in front of Fort Worth Independent School District headquarters to protest Wednesday's decision by trustees to bar students who failed the TAKS test from commencement exercises.

About a dozen young people, carrying signs and chanting, began picketing at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. They represent the 613 Fort Worth seniors who did not pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exam.

The TAKS test replaced the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) test in 2003, but testing has been shrouded in controversy since its introduction here in 1991. To graduate from a Texas high school, students must pass exit-level tests in English language arts, social studies, math, and science. Students are given a total of five chances to pass the test before graduation.

And there are students--students with a 3.5 grade average--who can't pass this test? And who write posters like "Let are kids walk"? Is there any wonder why these kids aren't being allowed to graduate?

So, Were There Links or Not?

I wish the intelligence community and the Democrats would get their stories straight. First we were told ad nauseam that there were no links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida. But now, it seems that there were links.

The U.S. intelligence community accurately predicted months before the Iraq war that al-Qaeda would link up with elements from former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime and militant Islamists to conduct terrorist attacks against U.S. forces in that country, according to a report released today by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Captain Ed compares Al Qaida to a pack of hyenas, descending on any corpse available. He also points out that we stated early in the war that we would rather they concentrate on fighting us over there rather that attacking civilians here. It seems to me that that strategy has worked rather well, but don't expect liberals to see things that way. More from Captain Ed:
Jay Rockefeller wants to use the report to show what a folly it was to invade Iraq, but part of the reason we invaded Iraq was precisely to avoid Saddam and his henchmen from partnering with al-Qaeda. These same intel agencies produced this prediction because they also had intelligence that Saddam and AQ had already established contacts with each other. With the Taliban a dead letter, the next obvious choice in the region for AQ was Iraq, which already had a bitter military dispute with the US going for 12 years.

Since Saddam had never complied with the cease-fire and the UN resolutions on many issues, and in fact continued to fire on no-fly patrols, a state of war already existed. With that in mind and with the intel that AQ and Ba'athists would be likely allies in the near future, the US acted to secure its flank in the Middle East by eliminating the source of the 12-year war that had been ongoing. And as it turned out, it was a good thing we did -- because we found out that our allies at the UN had been undermining the "box" that supposedly held Saddam for years, stuffing billions of dollars into his pockets and military hardware in his presidential palaces.

The CIA predicted this alliance before the invasion. That should put paid to the idea that no one but George Bush and Dick Cheney thought that al-Qaeda would work with secular dictators like Saddam Hussein and other Ba'athists.

Except for some trolls.

NRO blog points out that a new report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee backs up the claim that Valerie Plame did suggest her husband for the Niger trip, contrary to her testimony. There's a word for that. *ahem*

Jeff Goldstein discusses an excellent e-mail by Dan Collins' on the report, adding lots of commentary, then discredits Tbogg's attempt to spin the polls about how soon Iraqis want us to leave.

Thank God, She's Gone

To quote the woman herself, big, fat, lesbian, loudmouth Rosie is gone from The View.

One last spit-flying cat fight with Elisabeth Hasselbeck was all that was needed, I suppose.

Wednesday's debate was the culmination of a fight that started on "The View" last week, when O'Donnell said, "655,000 Iraqi civilians have died. Who are the terrorists?"

Conservative critics said O'Donnell was calling U.S. troops terrorists. Wednesday, Hasselbeck said O'Donnell should clarify her statement.

"I asked you if you believed what the Republican pundits were saying," O'Donnell said to Hasselbeck.

"Did I say yes?" Hasselbeck replied.

"You said nothing and that's cowardly," O'Donnell shot back.

"No, no, no. Do not call me a coward because I sit here every single day, open my heart and tell people exactly what I believe," Hasselbeck shouted.

O'Donnell's a big girl (no pun intended). She shouldn't need Hasselbeck to "stand up for her." God knows, she's attacked Hasselbeck and virtually every other conservative for the last year.

We've witnessed Crackpot Rosie tell us that blacksmiths were wrong for the last millenia because "fire doesn't melt steel." She insinuated that 9/11 was done by the government. She has consistently denigrated the troops and their mission in Iraq.

Thank God she's gone.

NewsBusters has the full Rosie.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Caving to Rationality

The New York Times has an interesting article today about the reasoning behind the Democrats' latest war funding bill.

In a nutshell, they determined that the fight would not be worth the bruising they took for it. They are right, of course, not that the nutroots are their usual apoplectic and churlish selves.

The problem with the nutroots is that they think we should govern by least on this issue (they don't feel the same way about immigration, I notice). Sometimes doing the right thing isn't terribly expedient, and that was the situation here. The Dems could have sent another funding bill that was unacceptable and the President would have vetoed it...again. Since Dems don't have enough support to override the veto, it would be an exercise in futility.

Is it more important to send legislation to the executive branch that you know will be vetoed or to actually fund the troops? This should be a no brainer. If Dems want people to believe they support the troops then they should support the troops. It's not that hard.

I had to commend Speaker Pelosi on this one. While she disagrees with the bill, she acted as Speaker of the Whole House, not just the Democrats. She allowed legislation that was approved by the majority of Congress to be voted on, instead of holding it up like Dennis Hastert did.

The funding of our troops shouldn't be a political issue for these guys. If they really don't support the war, then defund it entirely and that will bring the troops home now. But don't play politics with the funding like you really do support the troops when what you are really concerned about is not appearing weak on defense.

Dale Franks at The Q and O Blog has a few questions for our liberal friends and I do, too.

Do you reject the "you broke it, you bought it" idea? If you do, that's fine. I'm not a priori opposed to punitive expeditions myself when it appears necessary, but punitive expeditions have never been a liberal "thing".

Do you think the Iraqis will find a way to cobble their state together? Do you think it will descend into a civil bloodbath? If so, then why don't we have any responsibility to try and prevent it? Compare and contrast with Kosovo and Darfur. What if Iraq turns into a Taliban-like cesspool, and becomes a base for terrorist operation against the US in the same way Afghanistan was?

Do you think that the Iraqis can build a stable, functioning democratic state? If not, why? Are they just not suited for Democracy as a people? If so, what are their deficiencies?

The other half of the question is what effect will it have on American security? Will it embolden terrorists? Will our withdrawal make it more or less likely that terrorists will begin marshaling forces for another 9/11 style attack? Why?

On the Global War on Terror more generally, will a withdrawal from Iraq help or hinder that effort? Or do we need to make an effort at all, other than some Special Ops stuff here and there, and intelligence, prevention, and law enforcement operations otherwise? What would be the US's military role after a withdrawal from Iraq? Does the US military actually have much a role beyond repelling an invasion?

Are we doomed to fail at achieving anything worthwhile in Iraq? Why? Is it something organic to Iraq, or simply a problem with the current president? Would another administration be able to achieve some reasonable level of peace and stability?

I'd love to hear the answers.

UPDATE: I posted a similar thread at CSPT to see what the untamed trolls there would say. Disappointingly, there's lots of snark and little information. However, Jack pointed to this Oliver Willis post as an example of what he thinks. I think it brushes off the seriousness of us pulling out of Iraq, frankly, and I may post on it later.

The Poor Are Getting Richer

More bad news for John Edwards in particular and liberals in general. The poor are getting richer. (Link through Flopping Aces to a Wall Street Journal article hidden behind a subscription wall).

The CBO results don't fit the prevailing media stereotype of the U.S. economy as a richer take all affair -- which may explain why you haven't read about them. Among all families with children, the poorest fifth had the fastest overall earnings growth over the 15 years measured. (See the nearby chart.) The poorest even had higher earnings growth than the richest 20%. The earnings of these poor households are about 80% higher today than in the early 1990s.

What happened? CBO says the main causes of this low-income earnings surge have been a combination of welfare reform, expansion of the earned income tax credit and wage gains from a tight labor market, especially in the late stages of the 1990s expansion. Though cash welfare fell as a share of overall income (which includes government benefits), earnings from work climbed sharply as the 1996 welfare reform pushed at least one family breadwinner into the job market.

Earnings growth tapered off as the economy slowed in the early part of this decade, but earnings for low-income families have still nearly doubled in the years since welfare reform became law. Some two million welfare mothers have left the dole for jobs since the mid-1990s. Far from being a disaster for the poor, as most on the left claimed when it was debated, welfare reform has proven to be a boon.

This doesn't stop the bottom 20% from being the bottom 20%. Statistically, there has to be some bottom 20% regardless of how wealthy that group may be. But we've known for some time that being poor in America isn't really poor, at least by comparison with most third world countries. When roughly 3/4 of the poor own a car and have air conditioning, you start to wonder if we really have a poverty problem.

The difference, according to the Wall Street Journal, was welfare reform. Giving people incentive for going to find a job was the best way to increase their wealth. It makes sense, given that even starting at minimum wage, very few people will stay at minimum wage for more than a few months. As I've argued in other places, I rarely see a sign for a job that starts at minimum wage here. Most start between $7 and $8 an hour.

I wouldn't argue that $8 an hour is going to make you wealthy, but for a single person, it is livable. Besides, not having the government pay you to stay home and watch Judge Judy is the best incentive I can think of to get better skills to get a better job.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Importance of Language

Michael Medved has a great column today at on the importance of language in framing issues.

Maybe it's my love of journalism and fascination with the law that makes me so interested in the language of issues. As a journalist, I learned the way words frame events in a story. For example, when doing police beat stories, one always refers to the "alleged" crime because to simply state a crime was commited passes judgement on the accused, intentionally or not. In law, the jury verdict is "not guilty," not "innocent" because there is a clear difference between the two.

There are plenty of other examples where the language journalists use frames the debate. In some cases, it isn't done to create objectivity but to persuade. Journalists know that the language they use persuades readers, even in supposedly "objective" news stories. This is why there are style guides such as the Associated Press Stylebook, which is designed to prevent bias (intentional and unintentional) in reporting.

Unfortunately, there are many examples where journalists use terminology that unfairly frames a debate or creates a false impression. Medved gave a few examples.

Whenever conservatives work for state or federal constitutional amendments to reinforce the existing definition of male-female marriage, for instance, leading newspapers and TV networks describe such efforts as “gay marriage bans.” A simple declaration affirming marriage as “a union between one man and one woman” bans no private behavior whatever, but rather underlines the policy under which government grants its strongest endorsement to one specific type of relationship. A restatement of the traditional basis for marriage amounts to a “gay marriage ban” no more than existing marriage laws constitute an “incest ban” or a “ban on interspecies relationships.” Defining one sort of union as uniquely approved doesn’t mean that another sort of connection is specifically forbidden, or banned.

In a similar vein, nearly all major press outlets have stopped using the phrases “pro life” or “pro choice” to describe the opposing positions on the abortion issue. The most common phraseology now centers on “abortion rights” --- as in, “Rudy Giuliani offends GOP orthodoxy with his support for abortion rights” or “Mitt Romney once supported, but now opposes, abortion rights.” Such outrageously unfair language ignores the fact that no pro life candidate or advocate would ever say “I oppose abortion rights” – since they don’t believe that abortion constitutes a genuine “right” in any sense.

If a newspaper suggested that Senator Chuck Schumer opposed “Second Amendment rights” or “gun owners’ rights” the New York Democrat would have legitimate grounds for complaint: he describes himself as “pro gun control” not “anti gun rights.” If those who favor more restrictions on firearms generally avoid designation as opponents of any sort of rights, why is it appropriate to characterize pro-lifers as foes of “abortion rights”? After all, gun rights actually appear, explicitly, in the text of the Constitution whereas “abortion rights” rely on the famous (and gaseous) “emanations of penumbras” that Justice William O. Douglas first conjured out of his fertile imagination in 1965.

Liberals argue that the mainstream media is conservative because media outlets are owned by a few large corporations. This argument sounds appealing, but the problem is that the heart of the media is its use of language, and that language overwhelmingly favors liberals and liberal causes. Whether we discuss gun control, abortion, the war in Iraq, gay marriage, firing political appointments, declassifying information, listening to terrorists' phonecalls, or a host of other issues, the framing of the MSM is clear and it is liberal.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

The law "shouldn't change just because the faces on the Court have changed"

That's according to Sandra Day O'Connor in this article.

O'Connor was invoking the principle of stare decisis, a legal term that means prior case law should be respected and followed when deciding current cases. It's a foundational principle of Anglo-American jurisprudence, and is used as a way to prevent courts from making broad, sweeping, and sudden changes in case law.

The problem is, usually the people advocating stare decisis are the same people who shrugged at the blatant abuse of federal court power during the Earl Warren court. It's one thing to argue that current courts should follow precedent, but how do these same scholars square that with their support of, say, Lawrence v. Texas, which certainly didn't follow the precedent of Bowers v. Hardwick?

What about the line of cases leading to legalized abortion, a dismal case that tried desperately to find a constitutional underpinning for the right to kill one's offspring? There was certainly no precedent for that before the 1960s.

Then there's the Miranda v. Arizona case, which completely rewrote police procedures in a way certainly not supported by previous cases. And on the basis of Miranda, we've seen a host of decisions "protecting" criminals from themselves by basically stifling any police contact prior to the introduction of defense counsel.

It's understandable that O'Connor is so hot under the collar about the direction of the court. It's not taking her nonsensical "nuanced" approach to the law, where every idea has to be separately litigated because the Supreme Court distinguishes every possible case from every other one. The article points out that the recent Gonzales v. Carhart (partial birth abortion ban) decision overturned O'Connor's abominable decision in Stenberg v. Carhart. But while O'Connor was the swing vote in that decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy had been on the side to uphold such bans. In other words, these cases were close enough that reasonable minds could find differently.

O'Connor has a point that stare decisis is a bedrock principle of our jurisprudence. But the rule of law has been abused for decades by liberals who cannot get legislation passed and choose to persuade five justices rather than 300 legislators. I don't expect O'Connor to chastise liberal lawyers who bring such cases instead of seeking the legislative path where such cases belong. That would mean actually adhering to the Constitution, not some nuanced interpretation of it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Super Bowl!

I was very excited when I heard that we're getting the 2011 Super Bowl.

The NFL announced today that the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington will host the 2011 Super Bowl, beating out Indianapolis and Arizona for the big game.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement about 1 p.m. Central time.

Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, who orchestrated the winning bid for Super Bowl XLV, said he was ecstatic for the region, but now the real work begins.

"This is going to be a wonderful, wonderful event," an emotional Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "The Super Bowl asked us to do what we could do to take it to another level. When you're talking about a Super Bowl, that's a pretty challenging commitment."

In order to host the Super Bowl, the region will need to gather more than 10,000 volunteers and raise more than $20 million from private donors.

Jones noted that the new stadium will be able to seat 100,000 fans for a Super Bowl.

Staubach’s 12 1/2 minute presentation included a 4-minute video that highlighted Texas’ strong football tradition and pointed out that Dallas is where the late Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and the late Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm merged the AFL with the NFL with a handshake in 1969.

“We’re going to have a good time in North Texas,” said Staubach, who called the decision the “thrill of a lifetime.”

The Cowboys' new $1 billion stadium, set to open in 2009, helped persuade the owners to award the game to the Metroplex.

The only part of the announcement that rankles me is their insistence on talking about "North Texas," when what they really mean is Arlington, which will bear the brunt of the costs and, hopefully, reap the benefits.

The best part, as a native Fort Worthian, is that the Super Bowl is not in Dallas. Hehehehehehe.

Let the Voters Decide...Unless We Don't Like Their Decision

Here in Texas, immigration, legal and illegal, is a big concern. Most of us know recent immigrants and many of us know illegal immigrants. We all know how hard immigrants--read: Latinos--work for a mere pittance. We know they do jobs cheaper than most native Americans--read: white people--would do them. How do I know this? Because I've seen their wages, I've seen the prices charged for various items, and I've been friends with enough Latinos with family in Mexico or wherever to know that recent immigrants will work for lower wages.

I also know that these same immigrants violate our laws. They violate not just immigration laws--which they had to do to be here in the first place--but they violate employment laws (no Social Security numbers, getting paid in cash), and they violate housing laws which state you can only have so many people in certain abodes. I see this happen even in upper class neighborhoods.

Yeah, I know, I know. According to Dana and others who agree with him, unless I stop buying fruit and veggies, eating in restaurants, and using the sanitation service of my city, then I don't have a right to complain about illegal immigration.

I don't buy this argument. That illegal immigration is pervasive is unquestionable. That our federal government has shirked its responsibility to police our borders is shameful. And now, when municipalities decide to do the policing the feds won't, judges stop democratically passed ordinances from going into effect.

A day before the city planned to start enforcing an ordinance banning apartment rentals to most illegal immigrants, a federal judge put a temporary stop to the plan, ruling that it "conflicts with federal law."

Legal experts said the ruling Monday by U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay signals that the ordinance may face trouble in federal court despite Farmers Branch voters' overwhelming approval of it May 12. Federal courts have issued rulings stopping other cities from implementing similar laws.

Farmers Branch has taken a lot of bashing from illegal immigrant-lovin' people and organizations. There was the boycott of Farmers Branch businesses last fall. There was the Latino activist who wasn't even a native Texan taking over the city council meeting. There were the numerous bloggers and columnists who call the citizens of Farmers Branch "white supremicists," "racists," and even tacitly compare them to the KKK and lynchers of old.

But the residents of Farmers Branch turned out in record numbers on a Saturday to vote for the ordinance. In spite of the bad press, in spite of the name-calling, the residents, by a 3-to-1 margin, told the busybodies and race baiters to shove it.

Amusingly, the anti-ordinance group was called Let the Voters Decide. They held a 20-to-1 fundraising advantage over the pro-Farmers Branch groups. Yet when the voters did decide, all the money the race baiters came up with couldn't stop the voters from deciding for themselves whether they approved of breaking our laws or not. MALDEF and ACLU filed for an injunction with a Clinton-appointed judge as soon as possible.

I guess liberals only want the voters to decide when they choose the decision liberals want.

UPDATE: Ann Coulter points out that no law is enforced 100%. Why do proponents of amnesty insist in all or nothing enforcement? We still use laws against rape, murder, arson, robbery, and a host of other crimes even though they are still committed.

They Use Studies to Say Whatever They Want

A few weeks ago, the Pew Research Center released a study about how well-informed Americans were and where they got their news from. At the time, I pointed out that the study didn't say what liberals and their accomplices in the media were saying it said.

What it found is that of the best informed Americans, those who watched the Daily Show and listened to Rush Limbaugh were better informed than those who watched FOX News. And even though ThinkProgress is loathe to point this out, CNN watchers did only slightly better and MSNBC's non-existent audience isn't even calculated. And for all that Keith Olbermann thinks Bill O'Reilly is a big liar, O'Reilly's audience seemed fairly well-informed, while the study couldn't even list an audience for Olbermann.

The point is that people read studies the way they want to read them, not the way they actually are.

Take the latest Pew study, this one on attitudes and opinions of Muslim Americans. Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, trumpets the headline. That's very reassuring to most of us, but that's not exactly what the survey shows.
(B)y nearly two-to-one (63%-32%) Muslim Americans do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.

Well, thank Allah! Of course, that means that a third of Muslim Americans do see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society. That's a much more troubling way to look at the figures, don't you think?

Or what about this:
Fewer native-born African American Muslims than others completely condemn al Qaeda. In addition, younger Muslims in the U.S. are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified.

And this:
Relatively few Muslim Americans believe the U.S.-led war on terror is a sincere effort to reduce terrorism, and many doubt that Arabs were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Just 40% of Muslim Americans say groups of Arabs carried out those attacks.

Far from being the reassuring survey the Pew Organization (and various media outlets) want us to believe, this study shows that nearly half the Muslim American population reject the idea that Muslims carried out the terrorism of 9/11, 1/3 of Muslims see a conflict between modern life and living their religion, and younger Muslims think suicide bombers can be justified. It seems to me that this survey should be a wake up call to the threat such ideology creates. We don't want to be like Europe, after all.

UPDATE: Allahpundit dissects the numbers.

John Edwards and the $50k Speaking Fees

I would feel sorry for John Edwards if he didn't keep stepping in his own crap.

John Edwards has made a career out of supposedly helping "the little guy." This covers everything from his career as a shyster--er, trial lawyer getting jury awards in the six figures for "malpractice," which included things like cerebral palsy. All the feminists complaining about the abundance of C-sections done in this country have John Edwards and all the ambulance chasers like him for that.

When Edwards ran for president in 2004, he talked about the two Americas, one for the wealthy and one for the poor. This political argument was particularly galling, given Edwards' multimillion-dollar lifestyle.

Now, Edwards is back and lecturing us, yet again, on how badly "we" treat "the poor" (the poor being defined as anybody who would vote for Edwards for a government handout). The problem for Edwards is that he is still a rich guy. He lives in a 28,200 home that is big enough to house the homeless for the state of North Carolina (ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea). He gets $400 haircuts. He preens and fusses over his hair and clothes. And I'm sure Edwards never has to decide if he has enough money for a gallon of milk and a pack of bologna (if they even eat bologna).

In short, the man who is soooo concerned about the little people has a, well, wealth problem. It's hard to pretend you are so concerned about the poor when you live the good life.

Now comes news that Edwards charged $55k to give a speech on poverty.

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who recently proposed an educational policy that urged "every financial barrier" be removed for American kids who want to go to college, has been going to college himself -- as a high paid speaker, his financial records show.

The candidate charged a whopping $55,000 to speak at to a crowd of 1,787 the taxpayer-funded University of California at Davis on Jan. 9, 2006 last year, Joe Martin, the public relations officer for the campus' Mondavi Center confirmed Monday.

That amount -- which comes to about $31 a person in the audience -- included Edwards' travel and airfare, and was the highest speaking fee in the nine appearances he made before colleges and universities last year, according to his financial records.

The earnings -- though made before Edwards was a declared Democratic presidential candidate -- could hand ammunition to his competition for the Democratic presidential nomination. The candidate -- who was then the head of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina -- chose to speak on "Poverty, the great moral issue facing America," as his $55,000 topic at UC Davis.

Doesn't Edwards' staff check this stuff ahead of time? Their job is to make him look good, not like a greedy bastard.

It's not that wealthy people can't do a lot for poverty. There have been numerous multimillionaires in this country who used their wealth to enrich the nation, from Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates. The difference is that those philanthropists used their own money to help the poor, enrich the public. They weren't proposing spending $125 billion of your money to work on poverty.

Of course, the price tag of Edwards' speeches wouldn't be such a problem if he and his wife Lizzie were more charitable in their personal lives. But given Lizzie's nasty snobbery, lashing out at people who did nothing to her, it's hard to see either Edwards as the sort of people who have the compassion they constantly harangue the rest of us for.

This won't be the last time we hear about some profligate spending or outrageous fees charged by Edwards. He didn't get the money for his "home" by being charitable.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Thank God the Democrats Finally Realized that the President Is the Commander-in-Chief

I guess some Democrats on Capitol Hill finally read the Constitution, that pesky document that states that the President gets to decide how wars are conducted. That's the only conclusion I could reach when I read that Democrats intend to draft an Iraq war spending bill sans timetables or pork.

While details remain subject to change, the measure is designed to close the books by Friday on a bruising veto fight between Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress over the war. It would provide funds for military operations in Iraq through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

This is, of course, what Congress is supposed to do. It's nice that it only took one ass-kicking from the President for them to realize it.

The usual suspects are trying to turn their sow's ear into a silk purse. It's always amusing to watch the moonbats when they really lose. That's when you get lots of "let's look on the bright side" kinds of posts. Not the usual "We're gonna ram this f****** legislation down Bush McHitlerChimpyHalliburton's f****** throat!"

Parents Love School Choice...Of Course!

Parents in Washington D.C. have had what most American parents want for their children: the right to attend the school of their choice. But now, it's uncertain whether Democrats will reauthorize the voucher program that makes school choice possible.

As the article points out, wealthier families already have school choice. They move to a district with the best schools they can afford and, if they don't like the local schools, they pay for private schools.

Personally, I was a little skeptical about the difference in schools before we moved from a poorer district to a richer one. The difference in a word: amazing. It wasn't simply that the schools were so much nicer and newer. It was that the schools were much more demanding and helpful.

Better schools demand more from both students and parents. In the old school district, we might have occasional family projects or recommendations. Since moving to the school district, we are pretty much required to help with homework and projects on a daily or weekly basis, plus we are asked to be involved in a variety of ways at the school itself. It's also easier to get feedback from teachers when there is a problem because all the teachers are on the internet.

The D.C. experiment has shown that parents become more involved when they feel they have a voice in the school.

Strikingly, the report's authors found that the parents aren't just happy; they're involved in their children's education, and increasingly so the longer they are in the program, despite challenges related to time and transportation.

They also are demanding consumers. Parents visited an average of three schools before selecting one; the small minority who were disappointed with their first choice visited even more as they weighed the possibility of moving their children. They were primarily looking, the report found, for "smaller class size, a more rigorous curriculum and school safety."

The authorization for this school vouchers program will come up this year or next. Now that Democrats run things in Congress, D.C. parents are worried that the stranglehold of teacher's unions will prevent Democrats from reauthorizing the funding.

All parents want the best schools for their children. Let's hope the Democrats want the best school for students, too.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

When an F U! Is More than an F U!

You may have read by now of John McCain's intemperate response to Texas Senator John Cornyn over the Senate's version of the immigration bill.

In a nutshell, McCain has been busily out fundraising and missing most of the meetings concerning the immigration bill, but he swooped in at the last minute for the photo-op with Ted Kennedy when the bill was nearing completion.

Senator Cornyn, tacitly supported by Sen. Jon Kyl, pushed hard to streamline legal procedures to allow prompt deportation of illegals. Senator Kennedy resisted.

As the clock moved closer to 1:30 p.m., Senator McCain suddenly lost it. "This is chickenshit," he told Senator Cornyn. "I think it would expedite things if you would just leave the room, Senator, so we can get along with finishing this up." Senator Cornyn responded: "Wait a minute. We’ve been meeting for three months on this in good faith, and now you parachute in here this morning and tell me to leave? I think you’re out of line."

Senator McCain responded: "F*** you! I know what is going on here. I know more about immigration than anybody in this room!” Other Senators moved in to calm things down, and the talks went on. Senator Cornyn’s provision was not included. At 1:30 p.m. sharp, the conferees (not including Senators Cornyn or Menendez and a few other negotiators) were in the press gallery, congratulating each other. Senator Kennedy recognized Senator McCain early to make his televised comments, then Senator McCain departed before the press conference was over for a flight to New York City. Later that afternoon, he missed yet another Senate vote -– this one on the Democrats' $2.9 trillion budget plan, an outline for the largest tax increase in U.S. history.

I defended Dick Cheney saying FU to Patrick Leahy in a post that lead to the supposedly "polite commenter" Jesurgislac saying FU to me. I must admit, while I'm not a big fan of goading people, it was a laugh out loud moment.

But the point is still the same. One person saying FU when provoked (and I'm sure Patrick Leahy was provoking the Vice President) is a bit different from saying FU when a person brings up a legitimate point: that McCain hasn't been involved in any legislation this session but wants to dictate the final terms of the agreement.

Via Patterico's Pontifications, Beldar explains why one FU isn't like another and Ann Althouse and Glen Reynolds are wrong about this.
I do not want an American president who cannot restrain himself from shouting "F*** you!" at his peers. Losing one's temper to the point of shouting profanity in the workplace is not something to encourage or trivialize in general. But doing so when one is in a job or profession or position that's supposed to involve dignity and sound judgment demonstrates a lack of dignity and a lack of judgment. I don't know Prof. Althouse personally, but it would surprise me if she shouts "F*** you!" at faculty colleagues, or would think "it's nothing" if they regularly did so at her.

Prof. Reynold's linking post to Prof. Althouse's opinion is titled "MCCAIN TALKS TOUGH, and that's okay." Well, sure, tough talk is sometimes actually vital. But this isn't "tough talk," it's rude talk. Private rude talk is one thing; even public rude talk may sometimes be excusable, depending on just how rude and what the circumstances are — but in these circumstances, it wasn't. I'm surprised that neither Sen. McCain, Prof. Althouse nor, apparently, Prof. Reynolds seem able to draw that simple, but very important, distinction.

I'm far less worried about McCain using this language "where the kids can hear him" than I am "where people actively interested in the business of the U.S. Senate can hear him"! Certainly all four of my teenagers have known these words for years and years, but they, at least, have the maturity to know when they ought not be used and the self-control to restrain their actions accordingly. I'm not worried that they'll be corrupted by McCain's profanity; rather, I'm worried that they'll lose respect for our national institutions and national leaders because someone like McCain seems to feel free to behave himself like a drunken hockey fan while on the job in the Capitol Building.

Frankly, I'd be surprised if teenagers had any respect for the federal government after watching this Congress' performance.

The Most Important Qualification for a Critic? Egotism

In an age where everyone can write their own reviews on the internet, a critic reminds us why not everyone can write a review.

It all boils down to self-importance.

The piece is hilarious when read one way; Richard Schickel spends the length of his piece bringing forth the names of famous critics, none of whom you've probably ever heard, with the exception of George Orwell.

What I found amusing about Schickel's column is that, for the most part, reviews are handled by either freelancers who happen to know the book/movie critic, employees doing some reviewing on the side, or college kids who are called "assistants."

I was one of the latter. And our movie critic sent me to a lot of movies, mainly the obscure ones that would only receive a 3-graf review. Only the movies, in other words, that the in-house critic wasn't interested in. This isn't to say I didn't ever get to review movies you might have seen. I reviewed some unmemorable Arnold Schwarzenegger movie and a slightly more memorable Richard Dreyfuss movie, but, for the most part, I reviewed the stinkers.

I was also probably the sort of reviewer Schickel wouldn't have liked anyway. I didn't quote from "famous" people and I spent my reviews discussing the assets and flaws of the film. Mainly, I asked myself, "Would a fan of action movies about vampires on motorcycles trying to take over the world like this movie?" If the answer was "yes," I wrote a more favorable review.

So, I admit I wasn't the best reviewer available. But I like to believe I gave readers what they wanted: a review which told them whether a movie was worth their five bucks (this was a long time ago).

Unfortunately for Schickel, this is what most people look for in a movie or book review. They don't usually look for a review that "requires disciplined taste, historical and theoretical knowledge and a fairly deep sense of the author's (or filmmaker's or painter's) entire body of work, among other qualities." I will admit that it helps if the critic knows the genre and has been in contact with a few other works by the author/producer/actor in question. But I would bet that the car mechanic who wrote 95 book reviews for his website makes the effort to be knowledgable and thoughtful about the books he reviews, too.

The problem for critics is one that pervades journalism: they take themselves and their work too seriously. This is understandable. If it took you four hours to write your review of a movie, you are obviously invested in it. But don't expect the guy who buys the next issue of Time to be as invested as you are. He's going to read your review and decide if your opinion conforms with his (in which case he'll go to the movie or buy the book) or not (in which case he'll do what he was planning to do anyway). It's not that it's wrong to care so much about what one writes, but given the temporary nature of newspapers and magazines, it might help if the reviewer took himself a bit less seriously.

Somebody Needs to Hand Jimmy Carter His Milk of Magnesia and the Medication and Send Him to Bed

When I was a kid, I liked Jimmy Carter. Of course, I was too young to understand what a disaster he was as a president, but I still thought he was a nice guy. I really liked the way he went around building houses for poor people after he was retired by the American people in 1980.

But, frankly, Jimmy Carter has become a meddlesome, annoying, hypocritical old shrew in his old age. Maybe someone should take him aside and tell him it's time for him to shut his trap and head for the peanut farm.

I guess if you really were one of the worst presidents in U.S. history and got your ass handed to you in your re-election bid (the only time the American people get to evaluate your performance) then you would spend a lot of time projecting about the performance of other presidents.

Hell, I can't blame Carter. He messed up domestic policy. He messed up foreign policy. He made America the laughing stock of the world and brought us the misery index in just a scant four years. I'm sure the ridicule he rightly deserves is a lot for the old guy to take. But, as Sister Toldjah points out, this is the guy routinely takes up for and makes excuses for Palestinian terrorists, including the Hamas terrorist organization - while trying to undermine the United States by bringing Cuba to the UN human rights table. Shouldn't he have some shame?

This is the moral bankruptcy Jimmy Carter brings to the table every time he opens his mouth to denigrate the President while siding with the Jew-hating terrorists who comprise Hamas. Via extension, Carter, sadly, is representative of so many other modern day Democrats when it comes to denouncing this administration while downplaying the threats we face overseas, essentially saying that it’s President Bush who is the bigger threat than actual terrorists who want to kill us.

It's time for someone to take tell Carter that the great thing about being an ex-president is that it's time for him to shut up and go play golf.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today is my father's 81st birthday.

I write about my father occasionally. He has Alzheimer's and things have been hard the last few months. Thankfully, we have found sitters to look in on him several times a week now, which gives him new people to interact with and bond with, as well as easing the burden I was dealing with in caring for him.

One of the hard things about Alzheimer's is recognizing how the person changes from someone you know to someone you don't.

My father was born 81 years ago in a coal mining camp in West Virginia. He is the only surviving son (he had a brother who died in infancy) and had to endure being raised with five sisters.

He spent 21 years in the military, going to places many people would like to go (England) and to places they might not (Berlin during the Cold War). While overseas, he met and married my mother.

Dad was one of the only people I've ever met to have served in three wars (WWII, Korea, and Vietnam). His courage under stress was enormous.

After three children, three wars, and 21 years in the military, Dad decided to retire. He settled his family in the town we still live in. He bought a small wood-frame house and raised his children there.

Dad held a variety of jobs after he left the service. He worked on heating and air conditioning units, did assembly work at a local helicopter plant, and did some other odd jobs before becoming a feed line operator at a local animal feed mill. For the rest of my childhood, my father worked second shift at a feed mill, coming home late, dirty and covered in feed dust.

He worked hard and always took overtime when it was offered. He didn't complain, regardless of how cold the mill was in the winter or how hot it was in the summer when it could be 110 outside.

For me, however, he was never just an honorable veteran or a hard worker. My dad was the Boss. He raised us with the sort of discipline one would expect from a military veteran, teaching us the pride of doing one's duty and behaving honorably.

I often marvel at the way things have changed in my father's lifetime. He's lived through some of the harshest times and some of the best. His life is the result of hard work and determination. He fought in three wars, was married for 38 years, raised three children, watched two of them graduate from college (one with a doctorate), and has eight grandchildren. It's not a bad legacy for a coal miner's son from West Virginia.

Shouldn’t they have moral standards about what reasons are acceptable for an abortion?

That's the question asked in this interesting New York Times article. The article is about the use of genetic testing to screen for Downs Syndrome and that some women decide to abort those babies.

Mollie at GetReligion explains that the story is about the discomfort some in the pro-choice movement have when discussing what limits should be put on abortion. Certainly, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the State has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the fetus that may become a child. But most of the pro-choice movement is uncomfortable with the idea that the fetus might have a right that supercedes the woman's "choice." Mollie points out that this argument is uncomfortable because of "different first principles."

In logic and philosophy, first principles are those axioms that cannot be deduced from other principles. Many in the pro-life movement have the first principle that all humans — born or unborn — have the right to life. From this principle, others develop. It might be said that the first principle in the pro-choice movement is just that: choice. For pro-choicers, their guiding notion is that all mature women have the right to choose whether to abort their fetus. Add into that mix, of course, that most opinions on abortion aren’t based on first principles but gut reactions, emotions, or other methods.

This is what I have observed in virtually any argument about abortion. Pro-lifers will argue about the intrinsic value of life and that it should be honored, regardless of the hardship or inconvenience to the pregnant woman. Pro-choicers argue that the woman's bodily integrity is supreme and must be supported. Such conversations are basically futile, as both sides are arguing from positions that will not change no matter how persuasive rebuttal arguments are.

Amy Harmon's New York Times article shows how ambivalent pro-choicers can be where genetic testing is concerned. Even the most ardent pro-choice supporter shrinks from advocating abortion simply because a child might have arthritis later in life. Or that a couple might abort a child for sex selection purposes.

This is one of the reasons it is much easier to support pro-life arguments, in my opinion. If you start from the position that all children, even the handicapped or unplanned, are precious, you don't have to draw difficult lines about which deaths are acceptable and which are not.

Welcome to Tehran

Captain Ed has a depressing post on the state of southern Iraq under the British "control." The upshot is that the British, by making friends with the various militias, has set the stage for a real civil war, complete with opposing armies and controlled territories. The results are depressing and horrifying.

The 2008 Elections and the Court

SCOTUSblog has this interesting piece about how the 2008 election could affect the Supreme Court makeup.

It's assumed that if ia Democrat wins, we could see the retirement of Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Both are elderly and in poor health, seemingly holding on waiting for liberal replacements.

Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog seems to think Justice David Souter might retire under a Democrat president, as well. His reasoning is that Souter has never been beholden to Court appointment like some other justices and may consider a Democrat president to be his best bet of getting out before he is too old to enjoy retirement.

The scenarios Goldstein lays out are relatively well-known. The four justices on the right of the Court, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito, aren't going anywhere any time soon, so the conservative wing of the court is secured.

It's on the left side of the Court that any major changes could come. This is why Democrats will be absolutely rabid if a Republican wins the presidential election in '08. Expect high velocity shrieking about coathanger abortions, lynchings, and nuclear war if a Republican president is elected.

The one thing not addressed in Goldstein's article is what happens if a Democrat of moderate turns is elected? What if a Democrat president nominates a Kennedyesque justice as opposed to a hardcore lefty like Ginsburg or Stevens? I realize it may be wishful thinking on my part--after all, every justice nominated by a Democrat president performs as expected--but is it not a possibility and shouldn't that be explored? And will Republicans simply roll over and allow any nominee through the system after what we've experienced over the last 30 years?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Senator Johnson May Return by Fall

I found it encouraging to read that Senator Tim Johnson may be returning to Capitol Hill by the fall.

If you recall, Johnson suffered a brain hemorrhage in December and there were some worried that he wouldn't recover, but it looks like he is making remarkable strides.

I may not agree with Johnson politically, but it is heartening to see him returning to a more normal life.

Murtha's Tit for Tat

Don't question John Murtha's sneaky earmarks. If you do, he'll violate ethics rules by threatening you.

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) threatened to deny any further spending projects to a Republican who challenged him over an earmark last week, the GOP is charging – a potential violation of House rules that could cause a spike in partisan tensions.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who questioned money that Murtha inserted into an intelligence bill last week, turned the tables Thursday night by saying he would call for Murtha to be reprimanded for violating House rules...

According to the draft resolution, Murtha shouted at and chastised Rogers on the House floor Thursday for offering a motion last week to challenge $23 million Murtha requested in an intelligence bill.

Murtha had requested the money to prevent the administration from shuttering the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, Pa., which is part of Murtha’s district.

“I hope you don’t have any earmarks in the defense appropriations bills because they are gone, and you will not get any earmarks now and forever,” Murtha told Rogers, according to the draft transcript given to The Politico.

“This is not the way we do things here – and is that supposed to make me afraid of you?” Rogers replied.

“That’s the way I do it,” Murtha said.

I have no doubt that's the way Murtha--of Abscam fame--does things. That doesn't mean he isn't violating the rules, though.

World Bank Justice?

OpinionJournal has this great editorial about the fiasco at the World Bank.

The bottom line is that Paul Wolfowitz was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case and then resigned, largely because of the smear campaign waged against him.

As life under a Democrat Congress shows, this is becoming the M.O. The many critics of the Bush administration cannot get convictions on facts, so they resort to smears and innuendo. This is the tactic basically used in the Scooter Libby case, where one man's conviction has been turned into a conviction of the entire administration. No matter how many times one points out that no criminal activity was ever prosecuted in the Valerie Plame case, the Left continues to howl that she was "outted" by Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and anyone else they can find to accuse.

We have a Democrat-run Congress that is more concerned with holding hearings than passing legislation, and whose idea of bipartisanship is to shut off debate. This after spending years complaining that they weren't given enough power while the minority party.

They should be ashamed, but we've come to realize they won't be.

Surprise! Illegal Aliens Vote!

WOAI has this story about illegal aliens voting in Texas elections.

Hundreds of illegal immigrants have registered to vote in Bexar County in recent years and dozens of them have actually cast ballots, canceling out the votes of U.S. citizens, 1200 WOAI news will report Thursday morning.

Figures obtained by 1200 WOAI news shows 303 illegals successfully registered to vote, and at least 41 cast ballots in various elections.

Bexar County Elections Administrator Jackie Callanan confirmed the figures, but she says a new form of voter registration card, which requires people to swear they are citizens when they register, should help cut the problem, because people who vote illegally can be charged with perjury.

Republicans in the Texas legislature are pushing for a voter ID requirement, but Democrats naturally block it.
Democrats, though outnumbered, have one more vote than they need to block any measure. And they are united in their opposition to the voter ID bill because they say it’s a ploy to discourage two of their core constituencies -- ethnic minorities and elderly voters -- from casting ballots. Dewhurst, who is widely expected to run for governor in 2010, is an ardent champion of the measure, which he says would protect the integrity of elections.

But as the WOAI story points out, not having voter ID--and having the insidious Motor Voter law--allows illegals to vote, an argument considered "racist" by those in favor of illegal aliens voting.

So, let's recap.
If you want to buy a beer, you have to have ID.

If you want to get a library card, you have to have ID.

If you want to rent a movie, you have to have ID.

If you want to buy Sudafed, you have to have ID.

If you want to open a checking account, you have to have ID.

If you want to vote, don't dare ask for ID because then you're suppressing the votes of minorities!

Why do Democrats demand that we not know who is voting? Because they know that the bigger the voting pool, the more likely they are to get elected. Why is that? Because less informed, less educated, poorer people tend to vote for Democrats who promise more "free" services. In the Democrat worldview, allowing illegals to vote is the price we pay for having free and open elections. And given that President Bush and Congressional Democrats are hellbent to encourage more illegals to come here, the problem of illegals voting is only going to get worse.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Seven Stages of Liberal Legal Activism

I just read about this at Red State and thought it was worthy of a post all its own.

The Seven Stages of Liberal Legal Activism

1. It's a free country, X should not be illegal.

2. The Constitution prohibits X from being made illegal.

3. If the Constitution protects a right to X, how can it be immoral? Anyone who disagrees is a bigot.

4. If X is a Constitutional right, how can we deny it to the poor? Taxpayer money must be given to people to get X.

5. The Constitution requires that taxpayer money be given to people to get X.

6. People who refuse to participate in X are criminals.

7. People who publicly disagree with X are criminals.

The "Disruptive" Buzzcut

It's rare for me to agree with a Pandagon story, but I have to say that this is another of those "administration run amok" stories.

7th grader Derek Jackson says he is back in his normal classes today following his placement in in-school-suspension for having a haircut that was too short; something the school says was both a violation of the school dress-code and a distraction.
Derek’s mother, Amanda, says she met with Bailey Middle School Principal Dr. Julia Fletcher, and Dr. Fletcher told her that the issue was “not worth the fight”.

Leaders of Austin’s NAACP are convinced the suspension of Derek Jackson is racially motivated. Nelson Linder with the NAACP says there’s no other reason he can think of why a 7th grader would get in-school suspension for having hair that’s too short.

“We think that Derek is just a metaphor for how people are treated,” he said. “For whatever reason, African-Americans are put under very high scrutiny…gang issues, all kind of what I call ‘racist projections’. So I think when a black kid has a haircut that they might think is inappropriate, you’re seeing phobias from people.

I disagree that this is a race thing, although I'm sure there are some racists who don't like buzzcuts on black kids. Plus, the NAACP does have a vested interest in making everything about race.

In this instance, though, I consider this to be more administrative stupidity than racism. After all, I already wrote about the 13-year-old girl arrested for writing on a desk. And we all know about the first grader suspended because he kissed a girl. So, why not put this boy's haircut in the same category?

The truth is, most school administrations' "zero tolerance" policies--really a cop out so teachers don't have to use any actual judgement--force teachers and administrators to inflict harsh punishments on children for relatively minor offenses. Let's face it; it's much easier to ban all jewelry rather than determine how much is too much. It's easier to disallow rolling backpacks than to make children behave properly with them.

These harsh applications of blanket rules poorly serve our children. Maybe the teachers and administrators in Derek's school should be more concerned about his studies than his haircut.

Jerry Falwell's Legacy

Amidst all the hysteria and shrieking (not to mention the juvenile behavior on display) among the left about Jerry Falwell's death, there has been little discussion of Falwell's actual legacy.

Most liberals have focused on his various intemperate remarks about homosexuals, feminists, the ACLU, pro-abortion supporters, and various other leftwing groups. But all the gnashing of teeth about Falwell's 9/11 remarks miss what he actually accomplished and that was the creation of the Religious Right.

GetReligion has a couple of interesting critiques of the Falwell coverage which points this out.

It’s easy for the press to get caught up in the left-right divide that tends to dictate the direction of public statements issued to remember Falwell’s passing. But taking a longer perspective on Falwell shows that for all his dramatic pronouncements and controversies, he changed the American religious landscape, and subsequently America, in rather significant fashion. The political spats that made Falwell famous will pass away, but the rise of the religious right and his influence on the use of technology (think television) in religion will be his lasting legacy.

Falwell's most significant contribution was the way he energized people around moral issues and turned those issues into political ones. This was unique for the time; the 1960s had been a decade that liberalized a variety of moral stances in society--some rather alarmingly--and left many moral conservatives feeling left out and powerless.

Falwell managed to unite conservatives around a core of moral issues, from abortion to homosexuality to television standards, and focused them on electing conservatives who vowed to uphold their principles. The pinnacle of Falwell's success was the election of Ronald Reagan.

The legacy of the Moral Majority, religious conservatives, and Republicans in general has been a mixed bag. Until President Bush nominated real conservative justices in John Roberts and Samuel Alito, there had been little progress in changing the courts. Abortion on demand was (and is) still legal. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy nearly made homosexual sodomy a fundamental right. And broadcast television is a bigger cesspool now than it was in the 1970s, largely due to its attempts to compete with cable and satellite for the most titillating and insipid programming ever.

Liberals may spend most of their energy grinding their teeth about Falwell's remarks about feminists and homosexuals, but it is his creation of a religious right that will be his lasting legacy.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

More Consequences of Free Speech

The news that XM Satellite Radio suspended Opie and Anthony for 30 days following their gleeful fantasies about raping Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has many subscribers cancelling. I guess some people can't get enough filth during the 19 hours Opie and Anthony aren't on.

This is a story with two sides. There's the free speech side, which argues that anyone offended by Opie and Anthony shouldn't listen. Plus, XM Satellite Radio is a pay service and isn't subject to the same indecency rules as broadcast.

There's a lot of substance to this argument. Free speech isn't supposed to stop because it offends people (although pornography and profanity are exceptions to the rule). In fact, it is the "free flow of ideas," a concept firmly grounded in Enlightenment thinking, that allows us to discuss things we otherwise might not want to.

But as the story makes clear, there is a second issue and that is that XM Satellite Radio is a business. While XM isn't regulated by the FCC, it's obvious that they don't want to do anything that might stop the company's proposed merger with its competitor, Sirius.

Many subscribers cancelled their subscriptions in anger at XM. They feel "cheated" because they expect content unavailable on broadcast.

But part of the second issue is that Opie and Anthony are employees of XM and subject to their rules. Now, I don't know if they have a contract like Don Imus, where being offensive is part of the territory. But it seems to me that suspending your shock jocks because they are a bit too shocking is still within XM's right.

For me, it is hard to understand why XM would be shocked! Shocked! That O & A would be so vulgar and crude. It's not like this is a first. They got, in fact, the entertainment they paid for.