Archive for March, 2007

Five Outta Six

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Read for yourself.

A new Yale research survey reveals a significant shift in public attitudes toward the environment and global warming. Fully 83 percent of Americans now say global warming is a “serious” problem, up from 70 percent in 2004. More Americans than ever say they have serious concerns about environmental threats, such as toxic soil and water (92 percent, up from 85 percent in 2004), deforestation (89 percent, up from 78 percent), air pollution (93 percent, up from 87 percent) and the extinction of wildlife (83 percent, up from 72 percent in 2005).

Huh. What about that survey from 2004?

On the eve of the release of the much-anticipated movie, The Day After Tomorrow, the global warming disaster movie, a national poll undertaken at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies indicates that 70% of Americans believe global warming is a very serious or somewhat serious problem, while just 20% of Americans believe global warming does not represent a serious issue.

Day After Tomorrow, huh?

I’d like to see a poll on whether something else is a serious problem. I’d like to see a poll on how many Americans believe a lot of other Americans are freakin’ raging idiots.

In fact, I’d like to see a poll on the problem I’ve identified that really irritates me. Here’s the problem. People are presented with a premise A. A is proven by B. Global Warming is proven by “Day After Tomorrow,” or President Bush called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper” because some crappy tabloid says he said it. In cases like this, B is widely acknowledged to be bullshit. Even people who desperately want to believe A, understand B is bullshit.

And yet, they believe in A more fervently with B, than without B.

Stating the reasons why they believe A, they cite B, which they know to be bullshit.

I do not mean to imply !A just because B is bullshit. A could still be true. But this trend lately of reinforcing assumptions that may or may not be true, based on pieces of evidence known to be rancid crap and nothing more — with a straight face no less — is a harbinger of bad times ahead. It’s a sickness. There’s nothing healthy about it.

As one of the 17%, I’d like to know how many among the 83% would simply acknowledge this is a problem. Nevermind whether they themselves have fallen victim to it, we’ll leave that for later. But the fact remains, a lot of this stuff that’s been used to bolster the case of ManBearPig suffers from glaring problems; and the evidence that does not suffer from such problems, has been whittled down to pinpoint size.

I’d like to see polls on all this stuff. Because if people don’t have confidence in the opinions of everybody around them, it makes very little sense to pursue the argument “I must be right because look at all the people who agree with me.”

Americaphobia

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Dean has a post up which, this time ’round, makes a lot of sense.

It’s very hard for me to look at American Muslims, or Muslims in general, or anyone who considers themselves “liberal” or “progressive” or “humanist,” who claim to stand for freedom and human rights and then attack everything America has done and tried to do in Iraq over the last four years.

The fact is that the naysayers claimed we weren’t really striving for liberation. We were. They claimed we’d install a new puppet dictator. We did not. They claimed that we wouldn’t really try to set up a democracy. We did. They claimed there would be no legitimate elections. The Iraqis had three national elections in a row, all certified as legitimate by international observers, not even counting the local elections that were held before that.

They claimed we’d do everything possible to get out of the country “before the next elections”–they claimed that before the 2004 elections and again before the 2006 elections. It didn’t happen. Now these same people in many cases are cheering for a Congress that’s trying to force us out of Iraq even though the war supporters consistently say “no, that would be morally and strategically wrong.”

Time after time the naysayers have proven themselves both morally and intellectually incoherent, and yet they never have the introspection to acknowledge this.

It should be pointed out that the anti-war movement has an answer ready for all this. It has something to do with being a Real PatriotTM…or Don’t You Dare Call Me UnpatrioticTM…or I Love My Country But Fear My GovernmentTM…or I Love What My Country Should Be But Hate What She’s BecomeTM. The gyst of it is, whether or not they’re in favor of America has become a confused and muddled question, an unfair question to ask — and it isn’t their fault, it’s that the country has changed for the worse while being run by you-know-who.

The defense would be a lot more convincing to people like me if the anti-war folks who “Love America” would simply acknowledge, and deal with, the presence of their anti-war kinfolk who do NOT. Just a simple “I recognize we anti-war folks are now in bed with some unsavory characters, but it doesn’t matter because our principles are still true.” And tack on to the end whatever you want…Saddam had no WMDs, international consensus, blah blah blah.

Some of the more articulate and intellectually sincere anti-war types, I’ve noticed, are ready and willing and able to recognize splits in the anti-war contingent so long as the splits are kept trivial. A familiar refrain has been “I recognize that removing Saddam was a good thing but it should have been done according to an international consensus.” It should be obvious to everyone, by now, that a lot of folks are anti-war because Saddam should have been left exactly where he was. In a sane world, this is a deep and meaningful disagreement. We haven’t too long to wait before the international community must deal with the next Saddam Hussein. What are we to do when that moment comes — what precedent has emerged from the events over the last four years? Our anti-war folks seek to keep their own agenda strong by trivializing this disagreement.

And, for reasons that entirely escape me, we let them.

Another thing that entirely escapes me, is why isn’t there a blistering epidemic of United-nations-aphobia. By four years ago, the U.N. had thoroughly bolluxed this thing. Out of all the opportunities that have come and gone, nobody’s presented a cohesive argument to the contrary. And yet, that organization remains in charge of the same stuff they were in charge of last time. In fact, I daresay, the next U.S. President put in the same position that confronted George Bush in the spring of ’03, will face considerably more pressure against “defying the U.N.” than he did. Considerably more.

In short, the U.N. pissed in their boot. Real good. And got more power out of it.

With apologies to Bob Dole — where’s the phobia?

High on the Pyramid

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

MaslowGotta take a quick minute to jot this down, since I’ve already been caught in an endless tail-chasing loop googling Abraham Maslow a handful of times. I keep forgetting everything about the guy, and he’s important. Or at least his pyramid is. The concept of the Maslow Pyramid is, that our attention focuses on different things as we achieve the basics. When we have food, clothing and shelter, we start worrying about things that wouldn’t even have drawn a passing glance from us when we still had questions about food, clothing and shelter. Maslow put together a spectrum that covers all of it…and for the most part it’s the 41st thing I figured out myself without being aware of his work.

Thing I Know #41. Those who are out of danger, worry about food. Those with food, worry about discomfort. Those who are comfortable, worry getting things done on time. Those who have time, worry about money. Those who are solvent, worry about their legacies. And the lucky souls who spared the plagues of danger, hunger, discomfort, time, solvency and legacy issues, worry about fashion.

So about a year and a half ago, San Francisco, which doesn’t seem to worry too much about food, discomfort, getting things done on time, or money, started worrying about…grocery bags. Yeah. They did. They really really did.

City officials are considering charging grocery stores 17 cents apiece for the bags to discourage use of plastic sacks.

Plastic is the choice of 90 percent of shoppers, but the sacks are blamed for everything from clogging recycling machines to killing marine life and suffocating infants.

Paper is recyclable, but city officials propose to include them as well to help reduce overall waste.

“One thing we’ve learned is that sending a financial signal to the marketplace tends to modify behavior much better than voluntary approaches,” Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We all have a responsibility to promote a healthy and sustainable environment, and by doing that, it means we need to help change people’s patterns, and that even means their shopping patterns,” said [Supervisor Ross] Mirkarimi, who will take office in January.

Responsibility to promote a healthy and sustainable environment…in other words, they flat ran out of worries and had to start making some more. So the city elders started telling citizens how to shop for their groceries.

Somehow, in a nation started by a tax revolt, this was allowed to go ahead.

No, worse than that. Here it is twenty-eight months later and it’s not a tax anymore. It is…a ban. Yeah, a ban. Notice, Supervisor Mirkarimi is still at the epicenter of this little tempest, which in fact is not nearly as tempestuous as I think it oughtta be…

City leaders approved a ban on plastic grocery bags after weeks of lobbying on both sides from environmentalists and a supermarket trade group. If Mayor Gavin Newsom signs the ban as expected, San Francisco would be the first U.S. city to adopt such a rule.

The law, passed by a 10-1 vote, requires large markets and drug stores to give customers only a choice among bags made of paper that can be recycled, plastic that breaks down easily enough to be made into compost, or reusable cloth.

San Francisco supervisors and supporters said that by banning the petroleum-based sacks, blamed for littering streets and choking marine life, the measure would go a long way toward helping the city earn its green stripes.

“Hopefully, other cities and states will follow suit,” said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who crafted the ban after trying to get a 15-cent per bag tax passed in 2005.

MarkarimiYeah that’s right Ross. I’m sure the environment is going to get along just dandy when we all head down to Safeway with our 33 gallon lawn bags. You know what I really like about your story? It’s a classic case of something starting out as a tax…and everyone sits down with their slide rules and figures out, hey! I can afford this after all, so it’s not such a bad thing! And just over two years later it is a ban. I mean, facts is facts; here we are. Let it be a lesson.

In late ’04 you had targeted the paper bags as well. Now, it’s off the table — for the time being. But can the paper bag ban be far behind? Back then the story said…where’s the quote, ah, here it is: “…city officials propose to include [tax] them as well to help reduce overall waste.”

You know what I think? I think the Maslow Pyramid is a volcano. You spiral to the top of it, worrying about more and more trivial and cock-and-bull crap as you run out of the more essential concerns. Your attachment to reality suffers as more and more of your day-to-day needs are met, and uncertainty with regard to any of those needs, is gradually eliminated. And then this is what happened to Rome: Cemented into the very top of this pyramid, you are forcefully ejected from the top. No longer capable of making rational decisions, your super-duper safe-n-secure existence comes crashing down. It comes to an inglorious end.

Of some kind.

I’m really not sure how it can be brought about by outlawing grocery sacks. But on the other hand, it’s hard to envision someone having the competence to get dressed and get their teeth brushed, and go about their day doing whatever it is they do, if this is anywhere on their list of concerns. I mean, the competence with regard to things that really matter, just isn’t there. Somewhere, there has to be a day of reckoning.

Money quote…

“I think what grocers will do now that this has passed is, they will review all their options and decide what they think works best for them economically,” said David Heylen, a spokesman for the California Grocers Association.

Wow, I wish Mr. Heylen continued with that train of thought. What options are left? Maybe if the kitty can go without her litter pan for an hour or two, you could rinse it out and use that as your grocery bag when you run down to get more milk and cereal.

Don’t you love San Francisco? It’s a place everyone loves to watch…in the same way, I think, it’s really hard to look away when you see a highway accident about to happen.

On Generous People II

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Here we go again, generosity from an unexpected source. Or to put it more accurately, a source we were instructed to believe was a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge…and darn it, those inconvenient facts keep getting in the way.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. increased its U.S. charitable giving 10 percent last year to $272.9 million, the world’s largest retailer said Tuesday, likely defending its position as the country’s largest corporate donor of cash.

The rate of growth was lower than a year earlier, when Hurricane Katrina relief helped push the annual rise to 19 percent, but it was ahead of Wal-Mart’s 7 percent rise in net profit last year. The company’s profit for the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31 was $12.2 billion.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart released its annual donation numbers a few days after publicizing its annual bonuses to hourly store workers as it seeks to counter union-led critics by defending its record as a corporate citizen.

Wal-Mart said most of its U.S. giving was in cash, about $250 million, vs. $22.9 million of in-kind donations.

We’ve discussed this before, here and here.

I thought the quote at the bottom of the story was ironic and absolutely priceless. Isn’t this just the very definition of a Scrooge?

Critic isn’t swayed
Union-backed critic WakeUpWalMart.com said the increase in giving did nothing to dampen their claims that Wal-Mart exploits its workers.

“Charity is always good, but what is not good is Wal-Mart forcing poorly paid and uninsured workers to depend on charity,” WakeUpWalMart.com spokesman Chris Kofinis said.

Wal-Mart has repeatedly denied those claims, defending its wages as competitive and its health coverage as affordable.

Bah! Humbug!

When the facts are on your side, pound the facts; if they aren’t, pound the table.

Worlds Collide

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

This is very interesting. I wish Sacramento Bee Public Editor Armando Acuna had put a more surgically-precise cut in his definition on things. Not that I think he’s completely wrong. It’s clear he disagrees with John Hughes, with whom I’ve been corresponding here & there, and I’m in the middle of these positions. Some areas I agree with Acuna, some other areas I agree with Hughes.

But although Acuna is using a sledgehammer where a scalpel would be a better tool, it’s interesting reading.

This is at the junction where ink-on-paper journalism intersects with the blogosphere.

The inevitable collision leaves a messy entanglement of journalism ethics and standards, of tried-and-true past practices versus the Internet’s frenetic and often anonymous ethos.

At curbside, there is also plenty of hand-wringing among newspaper managers and editors as they ponder a path to a new future without benefit of a map.
:
Hughes tracks 309 regional blogs through his personal blog at www.ipsosacto.com.

Typically, the paper publishes excerpts from three to four blogs.

Recent musings have ranged from a lament about old midtown houses tagged with graffiti to the emotions of someone helping a homeless Davis man to a chat about a regional transit tax to the vagaries of finding a human skeleton outside Sutter’s Fort.

“I’m here! I’m busy! I can’t find more than two minutes to update! I miss you all! I love exclamation points! I have to find some extra time in the day! Eeek!

“OK. Morning caffeine all used up. *bangs head on keyboard*” wrote the blogger at wickedsmaht.vox.com, who, like all the other bloggers published, is identified no further.

And that’s where a collision occurs.

“I do not understand why The Bee publishes these items without attribution; that is, these are the only items in the Forum section without a (name),” wrote reader Gerald O’Connor of Sacramento. “A Web site citation doesn’t count. When I go to check on the blogs to find out who the writer is, I am unable to find a name. Have we gone from anonymous sources to anonymous contributors? I can’t get a letter published in The Bee without my name.”

Yeah, point made. Speaking as one of the 309, I do have to admit some blogs can get awfully silly — and many’s the blogger who has been caught bloviating about his reasons for not blogging too much lately, providing a greater supply of such information than could ever be associated with a commensurate demand. As far as the next notch up on the scale of relevance, opining “such-and-such irritates me, am I the only one?” Acuna’s point remains equally relevant, and perhaps even more. Let’s say an anonymous blogger finds Hillary Clinton irritating — clearly, it means a lot more if the blogger is a disinterested observer, or a passionate Clinton fan, than if he’s a life-long Republican. We probably want to know what the situation is before reading further.

On the other hand, you know…four times out of five, the blogger will go ahead and provide that information anyway, albeit without the much-sought-after individual name. Yeah, the information is still on the honor system. Yeah, we still don’t know that blogger personally. But how much do we know about our journalists?

And when our journalists have a political bias, are they well-known for disclosing that information to us?

Well look. I don’t want to exacerbate the situation any…my name is Morgan Freeberg and everything about me that has to be known, is in the FAQ. On the other hand, I do realize there are bloggers who really are anonymous, and this is what inspires the problems Acuna intends to address. I do get that.

This thing about anonymity, however, fails to culminate in anything meaningful unless the blogosphere enjoys a monopoly within the industry of printing silly, useless things. It does not. And I don’t wish to bash The Bee here. It’s outside the scope of the point I want to make to go hunting for ridiculous items in the pages of The Bee. If I need to support my point, I could do it by citing…uh, let’s say, morning news programs. A horny and confused wild turkey attacked a fire hydrant, or an enormous sheepdog has adopted a cute baby squirrel.

This is more worthy of our attention than a blog because of “journalistic standards” and “ethics”? I think not.

His column does identify an important problem. But it’s not his place, or The Bee’s, to solve it. It’s something decided by each inividual reader. You read a story about “key Republican senators speaking out against President Bush’s plan in Iraq” — you’ll probably need a blog. Savvy news readers understand, by now, that “key Republican senators,” where criticism of the President is concerned, is a synonym for Chuck Hagel. The mainstream news hasn’t exactly been forthcoming about things like this, and by engaging in this and other similar sneaky tricks, they’ve given the blogs legitimacy and a real sense of purpose. The fact of the matter is, if you consume news by glancing at the front page, gulping the rest of your coffee, smooching your wife and running off to work — you don’t know nuthin’. That’s just the way things are.

Blogs are needed. The bloggers may be creating questions about the security of the print- and electronic-news industries…but those industries are doing it to themselves.

Now, in the “being what I myself criticize” department…the reason I haven’t been blogging much lately, is. Well. The fact of the matter is, my blog is a castle built on the sand of my own insomnia. My gal and I have been taking extraordinary steps to deal with my insomnia. And they’ve been working. We’ll find a way to keep the blog updated sometime down the road, I’m sure. For now, this “sleep” thing you normal people do from time to time, feels pretty good.

Cool Skydiving

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Wow, did I just see what I think I just saw?

Calvin’s Snowmen of Doom

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

…brought to life.

Elections Have Consequences? On Science?

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

The Media Research Center posts some eye-popping stuff, but this item really stands out.

Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma): “I mentioned this in my opening statement about they’re, they’re criticizing you for some of your, your being too alarmist and hurting your own cause. Now, I’ll ask you to respond in writing for that one because that would be a very long response, I’m afraid. Now, it seems that everybody — Global warming in the media joined the chorus last summer-”

Former Vice President Al Gore: “Well, I would like to–” “May I–” “May I-”

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California): “Excuse me, Senator Inhofe. We’ll freeze the time for a minute.”

Inhofe: “Oh, yes.”

Boxer: “I’m just trying to make-”

Inhofe: “Take your time. We’re freezing the time.”

Boxer: “No, no. We’re freezing the time just for a minute. I want, I want to talk to you a minute, please. [Laughter] Would you, would you agree, would you agree to let the Vice President answer your questions? And then if you want an extra few minutes at the end, I’m happy to give it to you. But we’re not going to get anywhere.”

Inhofe: “Why don’t we do this, why don’t we do this— At the end, you can have as much time as you want to answer all the questions?”

Boxer: “No, that isn’t the rule. You’re not making the rules, used to when you did this. [Boxer holds up the gavel.] You don’t do this anymore. Elections have consequences.”

Well, for the record I find Sen. Boxer’s suggestion to be reasonable. I’ts long been a pet peeve of mine when senators ask what are called “questions” but what, in reality, have nothing to do with the inquisitive nature or the brevity one would associate with something called a question. Were I king, there would be a hard-and-fast rule against it, with automatic impeachment for violators. Questions are questions. No grandstanding.

When I take everything over and become emperor, that’s my twenty-first order of business.

But I’ll say this. I don’t understand what ensuring the continuing survival of the planet, has to do with settling old scores in that exclusive club known as The Senate. Boxer, and all who cheer on her little personal vendetta, must know global warming to be a crock; for if there was something to it, how would this little score she has to settle with Inhofe, matter a tinker’s damn?

But this was really incredible. Keep in mind: Our electronic media continues to insist that media left-leaning bias is a myth. Keep it in mind…

Brianna Keiler: “Wow. All right. That was quite an exchange. And, you know, we were expecting something from Senator James Inhofe. He is a critic of global warming. In fact, he once said that global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people. So, certainly, we were expecting something from him. We thought maybe it might be with him and former Senator, former Vice President Al Gore, but it ended up between him and Senator Barbara Boxer. She really got a stinger in there, I will say.”

Don Lemon: “Good for her.”

How’s that fair? How’s that for objective reporting?

Really grasping to play “angel’s advocate” with this, I’d have to ponder…if you’d seen Al Gore’s movie, and came away with it really concerned about the continuing survival of our environment and our species, and “the science was settled” and so forth…I suppose you would be tempted to conclude the only thing standing between us, and salvation, is the endless political wheel-spinning in places of authority like the U.S. Congress. Overcome that, maybe we live, fail to do so, and we perish.

I guess then you’d get really excited when Sen. Boxer gets a stinger in there. And you’d say asinine things like “good for her.”

Understandable, but it has no place behind a news desk.

Why is this even in Congress, anyway? If 99 senators vote that global warming is a big crock, but it’s really going to destroy us, that just means the Senate is wrong; likewise, if 99 vote that it’s the plague of the 21st century but in reality it’s just a bag o’bovine feces, then again, the Senate is wrong.

And my wonderful liberal female hippy senator tells us elections have consequences. Do they really? If so, when are you going to vote on the freezing temperature of water, Barbara? Thirty-two degrees never did have much appeal to me, and I’ll bet a majority of us would appreciate something a bit more tepid. Get on that, will you? Elections have consequences.

Thing I Know #70. Courage has very little to do with being outspoken.
Thing I Know #129. Leaders; votes; clergy; academics; pundits; prevailing sentiment; political expediency. Wherever these decide what is & isn’t true, an empire will surely fall.

Gonzales Must Go

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Boortz bookmarked Krauthammer this week, who in turn had the following comments on the phony Fired-Attorney-Gate scandal…

Alberto Gonzales has to go…the president might want to hang on to Gonzales at least through this crisis. That might be tactically wise. But in time, and the sooner the better, Gonzales must resign. It’s not a question of probity but of competence. Gonzales has allowed a scandal to be created where there was none. That is quite an achievement. He had a two-foot putt and he muffed it.

Had this been an argument for political appeasement — “just toss Gonzales overboard, and with full bellies the sharks will swim away and go wherever they go to take their afternoon after-meal naps” — he would have lost me. Such a thing has been tried before, many times. It never works.

But I have to say, if the Bush administration is going to be shaken up and whittled down, the idea of natural-selection toward a greater collective political competence, is appealing to me. The Bush administration has nowhere to go but up in that department. True, he still is the President; his successor has better-than-even odds of coming from his own party. His most recent significant loss, of both houses of Congress, was razor-thin. And if he’s been ineffectual in some areas, then that new Congress has been even moreso.

Politically, however, this White House gives incompetence a new name. The President’s misfortunes do mean something. And I don’t think the country can take much more of this. The lying. The stonewalling. The red herrings.

I’m not talking about what comes directly from the President and his people. I’m talking about the sharks. Every time they get in another feeding frenzy, it seems the first casualty is truth. And the way I see it, here is George W. Bush himself spooning chum into the water. Look at what we have going on now — the President’s defenders say, firing these attorneys is well within his authority. In a sane universe, that should be the end of the so-called “scandal”; those who seek to attack him, would be faced with the option of arguing this point, or else going away.

Well, they figure they don’t have to do either one of those. And who can blame them?

Someone at 1600 Pennsylvania has to be negligent in order to get us to this point. The President is saying he did nothing wrong; our democrats are saying — although I’m sure they’d bristle at the way I’m wording this, in spirit it does not deviate from what I’ve heard them say — they know he didn’t do anything wrong, but if they play their cards right they can create a scandal out of it anyway.

I’m not missing anything in my crude summary, am I?

Well, if that fits, you know what I think…these “vanishing civil liberties” about which we’ve been told so much over the last five years, I think they’re circling the drain right now. Think about it. The opposing party in Congress, and the media…but I repeat myself…can confess that the facts are on the President’s side. Openly. Right there in broad daylight, as the metaphor goes. And make a scandal anyway…outta nothing.

This is where our much-vaunted American “freedoms” go just before they die. In government. In situations where de jeure and de facto sprint away from each other, as fast as their little legs can carry ‘em. The President has the right to do X according to law…but according to custom and precedent, being manufactured right here and now in Spring of 2007, he can’t do it.

If he’s a Republican. Get a donk back in the Oval Office, this new precendent is going to go sailing out the window. Nobody who gives the situation even a cursory review, will dare deny it.

And in the days where a babe born today is old enough to get his first driver’s license, trust me on this, we may be wondering why U.S. attorneys at the Department of Justice are so overwhelmingly left-wing, as we’ve often wondered this about the U.S. Supreme Court. Trust me on this too: Our donks are going to come out of the woodwork to haughtily and snottily lecture us that you have to be educated and broad-minded to be a U.S. attorney, and that correlates to being more liberal.

Set the freakin’ clock by it.

But if you have a long memory and you remember back to today, you’ll know different. It’s got to do with championing “what can we get away with doing” over-and-above what the truth really is…and that correlates to being more liberal.

Whatever happened to George Bush “killing soldiers in Iraq” and “alienating our allies” and destroying the earth bit-by-bit because he won’t see Al Gore’s movie? What happened to that? Because I have to believe, if the truth was on the side of the donks and our current President was really guilty of all that stuff — this wouldn’t be a very appealing or sincere way to take him down, would it? Something churned up from an action that all sides readily concede is squarely within his purview?

So I’m going to have to agree with Krauthammer here. I think the country depends on it. Our country’s future rises or sinks with our country’s fastening to truth, and even a lame duck President can save it. He can assemble all who report to him, and let them know in no uncertain terms: This administration is the administration that took down Saddam Hussein — but the administration’s job, here at home, is to be political. We can’t achieve anything without that. Our performance here is far below par. I am determined to do something about it. From here on, if you want to get yourself fired in a hurry, do something embarrassing.

I’m your boss. I have tried to champion reality over appearances, and I was sure reality would reward us for it. I must have forgotten what city we are in. From this day forward, we do a bang-up job at both. That’s the job. If you don’t feel you’re up to it, there’s the door.

On 300

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

I thought it was highly amusing when I found this page, in which a thread was created by someone who wondered openly if 300 was a pro-war propaganda film. The respondents turned on this person like wolves on a wounded rabbit or something.

Thus it is proven. You can make a pro-war propaganda film, and fool people into thinking it’s something else.

Yeah, it’s based on a comic book from 1998. I get that. But c’mon…take a look…mild spoilers below. Highlight to read.

Back in Sparta, Queen Gorgo, upon the advice of a councilman, attempts to enlist the influential Theron to help her persuade the Spartan council to send reinforcements to Leonidas. Theron agrees to help, but demands that Gorgo sleep with him; Gorgo reluctantly assents…Queen Gorgo appears in front of the council, but is not supported by Theron, who furthermore accuses her of adultery. The Queen, enraged at this betrayal, manages to kill him by snatching a sword from a nearby soldier. Persian coins fall from Theron’s purse, and the Council denounces him as a traitor and unites against Persia.

Hello? Send reinforcements to help Leonidas? The corrupt politician confronts Gorgo with the ultimatum that she can’t get backing from the, ahem, “council” unless he gives the green light…gets what he wants…turns against her, and is revealed to be on the payroll of the enemy. George Galloway? Is it really that much of a stretch? Because everything falls exactly into place.

There’s something else you should know about this scene. Galloway-man makes this speech in reference to the good guy, Leonidas, starting the war. Which the facts don’t support. So…the guy defending his country from the aggressor, is accused of being the aggressor because he chose to treat a threat as if it was actually a threat. Why? Because when he raised arms against the invading army, he broke or bent “the law.” What law was that? He was supposed to follow the advice of “the oracle,” which is a triumvirate of really ugly mutated misshapen guys who used their supernatural powers to tell him the smart thing was to stand down. He was bound by “the law,” to follow the advice of “the oracle.” And because he didn’t do that, he was accused of throwing the first punch.

Heh heh heh…in other words, he “waged an illegal and unjust war.” Now where have you heard that lately?

Oh by the way, it turns out the oracle was also on the take. Hmmmm.

Coincidence, it may very well be. But it would be an amazing coincidence. Absolutely astonishing.

I’m lovin’ that some of these kids who are die-hard Frank Miller fans and rabid anti-war screechers, are being sold this plate o’chow and are wolfing it down begging for seconds. Like I said…the movie is proof that it can be done. And it was profitable after the very first weekend.

Let’s make it an opening salvo. Better to teach folks things by being all sneaky and what-not, than to not teach ‘em at all.

Is There A Global Temperature

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

Ah, it’s like having a hard-to-reach itch finally scratched…I’ve been wondering about this for the longest time.

“It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth”, Bjarne Andresen says, an an expert of thermodynamics. “A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate”.

He explains that while it is possible to treat temperature statistically locally, it is meaningless to talk about a a global temperature for Earth. The Globe consists of a huge number of components which one cannot just add up and average. That would correspond to calculating the average phone number in the phone book. That is meaningless. Or talking about economics, it does make sense to compare the currency exchange rate of two countries, whereas there is no point in talking about an average ‘global exchange rate’. [emphasis mine]

Kill That Bear

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

BearVia Malkin, we find this at Riehl World View:

Those Sick Animal Rights Hazmats

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything else that makes it so clear, the animal rights crowd doesn’t love animals nearly as much as it hates humans – and almost by definition, themselves.

At three months old, however, the playful 19lb bundle of fur is at the centre of an impassioned debate over whether he should live or die.

Animal rights activists argue that he should be given a lethal injection rather than brought up suffering the humiliation of being treated as a domestic pet.

“The zoo must kill the bear,” said spokesman Frank Albrecht. “Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate but a gross violation of animal protection laws.”

More info behind the link at CNN.

How They Went

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

Could be nothing more than rumor-mongering.

But as the story goes, George Washington left us not because of a bad case of pneumonia brought on by riding around too long at too advanced an age during too harsh of a winter…but because he jumped out his paramour’s second-story window when the hubby came home.

And FDR expired during a BJ.

Draw your own conclusions.

Dog Adopts Squirrel

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

Yes, get ready to barf.

In The Name Of The Laziest Within Us

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

You know you’ve always wanted one. You know, once you got one, you’d never be able to give it up.

This Is Good XXXVII

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

What He’s Thinking…

However, be advised some of the language may be . And, if you say all that stuff maybe this is what happens to your ride.

Now for the fellas who are having that kind of issue with their ladies, maybe this will help. A handy User’s Guide, about women by a woman, about which we learned by passing through The Saloon.

And finally, how can any comment about The Sisterhood be considered complete, without a nod to the classic Ladder Theory.

The Wisdom of Children

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

An article in the New Yorker that was greenlit on FARK.

“Greenlit” means you don’t have to subscribe to TOTALFARK in order to read the comments, which include this gem:

I just knew reading TFA, that one of the first three posts in this thread would be somebody getting testy about the third section. Thank you, z00mz00mz00m for not disappointing me.

Everybody Hates Bluetooth

Monday, March 19th, 2007

Funny video about a man running into WAGTOCPAN on a bluetooth. Twice.

I have a list of bluetooth etiquette rules that I keep forgetting to upload. Someday I’ll have to get on the stick about that. Of course, since I actually have a bluetooth and use it regularly, my list is different from most others…Don’t use the damn thing isn’t on my version. If memory serves, rule #1 is actually something like “Talk about important crap or don’t talk at all,” which applies to non-bluetooth cell phone users as well.

We bluetooth users do have pet peeves of our own, believe it or not. Yes, we do. For starters, whether you feel yourself abused and somehow entitled to do so, or not, it does nothing to help you or anyone around you to come up to us and start a conversation with us about how cool it is that we have a hands-free earpiece while we are already on the phone with someone. What is this, some kind of misguided sense of retribution? Like “you’re self-important and I have to figure out what’s going on, so I’m going to act self-important and you can try to figure out what I’m doing while you’re on the phone and that oughtta show you?”

Some of us really do stay off the phone unless it’s really important. And then we tell the other person, “okay, we’ll have to pick this up later because I’m going into a meeting (theater) (restaurant) etc. etc. etc.”

So save it for the clamshell people. It bears repeating. Save it for the clamshell people. Why are they spared all this wrath. They tend to be the ones jibber-jabbering nonstop about nothing, which is a paradox I’ve never entirely understood. “Oh nothin’…what’re YOU doing? Really? Cool!”

And for the record, the sexy brunette is being just plain rude. In such situations, you make eye contact with the confused person — point vigorously at your ear. Unless you’re playing a bluetooth practical joke, which incidentally stops being funny much sooner than you think.

Remake of 1984

Monday, March 19th, 2007

Hillary has been pilloried, 1984-style…by whom, nobody knows. Yet. They say.

It is unknown who produced the ad, which features Hillary Clinton speaking on television screens…Officials from Obama’s campaign have denied any involvement in creating the ad.

Let Rosie Talk

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

I’d like to take a minute or two to argue on behalf of Rosie O’Donnell’s free speech rights. I know that’s a little like fighting to protect the right of the sun to rise in the East, or of the Angel of Death to come along and nip us all someday…the prospect of Rosie spouting her latest snippet of foolishness, has a certain inevitability to it. She may lose this right tomorrow, and you could still set your watch by her doing it anyway.

But it isn’t enough, for me, that Rosie actually do some talking. I want to make sure she is everlastingly allowed to do so. I want her comments to be given sanction. No, more than that: visibility. I want Rosie O’Donnell on a pedestal.

In fact, my principle objection to her spot on The View, is that the forum is improper. There are three other ladies on that show, and in the clips I’ve seen, every once in awhile one of those three just might get a word in edgewise. Not fair!

I’m thinking a radio show. Every Saturday, twelve hours in a row. And a federal law that all kids in public school, from the fourth grade up to the tenth, have to ponder every Monday morning what Rosie said that weekend.

Why do I want this? Because I think people are starting to figure out, finally, what’s been happening to them. What “stars” like Rosie have been doing to them. Try this. Go to the Hot Air page about her latest embarrassments and view the first video clip. Rosie is going to introduce the latest event, with Kalid Shiekh Mohammed’s confessions to thirty-or-so failed & attempted terrorist attacks around the world…your target is, almost precisely, the halfway point.

At that halfway point, something exceedingly exceptional happens, someone besides Rosie gets to say something. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the one that I and all the other red-blooded men would actually like to sleep with, asks “Well you have– you don’t believe he had ties to any of this?” And Rosie sez

I think the man has been in custody of the American government, in secret CIA torture prisons in Guantanamo Bay, where torture is accepted and allowed, and he finally is the guy who admits to doing everything. They finally found the guy. It’s not that guy bin Laden. It’s this guy they’ve had since ‘93. And look, this is the picture they released of him. Doesn’t, he look healthy?

See what I mean? Rosie is a national treasure. She’s like a walking monument to all the idiocy there is and ever was.

So first of all — and I think people are starting to get this about people like Rosie — she didn’t answer Hasselbeck’s question. She goes off on this tangent about prison and torture, to deliberately change the subject because she knows she has to. She argues that we’ve had this fellow in our custody for a very long time, but misstates that by a decade. She’s got some kind of argument that’s built around the notion that we’ve been leaning on this greaseball really hard for a long time, but it’s not an argument sufficiently durable to actually be stated from stem-to-stern, because one gathers that if it was strong enough to bear up under that kind of weight, she woulda-done it. But then to buttress this argument that doesn’t actually lead anywhere, she shows off this picture of the greaseball. Oops. The picture was taken when we first caught ‘im. Not after we got done leaning on ‘im. Nice try.

But the money-shot is when she’s articulating the words “tooorrrtttuuuuuuurrrreee” and “seeeecccrrreeettt ppprrriiisssooonnns,” scanning around the audience with that “can I get an Amen here” look on her doughy face, and coming up mostly empty.

Hasselbeck’s question, when you think about it, is devastating. It can be scrutinized in detail, or ignored entirely — it makes a great point either way. Mohammed confessed to thirty-one nasty things, and it’s generally agreed, may have exaggerated some of them. My understanding is this fellow is given to boasting, so if Rosie seeks to instill doubt about some of these, maybe even a huge chunk of the list of 31, in my book she doesn’t have much work to do.

But Elisabeth wants to know if Mohammed is guilty of none of them. I mean, ponder this for a little bit. Mohammed is actually guilty of one item on the list…or all but one item. Between those two extremes, is there any practical difference?

I submit not. Which means what Rosie is contributing, amounts to just so much noise. What’s meaningful about this latest incident, is now we’ve got a situation where more people understand this is all Rosie is contributing.

This unflattering light, furthermore, is being scattered off in the direction of all those other people who sound just like Rosie. We, as in the “Big We,” are finally starting to get that they aren’t contributing much more than noise, either.

Now outside the political realm where perception-equals-reality, when we step into the more concrete plane of reality-is-reality and look at what’s real, we see: The situation’s unchanged. Islamic weirdo greaseballs want to kill us. We’re killing them instead — and taking them prisoner, and getting information out of them about more Islamic weirdo greaseballs who want to kill us, and how we can capture and kill them too. This is good work. Not purely good work; you can smear it if you try. And that’s exactly what these “dissenters” are trying to do. Trying like the dickens. Trying, trying, trying…and it really isn’t much help to anybody.

Mohammed himself, like Rosie, is a good representation of a broad class of people just like him. He’s guilty of some of the things on his confession list, and probably most of the things. I’m given to understand we have a lot of other folks in custody just like that. What they know, that we have not yet learned, may be of some value. So it becomes a worthy question to ask: What do we do with those folks?

The way I see it, after we consign the compulsive subject-changers and tangent-chasers to the kiddie table and deliberate like adults, we have four options.

One, we can do what I call “torture.” What it means to me. Fire and steel. When people say “we should not torture, because it compromises our esteem in the world community,” this is what they’re talking about. They may think they’re talking about Item #2, below. They’re not. They’re talking about yanking arms out of sockets, and stuff like that.

Two. We can do what the Rosie O’Dumbells call “torture.” Asking questions of people, in a way you wouldn’t want to have questions asked of you. Things that don’t involve physical damage. Waterboarding. Psy-Ops. “Your leaders have abandoned you, who do you think you’re protecting?” Sleep deprivation. Let’s face it: People in the much-vaunted “World Community” who hate us because we do these things, are “friends” we don’t need. They aren’t ready to start liking us again if/when we refrain from doing this. Who the hell do they think they’re kidding?

Three. We can go ahead and ask terrorists the way you would like to have people ask you for things. Like borrowing a cup of sugar. Kindly tell us, please, Mister Terrorist? As soon as we’re about as obnoxious as a Jehovah’s Witness on your front porch, we back off. Maybe check back in a couple months.

Four. We don’t ask them squat.

Is there a fifth option? Maybe someone else can come up with a fifth. I don’t see one. From where I sit, we are limited to those four. And the last two of those four, in my mind, are completely unacceptable. Furthermore, I don’t think anyone of sane mind would find those last two acceptable. If either of those last two appeal to you, you’re just drinking way too much anti-war kool-aid — and, yes, anti-American kool-aid — you have some kind of assurances that terrorists will never ever harm one hair on your head, or anyone in your family or circle of friends, preceived assurance, or imagined. You either believe the “there is no terrorist threat” hype, or else you are one evil narcissistic sonofabitch.

And because national security does have something to do with good relations, I think we should lop off Option One as well.

That leaves Option Two, which Rosie says she doesn’t like. But it’s the only option left. And I think most people are starting to get that. Slowly. There simply are no sane alternatives. We waterboard, and we waterboard like there’s no tomorrow.

We conclude this post with yet another Rosie O’Donnell “Moment of Zen.” Like I said, let her talk. People need to be reminded how stupid and dangerous people like Rosie really are, and what a mutually estranged and distant relationship these people have with what the rest of us call “reality.”

Exclusive Club

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Health club only admits women.

Guy comes along with a ten-day free pass, wants to be admitted in to the club.

Health club says no. Guy acts like a dick. Files formal complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of British Columbia.

Tribunal denies claim, then fines the guy $3000 for acting like a dick. That’s like, in USD, seven or eight bucks. Ha ha! Couldn’t resist that last one.

Human rights complainant ordered to pay $3,000

A B.C. man who filed a human rights complaint against Just Ladies Fitness in Burnaby more than two years ago has now been ordered to pay the gym $3,000 because of the way he behaved.

Gordon Stopps made a formal complaint after being told he couldn’t use a 10-day free pass to work out at the women-only gym. But the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal rejected his complaint of gender discrimination.

Read the whole thing

Here’s what I think is especially amusing. And kind of ominous.

[The HRT] also said the $3,000 award should not discourage people from filing human rights complaints.

First of all, while the gentlemen who want to work out at a womens’-only club are few and far between, and a lot of ladies don’t feel comfortable being stared-down while they’re working out, this is a little silly. Women are inherently weak — or, if they are not, they don’t need any special considerations. Certainly they don’t need to have womens’-only clubs, while gentlemen’s-clubs remain consigned to the dustbin of history. My preference? Keep the ladies strong — let them have their own place — bring the gentlemen’s clubs back.

Second, what a wonderful fantasy it would be to have fulfilled. Someone acts like a dick, you can slap a fine on them and they have to pay it. We’ve all had a wish for that kind of authority at some time or another. And I can’t help but think, we demonstrate our strongest and most helpful characteristics when we find alternatives to this…offer to buy the gentleman a drink, work out the conflict, resolve to associate with people less likely to be surrounded by such problems, etc. Therefore, to continue to pursue such a fantasy is a sign of weakness, as much a temptation as it may be. Interesting commentary on the human condition; our canucks don’t seem to be treating it as a weakness. Folks inclined to wave that kind of authority around, they put in charge of things.

Third, I see I don’t have long to wait nowadays before someone complains about “freedom” being “eroded.” Everyone claims to be able to spot the signs that it’s slipping away, and at the same time, so many of the most outspoken seem to be radiating uncertainty about what the signs really are. Based on what little I know about countries where people are not free, it seems one of the most obvious signs would be that individual desires and inclinations and behaviors, become trivial. They are subordinated to what “important” officials tell you to do…to say…to think…to believe. It would seem our neighbors to the North — not exactly silent on the subject of Yankee “vanishing civil liberties,” it must be said — have crossed the line, or are soon to cross it. A fine is being assessed. The blue-bloods say don’t let it discourage you. What the hell is the point? What’s a fine supposed to do, if it isn’t supposed to discourage anyone?

Trackposted at Bullwinkle Blog

What Hillary Left Out

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

Cannot findPriceless.

Sen. Hillary Clinton presumed the other day to give a think-tank audience a history lesson. But it turns out that the would-be president is herself in need of some tutoring.

Appearing before the Center for American Progress, Clinton quoted extensively from President Franklin Roosevelt’s speech to the nation two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“We are now in this war. We are all in it, all the way. Every man, woman and child is a partner in the most tremendous undertaking of our American history,” FDR told an anxious nation that had just entered World War II.

Added Clinton: “That was presidential leadership that understood that when American soldiers are in harm’s way, we are all at war.”

Of course, there was something else Roosevelt understood about war and presidential leadership – as does the current commander-in-chief, George W. Bush: When you find yourself in a war, you fight to win.

As FDR put it in that same speech: “The United States can accept no result save victory, final and complete . . . The sources of international brutality, wherever they exist, must be absolutely and finally broken . . . We’re going to fight it with everything we got.”

Hillary conveniently chose not to quote from that part of the speech.

Don’t Hire Bloggers?

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

Heh. Well, there’s a certain logic to it I must admit. And yet I have to wonder. Any employer who figures this out from a magazine article, said magazine article, itself, figuring it out from John Edwards’ little problems in the Spring of 2007…how long would they have been able to meet the payroll in the first place? Not exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Act One: In early February, the John Edwards campaign announces the hiring of two writers, Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, both fairly well-known in the hothouse world of political Web sites. Liberal bloggers swoon at this Web-savvy move by the erstwhile vice-presidential nominee, not to mention the attention paid to liberal bloggers.

Act Two: Persons unfriendly to Edwards quickly unearth blog entries written by the women at their personal sites before joining the campaign, which strike some observers as anti-Catholic screeds, and others as typically scabrous blog commentary. The story of the politically incorrect bloggers spreads from the Web to the traditional press; hay is made by political pundits. Edwards distances himself from the statements but does not fire Marcotte and McEwan.

Act Three: Marcotte and McEwan resign in order to halt the barrage of hostile e-mail and blog-posts, and to stop the bleeding for Edwards. Anyone familiar with the long memory of search engines and the gaffe-phobic culture of political campaigns wonders, what was the Edwards camp thinking? How could it have been caught so flat-footed by the inevitable reaction to the very public opinions of its staffers? It’s not as if this scenario is new anymore: In 2004, the John Kerry campaign Web site killed links to other blogs after critics pointed to the incendiary words of one of the linked bloggers, Markos “Daily Kos” Moulitsas.

The Edwards campaign is close-mouthed about the details of the whole affair, including the internal politics of the hirings and departures, as are Marcotte and McEwan. But at least some lessons are clear, for campaigns as well as companies that allow people to blog (or that hire people who may blog): Google is forever, so you need to know what your people have said in the past and be prepared to answer for it.

Gee, I’m a blogger who likes to work. So maybe my personal biases are at work here. But I think this is retarded. If there’s one thing to be learned from the Edwards affair it’s this: politicians who want to be provocative and smarmy, are no longer able to choose the audience in front of which they provoke and smarm. Thanks to the search engines, they put on their show in front of everybody or they don’t do it at all. That’s a good thing.

Think on it for just a second or two. It’s obvious. Without the massive memory of the innernets, John Edwards would have put Marcotte and McEwan front-and-center during his speeches to Move-On-Dot-Org, and then he would have turned around and buried them deep when addressing…not just Catholics…but any religious institution at all. And he would have gotten away with it. Thanks to Yahoo and Google, those days are over, or are on their way to being over.

Frankly, I wouldn’t mind seeing Ziff Davis eat a little crow over this one. Hey all you other bloggers. ZD thinks you are just like Amanda Marcotte. Is that an unfair characterization? I’d love to see them come out and say so.

Toxic Wives

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

SolisHmm. Things would’ve been different if someone explained this to me when I was sixteen.

Watch out! Toxic Wife Syndrome is rampant and droves of gold diggers are prowling in search of rich prey to join the tribe.

So says journalist Tara Winter Wilson whose guide to spotting a potential toxic wife touched a raw nerve with hordes of victims contacting her about the so-called syndrome.

Her warning is stark: “Unless you marry an equal who is going to pay her own way, you will end up with a lazy, indulgent, over-pampered slug.”

“Marriage is being clouded by Toxic Wife Syndrome. Ridiculous amounts of money keep being awarded to these women in divorce settlements.”

Winter Wilson, staggered by the flood of heartfelt feedback she got after first naming the syndrome in a lifestyle article for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, said: “Many women see it as a career choice.”

“After leaving university, they stay on the party circuit until they trap someone. They try to get the most by doing the least. They develop an extraordinary sense of entitlement, becoming very judgmental and shrewish,” she told Reuters.

Hmm. It never would have occurred to me to correlate the most vicious golddiggers in my past…with judgmentalism. Makes a certain amount of sense.

Interesting the way our society works. You’re a middle-age six-foot right-handed white guy with a receeding hairline…and a blog…and you have opinions. Holy smokes, the things people say about that. Trust me on that one. Most of the people who argue with me about blogging, I’d guess three-quarters of them — they don’t argue with me about anything. They just squeak. Let me be known they disapprove. Disapprove of the practice of coming to a conclusion about something, and letting it be known. They have nothing to say about anything specific…and they’re far-and-away in the majority. BUT. You are a babe who looks good in a short skirt, fresh out of university, staying on the party circuit. You’re looking for an old guy to tell you his bank balance seconds after meeting you. You have opinions.

What do we say about that? “She’s courageous.” “She speaks her mind.” Et cetera.

Well personally, I’m all in favor of people of both sexes having opinions. Even stupid, sucky opinions are better than none at all. But this is an interesting double-standard we’ve formed here. And I think it’s linked, from what I’ve seen, to Toxic Wife Syndrome. I know, in addition to my own relationship disasters, I’ve come to be aware of other married couples experiencing turmoil. Said turmoil invariably ends badly.

What do these couples all have in common? It seems that the bride is always quicker to form opinions than her bridegroom. That’s an indictment against neither one of them, by the way; it’s a relative observation. It seems a lady quick to judge, has a shot at a happy marriage, if she marries a gentleman who’s just as quick, or quicker.

And, if she isn’t a lazy, indulgent, over-pampered slug.

And if she wants a long happy marriage. But there, we run into Tara Winter Wilson’s observation about a “career choice.” But married ladies are supposed to want their marriages to succeed, aren’t they? We’re told so.

Why should it work that way all the time, though? Um…you know, why should it work that way some of the time? Divorced women are supposed to experience financial hardship — well, we’ve canxed that. They’re supposed to experience stigma — whoops, we got rid of that. So what’s left is, they’re going to want their children to continue a relationship with their father. But that’s assuming they’re his — assuming she approves of his fathering — and assuming she cares.

And then there’s that “love” stuff. Here’s a secret for younger men: That doesn’t cut it. A husband, first-and-foremost, opens doorways to the future a lady desires for herself, and shows himself ready to share that future with her. As a distant second, he is someone she “loves.” The marriage is on much more solid footing, when the knight brings his lady the first of those two and not the second, than the other way ’round.

It’s a sad thing to say, but from what I know and what I’ve seen, we’ve had this upsurge in Toxic Wife Syndrome because it has become so difficult to define. In the final analysis, they’re simply women who refuse to be disappointed. And nowadays, who has ever raised a young girl into womanhood, fully and truly prepared for disappointment?

It’s like a biblical plague of Egypt. But we’ve done it to ourselves.

Mad As Hell

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

Grrrr!Olby keeps a copy of the monologue from Network on his iPod. Yes, that monologue. Brags about it, even. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Olbermann’s rants, which he quaintly labels “special comments,” are filled with sound and fury. His wrath is genuine, he says, never simulated.

Still, for inspiration, Olbermann keeps in his iPod a clip of the famous “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” speech by Peter Finch’s crazed anchorman Howard Beale from the 1976 film Network.

“In madness, Beale was expressing some great truth,” he muses. “It was beautifully written, eloquent, forceful. Anger as a means of expressing truth resonates with me.”

So…what’ll it take to make this guy happy? And if there isn’t anything, then what’s the point of listening to him?

Thing I Know #52. When angry people make demands, the ensuing fulfillment never seems to bring a stop to their anger.

Steyn Nails the Libby Trial

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

Nails it, I say. Whack-a-mole, right between the eyes.

Perverse Libby trial was revealing
:
The prosecutor knew from the beginning that (a) leaking Valerie Plame’s name was not a crime and (b) the guy who did it was Richard Armitage. In other words, he was aware that the public and media perception of this ”case” was entirely wrong: There was no conspiracy by Bush ideologues to damage a whistleblower, only an anti-war official making an offhand remark to an anti-war reporter. Even the usual appeals to prosecutorial discretion (Libby was a peripheral figure with only he said/she said evidence in an investigation with no underlying crime) don’t convey the scale of Fitzgerald’s perversity: He knew, in fact, that there was no cloud, that under all the dark scudding about Rove and Cheney there was only sunny Richard Armitage blabbing away accidentally. Yet he chose to let the entirely false impression of his ”case” sit out there month in, month out, year after year, glowering over the White House, doing great damage to the presidency on the critical issue of the day.

So much of the current degraded discourse on the war — ”Bush lied” — comes from the false perceptions of the Joe Wilson Niger story. Britain’s MI-6, the French, the Italians and most other functioning intelligence services believe Saddam was trying to procure uranium from Africa. Lord Butler’s special investigation supports it. So does the Senate Intelligence Committee. So Wilson’s original charge is if not false then at the very least unproven, and the conspiracy arising therefrom entirely nonexistent. But the damage inflicted by the cloud is real and lasting.

As for Scooter Libby, he faces up to 25 years in jail for the crime of failing to remember when he first heard the name of Valerie Plame — whether by accident or intent no one can ever say for sure. But we also know that Joe Wilson failed to remember that his original briefing to the CIA after getting back from Niger was significantly different from the way he characterized it in his op-ed in the New York Times. We do know that the contemptible Armitage failed to come forward and clear the air as his colleagues were smeared for months on end. We do know that his boss Colin Powell sat by as the very character of the administration was corroded. [emphasis mine]

I put those parts in bold because I happen to know a lot of people missed those points. They know something I don’t; or else — assuming the press has a responsibility to “inform the public” — a huge chunk of the mission remains unachieved.

But that’s a big assumption. If the press’ mission, alternatively, is to slime and slander Republican administrations, then such tidbits are off-topic, which would explain why we’ve heard so little about them.

Meanwhile…Toensing and Sanford conducted an analysis two years ago, as to whether a crime was even committed here with regard to the “outing.” So far as I know, none of the salient details have changed since then.

As two people who drafted and negotiated the scope of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, we can tell you: The Novak column and the surrounding facts do not support evidence of criminal conduct.

When the act was passed, Congress had no intention of prosecuting a reporter who wanted to expose wrongdoing and, in the process, once or twice published the name of a covert agent. Novak is safe from indictment. But Congress also did not intend for government employees to be vulnerable to prosecution for an unintentional or careless spilling of the beans about an undercover identity. A dauntingly high standard was therefore required for the prosecutor to charge the leaker.

At the threshold, the agent must truly be covert. Her status as undercover must be classified, and she must have been assigned to duty outside the United States currently or in the past five years. This requirement does not mean jetting to Berlin or Taipei for a week’s work. It means permanent assignment in a foreign country. Since Plame had been living in Washington for some time when the July 2003 column was published, and was working at a desk job in Langley (a no-no for a person with a need for cover), there is a serious legal question as to whether she qualifies as “covert.”

Memo For File XL

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

A couple of weeks ago the Dean’s World blogger, Dean Esmay, laid down a law. It was a new Anti-Islamophobe policy. And for the new policy he drew inspiration from a “Line in the Sand” drawn by William F. Buckley at the National Review half a century ago:

Back in the 1950s William F. Buckley Jr. conducted a purge in the ranks of his young publication, The National Review. He was running a conservative publication at a time when conservative publications were not respected and were thus by nature low-circulation. In those circumstances it would be hard to stand on principal and refuse to associate with certain parties who might provide short-term gain.

Buckley refused to align his publication with elements on the right that were excessively hateful, rabidly racist, or just plain nuts. The whole thing came to a head when Buckley one day drew a line in the sand:

You could either be a John Birch Society supporter, or you could write for the National Review.

One or the other. “Both” was not an option.
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…having wearied of fighting constantly against Islamophobic fools on Dean’s World and other places, only to have people ridiculously deny the very possibility that there could be any such thing as Islamophobia even when the evidence is presented them full in the face, I’ve decided to draw a similar line in the sand:

You can be an Islamophobe, or you can contribute to Dean’s World. You cannot do both.

This is meant for front-page contributors, submitters, or even commenters. It is time for you to make a choice, and to live by that choice. Because I certainly intend to.

Simply put, you must agree to all of the following assumptions:

1) Islam does not represent the forces of Satan or the Anti-Christ bent on destruction of the Christian world.

2) There is no 1,400 year old “war with the West/Christianity” being waged by Muslims or anyone else.

3) Islam as a religion is no more inherently incompatible with modernity, minority rights, women’s rights, or democratic pluralism than most religions.

4) Medieval, anachronistic, obscure terms like “dhimmitude” or “taqiyya” are suitable for polite intellectual discussion. They are not and never will be appropriate to slap in the face of everyday Muslims or their friends.

5) Muslims have no more need to prove that they can be good Americans, loyal citizens, decent people, or enemies of terrorism than anyone else does.

Is this a test of “ideological purity?”

Why yes. Yes it is.
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Criticism is fine. Intellectual argument is fine. Traditionalist moral arguments are fine. But I will not provide a forum for haters or paranoids.

I’m done. Islamophobia has no more place in polite society than any other form of irrational hatred, and I will no longer be any part of hosting discussions or “debates” with Islamophobes.

I learned about this from His Royal Majesty, and it’s an interesting phenomenon to watch, although certainly by no means anything untested. Nowadays, anytime the ideological purists erect their guardrails of ideological purity, the first trailheads to be sealed off are the ones leading to something that someone somewhere can call “hate.” The ideological purists, then, block off all the other trailheads later. Until purity is achieved.

This Bullet #2 in Dean’s “Line” has caused a lot of discussion; one gains the impression, the discussion exceeds whatever Dean himself had in mind about it. FIAR at Radioactive Liberty enjoyed fisking this one immensely, it seems:

Uh, be sure to send a copy of the memo to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hamas, Hizbollah, Islamic Jihad, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, etc. I’m pretty sure they missed the memo. I think you should also send a BCC to the Marines so that they can play whack a muj by listening for the sound of explosive laughter.

It’s caused quite the controversy. Frank J is disturbed. Misha says, “Enjoy your echo chamber.” His own wife is glad she’s not a contributor, or she would be out. Contributor Ron Coleman says Buh-Bye now. It’s odd that an Orthodox Jew might be troubled, isn’t it? Contributor Kevin Dombrowski is out too. Contributor Mary Madigan compares him to Maoists.

The forementioned Rosemary The Queen provides the most entertaining response, I think:

I’d certainly not be welcome here any longer. Dean’s line in the sand is one that I would stomp all over, if, I were still an active contributor here.

Dean is welcome to make all the rules he wants but I don’t like echo chambers. There can be no debate if everyone agrees. What’s the friggin’ point? Does it make me an Islamophobe to notice that people who strap bombs on themselves in the name of Allah are … muslim? Well, tough crap. I’m NOT BLIND. Does that mean I think all muslims are bad? No. But there are some problems in the muslim world and it doesn’t make me a racist to say so.

I have a problem with all of Dean’s assertions. My problem is the fact that we are being blackmailed into accepting his edict. Well, I won’t be browbeaten into “acceptance”, I like to think for myself and make my own decisions. Demanding that I accept his edict on Islam is not gonna happen. I won’t be told what to do or believe, that’s why I quit being a Democrat. And if I were still a major writer here, I’d quit too.

Anyone who wants to debate without having to swallow what Dean’s serving is welcome at The Queen of All Evil or as I have been affectionately dubbed, the Queen of the Banned.

And on her own resource linked above, she opines against one of the sub-edicts in particular, with no small amount of solid justification for doing so.

Well, I have a big problem with #3 and I would like to thank Saudi Arabia’s latest decision for spelling it out so clearly.

A 19-year-old Saudi woman who was kidnapped, beaten and gang raped by seven men who then took photos of their victim and threatened to kill her, was sentenced under the country’s Islamic-based law to 90 lashes for the “crime” of being alone with a man not related to her.

Well, most ancient religions are well versed in the ideals of the 21st century. Till, Islam catches up, #3 is a big FUCKING JOKE. I’m also pretty sure that no ancient religion currently hangs gays for being gay, either… cough Iran cough.

But for sheer quality and educational value, nothing beats Ron Coleman’s essay on the subject.

I was very inclined to wait this out, but then in the comments someone raised the issue of “Galileos” on the masthead. I don’t want it to be inferred that in order to have access to this platform — which I value highly, as Dean knows well — I am going along with what are arguably controversial propositions. I think Dean is grossly oversimplifying the issue, one of the most important and controversial in the world today. I think, for what it’s worth, that he’s doing so because of a powerful inclination he has to do the right thing, especially by underdogs.

Why he thinks Muslims are underdogs in this time (and place), as I have said before, I do not know. I’ve been a little annoyed by the suggestions that as a Jew, I should be the one to be most sympathetic to the plight of the oppressed Muslim, which frankly I believe is preposterous. As a Jew I am the number-one guy in the gunsight of the oppressed Muslim, just because of who I am. Not every Muslim kills Jews, but in my lifetime no one has killed as many Jews as Muslims. I won’t have my view of what that implies about Muslim civilization dictated to me by anyone.

Just as Dean has certain things that he’s really picky about, I do too. And number one is being told. Tied for number one is cowardice. Those are my lines in the sand.

So by drawing his line in the sand Dean has forced my hand. Not because I’m an “Islamophobe.” My way of life as a strictly orthodox Jew has more in common with that of religious Muslims than Dean’s does, and then some. But I won’t be cornered this way. It’s a bit of a precedent issue — where will Dean draw the next line? I don’t want to find out or to worry about it.

Well, speaking for myself I think folks are being a bit tough on Dean. Dean didn’t invent this practice of Clean Thinking, and he will not be the last to practice it. He’s just the latest example of someone who thinks it’s a swell idea.

Trouble with it is, it’s antithetical to “learning” in the strictest definition of that word. It justifies itself, not by providing an alternative avenue by which information may be acquired, but by declaring itself a scourge of hate. So by its own foundation it provides a choice: You may learn, or you may abjure hatred. And then, it foresakes the first of those two, and demands all others do the same.

But it never seems to stop there, does it? Once you refuse to learn things because you’re afraid of what you might learn — you have to continue honoring that taboo. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition. A new piece of information might make you hateful…or protestant…or agnostic…or gay. You risk becoming tomorrow, things you are not today, and don’t want to be today. This kind of risk is what learning is all about. And so, in the same manner you may “guarantee” no car will run you over, if you simply resolve to stay in your house all day long…you’re assured you will cling to the same values everlastingly, so long as you refuse to learn new things. The only catch is this: There can be no exceptions. It’s a “needle and balloon” situation. No room for moderation.

Can’t be half-a-dimwit, or the formula doesn’t work.

As far as those with a sincere desire to exchange ideas, I think the Queen of Evil said it best. “There can be no debate if everyone agrees. What’s the friggin’ point?”

Bare Minimum

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Red State restates the obvious about the minimum wage.

BOTH the House of Representatives and the Senate have recently passed bills raising the minimum wage. The Senate bill includes tax breaks for businesses, based on the following logic: While a minimum wage increase is popular, the resulting higher labor costs will translate into fewer jobs, more expensive products or both. The solution, the senators concluded, was to subsidize companies that hire disadvantaged workers, in order to reimburse them for these higher wage costs.

Does this reasoning hold up? A look at one of the key pieces of this business tax package — the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which has been in place since 1996 and would be extended for five years under the proposal — suggests otherwise.

WAGTOCPAN Will Destroy Us

Monday, March 12th, 2007

ManBearPigThis weekend I decided my answer to ManBearPig is WAGTOCPAN.

The woman and I drove up to the boy’s mom’s place, and dropped off the boy. Then we went on a shopping excursion which would be concluded in the evening at Wal Mart. In Folsom. On a weekend. And while I’m wondering, how is it I continue to be talked into this, I’m seeing WAGTOCPAN everywhere. There’s more of it than there was a week ago, more of it last week than there was a year ago. It’s got a chokehold on us, WAGTOCPAN does, and it’s going to eventually destroy us all.

I’m talking about Women And Girls Talking On Cell Phones About Nothing.

How is it any skin off my nose? Because WAGTOCPAN is freakin’ everywhere. The whole does more damage than the sum of it’s parts. It’s a form of pollution. There’s a kind of exponential or second-degree curvature to the damage they do; put more simply, it seems to take four times as long to cut through a crowd with twenty WAGTOCPAN, as it is to transcend a crowd with only ten WAGTOCPAN. Rudeness decides the Darwinism; the right-of-way goes to whoever seizes it, and the tendency is for the seizure to be done by whoever is female, and engaged in an electronic conversation elsewhere.

How do I know they’re talking About Nothing? I can see it in their eyes. People have a certain look on the face when they are saying, or listening to, important things. These girls aren’t showing it. They just aren’t. And then there’s the quantity. Quantity, you know, eventually defeats quality. It has to. I see five randomly-selected women in Wal-Mart, three of them are going to be gabbing away on a cell phone. With that glassy “not very important” look in their eyes. Five years ago, it would have been one outta five. Ten years ago, it would have been one outta twenty. Now…it’s a majority. And of course, if we had been shopping on Saturday, about ten to noon or thereabouts, it would have been more than that.

What the hell are all these women talking about? Are they a bunch of Jack Bauers, each one of them helping to interrogate a terrorist or defuse a bomb?

I’m just not buying it. They’re talking about crap. And you know, that’s just fine with me. To each their own, libertarian leanings and all. Except, there is that pollution factor. Walking through Folsom, or driving through Folsom, or doing-whatever through Folsom…lately, on a weekend, it’s like swimming through a hive of angry bees. Everywhere you look, WAGTOCPAN — blah, blah blah. In enormous gleaming metal vehicles. Looking where they’re going? Really?

They don’t appear to be. And they’re in command of awesomely heavy and hard objects on wheels.

And here’s something else to think about, something that leads me to believe it’s all about nothing. We’re in Folsom…land of gadgets. People just love to buy gadgets here, from the latest Lexus to the latest iPod accessory to the latest — you name it. Everyone wants to prove they have arrived. Folsom, where the price of your iced-coffee drink is drawn in large neat numbers on the dome of your plastic cup, so everyone can admire that you paid $4.75 for it. Folsom, the valley of “I’m Not Spoiled, Just Loved” bumper stickers.

A hands-free device costs between ten and fifteen clams. Mine was fifty, because it’s a bluetooth model; you can get it now, for half that much. But you don’t need bluetooth.

How come Folsom, land of the six-bedroom houses and jewel-encrusted cell phones, is flooded with so many women holding the appliances up to their ears? If it’s a serious conversation and they have to have it all the time, wouldn’t they eventually adapt to having it?

You know how scary it is to pass a woman in a big truck, on the left, when she’s holding a cell phone up to her left ear? And supposed to be paying attention to what’s going on?

WAGTOCPANAl Gore wants us to measure our “carbon footprints” and based on the size of same, feel guilty. Or buy something. Or both. (I think mine was 6.75 or thereabouts.) Seems to me it’s an idea right for other walks of life…like WAGTOCPAN. Oh, how I’d love to see an article appearing in a glossy magazine somewhere containing the words “According to experts, there are several things the average person can do to bring her WAGTOCPAN under control…”

I should hasten to add something. In all my years on the planet, I’ve seldom seen women-and-girls pick up a bad habit that wasn’t started by the guys first, and I doubt this is any exception. And I happen to know MABTOCPAN is indeed a problem. I’ve seen it happen. Furthermore…guys, it seems, are on balance far less decisive about what speed they want to drive, when they chatter on their cell phones. They chew someone out, they go faster, someone else chews them out, they want to slow down. But if I were to do a count of how many people are chattering away on their cell phones when they should be watching where they’re going — this is a female thing. I know the men are equally guilty, it’s just harder to catch them in the act because their conversations are shorter.

This is another reason I know the conversations are meaningless. Men and women have different habits with their social customs, but not with how they send and receive important messages. This has little to do with important messages; it’s a social custom. I’m serial. Super-duper-serial.

I just wish people, regardless of whether they wear skirts or trousers, would watch where they’re going when they engage in it. Now excuse me, I have to take this…

Update: As far as MABTOCPAN goes, here’s an example that borders on the surreal…

Timothy Michael Seibert was in the midst of raping a 49-year-old woman, according to police, when he answered a cell phone call from his wife.

The woman was so close to the phone she could hear Seibert’s wife yelling at him, asking him where he was and what he was doing, according to arrest documents filed by Silver Spring Twp. police.

See, gender doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it. The cell phone thing, in general…it’s just gotten way, way outta hand. “Hey, whaddya doin’?” “I’m watching a movie, this dude sitting next to me is getting really pissed about my cell phone.” “Yeah? Cool.” “What are YOU doing?” “I’m mugging some guy, getting ready to steal his car.” “Hey, cool.”

Cell phone calls of the “What Are You Doing” variety, have got to be the plague of our times. People who take such calls, have got to be on the most shallow end of the gene pool. Raping women is worse, of course. But taking a cell phone call about what you’re doing, and making a conversation out of it, is a crime in itself.

Intelligent People Are Unhappy

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Rather interesting.