Friday, August 31, 2007

New Tactics for an Old War

The U.S. military has gotten smart about Congressional delegations to Iraq. They realize such "codels" are more about publicity and propaganda than they are about seeking "truth." In fact,lawmakers are angry that their hosts have thumbnail sketches of their Iraq war statements, which help Iraqi and U.S. officials as well as low-level grunts know whose side these politicians are on.

The bio of Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.) -- "TAU (rhymes with 'now')-sher," the bio helpfully relates -- was no less pointed, even if she once supported the war and has taken heat from liberal Bay Area constituents who remain wary of her position. "Our forces are caught in the middle of an escalating sectarian conflict in Iraq, with no end in sight," the bio quotes.

"This is beyond parsing. This is being slimed in the Green Zone," Tauscher said of her bio.

More than two dozen House members and senators have used the August recess to travel to Iraq in the hope of getting a firsthand view of the war ahead of commanding Gen. David H. Petraeus's progress report in two weeks on Capitol Hill. But it appears that the trips have been as much about Iraqi and U.S. officials sizing up Congress as the members of Congress sizing up the war.

Brief, choreographed and carefully controlled, the codels (short for congressional delegations) often have showed only what the Pentagon and the Bush administration have wanted the lawmakers to see. At one point, as Moran, Tauscher and Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.) were heading to lunch in the fortified Green Zone, an American urgently tried to get their attention, apparently to voice concerns about the war effort, the participants said. Security whisked the man away before he could make his point.

Tauscher called it "the Green Zone fog."

"Spin City," Moran grumbled. "The Iraqis and the Americans were all singing from the same song sheet, and it was deliberately manipulated."

Of course the cut-and-run crowd doesn't like being labelled that way. They want all the red carpet treatment afforded their status as members of Congress without the accountability associated with their hosts knowing their individual positions.

It's unsurprising that the trips are "choreographed and carefully controlled." It's a war zone, for crying out loud. What do they expect to happen?

Iowa Judge Rules Against Traditional Marriage

An Iowa judge has decided that his opinion outweighs that of the people of the state by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act which was passed by Iowa voters in 1998.

In his ruling, Hanson said the state law allowing marriage only between a man and a woman violates the constitutional rights of due process and equal protection.

"Couples, such as plaintiffs, who are otherwise qualified to marry one another may not be denied licenses to marry or certificates of marriage or in any other way prevented from entering into a civil marriage... by reason of the fact that both person comprising such a couple are of the same sex," he said.

The judge said the state law banning same-sex marriage must be nullified, severed and stricken from the books and the marriage laws "must be read and applied in a gender neutral manner so as to permit same-sex couples to enter into a civil marriage..."

I've stated before that if people want gay marriage, then support it legislatively. Going through the court system is a way to allow one judge's opinion to supersede the will of the People. Now the Iowa legislature will have to create an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to do what the People want: define marriage the way it has always been done.

This is turning the legislative process on its head. It would be a bit like writing laws that define legal behavior as opposed to what is illegal. In short, the ones who should be having to go through the amendment process are those in favor of homosexual marriage. After all, they are the ones wanting a new definition of a centuries-old institution.

Jeff Goldberg has a nice post on the ruling.
If, as Judge Johnson notes, the state has elsewhere declared marriage a “fundamental right,” then he may have some footing to be upheld on appeal — though to follow that up with “and as such, the state can’t choose who people can or cannot marry” is ridiculous, unless of course the state is willing to grant marriage licenses to grade school sweethearts, or a man and his three paramours.

Still, even if marriage is seen as a fundamental right, there is nothing prohibiting homosexuals from marrying. They just can’t “marry” someone of the same sex, because that arrangement does not fit within the traditional and culturally-defined idea of “marriage.”

I have listened to the argument that by forcing monogamous gay couples to call their arrangements something other than marriage, opponents of same-sex marriage are trying to enforce a “separate but equal” paradigm akin to Jim Crow.

But nobody is arguing that gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to sit at the same luncheon counter as married couples, nor is there any desire to see them ride in the back of the bus.

Instead, the argument is that the kind of arrangement the same sex couple is engaging in is different from marriage as it is traditionally defined, and so it makes sense to call this new arrangement something other than marriage.

It is, of course, easy (and correct, I should add) to note that once we allow same-sex unions to be called marriage, we will have effectively changed the definition of marriage, making same-sex couplings “marriage” by dint of broadening the definition to accommodate the new arrangement. This is, after all, how traditions evolve and take on new components.

But when dealing with a tradition as sacrosanct to many as the marriage bond, the government and the judiciary should tread lightly. On many occasions I’ve said that I’d be happy to abide any state legislation voted on by the electorate that sanctified same-sex couplings as “marriage.” This is, I believe, the proper way to bring about such changes.

By circumventing that process and finding in marriage a “civil right,” the judiciary is greasing a slippery slope for other challenges to traditional views of marriage (and family) that I can’t envision withstanding legal scrutiny.

This is not an application of the law we’re witnessing. Instead, it is a form of moralizing from the bench — and it emboldens social engineers of all stripes to look at court precedents analogously to find in their pet projects legal ground for overturning traditions that they cannot convince the electorate to overturn through the legislative process.

The fact is, such dramatic alterations of long-standing institutions do not comport with traditional notions of the Constitution. The idea that all sorts of rights--from abortion to gay marriage--were "hidden" in the Constitution is nonsense. There's nothing short of imagination which explains the idea that the 14th Amendment supports the host of philosophies the Left wishes to include. If Americans want gay marriage as a Constitutional right, there's already a process in place to make it happen: the amendment process.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Next Time Liberals Lecture Us About How Smart the Europeans Are, Show Them This Clip

I ran across this YouTube video on Stubborn Facts. We're always being told how much smarter and more sophisticated the Europeans are than redneck Yankees. And many liberal blogs had a field day with Miss Teen South Carolina. I'm not excusing her, but I think Americans would do a bit better with this question from the French version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?

Spam Unintended Humor

I get a lot of spam because I've signed up with a couple of sites to get grocery coupons. I used to get a lot more, but the spam tsunami has subsided for the most part.

Today, I got a spam e-mail with the best headline I've seen in a while:

Dude, what if your wife sees this?

I think if my wife sees anything, I'll have a lot more to worry about than spam. ;)

Soros Group Fined for FEC Violations...But Does It Matter Now?

According to The Politico, the FEC has fined Americans Coming Together (ACT) $775,000 for using soft money for Democrat campaigns in violation of federal election laws.

America Coming Together (ACT) raised $137 million for its get-out-the-vote effort in 2004, but the FEC found most of that cash came through contributions that violated federal limits.

The group’s big donors included George Soros, Progressive Corp. chairman Peter Lewis and the Service Employees International Union.

The settlement, which the FEC approved unanimously, is the third largest enforcement penalty in the commission’s 33-year history.

ACT, which ceased operations in 2005, was formed in late 2003 and rapidly deployed an enormous organization to do the retail-level grunt work of politics.

Does it matter now, though? Soros and the Democrats will just create a new organization to violate federal election laws for '08.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How Far Up Your A** Do You Have to Stick Your Head to Think This Way?

I was looking at a blog tonight (I won't mention it because I wouldn't want to give it traffic) and couldn't believe what the author actually thought. But I have to give background before I get to the stupidity of the post.

Stefan Sharkansky is part of a conservative political group blog, which is probably how he's best known on the internet. I first came across Sharkansky's writing for a now-defunct (but wonderful) blog called Oh, That Liberal Media. I know little else about Sharkansky, except that he is a computer consultant and politically conservative. That is, that's all I knew until reading about a Seattle waitress who felt her job included psychoanalyzing and criticizing her customers along with refilling their tea glasses and serving them over-priced pizza.

Why would said waitress decide attacking patrons was good for the business? I have no idea. But attack them, she did, on her own little-known blog, calling Sharkansky a bad tipper, describing his wife as "wearing the pants of the family," and comparing Sharkansky's son to the spawn of Satan. To liberals, attacking Republicans as cheap, mean-spirited, and, worse, bad parents, is all par for the course. You see, if Sharkansky only left a 10% tip, it's not because the service was bad. It's because he has a problem.

When Sharkansky discovered what the waitress had said about him on the internet, he did what virtually any blogger would do. He investigated her and blogged about it. Here is Sharkansky's post about the waitress.

Here is the important part of Sharkansky's post:

Steffany Bell is a waitress (now also temping at Amazon) who recently gave a wildly imaginative and mostly false and defamatory story to an anonymous blogger about my family's visits to her restaurant. She identified me by name and wrote some nasty and untrue things about our pre-school-aged son. She tried to do this anonymously, but I figured out who she was.

My wife and son are not public figures and do not deserve to be defamed. I asked Steffany repeatedly and politely to delete the false and defamatory post. She admitted she was wrong, but refused to have the post deleted. There's not much to say about a service worker who would be so unprofessional as to recognize a customer by the name on his credit card and then slander him on the Internet because she doesn't agree with his politics. And there's really not much to say about a 37-year-old woman who would anonymously slander a pre-schooler. But in defense of my family and especially my son who can't defend himself, I've decided to name Steffany Bell and post excerpts from her blog so anybody who reads her story about my son can read more about Steffany in her own words and make up their own minds about her character and credibility.

Sharkansky goes on to quote from Bell's own blog where she discusses her own juvenile delinquent, her personal problems, and more. But the point is clear: Sharkansky isn't arguing about her opinions about him per se, although he disagrees with her views and behavior. What is offensive is her attacks on his wife and child.

Sharkansky's wife called the restaurant and complained about Bell's behavior, and guess what? She got fired. It's not uncommon these days, for people to get fired for what they write on blogs. And when you work with the public and insult the customers, it's not uncommon for your boss to want to fire you. After all, you cost the company money, whereas the customer brings money in...or takes his money elsewhere and bad-mouths your business.

Oddly enough, blogger-who-shall-not-be-named thinks the problem really is...that Sharkansky is a bad tipper. Yep, that's the lesson learned by that person. Not that you don't accuse people of abusing their kids or call their kids brats if you expect said parents to fork over their hard-earned cash for your service. Not that posting ugly things about people on the internet because you disagree with them politically can come back to bite you on the ass big time in real life. Nope. All the moonbats learned, evidently, is that Sharkansky is a lousy tipper.

Evidently, this story is a pearl-clutching event for the moonbats. Rather than realizing, as most people who work for a living do, that you can't insult the customers and keep your job, they see the Sharkanskys complaints as a witch hunt.

Bell finally did apologize for her behavior and says it was a "mutual decision" for her to leave the restaurant. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't.
My place it (sic) to smile and serve food. It is not to comment on what my customers are doing in the restaurant. I should have known better. I should also realize that sometimes people act differently in different situations and as a person who only has contact with someone for a short period of time, I have no right to say that is how they are. I was misguided and also mistaken, as has been pointed out to me. I was wrong and I do not intend to work in food service in the future so to avoid perhaps offending another unsuspecting family. I am sorry. Please, please forgive me. Please don't take it out on other food service workers.

The moonbats are up in arms at the apology. The problem is, it's the truth. A waitress's job is to serve food and be hospitable, not to comment on their behavior. The worst part, of course, is that Bell wasn't simply commenting on the Sharkanskys behavior. She stated that their child was "Damien from The Omen" and "a monkey." She then said:
His parents just allowed it, which said to me:
A.) Parents allow it all the time
B.) Parents beat him all the time (except in public)

I would be surprised if any parent didn't object to this description of their child. Complaining to the management that the waitress posted this on the internet is a reasonable thing to do.

Amusingly, in the comments section, blogger gets upset with a commenter who points out that annoying customers are a fact of life when you work in the service industry. If you don't like them, don't do the work. Blogger's response?
I bet you're a lousy tipper, too.

You really just can't stick your head far enough up your ass to understand some people's POV.

More liberal whining here, which includes this gem:
What Song and Sharkansky have both failed to acknowledge is that there's a difference between major political bloggers, like Sharkansky and Goldstein, and obscure personal bloggers with Blogspot accounts, like, until recently, Bell. (Bell took her account down and no longer blogs.) Sharkansky is a public figure; Bell is not. "As the proprietor of the most widely read political blog in Washington State," Goldstein says of Sharkansky, "you have power, and this woman had none. You don't use a position of power to attack the powerless." Bell says that until the blowup over Gerard's blog post, she "had no idea who Sharkansky was." She says, she's learned her lesson. "I'll never put anything on the internet again, ever," Bell says.

What the author fails to acknowledge is that Bell's behavior was rude and boorish, regardless of who Sharkansky is. She didn't just criticize a public figure. She cruelly labelled a young child because she disliked his behavior. Worse still, she didn't simply sneer at the Sharkanskys; she wrote nasty posts about other patrons, as well. If it had been an isolated incident, perhaps it would have been all right. But Bell wrote repeatedly about the clientele at the restaurant. You can't diss the customers and keep your job.

More nutty moonbat shrieking here.

Sharkansky's comments here, including refutations to virtually everything the moonbats are saying.
Our son is a properly supervised, normally behaved 5-year-old, not always perfect, but in no way as described by Steffany. It seems silly to have to refute the false claim that I'm a "10% tipper". We always tip 15% or more at that restaurant and everywhere else, except in very rare occasions if the service is exceptionally lousy or slow. I don't recall if I ever did tip Steffany only 10%, but if I had, it would have been an isolated incident of substandard service. Heck, 10% might have even been generous given the circumstances. And if the service was unusually and painfully slow one evening, it would help explain if our son was more restless than usual. The only specific detail about our son's behavior in Steffany's account that I can confirm is that he sat briefly at an adjacent unoccupied table one evening. But if we had one off evening, we've been happy regular customers there for nearly a year, and as Steffany indicated in a comment on her own blog to my wife: "the girl who waits on you currently has no beef."

I did not "get Steffany fired", nor did I "send a relative to the restaurant to physically threaten her". After my wife read the "interview" and was shaken and appalled, she called the restaurant owner last Wednesday, not with any specific request, but simply to alert him to the "interview" and to an additional blog post Steffany wrote which disparaged her customers [see June 21 entry]. The owner was horrified and made the decision to terminate Steffany and indicated that he also had other causes to terminate her. By the end of the week Steffany and her boss had reached a mutual decision that she would resign. It was only on Friday evening, Steffany's last day of work after she had already resigned, that my wife and 14-year-old stepdaughter visited the restaurant to rebuke Steffany in person (After they suggested to me that they might visit the restaurant, I advised them that this was unnecessary and not to do it, but they went anyway without my knowledge). My step-daughter quietly spoke about 10 words to Steffany, before Steffany turned on her heels and walked away. My wife and step-daughter promptly left. A pointless and unhelpful but harmless verbal confrontation that lasted less than a minute and did not entail any physical threats of any kind. It is also not at all true, as Hood wrote, that we "threatened to make trouble over at Amazon", where Steffany is working as a temp. That is false and baseless. Nor did we, as David Goldstein claimed on his KIRO radio show Sunday evening "threaten to sue the waitress for defamation". There is absolutely no truth to that.

Returning to the Clinton Era

Democrats love to remember the Bill Clinton era. They love pointing out how great the economy was, how wonderful the stock market did, how poverty dropped, how everyone was happy and good-looking. Forget the scandals. Forget Whitewater and Monica and fund-raising irregularities. Just look at those dot.coms go!

Well, it looks like the Clinton era could be returning. At least, the Clinton fundraising scandals are returning.

For the last 15 years, California authorities have been trying to figure out what happened to a businessman named Norman Hsu, who pleaded no contest to grand theft, agreed to serve up to three years in prison and then seemed to vanish.

"He is a fugitive," Ronald Smetana, who handled the case for the state attorney general, said in an interview. "Do you know where he is?"

Hsu, it seems, has been hiding in plain sight, at least for the last three years.

Since 2004, one Norman Hsu has been carving out a prominent place of honor among Democratic fundraisers. He has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions into party coffers, much of it earmarked for presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

In addition to making his own contributions, Hsu has honed the practice of assembling packets of checks from contributors who bear little resemblance to the usual Democratic deep pockets: A self-described apparel executive with a variety of business interests, Hsu has focused on delivering hefty contributions from citizens who live modest lives and are neophytes in the world of campaign giving...

As a Democratic rainmaker, Hsu -- who graduated from UC Berkeley and the Wharton School of Business -- is credited with donating nearly $500,000 to national and local party candidates and their political committees in the last three years. He earned a place in the Clinton campaign's "HillRaiser" group by pledging to raise more than $100,000 for her presidential bid.

Records show that Hsu helped raise an additional $500,000 from other sources for Clinton and other Democrats.

According to his lawyer, Hsu "doesn't remember" pleading to a criminal charge and being sentenced to jail. How does a person "not remember" pleading guilty and being sentenced to prison? I suppose it's the same way Hillary Clinton didn't remember what she worked on at the Rose Law Firm or how Bill Clinton didn't remember Paula Jones.

Beyond that brush with the justice system, Hsu is being examined for his involvement with "bundling" campaign contributions for Democrat candidates.
Records show that Hsu has emerged as one of the Democrats' most successful "bundlers," rounding up groups of contributors and packaging their checks together before delivering the funds to campaign officials. Individuals can give a total of $4,600 to a single candidate during an election cycle, $2,300 for the primaries and $2,300 for the general election.

One example of the kind of first-time donors Hsu has worked with is the Paw family of Daly City, Calif., which is headed by William Paw, a mail carrier, and his wife, Alice, who is listed as a homemaker.

The Paws -- seven adults, most of whom live together in a small house near San Francisco International Airport -- apparently had never donated to national candidates until 2004. Over a three-year period, they gave $213,000, including $55,000 to Clinton and $14,000 to candidates for state-level offices in New York.

I heard about this story from the Laura Ingraham Show, where they compared the collective yawn from the MSM over this story to the furor over Jack Abramoff. One does have to wonder why Abramoff was a scandal that wouldn't die, while Marc Rich is a story Democrats scoff over.

Expect the nutroots to try to change the subject. Oh, shady campaign fundraising might not be nice...but Larry Craig solicited sex from an undercover cop in an airport restroom! Hillary's just continuing the snake oil sales from her husband's presidency where everything was for sale...but President Bush was "criminally negligent" for not preventing 9/11, even though Bill Clinton had eight years and didn't prevent attacks! And you can count on Media Matters to complain about a flea while completely ignoring the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Ah, yes. Dismissing malfeasance. Redirecting attention. Stonewalling. Smells like Democrats.

UPDATE: Hillary Clinton has decided to give Hsu's money to charity.

UPDATE x2: Patterico's Pontifications guest blogger WLS wonders if Hillary will get a pass like her husband. The post goes into the eyebrow-raising irregularities of the Paw family campaign contributions ridiculed in the Media Matters propaganda.

U.S. Poverty Rate Drops; John Edwards Scrambles for New Campaign Platform

OK, John Edwards isn't really giving up on the Two Americas, but he might want to after reading about the drop in U.S. poverty.

The nation's poverty rate was 12.3 percent in 2006, down from 12.6 percent a year before, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Median household income increased slightly, to $48,200.

Orrin Judd notes that if a family of four works 80 hours per week for $8.50 an hour, they would earn $35,360 per year, well above the poverty level of $20,444. But don't point that out to Democrats on the campaign trail.

They Should Just Drop the Pretense of Objectivity

Brent Bozell has this nice column discussing bias on media morning talk shows. Unsurprisingly, the major networks gave overwhelming coverage--the vast majority of which was positive--to Democrat candidates.

Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center assessed all morning-show coverage on the Big Three from Jan. 1 through July 31. In those 517 campaign segments, the networks offered nearly twice as many segments to Democrats as Republicans, a margin of 284 to 152. (Another 66 stories focused on both parties.) When the sample is narrowed down just to interviews with the candidates or their spouses and staffers, the morning shows gave out nearly three times as much free airtime to Democrats (4 hours, 35 minutes) as they gave to Republicans (1 hour and 44 minutes).

ABC's "Good Morning America" was the worst, with 119 segments on the Democrats to just 51 for the Republicans. And try this for impartiality, ABC-style: The network offered sprawling, positive "town hall" segments to only two presidential candidates so far this year: 38 minutes for John Edwards and 26 minutes for Hillary Clinton.

No one would ever accuse morning talk shows of being hotbeds of that vaunted tough questioning journalism the MSM loves to boast about. But that doesn't mean shows like Good Morning America should be free infomercials for the candidates. Shouldn't Hillary Clinton have to report those in-kind contributions from ABC?

Does It Have to Be a Crime for Someone to Step Down?

I stated the other day that I thought Larry Craig should resign from the Senate because of his behavior in a bathroom stall at an airport back in June. Craig pled guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct for "soliciting sex" at an airport restroom.

I still stand by that contention. Whether Craig's behavior should have been a crime is a different argument than the one I've made. Indeed, others have done a great job discussing the legality of Craig's behavior. After looking at a portion of the complaint, I, too, am baffled as to whether this is criminal behavior. Disgusting? Yes. But criminal? I don't think so. As Captain Ed explained,

People cannot be convicted or even arrested for signaling prostitutes for sexual services; an explicit offer of sex in exchange for money must take place. Tapping feet, hand signals, and brushing up against the toes of a prostitute on the street aren't enough to get someone arrested. In sting operations, police have to get that explicit offer before making an arrest.

I think it was stretching it a bit to charge Craig with anything. Give him a warning so he'll stop trying to hook up at airport bathrooms. After all, it was complaints from other airport patrons that got the police involved in the first place.

But that doesn't mean I don't think Craig's behavior is disgusting and he should resign. There's a meme on the Democrat side of the aisle that "consenting" adult behavior is OK any time, any place. I (and most of society) don't agree with that. If you want a date, go to a dating service or a bar or Don't do it in a public restroom where my kid might run into you. I'll admit that Craig's behavior was subtle enough that children wouldn't pick up on it, but that doesn't mean I want them exposed to it regardless.

There seems to be some argument that as long as Craig did nothing wrong criminally, we shouldn't care about his personal behavior. I disagree with that strongly. One of the things that differentiates Republicans from Democrats is that we do hold our public officials to higher standards than legalistic wordplay and hair-splitting about what constitutes sex and what doesn't. As unfair as it is that Democrats don't seem to give a damn about the behavior of their politicians as long as they don't go to jail for it, I'm proud of the fact that Republicans hold to a higher standard. Having said that, I still think Craig should resign.

UPDATE: Jesurgislac has the strangest take on why men pay for sex.
Because men are convinced that they're entitled to sex. Hartmut's comment (on the Larry Craig thread on ObWing) summarizes the problem: the belief that if a man wants sex, he's entitled to buy it. Rather than presenting himself as an equal negotiating his way to mutual pleasure, he's entitled to demand sexual pleasure from someone whose job it is to provide it to him.

Men who argue earnestly that they have to have sex in public restrooms because (there are a number of standard reasons, which boil down to: "I want to have sex with other men and this is the best way I know of finding them without actually having to admit I'm not straight" or "I want to have sex with other people a lot, and this is a fast way of finding men who also want sex" or "I like the thrill of knowing we might get caught") are, really, expressing the view that they're entitled to sex far less damagingly than men who hire prostitutes or commit sexual harassment or rape. At least men who frequent public restrooms are usually after consenting partners.

This leaves out the fact that even prostitutes consent to sex. They just consent for money. Why would some men prefer to pay someone for sex as opposed to getting all gussied up and finding a date? Because there are people who just want sex and don't want to be involved with another person. And, despite what Jes says, not everybody can find somebody. Oh, maybe if they try for years, they might find someone, but they might not want to wait years between sexual encounters.

I'm not endorsing prostitution, but it seems to me that the reason men hire prostitutes is that it is less complicated than either finding dates or dealing with a mate who might not want to do what that person wants to do. Dysfunctional? Yes, but I don't see the logic in Jes' reasoning. Doesn't everyone feel entitled to sex? At least those who decide to be sexually active?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dancing With the Stars Stars Announced

Officially, ABC won't announce this fall's Dancing With the Stars cast until tomorrow, but leaked it first. Here's the Newsday story on it.

The cast of celebrities includes:

Aaron Carter
Wayne Newton
Mark Cuban
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Lou Ferrigno
Richard Quest
Helio Castroneves
Jane Seymour
Tori Spelling
Jennie Garth
Nia Peeples
Gisele Bundchen
Sabrina Bryan

I'm not crazy about most of the cast, but watching Wayne Newton and Mark Cuban could be interesting.

We Only Censor Cartoons That Mock Muslims

Berkeley Breathed has an Opus cartoon that is to sensitive for newspapers to run. That's because it mocks Muslims. The syndicator sent out an alert that the cartoon might be offensive and a lot of newspapers didn't run it.

The syndicate sent out an alert about the two strips in question, according to Writers Group comics editor Amy Lago.

Sources told that the strips were shown to Muslim staffers at The Washington Post to gauge their reaction, and they responded "emotionally" to the depiction of a woman dressed in traditional Muslim garb and espousing conservative Islamic views.

There was also considerable alarm over the strip at the highest echelons of The Washington Post Co., according to the sources.

Lago said she flagged some of the syndicate's newspaper clients for two reasons: because of the possibility that the jokes about Islam would be misconstrued and because of the sexual innuendo in the punchline.

"The strip came in and I knew we would have to send out an alert to all the newspapers," Lago said. "I do that fairly regularly with materials that might pose issues for local areas. ... We knew that because it was a sex joke, it could raise issues. And there is another client that has issues with any Muslim depiction whatsoever."

One week earlier, Breathed ran a cartoon mocking Christians. But that didn't rate a warning, according to Lagos.
Lago said she didn't flag newspapers about that strip because she didn't think readers would misunderstand the humor.

"They're not going to take it seriously," she said.

But she did alert newspapers about the Muslim-themed cartoon because there was a question about whether Muslim readers would be offended.

"I don't necessarily think it's poking fun [at Islam]," Lago said. "But the question with Muslims is, are they taking it seriously?"

Well, we certainly don't want Muslims taking cartoons seriously, do we? Thank God Christians have a sense of humor!

Bizarre Defense of Larry Craig

Yesterday, I said that Larry Craig should resign from the Senate after pleading guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct for soliciting sex in a men's bathroom. I say that because Republicans don't need scum like Craig on our side of the aisle. There are plenty of Democrats who only concern is how one votes, not how one behaves (Ted Kennedy, anyone?).

But now comes the Shakespeare's Sister defense, which says that soliciting anonymous sex in airport bathrooms where minors and others might be just trying to do their own business is perfectly acceptable. No, really! Jeff Fecke actually questions why state money is being spent putting undercover cops in the restrooms.

Why indeed? Craig probably was cruising for anonymous sex -- I mean, none of us are buying the "wide stance" defense. But so what if he was?

Now, we can all generally agree that a restroom is not an ideal place for people to be having sex. But the fact is that all Craig is really guilty of is signaling quietly that he was interested in engaging in sexual activity. Why in God's name is that a crime?

If anyone -- male or female or intersex, straight or gay or bisexual -- comes up to me tomorrow and offers to have anonymous sex with me, I won't be offended. Oh, I'll almost certainly turn them down regardless; I generally am not a fan of anonymous sex. And if you're male, your odds are significantly lower. Nothing personal, I'm just a fan of an XX genotype.

But I won't be offended by it. Nonplussed? Possibly. Flattered? Probably. Offended? Why? I don't have to have sex just because it's offered.

And therein lies the rub. Had Larry Craig propositioned me in a Humphrey Terminal bathroom, I would probably have missed the sign. Had I somehow caught it, I would have politely turned him down. Had somebody suggested what he just did was lewd, I would have laughed, because you shouldn't get arrested just for asking someone on a date, even if that date involves sex.

Look, if Craig had been arrested for public nudity or having sex in a bathroom stall, I could understand this better. If he'd been arrested for soliciting a prostitute, I'd be all in favor of him getting nailed. But as near as I can tell, he's guilty of subtly asking another adult to have consensual sex. I won't weep for Craig -- he's helped build the bizarre system that has now destroyed his political future. But I won't gloat over this, either, because the ultimate message of this arrest is that the desire to engage in sexual activities with someone of the same sex is in and of itself offensive, and lewd, and criminal. And that's a rather sobering and disturbing thought.

It's quite a messed up view of the world that soliciting sex in a public bathroom is "just asking someone on a date," imo. I mean, when I was single, I had lots of dates, but none of them started with the guy asking for sex. We didn't really consider strange men coming up to us and wanting sex to be a "date." Maybe Fecke just has a different definition of date from the rest of the world.

But Fecke does display the typical Democrat stance where sex is concerned. Hey, want to ask for sex in a public place? That's OK with me! Democrats don't care about whether such behavior is appropriate, just as long as both people are consenting. And really, I'm surprised that Fecke draws the line at actually having sex in the bathroom stall or paying for it. What's wrong with doing it in the stall or paying somebody if they are both consenting? I mean, why stop with just propositioning someone? Obviously, the complaints from other people at the airport aren't enough reason, in Fecke's opinion, for the state to use taxpayer money to stop that behavior. Nope, just let the guys ask each other for sex right there in the same bathroom with your nine-year-old son. That's a great lesson for him!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Random Thoughts

I'm grumpy and tired, which is always a bad combination, but can bring up interesting thoughts.

--Work is good for the soul but can be exhausting physically and mentally even when it is boring.

--Don't go to Wal-Mart the night of the first day of school. Every parent who didn't buy their school supplies before school started will be there. And there are a lot of them.

--Anyone else notice that the number of available checkers went down significantly with the introduction of "Fast Lane Self Service"? Now the self service lines are as bad as the "full service" ones.

--I met Alberto Gonzales once and thought he was a nice and smart guy. I'm saddened by his tenure as Attorney General, both for its incompetence and its inability to deal with partisan politics. Gonzales' resignation will do nothing to stop the Democrat witch hunt determined to "oversight" the president into submission.

--Larry Craig should resign. Yes, yes, I know there's a double standard where Republican and Democrat malfeasance is concerned. Democrats seem to applaud bad behavior--or at least excuse it--from their politicians. But let's face it. Republicans have a higher standard and we should hold them to it.

--Women are some of the rudest and most dangerous customers in a grocery store. They aggressively move into the lane of traffic without concern for the people they cut off, they block aisles while getting their own groceries, and they completely ignore the people they cut off as they move from place to place. I'd hate to see what their driving is like, but maybe I already have.

--I listened to Michael Vick's statement today concerning the dog fighting flap. I was fairly impressed with the way he took responsibility for his actions until he declared that he'd found Jesus through this event. It's not that I don't necessarily believe him, but why is it that people always want to declare they found Jesus after they get caught? Jesus was there all along.

Blogger' Anger Overflows Concerning Glamour's African-American Hair Tips

As I've written about previously, there's a lot of racial politics involved in discussion African-American hair. Stepping into that arena simulates sweeping a minefield: the person enters at his/her own risk.

That's pretty much what happened when Glamour Magazine told female lawyers that afros and dreadlocks were fashion no-nos.

First slide up: an African American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no, announced the 'Glamour' editor to the 40 or so lawyers in the room. As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was 'shocking' that some people still think it 'appropriate' to wear those hairstyles at the office. 'No offense,' she sniffed, but those 'political' hairstyles really have to go.

Not to wade too far into hair politics, but we are talking about a fashion magazine, right? The blog I linked to points out that lawyers know the law and that one can't be prevented from promotion because of a haircut. While that's quite true, I have to wonder why so many six-figure professional types would waste their time in outrage over what a fashion magazine says lawyers should look like.

Glamour has, naturally, thrown the staffer under the bus.
Not surprisingly, Glamour is engaged in damage control. In an e-mail statement to The American Lawyer, the fashion magazine repudiated the beauty advice, and characterized the editor as a "junior staffer" who spoke "without her supervisor's knowledge or approval." Moreover, the statement said that Glamour has a "longstanding commitment to inclusion and diversity."

I'd love to believe that looks play no part in female attorney promotions these days. It truly shouldn't matter whether you sport an afro, 19 facial piercings, a plethora of tattoos, or be 100 pounds overweight, but I know that in the real world, all of those things can affect one's promotability, given any corporation's atmosphere. The consequences of changing one's looks is a hot topic even on attorney sites. Perhaps Glamour said a politically incorrect thing in its article, but that doesn't stop hair from remaining a problem for professional women, particularly in the legal field.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

But I Though We Were Supposed to Go After Businesses Which Employ Illegal Aliens

Whenever immigration comes up in debate, it's always argued that we should go after businesses first and not target those poor illegal aliens who are just doing jobs Americans don't want to do.

Now we're seeing stories complaining that going after businesses is driving out the illegal aliens.

Undocumented immigrants are starting to leave Arizona because of the new employer-sanctions law.

The state's strong economy has been a magnet for illegal immigrants for years. But a growing number are pulling up stakes out of fear they will be jobless come Jan. 1, when the law takes effect. The departures are drawing cheers from immigration hard-liners and alarm from business owners already seeing a drop in sales.

It's impossible to count how many undocumented immigrants have fled because of the new law. But based on interviews with undocumented immigrants, immigrant advocates, community leaders and real-estate agents, at least several hundred have left since Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the bill on July 2. There are an estimated 500,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona.

The story quotes illegal alien advocates complaining that the new law is driving illegals back to Mexico or to other states and that this will adversely affect businesses in Arizona.

But this argument doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If illegal aliens go somewhere else, Arizona won't need as many employees because there won't be as many people needing services from housing construction to fast food services. In short, the law--or, in this case, the threat of the law--is causing the desired effect: illegal aliens are leaving. And Arizona doesn't even have a fence.

Why is that a bad thing again?

You Don't Vote for Democrats Because You're Stupid

And racist and homophobic and narrow-minded and backward and primitive.

At least, that's what the moonbats say every chance they get. Just look at some of the comments from the linked post at Pandagon.

Cris: I’ll give the Republican base a little bit of credit: I think most of their love of authoritarianism is class-based. The fact that economic class coincides heavily with racial demographics is simply a bonus.

Amanda Marcotte: I can’t think of many things more stereotypically fruity than being an actor, which is one reason why conservatives rail against Hollywood to shore up support. But they keep voting for actors. As long as you race-bait and radiate a general asshole vibe, they’ll overlook a lot, which is why the dressing in drag thing won’t matter.

Plus, there’s a long tradition in the frat houses and Bohemian Groves of power of men dressing up as women not to be doing drag but to mock women. I’m sure that his drag act will be rationalized as the more standard woman-hating.

Dan: I’ve long said that Giiuliani’s (sic) lack of gay-bashing credentials will happily be overlooked in light of his well-established race-bashing credentials.

I mean hell, the wingers only gay-bash so hard because its a second-best outlet for all the hate they would be putting into race-bashing if it were more socially acceptable.

Steve: It is true that the republicans have become the black shirt party, but they still have to be assured that their candidate has some conservative credentials.

That's just a small sampling, but you get the idea. Hell, you don't have to hang out with the drooling Pandagonistas to see this sort of labelling. Go to half the moonbatty sites out there and you're sure to find more than a couple of apologists and excuse-makers for the boorish behavior so prevalent on the Left, including calling Americans stupid.

It's rare for me to agree with David Brooks on anything--I had to go check to make sure it wasn't snowing here in Hotter'n'Hell Texas--but I agreed with him in this New York Times column.
Between 2000 and 2006, a specter haunted the community of fundamentalist Democrats. Members of this community looked around and observed their moral and intellectual superiority. They observed that their policies were better for the middle classes. And yet the middle classes did not support Democrats. They tended to vote, in large numbers, for the morally and intellectually inferior party, the one, moreover, that catered to the interests of the rich.

Serious thinkers set to work, and produced a long shelf of books answering this question. Their answers tended to rely on similar themes. First, Democrats lose because they are too intelligent. Their arguments are too complicated for American voters. Second, Democrats lose because they are too tolerant. They refuse to cater to racism and hatred. Finally, Democrats lose because they are not good at the dark art of politics. Republicans, though they are knuckle-dragging simpletons when it comes to policy, are devilishly clever when it comes to electioneering. They have brilliant political consultants like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, who frame issues so fiendishly, they can fool the American people into voting against their own best interests.

It's hard to believe that anyone would have followed the voting record of Democrats for the last 40 years and not noticed the overwhelmingly racist, sexist, and bigoted behavior on display. How can Democrats claim they aren't good at "the dark art of politics" after running the infamous James Byrd ad against George Bush in 2000? Or the fact that a 24-year-old DUI became a news story just before the 2000 election?

Are these people serious that Democrats "refuse to cater to racism and hatred" when their own sites are filled with it on a daily basis?

Brooks doesn't go into the hypocrisy of Democrats playing the race card at every opportunity, then claiming Republicans are racists. He doesn't point out the deceitfulness involved with October surprises designed to push swing voters to vote Democrat.

No, Brooks just points out something obvious.
It’s not necessary to dumb things down to appeal to emotions. It’s not necessary to understand some secret language that will key certain neuro-emotional firings. The best way to win votes — and this will be a shocker — is to offer people an accurate view of the world and a set of policies that seem likely to produce good results.

This is how you make voters happy.

I would put it this way:

The reason so many people have voted for Republicans in the last 30 years is because Republicans have endorsed policies that supported families and individuals versus government involvement, high taxation, and less private control. Most Americans--believe it or not--think they can make it in this country and they dislike politicians telling them that they can only succeed through government interference and "luck." And Americans don't want to vote for jerks who constantly sneer at their values and beliefs. It's funny, but most people just don't want to vote for people who tell them they're stupid. Funny, isn't it?

Bad Omen for the First Day of School

I opened my son's lunchbox this evening to make his lunch for tomorrow and found half of his lunch from the last day of last school year three months ago. Ugh!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Boy Suspended for Drawing a Gun

Is a picture of a gun a threat? According to school officials in one Arizona school district, it is. (Via ifeminists.

School officials suspended a 13-year-old boy for sketching what looked like a gun, saying the action posed a threat to his classmates.
The boy's parents said the drawing was a harmless doodle and school officials overreacted.

"The school made him feel like he committed a crime. They are doing more damage than good," said the boy's mother, Paula Mosteller.

The drawing did not show blood, bullets, injuries or target any human, the parents said. And the East Valley Tribune reported that the boy said he didn't intend for the picture to be a threat.

Administrators of Payne Junior High in nearby Chandler suspended the boy on Monday for five days but later reduced it to three days.

The boy's father, Ben Mosteller, said that when he went to the school to discuss his son's punishment, school officials mentioned the seriousness of the issue and talked about the massacre at Colorado's Columbine High School, where two teenagers shot and killed 12 students, a teacher and themselves in 1999. Mosteller said he was offended by the reference.

Chandler district spokesman Terry Locke said the crude sketch was "absolutely considered a threat," and that threatening words or pictures are punishable.

So now, a picture of a gun is a threat? What about pictures from action games? Is a picture of a sword also a threat? When is a picture not a threat?

Defending Defending Iraq

Michael O'Hanlon offers this rebuttal to the charges from the moonbatosphere (led by our favorite multi-sock puppet Glenn Greenwald) that O'Hanlon is just a useful idiot of the administration.

Unfortunately, much of the blogosphere and other media outlets have emphasized the wrong question, challenging the integrity of anyone who dares to express politically incorrect views about Iraq. Last week, Jonathan Finer criticized on this page [" Green Zone Blinders," Aug. 18] a New York Times essay that Ken Pollack and I wrote, as well as the comments of several senators, for claiming too much insight based on short trips to Iraq. Finer suggested that we did not leave the Green Zone, although we frequently did, on this and other trips, and he ignored how critical Pollack and I have been of administration policy in the past.

Worse, Finer and critics such as Rep. Jack Murtha and Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald have suggested that our analyses are based on a few days of military "dog-and-pony shows." Our assessments are based on our observations as well as on years of study. That experience creates networks of colleagues such as military officers whose off-the-record insights can inform ours and who in the past have often told us when they did not think their strategies were working or could work. While hardly making us infallible, this also led each of us to oppose predictions of a "cakewalk" before the invasion and to join Gen. Eric Shinseki in criticizing invasion plans that had too few troops and too little thought given to the post-invasion mission.

O'Hanlon does a good job of laying out the positives and negatives of our current situation in Iraq. This is precisely the same impression I got of his earlier column: that the situation in Iraq has improved but there's still a lot of work, particularly political work, to be done before we can declare victory.

It seems like absolute nonsense that so many on the Left cling so tightly to the idea of defeat and seem to be so unwilling to even contemplate the idea of success. These self-same critics scream that we shouldn't question their patriotism, even as they display repeatedly their dogged determination to find an empty glass where there might be a half-full one.

This isn't to say that our policies in Iraq do not deserve criticism. They do. But there's a distinct difference between having a jaundiced eye and having a partisan one. Considering that more than a couple of Congressmen have come back from Iraq saying many of the same things O'Hanlon has, it's hard to explain the rigid opposition by certain Lefties. Unless, of course, they really don't want us to win.

Spare Him the 9/11 Conspiracies...But What About Those Conspiracies?

Robert Fisk says he's not a 9/11 truther, but, well, he questions the truth about 9/11.

But don't call him a truther. No.

Captain Ed points out that Fisk is supposed to be a journalist and should know how to do research. But, since he doesn't seem to know how to answer his own questions, Ed does it for him.

You have to wonder about all the people desperate to believe there was some conspiracy concerning 9/11. I realize it's much more exciting to believe in conspiracies than facts, but isn't it just easier to accept truth rather than turning one's mind into a pretzel to grasp some movie plot scenario?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Just Hand Congress Back to Republicans...Please

Tully at Stubborn Facts has a great post on the amusing spectacle of watching the Democrats eat their own.

The nutroots are greatly disappointed that so many of the newly-elected "blue dog Democrats" (also called "Bush dog Democrats") are so red. That is, they are conservative and won't line up and march with San Fran Nan on every issue. So, what do the nutroots propose? Why, threaten 'em!

And so, you may have noticed a lot of chatter about 'Bush Dog' Democrats over the past few days. That's not an accident. We've been working to identify the group of conservative Democrats in the House who are holding back progressives from being able to effectively govern. These are concentrated in two main caucuses, the Blue Dog Caucus and the New Democrat caucuses. Blue Dogs consider themselves heirs to the Southern conservative wing of the party, and tend to vote for socially restrictive policies and a hawkish foreign policy. The New Democrats tend to be more partisan, but often are key to passing important pieces of right-wing legislation, such as the Bankruptcy Bill. In the last few years, these two caucuses have expanded their numbers, and the Blue Dogs have become the swing vote in the House allowing for effective conservative control of the Congress. We want to put a stop to the embrace of conservative values among House Democrats, and make sure that when Democrats are elected, they act like Democrats.

What does a Democrat act like? Like the KOS Kids, of course! Be just as whacked out to the left as possible and the KOSsacks will love ya. Of course, you won't have a snowball's chance in hell of being re-elected, since your constituents are generally conservative, but don't let that bit of logic stop the moonbats. No, they demand absolute fealty to the far Left of the Democratic Party. And if threats don't work, just work hard to get the Bush dogs defeated and pray that the person who wins the election is farther to the Left. Not that that's likely to happen in conservative districts.

One of the difficulties of being in the majority is trying to garner enough votes for any given issue while preserving your majority. In the old days, Democrats came in all stripes from yellow dog to blueblood. You had the Ted Kennedys and the Phil Gramms, and they disagreed about a lot but worked together on other things. But after Ronald Reagan's victory, politics in Congress changed. Liberal Democrats became more hard-lined against their conservative brethren and many of the conservatives (like Gramm) jumped ship and became Republicans.

Then Republicans had the same situation. There were conservative Republicans and some Republicans In Name Only. We've seen what happened when we abandoned even the RINOs.

If the KOS supporters think threatening or ousting their conservative politicians is going to be good for the Democrats, they aren't paying any attention to history or politics. The far Left needs the Bush dog Democrats to retain their majority and control the legislative agenda. But to do that is going to mean acknowledging that the country is more conservative than San Francisco and that, as deliciously tempting as the red meat of immediate troop withdrawal may be, it's both impractical and illogical. But if the nutroots want to destroy the Democratic majority, I won't stop 'em.

Why People Don't Read

During the craze leading up to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I wrote about the book critic who complained that too many people read Harry Potter and not enough people read the good stuff.

Now, we have a survey that shows the average American reads just four books a year. (Via Ann Althouse).

One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.

I've noticed I read different numbers of books depending on the phase of my life I'm in. For example, when I was in college, I might have read four to six books a year (besides required reading), but once I graduated from college, I read voraciously for about a year or two (I probably read four to six books a month). Then when I was busy having babies, I don't think I read nearly as many books (although my husband always points out that I read Constitutional Law while breastfeeding my son...I wonder if he learned anything?).

For the last year or two, I've been back into a reading phase and read probably two books a month, which is really good for me (I'm a slow reader). But what of the quality of books I read? Typically, I don't read "important" works or things I "should" read. I read what strikes my fancy, which means a murder mystery, an autobiography about a guy who joins the circus (I love the circus), or a book on gypsies. This summer, I've read:
All seven Harry Potter books

Four Richard Jury mystery novels

The Law of Dreams

Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide


I count that as 14 books this summer, but the Harry Potter books were easy, quick reads. In any event, I don't expect to read so much so quickly again for a while. Life has a way of interfering in one's reading for entertainment, especially when the kids go back to school and you have to help them with their reading.

Spinning Like a Top with Media Matters

Media Matters spends an enormous amount of time spinning news stories and putting out propaganda to support their leftwing viewpoints. There's not really anything wrong with doing that--it's a free country still, after all--but it's amazing how the moonbats at MM and their willing sycophants on the left will come unglued over journalistic slights if those slights don't uphold their leftwing viewpoints.

Case in point: This Media Matters diatribe about a pro-life quote that appeared unchallenged in several news articles.

"Let's face it, they're in the business to kill babies for profit," (Colorado Right to Life vice president Leslie Hanks) said. "First and foremost, they get young girls hooked on their birth control pills, which don't work," Hanks said.

Right to Life followers are among the regular protesters -- Hanks calls them "rescuers" -- at Planned Parenthood's current locations, she said.

MM took issue with the "don't work" language of Hanks' statement and goes to great pains to debunk it.
In fact, according to the medical reference book Contraceptive Technology: Nineteenth Revised Edition (Ardent Media, 2007), oral contraceptives work with 92 percent efficacy for the first year of "[t]ypical [u]se" and are 99.7 percent effective with "[p]erfect [u]se."

"Perfect use"? Does that mean people who take the pill every single day at the exact same minute and never have any pregnancies? And does the MM story include information about the reduced efficacy rates for oral contraceptives when using antibiotics?

Compared to other contraceptive methods, the Pill is more effective, even for women who don't use them correctly. Of course, the health risks from oral contraceptives are more severe, as well. But don't expect Media Matters to spend time researching the increased risks of heart attack and stroke associated with oral contraceptives. They're way too busy complaining about a quote from an obviously biased actor in a news story.

Interestingly, Media Matters glossed over the part of Hanks' statement concerning Planned Parenthood's financial incentives for killing babies. Maybe that's because they just couldn't spin these numbers. But don't worry. The useful idiots will ignore the inconvenient truth, as well.

The Truth about Bill Clinton and 9/11

Captain Ed says Bill Cllinton may have "exaggerated" his record when discussing the vigor with which his presidency pursued Osama bin Laden. Morrissey is referring to this Newsweek article in which the authors discuss what Clinton says he did and what he actually did.

In September 2006, during a famous encounter with Fox News anchor Wallace, Clinton erupted in anger and waived his finger when asked about whether his administration had done enough to get bin Laden. “What did I do? What did I do?” Clinton said at one point. “I worked hard to try to kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since.”

Clinton appeared to have been referring to a December 1999 Memorandum of Notification (MON) he signed that authorized the CIA to use lethal force to capture, not kill, bin Laden. But the inspector general’s report made it clear that the agency never viewed the order as a license to “kill” bin Laden—one reason it never mounted more effective operations against him. “The restrictions in the authorities given the CIA with respect to bin Laden, while arguably, although ambiguously, relaxed for a period of time in late 1998 and early 1999, limited the range of permissible operations,” the report stated. (Scheuer agreed with the inspector general’s findings on this issue, but said if anything the report was overly diplomatic. “There was never any ambiguity,” he said. “None of those authorities ever allowed us to kill anyone. At least that’s what the CIA lawyers told us.” A spokesman for the former president had no immediate comment.)

Is it any surprise Clinton doesn't have a comment when faced with the truth? Maybe he'll pipe up and tell us "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."

Like Ed, I see no point in trying to blame either the Clinton presidency or the Bush one for 9/11. Such finger-pointing is partisan in nature and designed to exonerate whichever side one agrees with, not illuminate anything. What is important is what the intelligence failures were and fixing those to prevent new attacks. It's difficult to stay focused on that when you have a former president lying about his own role.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Health Care Blues and the Free Market

I've been having some health care issues over the last couple of months. I finally went to see my doctor, who ordered a test. I guess the test was inconclusive and he ordered another one.

Today, I received a call from the insurance person at the hospital who told me my co-pay would be $700. I was driving at the time and nearly drove off the road!

"700 bucks?!" I yelled.

There was dead silence on the other end of the phone.

"Hello? How am I supposed to come up with $700 by tomorrow morning?" I asked.

The woman told me there's a "bank" affiliated with the hospital which could underwrite a loan for me, predicated on me passing whatever credit check they require. Our credit isn't the best, so I know that such a loan would require usurious rates.

"So, are you planning to keep the appointment?" the woman asked.

"I don't know," I responded. But, in fact, I did know. We don't have $700 lying around to pay for a test that I can't be completely sure is necessary for my treatment and not simply designed to protect the doctor. "I need to figure out which arm I use least so I can cut it off in hopes of getting $700."

More silence on the other end of the telephone.

I genuinely felt sorry for this woman. For people with good insurance, they pay 25 bucks and have the test done. For the poor, they go to the county hospital and pay whatever the administration decides they can afford.

But I wonder about people like us. We aren't poor by any means, but we don't have company-sponsored insurance. It's curious to think that it is the upper middle class that could be so squeezed by insurance.

The odd part is that I've been reading John Lott's Freedomnomics, which does a fairly good job defending capitalism against its many detractors, including the authors of Freakonomics.

The book is interesting and an easy read at under 200 pages. Lott tackles a wide range of examples from gasoline prices (why do they spike before hurricanes?) to drug prices (should we use price controls?) to taxes and illegal immigration.

After my discussion with the insurance person today, I wondered what Lott had to say about the insurance industry. The answer is, he didn't. Lott doesn't discuss insurance at all, which makes me wonder what his opinion would be of our two-tiered system.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another Liberal Radio Network Bites the Dust

When will liberals learn? They don't "get" talk radio.

Most recent case: Jane Fonda's (liberal) women's radio network has gone belly up.

The "feminist" radio company whose founders include Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem failed to attract an audience and it signed off the air for good on Friday.

When the talk-radio network, called GreenStone, officially launched in September 2006, NewsMax reported that it was a "new left-wing radio network that plans to appeal to women listeners and counter the dominance of conservative talk radio."

GreenStone claimed it would deliver "de-politicized, de-polarized talk radio by women hosts for female listeners,” and Steinem said it would offer an alternative to current radio talk, which she described as "very argumentative, quite hostile, and very much male-dominated."

She also said radio was "overbalanced toward the ultra-right." But "Greenstone Media’s brand of tepid liberalism didn’t appeal to women,” Carrie Lukas, author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism," writes in the New York Post.

Greenstone offered interviews with such liberals as Ralph Nader, as well as segments on parenting and relationships.

But its programming was picked up by only eight affiliates in small to mid-sized markets, and its backers have now pulled the plug.

GreenStone’s CEO Susan Ness deplored the end of GreenStone as a loss for women. But Lukas observes: "Perhaps Ness should use her time off to tune in to other stations. She’ll find there are many prominent women on the airwaves – they’re just not saying what she thinks they should."

Lukas pointed to Laura Ingraham, who is heard on 340 stations and has an audience of more than 5 million, and Dr. Laura Schlessinger, with some 7.75 million listeners.

To attract large numbers of female listeners, "it will take more than having ‘all-female’ programming from an ‘all-female’ network," Lukas opines.

Liberals are boring. That's why their radio shows tank. It's hard to take seriously shows that constantly berate average Americans as stupid or rail against Christians and conservatives as more dangerous than Al Qaeda.

I get particularly insulted when people like Fonda and Steinem want to define "what women want." These are the same women who showed such enormous contempt for the defining characteristics of Western society and sneered constantly at the actual things women are interested in, from family to politics to entertainment. These clowns are every bit as bad as the pseudo-pornography of Cosmopolitan or the liberal whinging of Ms. Magazine. It's as bad as watching too much Lifetime--Television for Women or Women's Entertainment.

Maybe liberal women just can't come up with interesting programming that appeals to all women. But if conservatives like Laura Ingraham can do it, you'd think Hanoi Jane could find one interesting woman talk show host.

Ruining 24

I only discovered 24 about two years ago, but immediately fell in love with the grittiness of Jack Bauer and the unpredictable plot turns in every episode.

I probably started watching the show at the peak of its popularity. Let's face it: how many bad days can one guy have? How many people can get blown away by this group of thugs or that one (one season, I kept a running tally of how many people died in that single 24-hour period and it was over 300)?

As brilliant a premise as 24 has been, it's hardly a sustainable concept. Unlike Gunsmoke, there are only so many bad guys Jack Bauer can off before the ick factor kicks in.

The last season was a disappointing one for Jack and company. Maybe killing off Tony and Michelle and sending daughter Kim off to the same Never-Never Land where Richie Cunningham's brother Chuck went had a detrimental affect on the show's ratings. After all, you kill off the most interesting characters and replace them with characters we just don't care about and you are bound to see a slippage in viewership.

But I can't imagine what makes the producers of 24 think any remaining fans want to watch Janeanne Garofolo spout leftwing politics at Jack for another season. We get enough moonbat bullshit on television as it is. Why spoil one show where--Gosh!--they actually showed Muslim terrorists trying to kill Americans for being Americans. Sounds like it may be time to pull the plug on 24.

When Numbers Lie...

The New York Times is running a story saying the Bush economy sucks.

Well, it doesn't do it quite that eloquently. What it does say is that Americans are making less money in 2005 than they did in 2000.

The combined income of all Americans in 2005 was slightly larger than it was in 2000, but because more people were dividing up the national income pie, the average remained smaller. Total adjusted gross income in 2005 was $7.43 trillion, up 3.1 percent from 2000 and 5.8 percent from 2004.

I'm always leery when journalists toss around "average" numbers. There's a big difference between "average" and "median" where economics are concerned, and the fact that the NYT is looking at "average" should throw up a big red flag.

Tom Blumer at dissects the numbers and discovers that they don't look exactly the way the NYT says they do.

What I found most interesting about the story was the political slant involved. First of all, George W. Bush didn't become president until 2001. His economic policies had nothing to do with whatever was going on in 2000. So, why include 2000 in the data set? It would be more accurate to start in 2001, after the bubble had burst and that sector of the market was starting to tank.

Second, the story doesn't even mention the single largest blow to our economy since the Great Depression: the terrorist attack of 9/11. Given what that event did to our economy, throwing thousands of people out of work and preventing thousands of others from finding gainful employment for a longer period of time, why wouldn't the NYT mention it?

It seems to me that the point of the NYT story is to cast the Bush economy in the worst light possible. There's no doubt that employment today doesn't look like it did at the height of the bubble. There are far more $10 per hour jobs than there are $15 or $20. But there are multiple reasons for that, and many don't have anything to do with Bush administration economic policy. Mostly, it has to do with globalization, which has pushed more people into lower-paying service industry jobs. That's a problem that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can fix without even more devastating effects on American labor.

It's not surprising that the NYT would work so diligently to show the Bush administration in a bad light. I just wish they were a bit more honest and inclusive in their data.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

State Interference and Religious Freedom

After boxing Jeromy Brown's ears about homosexual marriage, I had planned to let that subject go for a while. But then I read about the New Jersey Civil Rights division trying to declare a Methodist boardwalk a "place of public accommodation."

The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of the United Methodist Church filed a federal lawsuit Saturday against New Jersey officials. The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights has threatened to prosecute the Camp Meeting Association for adhering to its deeply held religious beliefs. State officials launched an investigation after the Christian organization refused to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony at one of its worship facilities.

"Religious groups have the right to make their own decisions without government interference. The government can’t force a private Christian organization to use its property in a way that would violate its own religious beliefs," said Brian Raum, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the Camp Meeting Association. "This action by the state of New Jersey is a gross violation of the First Amendment."

Civil union ceremonies are specifically prohibited by the doctrines and beliefs of the United Methodist Church. The lawsuit claims that the state prosecution violates the Camp Meeting Association’s First Amendment rights to free speech, freedom of expressive association, and free exercise of religion.

The initial action taken by the state of New Jersey involves a worship facility known as the Boardwalk Pavilion. This building and others on the same site have hosted church and worship services for more than 100 years. It is currently used for Sunday worship services, a weekday middle-school and high-school Bible program, a weekly summer band program, evening association meetings, and two to three Gospel music ministry programs each day during the summer season.

Despite this historic use and the Camp Meeting Association’s ownership of the property since 1869, the state has indicated it may declare the facility a place of public accommodation simply because it is located on a boardwalk. The boardwalk and the beach are also owned by the Camp Meeting Association.

It will be interesting to see how this attempted abridgement of a First Amendment right is handled by the New Jersey courts.

The Arrogant Paternalism of the Mainstream Press

It's always amusing watching the MSM look down on the blogosphere.

Let's be honest. Traditional journalists hate the blogosphere. Why? Because bloggers aren't held to the "same standard" as newspaper journalists. Anyone can blog, they say. Not everyone can be a reporter!

Well, I hate to bust that MSM bubble, but just about anybody blogging could be a reporter, because being able to write in an engaging style is a large part of being a reporter. Yes, it's important to get all the facts right and the quotes correctly. But if you can't write in a way that captivates an audience, it doesn't really matter whether you are covering a school board meeting or a national political convention.

What brought this to mind was reading yet another self-serving piece by a MSM-type about the importance of the "real" press versus the blogosphere.

Sometimes argument -- a word that elevates blogosphere comment to a level it seldom attains on its own -- gains from old-fashioned gumshoe reporting. Compelling examples abound. On the same day I read of the Daily Kos convention in Chicago, I finished "The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle and the Awakening of a Nation," winner this year of the Pulitzer Prize for history. No one looms larger in the book by Gene Roberts Jr. and Hank Klibanoff than Claude Sitton, whose reporting in the New York Times in the 1960s would become legendary.

Mainstream journalism has had some incredible moments when it covered very important events. They covered World War II and actually supported the U.S. (something one doesn't see anymore). They wrote about and supported the Civil Rights Movement. But, unfortunately, their shameless sanctimony against Ronald Reagan (the "amiable dunce"), the constant drumbeat against conservatives, the mischaracterization of Southerners as racists and ignoramuses, the grossly inaccurate depictions of Christians as hypocrites and pro-lifers as misogynists all work against the supposedly wonderful work of the past.

Now, the MSM is most threatened by the blogosphere because bloggers are doing many of the functions newspapers and television have performed for decades. More refreshingly, bloggers do not feel the necessity to slip on the facade of objectivity and pretend they have no opinion. While the MSM will pretend it is neutral in the argument over abortion--even as they insult pro-lifers by constantly referring to them as "anti-abortion" and using the worst quotes available--bloggers feel no compulsion to pretend. If you go to a stick a fork in the baby's head until birth site, you are going to get discussions and argumentations that mirror that opinion. And, conversely, if you go to a pro-life site, you are going to get pro-life news.

Much as I disagree with moonbats on most things, I will admit to agreeing with Jill of Feministe when she says bloggers don't want to take journalists' jobs. They want journalists to do their jobs. I feel that way completely, although I'm sure it's about different issues.

I'd like, for instance, for journalists to keep their opinions to themselves and not voice them in their news stories. I'd like reporters to report facts, not their colorized versions of facts. I'd like reporters to question Democrats as ruthlessly as they do Republicans.

Mostly, I'd like reporters to do their jobs. You know, the one they supposedly spent all that time in j-school to do. Not the stylized job they may want.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Ugly Face of Abortion Supporters, A Woman's Right to Choose, Part 6

A Woman's Right to Choose is a semi-regular feature of Gold-Plated Witch on Wheels.

The mask slips off to reveal the ugly face of the pro-abortion set when you read articles like this review of Girls on the Stand: How Courts Fail Pregnant Minors.

Author Scott Lemieux starts with this "explanation" of the popularity of parental notification and/or consent laws.

All things being equal, it is not illogical to assume that parental involvement will be beneficial to young women making the extremely difficult decision about whether to continue a pregnancy. The objection to such regulations, however, is equally obvious: Young women in loving families are likely to discuss the decision with a parent without state intervention, while getting the state involved may create serious risks for women in abusive or potentially abusive families.

This paragraph caught my attention because it assumes a level of openness in "good" families and implies that if a daughter didn't want to tell her parents she was pregnant, then the family must be "bad," the parents not worthy of notice about a highly important decision on the part of their daughter.

This is a favorite ploy of the pro-abortion movement, specifically where teenagers are concerned. The premise is that girls who don't wish to discuss pregnancy and abortion with their parents shouldn't be forced to. Why? Because the right for a teenage girl--who can't get her ears pierced or a tattoo without parental permission--to kill her baby is sacrosanct.

Yet anyone who has a teenager (or who remembers being a teenager) knows that adolescents dislike talking to their parents about a variety of issues ranging from car wrecks to curfew violations, and yet the law doesn't allow minors to avoid parental involvement in those issues. And anyone who thinks a teenager will feel comfortable talking about sex, pregnancy, and abortion with her parents is either a complete moonbat or hasn't been around teenagers.

Admittedly, Lemieux doesn't come out and say that parents must be "bad" if their teenage daughter doesn't want to talk to them about having an abortion, or that laws restricting minor access to abortion are overly restrictive. But it is the only logical conclusion one can come to from this:
Such a compromise, on its face, is not unreasonable. The state has a greater interest in intervening on behalf of minors, which makes the paternalism of such laws less transparently odious than similar regulations applied to adult women.

The link goes to an article about last term's Gonzales v. Carhart decision which upheld Congress's right to regulate abortion. If Lemieux genuinely thinks banning one late-term abortion procedure is paternalism, it's not difficult to see why he (and other pro-aborts) would consider parental notification laws to be paternalism.

I agree with the Partial Birth Abortion Act personally, and I agree with the reasoning of the SCOTUS that Congress can regulate abortion as part of its legislative power. But parental notification and consent laws strike at an entirely different issue. The right of parents to raise and educate their children is considered a fundamental one, and passing legislation which supports this is far different from banning any abortion procedure.

But as anyone who has read Echidne's site knows, many pro-abortion supporters think abortion should be legal and unregulated right up until birth. To logically argue that parents are responsible for their minor children and should be involved in decisions those children make doesn't compute with such people. To them, if a child is old enough to menstruate, parents can be responsible for every other area of a child's body, including immunizations, check-ups, and treatments, but the same parent responsible for getting medical treatment for a botched abortion should not play any part in the decision to get the abortion in the first place.

I'm not sure what sort of parent wouldn't want to be involved in his/her daughter's decision to have an abortion. The assumption that all adolescents would logically discuss abortion with their parents if the relationship is a "good" one is naive in the extreme. Basing government policy on this fantasy is even worse.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Liberal Bloggers in the Echo Chamber

You really have to hand it to Jeromy Brown. It takes a true dumb ass to take defeat in this comment thread and declare victory.

I finally closed comments in the thread after more than 270 comments where Jeromy said nothing more intelligent than "you're an idiot." But the worst was his utter contempt for democracy, the Constitution, and our legal system. Such stupidity didn't deserve a platform, so I took that away from him.

I suppose this was to be expected from someone who thinks lying about other people's opinions is good argumentation. And, in fact, I stated repeatedly throughout the comment thread in question that states are more than welcome to sanction gay marriage if they so desire, but that this is a legislative issue, not a judicial one. I also pointed out repeatedly that the Constitution contains a process through which gay marriage supporters could legalize homosexual unions: the amendment process.

But like so many moonbats, Jeromy thinks the Constitution's provisions for amendment are too cumbersome. That's for other folks, like black people and women. Better to get five judges to find a new right under chewing gum on the 14th Amendment than actually convince folks that homosexual marriage should be recognized.

Read A Book

"Read a Book, Read a Book, Read a MotherF****** Book"

Those are some of the lyrics of a public service announcement that's been running on Black Entertainment Television, according to The Conservative Voice. (I found out about this via Patriot Post.)

The video is above (I'm still new at this YouTube posting stuff).

It's bitingly funny, but, like Mike at Think 2wice, I'm not sure if it's satire or racism. Maybe rapper Bomani "d-Mite" Armah thinks this is an innovative way to teach children lessons in education and health. It's at least more entertaining than those boring health films we had in school.

Evaluating the Court has the transcript to an interesting panel discussion by Legal Times reporter Tony Mauro evaluating the past Supreme Court term.

The discussions can get arcane, particularly when it comes to business or criminal defense issues, but the entire discussion is insightful.

Ever Gartner, the attorney who argued the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act was unconstitutional, seemed the most bitter and angry. And who can blame her? She lost a crucial vote that pro-abortionists feel entitled to. And how many times can she call partial birth abortion "so-called" in a single statement? Let's see:

The Court decided two of the three challenges that had been filed challenging a statute that Congress passed in 2003, the federal ban on so-called partial-birth abortion. All three of the cases that were filed were successful in all of the six lower courts in having the law enjoined and found unconstitutional. This was in large part because the statute that Congress passed is virtually identical to a statute that the Court had struck down only seven years ago in 2000 in a case called Stenberg v. Carhart.

In that case, which at this point we are calling Carhart I, the Court, by a 5-4 vote with Justice O'Connor at that time in the majority, found the Nebraska ban on so-called partial-birth abortion unconstitutional for two reasons. One, because the statute lacked a health exception [for the mother] and two, because the law was found to be so broad as to ban virtually any second-trimester, pre-viability abortion method.

The federal law that Congress passed in 2003 suffered from the identical constitutional flaws that the Court found in the Nebraska law, and, in fact, Congress passed the law very pointedly to create a vehicle for the Court to reconsider its Carhart I decision. So the abortion case, in addition to all the other ways that it presented very interesting constitutional issues for the new Roberts Court, it presented really a kind of test case to see how this Court was going to treat its own recent precedent ...

The Court, as we know, came out the other way, saying, "Yes, Congress can ban so-called partial-birth abortions, even without a health exception." So this shows us where the Court .... that at least in this particular context, the Court completely disregarded its precedent.

I count three in just that simple statement, which doesn't include the rest of Gartner's snit. My point, btw, is that Gartner could have referred to partial-birth abortion as "this procedure" or "the act." By constantly using the "so-called" flag, she is trying to cast doubt as to whether partial birth abortion is, in fact, partial birth abortion.

But Gartner goes on in her ideological way.
For the first time, the Court identifies two interests it has never used before to justify a restriction on a safe pre-viability abortion method. It says the ban can be justified because of the Court's moral and ethical concerns about the use of this procedure.

Unless Ms. Gartner knows something the rest of us don't, partial birth abortion isn't performed on babies pre-viability. It's performed on babies that are developed enough to survive birth (even if they were to die later). That's hardly pre-viability.

The rest of the transcript contains more interesting--and less emotionally charged--discussions about the tip of the Court to the right, who is in charge (Kennedy, by far), and where the Court may go from here. Read the whole thing to find out more.

Women Don't Ask, Or Men Are Evil

Back in this post, I discussed an interesting hypothesis being bandied about concerning the wage gap: women don't ask.

The premise is that men tend to ask for things they want and negotiate far more than women do. Why women hate negotiating and avoid it when possible is the subject of Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever's book Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide.

It's a powerful statement backed up by an equally powerful book. Though Women Don't Ask is only 200 pages, Babcock and Laschever pack those pages with statistics, psychology, anecdotes from women, and tons of information concerning not only how not negotiating affects wages, but how not asking for what they want affects every area of a woman's life.

Because women don't like to ask directly for things like raises and promotions, or negotiate their initial salaries the way men do, women typically start out making less than men. That initial 4% difference snowballs throughout a woman's career, leaving her much poorer than her male counterpart. "By not negotiating a first salary, an individual stands to lose more than $500,000 by age 60—and men are more than four times as likely as women to negotiate a first salary." And because women are less likely to ask for promotions (but tend to expect their good work to gain them advancement), they don't get as far up the company ladder as men do.

According to Babcock's and Laschever's research, it's not just in the workplace that women dislike negotiating. They will pay far more for a car, for instance, if they don't have to negotiate. They will settle for whatever they are offered in order to avoid the negotiation process.

Worse still, when women are assertive, confident and persistent, they are often labeled as "unfeminine" or "bitchy." Women executives can wind up at Bully Broads, a program designed to make these managers less aggressive--and therefore less threatening--to their male colleagues and subordinates.

Executive coach Jean Hollands, author of “Same Game, Different Rules,” makes her living training “bully broads,” executive women who don’t know how to make nice. Hollands has convinced her clients that leadership comes only to women smart enough curb their confrontational tactics and boost their sensitivity to subordinates. Men don’t need to worry about these things, but, as Hollands says, women must "fake it until they make it."

Obviously, such women aren't afraid to ask, but the price they pay for success may be quite steep.

But why don't women ask? That complex question is at the heart of Women Don't Ask. The authors contend that women don't ask for a lot of reasons, including that women tend to be less competitive than men and that women are conditioned to be less confrontational than men are.

It is this last premise--that women are taught early to be "other-oriented" and that demanding more is selfish--plays a large part in Babcock's and Laschever's book. When I took a course in law school called Women and the Law, I used to call this philosophy the "Men are evil" approach to life.

The theory plays up the historical subjugation of women to men. Filled with anecdotes from middle-aged women who remember being told that women aren't good at math and girls shouldn't do science, Women Don't Ask drums the Men Are Evil mantra into your head and you'll never forget it.

I'm not trying to dismiss historical prejudice against women. As I've pointed out to friends, in Texas, married women were treated like the mentally disabled and children. But whenever I read a book that says parents reinforce gender stereotypes by letting boys play with trains and girls play with dolls, my eyes glaze over. With two girls and a boy, I can tell you that not all girls want to play with dolls, but I don't want to discourage any of my children from being concerned about others. And I'm not sure how big a difference it makes who drives the car and who pays the bills.

While Women Don't Ask is filled with statistics and stories of discrimination, it is short on solutions. How do we prevent children from developing these stereotypical gender schemas? What part does personal choice play in which roles women and men adopt in society? And when (and should) the government enforce some sort of non-discrimination plan? And what would such a plan look like?

I agree with the authors that more women need to learn the importance of negotiation in achieving one's life goals. Because society expects women to behave in a less abrasive manner than men, most women are unwilling to ignore complaints or punishment to get a fairer share both in the workplace and at home. I'm just not sure what the authors expect the rest of us to do with their information.