Friday, June 29, 2007

Cats Choose Us, Not the Other Way Around

It may be tough to swallow, but according to a new study, cats may have domesticated themselves for the benefits of a steady food supply, shelter, and companionship.

This doesn't surprise me at all. Everybody knows that the world is divided into cat people and dog people (I'm a cat person). The reason people prefer either cats or dogs can be boiled down to one word: independence. Do you like a pet that wants your attention 24/7? Or do you prefer an animal that comes to you sometimes (usually the same time) but doesn't need your undivided attention?

I prefer cats just because they don't need me all the time. I've had all sorts of cats: pet store cats, abandoned cats, Humane Society cats, cats other people decided they didn't want, and cats that people gave away because their cat had another litter. Most of those cats have tended to prefer me, too, although I'm not sure why that is.

I've lived with cats alone and I've lived with them as part of my family, and maybe what I enjoy about a cat versus a dog (and we've always had dogs, too) is that a cat will usually lie somewhere close to me, enjoying my company, without demanding that I play tug-of-war with a half-chewed rawhide bone every 20 minutes.

This isn't to say I don't like dogs. I do. Of course, I love my parakeet, too. But if I had to pick one pet, it would be a cat.

We, the People Spoke...and Won

It's been a great week for conservatives, according to Mark Tapscott, and I have to agree.

--The Illegal Immigration Amnesty bill is dead.

--The conservative court campaigned over for the last 25 years has finally come to fruition.

--The un-Fairness Doctrine has been killed for now.

Tapscott explains in fuller detail what these victories mean for conservatism and the GOP.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Is the Immigration Debacle Finally Over?

I dunno. I've heard (and written) these words before: the amnesty bill is dead.

Unfortunately, we've seen the Senate backpedal before and keep trying to override the will of the People (you know, the People we're supposed to listen to about getting out of Iraq, but not on issues like abortion or immigration).

President Invokes Executive Privilege

President Bush invoked executive privilege in refusing to turn over subpeonaed documents and testimony about U.S. Attorneygate.

Captain Ed discusses the possible effects of this showdown.

This still strikes me as a scandal in search of any real wrongdoing. Despite having chewed on this for months, Congress has found only incompetence. No one thinks that the President or the Attorney General can't dismiss prosecutors, regardless of how badly they did it. Critics of the administration want to find nefarious plots to cover up the administration's supposed crimes, but even the terminated attorneys don't claim that. One, David Yglesias, alleges that Pete Domenici (R-NM) got him fired for not aggressively pursuing corruption charges against two Democrats, which might be more properly pursued in the Senate Ethics Committee.

So far, though, incompetence and cronyism is all they've found, and they have no probable cause to pursue executive-branch materials or testimony. That won't stop them from trying to get it, and the case law isn't crystal-clear in this regard. Most of the relevant court decisions regarding executive privilege date back to Watergate, and the precedent seems a bit daunting for the White House. Executive privilege has been upheld, but so also has Congress' check on executive power, and this may be close enough to the mark to lose a challenge.

Ed thinks the White House's reasoning is shakier with regards to the warrantless surveillance program. The worst part is that all of the legal maneuvers will play out through the next election cycle and it isn't clear who will be more damaged by it. I guess we'll just have to see.

"Voluntary" Integration Plans Struck Down

Not unexpectedly, the Supreme Court concluded its Term with a decision which struck down so-called "voluntary" integration plans for school districts in Seattle and Louisville.

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," Roberts wrote. On the two school plans, the majority found that the districts have "failed to provide the necessary support for the proposition that there is no other way than individual racial classifications to avoid racial isolation in their school districts."

The Chief Justice, in his oral announcement of the ruling, insisted that the Court was remaining faithful to Brown v. Board of Education in barring public school districts from assigning students on the basis of race. Answering that, Justice John Paul Stevens said in dissent that there was a "cruel irony" in making that claim, because it involved a rewriting of the history "of one of this Court's most important decisions." Stevens noted that he joined the Court in 1975, and asserted that "no member of the Court" at that time "would have agreed with today's decision."

Maybe Stevens should step down because he's sounding a little addled. The Constitutional standard now is if judges from the original decision wouldn't have agreed with the current one, then jurisprudence shouldn't change with the times? I wonder if he would have applied this standard to the Plessy v. Ferguson or Dred Scott cases. After all, I'm certain those judges wouldn't have agreed with Brown.

The nutroots are in a tizzy. Take this Echidne of the Snakes post:
Put it this way: If I had a child denied access to my most preferred kindergarten, say, I would have very little trouble taking that imaginary child to another good kindergarten or a private school, and I'm not especially rich. But if I was stuck in a ghetto, with two jobs and little education, the slot in a good kindergarten for my child might be the only chance that child ever gets. Now put the two Echidnes in the story fighting each other in a court system for the same kindergarten slot. The SCOTUS says that the rich Echidne must win if the slot is in her backyard. Because she will be a victim of discrimination otherwise. The poor Echidne can just get a third job to pay for a private kindergarten slot.

It's a sad story, but it doesn't really work. In her own analogy, there are multiple "good" kindergartens. Isn't it possible for the "Poor Echidne" to put her child in one of the other "good" kindergartens? After all, that's the argument used by the liberals to uphold "voluntary" integration plans.

The problem is that "voluntary" integration plans aren't. They aren't voluntary for the parents, who get stuck sending their kids to schools far from home that they don't want. The "voluntary" part of "voluntary" integration plans are from the school district level...and they aren't the ones paying the price with their children.

It's odd when you read Echidne's response to questions. For example, it's seemingly acceptable for students to deal with the inconveniences and problems of "voluntary" integration, but she doesn't think integration has "done much."
I think the impact of the integration programs has not been a gigantic one, but I also think that they probably have had some impact. At least some minority students have had a better education through them, and some majority students have learned about how to live in a multi-racial society.

It's a silly argument, really. She has no studies backing up the idea that there's been "some impact," but it's ok because it's taught kids to live in an "integrated society."

I hate to break it to Echidne and liberals, but we live in an integrated world without "voluntary" integration plans. We don't have separate drinking fountains, seating, work sites, etc. It's silly to act like white people would never come in contact with minorities but for "voluntary" integration plans.

More wailing and gnashing of teeth here, here, and here.

Tom Goldstein warns against overreading this case (too late for the nutroots!) here.

UPDATE: E.J. Dionne cries in his beer here. My comment to all the haranging about the direction of the Court from the Left is: welcome to the world the rest of us have lived in for 45 years.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

MIchael Moore Is Sicko

Andrew Sullivan discusses the review from Reason of Michael Moore's new movie Sicko.

From Reason:

One of the systems Sicko suggests as a template for a remodeled American health care is the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS). The "first way [the British] decided to pull together after the [Second World War]," Moore says, "was to provide free medical care for everyone."

Viewers are taken to London's Hammersmith Hospital, held up as a shining example of socialized care, where doctors are well-paid and patients well looked after. Moore ambles through the corridors interviewing patients that acclaim the NHS's ‘free care,' and express horror at the barbarism of the American system. Indeed, the facility's "cashier" exists to give money to patients—for travel reimbursements—rather than taking it from them. But as is often the case with Moore's films, the reality is more complex.

In 2005, London's Evening Standard reported that Hammersmith Hospital would slash hundreds of jobs; the hospital, the most debt-ridden in Britain, was hemorrhaging money and desperately needed to cut costs. And while the hospital was "downsizing", Hammersmith's CEO—yes, even the NHS has an executive class—collected a year-end bonus of close to $20,000. Small beer by American standards, but enough to provoke tabloid headlines in Britain.

Much like the American hospitals Moore excoriates, Hammersmith Hospital, the Evening Standard reported, faced pressure from administrators to limit the number of patients treated in order to cut spending. In a country where the government promises to winnow down queues to 18 weeks, this isn't an anomalous problem. A recent BBC documentary accused the NHS of using dangerously high doses of radiation on patients "to save time and money."

I've written previously (see here and here) on the folly that is nationalized healthcare. The idea that we can get something for nothing is ludicrous under any circumstances, but healthcare is particularly vulnerable to waste fraud and abuse.

Sullivan points out that switching from the private insurance system we have now to a governmental system won't solve the rationing problem at all.
Moreover, a wholesale shifting of healthcare from the private to the public sector simply means replacing rationing by wealth with rationing by number, and a drastic decrease in individual freedom on both sides of the medical equation. You'd replace insurance company bureaucrats who deny care with government bureaucrats who deny care. Removing the financial incentive from doctors simply means they will provide sloppier treatment. They're not saints. They're human beings. And slashing the profit motive from the drug companies will simply mean fewer new drugs for fewer illnesses. This is the trade-off the left will deny till they're blue in the face. But it's a real trade-off.

The European health systems have, of course, been free-riding on private U.S. drug research for decades. Name a great new drug developed in Europe these past ten years. Their own pharmaceutical industries have been decimated by the socialism Moore loves (and many of Europe's drug companies have relocated to the US as a result). But I fear the left is winning this battle; and the massive advantages of private healthcare are only appreciated when you lose them.

Longer waits. Worse care. Higher taxes. Fewer new drugs. Yep, that's the health system endorsed by Michael Moore!

Ann Coulter Wants John Edwards Killed By Terrorists! Well, Not Quite

Sometimes the spin from the nutroots is unbelievable.

Take this mud-slinging at Crooks and Liars (a more apt name I've yet to come across).

From an e-mail from John Edwards’ Campaign:

Dear Friend,

Yesterday, Jonathan told you that the folks who benefit from the status quo are attacking John personally because they don’t want the country to hear his message.

And you know what happened when we called them out? The attacks started pouring in.

That same day, the Ann Coulter-wannabe Michelle Malkin blasted John on her blog. Fox News has been bashing him around the clock. And Coulter herself said, "if I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

As usual, that's not quite what Coulter said. From NewsBusters, we get the real quote.
But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So I've learned my lesson. If I'm gonna say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.

It kinda sounds different when put in context, doesn't it?

I'm not a real Ann Coulter fan anymore (as I wrote here). I used to like reading Ann's books and columns, but the ratcheted-up vitriol has gotten on my nerves. Plus the fact that every time Ann talks, John Edwards breaks out a new fundraising letter.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

UPDATE: Lizzie Edwards just came out of chemo and her campaign for sainthood to confront Coulter and beg her not to be a meanie to her husband. She doesn't want Coulter to be so "personal." Funny, she could have used her own advice when lambasting her neighbor.

Jihadi Etiquette

When is it acceptable to take lives? That's the subject of this New York Times article.

As Terry Mattingly at Get Religion points out, the story is riveting, not merely because the subject matter is so intense but because it looks into a worldview few Westerners understand. Here are the rules as laid out in the article:

Rule No. 1: You can kill bystanders without feeling a lot of guilt.

Rule No. 2: You can kill children, too, without needing to feel distress.

Rule No. 3: Sometimes, you can single out civilians for killing; bankers are an example.

Rule No. 4: You cannot kill in the country where you reside unless you were born there.

Rule No. 5: You can lie or hide your religion if you do this for jihad.

Rule No. 6. You may need to ask your parents for their consent.

As Mattingly states, the Times reporter approaches a Muslim scholar for clarification of each rule. The discussion is fascinating, if not disturbing.

The number of jihadis is extremely small, but their impact on the world we live in is tremendous. We do no one a favor to ignore the horrors it causes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

That Noise You Hear Is the Gnashing of Teeth from the Left Who No Longer Can Depend on the Supreme Court

Andrew Cohen sounds particularly bitter today in describing the rulings issued by the Supreme Court today.

Legal and political conservatives hit for the cycle Monday morning when they "won" four long-awaited rulings from the United States Supreme Court. The Justices further chipped away at the wall that separates church and state, took some of the steam out of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, neutered federal regulators in environmental cases to the benefit of developers and slammed a high school kid who had the temerity to put up a silly sign near his high school.

Well, that's not exactly accurate, but who's to blame Cohen when the Justices aren't deciding his way? SCOTUS blog has a more measured description of the cases. The decisions were as follows:
In the first of several rulings on the merits, the Court split 5-4 in deciding that a federal agency that is required by law to take a specific action under one federal law does not have to follow the conflicting mandate of the Endangered Species Act. The decision, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., came in National Association of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife (06-340) and a companion case.

In the second decision of the day, also written by Alito and again dividing the Court 5-4, the Justices ruled that taxpayers do not have standing to sue to challenge the White House program on federal aid to faith-based organizations. The Court did not overrule Flast v. Cohen, as two Justices in the majority urged it to do so. The case was Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation (06-157).

The third decision, written by Justice David H. Souter, found over two Justices' partial dissents that government employees carrying out their official duties and not for personal benefit are not subject to damage claims against them personally based on a lawsuit asserting that they violated the RICO anti-racketeering law or private property rights. The decision came in Wilkie v. Robbins (06-219).

The fourth ruling, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., over three full dissents and one partial dissent, declared that public school officials do not violate a student's free speech rights by punishing the student for words or actions that promote a drug message. The ruling in Morse v. Frederick (06-278) also should count as a 5-4 decision because Justice Stephen G. Breyer would have decided the case on qualified immunity grounds, and not reach the First Amendment issue.

The Court issued its fifth ruling of the day, concluding that a Wisconsin abortion rights group had a First Amendment right to aid during election season campaign ads that named a candidate running for the Senate. Three of the five Justices in the majority urged the Court to overturn the part of a 2003 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the federal law restricting such radio and TV ads close to elections. The Chief Justice's main opinion, joined fully by Justice Alito, said the case did not provide an occasion to revisit that ruling. Justice Souter recited at length from the bench for the four dissenters -- who were in the minority in four of the five rulings on Monday. The ruling came in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life (06-969) and a companion case.

The key cases on the day were the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case, in which a student was disciplined for unfurling his banner at a school-sponsored event (the court said it was not a violation of the student's speech) and the Wisconsin Right to Life case, where an organization tried to run ads encouraging Wisconsin senators to approve President Bush's court nominees within the 60-day window before an election. The court decided that the organization should have been allowed to do so.

Expect lots of screeching from the Left over the next few days, weeks, and months about the "sharp turn to the Right" by the Supreme Court. This is nonsense, of course. It's true the court is more conservative with Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito than it was with Justice O'Connor on the Court, but there has been, by no means, a "sharp turn" in any direction.

There was no unanimity among the five-member majorities in any of the above cases. As for President Bush's promise to nominate justices like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, neither Roberts nor Alito show any hint that they agree with the most conservative justices. Indeed, where Thomas discusses chucking Tinker v. Des Moines, which stated that students and teachers have First Amendment rights "subject to application in light of the special characteristics of the school environment," no one else went so far.

So, basically what you have is a somewhat more conservative court but not what I would call a truly conservative court. Justice Anthony Kennedy is more conservative than O'Connor was, but that's not saying a whole lot.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh ponders the weaknesses in Alito's logic in the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case.

Dry Cleaner Wins Suit over Pants

A judge ruled Friday in favor of the dry cleaners who were sued for $54 million for losing a pair of pants.

A judge ruled Monday in favor of a dry cleaner that was sued for $54 million over a missing pair of pants.

The owners of Custom Cleaners did not violate the city's consumer protection law by failing to live up to Roy L. Pearson's expectations of the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign once displayed in the store window, District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled.

"A reasonable consumer would not interpret 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer's unreasonable demands" or to agree to demands that the merchant would have reasonable grounds for disputing, the judge wrote.

Bartnoff ordered Pearson to pay the court costs of defendants Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung.

"Satisfaction guaranteed" is a standard sign in most business establishments. To sue a dry cleaners because they lost--then found--the slacks to your suit is ridiculous.

Pearson originally sued for multiple times the cost of the pants, plus the cost of renting a taxi to go to a different cleaner every week for a year. When the judge stated that Pearson hadn't proven that the pants returned to him by the cleaners weren't his, Pearson dropped that portion of his suit and focused on the "satisfaction guaranteed" sign in the cleaners' window.

Pearson was unavailable for comment. Unsurprising considering he got taken to the--ha ha!--cleaners.

Hollywood and Fashionable Communism

The flap over Cameron Diaz carrying a handbag with Maoist symbols and "Serve the People" on it is a reminder of how out of touch Hollywood stars--the ones who feel compelled to tell the rest of us how we should behave--really are.

Cameron Diaz apologized Sunday for carrying a bag with a political slogan that evoked painful memories in Peru.

The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated "Shrek" films visited the Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru's Andes on Friday carrying an olive green bag emblazoned with a red star and the words "Serve the People" printed in Chinese, perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong's most famous political slogan.

The bags are marketed as fashion accessories in some world capitals, but in Peru the slogan evokes memories of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency that fought the government in the 1980s and early 1990s in a bloody conflict that left nearly 70,000 people dead.

"I sincerely apologize to anyone I may have inadvertently offended. The bag was a purchase I made as a tourist in China and I did not realize the potentially hurtful nature of the slogan printed on it," Diaz said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.

Shining Path isn't ancient history, but Diaz wouldn't even bother apologizing if the fracas didn't tarnish her image as a conscientious lefty. I suppose it goes with the Che Guevara T-shirts. Maybe add a hammer and sickle belt buckle. After all, those symbols don't mean anything, right? It's all just fashion!

It's amazing that the same people who constantly remind us that the U.S. backed Saddam Hussein in the 1980s (and will quote Noam Chomsky about all the other horrible aspects of American foreign affairs) have the convenient memory to forget the horrors of communism.

This Rating System Makes Perfect Sense

There's something wrong with a blog rating system that gives Echidne of the Snakes a G rating and my blog a...well...

Online Dating

How did I get that?
This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

abortion (24x) rape (5x) dead (2x) gay (1x)

I guess I need to discuss gay marriage to get a better rating, huh?

UPDATE: Pandagon only got an "R" rating. For some reason, I find that highly amusing.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What Language Will They Use for Real Fascists?

The New Editor has yet another example of the stupid, overheated rhetoric of the Left when it comes to George Bush, this one by Peter Mehlman in the dumbest post I've read lately at the HuffPo:

...we're six and a half years into Bush and everyone from Helen Thomas on down is declaring him the worst president ever. What no one is saying is the one overarching reason he's the worst: the Bush administration is the first that doesn't even mean well.

With the possible exception of immigration reform -- and who knows what grotesque financial incentive underlies that -- try to pinpoint even one policy motivated by the desire to lessen human suffering, to improve the life of citizens. Nothing. There is nothing.

As The New Editor notes, this statement is patently absurd and the sort of juvenile rhetoric I expect from Jesurgislac.
Nothing supported by Bush is well-meaning; it's all evil: Efforts at improving education in "No Child Left Behind," the prescription drug benefit for seniors, Social Security reform -- no matter how one feels about their relative merits or efficacy -- none of these things were done with good intentions.

The increase in spending to combat AIDS in Africa, the stated dream of a manned mission to Mars -- all selfish acts not meant to achieve some benefit for people. Of course the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq are both inspired by pure evil.

This is what the unhinged Left has come to: it isn't enough to disagree with President Bush about the war in Iraq or No Child Left Behind. It can't be a policy difference: George Bush must be evil.
You could argue that even the world's worst fascist dictators at least meant well. They honestly thought were doing good things for their countries by suppressing blacks/eliminating Jews/eradicating free enterprise/repressing individual thought/killing off rivals/invading neighbors, etc.

Oddly, Mehlman is willing to give Stalin the benefit of the doubt about killing 20 million of his own people, including starving 14.5 million to death but he can't even assume that George Bush believed No Child Left Behind would improve education.

So, according to Mehlman, killing 20 million of your own citizens is all right if you had the right intentions, but making students pass standardized tests is pure evil?

Please tell me liberals haven't slipped to this level of stupidity.

Ethical Arguments Against Abortion

Via ifeminists comes this site on ethical arguments against abortion.
As ifeminists notes, these are the arguments pro-choice advocates should address but typically don't.

On the rape issue: One of the fundamental tenets of any individual-rights-regarding system concerning the use of retaliatory force is that it is to be used only against those directly responsible for the original initiation of force. The guilty party here is the rapist, not the fetus, and the law might legitimately grant its consent to terminate the rapist (as rape is a most abominable crime), yet not an innocent child, even if the latter's dependence on the mother were a direct outcome of the rape.

Let me present a parallel. Pretend that two mutually unfriendly people are neighbors living in the same apartment building in Britain during Hitler's bombing raids in 1940. A bomb explodes upon the building so as to cause all possible exits to cave in while destroying the wall that separates the neighbors. They are, in effect, forced to share the same living space and work alongside each other in an attempt to tunnel themselves out despite (in this scenario) a mutual dislike.

Does this, then, justify one of the killing the other because of the inconvenience thereby caused, despite the fact that neither one of them had caused it, or would it not instead be justice to demand, upon reaching freedom, that the Nazi air marshal who had commanded the raid to occur be tried as a war criminal? (I know this is an immensely unlikely scenario, but so is rape, and both are possible. And the circumstances here are comparable to those of a pregnancy by rape.)

On the life endangerment issue: No individual is obliged to sacrifice his/her life to save the life of another. Thus, when it can be medically proved that the life of the mother is in fact substantially endangered by a pregnancy (what constitutes "substantial endangerment" is a matter for medical science to define via conclusions drawn from empirical observation), then an abortion can be undertaken as a last resort.

But the only situation in which it is possible to advocate legal abortion and remain loyal to the principle of individual rights, and it is not a typical situation. Rather, it is an emergency, occurrences of which sort are addressed by Ayn Rand in the essay, "The Ethics of Emergencies," in The Virtue of Selfishness.

Rand writes that emergencies are exceptions to the rule, and are not the normal state of human existence, or of ethical human relations. To say that some extreme action may be permissible in an emergency is not to extend that permissibility to the realm of normal human existence as addressed by the fundamentals of ethics.

So, simply because an abortion might be justified as a last resort in some very unusual circumstances, this does not at all justify the general legalization of abortion, especially given the fact that the majority of abortions occur simply because a woman had undertaken indiscriminate sexual relations and does not wish to incur the objective consequences of such acts: namely, pregnancy and the obligation to bring up a child.

I don't expect to see our friends on the left address these issues. They are hard cases and point to the fact that the vast majority of abortions are not hard cases. Most abortions are done because the pregnancy is inconvenient for the woman. That inconvenience takes many forms (for example, the woman is in school or the father of the child isn't her husband, i.e., an affair), but as the post shows, these inconveniences don't justify killing a baby.

I'm Back!

We got back today from San Antonio. We had a wonderful time, even though it was a five-hour drive with two small kids squabbling, two surly teenagers, and my husband who gets carsick easily (thank God for Dramamine!).

We went to Fiesta Texas Friday and I like it better than the Six Flags in Arlington. Maybe it is because there's a cool water park attached to it. Maybe it's because there seemed to be more to do than just ride 80 rollercoasters. Maybe it's because I liked the shows they had (I know I'm getting old when I actually want to watch the shows). Whatever the reason, we had a blast, even though there was a torrential downpour for about 30-45 min. in the afternoon.

Saturday, we had planned to go to Sea World, but at 50 bucks a pop, we decided we could find a better use for $300. Instead, we went to the San Antonio Zoo, which was very nice. As a docent told us, the San Antonio Zoo is known for its birds and there were a lot of them. Since we got our parakeets, we've become fascinated with birds, and so it was a real treat to see so many different kinds in one place.

We drove back today and traffic wasn't too bad. The weather was nice the entire time we were there (albeit, with some rain), and nobody argued too much! Who could ask for more?

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I'm taking off to San Antonio for the weekend for a little family vacation. I'll be back Sunday sunburned, tired, possibly grumpy, and ready for more fun. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Readers Know What an "Investigative Report" Is

Once upon a time, when I worked for the local metro daily, I did a stint in Business News as general dog's body, which meant I did everything from the menial (answering phones) to scrolling the wires (for the wire guy), editing pages, and occasionally writing stories.

Business News is the only conservative section of any newspaper, I can assure you. You know all those studies that show some tiny minority of journalists are Republicans? They're almost all located in Business News. I could theorize why that is, but it's not terribly important for this post.

One of the first things I learned when I transferred into Business News was that you had a different type of customer calling to complain. Whereas your typical complaint in Sports was about a missing box score for the Itasca Wampus Cats, and your typical Entertainment caller wanted to know how old Phyllis Diller is (she's 89), people call Business News when they are mad at a business and want an investigative report done about it.

"Readers know what an investigative report is," I was told by one reporter. "They know you'll be dropping a sack of shit on somebody."

Well, the unbiased New York Times is planning to drop a flaming sack on Rupert Murdoch. How do we know it will be a dump job? Well, to start with, they're putting a number of reporters and editors on the "secret" project. Generally, if a story is no big deal, you'll have one or two reporters and maybe one editor devoting some time and attention to it. When you assemble a staff for a project, it's only when they're planning to sling some mud.

Tammy Bruce asked the big question: If the NYT is merely interested in media manipulation, politicking, and malfeasance, when will they do an investigative report on George Soros?

The answer is "never" especially when the "investigation" you launch into is actually nothing more than you doing the bidding of the man you should be investigating--George Soros. Murdoch, as an example, has not declared himself the messiah, he has never publicly declared that he intends to spend his fortune on seating or unseating an American president, nor has he been found guilty of Insider Trading by a government. Funny enough, though, it's not Soros they're interested in, who has done all those things. Gee, I wonder why.

The NYT has indeed launched a massive "investigation" into Rupert Murdoch and News Corp., and one does have to, shall I say, question the timing. Gee, as we launch into presidential campaigns, the Dems try to shut out Fox News from debates and coverage, and now the completely independent, absolutely not an organ for the Soros Gestapo, decides, in today's world or war and terrorism, that the most important person they should spend enormous resources on "investigating" is...Murdoch.

But it certainly has absolutely nothing to do with partisan politics and the desire to shut down a venue that offers a hearing for alternative ideas and voices. Alternative from the leftist status quo, that is. No conflict of interest there as television's coverage of the news continues to eat away at newspaper circulation. Nope, nothing to see here folks except a publicly held company working to undermine what they see as a political/business/philosophical rival.

The voices on the left have risen into a shrieking crescendo over FOX News, talk radio, and conservative speech in general. But take my word for it, nothing makes their blood boil like the wild success of FOX News. It's interesting that liberals run nearly every media outlet in the country but they are determined to silence conservatives who have the audacity to prefer straight or conservative news to the liberal garbage they were forcefed for years. More from Bruce:
Why are the Left and the Dems desperate to silence Fox News? And make no mistake--this is what this is all about. They know they need opposing voices to be silenced if they are to gain power in this nation. They have no hope of doing so as long as talk radio, the internet and the one television channel that allows non-leftist opinion to be heard, operate freely. Whether it be bringing back the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," or public campaigns to marginalize programming and radio hosts, or boycott campaigns to destroy sponsorship, or so-called investigations meant to intimidate and destroy, the goals are all the same--silence opposing viewpoints, silence those who do not pay allegiance to the Soros/Leftist Gestapo.

Hopefully, readers still know what an "investigative report" is.

Bloomberg Switches Parties...Again

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has quit the Republican party and registering as an independent.

Well, why not? He's tried everything else. He was a Democrat who switched to the GOP (some would say opportunistically) in 2001. He's never embraced any of the political positions of the Republican party, instead pushing that "big tent" idea that a party can have multiple personality disorder and still win elections. Now that the GOP is having problems, Bloomberg wants to leave it and do something else. I say good riddance.

10 Commandments of Driving

I'm not Catholic, so there are things that leave me perplexed about the Catholic faith. I did, however, find it amusing that the Vatican has issued a 10 Commandments for motorists. The list is:

1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gaza Christians Fear Attack

A few years ago, I read a book about the Crusades which spent the first chapter discussing the basic similarities and differences between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It was fascinating seeing where doctrines intersect and where they veer off in their own directions.

One of the points the author made, however, was that because of the violence of radical Muslims and the strict interpretation of the Koran by other Muslims, the Christian population in the birthplace of Christianity is a tiny--and shrinking--minority.

Now, we have Muslim extremists ransacking churches, burning Bibles and crosses, and looting a school and church.

Christians living in Gaza City on Monday appealed to the international community to protect them against increased attacks by Muslim extremists. Many Christians said they were prepared to leave the Gaza Strip as soon as the border crossings are reopened.

The appeal came following a series of attacks on a Christian school and church in Gaza City over the past few days.

Father Manuel Musalam, leader of the small Latin community in the Gaza Strip, said masked gunmen torched and looted the Rosary Sisters School and the Latin Church.

"The masked gunmen used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the main entrances of the school and church," he said. "Then they destroyed almost everything inside, including the Cross, the Holy Book, computers and other equipment."

Musalam expressed outrage over the burning of copies of the Bible, noting that the gunmen destroyed all the Crosses inside the church and school. "Those who did these awful things have no respect for Christian-Muslim relations," he said.

He estimated damages at more than $500,000. "Those who see the destruction will realize how bad this attack was," he said. "Christians have been living in peace and security with Muslims for many years, but those who attacked us are trying to sabotage this relationship."

The tragedy of Gaza keeps spreading.

When You Misspell Words in the Headline, It's Hard to Take the Story Seriously

Sometimes I make spelling mistakes, I'll admit it. At least I run the spellchecker most of the time. And I avoid using words I have a hard time with, like "occasionally" (if you'll notice, I'll use phrases like "sometimes" or "once in a while").

That's why the headline on this story set my teeth on edge.

"Impostor" is one of those words most people misspell. The main reason I don't is that I once worked with a woman who was even more persnickety about spelling than I am, and the misspelling of "impostor" was one of her pet peeves.

I expect better from a law website! :)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Life (and Death) of a Chinese Gold Farmer

Julian Dibbell has this interesting article on the life of a Chinese gold farmer.

That term probably means nothing to millions of Americans, but there's a subset of American gamers who know immediately what is meant by that term. A Chinese gold farmer is a person paid to spend hours in on-line games fighting mobs (monsters) and collecting coins and loot. The coin and loot are then sold to other gamers for real money.

I've played MMORPGs (massively multi-player on-line role playing games) since 1999, when my husband first got me interested in EverQuest. I became obsessed with the game and made some great friends from all over the country (and the world) playing there. I've played MMOs ever since, going through EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest II, World of Warcraft, and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

The games are addictive both because of the play itself and the virtual community with which one interacts. Advancing through levels, fighting ever bigger and tougher monsters, collecting armor and valuables, learning tradeskills, and meeting new people make these games far more than just the average first-person shooter. They become, in effect, your friends, your on-line family. They end up knowing as much about your real life as most of your real life friends do. In short, games can become an extension of real life.

Dibbell's story discusses a more sinister aspect of the virtual life/real life intersection: the Chinese gold farmer. These days, the term "Chinese gold farmer" is used for virtually anybody who farms mobs for loot. But Dibbell discusses the real Chinese gold farmers, the guys who work 12-hour days grinding through mobs in one spot for approximately 30 cents an hour.

The story is sad; young adults from the country, attracted by the idea of getting paid to play, go to work for one of the various Chinese companies. Soon, they discover the grind of the game is not unlike their real life grind of 12-hour days with only 2-3 days off per month. It's a bit like the textile industry, only these are electronic sweatshops.

I've never bought armor, gold, or characters on eBay or elsewhere, largely because I scoffed at the notion of spending real world cash on virtual items. But if I had, I would certainly stop buying those goods after reading Dibbell's story. I might be able to justify buying cheap clothing for my kids. I can't justify sweatshop labor for virtual entertainment.

Duke "Prosecutor" Disbarred

I put the word "prosecutor" in quotation marks because Michael Nifong is a disgrace to that profession. Now a state ethics panel has disbarred Nifong, who viciously pursued prosecution of three Duke lacrosse players months after he knew they couldn't have raped a stripper at a party.

Mr. Nifong, who had surprised his lawyers Friday by announcing plans to resign, offered to have his license revoked and waive the right to appeal after the panel ruled Saturday that he had been dishonest or deceitful toward a judge and defense lawyers over DNA results.

David B. Freedman, one of Mr. Nifong’s lawyers, said in an interview, “He wants this over. He wanted the process to play out and to receive a fair hearing, and he believes he has received a fair hearing and accepts the findings of the commission.”

Mr. Freedman said Mr. Nifong had been “devastated” by the testimony.

Not as devastated as the young men who became tabloid fodder for a year all because of Nifong's zeal. Those men were reviled by lefties even after they were cleared, accused of being white while attending college. Hell, it was her flippant and biting remarks about this case that helped get Amanda fired--er, resigned from her cushy job at the John Edwards campaign.

In fact, the lefties are still trying to spin this case.
Guilt sells in America, Innocence doesn't. The Duke case is an exeption. We need to apply what we've learned from the Duke/Nifong case and make sure there is an Innocence Commission in every state.

Um, no, what we need is for prosecutors to perform their jobs correctly and effectively, not targeting people because of their race. Isn't that what liberals are usually screaming about?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ruth Graham Dies

I don't expect this story to appear at Pandagon or Echidne of the Snakes, but it has a feminist angle regardless of whether the supposed feminists notice it or not.

The headlines read:

Billy Graham’s Wife Ruth Dies

But as Terry Mattingly at Get Religion writes, that headline misses so much of who Ruth Graham was and what her influence on her famous husband was.
Anyone who has ever studied the life and career of the world’s most famous evangelist knows that Ruth Bell Graham was much more than his wife or even, as the later headlines are now saying, his soul mate.

But soul mate doesn’t do her justice, either.

Ruth Bell Graham was nothing less, in my opinion, than the X-factor in her husband’s life, the source of that strange sense of otherness that, when blended with Billy Graham’s essential humanity and North Carolina sense of grace, has always added a note of mystery to his career. His natural instinct was to get along with people. Her natural instinct, at crucial times, was to push back against the powerful people who wanted to own her man, body and soul.

Ruth was the other voice in his head that was always hard to explain, in large part because she — throughout her long and amazing life — stayed quietly inside their stunning but surprisingly simple home in the North Carolina mountains, the home that she dreamed up and defended like a lioness. But it is safe to assume that her voice was strong and articulate, inside those old log-cabin walls (built out of materials gathered from several old abandoned cabins in that neck of the woods).

Billy Graham always said Ruth was much smarter than he was. And he knew it. In that “ah, shucks” modest way of his, he kept telling people that she was the brains in the operation. In this case, I don’t think he was joking.

Mattingly goes on to describe Ruth Graham as a strong, determined woman who clung to her Presbyterianism long after her husband emerged as a Southern Baptist evangelical preacher to the world.

Read the rest of Mattingly's piece as well as the links in it to learn more about this fascinating woman.

Those Good Decision-Making Skills of Teenagers

A thread at Common Sense Political Thought contains a ridiculous argument for lowering the age of consent to 12.

I pointed out that teenagers are notorious for their bad decision-making skills and pointed to this story in the local paper as an example.

Police were still seeking details late Friday about how a 14-year-old Arlington girl was fatally shot during a party.

Diana A. Womack, 17, was in the Arlington Jail facing manslaughter charges in connection with the death of Tessa Abbott, said Lt. Blake Miller, a police spokesman. Bail was set at $25,000. Police told the victim's mother, Becky Abbott, that the shooting was accidental, she said.

Abbott said she does not know Womack and had not spoken with two girls who she believes were with her daughter during the shooting and late Friday afternoon. Abbott said she still felt numb.

Her husband, Marlon Abbott, said, "When we went to bed about 10 p.m., she was here."

Arlington police said the shooting occurred just before 1 a.m. at a duplex in the 2500 block of Hollandale Circle in east Arlington, just south of the General Motors Assembly Plant.

When officers arrived, Tessa Abbott was on the ground outside the duplex. She died at 12:52 a.m. from a gunshot wound in the left shoulder, the Tarrant County medical examiner's office reported.

Miller said several teens and young adults were gathered at the duplex.

He said it appeared that no parents were present.

Miller said that alcohol was involved and that at some point people started handling a handgun. It fired, Miller said...

Becky Abbott said her family moved to southwest Arlington last weekend. Tessa Abbott was to start ninth grade at Arlington's Martin High School in the fall.

Marlon Abbott said he and his wife were awakened by police at 5:30 a.m.

Becky Abbott said she didn't know how her daughter got to the Hollandale address, which is almost 13 miles from her house. The party was more of a gathering of friends, she said.

She said she didn't know all her daughter's friends or whether she had left their home before in the middle of the night.

"You know how teenagers are," she said.

I'm having some issues with my teenage daughter right now, who thinks we are stupid and "hates" to stay with us during her scheduled visitation. At least, that's what she tells her friends. It isn't how she behaves when she is with us. So, either she is an incredible actress or she is talking trash with her friends.

From what I've observed, there's much more of this teenage insolence these days than I remember when I was growing up (and more in my generation than my father's). My father has a sign hanging in his garage that says:

Tired of being hassled by your stupid parents?


Move out - Get a job - Pay your own bills


When I was younger, I snickered at the sign, but now that I have a teenager, I see its wisdom even clearer.

A 14-year-old sneaks out of her parents' house, goes to a party with older teens, and ends up dead because someone played with a gun. The parents aren't sure if this was the first time the girl sneaked out.

It's easy to blame the parents. I see their culpability. But I've talked to enough parents who have been through the teen-sneaking-out thing to know that there are times when the child has determined to do something and it has nothing to do with the parent's supervisory skills.

Is the answer to this sort of thing like the commenter at CSPT suggests, to simply lower the age of consent? What happens when children consent then regret their choices? Are we, as parents and a society, to simply accept their choices without any complaint?

Friday, June 15, 2007

They Never Have Abortions in the Movies

Gerard Baker discusses why Hollywood movie characters never have abortions.

One theory is that film producers, with their eye on the box office, don’t want to alienate large numbers of socially conservative Americans.

This strikes me as a bit flimsy. The big studios are happy to churn out films that promote wild conspiracy theories about evil cliques of conservatives who control the military-industrial complex. And you can hardly turn on your TV these days without coming across some “courageous” new drama about gay couples, which presumably causes loud harrumphing in households below the Mason-Dixon line.

No, there’s a much better and simpler explanation. The reality is that few people – whatever their political views – want to go and see a film where a woman chooses to have an abortion. We go to the cinema in large part to be inspired; to be reminded that, while we go through our real lives making messy moral compromises and falling way short of our ideals, there are some people, on screen at least, who do the good and moral and honourable thing. And confronted with the awful trauma of an unwanted pregnancy, almost all of the time choosing to have the baby is the good and moral and honourable thing to do.

It's not like abortion is never discussed in movies. The Cider House Rules makes performing abortions (something few doctors in the U.S. want to do) look positively noble. And back in the 1970s, in those heady days when abortion rates in the U.S. just kept climbing, you had so many characters having abortions that it looked like an unpaid ad for Planned Parenthood. Maude had an abortion at 45. Lucy Ewing on Dallas had an abortion after being raped. And even more recently, a character on Everwood had an abortion.

But the fact is, people are uncomfortable with abortion and don't really want to go watch movies about it. Try as the pro-abortion supporters might, they can't make abortion just another medical procedure or a blase event in life. But Hollywood can't admit that they don't have abortions in movies because people don't like abortion. As Baker says,
Of course admitting this would be problematic for the “pro-choice” crowd. It would involve admitting that the “choice” they vehemently defend is not really a moral choice at all. But rather that it is a choice between doing something – however understandable and forgivable in difficult circumstances – that is inherently expedient and selfish, and doing something that is inherently good and self-denying.

And that makes you think a bit deeper about the "choice" question. The defenders of abortion like to say that choosing to have a termination is an agonising decision – and certainly many women will attest to this. But they also say that abortion presents no deep moral problem because it does not represent the taking of a human life.

So if having an abortion is no more than the disposal of an unwanted clump of cells, why on earth should a woman feel so bad about it?

Why indeed? According to a Pandagon commenter, it's just a 20-minute procedure. But the fact is, most women do feel "bad" about having abortions. Otherwise, they wouldn't mind talking about it any more than they mind talking about having root canals or bunions fixed.

Baker is right. Even Hollywood acknowledges the inherent evil of abortion. That's why they don't make more movies about it.

Trent Lott Sounds Like the Nutroots

Trent Lott is complaining that talk radio killed the Shamnesty bill.

The Republican whip, Trent Lott of Mississippi, who supports the bill, said: "Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem."

Is that saber-rattling I hear? Is Lott in favor of reviving the un-Fairness Doctrine?

Yes, shame on talk radio for informing listeners of the amnesty bill being pushed by Democrats and lawless-abiding Republicans, including our President. Shame on talk radio for telling listeners where to contact their representatives and senators. Shame on talk radio for discussing the ramifications of this bill.

Those are things our representatives should have been telling us. We shouldn't have to rely on talk radio to tell us that Congress and the president don't care about our laws and want to reward law-breakers. We should have Congressmen who don't support such stupidity.

Michelle Malkin has more.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Impotent Harry Reid

I guess Harry Reid is now the mouthpiece of the moonbatosphere. How else to explain his repeated vitriolic attacks on the administration, our troops, the war in Iraq? Now, Reid has declared the war leadership "incompetent."

Captain Ed points out that Reid has no room to talk about incompetence.

So Harry Reid, the man who couldn't get a supplemental spending bill completed in less than 108 days, is calling Pace and Petraeus incompetent.

That's the same Harry Reid who couldn't get the Democrats' "100 Hours" pledges to fruition in over 120 days and counting. In fact, this is the same Majority Leader that has led the least-accomplished session of Congress in a generation.

And just for the record, it's the same Harry Reid who insisted that he would never bring back the immigration bill if it failed its cloture test -- and then tried for a second cloture, declaring that also a "final" action -- and lost again.

That's the man calling Pace and Petraeus incompetent.

Maybe Reid should resign, if he wanted to be consistent. But I don't expect that, anyway.

Can "Marriage" Be Declared Hate Speech?

According to the Ninth Circuit, the answer is yes. The Supreme Court will decide whether to reverse the Circus Court yet again or not.

The words "natural family," "marriage" and "union of a man and a woman" can be punished as "hate speech" in government workplaces, according to a lawsuit that is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Briefs for Good News Employee Association vs. Hicks, which were filed June 5 with the nation's highest court, lists D.C. school board President Robert C. Bobb as one of two plaintiffs. The case originated five years ago in Oakland, Calif., during his tenure there as city manager.
The dispute began in January 2003, when the two Oakland employees created a subgroup at their workplace called the "Good News Employee Association." It was partly in response to a group of homosexual employees having formed their own group 10 months before and being given access to the city e-mail system. One e-mail, dated Oct. 11, 2002, invited city employees to participate in "National Coming-Out Day."
When several employees asked whether such a posting was legitimate city business, they got an e-mail from City Council member Danny Wan, reminding them that a "celebration of the gay/lesbian culture and movement" was part of the city's role to "celebrate diversity."
In response, the Good News employees posted an introductory flier on the employee bulletin board Jan. 3.
It said: "Preserve Our Workplace With Integrity: Good News Employee Association is a forum for people of faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day." It said it opposed "all views which seek to redefine the natural family and marriage," which it defined as "a union of a man and a woman, according to California state law."
Anyone who wanted to help preserve "integrity in the workplace" was invited to contact the two employees: Regina Rederford and Robin Christy.
A lesbian co-worker, Judith Jennings, spotted the flier and complained to the city attorney's office that it made her feel "targeted" and "excluded," according to a deposition. The flier was removed by a supervisor because it violated the city's anti-discrimination rules.
A U.S. District Court for Northern California ruling said the words "natural family" and "marriage" had "anti-homosexual import."

This is more along the lines of "if it is offensive, it can't be tolerated." It will be interesting to see how the Court decides.

Boys Face More Risk, Less Protection, from Delinquency

I'm certain Echidne will argue that this is yet another sexist study (this is her argument any time a study shows more concern for boys than girls), but a new study has found that boys reported higher levels of risk and lower levels of protection for 18 of the 22 factors discussed than did girls.

The 22 protective factors measured included the teens' attachment to each of their parents, rewards for good behavior in school and social skills in dealing with other people. Risks included family conflict, low commitment to school, peer drug use and sensation seeking.

While boys experience higher levels of risk and lower protection for 18 of these factors, girls only reported higher risk for family conflict and less protection from attachment to their fathers. There were no gender differences for exposure to peer drug use and for peer rewards for delinquency.

The study doesn't claim any unique risks for either sex, but states that boys tend to react more negatively to the risk factors than girls do. It also stated that some programs designed to reduce drug use also lower other risk factors.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

They Believe in Abortion Till Birth

This doesn't come as a surprise to pro-lifers, but, according to commenters at Echidne of the Snakes, abortion should be legal until the child leave the birth canal.

If rights to abortion are based on a woman's rights to control her own body, then yes, any point up until birth is acceptable for abortion.

Legally, it isn't, but it should be. To forcefully use any person's body against their will to give/save another life is a violation of human rights. The gift of life should be enirely voluntary, not forced, whether that is in saving a life or giving it.

Always good to see the nuts when they are honest. It's a pity they don't actually read Supreme Court decisions.

Do They Want People to Die?

The all-Democrat board of the Broward County Commission wants to politicize hurricane information. How? They don't want to broadcast the hurricane information on a station that also runs the Rush Limbaugh show.

Radio station WIOD, AM 610, has been the official channel for emergency information from Broward County government for the past year. The County Commission, all Democrats, balked at renewing the deal Tuesday, unable to stomach the station also being home to Limbaugh's talk show.

Commissioner Stacy Ritter said she did not want to support a station that's out of step with area politics. Ritter, a Democratic stalwart in the state Legislature before being elected to county office, cited talk shows hosted by Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and WIOD's partnership with Fox News...

The deal with WIOD would ensure that news conferences are broadcast start to finish live from the county Emergency Operations Center in Plantation. Emergency managers became concerned during hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 that radio and television stations preempted their announcements in favor of news out of Miami.

According to Newsbusters, WIOD was chosen "because of its signal strength, numerous FM sister stations and willingness to give Broward top play." Obviously, logic doesn't play into the considerations of local Democrats, it seems.

When All Else Fails, Blame It on Sexism

CBS executives are blaming Katie Couric's terrible performance in the ratings on--get this--you.

OK, when I say "you," I mean the audience. According to CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves, "I’m sort of surprised by the vitriol against her. The number of people who don’t want news from a woman was startling."

I'm sure Moonves has a study somewhere that shows the reason his $15 million woman isn't bringing in a larger audience share is because of sexism. After all, it couldn't be that Moonves changed the news format of the CBS Evening News to a softer, "human interest" centered format and that that has bombed. Or that Moonves miscalculated the popularity of Couric when he hired her. No, as Captain Ed pointed out, that would point the finger of blame at Moonves.

No, it's sexism. After all, we all know that sexism is responsible for a host of societal ills, including getting fired. Just go read Echidne of the Snakes and you'll discover that everything leads back to sexism.

I despise these sorts of arguments because they trivialize actual sexism. Katie Couric's ratings tanking isn't sexism. It means she's not presenting the news people want to hear. This isn't to say that there aren't examples of sexism in TV news, but Couric isn't the best example.

Locally, a woman anchors the leading newscast at 6 and 10 p.m. That doesn't surprise me, since Jane McGarry has been a top anchor for years. Are the sexism police going to say it is sexism that causes people to watch McGarry's newscasts?

Attorney Plaintiff Bawls over Pants at Trial Against Dry Cleaners

A month ago, I wrote about the attorney suing the dry cleaner for $67 million because they lost his trousers. Now his case is at trial, and he cried while testifying about the case.

A judge had to leave the courtroom with tears running down his face Tuesday after recalling the lost pair of trousers that led to his $54 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner.

Administrative law judge Roy L. Pearson had argued earlier in his opening statement that he is acting in the interest of all city residents against poor business practices. Defense attorneys called his claim "outlandish."

As I said before, this guy is the reason we need tort reform. The dry cleaners offered to settle with him for up to $12,000. That's 12 times what he paid for the entire suit. But this jerk wants to be given $15,000 to rent a car every week to go to a different dry cleaners.

According to, Pearson has dropped the part of his suit asking for damages relating to the pants, but is instead focusing on two signs that hung in the dry cleaners: "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Next Day Service." He thinks the claims were "fraudulent" and he's entitled to $54 million because of it.

The defendants, Jin Chung, Soo Chung and Ki Chung, are asking for attorneys' fees. I wish they were suing Pearson back for harassment. And I hope the judge throws the book at this creep.

The Chungs are one of thousands of small businesses who get trapped in frivolous lawsuits every year. I understand that the McDonald's coffee case concerned more than just one lady who scalded herself when her coffee sloshed over the sides of the cup, but I'm not terribly sure that suing a dry cleaner for $54 million is protecting the consumers from anything.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cursing Is So Good for Society

Amanda has her thong in a wad over this Bill Murchison column defending the FCC's fight against profanity on network television.

Amanda's arguments are as bizarre as usual. It boils down to this: conservatives don't want profanity on TV because then people can't talk about certain subjects on the networks. And we can't have that because we really need to discuss in graphic detail gay sex, drug use, or other subjects. Ok, she didn't say the last part, but I assume that's what she means when she says

The FCC’s power to censor is basically made with this model; the fear of being shut down for using a naughty word cows people and makes them afraid to address certain issues that uncomfortable to authority lest they come under closer watch by those looking for an excuse to shut them down.

I'm not sure exactly which "issues" Amanda thinks can't be addressed without using profanity. Knowing Amanda and the way she writes, she couldn't discuss the weather without the f-word thrown in.

I started out at the local paper in the sports department. There's no place in civilian life where you'll learn how to cuss faster than the sports department of a newspaper. And I did cuss like a drunken sailor, sneering at anyone prudish enough to think my language usage was a problem (including one boyfriend who was embarrassed by it).

But a funny thing happened on the way to maturity. I discovered that curse words have a much stronger effect the less you use them. Oddly enough, I discovered that when I wasn't using f*** for every part of an English sentence (except for preposition), I found a whole host of words to use instead. Amazing!

Murchison brings up Vice President Cheney's admonition for Patrick Leahy to go f*** himself. Amanda thinks this is an example of "the rich and powerful" having a different set of rules.

I don't think Amanda is stupid enough to actually think this is a good argument. The reason Dick Cheney's retort to Patrick Leahy is different from, say, Keifer Sutherland is that Vice President Cheney wasn't saying it to millions of people, most of whom wouldn't be expecting it. There is, whether Amanda likes it or not, a difference between one person speaking to another and one person speaking on broadcast television.

But given Amanda's obtuseness when it comes to profanity, I don't expect her to notice such a subtle difference.

Congress' Approval Ratings Lowest in a Decade

Worse for Democrats, their ratings are lower than President Bush's.

Fueled by disappointment at the pace of change since Democrats assumed the majority on Capitol Hill, public approval of Congress has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade, according to a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.

Just 27% of Americans now approve of the way Congress is doing its job, the poll found, down from 36% in January, when Democrats assumed control of the House and the Senate.

And 63% of Americans say that the new Democratic Congress is governing in a "business as usual" manner, rather than working to bring the fundamental change that party leaders promised after November's midterm election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), the first woman to hold that position, has also failed to impress many Americans. Only 36% approve of the way she is handling the job, the poll found.

In contrast, 46% of Americans in the current poll said they approved of the way Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia handled the job after he led the GOP into the majority in 1994.

The poll also found continued public unhappiness with President Bush, whose approval ratings have been stuck below 40% since last year.

As Jules Crittenden pointed out, using the logic the moonbats have used about President Bush, the Democrats in Congress should resign en masse. After all, it's not like we haven't heard before that President Bush should resign because of low approval ratings, or at least govern differently.

But I don't expect Democrats to adhere to the standards they want for Republicans. It's all for show, anyway.

A Lame Duck Congress

Liberals have gleefully pointed to President Bush's 28 percent approval rating (even though Harry Reid's approval rating is 19%). They've talked hopefully of a lame duck presidency and ramming distasteful legislation down the President's throat.

But I said way back in November that a Democrat Congress wouldn't do much. Sure, they can hold endless hearings and hope to embarrass the President, but without impeachment, those joys are short-lived.

Now we have the Senate with egg on its collective face because they can't rally enough Senators to conduct a no confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

As Captain Ed points out, no confidence votes are exceedingly silly in a country without a parliamentary system of government. Silly and meaningless. And this no confidence vote wasn't even crafted in a manner that it would appeal to enough Republicans, disgusted with Gonzales' performance, to vote for it. But their votes on Iraq--which, try as Grandma Pelosi might, can't force us out of Iraq--coupled with the debacle that was their U.S. Attorneygate "scandal," which turned up only incompetence and mishandling on the part of Monica Goodling, but no criminality on the part of Karl Rove or Dick Cheney, point to the lame duckedness of Congress, not the President.

As Jules Crittenden says,

It’s hard to blame those who repeatedly herald Bush’s lameduckness. Technically, he’s been in lame-duck territory for some time. There was the November election, the Rumsfeld departure, the Libby conviction, the Amnesty bill’s failure. But the notoriously inept chimp keeps defying them. He refused to cede his presidency as they demanded. His surge is moving forward without restrictions, the withdrawal measures and drop-dead progress dates jettisoned. They wanted a change in strategy in Iraq, he gave them one and there are signs it is working, whether they like it or not.

This Amnesty bill, as bad an idea as it was, was a deeply bipartisan bad idea that shows he is willing to reach across the aisle to Ted Kennedy of all people, one of his nastiest war critics, to pursue goals he supports, against the odds. He is operating boldly on his own terms. He has also been practical in the past, and we’ll see what comes out of his meetings with Republicans today.

Indeed, someone needs to inform this exceedingly "dumb" President, the one the Left has such contempt for but seems to escape their noose time after time, that he is a lame duck and he needs to start acting emasculated.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Ultimate Symbol of the Patriarchy: The Diamond Engagement Ring

Meghan O'Rourke argues against the crass commercialism and paternalism of the diamond engagement ring.

It may seem curious that feminism has made inroads on many retrograde customs—name-changing, for example—but not on the practice of giving engagement rings. Part of the reason the ring has persisted and thrived is clearly its role in what Thorstein Vebelen called the economy of "conspicuous consumption." Part of the reason could be that many young women, raised in a realm of relative equality, never think rigorously about the traditions handed down to them. So it's easy to simply regard a ring as a beautiful piece of jewelry and accept it in kind (I'm guilty myself). But it's also the case that a murkier truth lies within its brilliance: Women still measure their worth in relationship to marriage in ways that men don't. And many are looking for men who will bear the burden of providing for them, while demanding equality in other ways.

I agree that engagement and marriage mean something to women that it doesn't mean to men. It's fairly obvious when you read the rants of Amanda Marcotte about the irrelevance of marriage, as well as in the discussions by Maggie Gallagher about the importance of marriage.

Boiling it down, for women, the engagement ring is the sign that they are wanted, and wanted badly enough to be paid for. This comes perilously close to prostitution, except that the man makes a one-time purchase and gets the hooker forever (a little like one of those cards one can get from a store where you get a stamp for each $20 spent, then get a freebie after the card is full).

I know, that was mean. But I feel I can be a bit mean about it, since I've been married twice and sometimes feel like an expert on the subject. My first husband bought me a little diamond engagement ring (it was so small it was measured in "points" as opposed to carats). It was nice as far as little rings go and I was proud and happy to have it.

The second time through, still suffering the nearly universal condemnation of my family for getting divorced, I wanted to keep things as low-keyed as possible.

My husband (the lovely guy I've been married to for nearly 12 years) is about as egalitarian a person as you'll ever meet. He even suggested we combine our names and create a new one so we would both be changing our names. So, when we were looking at rings and I decided to eschew the engagement ring for a different sort of wedding ring, he was fine with it.

So, let's face it. It's not the men who are hellbent on spending $12k on an engagement ring. It's the women. They want the biggest diamond they can make their man afford as a way of showing how much they are worth.

There's a reality show on the Style Network called I Propose, which shows a man setting up the proposal to his girlfriend, then performing it in front of a camera. There are elements of the show that are interesting. For instance, who the guy calls in for support and help and how he envisions the proposal going.

But what bothers me is the time and investment young women seem to put into the single event known as the proposal and put such a dollar investment in the ring. It has to be two carats? That's approximately $12,000. A person would rather have a ring than the down payment on a house? Is a person who would rather be in debt for a piece of jewelry and dreaming of a particular proposal situation ready to be adult enough to live with the day-to-day problems of married life? It seems to me that the insistence on bigger and better engagement rings means that there are some vestiges of the patriarchy that need to be wiped out.

Law Professors Question Fitzgerald's Authority in Libby Case

According to this article, a dozen law professors are questioning the constitutional authority of Patrick Fitzgerald in the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby case.

"The constitutional issue to be raised on appeal is substantial," conservative Robert Bork, liberal Alan Dershowitz and 10 other professors wrote in their nine-page brief, filed Thursday at U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

"To our knowledge, the special counsel appears to occupy virtually a 'class of one' in the history of special prosecutors," the professors wrote...

The professors argue Fitzgerald may have been given too much power, with too little accountability, since he was not appointed by the president or approved by the Senate. Moreover, they say, Fitzgerald was exempted from complying with Department of Justice policies -- even though he was appointed by the attorney general.

"It appears to be undisputed that there is no day-to-day supervision of Special Counsel Fitzgerald by anyone, and no way short of removal even to assure that he complies with the policies of the Department of Justice or the Executive Branch," the professors wrote.

Judge Reggie Walton reacted rather childishly to the display of law acumen.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton agreed to consider the legal argument as part of Libby's request for bail while the case is appealed. But in a stinging rebuke to the professors, Walton sarcastically called it "an impressive show of public service" that such a group of distinguished lawyers would rush to help a criminal defendant -- and questioned whether they would do the same for others who lacked financial means for brilliant legal aid.

"The court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, wherever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it," Walton wrote in his one-page order granting the request to consider the constitutional argument.

But Eugene Volokh points out the stupidity of Walton's remarks.
Yet this makes no sense. The point of amicus brief is to express the signatories' views on some matter that they especially care about, in which they have a special interest or on which they have special expertise. A pro-abortion-rights organization, for instance, may file such a brief in an abortion rights case. Constitutional law professors who believe the Constitution, properly interpreted, supports abortion rights may do the same. No-one pretends that it's an "impressive show of public service," except insofar as any not terribly difficult action on behalf of a legal view that you think is the right view is a form of public service.

Of course it doesn't make sense. Walton was pissed off that so many well-known and respected law professors took issue with the Libby prosecution. Instead of leaving the issue for appeal, Walton decided to accuse the professors of favoring high-level political figures instead of unknown defendants.

But Volokh points out that these same professors could write amici briefs in just the cases Walton suggests, not because of some notoriety or power attached to the cases, but because the issues raised are within their areas of expertise.
Such amici (whether advocacy groups or professors) surely incur no professional or moral obligation to start helping other litigants who raise other issues about which the amici don't are, or on which they lack expertise. Would you demand that a pro-abortion-rights professor who filed a pro-abortion-rights brief also file a brief in an assisted suicide case? Would you demand that he file such a brief even in an abortion rights case that raises a different issue? I would hope not — there's just no reason to think that because someone cared strongly about issue X he must now express his views about issue Y, or even that his views about issue Y would be helpful. The same applies here...

what's the point of the sarcasm? I take it many of the signatories would be happy to express the same view in a future case raising the same issue. Some might not — and according to standard professional conventions, they are entitled to decide which litigants to speak on behalf — but many might. (Why would Amar or Dershowitz, to take the most obvious examples, treat a future Democratic special prosecutor target any worse than a future Republican?) The snideness thus seems at the very least premature.

And immature.

Volokh has more in his post and it is wonderful reading.

They Aren't Teaching, They're Indoctrinating

A British think tank is taking the PC-driven curriculum for schools to task.

The curriculum in state schools in England has been stripped of its content and corrupted by political interference, according to a damning report by an influential, independent think-tank.

It warns of the educational apartheid opening up between the experience of pupils in the state sector and those at independent schools, which have refused to reduce academic content to make way for fashionable causes.

No major subject area has escaped the blight of political interference, according to the report published by Civitas.

"The traditional subject areas have been hijacked to promote fashionable causes such as gender awareness, the environment and anti-racism, while teachers are expected to help to achieve the Government's social goals instead of imparting a body of academic knowledge to their students," it says.

Some examples of the indoctrination:
Teenagers studying for GCSEs are being asked to write about the September 11 atrocities using Arab media reports and speeches from Osama bin Laden as sources without balancing material from America, it reveals.

In English, the drive for gender and race equality has led an exam board to produce a list of modern poems from around the world without a single poet from England or Wales being represented.

The new 21st-century science curriculum introduced last September substitutes debates on abortion, genetic engineering and the use of nuclear power for lab work and scientific inquiry, it says.

Designed to make science more popular, the results of a study show it has had the opposite effect, with pupils less interested in the subject and less keen to pursue it in the sixth form than they were under the previous, more fact-based lessons.

There are places where discussions of abortion, genetic engineering and nuclear power are appropriate; namely, in debate classes. The problem with using basic courses like science or English to advance these discussions is that they end up drowning out the types of information students are expected to know when they take tests. English courses not discussion English writers? Who makes up this stuff?

Death Penalty Is a Deterrence

Unsurprisingly, a series of academic studies have found that the death penalty does deter murders.

This isn't shocking to me. I've always argued that, of course, the death penalty is a deterrent because that criminal won't get out and murder anybody. And it isn't like there aren't cases of people getting out of jail, then committing more murders.

But don't expect common sense from people adamantly opposed to the death penalty. And, frankly, I don't expect any amount of statistical evidence to change their minds.

"Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it," said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. "The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect."

A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. "The results are robust, they don't really go away," he said. "I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?"

Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that capital punishment has deterrent effects. They all explore the same basic theory — if the cost of something (be it the purchase of an apple or the act of killing someone) becomes too high, people will change their behavior (forego apples or shy from murder).

To explore the question, they look at executions and homicides, by year and by state or county, trying to tease out the impact of the death penalty on homicides by accounting for other factors, such as unemployment data and per capita income, the probabilities of arrest and conviction, and more.

I proudly live in a state that executes more people than any other. Here's the list, if you are interested.

But the studies in question had more interesting findings.
• Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five and 14).

• The Illinois moratorium on executions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

• Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.

Even liberal law professor Cass Susstein has to ponder the results.
"If it's the case that executing murderers prevents the execution of innocents by murderers, then the moral evaluation is not simple," he told The Associated Press. "Abolitionists or others, like me, who are skeptical about the death penalty haven't given adequate consideration to the possibility that innocent life is saved by the death penalty."

One point not discussed is that many death penalty opponents dislike the death penalty purely on the moral grounds that the government shouldn't be in the business of executing people. It's a hard point to argue with, even if it isn't grounded in statistics or other facts. If you are 100% pro-life, there's a certain consistency involved with being against both abortion and the death penalty. The Catholic Church opposes both.

I think it is a more principled position than those trying to attack these studies because they don't like the results. To take the moral position that the death penalty is wrong because taking human life is wrong is more philosophical, but at least it doesn't run into the quagmire of studies contradicting it.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Maybe I Wouldn't Want to be an Editor at Wikipedia

Because I might have to write entries for words like lolcat.

I often tell my husband that I'm great at games about esoteric trivia, but don't ask me about pop culture. That's because I've always been hopelessly nerdy and serious beyond reason. My boss at the Star-Telegram once asked me what "people my age" (meaning college age) did for fun. I told him that I wouldn't know since I was always working. He responded that I was much too cynical for one so young.

Of course, I grew out of that to some extent and now accept my geekiness as just one of my lovable charms. After all, who else can quote extensively from The 10th Kingdom (my favorite movie) or Sherlock Holmes (an obsession since junior high) at the drop of a hat?

But now, I'm reading Ann Althouse's post on internet humor, and asking myself why this is still around. I think I got over these things around 2002. But I do like cats.

How President Bush Should Have Addressed the Pope

Lefties are clutching their pearls atm because President Bush greeted the Pope as "sir" instead of "His Holiness."

As a commenter at protein wisdom pointed out, doesn't the President know the address is Pope Ratf*ucker?

Come on, George! Maybe you need to take a few lessons from Amanda on how to address the Pope.


Friday, June 08, 2007

"Socks" Berger Disbarred

Sandy "Socks" Berger was disbarred from the practice of law yesterday by the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Berger agreed last month to relinquish his law license to the D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility, a part of the D.C. Bar, rather than submit to an investigation by the bar's counsel of his removal of classified documents from the National Archives. A three-member panel of the D.C. appellate court accepted his offer.

Berger pleaded guilty in April 2005 to taking classified material without authorization, a misdemeanor. As part of the plea agreement, Berger admitted he lied to Archives staff about taking copies of national security documents out of the building. He was fined $50,000 and barred from access to classified material for three years

As I pointed out in this post, you really have to wonder what was in those classified documents Berger stole--er, removed--that he was willing to give up his law license rather than face an inquiry.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

To Pardon or Not to Pardon

Since the sentencing of Scooter Libby, there's been a lot of speculation about whether or not President Bush will pardon him.

Naturally, the nutroots are excited at the Libby sentence (see here for just one example of the nutroots insistence that Libby serve every single minute of his sentence).

I found this argument for commutation of the jail time in Libby's sentence to be persuasive.

Neither vindication of the rule of law nor any other aspect of the public interest requires that Libby go to prison. He is by no stretch a danger to the community, as "danger" is commonly understood. He did not commit his crime out of greed or personal malice. Nor is his life one that bespeaks a criminal turn of mind. To the contrary, as letters to the court on his behalf overwhelmingly established, he has been a contributor to his community and his country. And whether or not we agree, we cannot dismiss out of hand the notion that Libby thought he was serving his country by his overall conduct in this episode, specifically by letting it be known, truthfully, that it was not the White House that tapped Joseph Wilson to look into whether Saddam Hussein had sought uranium in Niger.

A sense of proportionality argues in favor of eliminating Libby's prison term. This was an unusually harsh sentence for a first offender convicted of a nonviolent and non-drug-related crime. Sandy Berger, national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, was not sentenced to prison for sneaking documents out of the National Archives, destroying them and then lying to investigators. For his actions, Berger received no jail time, a fine one-fifth of that imposed on Libby and 100 hours of community service.

To pardon Scooter Libby would not be consistent with the imperative that the mechanisms of law be able to demand, and receive, the truth. But to leave the sentence undisturbed would be an injustice to a person who, though guilty in this instance, is not what most people would, or should, think of as a criminal. Commutation offers a middle ground. Unlike a pardon, commuting the prison sentence would not erase the conviction. It would leave Libby with the disabilities of a convicted felon -- no small matter for a lawyer and public figure. But commutation would alleviate the harshest, and unnecessary, aspects of the sentence. A partial commutation would send the message that we insist on being truthful, but in the name of a justice that still cares about individual circumstances, we will not insist on being vindictive.

But don't hold your breath expecting President Bush to even commute the jail time. President Bush is pretty stingy where pardons are concerned.
In a January 2000 interview with reporter Jay Root of the Austin Star-Telegram, Governor Bush explained that his low number of pardons "comes not from political calculation but from pardoning Steven Raney in 1995 for a 1988 marijuana conviction. A few months after being absolved of his crime, the unpaid Ellis County constable was caught stealing cocaine from a drug bust. 'That caused a complete review of the process,' Bush said. 'I have nothing against pardoning. I just haven't been very aggressive on it. There's no philosophical reason. It's just that it kind of slowed us down initially. I said, `Whoa!' because it was a pretty rough story."

However, contrary to certain desperate moonbats, there's virtually no way President Bush will be either subpeonaed once he leaves office (for pardoning Libby) or be indicted for using his executive powers in ways unsatisfactory to liberals. There's never been an instance of this happening, and such would breech the executive privilege involved in performing his duties, particularly in a time of war. But don't expect that to stop the moonbats from being ever hopeful.