February 28, 2005
MP3 Player Recommendations
|[Posted by ]|
Update: Thank you for all the suggestions. I decided to go with the iPod Mini. My sister has the Dell 20 GB DJ, and while she loves, it just felt way too heavy for me. The iPod Mini, at around 3 ounces, weighs half as much. I would have liked something that hold more songs (the Mini holds about 1,000), but for now it was the best choice. I was really able to get a great deal from Amazon by using some coupons and my A9.com discount.
Update #2: So, I ordered the mini iPod from Amazon around midnight on Tuesday. I used the super free shipping and they estimated I'd receive my iPod anywhere from the 11th to the 14th. Now, I know that you normally get it way before then, but imagine my shock when my iPod arrived at my office TODAY! Wow. They only way I could have gotten it faster is if the guy at the warehouse in Addison personally drove it up to me. I'm impressed.
Even though I've yet to purchase a DVD player or join the Tivo cult, I think I'm ready for an MP3 Player. But, I don't really know what to buy. I could use a player with the capability to hold 10,000 songs, but right now I'd be fine with something with as little 1,000 songs.
I doubt I'll use it in my car right away, but I would like to be able to strap it onto my arm to wear to the gym. I plan on using it to play both downloaded music and music from my own CDs.
I want something that's sturdy enough to use while running or working on something like an elliptical machine. I probably won't bike with it as I'm not comfortable not hearing traffic, etc., while I bike. However, I could see using it while kayaking, if that's a consideration (note: I kayak on a generally mellow lake, not whitewater).
I have a few possibilities in the poll below, but what would you all recommend?
|[Posted by John Tant]|
Well, I just got back from a week in Toronto. A few thoughts:
-In the interests of full disclosure, I have many fond feelings for Canada. I find that, on the whole, Canadians are decent people...kind of like a nation full of Boy Scouts. Whenever I go up there they are always ready to help out a stranger. For example, a couple of days ago I got turned around in downtown Toronto and asked a passerby where Yonge street was...and he very courteously answered me. Try getting that reaction in Georgetown.
-The flight to Toronto was delayed by about two hours due to a mechanical problem. In my spot in the Dulles airport, I noticed the people who were sitting quietly were mainly the Canadians in the crowd. Similarly, the plane leaving Toronto was two hours late for unspecified reasons (United Airlines seems incapable of offering on-time flights) and again, the Canadians in the crowd were more accepting of the inconvenience. I don't know that I can draw many conclusions from that factoid, but make of it what you will.
-The Canadian Government, on the other hand, is something I don't think the Canadian people deserve. On the whole, it seems the Canadians are content to allow the "elite" to rule things, while they focus on their everyday lives. However, the idea of a government involving a queen thousands of miles away and only holding elections when they feel like it is, to my American idealism, looney.
-One area where the Canadian Government excels is, of course, the bureaucracy. Going through Canadian customs from the States was a breeze...less than 5 minutes in line, despite a fairly large crowd of people. Forms were distributed efficiently and requirements were made clear before anyone got in line. When I got to the customs officer, she was friendly and efficient.
-Contrast that with going through American customs. At Pearson airport, US Customs is done while still in Toronto. The forms were haphazardly distributed, and I didn't receive mine until I was turned away from getting in line. Once filled out, I stood in a rather long line (although it was made up of fewer people than the line to get into Canada), and line management was haphazard. The customs agent was surly. And the design of the area meant after one was finished with the customs guy, one had to meld into a huge crowd going through a very tight bottleneck to check luggage. Now I'm not saying I would like the US to have an efficient bureaucracy...but the entire thing seemed a little third world to me.
-One thing a visitor to Canada always finds striking...the abundance of national symbols. Most everywhere you look, you see maple leafs, and even corporate logos tend to incorporate them. Flags are flown unapologetically. From what I could tell this was all done from free will and not some law which requires PetroCanada to use national symbols in their logo. Remember after 9/11 when the Democratic Undergrounders criticized the outpouring of American patriotism? If I recall, it was denounced as cheap and phony, and that tends to be the complaint of our Left about most forms of naked patriotism. Well, if that's the case then Canadians must be the cheapest and phoniest people on the planet.
-The Canadian Budget was passed during my stay. As Paul Martin (the Canadian Prime Minister) heads what's a Minority Government (meaning his party holds a minority of seats in Parliament), the Conservatives could call an election pretty much whenever they want. So that the budget passed while averting an election is good news for a country who prefers to allow the professionals to deal with things. As for the budget itself, it features some tax cuts, more funding for the military, easing of restrictions on RRSP accounts (kind of a cross between a 401(k) and Social Security), and other, well, conservative things. From the thumbnail sketch I got from the news, there wasn't much to complain about from a conservative point of view.
-The press in Canada can be vicious, in stark contrast to the average Canadian's demeanor. The National Post is considered Canada's conservative paper (from my reading, it just reads less liberal) and excoriated Paul Martin in no uncertain terms. For example, on Thursday Paul Martin made somewhat contradictory statements about missile defense in North America. The Post took issue with that, saying things in straight news articles that I'd rail against mightily if they appeared in the New York Times.
-The NHL lockout is hitting Toronto hard. It's a huge hockey town (and you'd be too if the only other sports you had were the Raptors and the Blue Jays) and the lack of the sport has not only hit the team hard...but all the subsidiary businesses. Bars near the Air Canada Centre closed early and business was light. Ditto with restaurants (that I could walk into Jamie Kennedy's Wine Bar with a few coworkers and get served fairly quickly says volumes). I don't mean to make the Toronto economy sound like it's faltering. It isn't (the 7:30 am Tim Horton's line makes that clear). But the NHL lockout does have an impact, both material and on the town's morale.
-Most of the people in Toronto I've talked to about the lockout seem to be on the side of management. One fellow opined that if the players are asking for too much money, just fire them and put out some of the guys in the minors. While I don't agree entirely with that, I do think it shows just how much hockey is loved in this town. Any hockey game, even minors, is considered a good game for the town's residents. And one side development of this lockout...minor league games are getting a degree of recognition they haven't had before. For example, a minor game was getting prime-time televised coverage...and it was a good game. Keep this up and the NHLPA's case will evaporate.
-So now I have some mail, and current events, to catch up on. See y'all later.
February 27, 2005
Hotel Rwanda and the United Nations
|[Posted by ]|
Although it's not nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Hotel Rwanda is one of the two or three movies from last year that stayed with me longer than the car ride home. It inspired me to read We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families for more information about the Rwandian genocide.
I still think about the movie, and when I do I'm filled with horror at what happened. I'm amazed that so many Rwandians could give up their humanity and literally hack to death their classmates, neighbors and coworkers. And, finally, I'm filled with rage at the United Nations. There are individuals like General Romeo Dallaire and Capt. Mbaye Diagne who did the best they could to help prevent the genocide and then to save some of the 800,000 Tutsis who were killed, but as an organization, the UN was worse than ineffectual. This post from Ghosts Of A Flea sums it up perfectly:
"Ghosts of Rwanda" represents the best of PBS' Frontline series. Anyone who thinks the barbarism in Fallujah could be assuaged by withdrawal of Coalition forces should watch this show. Anyone who thinks the word "barbarism" is more offensive than the murder and desecration of free people should be ashamed. Anyone who cannot find the word "evil" in their vocabulary may not be capable of that emotion. But that shame is nothing next to what we should all feel for standing by as genocide was perpetrated in Rwanda. Canadian General Romeo Dallaire sums it up with brutal clarity.
"I'm sure there would have been more reaction if someone had tried to exterminate Rwanda's 300 mountain gorillas," he said.
So much for the United Nations. So much for international law. So much for the international community. 800,000 people were murdered. And still the only thing that matters to so many people is marching in the streets against... against what exactly? Against civilization. Too many of those outraged by the toppling of dictators could not find Rwanda on the map.
One story stands out. A Senegalese peacekeeper saved a hundred, as many as a thousand, lives by escorting some of the few Tutsis left in Kigali away from one of many Hutu Einsatzgruppen. Captain Diagne saved these lives against the express orders of the United Nations. Remember that the next time someone suggests that parliament of dictators has the moral authority to point fingers as as it chokes back the lobster and champagne.
It's not just that the UN did nothing in Rwanda. Nope. It's worse than that. After the Tutsi rebels were able to take over and stop the genocide, the UN actually protected the perpetrators in their "refugee" camps. That's right. They wouldn't lift a finger to stop the murder of nearly 1,000,000 people, but they couldn't do enough to help the murderers. Sound familiar? If not, then perhaps you should talk to the Kurds or the Marsh Arabs.
The UN defenders will try to shift the blame for their inaction to America. They'll say America didn't have the stomach for another African "adventure" after Somalia. Of course, this conveniently ignores the fact that, months before the genocide began, Gen. Dallaire outlined a simple plan that he could implement with the UN troops already in Rwanda (mostly Belgians) to prevent the violence. The UN, and in particular Kofi Annan, said no. I have no idea how Kofi Annan can look the world in the eye. How in the world can you pretend to have some kind of moral authority when you have the blood of nearly a million people on your hands?
One Dumb Rock
|[Posted by ]|
So, I'm watching the Oscars and sitting through Chris Rock's opening monologue. I know it's going to be bad when he starts out talking about Fahrenheit 911. He claims he doesn't want to do any Bush-bashing. Then, he proceeds to compare Bush to a Gap clerk who's a few trillion short at the register. He likens the Iraq war to a Gap clerk declaring war over non-existant toxic tank tops at Banana Republic.
First, Rock's an idiot because everyone knows that Gap and Banana are part of the same company.
Second, Rock's a giant hypocrite because he closes his monologue with a shout out to the troops "fighting for freedom". Huh? Didn't he just spend the last 5 minutes talking about how the war in Iraq was some grand adventure schemed up by Bush and Karl Rove? Now it's a fight for freedom?
If you're going to present yourself as a left wing looney, at least have the courage of your own convictions.
Update: You know, I think Chris Rock is funny too. I've never seen his stand up routine, but I did love him in Dogma.
I don't really object to his Bush-bashing last night either. If that's all he did, I'd be annoyed and would never have written this post. After all, it's expected for comedians to rip on the President, no matter who the President is.
What irritated me so much about Rock is that, after preaching the F 911 gospel, he turned right around and shouted his "support" for the troops. It was like he was using the phrase as a get-out-of-asshattery-free card.
Of course, for all I know Rock has performed for troops in Iraq or Afghanistan or has visited troops at Bethesda or something.
I think I just have a knee-jerk reaction to Hollywood celebrities talking about politics.
February 26, 2005
American Ingenuity: Colonel Sanders
|[Posted by james]|
Entrepreneurial success stories have always captivated my attention. I was just watching an A&E Biography piece on Colonel Sanders and was impressed with his marketing ingenuity, particularly this piece:
Back in the 1940's, Colonel Sanders opened up a motel next to one of his restaurants which was located just outside of town. The Kentucky Colonel built a a "nice" motel with nice rooms, and he wanted it to be a family establishment. However, there was one problem: back then, any self-respecting family in need of a room for the night would stay at an Inn in town, never a motel on the outskirts of the city. Back in those days, roadside motels were used for one thing and one thing only, and that "thing" certainly wasn't a family activity.
His solution? The Colonel built a model motel room inside of the restaurant so that the customers could see what the rooms looked like. To ensure that the most important person in the decision making process saw the room, he put the women's restroom in the most strategic place possible: inside of the model room.
That's right: in order to get to the powder room, the lady of the family had to walk through the model motel room, where she would see the nice beds, the dining table with flowers on it, etc., thus showcasing for the likely decision maker that his place was a nice, clean, "family" establishment after all.
It's ingenious thinking like that that makes America great.
Presidential Candidates and Their Shoes
|[Posted by ]|
Much has been written in the last couple of days about Condi Rice and her sexy boots. Some may think this obsession with potential Presidential footwear is silly, I think it's important. You can tell an awful lot about a man (or a woman) just by looking at their shoes.
Condi's boots show that she knows she has sex appeal and she's not going to hide it. She's going to use whatever tools are at her disposal: brains, beauty, wit or connections. Now, that's great, but is this choice an indication that Condi is selling herself as a candidate rather than her ideas? That's my fear. Sure, personality counts, but I do want to know what a candidate stands for, not just that they're "cool".
Contrast Condi's boots with Rudy Giuliani's understated footwear. Rudy's all about the power of personality, but his shoes certainly don't reflect that. All Giuliani's shoes say to me is "I'm appropriate". Maybe that's the message he's going for. Perhaps his footwear choice is yet another way of reassuring the Republican base that he really does share their values and isn't too liberal to win the nomination in 2008.
I need two pictures to illustrate how Hillary Clinton must feel about shoes. Hillary does seem to care about how she looks. She gets expensive haircuts (and it shows, her hair looks so much better now than it did back in 1992) and is fond of attractive pantsuits. But look at her shoes. They're horrible. I think you have to purposely choose to wear such ugly shoes. Shoes, jewelry and handbags are, for many women, a way to show their sense of humor and whimsy. She might not be willing to wear an outlandish clothes, but she'll add some color or pattern into her accessories. Hillary doesn't. And frankly, that meshes with her personality. She's not colorless, but she does seem overly serious. It's fine if she wants to live her own life without any fun, but I'm afraid that she doesn't want any of us to have fun. She's a Debbie Downer.
Finally, we come to John Kerry. When Kerry's biking, he wears bike shoes. When he's windsurfing he wears water socks or goes barefoot. When he's at a formal event he wears black shoes. When he's pretending to be a hunter, he wears brown boots. And, when he's on the campaign trail, he wears flip flops. Okay, just kidding about that last one. But seriously, Kerry's shoes are always appropriate for the activity he's engaged in. In many ways, that's a good thing. It shows you think about what you're going to need in each situation. But, as we saw in 2004, it could also be a sign of pandering - he wants to be all things to everyone.
Presidential candidates want us to look in their eyes or read their lips. Go ahead and do that, but don't forget to look down and check out their shoes.
February 24, 2005
Desperately Seeking 'He Hate Me'
|[Posted by james]|
We've had a number of links and discussions about the interplay between the Libertarian and Republican parties over the last week or so. This piece by Randy Barnett over at The Volokh Conspiracy makes the following point:
Like other Americans, however, many libertarians think of political parties like sports teams. They want their own team to root for and cannot root for the other teams. Voting Libertarian gives them psychological satisfaction, while in the aggregate diminishing their political impact.
Libertarians should stop thinking of parties as teams and think of them instead as the playoffs. In NFL football terms, The Democrats are the AFC and the Republicans [t]he NFC. To get into the Superbowl, you have to survive the season and the playoffs in your respective conference. In effect, Libertarians want to form their own league which no one but themselves is interested in watching. And they assure themselves of never making the playoffs much less the Superbowl.
Given the longtime historical dominance of the NFC over the AFC and the recent reversal of this trend with the AFC handily whipping the NFC in almost every category, I probably would have likened the Dems to the NFC and the Republicans to the AFC.
Notwithstanding this techincal oversight, an excellent point.
February 23, 2005
Larry Summers, Ward Churchill, A School, and a Cherry Red Mustang
|[Posted by John Tant]|
We'll start this morning with a charming story out of Lowell, MA with a novelty plate on the red Mustang belonging to a staff member at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School.
The novelty plate reads "Fight Crime, Shoot First."
So guess where this is going. We have an elementary school in Massachusetts, and a car on their parking lot expresses a message which is, shall we say, proactive and involves a gun. Of course some parent is going to figure out a way to be upset about it. And right on cue, we have an anonymous mother who complained to her kid's teacher about it, then moved up the food chain to the school's principal and the superintendent. And her concerns sound, well, a little hysterical:
"Being a member of the staff, well, you have to be an example to the kids," the mother insisted. "You don't just do whatever."
"I can listen to parents and listen to their concerns," [School Principal Sandra] Dunning said. "But we do live in America. That's part of our democracy, free speech."
The parent, however, says the school's responsibility to provide positive role models to children supersedes [sic] the right to free speech, and that the offending license plate is a breech of the public trust placed in school employees.
"I don't think it's just a question of freedom of speech," the mother said, noting that while her son is still learning to read, the school's older students have full reading ability. "You don't leave it for the kids to see every day."
I don't know about anyone else, but someone who would stand up to a criminal intent on doing him harm would be a role model I wouldn't mind my son having. But let's play with this parent's train of thought a little more. I don't think it's such a great example for a car in the school parking lot to sport a bumper sticker advocating abortion on demand, or a Kerry for President slogan (and odds are the parking lot features cars with just those sentiments). Would my outrage be justified?
That aside, as the car is outside there really isn't a problem here other than the one being manufactured by this parent. But, because one person complained, now the employee has to cover up this plate while the car is parked in the parking lot (Personally, I'd cover it up with a piece of paper that quoted the First Amendment with, in parentheses: "Unless, it seems, you're talking about scawy guns in a jocular manner"). To that compromise? The parent says:
"I'm aggravated because they only did something when I said I was going to talk to The Sun," the mother said. "I feel that I had to go outside the school to solve a little problem, because this could have been solved within the school."
OK, lady, stop treating me like I'm Montel Williams. Obviously it was a BIG problem to you, because otherwise you wouldn't have gone to a newspaper with it. You saw something that offended your sensibilities, and when told by the school staff that it wasn't an issue you decided to MAKE it an issue. Give me a break.
And I can't help but wonder how this parent falls on the Ward Churchill thing. Here's a guy who said flat out the innocent people who were murdered by al Qaeda on 9/11 were "little Eichmanns." Well, MR. Churchill (I say Mr because he doesn't actually have a doctorate, you see), I happen to have a rather personal connection to 9/11, in that a very good family friend of ours was in the WTC when it went down. Dan McNeal was an incredibly smart and gifted human being, and unlike you, Mr. Churchill, he never lied on his resume nor did he ever misrepresent himself in order to get ahead. He honestly earned everything he had. And anyone who knew him will tell you of the extraordinarily kind and selfless man that was Dan. That you, in the comfort of a life based on fraud and public subsidy, see fit to denigrate this man's memory is the real outrage here. Yet there you are trying to play the victim when you're finally called to account. Well, buddy, the real victims are the ones murdered by terrorists, not you. The real victims are the people you duped into thinking you are a serious human being.
In fact, what's going on with campuses today? Also in Massachusetts, Lawrence Summers of Harvard is going through the roaster for daring to suggest that men and women think differently, after warning his audience that he wanted to offer some out of the box ideas. Out of the box? I seem to remember a fairly popular book that says the same damn thing. And yet, for all of Academia's complaining about the witch hunt over Mr. Ward "Actually White" Churchill, not one peep over the free speech rights of Lawrence Summers...a guy who actually has academic credentials and who FLAT OUT SAID he wanted to be provocative in his statements.
It's interesting. The Left likes to hurl charges of hypocrisy. In fact, I'm of the opinion that the Left considers hypocrisy to be the worst thing a person can be guilty of (indulge in a quick tour of the Dummocrats comment pages, for instance). But for a group of people who claim to honor intellectual consistency, they sure have some challenges on this issue.
February 22, 2005
Quote of the Day
|[Posted by ]|
Law & Alcoholism serves up the quote of the day with this little gem on the misguided angels who have pushed through new minimum wage laws in Milwaukee and Madison:
Most grocery stores don't accept leftist ideology as legal tender to exchange for food.
Hey! Don't be giving our Madison overlords any bright ideas. Next thing you know local grocery will have to accept "Socialized Sustinence Cards" and we'll all end up having to drive to Fitchburg to buy a gallon of milk.
Note: Brainpost does a great job of picking apart these stupid wage laws.
Supreme Court to hear Eminent Domain Case
|[Posted by John Tant]|
The Supreme Court will hear a case about Eminent Domain that originated in New London, Connecticut. The issues of the case revolves around the city government's desire to buy some residents out of their homes in order to make way for private economic development.
I'll certainly be curious to hear what James has to say on this, being our resident Legal Beagle. At first blush I have to say I hope the citizens get to stay in their homes. It's pretty clear Eminent Domain rules when we're talking about land for public use, but when it comes to demolishing someone's home so private companies can build "a riverfront hotel, health club and offices," we're contorting the plain meaning of the 5th Amendment into uselessness.
If this development is so needed, let a private development company make the residents an offer. Government has no business being in the middle of this.
Hey Readers, Where You At?
|[Posted by ]|
We've been having lots of fun with the Moral Politics Test. It's enlightening to see where our political philosophies put us in comparision to recent Presidents and where we stand in comparision with other readers.
Some readers have already taken the test and have posted their results in the comments on the Daily Page thread. I plotted them on the matrix below.
Update: I updated the chart to show where we all stand as of Wednesday night.
If you take the quiz and post your results on the Daily Page thread, I'll add your results to the chart. Hopefully we can get a somewhat complete visual sampling of where our readers lie.
(if you would prefer to be a particular animal, include that in your post or email me - though i can't guarantee that i'll be able to honor your request - i'm a marketer, not a graphic designer.)
I'm hoping we have at least one poster that can make it into one of those top quadrants (BV Big Bro, I'm looking in your general direction...)
Don't post your results here!
Put them here, on the Daily Page thread.
25 Years Later, I Still Believe In Miracles (Yes!)
|[Posted by ]|
25 years ago today, the United States hockey team beat the Russians in the 1980 Olympic hockey semi-finals. For the 25 years since then, me, my dad and my brother Doug have kept this classic Sports Illustrated safe:
I was eight at the time of the Miracle on Ice, and so I didn't know much about the political implications of the victory. I was drawn to it by the sheer joy that the Americans expressed at winning. When I think of the word exhilaration, this cover photo is what's in my mind's eye.
For some people, this game foreshadowed the renewed optimism of the Reagan years. Others saw it as a lesson in how underdogs can overcome the odds or how a great team working together can defeat a team of great players (you think the Patriots were the first?). For me, I learned that sometimes a game can be the most exciting thing in the world, and that's why I'm a sports fan today. You can sit through hundreds of awful defeats and they are all worth it for that one moment of triumph. And actually, that's really a lesson that transcends sports or politics, isn't it?
February 21, 2005
Ritter on Iran
|[Posted by james]|
Wes Roth has a couple of great links up.
United for Peace of Pierce County (WA) -- Scott Ritter, appearing with journalist Dahr Jamail yesterday in Washington State, dropped two shocking bombshells in a talk delivered to a packed house in Olympia's Capitol Theater. The ex-Marine turned UNSCOM weapons inspector said that George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and claimed the U.S. manipulated the results of the recent Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.
This might sound like "news" to you, but , as Wes points out with his second link:
#2, Dated March 26, 2003:
US defeat in Iraq 'inevitable''
Lisbon - The United States does not have the military means to take over Baghdad and will lose the war against Iraq, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter said.
Before lending any credence to these "reports," one would be wise to consider the source.
Women & The Blogosphere
|[Posted by ]|
Although its geeky Usenet roots were (and are) testosterone laden affairs, there are still no formal barriers to entry here, no old boys club in the usual meaning of the word. Yet if you take a look at the Blogosphere Ecosystem, which for all its faults is probably the closest thing we have to a consensus measure of popularity for political blogs, you will find exactly three women in the top 30: Michelle Malkin, La Shawn Barber, and Michele Catalano. (There are a few group blogs in the top 30, but those are very heavily male dominated too.)
That's a grand total of 10% of the most popular political blogs. And to gaze even more deeply into our collective navel, that 10% is 100% conservative. On the liberal side, Wonkette weighs in at #33 and TalkLeft at #48 — and that's it for liberal women in the top 100, unless I've missed someone.
So what's up? There aren't any institutional barriers in the traditional sense of the word, which means either (a) there are fewer female political bloggers and thus fewer in the top 30, or (b) there are plenty of women who blog about politics but they don't get a lot of traffic or links from high-traffic male bloggers.
First, I think looking at the top 30 blogs is an incredibly limited view of the blogosphere. The whole point of the internet is the breadth of options available, not to limit yourself to just the most popular ones. Just looking over at our blogroll, I see plenty of popular (more or nearly as popular as us) female blogs like Althouse, Rachel Lucas of Blue-Eyed Infidel, Risawn, e-Claire, Ambra Nykola, Sondra K and Cathy's World. That's not an insignificant sample. So, I'm not sure that there is a shortage of women in the political blogosphere. There's no need for some well-meaning liberal to set up a foundation and give female bloggers a financial incentive in order to have a "diversity of viewpoints" on the web. Although, if someone would like to bankroll me, I'm not saying I would resist :-)
Drum's hypothesis is that opinion writing on the web is too vitriolic and rough for delicate females. Clearly he's never read one of Lucas' takedowns of Michael Moore. But, all kidding aside, he may have a point. Sometimes the comments on the site do get pretty rough. The language is nasty and personally, I refuse to deal with that. Luckily, I'm quite sure that John & James would be willing to take care of such nasty visitors. Althouse says:
Each blog is a place unto itself, where a writer establishes a tone and a voice. As long as you keep the comments function off, you control your own space. A thousand vitriolic male blogs don't prevent one woman from setting up her own blog and making whatever she likes of it.
That's true, but getting comments and feedback is, to me, an integral part of blogging. I think that interaction leads to links from other bloggers. If you're not getting links, you can't blame it on the fact that you're male or female. Either your content isn't interesting enough or you don't make an effort to get known by linking to and commenting on other people's posts. For as much of a loner sport you might think blogging is, you can't overlook that whole social aspect of it. To be a popular blogger, I think you do have to put up with, or be able to ignore, a certain level of asshattedness. But that doesn't have so much to do with your sex as it does the thickness of your skin.
Finally, female bloggers have a huge advantage over their male counterparts. If they do get desperate for traffic, they can always post a glamourous picture of themselves. Somehow, someway the blogosphere can always be counted on to pass along a little T&A.
Project Runway Finale
|[Posted by ]|
The finale of Project Runway is on Bravo Wednesday night. I can't wait. I know liking a show about fashion featuring some flamboyantly gay men doesn't fit the conservative stereotype, but hey, that's not my problem. It's a problem for the people who want to peg all conservatives as members of the Moral Majority. Sorry guys, the shoe doesn't always fit. But enough about shoes ;-)
For weeks I've watched these talented designers fight it out. For those of you who've missed a few episodes along the way, or just want to be able to join in the fun Wednesday, here's my review:
The Challenge: Design an innovative outfit suitable for a night on the town using only what you could buy for $50 at a grocery store.
My favorite: Austin created this dress by weaving corn husks. I don't know how in the world he thought of it, but it's wonderful. He gets lots of extra points for using something organic (some other designers took the easy way out and used, for example, shower curtains).
The Challenge: Designers were given white cotton cloth, which they could dye, and told to make an outfit that somehow represented the concept of "envy".
My favorite: Robert made this kickass pantsuit to show penis envy. I think that's pretty clever and I also think the suit is just beautiful. He was also helped by the lovely Melissa's ability to work the design on the runway. I'm convinced Melissa will be the next big supermodel.
The challenge: Make a holiday party dress that would fit in with Banana Republic's Holiday 05 collection.
My favorite: Jay's art deco dress is my favorite single piece from the entire show. This picture doesn't do it justice. The detailing on the bodice is so beautiful. Having hips, breasts and a big ass, I could never wear this, but I certainly envy the lucky lady who can. This was the start of my Jay love.
The challenge: Make a trendy outfit for alleged "rock star" Sarah Hudson.
My pick: Ms. Hudson was truly a moron to not pick this kickass ensemble by Jay, Kara Saun and Robert. The removable skirt was kinda stupid, but the rest is just great. Plus, I think they trimmed the crotch in fur. If so, that's just hilarious. Only a rock star can get away with that.
The challenge: Work with one of the models and make her dream wedding dress. The real trick here was to make the model happy while still maintaining your own design sensibilities.
My favorite: Jay's dress has some of Jay's casual, rock n' roll style, but it's done in a subtle way this time. The model, poor Morgan got a bad rap on the show, but I think, for all her problems, she understood the meaning of collaboration and her help pushed Jay to make a dress that was apporpriate, yet still funky.
The challenge: Design a swimsuit that could also double as an outfit for an industry party.
My pick: Austin's Esther Williams' inspired suit brought back some 1940s era style.
The challenge: Create a collection from the year 2055 using "deconstruction" as a theme.
My favorite: I actually liked almost all the designs in this challenge, because I love patchwork in general. But, I liked Kara Saun's suit best of all. I love the leather and all the different fabrics in the back.
The challenge: Make a new fashionable, yet functional, outfit for USPS letter carriers.
My favorite: It's Kara Saun again. I like the comfy looking pants, but I really dig the fur-lined vest and hat. Sure, it's impractical, but maybe if postal workers got to wear cute clothes they wouldn't go shooting each other so much. Just a thought.
The challenge: Make a dress for Access Hollywood's Nancy O'Dell to wear at the Grammys.
My pick: All of the dresses were too glamourous for the skankathon that the Grammys have become. Since this was the last challenge before the final 3 showed collections at Fashion Week I think the remaining designers were afraid to do something risky. By default, I liked Kara Saun's dress and pants the best. I love the color scheme and cut of the dress and I don't hate it with the pants. I know that's not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Wednesday the final three: Jay, Kara Saun and the hideous (on the inside and outside) Wendy will battle it out by showing their collections at Fashion Week. Fashion Week was actually a few weeks ago, so, while I don't know the winner, I have seen some of the designs they came up with. I put a few pictures in the extended entry, so only click on it if you really want a sneak preview.
Two from Wendy
I like the color. Hate the shapelessness and have no idea what the hell is going on with the feathers.
It seems like if you're going to design clothes and fit them to an individual you might actually have the ability to make sure their breasts fit in the dress. Wendy doesn't seem to have that ability.
Two from Kara Saun
Love the colors. I even like the fur capelet. Just beautiful.
I'm usually not a big fan of white, but Kara Saun does some good work with it. I really like the equestrian details at the waist.
Three from Jay
Jay's collection was called "Stereotypes", hence the color-coordinated headphones. Anyway. I think this is so frickin' cool. Love Jay's trademark dot pattern on the skirt. Love the boots and the extra long scarf. Love all of the colors.
Jay's take on streetwear. He does such interesting layer upon layer of clothing. Love him.
Finally, I think this quilted wrap is fantastic. I've never seen anything like it. I'm not sure I would ever actually wear it, but high fashion isn't always practical. Sometimes it's just art. Jay is an artist.
February 20, 2005
The West Wing Election
|[Posted by ]|
I've started getting interested in The West Wing again. The Bartlett administration is coming to an end and so the focus of the show has switched to the 2006 Presidential Election. It looks like campaign will come down to Republican Senator Vinick from California (played by Alan Alda) vs. Texas Democrat Rep. Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits).
Although the show's creators claim that they don't even know who will win the election, I'm sure they'll have the Democrat win, if for no other reason than that it will allow them to keep lots of their current characters on the canvas.
After crunching the numbers in a real Presidential election, I found it fascinating to read some fans' take on this mythical election. They seem to think that Santos could realistically win, even if he lost California, because he'd pick up Texas & Florida.
This spurred me into action. I went to the trusty Electoral College Calculater at WSJ's Opinion Journal and plugged in some numbers. Starting from the 2004 results, switching Texas and California and adding Florida to the Dems' column would still result in a 280-258 Republican victory. In fact, assuming California is lost, for Santos to win he would have to take all of the Kerry states, plus Texas, Florida and either Nevada & Arizona or Arizona & New Mexico.
There's certainly a case to be made that, as an hispanic, that's a reasonable scenario. However, Sen. Vinick is portrayed as something of a moderate, likeable guy. Given that Bush nearly won (or did win) Wisconsin, I think Vinick could take the state. Also, as a west coaster, he'd be far more competitive in Oregon & Washington. And I won't even get into the fact that only one sitting member of the House of Representatives (James Garfield) has ever been elected President.
I've no doubt that the 2006 election will be a nail biter, but I just have a hard time believing that Santos really has the numbers.
What's in a Baby Name?
|[Posted by ]|
Joe the Unabrewer linked to this nifty Baby Name Wizard NameVoyager. WARNING: Java may crash your browser. However, despite the technical difficulties, the site is a lot of fun and lets you track the popularity of names through the last 100 years. Of course, the first thing anyone does is look up their own name.
Let's just say that I wasn't shocked that "Kristin" reached the height of its popularity in the early to mid-70s. My junior year in college I lived with two other Kristins and a Chrissy. Among our group of friends were two other Chrissys and a Kirsten. Suffice it to say, we looked for people to introduce ourselves to. We made their heads spin.
After checking myself out, I wanted to figure out why certain names gained or dropped in popularity. For example, Adolf was popular in the 1900s and 10s and then dropped like a rock. Hmmm, I wonder why? Similarly, Kobe shot up in the 90s and early 00s, but I expect that nurseries aren't exactly overflowing with little Kobes today.
Some names are popularized by world events. I noticed that kids were being named Monserrat following that island's volcanic eruptions in the 90s. It makes you wonder if Tsunami will be the choice of hip, but tasteless, parents this year?
I think lots of parents find names from soap operas. The emergance of Ashley in the 80s coincides nicely with The Young and the Restless' character Ashley Abbot. Harley started getting popular for girls when Guiding Light introduced their heroine Harley Davidson Cooper in the late 1980s.
Even politics can be an inspiration. James pointed out that Patricia peaked in popularity right around the time that Patricia Nixon was in the spotlight. First daughters get lots of namesakes. Amy was the second most popular name in the 1970s. Chelsea skyrocketed in popularity after Clinton's election, and even Jenna has been on the rise since 2000.
On the other hand, guess what name went from being the 290th ranked name for girls in the 90s to not even being in the top 1000 in 2003.
February 19, 2005
No Moderates Allowed
|[Posted by ]|
We've had a big spike in traffic lately, and much of that traffic is coming from search engines. Because of that, I think, we've had more liberal visitors to the site. That's fine with us. James and I have even talked about finding a liberal blogger who might want to occasionally post here (and vice versa). I'm not interested in "converting" liberals, but I would be interested in having reasonable debates. The problem is that with too many liberals, particularly online, a reasoned debate suddenly turns into this: "Bush=Hitler", "Halliburton!!", "Repugnicans hate the poor". And I'm not interested in playing that game anymore.
A couple of liberal sites have linked to James' post on class action lawsuits. While it's nice that they found something they think they agree with, there's a few issues I can't get past:
- They wrongly assumed that James' post was "anti-Bush"
- Their posts have titles like Right wingers aren't always stupid" or "Even the wingnuts are troubled by the bill to restrict class action lawsuits."
- Finally, even if James' post was a criticism of the Bush policy, that's not good enough for these liberals. Both of the posts above seem to think that if you disagree with Bush on one issue it's just the tip of the iceberg and you'll soon fall into step with your liberal betters. Norwegianity says, "The Bushies will fall from within as more and more “real” conservatives wake up to this massive power grab." while Dadahead writes that "Now, if only James would recognize that giving corporations license to rip off consumers without fear of reprisal is the essence of the GOP agenda!"
After the election, we heard so much about how liberals and conservatives needed to find common ground and work together. I've found that many conservatives, whether they voted for Bush or not, disagree with the adminstration on some issues, but find other areas where they stand behind him. Is there any such phenomenon among liberals? For them it seems like everything Bush touches turns to pure evil. There's no room for a middle ground or for the moderates who would happily inhabit it. Madison's favorite moderate, Ann Althouse, has blogged on this topic before:
I'm just saying that I'm struck by the way the right perceives me as a potential ally and uses positive reinforcement and the left doesn't see me as anything but an opponent -- doesn't even try to engage me with reasoned argument. Maybe the left feels beleaguered these days, but how do they expect to make any progress if they don't see the ways they can include the people in the middle? If you look around and only see opponents and curl up with your little group of insiders, you are putting your efforts into insuring that you remain a political minority.
In the last few weeks, I've written about how important I think it is to not get caught up in this black & white/pro-Bush or anti-Bush world. Neither the far left nor the far right has all the answers, so how will we ever get anywhere if we're unwilling to explore the middle?
February 18, 2005
Class Action Lawsuits aren't a Bad thing
|[Posted by james]|
President Bush is going to sign a bill that would severely restrict class action lawsuits. I know that the reaction of most people is to say "good, lawyers are scum," but I don't think that those people fully understand how beneficial the class action lawsuit is to most consumers.
From a piece that I wrote last year on another blog:
Enter the class action - the class action allows an attorney to sue on behalf of a group of consumers, and to collect a fee on the totality of the judgment amount. This arrangement, while it may seem like a windfall for the greedy lawyers, it actually pro-consumer. First, it acts as an incentive for a lawyer to take the case. As I described above, without the class action lawsuit, many, if not most, of these cases would never be heard. The second major benefit to consumers is that the wrongdoing doesn't continue. For instance, a phone company may be charged in class action with overcharging 1 million customers $1 each. The settlement from that suit will be something like: each consumer gets 66 cents, and the attorney gets $334,000. True, the 66 cents doesn't benefit the consumer very much. But the stopping of the wrongdoing, the fact that he won't be overcharged $1 per month for the rest of his life, is where the real benefit comes.
I'm not saying that there aren't problems with the class action system, but people should understand that the advent of the class action suit was a huge triumph for the consumer. Today, many seem to be trying to cast the class-action suit as somehow being "anti-consumer," saying that "we all pay for these huge judgments, so we should all stop them." Please - that argument is a bit like saying "we all pay to house and feed criminals, so we should stop putting criminals in prison."
The fact is, companies lose class actions when they rip-of consumers. Severely restricting or eliminating the class action will once again give companies license to do exactly that, without fear of reprisal.
Al Franken: Do Your Research
|[Posted by John Tant]|
One of the great benefits of having a Sirius radio setup in the Tantmobile is the ability to catch the Cam Edwards show on my drive time home. Yesterday Cam, like about a jillion other people, was at the Conservative Political Action Conference opening, broadcasting from the Reagan building.
There were, as always, interesting guests and engaging topics, but near the end of his first hour Cam had on...Al Franken. Apparently OffTheAir America was broadcasting from CPAC as well, and after Franken finished with his 22 listeners he had some spare time.
Cam started off asking about Franken's hypothetical Senate run, and Franken is not ruling out a 2008 run. However, he might want to think twice about it after his answer to a rather simple question posed by Cam (and this is paraphrased, as I couldn't write it down while driving):
"How do you stand on the Second Amendment?"
Franken went into a long, rambling dissertation, stating first he believed in all the amendments equally then going into ways the Second should be restricted (stating that he didn't like "guns that fired lots of bullets, so he doesn't like assault weapons), wrapping up with putting the whole thing in context with hunting, stating "some of my best friends are hunters," talked about his fishing,and finishing up with an environmental rant.
When Cam asked him what an assault weapon is, Franken had no answer. Then Cam read a listener-submitted question which went (again paraphrased) "If Franken doesn't like guns that fire lots of bullets, how about a gun which fires only one bullet for every trigger pull?" More hemming and hawing, until Cam and Company came to his rescue and told him those were "semi-automatic" firearms. Incredibly, Franken said something to the effect of "well, I don't know much about guns or anything, so I guess I'll look into that."
Most people at this point would suggest that if a high-profile pundit is going to offer an opinion on a heavy-impact policy issue like a gun ban, he should do his homework before proffering said opinion. And Cam made that very suggestion to Mr. Franken. Franken replied that he would do some research.
More amusing, the conversation turned to John Lott, and Franken accused Dr. Lott of going online in the past and posing as a female student in order to sing his own praises. Cam didn't believe it, but Franken corrected him (to be fair, the pseudonym was "Mary Rosh" and yes, Lott was dumb in using it as he did.). Cam immediately said he stood corrected and took Franken at his word. Franken then said "If you're going to be a talk show host you should really do your homework."
Yes, because having an ignorant opinion about gun policy and being ignorant about the online pseudonyms of John Lott is exactly the same.
Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to hearing the fruits of Franken's "research" on "guns that fire lots of bullets." Something tells me I'll be waiting awhile. I mean, there might be more gay Republican journalists for him to out, which would naturally take precedence.
February 17, 2005
A Birdie for the Troops
|[Posted by ]|
One of my guilty pleasures is golf on TV. There's nothing better after a rough Friday or Saturday night than golf. Think about it: everyone's nice and quiet, the settings are beautiful and the vibe is peaceful. Also, I love the mental game of major tournaments. It's fascinating to watch golfers collapse under the pressure. I admire Tiger Woods because he was immune to it, but honestly, he kind of took the fun out of watching the Masters or US Open for awhile.
Anyway, I read a great little golf article in USA Today this morning. Rory Sabbatini, a South African, has worn camouflage pants in some tourneys this year:
Sabbatini didn't intend to cause a clothing controversy when he donned a pair of camouflage trousers two weeks ago at the FBR Open in Phoenix. A South African who lives in Southlake, Texas, he wanted to show how passionate he and wife Amy were about the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which benefits families of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The PGA didn't want him wearing camo, but they're going to work with him to find some golf-appropriate way to show his support. In addition, Sabbatini is going to donate $250 to the fund for every birdie he hits this year and $1,000 for every eagle. Based on last year's results, that would add up to about $75,000 for the fund. To me, that's just an amazing amount from a golfer I've never even heard of before.
Now, in addition to peace, quiet and mental anguish, I have a great person to root for on the weekends.
Should I take the $10?
|[Posted by james]|
I get a lot of hate mail as a result of this blog. Suffice it to say, some people just have nothing better to do with their time.
Here is one that I got in response to my latest post:
Subject: Porn post
As a member of the "far left" as you call it, I do not support the kind of porn you described, and I actually resent your comments saying that "people like me" are gonna cry violation of first amendment rights.
I've helped to put pornographers in prison, so fuck yourself.
When you start being honest about criminal activity on the far right, then maybe I'll have more respect for the Republican party, of which I was formerly a member. Your hypocracy is a little sickening, but I think the best solution is to donate some money to you and your comrades for your pshchiatric fund. Let me know a paypal address and I'll start with a seed-gift of $10.
Wow, where to begin. This guy takes my post as a personal attack on him for some reason, throws in the F-bomb, claims that he has personally put people in prison, accuses me of covering up some sort of criminal activity commited by the Republican party, accuses me of "hypocrasy" (sic), and he should know, b/c he used to be a Republican, AND he throws in a reference to Soviet Russia by using the term "comrades." Quite a lot packed into that little nonsensical rant, don't you think?
My only question is: should I take the $10?
February 16, 2005
Gonzales Reinstates Obscenity Case
|[Posted by james]|
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Wednesday it would seek to reinstate an indictment against a California pornography company that was charged with violating federal obscenity laws. It was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' first public decision on a legal matter.
Billed as the government's first big obscenity case in a decade, the 10-count indictment against Extreme Associates Inc. and its owners, Robert Zicari, and his wife, Janet Romano, both of Northridge, Calif., was dismissed last month by U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster of Pittsburgh.
Lancaster ruled prosecutors overstepped their bounds while trying to block the company's hard-core movies from children and from adults who did not want to see such material.
Oh, I can just hear the vocal left now, "Free Speech!!" "Bush is legislating morality, separation of church and state!" "George Bush is a Fascist!"
What most on the vocal left don't know, however, is the law - - there is no such thing as First Amendment protection for obscene material. If that were the only issue in this case, the only question would be whether or not this film is obscene.
Do this company's movies qualify as "obscene?" You be the judge:
One film, called "Forced Entry", includes shots of women getting raped and murdered. It also includes suffocation, strangulation, beatings and urination. Black calls "Forced Entry" a slasher film with sex, loosely based on the Hillside Strangler case.
Extreme Associates is perhaps best known for the porn movie Forced Entry, which simulates a rape so violently that a camera crew for the PBS documentary series Frontline became disgusted and fled while filming the production.
Extreme Associates bills itself as the hardest hard-core porn on the Web. "Forced Entry" features three graphic scenes of simulated rapes and killings. The women are also spat upon. "Extreme Teen 24" has adult women dressed up and acting like little girls in various hard-core scenes.
Paul Fishbein, president of Adult Video News, the trade journal of the pornographic film industry, said Zicari produced "horrible, unwatchable, disgusting, aberrant movies."
I haven't seen the films, and I don't care to, but based on the these descriptions, I have a hard time finding that they anything short of being obscene. In fact, the Judge Lancaster may agree with that assessment - in his opinion, he assumed that the films were indeed obscene and instead cited to Lawrence v. Texas to find that individuals have a right to "receive information and ideas regardless of their social worth [in the privacy of their own homes]."
The problem with that reasoning, though, is that the laws of the United States do not cease to exist at an individual's front door - if obscene material is illegal, it is contraband - and contraband is illegal wherever it exists.
Just as one cannot claim that he has a constitutional right to possess and use illegal drugs in the confines of his own home for "privacy" reasons, one should not be permitted to argue that he has that same right with respect to other illegal materials, obscene materials included.
DC Priorities: Mayor spends $2000 each on ceremonial keys while District's needs go unmet
|[Posted by james]|
The City of Washington is at it again, spending taxpayers' hard-earned money without as much as blinking an eye. The latest "necessity" that Mayor Williams decided that the city needs? A $2000 ceremonial key to hand out to "visiting dignitaries."
The cost of the key, which was designed by a Georgetown sculptor, is more than 20 times what New York, Chicago and San Francisco spend on their ceremonial keys.
The cost includes $850 for casting, $700 for laser engraving, $200 for a stainless steel plaque and $130 for a presentation box.
New York City spends $60 apiece on its ceremonial keys.
This from a Mayor that never misses an opportunity to complain about how underfunded the District is; this from a Mayor who talks about implementing a "commuter tax" because the District can't pay its bills; this in a city that is on the verge of a property tax revolt, a city where the restaurant sales tax is almost 10%, a city where school overcrowding and budget shortfalls have become the norm.
To all of these problems, what is Mayor Williams' solution? Taypayer subsidized baseball and a bunch of $2,000 keys.
Would you expect any less from a city that just elected twice-convicted crackhead and prostitute frequenter Marion Barry to city council?
Hockey Season officially cancelled
|[Posted by John Tant]|
Today, Gary Bettman held a news conference where he announced the official cancellation of the NHL season.
Navy's newest Seawolf Submarine: The USS Jimmy Carter
|[Posted by John Tant]|
My mind is starting to explode with all of the comedic possibilities. What, will the sub break down in the middle of the ocean on its way to rescue operations? Will everyone on the sub have to wear sweaters? Instead of a morale officer, will the boat feature a "malaise official?" What if the sub comes across a rabbit in the water? Will there be a "moral equivalent to combat operations" on this sub?
These jokes just write themselves.
Link via The Corner where I shamelessly tried to linkwhore this morning. Alas, Jonah posted my post but not the link. Where's Jordan Golson?!?
NHL Lockout turns into a cancelled season
|[Posted by John Tant]|
TSN.ca published recent correspondence between Gary Bettman (NHL Commissioner) and Bob Goodenow (NHLPA Executive Director).
The interesting part of the correspondence is that the NHL has dropped their requirement that team salary caps be linked to league revenues. Also interesting is that the NHLPA has apparently accepted the idea of team caps, as long as they're not linked to league revenues. So what's the holdup?
6.5 million dollars.
The cap proposed by the league is $44.7 million. The NHLPA came back with $51.2 million. NHLPA also has some interesting union requirements, such as minimum salaries and such, but at the end of the day the season is going to be cancelled over $6.5 million. Bettman is worried that if all 30 teams spend $51 million in salary, it will create serious issues with the league. The NHLPA turns around and points out not all 30 teams are going to hit that cap. But if Bettman is seriously worried about a bunch of teams spending a buttload of money, there is a solution, as offered by our own Kris:
Contract the league.
UPDATE NHL Season cancelled.
February 15, 2005
An Intriguing Investment Tool
|[Posted by ]|
I'm blogging today from an Internet retailing conference in not-so-sunny Palm Springs, CA. While blogs are certainly a buzzword at this conference, another interesting tidbit I picked up was the fact that you can use the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) as a powerful investment tool. This survey, done by the University of Michigan, surveys customers on their satisfaction with various retailers. The retailers are given a score and ranked according to industry. A very few great retailers will score in the 80s, while the average is around a 72.
That's all well and good, but what was really fascinating is the predictive power of this measurement. An investor can easily use these scores as a guide to what stocks to buy. High scoring companies have crushed the S&P 500 over the last several years. Now, that's kind of a no brainer: companies that satisfy their customers do well. But changes in the satisfaction score tend to cause changes in earnings and therefore changes in stock prices. So, a savvy investor can forecast future earnings with current customer satisfaction scores. A great example of this is with Amazon. Amazon's customers satisfaction scores fell a few points this holiday season. Their stock price has followed.
You can check out the Q4 results for free on the ACSI website. It's definitely worth looking at either from an investor perspective or even as a potential consumer.
Celebrating 100,000 Visitors
|[Posted by ]|
We've reached a milestone today at Dummocrats: our 100,000 visitor came to the site. We started posting regularly back in May. Ah yes, I remember it will. John Kerry was cruising along in his presidential campaign. The Swift Boat Veterans were still just voices crying out in the wilderness. Dan Rather had a shred of credibility left. No one had ever heard of Ward Churchill or Eason Jordan.
We've blogged through a campaign, conventions and finally election day. We've been able to share our impressions of looney lefties in Madison as well as in the Capital of the Republic. And through it all, we've actually acquired some regular readers. Can you believe it?
Thanks to all of you for visiting the site and for reading what we have to say. We appreciate it and we hope we can continue to entertain.
February 14, 2005
|[Posted by james]|
Hi everyone, We've added a few new features to the website, most of which are accessible from the menu at the top of the page. The features include:
- A discussion-board-style comment system ("the threads") for the links listed on the Daily Links Page.
- An account is required to post comments on the threads. You can sign up for an account here. Note that you don't need to enter an email address to get an account. There are benefits to entering an email address, however, the biggest one being that if you forget your password, we can help you re-gain access to you account. Don't worry, we will never spam you. But like I said, you don't need to enter one. Your call.
- One of the benefits of signing up is that you will get a snazzy user profile page like this one. We have plans to add more features to the page in the near future.
- A general chat page where you can feel free to talk about anything and everything.
Like I said, it's a new system and we're still ironing out the kinks. If you have any suggestions or comments, we'd love to hear them - post them in the general chat thread or in the comments to this article. (you can still post anonymously in the blog comments, though that may be changing soon.)
Eason Jordan: Martyr for the Mainstream Media
|[Posted by ]|
Some of the reaction to Eason Jordan's resignation makes me question exactly why he resigned. At first, I assumed it was to ease the pressure to show his Davos remarks and spare CNN any further embarassment. But, maybe that's not all there is to it.
The spin on this has been that blogs have suddenly become powerful "lynch mobs". We (the American people) should be worried about the unregulated power of these irresponsible partisan "morons". Back in January, I asked "Are Blogs the Big Media Target of 2005?". Of course they are.
Bloggers are locked in a turf war with the mainstream media. But, Eason Jordan isn't a victim of that war as much as he is a martyr in it. Is is possible that he threw himself on his sword before his fellow mainstream media counterparts picked up on the story in order to shift the blame for his troubles from his own actions to bloggers? Perhaps Jordan, knowing he was probably on his way out, sacrificed himself now in order to give the MSM new material with which to pound their blogger opponents.
Of course, this is idle speculation on my part, but it's an interesting theory to ponder. What do you think?
More On Eason Jordan
|[Posted by John Tant]|
Ace kicks butt with a good post blowing apart the memes currently put forth by the Eason Jordan handwringers out there.
Just one thing to add. He says:
Second, the WSJ is all wet about Jordan's offense being non-fireable or non-felonious. Reporters are supposed to report verifiable, or at least confirmed, facts. They are not supposed to traffic in ludicrous Al Jazeera level conspiracy theories, whether acting in their official capacity or a semi-official capacity as a CNN representative at a media panel.
I agree, but I want to go a little further. To me the main offense isn't just what Jordan said...but the MSM's decree that what he said wasn't that big of a deal. Journalism is supposed to report facts, as Ace points out in a rather, ahem, indecorous manner (Ace, I think Jordan Golson will soon be giving you a call about your Instalanche...). That's all anyone was asking here...that the MSM report the facts of what Jordan said. The offense was in the MSM deciding from its ivory tower that it wasn't a big deal and certainly didn't merit coverage...in other words, they showed lousy editorial judgement, and are rightfully getting hammered for it. One thing you can't do (or ought not do) as a journalist is let your biases decide what the news is. It's a breach of ethics.
Finally, if the MSM was trying to bury something like this into oblivion, it makes you wonder what else is sitting on their Spike Pile.
The Disenfranchised in Iraq
|[Posted by ]|
The Today Show just reported Iraqi election results. The current spin on the results is this:
1. Many of the Shiite leaders lived in, and were supported by, Iran during Saddam's reign. Therefore, Iran will have undue influence over the Iraqi leaders and constitution. Therefore, the election is a failure. Therefore the Bush administration is a failure. Bush lied. People died. So, pretty much the same old, same old.
2. The lovely Ms. Katie Couric mentioned the poor, "disenfranchised" Sunnis.
I'm so absolutely, completely upset about how people are throwing around this world, "disenfranchisement" in both Iraq and America. You are not disenfranchised if:
- you refuse to vote
- you are afraid to vote. Yes, that's awful, but many, many people throughout history risked their lives to vote. Everyone has that choice.
- the lines are long at your polling place
- the equipment at your polling place is old
- you see people who happen to favor the candidates you don't
All of these people in Iraq or Ohio or Florida or wherever haven't been disenfranchised. I, on the other hand, have been disenfranchised. Every fake voter in Milwaukee, Racine and Madison cancelled out the votes of people like me. That's disenfranchisement and yet few people seem to care. Basically, Republicans in Wisconsin have been told to suck it up. Oddly, the same sentiment hasn't been applied to Democrats or Islamofascists.
Eason Jordan Post Mortem
|[Posted by John Tant]|
Howard Kurtz did a wrap up of the Eason Jordan resignation.
First, I'd like to point out the lede:
Eason Jordan resigned last night as CNN's chief news executive in an effort to quell a burgeoning controversy over his remarks about U.S. soldiers killing journalists in Iraq.
For most of the country (that is, those who get their news and information from the MSM), they have to be wondering "what 'burgeoning controversy?!?'" It's not like the MSM was reporting on this at all. So this is all coming out of left field for quite a few in the audience...and Kurtz takes that opportunity to, in my opinion, take a few liberties with his story...the largest one being in the last sentence of the lede. The issue wasn't about U.S. soldiers *killing* journalists in Iraq. The issue was Jordan's apparent belief that they were being deliberately targeted.
Kurtz continues to revise history:
Even as he said he had misspoken at an international conference in suggesting that coalition troops had "targeted" a dozen journalists and insisted he never believed that, Jordan was being pounded hourly by bloggers, liberals as well as conservatives, who provided the rocket fuel for a story that otherwise might have fizzled.
No, Mr. Kurtz. The issue wasn't that he "misspoke" and bloggers wanted him out as he tried to explain. The main issue lay in the initial reporting of his remarks, Jordan's evasion of that reporting (remember, first he denied the characterization of the remarks, saying they were "out of context."), followed by the revelation that he was videotaped and therefore we'd know exactly what he said...and Jordan's subsequent spin as having "misspoken."
That's key: First Jordan said his remarks weren't being reported correctly. Once it turned out there was a videotape floating around out there, his tune started changing. And that's quite a bit different than the story Kurtz is selling.
And Kurtz allows Jordan to give himself one final spin:
Jordan, 44, said in a statement yesterday that he was quitting after 23 years at the network "to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq. . . . I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise."
Jordan, there are at least nine people who say you did more than imply US soldiers were targeting journalists...they say you flat out said they were (and it's not the first time you've said something similar to that). However, if what was reported as your remarks was the result of an overeager inference or out-of-context reading, then why haven't you joined the chorus asking for release of the videotape of your remarks? If we're talking about a big Three's Company-style misunderstanding, then that video would clear things up pretty quickly, wouldn't it?
No definitive account of what Jordan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 27 has been made public, including the forum's videotape of the off-the-record session. Two Democrats who were there, Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) and Sen. Christopher Dodd (Conn.), criticized Jordan's remarks. Others in attendance, including U.S. News & World Report editor at large David Gergen and BBC executive Richard Sambrook, said Jordan had clarified his remarks.
The first thing that comes to mind here is...if the session was supposed to be "off-the-record," why was it being videotaped? Did Kurtz even ask the question of his source?
Second, Kurtz offers up Gergen and Sambrook as saying Jordan had clarified his remarks. But *when* did he clarify his remarks? At the time and on his own? Or only after he was criticized by Frank and/or Dodd? Or much later, like when he was back in the States? Sloppy, sloppy reporting, Kurtz.
Indeed, later on in the story:
Gergen said Jordan's resignation was "really sad" since he had quickly backed off his initial comments. "This is too high a price to pay for someone who has given so much of himself over 20 years. And he's brought down over a single mistake because people beat up on him in the blogosphere? They went after him because he is a symbol of a network seen as too liberal by some. They saw blood in the water."
Again, when was "quickly?" And note how the Blogosphere is being portrayed here...as if they just wanted to bring down a high-profile guy. I disagree with that. The blogs I've read on the subject were quite clear in saying that IF Jordan said what he was reported as saying, he should be ashamed of himself and should be fired. But the qualifier in that has always been that *if*. Jordan said he was first misquoted, then misunderstood. OK, fine...then release the video. That Jordan wasn't all that eager to have it released (and I don't doubt for a moment that if Jordan wanted it to be released, the Davos-ers would have released it) speaks volumes. Instead we had stonewalling and evasions.
Next, blogs on this story weren't going after Jordan because he was a big liberal name...they were going after the actual story of what he actually said. Why is that important? Because Eason Jordan was the top news executive of the top news organization in the world. He's the guy who had the most influence in deciding what would be covered as news, and how. In fact if you go abroad, you'll notice CNN International is the often only game in town. So if the head of CNN says US soldiers are deliberately targeting journalists, it's going to have an impact. If true, it's a giant story. If not, it says volumes about the thinking behind what is offered as "news," both here and abroad. Either way, there's a story there.
A story the MSM, Kurtz included, didn't see fit to cover. In fact, it's shameful that Kurtz apparently had no problem about such a story "fizzling."
February 13, 2005
Columbia Journalism Review's Steve Lovelady On Eason Jordan
|[Posted by ]|
I just read the most amazing thing in the latest WAPO. How are some folks in the MSM responding to Eason Jordan's resignation? Well, suffice it to say they're not taking it well:
Is the rise of crusading bloggers a healthy development, as many media analysts maintain, or the creation of a new Wild West with no rules or responsibilities? Hours after Jordan stepped down, Steve Lovelady of Columbia Journalism Review e-mailed his verdict to New York University professor and blogger Jay Rosen: "The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail."
Yep, you read that right, "salivating morons". How dare these "salivating morons" call attention to a "reporter" who claims that American troops are actively targeting journalists. This is someone, who, in the words of Rony Abovitz, who was at the Davos conference and first posted on Jordan's remarks:
"He was going on a rant and he thought he was among friends," Abovitz says. "I thought, if this is true this is the most horrible thing I've heard about the United States military in a long time."
So, this is a big deal. And it's a big deal that it wasn't covered by the MSM. That's the story here. But, unfortunately, it looks like the spin is in and this is going to be about wild and crazy blogger lynch mobs.
This isn't the first time that Lovelady has gotten his panties in a bunch over bloggers. And I suspect it won't be the last. These folks are pissed off that bloggers are invading their territory, and instead of reacting to that challenge by doing a better job, too many in the MSM are whinin' and cryin'.
February 12, 2005
High rate credit card hurting or helping the poor?
|[Posted by james]|
Drudge is running a headline today that reads: "UP TO 70% INTEREST - CREDIT CARD AIMED AT THE POOR..." The article on UK's Guardian reports:
...[T]he typical interest rate on the new Vanquis card will be 49.9%, but for some customers the company judge as high risk, it will be 69.5%. MPs and debt campaigners yesterday condemned the rate, which is 15 times the Bank of England base rate and triple the standard rate on other cards.
Most people's initial reaction upon reading the alarmist headline is probably one of of shock and disdain - after all, no one wants to see large companies "taking advantage" of anyone, especially the poor. Before condemning this seemingly unconscionable rate, however, one should take a moment to consider whether this company is actually helping, not hurting, the poor with this high rate.
Interest rates are a function of risk/reward - if you're a high risk customer, you pay a higher rate. That's why people with excellent credit get the best rates while those with not-so-stellar scores pay a higher rate. That's why a bank will charge a different interest rate for a business loan depending on the size of the business and planned use of the money. Here, it seems that the people at which this card is targeted are high-risk customers. It may well be the case that they are unable to get a credit card otherwise - i.e. no other company is willing to take the risk.
Ask yourself, which is more unfair - giving people a chance to prove that they are a good credit risk, or flat out denying them the opportunity at all?
February 11, 2005
Eason Jordan Resigns
|[Posted by james]|
NEW YORK - CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan quit Friday amidst a furor over remarks he made in Switzerland last month about journalists killed by the U.S. military in Iraq
In case you missed the story (and it wasn't hard to, as the mainstream media chose not to report it) in a speech last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Eason Jordan, a CNN new executive, accused the American military of purposely targeting and killing journalists in Iraq. He had no evidence to support his claims, and ever since making them he has been backtracking, saying that his statements were misunderstood or taken out of context. Yet, he continuously refused to release a transcript of those remarks, a transcript that should have very easily cleared everything up.
Predictably, in stepping down, Jordan says that he has been "unfairly tarnished" by the reports, yet he still refuses to release the transcript. Gee, I wonder why.
Congrats to the folks over at Easongate.com and the many other bloggers who refused to let this story slip away. The blogosphere is proving time and time again that the days of big media controlling access to "newsworthy" information are over.
Lament For A Lost NHL Hockey Season
|[Posted by ]|
With the NHL season likely to be cancelled, it's time to deal with the sad fact that Lord Stanley's Cup will not being given away this year.
Poor hockey can't catch a break. Even today, news of the season's impending cancellation is overshadowed by more steriod scandals in baseball.
I love hockey, but I can't say that I miss it, at least yet. While nothing is more exciting than the 7th game of a Stanley Cup playoff series, few things are as uninspiring as a late January game between, let's say, Phoenix and Tampa Bay. And, the sad truth is that I'm not alone. While diehard Flyers, Bruins, Avalanche, Canadiens and Rangers fans, for example, are suffering, other NHL fanbases have found other things to do.
In some of these cities, hockey is just another thing to do on a Tuesday night. It's not a passion. And that's the problem. Perhaps the NHL does really need to destroy itself in order to eventually be saved. Instead of 30 teams, I think the NHL should rise from the ashes looking something like this (note the return to the old school division names):
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs
Detroit Red Wings
St. Louis Blues
Los Angeles Kings
I know that this eliminates teams that had a good following and teams that have won the Stanley Cup. But those teams aren't traditional hockey towns. In order to survive, the NHL really needs to stick to those places where the team won't go bankrupt every time they have an off year.
The beauty of this is that with the expanded player base, this contracted league would provide the best hockey the world has ever seen. Each team would be stocked to the gills with the best from Russia, Canada, the United States and the rest of Europe. The hockey would be incredible. And, even better, it means that minor league hockey would be greatly improved and that college hockey stars might stay in school longer. And, best of all, maybe people would start to care, really care, about hockey again.
February 10, 2005
Lynne Stewart Guilty
|[Posted by John Tant]|
So Lynne Stewart was just found guilty.
I have to say, not much sympathy here, considering her background. With a cast of characters like that backing her, I'm surprised we aren't looking at a new Broadway musical featuring Ms. Stewart being pitched as a followup for Springtime With Hitler.
Here's the thing. She may try the martyr routine, even going so far as saying she never intended to promote terrorism. But when you start passing secret notes from some guy you defended for trying to blow up things and kill people, at some point you have to wonder exactly what you're doing. As Sherry Colb put it, Stewart crossed the line between advocate and accomplice with her actions...and that's what sunk her. And her defense would have more merit if she hadn't said in a New York Times interview in 1995:
"I don't believe in anarchistic violence, but in directed violence. That would be violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism, and sexism, and at the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions, and accompanied by popular support."
In other words, she's not a fan of indiscriminate violence...but violence directed at institutions she wants to change in order to bring about societal reform. That sounds a lot like terrorism to me.
So no, it wasn't some headhunting campaign against an "outspoken" lawyer. No, she isn't being convicted because she was an anti-american activist. She's being convicted because she stood on the side of Islamofascists who want to kill us and took deliberate actions to help that side.
Wisconsin State Quarter Misprint
|[Posted by james]|
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that a flawed Wisconsin state quarter is fetching upwards of $500 from some collectors. There are actually 2 variations of the flaw, each involving an extra husk on the ear of corn. Why the Journal chose to refer to this husk as a "leaf" in their story I can't say, though my guess is that they are probably importing too many reporters from New York or something.
The article reports that most of the flawed quarters have been turning up the in southwestern US, but that's no reason to think that you can't find one in your pocket if you happen to live in Crivitz. Just take a closer look next time you get change, and you just may be "in the money."
(This is the cob on a regular quarter. Compare to the images below.)
both of these quarters are flawed - each ear contains an extra husk
An expert cited in the Journal article says that the coins are not the result of a "mistake," that they must have been deliberately misprinted. Now, tell me, did you have any doubt in your mind at all that the Wisconsin quarter would end up being the most valuable? :-)
Full sized pictures of the flawed quarter here, in the extended entry.
Flawed Quarter, extra husk pointing up:
Flawed Quarter, extra husk pointing down:
More on Weyco
|[Posted by John Tant]|
Once upon a time, there was a health benefit company in Michigan called Weyco.
One day, Weyco's senior management decided they didn't like smokers, so they required all of their smoking employees to quit smoking. If they didn't, they'd be fired. I went into the story, and my opinions on it here. If you recall, it's when I applied John Tant's Principle of Intolerable Mandates, and concluded that while the employees had a right to do whatever they wanted in their spare time, it was a more egregious infringement of the employer's right to hire whomever they want if this was overturned by a court.
Well, we have a new development. The fired employees appeared on the Today show yesterday, and are now protesting Weyco's actions based on privacy grounds. And offered up are all sorts of slippery slope arguments. But the basic facts don't change, and the story makes clear that Weyco's action was legal under Michigan law. As Michigan is an "at will" state, they could fire people for whatever reason. "Oh, you had LASIK? Clean out your desk."
So we're left with moral outrage. No, I wouldn't like a company telling me what I could or couldn't do in my spare time, but then I probably wouldn't work for a company that did such a thing anyway. So while I sympathize with the employees in question, and indeed think Weyco should have better things to worry about, I just can't find it in me to say Weyco doesn't have the right to their HR policies...ridiculous though they may be.
February 09, 2005
Life Imitates The Pina Colada Song
|[Posted by ]|
I'm sure readers of a certain age remember Rupert Holmes' "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)", or, alternatively, readers of another certain age might be familiar with the Jimmy Buffet cover. To refresh your memories, the song details a couple who are bored with each other and independently take out personal ads. Lo and behold, the new loves they find are each other! In the song, they laugh and, one can assume, live happily ever after. In real life, however, the results aren't so pretty:
A budding romance between a Jordanian man and woman turned into an ugly public divorce when the couple found out that they were in fact man and wife, state media reported.
Let's compare and contrast their saga with the Pina Colada couple's story:
I was tired of my lady, we'd been together too long. Like a worn-out recording, of a favorite song. So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed. And in the personals column, there was this letter I read:
Separated for several months, boredom and chance briefly re-united Bakr Melhem and his wife Sanaa in an Internet chat room, the official Petra news agency said.
"If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain. If you're not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain. If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape. I'm the lady you've looked for, write to me, and escape."
I didn't think about my lady, I know that sounds kind of mean. But me and my old lady, had fallen into the same old dull routine. So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad. And though I'm nobody's poet, I thought it wasn't half-bad.
Bakr, who passed himself off as Adnan, fell head over heels for Sanaa, who signed off as Jamila (beautiful) and described herself as a cultured, unmarried woman -- a devout Muslim whose hobby was reading, Petra said.
"Yes, I like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain. I'm not much into health food, I am into champagne. I've got to meet you by tomorrow noon, and cut through all this red tape. At a bar called O'Malley's, where we'll plan our escape."
Cyber love blossomed between the pair for three months and soon they were making wedding plans. To pledge their troth in person, they agreed to meet in the flesh near a bus depot in the town of Zarqa, northeast of Amman.
So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place. I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face. It was my own lovely lady, and she said, "Oh, it's you." And we laughed for a moment, and I said, "I never knew".
"That you liked Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain. And the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne. If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape. You're the love that I've looked for, come with me, and escape."
The shock of finding out their true identities was too much for the pair.
Upon seeing Sanaa-alias-Jamila, Bakr-alias-Adnan turned white and screamed at the top of his lungs: "You are divorced, divorced, divorced" -- the traditional manner of officially ending a marriage in Islam.
"You are a liar," Sanaa retorted before fainting.
"Escape" was one of the first singles I ever owned and I've always had a soft spot for the song. This is so sad, I wish this couple could have had a happy ending too.
I can't believe the story didn't mention the parallels to the song. It'd be like if a fight broke out in a club over a showgirl and there was blood and a single gunshot and no one could figure out who shot who and yet there was no mention of "Copacabana". Is the media biased against cheesy 70s love songs? Perhaps they are. Perhaps they are naught but an ugly reminder of the Carter Era malaise to our gentle reporters.
The Media Death Watch
|[Posted by John Tant]|
Is it just me, or does anyone else find the media coverage of the "Justice Rehnquist as Deep Throat" issue a little ghoulish? The media reports I hear are less interested in the main issue that Rehnquist is very very ill, and more interested in pointing out that when he dies, we'll finally know if he was Deep Throat. It's like a bunch of pundits can't wait for him to die so they can check him off their Deep Throat Dead Pool.
It's a little disturbing, especially coming from a media that's studiously ignoring a big, fat, juicy Eason Jordan story.
Reagan Stamp Released Today
|[Posted by ]|
Starting today, you can send a letter to your favorite conservative with the new Ronald Reagan stamp. The US Postal Service is also selling a whole slew of Reagan paraphernalia to go along with the stamp.
However, not even a day like today can pass without some asshattry from the Left. I found this site, which sells envelopes that you can put the Reagan stamp on and make it appear he's in jail. Didn't anyone ever teach these folks to show a little respect? I know, dumb question.
Update: I had to go to the post office for stamps anyway today, so I picked up a sheet of Reagan stamps. They're lovely. For fun, I put on a liberal coworker's desk. As soon as she was back from lunch, she came over and gave it back to me saying that she "doesn't put Republicans on my stamps." Now, she was laughing, but still, who turns down a free stamp? Is this going to turn into the new lefty protest or something?
Hitch Those Pants Up!
|[Posted by John Tant]|
It's no secret that Virginia as a whole skews to the very conservative, at least culturally. We have our traditions, we honor our traditions, and woe to the Yankee who tries to muck with them.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that our House of Delegates recently approved a measure allowing for a fine for....improperly belted jeans.
You know the kind I'm talking about. They are the ones worn by those dadgum kids where the waist rides low across the hips, allowing everyone to see one's underwear...or lack thereof. And yes, I can already hear the catcalls and jeers from the principled conservative readership wondering if the HoD thinks our cops have nothing better to do than measure how low someone's pants are being worn. Put in those terms, I certainly agree.
But contrary to the reasoning offered by the bill's sponsor, I actually see something beneficial to this bill. What could it be? More after the click:
See, in a couple of areas in Northern Virginia, there exists a double whammy of a problem. First, it's home to an extremely large illegal alien population. If you ever visit, fly into Dulles International, rent a car, and take the toll road to Centreville Road. Drive north until you get to, oh, Alabama Drive or so. Stop at the light and look to your right. Now I don't know for absolute certain that all 75 or so guys in that parking lot are, to use the New York Times vernacular, undocumented...but I wouldn't bet against it either.
So dovetailing with the illegal population issue, some of the kids invariably associated with it have brought along charming traditions of their own...like MS-13. That's the name of our local Mega-Gang, brought to you courtesy of El Salvador. They are responsible for such charming things as machete attacks against people who don't knuckle under...hence my keeping a 12 gauge loaded with no. 6 Hevi-Shot Nitro Magnum loads within easy reach when in Castle Tant. So what do we do about them? Let's ask Jerry Kilgore, our recent Attorney General, soon to be successful gubernatorial candidate:
"The key to eliminating gangs is to know where they are and what we can do to stop them," Kilgore said. "Knowledge is key."
To that end he set up a few initiatives which provide for vigorous prosecution of gang members. Now what does this have to do with somebody's pants? Well, if you ever notice MS-13 members strolling down the block, they don't always have their machetes in hand...but pretty much every man jack of them has his pants right around his crotch. Now the police have an opening to, frankly, approach said gang member and say "Excuse me, fine young fellow. I notice your pants appear to be low. That's a $50 fine here in Virginia, and by the way may I see your identification? Oh, that appears to be a forged green card. Come with me." In other words, for the initiatives to be successful, we first have to know who the gang members are. Do we wait for them to cut someone's hands off with a machete, or can we use something humiliating (to them) like their dress code?
Now there are entirely reasonable arguments about this being a gross misuse of governmental authority. I largely agree, although I don't know about "gross." To me it seems we have indecent exposure laws which seems to pass muster, and this doesn't seem all that different. But while the core issue is about governmental "harassment," I think there's room for recognizing exactly who we're harassing (call it Burkean hidden law). The way I see it, as long as government exercises a little responsibility, I can see this bill being a useful tool to help end gang presence in Northern Virginia.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go buy a belt.
February 08, 2005
Ducking and Weaving
|[Posted by John Tant]|
From the Dummocrats Daily Link page, there's a link to the Volokh Conspiracy about how the DC Circuit Court ducked a challenge to the District's handgun ban on the flimsy rationale that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the case to court. They said they would only have standing if they were prosecuted for violating the ban.
I was gathering my thoughts on this, but Countertop Chronicles beat me to the punch. He makes a very spot-on observation, in that this action may actually be of benefit to pro-freedom folks. He explains why:
Because this decision is so, so, offensive, to the basic understandings of the role of courts since Marbury v. Madison. I mean, is the court really saying you can only challenge non first amendment issue after prosecution? If that's the case, they are effectively overturning Marbury v. Madison and abolishing judicial review in the D.C. Circuit as a practical matter.
Naturally, I don't believe that's what is going on. Rather, I think we are looking at a Court that is ready, but reluctant, to strike the D.C. gun ban down, and is screaming for help from its colleagues. Lets face it, people (and judges are no different) don't like to step alone into uncharted waters, and that's what Seegars is in effect asking
them to do. I expect, on the standing issue at least, those colleagues will come quickly running to its defense and overturn this decision.
As a result, in this way, I think Seegars will eventually turn into a watershed decision in the area of legislative and regulatory review - and as a result, will be remembered long from now for its ultimate impact on judicial review.
I'm going to let the real live lawyers hash this one out, but I do have to say Countertop's reasoning makes a lot of sense, for many reasons. And yes, he's a real live lawyer.
Dems Attack Budget
|[Posted by james]|
The ink on President Bush's proposed budget isn't even dry and, predictably, it is already under fire by some (if not all) Dems. I don't pretend to be an economist, and I admit that I haven't yet had time to examine the figures in depth, but a glaring inconsistency in rhetoric has already become evident:
The White House budget director Josh Bolten on Monday bragged to reporters how the nation most-wealthy will see an increase in tax burden under Bush's new budget. ... "An example, the top 5 percent in income in this country -- that's people making above about $140,000 -- without the president's tax cuts that top 5 percent would be paying about less than 52 percent of our total income tax revenue. "After the president's tax cut that group is paying more than 54 percent of our total tax revenue.
Compare and contrast to remarks by Rep. Pete Starke, D-Calif.:
Rep. Pete Starke, D-Calif., said that the administration's insistence on protecting tax cuts which primarily benefited the wealthy showed Bush's flawed priorities. ... "Your plan is to cut benefits for Social Security recipients and cut taxes for the rich. That doesn't seem very fair," Starke told Snow.
How exactly is the White House protecting tax cuts for the "wealthy" when their effectve tax rate goes up by 2%? This is what Dems always do - lie and distort facts, making it into an "us against them" situation, one in which "they" are out to get you.
Heh, who am I calling inconsistent?
Back, but just for a minute
|[Posted by John Tant]|
Sorry for my absence, and I wish I could say it was all work-related.
In truth, I've been following the Internet "debate" between Jonah Goldberg and Juan Cole (I use debate in quotes because only Goldberg is interested in sticking to substantive issues...Cole, on the other hand, seems to be interested in arguing trivialities, and even those are done solely by diktat). If you're interested, you can check NRO's Corner, scroll back to about Friday, and start reading the backhistory...or just check out this post and scroll up.
I have two thoughts on this...one stemming from my experiences in higher education, and one stemming from my experiences in internet "debates."
1) While Goldberg is correct in decrying Cole's increasingly shrill attempts to focus attention away from the issues in favor of Cole's own curriculum vitae, the point has to be made that Cole's attitude tends to be the norm in higher education, especially post-graduate "studies"-type disciplines. Indeed, as a student just try to take issue with a qualitative judgement of a professor. You'll get exactly the same kind of arrogant "I'm the professor" attitude you're seeing in the above links. And it's a Damn Shame. The path to intellecual rigor is not found in one side using "Because I said so" as an argument. That Cole does makes you wonder exactly where this guy's rep comes from. If Cole spent half the effort in actually defending his opinion that he spent trying to belittle Goldberg, I think we'd actually have an illuminating discussion. That Cole doesn't seem interested in doing so says more about him than it does about Goldberg.
2) My path to blogdom went through an extended period of time spent cutting my teeth on internet chat boards. This is the trench warfare of the arena of ideas, where arguments are made, arguments are refuted, refutations are refuted, until the entire thing degenerates into an ad hominem free for all.
In this, Goldberg is correct when he states this is a "fun Internet fight" which may be ultimately meaningless. Juan Cole is not going to be dissuaded from thinking he's the Holy Font of Arabic Wisdom. But then, that isn't the point. The point isn't to change Cole's mind about his own opinion of his brilliance...but to demonstrate to the readers that Cole's judgement is severely lacking in at least one key analysis. In that, Goldberg succeeds admirably.
February 07, 2005
A Reagan Photo Question and Poll
|[Posted by james]|
Recently, a friend of mine was telling me that she was "seeing" a new guy, and she said, "James, you'd like him, he has a framed picture of Ronald Reagan hanging on his wall." OK, fair enough. While the picture itself doesn't automatically mean that I'd like the guy, it does cause me to form a rebuttable presumption in that direction. See - I, too, have a framed Ronald Reagan picture hanging on my wall, along with a sweet Reagan calendar.
I was curious - I wonder how many others have also have a Reagan photo on their wall? Similarly, I wonder how many others think that I'm completely nuts.
Timeless Reagan Quotes
|[Posted by james]|
On this, the day after Ronald Reagan's Feb 6, 1911 Birthday, I've run across a few quotes that are applicable now as they were when they were made.
"For the West -- for America, the time has come to dare to show to the world that our civilized ideas, our traditions, our values, are not -- like the ideology and war machine of totalitarian societies -- just a facade of strength. It is time for the world to know our intellectual and spiritual values are rooted in the source of all strength, a belief in a Supreme Being, and a law higher than our own."
A friend of mine was asked to a costume ball a short time ago. He slapped some egg on his face and went as a liberal economist.
Republicans believe every day is 4th of July, but Democrats believe every day is April 15.
"I left the Democrat Party, and...I don't believe we changed. We still support the same beliefs we always held, but the party leadership set off on an entirely different course."
All true, as much today as they were a score ago. Funny how some things never change.
Liberal Newspaper Accidentally Agrees with a Republican
|[Posted by ]|
Because being a legislator has become a way to make a living, it's doubly important for most of them to get re-elected. That means legislators not only have to raise more and more money, thus becoming more beholden to the special interests willing to donate that money, but they need to demonize their political opponents to gain campaign points. It's all a vicious cycle.
There are those who bristle at the suggestion that legislators should be part-timers. Today's complex issues and the demands to service constituents require full-time professionals, they argue.
That argument ignores the glaring historical fact that the state's most highly regarded laws - everything from regulatory reform to workers' compensation, from consumer protection laws to a progressive income tax, from environmental safeguards to the open primary - were all enacted by part-time legislators.
Give them a short period of time. Then good work gets done ... That's when they start getting creative with things.
Okay, that was way too easy. Schwarzenegger has the gift of being both succinct and (in many cases) correct. And the Capital Times, uh, doesn't. But, in any case, isn't it just amazing to see the liberals at the Cap Times coming down alongside the Governator in favor of part time legislators? I mean, these are people, who, on a blog much of the editoral staff contributes to, refer to Schwarzenegger simply as "The Groper" and warned that Californians after the election that "If you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas."
Now, of course there are (or at least there should be) issues where some liberals and conservatives can agree. But, there's such a delicious irony in an editor of the Cap Times agreeing with a fairly radical proposal of a man the Left has characterized as either an idiot or a Nazi. And, not only that, they roundly mocked the people who elected him. What's next? Is John Nichols going to write an editorial in favor of privitizing social security or praising the Patriot Act?
February 05, 2005
Introducing the Starting Lineup for the Blogger Bowl
|[Posted by ]|
With the Super Bowl tomorrow, we got to thinking about the ultimate right-leaning blogger football team. Who would play what position? Who would coach? Who'd be in the front office? After much thought (and a couple of beers), we're proud to unveil the team.
The All Right Wing Blogger Team
Nose Tackle: Rusty Shackleford of Mypetjawa. Rusty is on the front lines speaking out against Islamofascism, so the transition to the trenches as a nose tackle should be no problem.
Defensive Tackle: James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web Today. I think of defensive lineman as being a fairly repetitive position. Similarly, Taranto does the same thing every day and even includes a fair number of running items (who can forget "the haughty, French-looking Senator who, by the way, served in Vietnam"?) in every column.
Defense End: Like Mark Gastineau before her, Sondra K is a flamboyant character with the chops to stand up for herself and the rest of the team.
Right Linebacker: Michelle Malkin takes the spot. She covers a lot of ground, whether it is through her travels or through the variety of topics she's able write intelligently about. Plus, she's tough and aggressive and not afraid of players who are bigger than her (witness her battles with Chris Matthews).
Middle Linebacker: John Hawkins from Right Wing News is our choice for the "quarterback of the defense". John does a good job organizing and compiling the thoughts of fellow bloggers and we feel he could easily translate those skills to the field.
Left Linebacker: Yeah, somebody has to have the word "left" in his or her position. And frankly, we're even more afraid of Malkin than we are of Kevin Aylward from Wizbang so he gets it. Nevertheless, Kevin has shown admirable persistence in his various kerfuffles with members of the looney left. A linebacker needs to be able to pursue the offense and we think Kevin is certainly up to the task.
Strong Safety: We need someone capable of stopping the other sides’ best shots, regardless of whether it's a run or a pass. Matt Wretchard of Belmont Club fits the bill. When the opponent comes at him, Matt has the discipline and details to stop him in his tracks. Perfect.
Free Safety: Like players of old, we're tabbing Ann Althouse to play on both sides of the line. She's the Deion Sanders of the blogging. As a moderate, she's demonstrated sufficient flexibility to be effective on both offense and defense. Additionally, we believe this position gives her enough freedom to flourish and produce on the field.
Cornerback: At corner, we've chosen a couple of trash talkers. First, we have none other than Emperor Misha from the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler. You wouldn't expect the liberal likes of a T.O. or Randy Moss to be able to stand up to him, would you?
Cornerback:: At the other corner, we have Rachel Lucas from Blue-Eyed Infidel. For all of her size, Rachel is one tough cookie. Just imagine the smack down she'd put on a Michael Moore or some Hollywood liberal who opens their "pie hole". I'm thinking Rachel might get more than her fair share of pass interference penalties, but we'll take our chances.
Left Tackle: Once again, the whole "left" thing. In this case, Patterico will have to deal with it. We think it'll be no problem, because he's already constantly butting heads with the liberal media. Defensive linemen should be no problem after the L.A. Times.
Left Guard: LaShawn Barber is one of our guards. We were impressed by her ability to come to the aid of her fellow bloggers. If she can do that, we're confident she can protect the quarterback.
Center: Who but Glenn Reynolds could be the center? The Instapundit already is at the center of the blogosphere. But, we don't want to limit him. We'd also propose putting Glenn in at running back in some short yardage situations because there's gotta be a short post/short yardage correlation, right? I picture Glenn as something of a blogger's version of The Fridge, opening up a can of Instalanche on the opposition.
Right Guard: Kim du Toit takes one of our other positions on the offensive line. We need some tough characters on the line, and look at him, who's tougher or more intimidating than Kim? Johnny Cash thought that naming a boy Sue would make him "tough" -- well what do you think happened to Kim, a White African-American with a girl's first name and a French last name? As far as "tough" goes, this guy is Dick Butkus, Mike Ditka, and Brett Favre all rolled into one.
Right Tackle: Someone who might very well be tougher than Kim is our tackle Risawn. After months of dealing with liberals who couldn't get past seeing a chick with a gun, we trust that stopping loudmouth defensive ends should be no problem.
Tight End: If anyone thinks we're too mature to make an ass joke here, I'm sorry to disappoint you. At tight end we have none other than Jordan Golson of Cheese And Crackers. I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.
Fullback: A fullback needs to be able to open holes for his teammates to run through. They have to care more about the team than personal glory. That describes Dummocrats' own James K. Hat. Hat's behind-the-scenes work allows the rest of us to post freely. And, when he does post he's extremely effective.
Running Back: Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has time and again shown the ability to take the ball and run with it. When a hole opens (for example, when CBS puts some memos online), Johnson can explode and score.
Quarterback: We're making Captain Ed from Captain's Quarters our field master. Beyond all the quality work he does, it just sounds right.
Wide Receiver: As we wrote above, Ann Althouse is a two-way player on this team. And, with her new sports car, the speedy wide receiver role should fit her even better now.
Wide Receiver: Finally, on offense, we have Hindrocket from Power Line. Now, we really have nothing clever to tie Hindrocket to the position. But, come on, "Hindrocket"? It's a crying shame that there's not already a real wide receiver with that name. Sure, there is already the Rocket Ismail, but everyone knows that by definition a "HIND" rocket is waaay better than a regular plain ol' rocket, just like a car with rear wheel drive knocks the mudflaps off of your momma's front wheel drive.
No team is complete without some Special Teams players:
Long Snapper: Given that he's blogging all the way from Oz, who else could we choose but Tim Blair?
Return Specialist: Eric Lindholm from Viking Pundit. As a Packer fan, the word "Viking" naturally leads us to the word "special" (in a short bus kind of way). Now, we realize Lindholm is from Massachusetts, not Minnesota, but still, close enough.
Holder: Our own John Tant gets the call here. He fits on special teams in a Heather Locklear as "special guest star" on Melrose kind of way. Plus, his thoughtful posts certainly "hold" the fort down when James and I are off putting our energy into more fanciful stuff like this.
Kicker: On many teams, the kicker is ostracized. He's on the team, but not quite a part of the team. I'd imagine that Matt Margolis of Blogs for Bush can probably relate to this right about now.
Punter: Andrew Sullivan is, naturally, our punter. Like a kicker, the punter is often ostracized. Additionally, you kind of associate the punter with failure, much like Sullivan associated himself with Kerry at the height of his popularity, only to see that ship slowly sink.
Finally, every team needs a good Front Office and coaching staff and other misc. personnel:
Head Coach: Hugh Hewitt is our coach. While other coaches inspire with declarations like "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing", Hewitt's mantra to fellow right wing bloggers was "If it's not close they can't cheat". It certainly worked for the election.
GM: Eugene Volokh is perfect for the role of the cerebral and dispassionate General Manager. With him in the front office, we expect decisions to be made through logic rather than emotion.
Clipboard Holder: Now normally this positions goes to the backup QB, but we're willing to make an exception for Ambra Nykol from Nykola. Her tagline is "Bothering people since 1981" and really, what do clipboard holders do other than bother people? She's in.
Salary Cap Guru: Anyone who checked out Dales' Electoral College Breakdown throughout the campaign realizes that if Gerry Daly can deal with the complexity of all the various polls, the salary cap should be a snap.
With his continuing need for more COWbell, we think that Ace will be just the perfect cheerleader.
Finally, no team is complete without some fans. No doubt that Hundred Percenter is giving this team 110% (oh the irony!) support.
Go team go!
More Low Key Celebs
|[Posted by james]|
For every celebrity that squawks and clucks about how terrible America is, there are dozens more that silently show their support for the United States and for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line for our country each and every day.
Dummocrats has learned that Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider both recently made the rounds at Bethesda Naval Hospital, and rumor has it that Robbie Schneider had a little harmless fun at the expense of an instructor when he "accidentally" stumbled in to an intense "training session" for enlisted men working at the hospital - to make a long story short, all of the enlisted men knew his identity, but the older, less hip instructor, did not. Rob did everything he could to make the stoic interns bust out laughing without giving his secret away.
Adam, Rob, and countless other celebrities regularly take the time to visit our fallen soldiers at Bethesda Naval and Walter Reed, and you never hear as much as a peep or whimper out of them about it because they don't do it for the publicity, and they're not looking for a mention in the gossip column.
They do it because they care, and because it's the right thing to do. We can all learn something from their quiet example.
Caption Contest Winner
|[Posted by ]|
Congratulations to the winner of our latest caption contest, Bryan from Sanity in Mad City. Check out Bryan's winning entry below.
We liked Bryan's entry because it accurately described the action in the picture and put a topical, political spin on it. We'll make a small donation in Bryan's name to the Mikolon Family Trust Fund. Congratulations!
Stay tuned for more caption contests coming soon.
February 04, 2005
Top Ten Slogans the Wisconsin Tourism Office Should Have Chosen
|[Posted by ]|
Wisconsin has a new tourism slogan, "Life's So Good". I prefer the old slogan, "Stay A Little Longer" as it has a direct, actionable message to tourists. However, if I could pick any slogan, I'd recommend that the state go a little retro and reintroduce "Escape to Wisconsin". As many natives will remember, this slogan gave clever Wisconsinites the opportunity to make numerous funny bumper sticker parodies including "Escape Wisconsin" or "Escape to Sin".
But, even if the state won't go back in time, they could have done better. With that in mind, we're proud to present our Top Ten Slogans the Wisconsin Tourism Office Should have Chosen:
10. Wisconsin: because 'sober enough' here is 'too drunk' everywhere else
9. Wisconsin: we won't make you eat lutefisk
8. Wisconsin: our size 4 is your size 12
6. Wisconsin: less snooty than Michigan, more drunk than Minnesota
5. Wisconsin: come for the cheese and brats, stay for the world class UW heart clinic
4. Wisconsin: even our band geeks are cool
3. Wisconsin: where you never have to wonder "hey, is it legal to shoot that?"
2. Wisconsin: proudly maintaining our 3-1 bar/church ratio since 1848
And, the number one slogan the state tourism office should have chosen is:
1. Wisconsin: where your vote always counts (twice if you're a Democrat!)
The Return Of The Deaniac
|[Posted by John Tant]|
The Countertop Chronicles brings to our attention an article on the front page of The Hill that looks at Howard Dean and what his DNC Chair would likely do to...gun control.
Countertop looks at the article and largely agrees with the premise. His opinion is that Howard Dean as DNC Chair will sound the death knell for gun control, at least on the federal level. Indeed, at first blush that's a reasonable conclusion. My cynicism about Dean colors that conclusion, however. But let's start with some background.
Vermont is one of the most gun-friendly states in the union , if not the most. Pretty much anyone can carry a gun anywhere. And if you're a politician who opposes that, you might as well move to Connecticut, because you aren't going to get elected in Vermont. It's something every Vermont politician knows, and Howard Dean certainly has it drummed into his head. So in my mind, that's why Dean has such a pro-gun record in Vermont...the voters wouldn't let him get away with anything less.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, in and of itself. After all, don't we elect people to reflect the wishes of the electorate? But one thing to keep in mind...when the wind starts blowing the other way, said politician won't have any problem with reversing course.
I think we started to see that in the Dean primary campaign. When his gun control record was questioned, Dean came out in favor of the Clinton gun ban. And Dean came out in favor of regional gun control. To me, it seems if he were a principled anti-gun-control guy, he wouldn't approve of gun control anywhere. But from his own rhetoric, he's in favor of gun control where the politicians can get away with it.
The second source of my cynicism comes from what Dean's base will let him get away with in their name. In the face of consecutive defeats, the Democrats have had many chances to become more moderate, chances which they've squandered. In fact, they've gone the other way in the face of their defeats...becoming more shrill and more liberal, instead of less. To me, this is not a base which will tolerate a principled abandonment of one of their signature issues. And dovetailing with that, is Howard Dean really more moderate than Terry McAuliffe? (reference: YEEEEARGH!)
Finally, we have to look at what the DNC chair actually does. He isn't a guy who makes policy...he's a guy who exists to get Democrats elected. I think Dean's main contribution to the gun control issue will be to tell Democratic candidates to keep their mouths shut. I really don't see Dean coming out and specifically endorsing the repeal of gun control measures.
With all that said, I would love to be proven wrong. I would love for the bills mentioned in the article to succeed. I would love for the Democrats to start reaching out to red staters in a meaningful way, instead of offering lip service and/or hostile condescension. If they don't, they're going to go the way of the Whigs, and ultimately that isn't good for our country. Is Dean the guy to do that? Based on his performance in the primary, I have to say I have my reservations.
February 03, 2005
Annan catches student passing notes in class
|[Posted by james]|
The investigation into the UN oil-for-food scandal has conclusively proven that there was not only "wrong-doing" but also plain outright fraud committed by at least one UN official. Kofi Annan's response? He has vowed to 'discipline' the offender.
Annan Disciplines Iraq Oil-For-Food Chief
Secretary-General Kofi Annan ordered disciplinary action against the head of the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq on Thursday, after a report sharply criticized Benon Sevan for "undermining the integrity" of the United Nations through a "grave conflict of interest."
Wow, "disciplinary action," that sounds pretty serious, doesn't it? What's he going to do, keep him after class for an hour? Maybe make him write "I will not defraud the nations of the world by giving my friends preferential treatment in contract bids and skimming money off of the top for myself while helping murderous dictators skim millions off the top and then lie about it" on the blackboard 50 times?
In America, scam artists get real jailtime for stealing a lot less. In America, people get real jailtime for lying to investigators. American scams involving crappy vacation condos and a few thousand dollars yield years in prison, while this collossal scam that defrauded the nations of the world out of billions, helped a murderous dictator rake it in while his people starved to death, and undermined the integrity of an organization that wields a multi-national army, will yield a ruler across the back of the hand, a simple detention for Mr. Sevan.
In America, power is derived from the consent of the people, and that power is used to create a system where rule of law is supreme and no single man is greater than that principle; In the UN, the it's the exact opposite.
Everyone thinks they're a lawyer
|[Posted by james]|
HundredPercenter has a story about how couple of bloggers, Matt Margolis of "Blogs for Bush" and Jordan Golson from "cheese and crackers" are beating up on a 13 year old kid for linking to an image on Blogs For Bush.
It's ridiculous, I know.
What I find egregious is that Jordan Golson clearly isn't a lawyer, clearly knows nothing about copyright law, yet is giving out legal advice. I have half a mind to turn him in for practicing law without a license.
To highlight Mr. Golson's glaring ignorance of the law, consider his comment:
" 'The Political Teen' is already the name of a blog. This is a blatant copyright violation because it can cause confusion between the two brands. I was confused and I visit both your sites. I have advised you of this before and you have ignored it."
To paraphase Jordan Golson, this is a blatantly ignorant statement. (gee, I hope he doesn't sue me for a violation of the sentence modelng act something like that!)
Take it from someone who researches both copyright and trademark law all day long - likelihood of confusion is the basis of trademark law and has nothing at all to do with copyright law. (and really, anyone who has taken a scant 2 days of a course in either would know that.) (I'm not even getting in to the lack of understanding of trademark law evidenced by this comment, either, if one assumes, arguendo, that he meant "trademark" and not "copyright." )
His other comments and legal advice are equally as stupid.
Hey, Jordan - why don't you leave the law to the lawyers and the bullying to the grade schoolers?
Losing your Religion
|[Posted by james]|
A 20 year old Utah State University student who believed that she had lived in the U.S. since age two as a legal resident recently travelled to Mexico where she learned, upon her attempt at re-entry, 2 important facts:
1. She is 18, not 20.
2. She is an illegal alien, not a legal resident.
Probably something her parents should have told her beforehand, wouldn't you think?
`When I was in junior high, I felt the way most Americans do about the Mexicans crossing the border,'' said Martinez. ``I felt all the illegal aliens should be deported. My parents would laugh when I said that.'' ... `I look like everyone else. I have no accent when I speak English. I know as much U.S. history as the average Joe, if not more. I've been singing the national anthem since my lungs let me and I knew the words,'' Martinez said. ``I've just always felt it American.''(sic) ... She had a Social Security card from her father. When she asked about her alien resident card, he told her it was lost, she said.
Wow, what a thing to learn. I feel terrible for this poor girl. If I were this girl's unscrupulous parent, I don't think I'd know what to say to her to explain my
18 16 years of lies on top of lies. Apparently her parents didn't know what to say to her, either. While being detained at the border,
Martinez said she tried to call her parents and they hung up on her.
Wow. Just, wow.
Say It Ain't So, Captain
|[Posted by John Tant]|
First, if you haven't checked out the caption contest, give it a look. It's even bi-partisan!
Now, while researching something for an upcoming piece, I ran across some bad news. Star Trek: Enterprise has been cancelled.
Fans will recall the show barely escaped cancellation at the end of the third season through an 11th hour appeal to UPN execs. The show has always suffered from poor ratings and a casual disregard of story continuity. Which is a Damn Shame. When it premiered, I thought the show had some great potential. It was set up as a conflict between two philosophical factions...the Vulcans who thought things should remain static, and those upstart Humans who yearned to push back boundaries on their potential. To me it spoke to the conflicts against Islamofascism. There was literally loads of room to explore this in the context of the show. And besides, we got Jolene Blalock in a bodysuit. What wasn't to like?
Turns out quite a bit. Instead of looking at compelling themes, we got vapid melodrama. That would be bad enough, but it was vapid melodrama that chucked aside established points of the franchise whenever they became inconvenient.
So I'm kind of sorry to see it go. But only kind of. While the story I link quotes Rick Berman (Producer) as blaming it on "Franchise Fatigue," I think that's only part of it. Most of it is in seeing Berman and his golden boy Brannon Braga run the franchise down over the years. Frankly, if there's franchise fatigue, it's on the part of the production staff, not the viewers.
We Want the Snark
|[Posted by ]|
Today's the last day to enter our latest Caption Contest. Just take a look at this picture:
I know you can come up with something to say. Why is Ken Mehlman talking about his latest fishing trip? Why does GHWB look so sour? And, for the love of God, why does Mary Beth Cahill look so damn coy?
February 02, 2005
The Democratic Response
|[Posted by ]|
So, that Nancy Pelosi, she's not a blinker, is she?
I missed the State of the Union, but caught the Dem response just now. Harry Reid went all folksy and talked about some 10-year old boy in Searchlight (or Spotlight, whatever), Nevada. Then, Pelosi came on, blinked maybe once or twice and complained that troops were still in Iraq.
So, pretty much the same old, same old from them. When will the Democratics start to get that they can't just criticize the President. They need to present alternative ideas. All Reid did, for example, was paint a picture of an America teetering on the edge of a depession: all of our jobs are going overseas, our children can't dream of a better future, social security will be gambled away, etc. But where are his ideas? During the election, John Kerry basically said he'd do everything Bush did, but "better". That's typical. They attack the man and not the idea because they have nothing better to offer.
The said thing is, as I've said before, is that the Bush way isn't necessarily the best way in every case. But, like many Americans, I'll support something over nothing. Too often, the Democrats are giving me nothing.
Iran, master negotiator
|[Posted by james]|
In what will undoubtedly join "Hey, watch this!" and "What duck?" as famous last words, Iran announced today that it "will never scrap its nuke program." In a month that has already contained increasingly strong rhetoric from both the U.S. and from Israel, this is hardly the time for these "negotiation" tactics.
Of course, one has to wonder whether these are, in fact, "negotiation" tactics at all. It seems to me that one doesn't make such defiant statements while in the course of a negotiation. Could it be that the negotiation has already been lost, and that this is the opening salvo of a campaign to build world support in their favor? I don't think it's any coincidence that the State of the Union Address is tonight.
Also interesting from this article is the candid synopsis:
The United States and other countries fear Iran seeks to enrich uranium not to the low level needed to generate power, as it claims, but to a weapons-grade that could become the core for a nuclear warhead.
While not prohibited from enrichment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran suspended uranium enrichment and all related activities in November to build trust, reduce international suspicions and avoid U.N. Security Council sanctions. Tehran has said it will decide within three months whether to continue its suspension, which is monitored by U.N. nuclear inspectors.
In the line beginning "The United States and other countries," guess who the "other countries" are? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if Iran voluntarily decided to stop its nuclear program, overseen by the UN, then something, considered very bad by the UN, must have been seen by the UN.
Believe me, the whole world knows that Iran + Nukes = very, very bad. They're just waiting for someone else to fix the problem.
The Federalist Quote
|[Posted by james]|
Today's issue of The Federalist-Patriot contains a quote that grabbed my attention:
"A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying...that he is wiser today than he was yesterday." --Alexander Pope
To quote Glenn Reynolds: Indeed.
|[Posted by John Tant]|
A few weeks ago (yeah, I'm just getting around to it...), David Bauder wrote up yet another Whither CBS? report for the AP. Now I know much of the Blogosphere is a little tired of this issue. However, what struck me about the report is exactly what the writer thought were the major themes of the story. He focused on the Thornburgh report (you know, weeks not months...) and after presumably reading through the whole thing, said it left "unanswered questions." OK, well, what's telling is what Bauder thought those questions are:
-How does CBS News President Andrew Heyward effectively lead when there's widespread surprise - including, undoubtedly, in his own shop - at how he kept his job when four others were fired for their roles in the news organization's worst embarrassment in years?
-Can the news division change a culture that contributed to the sad comedy of errors without risking the journalism that made it great?
-After a panel with a Republican former attorney general said it couldn't prove political bias and conservatives roundly rejected that, can peace ever break out between the network and its outside critics?
Yep. That's it. So to put Bauder's mind at ease, let's go ahead and answer his "unanswered" questions:
How does CBS News President Andrew Heyward effectively lead when there's widespread surprise - including, undoubtedly, in his own shop - at how he kept his job when four others were fired for their roles in the news organization's worst embarrassment in years?
He doesn't. Simple as that. Already we're hearing rumblings of suits being prepared to contest the firings. And I don't think you have to be a svengali to know that change begins at the top. In fact, that Heyward is still in place illustrates just how CBS is viewing this issue, and it certainly speaks volumes.
But the question doesn't address the real issue here. It doesn't recognize that Heyward should have also been on the chopping block. It assumes that he's blameless and is more of a "where do we go from here?" kvetching. And also note the casual misstatement of fact Bauder commits: four others were not, in fact, fired. Only Mapes was actually fired...the other three were asked to resign, something those three have not done yet. That's right, this is what passes for discipline at CBS News:
Heyward: I want your resignations.
The Three Malcontents: No.
The Three Malcontents:
Heyward: I'm not kidding.
The Three Malcontents: Neither are we.
Heyward: OK, if you aren't going to resign then finish up that story for Sixty Minutes.
Can the news division change a culture that contributed to the sad comedy of errors without risking the journalism that made it great?
Duh. Yes, it can be changed. That was never the issue. The issue is whether it will be changed. But let's take a close look at the question. Stipulated is a "culture" that contributed to a "sad comedy of errors." How can that culture simultaneously be responsible for great journalism? Can anyone look at the story in question and conclude that, aside from the "comedy of errors," it was seriously great journalism? This is why this is a big deal. If this is the sort of thing going on behind a story five years in the making, what's going on behind stories that are much more rushed?
What's even more "sad" is the so-called culture which contributed to this comedy of errors seems to extend way past CBS. Most everyone in the blogosphere is familiar with the AP (and then other MSM outlets) rushing to press with a photo of a US soldier being held hostage which was posted on an Islamic militant chat site. The MSM couldn't WAIT to get that photo published and the story out. However, it turns out it was not a real soldier, but a 12" action figure. Yep, a doll. A DOLL. This would have been discovered had AP spent some fact-checking time (or, for that matter, bothered to view the photo with any degree of skepticism). Is this the standard of "great journalism" being held up by Bauder?
After a panel with a Republican former attorney general said it couldn't prove political bias and conservatives roundly rejected that, can peace ever break out between the network and its outside critics?
Of course there can be "peace." But the premise of the question is faulty. Look at the underlying assumption. It's saying CBS doesn't have to do anything and the onus is on the "outside critics" to make peace. Sorry, but that isn't how it works, and I don't care what the political affiliation of one of the panel members is. CBS is the one that screwed up, and it's CBS that needs to come to the middle...not the outside critics.
And next, the standard put forth in the question is that the panel couldn't "prove" political bias. Nowhere offered is that there was no evidence of political bias. Frankly, I'm willing to bet the panel came across such evidence. But that took a backseat to the testimony of the principals involved. Now step back and consider...we have a few people here who had no problem lying about the nature of those memos...lying to us, and lying to themselves. What makes anyone think they'll be honest when it comes to addressing their bias? What, are they going to keep selling the ridiculous story that authentication of the memos rested solely on the ink and paper of the copy, but come right out when their reputations are on the line and say "yeah, I pursued this story as if I were examining the Apocrypha because I really hate President Bush?" I doubt it.
So if this is the sort of probing we can expect from the AP (and a media critic, no less), then what impetus does CBS even have to change? This sort of thing is exactly why people are starting to turn to alternative media. It's the arrogance that is finally turning people off.
Arrogance like what was reported a couple of days ago at Media Bistro about Katie Couric being offered the CBS anchor chair. A former morning show producer writes in and says:
"The first half hour [of the morning shows] is still in many ways more a newscast of record than the evening shows -- and one that requires the hosts to think, ask questions, react live, often when dealing with major newsmakers. How absurd to demean that talent and pretend all Katie does is fluff! The ability she -- and Matt, Charlie, Diane, Harry Smith, etc. -- have in thinking on their feet in front of millions of people is a skill almost no one else can touch. It takes more, much more, in the way of wits, smarts and brain cells to do that half hour than to read teleprompter for 22 minutes (or is it now 18?) at night. And God forbid someone like Katie use her skills to add a dimension of live interview to the evening show?!?!"
I'm sorry...thinking on one's feet is something almost no one else can do? Doesn't that just kind of say it all about how news organizations view the Masses? And is it any surprise that people are starting to move to alternative news sources?
Oprah Winfrey and the Land of the Double Standard
|[Posted by John Tant]|
I have TiVO in my home.
One of the most annoying features of TiVO is the ability to record things automatically so that one may watch things later in the day. Yes, I know that's the entire point behind TiVO, but it can get annoying. Annoying because I now find myself watching more television when I get home. I now no longer have an excuse to miss those Deep Space 9 reruns, so of course I *have* to watch the ones I missed the first time around (and why didn't anyone tell me Jadzia died?!?).
My wife has taken to the TiVO revolution like a fish to water. Maddeningly, one of the shows she has on our season pass is....the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Now, my feelings on Oprah Winfrey are pretty clear. I don't like her. Sure she does nice things for the occasional poor person (or more accurately, persuades other companies to do nice things for the occasional poor person), but overall she bugs me. I think it has to do with the focus of her and her audience. In a nutshell, when you think about Oprah Winfrey, rigorous intellectual thought is not a defining attribute that springs immediately to mind. Nope, instead we're left with addressing our feelings and emotions about things. And then there's the double standards.
Oh, yes. And recently this was driven home to me as my wife watched the second show done by Winfrey about the tsunami.
The first was about the experience of Nate Berkus, who was in Indonesia at the time. Yes, interesting story and all, and not something I would want to go through. Yes, I managed to make it through the obscene politically correct writing of the show. Berkus went there with his homosexual lover, who was repeatedly referred to as his "partner." Being the language purist I am, I kept thinking "business partner." I know, I know....another topic for another post. My main point in bringing up Berkus' experience is to highlight all the handwringing and "ain't it awful" tone of the show. And indeed, the situation IS awful. A lot of people died. More precisely, a lot of innocent people died. And there wasn't anything anyone could do about it.
But what put it all over the top for me was a show a few days ago where Ricky Martin visited the area. Evidently the only people on this show who are put forth as having worthwhile opinions on the thing are women and gay men....curiously, something which likely dovetails with their audience demographic. But I digress. The tone of the show was much the same as the tone of the first show...the whole "ain't it awful" thing, the stories of tragedy and death, and the appeals for help.
And I agree. I agree we should absolutely do what we can to help these poor people.
But where the Oprah wailing falls short for me is in context, namely the non-mention of other, more egregious tragedies out there. Without a doubt, there is much suffering in the tsunami-torn areas. But what about the decades-long suffering of the Iraqi people under Hussein? What of the suffering, going on right this minute, of people who do not agree politically with Fidel Castro? And while we were powerless to stop the tsunami, we do in fact have the power to stop this, in my opinion, man-made suffering which is many times worse. At least with a disaster, you know it's not one specifically targeted against individuals. But a dictator implementing pogroms against his opponents, or anyone who might not think exactly like him, is a particularly brutal, undeniably deliberate kind of thing. But where are all the gay men flocking to Havana to kvetch about men like Oscar Biscet?!? Where were all the Oprah shows condemning the Taliban's actions in brutally repressing Afghanistan's people? For that matter, what about the very real threats Iraqis faced on Sunday when they were out voting? Think Oprah will have a show highlighting any of that, or offering free cars to the oppressed? What, is it because the tsunami offers the opportunity to show how caring she is without all those nasty political considerations? Or is it something deeper? Acknowledging the suffering under Castro, or the bravery of Iraqi voters, involves agreeing with conservatives. In show business, is that truly a more egregious sin than simply ignoring a broad swath of suffering people?
To be fair, I have no idea where Oprah Winfrey falls on these things. But for her to devote so much time on the suffering caused by the tsunami, to virtually ignore the suffering caused by real live dicators strikes me as odd. And when I think it's the Oprahs of the world who put feeling and caring above all else, I can't help but think the concern shown is a little selective.
February 01, 2005
Caught In The Act
|[Posted by ]|
In addition to his duties at the Cap Times, Nichols also contributes to The Nation and writes a blog on their site. While he was waxing poetic about the Iraqi election today, he was singing a different tune on his blog in a post entitled "Occupation Thwarts Democracy".
Bryan was so dead on that I'm just going to quote his post on the Madison.com forum:
John Nichols writes in his blog on The Nation:
"That democracy has been denied in Iraq is beyond question. The charade of an election, played out against a backdrop of violence so unchecked that a substantial portion of the electorate-- particularly Sunni Muslims--avoided the polls for reasons of personal safety, featuring candidates who dared not speak their names and characterized by a debate so stilted that the electorate did not know who or what it is electing.
Now that this farce of an "election" in Iraq is done, the fight for democracy should move from Baghdad to Washington."
Today, John Nichols writes, "The images of Iraqis crowding polling places for that country's first free election in a half century were both moving and hopeful. The voting, while marred by violence, irregularities and boycotts, went off more smoothly than had generally been predicted."
How can the election be a farce, yet moving and hopeful? King John, I am so confused...
Not surprisingly, our intrepid columnist has yet to respond to Bryan's post. But I am surprised by two things here. First, how can a journalist today think that he talk out of both sides of his mouth and not get caught? While few places sell the Cap Times and The Nation alongside each other, online they're just a click away. It's a lot harder to hide your words today. Nichols should know better. Second, it's encouraging that Nichols thought he had to backtrack on his initial thoughts on Iraq. Even in ultra liberal Madison. You know you're a looney leftie when you your take is too liberal for Madison.
|[Posted by james]|
By now, most of you have likely heard about the CU professor that compared the 9/11 victims to Nazi war criminals like Adolf Eichmann. As would be expected, he is coming under fire for his comments and has resigned a chairmanship at Colorado University. However he still continues to remain in the University's employ, and he continues to hold a number of other positions at the U.
Shocking, however, is the way in which are choosing to come forward and defend him:
Ethnic studies senior Dustin Craun and other students, many from Churchill's ethnic studies department, liken the controversy to a "witch hunt," said the paper. "White men trying to get an Indian out of Boulder? That's nothing new," said Craun. "That's how this city was started." Churchill is reportedly a Cherokee Indian by birth.
Yes, Mr. Craun. It's aaaaaall because he's a Native American.
Our Latest Caption Contest
|[Posted by ]|
With a new year, it's time for a new Dummocrats caption contest. Take a lot at the picture below of Kerry campaign advisor Mary Beth Cahill, George H.W. Bush and new RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman and give it your best, snarkiest caption.
The winner will have a small donation made in his or her name to the Mikolon Family Trust Fund. Ed Mikolon was killed in a car accident last month and his family (including a baby due on Valentine's Day) is going through some hard times.
I've made my position on charitable giving known in the past. Judging from the nearly $16 million donated to tsunami relief from Amazon alone, I'm not the only one who believes that. Along those sames lines, James e-mailed me a link to a great story about Davy Crockett.
One day in the House of Representatives a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support. The speaker was just about to put the question when Crockett arose: ...
We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.
Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week's pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.
He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.
Conservatives often get a wrongfully deserved reputation as being heartless simply because they share Mr. Crockett's philosophy. Let's take this good opportunity to have a chance to help some folks who really need it and make fun of politicians.
Submit entries to the comment section by the end of the day on Thursday. We'll pick a winner and will announce him or her here. If the winner has provided contact info, we'll contact the winner via email, get their name and make the donation to the Mikolon Family Trust Fund. So, make sure you provide your email in the comments or send it directly to james or me (it's "james at dummocrats.com" or "kris at dummocrats.com").