Slips but no falls.....

I watched tonight's debate, and Kerry's polished debating skills were matched by Bush's sincerity and consistency. (Hard to call overall -- although I suspect the media will call it for Kerry.)

Both men flubbed a few times, Bush stammered occasionally, and he did look tired. I think he's under more pressure than Kerry. It was good to see Bush stress Kerry's inconsistency over time, as this would not have otherwise "shown" in the debate. For the life of me, I still can't tell exactly what Kerry's position is on Saddam Hussein, terrorism, and Iraq, now, then, or in the future.

Bush's worst slip of the tongue was inadvertently calling Osama bin Laden "Saddam Hussein" but then catching himself.

Kerry's worst slip was when (during the discussion of Russia and the KGB) he stated, "I was at Treblinka Square!" -- seemingly unaware of his gaffe. (He meant, of course, Lubyanka Square; Treblinka was a Nazi concentration camp. If Bush had called Lubyanka "Treblinka" we'd be hearing again about how he's an embarrassment and an ignoramus.)

No puddle on the floor, though.

There isn't anything I could add that many others haven't already said or will say, so I won't bore my readers.

UPDATE: In the blogosphere it really doesn't matter who catches these things first, but I see that I was not alone in noticing the Treblinka gaffe. Reliapundit asks,

How could a presidential candidate - with Jewish heritage - confuse the name of a DEATH CAMP WITH ANYTHING ELSE!?!?!?!?!?

Instead of showing off his experience and knowledge, this exposes Kerry as a shameless ignorant fraud.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

Kerry should have caught himself making an error of such magnitude, as Bush did when he almost said "Saddam Hussein." (And Bush wasn't showing off, either....)

MORE: Has "Treblinka Square" been made to disappear by Google? (Nothing as of 12:07 p.m. on 10/01/04.....)

The "Treblinka Square" flub was reported last night on at least two three blogs, AND I saw it on Drudge this morning, so what's up with Google?

AND MORE: It turns up on Google News , so I doubt there's any disappearing going on. Here's the accurate quote:

And I was probably one of the first senators, along with Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire, a former senator, go down into the KGB underneath Treblinka Square and see reams of files with names in them.
Why is Daily Kos the only blog to appear? (I still don't understand how Google works.....)

MORE: Kevin at Wizbang's post shows that many more blogs have noticed "Treblinka Square."

MORE: Likely Kerry voter Jeff Jarvis not only wasn't impressed by Kerry, he says Kerry's performance made him less inclined to vote for him:

Kerry was pushing his Coke-commercial view of a world marching together hand-in-hand and I don't buy it. I don't buy that the U.N. or Old Europe will come into Iraq to save our skins -- or to fight for democracy or the rights of the Iraqi people. If you say that Bush mislead us to think we'd find WMDs in Iraq then perhaps you also should say that Kerry misleads us to think we'll ever find a French butt on the line there. I fear the consequences of giving these countries what amounts to veto power over what we must sometimes do; the result will be paralysis.

In this new era of terrorism and of our role as the sole superpower, I want to see a new vision and strong strategy for foreign policy. The Kumbaya gambit won't cut it.

I heard Kerry criticize the war over and over without hearing a clear plan for winning it -- and a clear will to win it. I also did not hear Bush give a clear plan for winning this war -- but at least I still hear his will. It's not that Kerry flipflops. It's that I don't hear iron will. And in a time of war -- war against terrorism -- we need a leader with iron will.

At the same time, will alone won't win the war. Great planning and great execution and tireless diligence will win this war. And we don't have that today, either. That is Bush's failing.

Many others were able to blog the debate as it occurred. In some ways, I am glad I had to catch the debate in bits and just listen. I listened to what it did to me. And it made me more unsure about Kerry. He sounds more like Howard Dean and I didn't want to vote for Dean. He had my likely vote; it was his to lose. He hasn't lost it ... yet.

I am a bit too jaded to judge candidates by how they do at debates, because such events are talent shows, and artificial in the sense that they offer a mere pinpoint in time without giving the overall picture of a candidate. What irritated me the most about Kerry was what his accomplished, articulate debating style could not conceal: he still has no real plan for Iraq.

(I'm also reminded of the saying "Big talker, little doer.")

UPDATE: Roger L. Simon offers a charmingly Freudian analysis of "Treblinka Square," and also asks whether he and other members of his generation might not have been "running away from some unspeakable horror into a world of sex, drugs and rock and roll."

posted by Eric at 10:57 PM | Comments (3)

Leaking the unwritten story

The debates have not started yet, but has Lapham declared Kerry the winner? Depends.

Here's Glenn Reynolds (noting that you can vote to declare Kerry the winner now, here):

Unless Kerry melts into a puddle on the floor, the media spin will be that he did well and helped his campaign.

I just turned on the TV and saw Ana Marie Cox (describing herself as a Maureen Dowd-to-be of the blogosphere, via crossing Matt Drudge and Glenn Reynolds), who just stated that the AP has already written the story of the debate. Glenn Reynolds was on too, but more subdued.

As to tonight's debate, I'm pretty sure Kerry's already done enough to win according to the AP's high standards, but I'll try to fast forward the TV, record the debate in advance and then rewind it so I can watch it before anyone else.

I'll check carefully for the puddle on the floor, but I don't think I'll find one.

(Depends, I guess.....)

posted by Eric at 11:30 AM

Best of the best of, and best of the worst of....

Best of the best

Be sure to visit this week's Carnival of the Vanities, which is hosted by Last One Speaks. A truly great party this week. The theme?

Gilligan's Island! Complete with pictures! It's a very clever arrangement of posts, including beached gems like these:

  • Rogue Pundit on poppies without morphine, which sounds almost oxymoronic.
  • Incite offers further proof that Kerry's disingenuous.
  • QandO on Neolibertarianism. (And I was just getting used to being a pseudolibertarian!)
  • Joe Gandelman has a must-read post on Canadian press defiance of Reuters's cowardly rule against using the word "terrorist."
  • Dissecting leftism reminds us that Nazis remain socialists.
  • Speaking of socialism, this post explains how it can make you lose a leg!
  • Read the rest too!


    Best of the worst

    While you're at this (especially the cynical among you), be sure not to miss the Bonfire of the Vanities, hosted this week at Kin's Kouch! It's a back-to-school edition, and the pictures Kinayda has selected for the posts are so good that I guarantee you'll want to copy and save some of them.

    All the posts are flamingly hot --

  • Especially Nick Packwood's obviously true tale of finding a discounted Kylie Minogue classic art book in a dour bookstore run by sourpuss socialists!
  • And Dr. Rusty Shackleford unveils many strange new plans for the war against terror. If the enemy were to read this post and take it seriously, they'd have no choice but submission to the infidel!
  • Bonfire founder Kevin shares a picture! Of Britney? Frankly, it looks like Zsa Zsa Gabor when she was arrested for slapping that police officer.....
  • The Zero Boss proves that hazing is Mullarkey! (Whoa there; almost said Mullaharchy...)
  • Andrew Ian Dodge offers a write-in candidate, whose name will make you choke.
  • Enough burning; read them all!

    posted by Eric at 10:23 AM

    Decadent dreaming

    I don't particularly enjoy writing about personal details of my life, but I thought I should share a dream, in the hope that I can better understand it. Dreams are of course where the realities (what we know) morph into the symbolic (what we want ourselves to know, but often resist).

    Some drag queen -- a stranger I had never met before -- told me he was sick and needed me to take him to the hospital. He seemed very ineffectual, and I was too busy with other things, so his request struck me as unreasonable, even ridiculous. Yet his very helplessness affected my conscience -- even in the dream. As I contemplated this situation (and struggled with feelings of guilt), an ex lover appeared to tell me that I really should take this stranger to the hospital. That got my attention, because the ex died of AIDS in 1986, and I took him to one hospital or another more times than I like to think about. He died, of course, and needed help facing that.

    When I awoke, I was thinking about the nature of decadence, and the meaning of these symbols of dying and death. My dead ex (Rod) was an upper class Mexican who thought like a Roman. He lived long enough to see the legacy of Vietnam as a Roman (especially a late-stage Roman) would have seen it. The rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the occupation of the American Embassy in Tehran were, in his view, a direct result of a failure of American resolve having emboldened people he considered truly barbaric and medieval. Christianity was in his view no match for Islam, but Americans were so steeped in Christianity that they didn't get it. This was partially because Christianity, a religion of peace, was not set up or constructed to contend with Islam, a religion of war. The latter had the advantage of seeing the practical problems with Christianity, and thereby "improving" on its obvious (from a military standpoint) failings.

    America offered a vision of freedom that was independent of Christianity, yet the Christian character of America was its Achilles heel. This country was, in my friend's view, incapable of doing what James Lileks called "going Roman," and instead wallowed helplessly while our president, a Sunday School teacher named Jimmy Carter, struggled lamely to be a good Christian man in the face of barbarism. It didn't need to be that way, Rod thought.

    These things go in cycles, and the struggle with Islamic radicalism was successfully (if briefly) postponed by Ronald Reagan's militant stance. My friend Rod lay dying as Muammar Qaddafi fled Reagan's air strikes disguised as a woman. (More here.) But that wouldn't be the end of it, Rod opined. Obviously, he was right, even though it took many years (mostly spent in strained denial) for most Americans to see what was so plain to him.

    After 9/11, it was quite clear that America was willing to fight. It almost appeared that the country had finally learned the true lesson of Vietnam.

    Have we?

    Perhaps I am being too arrogant in my assumptions. It was quite obvious to my friend Rod that the lesson of Vietnam was to be seen in the Ayatollah Khomeini and Iran. A failure of American resolve -- real or perceived -- had put the barbarians of the world on notice that this once strong, free country had absolutely no will to fight. Moreover, our freedom was held in deep contempt, and considered a direct threat to this new enemy -- a tyranny enforced by medieval superstition.

    From Rod's Roman perspective, the point of Vietnam was not whether the United States should have entered the war. Nor were considerations of morality (especially the Sunday School variety) important.

    It was whether America was willing to fight.

    Nixon's "Vietnamization" was put to the final test in a series of probing attacks (more here) by the North Vietnamese. Once it was seen that America would not enforce the peace treaty for which so many Americans had died, South Vietnam was lost. The mindless partying of the 1970s was hardly a victory party, and the hangover could not be erased.

    Will Iraq become another Vietnam?


    The difference this time is that we won't have as long as a grace period to do the partying. None of this is to say that there's anything decadent about partying, about freedom, or about sexuality. It's just that the drag queens reminded me that some things have to be defended.

    Thus, I think the drag queen in my dream serves as a symbol of latent decadence -- but not of the "decadence" which so many Americans associate with that word.

    Freedom is not decadence, but the failure to defend it is.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: Lest anyone think I am belittling Christianity, I am not. But the fact remains, no matter how they have tried to spin it over the centuries, "Christian war" will always have an oxymoronic ring to it. "Islamic war," on the other hand, goes by the name "Jihad."

    posted by Eric at 08:44 AM | Comments (1)

    Greetings, O Kindred Spirit

    Seems like I've been so wrapped up with Leon Kass lately, I've forgotten to water the rest of my hate garden. Along comes Henry Miller to remind me. Thank you, sir.

    Professional worrier Jeremy Rifkin's pronouncements always remind me of the characterization by one-time Speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas B. Reed of his political opponents, "They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge." Rifkin's assertion that Americans' consumption of beef causes domestic violence were absurd. So were his claims that biotechnology threatens "a form of annihilation every bit as deadly as nuclear holocaust," and that a small-scale field trial of a gene-spliced soil bacterium could change weather patterns and disrupt air-traffic control.

    Longtime Classical Values readers may recall some my older Rifkin screeds.
    For newer readers, the best, or at least the longest, can be found here. And if Dr. Miller himself should grace these words with his attention, please check out these old chestnuts. If you hate Rifkin like I hate Rifkin, you probably hate Paul Ehrlich too. Thus ends my shameless recycling of material.

    Before tackling this new attempt at redefining reality in an unreal way, it is useful to consider briefly Rifkin's previously published views on other subjects. In "Beyond Beef," he asserts that "the statistics linking domestic violence and quarrels over beef are both revealing and compelling." He believes that men use meat as "a means of conditioning women to accept a subservient status in society." The evidence? He quotes a woman battered by her husband: "It would start off with him being angry over a trivial thing like cheese instead of meat on a sandwich." Oh.

    For me, "Beyond Beef" was the one that got away. I can see now that neglecting it was a mistake.

    Slightly off topic, I once worked with a guy who did Rifkin impressions. Whenever Rifkin's name came up in the news, he would assume an espression of goofy, moronic piety, steeple his fingers, and majestically intone "Jeremy Rifkin....Beyond Beef". I guess it takes all kinds.

    posted by Justin at 05:08 PM

    The search for victims.....

    Can anyone identify the victims in these two stories?

    First, reporters from the New York Times have been implicated in a plan to tip off a terrorist "charity" about an impending raid:

    September 29, 2004 -- The Justice Department has charged that a veteran New York Times foreign correspondent warned an alleged terror-funding Islamic charity that the FBI was about to raid its office — potentially endangering the lives of federal agents.

    The stunning accusation was disclosed yesterday in legal papers related to a lawsuit the Times filed in Manhattan federal court.

    The suit seeks to block subpoenas from the Justice Department for phone records of two of its Middle Eastern reporters — Philip Shenon and Judith Miller — as part of a probe to track down the leak.

    The Times last night flatly denied the allegation.

    I'm glad they deny it. I'd hate to think that there might be a double standard by a news outfit that expresses outrage about other tipoffs.

    Then there's this emerging report from Reuters about an attempt to crash a Norwegian plane:

    OSLO (Reuters) - A man attacked two pilots and a passenger with an axe on a domestic Norwegian flight on Wednesday, police said.

    The pilots, who witnesses said were covered in blood, managed to land the 18-seat Kato Air flight with seven passengers on board on its way from Narvik to Bodoe in northern Norway.

    The attacker, in his 30s, was immediately arrested at Bodoe airport.

    "The flight was about to land when both pilots were attacked with an axe," police official Margrete Torseter at Salten police district in northern Norway told Reuters.

    The three were taken to a hospital. "They are injured but it is not life threatening," Torseter said.

    The hospital said in a statement the patients had minor injuries, mostly to the head.

    Torseter said the axe had probably not been carried on board the Kato Air flight 605, but was possibly installed for use in case of fire.

    The attacker said he was Algerian, police said.

    I am surprised that Reuters would dare to report that the axe wielder was Algerian. This not only verges on racism, but it might actually incline bigoted people to imagine that the man was a "terrorist." (A word Reuters will not allow to be used.....)

    More on the man here:

    The motive for the attack was not clear but police said it could be tied to the man's asylum status.

    The attacker, who was born in 1970 and had been living at a northern Norwegian centre for asylum seekers, was arrested at Bodoe airport. Police said authorities had rejected his application for asylum.

    I guess that means that applications for asylum should be granted, lest the applicants take it the wrong way, and try to bring down planes by attacking pilots with axes. Who was he seeking asylum from? The Algerian government? I thought they were cracking down on terrorism...... (More here.)

    Why aren't we given more details?

    posted by Eric at 10:53 AM

    Barbra Streisand, media ankle-biter!

    In an official-looking press release, Barbra Streisand has weighed in on freedom of the press, and against big media cowardice. She slams the American media for being intimidated and silenced, and in light of the recent uproar over ankle-biting, I think this is an important enough matter to be treated with the utmost seriousness, and dealt with one sentence at a time.

    So h-e-e-ere's Barbra:

    ....if you choose to air a story about George Bush's military service, or lack thereof, like CBS did last week, you and your award winning news anchor, get investigated by the FCC.
    Streisand must be referring to this petition filed with the FCC by the Media Ethics Project. But the petition (complaining about forgery, not choosing to "air a story"!) was filed by a private group, not the Bush administration.
    So it's no wonder that the press has taken a backseat to reporting the misdeeds of this administration.
    It has? Really? Does Streisand no longer consider the Iraq war, the failure to find WMDs, the destruction of our precious "alliances" with France and Germany and lots of other things, "misdeeds of this administration?" I've seen plenty of reporting, not in the backseat, but in the front seat! And I'm sure that a woman of Streisand's age knows that Bush's military service occurred during the Vietnam War -- too distant in time to be called a "misdeed of this administration."
    It's not surprising that the press failed to ask the hard questions leading up to the war in Iraq, when a more informed public still had time to speak up.
    Is she suggesting that there was no debate? From where derives this notion that the public didn't speak up? I know it was over a year ago, but as I recall it, there were huge demonstrations, and a loud and angry opposition to the war in Iraq, before it started, during every phase of the war, right up to and including the present time. It was cold on the eve of the war in February, 2003, but I ask, does this look like Streisand's "public" failed to "speak up"?
    In New York on Saturday, a giant puppet depicting President Bush holding buckets of blood and oil towered over the cheering crowd that was pressed against police barricades near U.N. headquarters. The main demonstration stretched 20 blocks down First Avenue, and overflowed onto Second and Third avenues as more people tried to reach the rally.
    I even remember that "hard questions" were asked!
    Never mind that CBS's story included substantive and uncontested evidence that Bush didn't show up for duty when he was supposed to, that he skipped a required physical that grounded him from flying, and that he mysteriously received an honorable discharge.
    Bush served from 1968-1973, and he was discharged honorably. Allegations of a deep, dark conspiracy are, in my view, comically out of place. No one denies Bush never served in Vietnam, yet a missing physical exam in 1973 is being treated as an impeachable offense -- by people who not only are not known for scrupulous adherence to the letter of now-alleged military "requirements" but who (to be charitable) probably did worse things in the early 70s.
    Yes...the documents CBS presented could not be confirmed for their authenticity, but these details of Bush's military record have been out for public consumption for years.
    She's right! (Well, except that the documents have been pretty much confirmed for Microsoft Word authenticity!)

    However, I'm glad Streisand was honest enough to admit that the Guard service story is old news; here's a detailed WaPo report from 1999. Little if anything has been "discovered" since.

    Why is the media not discussing the facts behind the story instead of just focusing on CBS?
    Hmmm..... Might that be because the Rather forgery is the only new "fact" to come along since 1999?
    For example, Killian's secretary said those memos accurately reflected the Colonel's feelings.
    Yeah, and Killian's family says otherwise. So does his superior officer, Staudt. Not that I am in the position to argue about the former "feelings" of a dead man, but why would an 86 year old Kerry supporter any better qualified than the man's family?
    Ben Barnes, former lieutenant governor of Texas, admitted that he pulled strings to get Bush into the National Air Guard.
    A "fact" his daughter denies. Not to take issue with Barnes, but here's what he said in 1999:
    In an interview, Barnes also acknowledged that he sometimes received requests for help in obtaining Guard slots. He said he never received such a call from then-Rep. Bush or anyone in the Bush family.

    However, when asked if an intermediary or friend of the Bush family had ever asked him to intercede on George W.'s behalf, Barnes declined to comment. Kralj, in his deposition, said he could not recall any of the names he gave to Gen. Rose.

    Barnes has since written a book, so his memory has obviously improved.

    And Robert Mintz, retired National Guardsman who served in Bush's unit in 1972, doesn't remember seeing him there.
    Streisand must not read Tom Maguire, who links to this Mintz admission reported by CBS itself:
    "I cannot say he was not there," Mintz said. "Absolutely positively was not there. I cannot say that. I cannot say he didn't do his duty."
    I'll bet a lot of people don't remember seeing me in 1972 either. How many people don't "remember seeing" Kerry? What I want to know is when the hell was Kerry discharged? 1970? 1978? 2001? This question is far from settled. And why hasn't he signed Form 180? (Did he already sign one? Or has he done a 180 on the 180?)
    And in contrast to Senator John Kerry, who said "send me" when given the option to go to Vietnam, according to the LA Times, when asked the same question, Bush checked the box stating "do not volunteer for overseas."
    Again, we return to 1999:
    Among the questions Bush had to answer on his application forms was whether he wanted to go overseas. Bush checked the box that said: "do not volunteer."

    Bush said in an interview that he did not recall checking the box. Two weeks later, his office provided a statement from a former, state-level Air Guard personnel officer, asserting that since Bush "was applying for a specific position with the 147th Fighter Group, it would have been inappropriate for him to have volunteered for an overseas assignment and he probably was so advised by the military personnel clerk assisting him in completing the form."

    During a second interview, Bush himself raised the issue.

    "Had my unit been called up, I'd have gone . . . to Vietnam," Bush said. "I was prepared to go."

    But there was no chance Bush's unit would be ordered overseas. Bush says that toward the end of his training in 1970, he tried to volunteer for overseas duty, asking a commander to put his name on the list for a "Palace Alert" program, which dispatched qualified F-102 pilots in the Guard to the Europe and the Far East, occasionally to Vietnam, on three- to six-month assignments.

    He was turned down on the spot. "I did [ask] – and I was told, 'You're not going,' " Bush said.

    Only pilots with extensive flying time – at the outset, 1,000 hours were required – were sent overseas under the voluntary program. The Air Force, moreover, was retiring the aging F-102s and had ordered all overseas F-102 units closed down as of June 30, 1970.

    This is an issue? Evidence of a sinister coverup? Bush doesn't even deny it! Apparently he couldn't have gone to Vietnam (via his guard position) even had he wanted to, he had an administrator's help filling in the form (which, except for his signature, is typed), and he probably never gave it much of a thought, as it was moot to his enlistment in the guard. But according to Streisand, the media are too intimidated to give us the "facts."


    The media's attention is diverted from the real story because we now live in a time where the fear of revenge by this administration sends a chill through the corporations that control our media and overwhelms the press' responsibility to investigate, educate and hold our leaders accountable.
    The reason the media are not doing what Streisand thinks they should do (scream bloody murder over old news) is because of a "chill through the corporations?"

    So where did they find the courage to present forged documents in the first place?

    Is CBS the only network not living in fear of fascism?


    Am I, by disputing Streisand, by implication defending Big Media from an ankle-biter? Why would I do such a thing?

    (Might be compassion, I suppose..... I do know how it feels to be attacked by ankle-biters!)

    posted by Eric at 09:39 AM | Comments (5)

    An old issue....

    After a recent post by Justin (which linked to some rather sickening web sites specializing in "body modification"), I was asked how any of that could relate to Classical Values.

    The answer is easy (and it's something I have posted about before). A major war was started by the emperor Hadrian's legislative attempt to stop mutilations:

    The Jews, however blamed him for provoking and then brutally suppressing the Bar Kokba revolt in Judea (132-135 AD). The provocative act, a decree against physical mutilation, covered the whole Empire and was not, by any means, aimed specifically at the Jews. In the rest of the Empire, in fact, it was a protection against the whims of officials, heads of families, and slave owners who previously could lop off limbs and other body parts for many offenses. The law specifically forbade castration, but it clearly also applied to circumcision, and the Jews interpreted that as an attack on their religion. The suppression of the revolt was, in fact, as efficient and as brutal as usual when the Roman army was involved. When the more zealous Jews of Jerusalem still refused to comply, Hadrian had the city destroyed and replaced by a new Roman town, Aelia Capitolina.
    One of history's ironies is that Hadrian's apparently well meaning reform led to a war so terrible that its outcome (the destruction of the temple and the Diaspora) still affects the world today.

    Mutilation is thus very much an ancient issue as well as a modern one. If the lesson of Hadrian teaches anything, it is that government ought to at least think twice before telling citizens what they can and cannot do to their bodies.

    posted by Eric at 07:34 PM | Comments (1)

    Early Intimations

    J.D. Bernal penned these words back in 1929, two years before Huxley wrote "Brave New World".

    So far we have been living on the discoveries of the early and mid-nineteenth century, a macro-mechanical age of power and metal. Essentially it succeeded in substituting mechanism for some of the simpler mechanical movements of the human body.... This was sufficient to revolutionize the whole of human life and to turn the balance definitely for man against the gross natural forces; but the discoveries of the twentieth century, particularly the micro-mechanics of the Quantum Theory which touch on the nature of matter itself, are far more fundamental and must in time produce far more important results.

    The first step will be the development of new materials and new processes in which physics, chemistry and mechanics will be inextricably fused. The stage should soon be reached when materials can be produced which are not merely modifications of what nature has given us in the way of stones, metals, woods and fibers, but are made to specifications of a molecular architecture. Already we know all the varieties of atoms; we are beginning to know the forces that bind them together; soon we shall be doing this in a way to suit our own purposes....

    After the analysis will come the synthesis; and for one place in which we can imitate nature we will be able to improve on her in ten....The result - not so very distant - will probably be the passing of the age of metals and all that it implies - mines, furnaces, and engines of massive construction. Instead we should have a world of fabric materials, light and elastic, strong only for the purposes for which they are being used, a world which will imitate the balanced perfection of a living body.

    This was excerpted from "The World, the Flesh, and the Devil".

    If you want to read the rest, it is available here, and highly recommended.

    Perhaps D.F. Moore might like to incorporate parts of it into one of his public outreach nanotechnology lectures.

    posted by Justin at 05:46 PM | Comments (3)

    When you've got someplace to be ...

    This from This is London:

    This is the moment when a woman was captured on CCTV lying unconscious in the gutter of a busy road, suffering from a serious head wound.

    Police raced to the scene after traffic was forced to swerve around the 25-year-old victim as she lay bleeding.

    Um ... why wasn't traffic forced to stop?

    posted by Dennis at 05:44 PM | Comments (2)

    Peanut butter And Chocolate

    Jay Manifold at "A Voyage To Arcturus "and "The Rhetorica Network"have cooked up a nifty idea.

    ....a mechanism whereby a symbiotic relationship between blogging and traditional forms of journalism can be deliberately cultivated.
    Reporters can use it to quickly authenticate highly technical or specialized story elements with subject-matter experts (SMEs) drawn from the best the blogosphere has to offer.... SMEs on also offer reporters another important advantage: As bloggers in addition to subject experts, they are plugged in to the latest internet conversation regarding their subject areas...
    So if you're a blogger -- or even a regular blog reader -- we encourage you to:
    Nominate bloggers to serve as subject-matter experts (SMEs). Just tell us the subject and the blog....
    If you are nominated, of course, we'd like you to agree to serve. What we hope this will mean is the occasional contact from a journalist in need of enlightenment about some obscure element of a story that you are uniquely qualified to explain. The reporter gets the story right, and you get (if you wish) quoted or referred to as the expert. It's win-win.
    we encourage the SMEs to respond relatively quickly, or hand off the inquiry to someone else in a better position to field it. Remember: there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit....
    Not to overlook the obvious, we'd like you to link to this post.
    We'd also like feedback. You know more than we do -- far more. will adapt and grow with your help.

    This seems like one of those sensible ideas that really deserves to take off. Ego and bad faith could kill it, from either side of the aisle. But the possibility of a better informed reportariat, one that actually used the immense massed expertise in this country, well it brings a wee paradigm bustin' tear t'me eye.


    posted by Justin at 05:05 PM

    Facing the music?

    Here's Bruce Springsteen, discussing his decision to politicize his career:

    Your audience invests a lot in you, a very personal investment. There is nothing more personal, in some ways, than the music people listen to. I know from my own experience how you identify and relate to the person singing. You have put your fingerprints on their imagination. That is very, very intimate. When something cracks the mirror, it can be hard for the fan who you have asked to identify with you.

    Pop musicians live in the world of symbology. You live and die by the symbol in many ways. You serve at the behest of your audience's imagination. It's a complicated relationship. So you're asking people to welcome the complexity in the interest of fuller and more honest communication.

    The audience and the artist are valuable to one another as long as you can look out there and see yourself, and they look back and see themselves. That's asking quite a bit, but that is what happens. When that bond is broken, by your own individual beliefs, personal thoughts or personal actions, it can make people angry. As simple as that. You're asking for a broader, more complicated relationship with the members of your audience than possibly you've had in the past.

    Actually, I tend not to care about the political beliefs of musicians. When Linda Ronstadt sang the praises of Michael Moore, I thought no more or no less of her music. What bothers me is when the music itself becomes so infested with political drivel that I can't enjoy it. Blatantly political music leaves me cold, but as to the views of the artist, I normally don't care.

    What I find interesting about the Springsteen quote is that he obviously realizes that some of his fans really do care, and will feel let down by the fact that he doesn't share their view of the war in Iraq. This says more about the peculiar relationship that develops between fan and performer than it does about the merits of the disagreement. Why, for example, do Bruce Springsteen's thoughts on the war matter more to his fans than would similar thoughts by a classical musician matter to a symphony patron? Why would the political views of a rock musician strike more of a chord with people than those of an actor? I can't stand Sean Penn's politics, but I recognize he's a great actor. Are these things completely rational?

    Moving to the visual arts, it becomes even more irrational. Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera were dyed-in-the-wool Communists, of the Stalinist variety. Yet their art is considered esthetically acceptable enough to decorate many a Republican home. The political views of fiction writers (leftist Ernest Hemingway will serve as an example) are even less relevant to his readers. Why does no one worry about the political views of a sculptor? How about an architect?

    Is this because the audience does not identify with a writer or a visual artist, or with most performing artists, whereas rock and roll (and to a certain extent, country music) is said to be personal? Why is it more personal than, say, bluegrass, jazz, or swing? And why would Springsteen's fans feel more betrayed than, say, fans of Lionel Hampton?

    I think the mechanism is poorly understood, and has to do with a certain adolescent mindset I remember from my youth: kids who take it as a personal insult if you don't like their favorite musician or group. Similarly, there are people who take political disagreement as a personal insult, and this is one of the reasons that political disagreement often (and so quickly) becomes ad hominem. (Religion, while it can be even more emotionally charged, at least tends to be more of a "protected category," and people are more likely to understand that religious differences are not meant as personal insults. Usually.... but not always!)

    Whether someone agrees with my politics ought not to matter any more than whether they like my taste in music. But to those whose musical tastes are already defensively personal, a sudden political disagreement with their favorite rock "hero" must be a terrible letdown.

    Of course, I say this as someone long accustomed to having people dislike my tastes -- in music and politics.

    So I'm too callused to let Springsteen's thoughts affect my musical tastes. I like the song "Born in the USA" and his views on Iraq won't change that any more than his views on Vietnam.

    Besides, people have been known to change their minds. (And their music.)

    posted by Eric at 10:04 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBacks (1)

    The unstoppable Keyes juggernaut!

    Pennsylvania's moderate incumbent Senator, Republican Arlen Specter, is facing a new threat, not from his own lackluster opponent, but from Barack Obama!

    Much as I prefer Barack Obama to Alan Keyes, I wish Obama would stay the hell out of the Pennsylvania senatorial campaign:

    Barack Obama is running to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate, but yesterday he worked Philadelphia like a hometown candidate, helping to raise $100,000 and headlining a rally that drew more than 500 people.

    Sure, the senior citizens, office workers and college students were happy to catch a glimpse of U.S. Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel, Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate nominee, at the voter registration rally in JFK Plaza. He joined Obama on the stage to warm applause after calling his own news conference earlier in the day to criticize the latest ad from his Republican opponent.

    But for many the reason they came was to see Obama, a state senator who rose to national prominence after giving the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. People mobbed him before the rally, and they circled the stage afterward, thrusting Hoeffel signs his way for an autograph. Five Philadelphia police officers and at least one private security officer were called in to manage the crowd.

    "I am quite confident he could be the first African American president of this country," said Jessica M. Marttila, 23, a student who came to shake Obama's hand.

    Obama downplayed the attention when he could, saying he was just fortunate to be so far ahead in his Illinois race against Republican Alan Keyes that he could travel the country to campaign for Democrats such as Hoeffel.

    While moderate incumbents are usually considered "safe," Arlen Specter has been getting it from the right, from the left, from an alliance between the right and the left, and now, from a senatorial candidate in another state.

    The losing candidacy of Alan Keyes is bad enough for the Republican Party. (Keyes is 40 points behind in the race against Obama, and is plagued by a social issue he could have left alone, yet went out of his way to raise). But when his opponent -- in his first race for Senate -- doesn't even need to bother campaigning, and instead runs around campaigning in other states, that adds insult to injury.

    It wasn't idle talk when I spoke of a loser mentality plaguing the Republican base. It is one thing for Keyes to damage the Republican Party in Illinois. But why should he be allowed to damage Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania?

    Surely there ought to be a loss limiting rule -- prohibiting losers from causing damage outside their own areas. I don't mean to be facetious (and I know that what goes around comes around) but seeing a tantrum by moral conservatives in Illinois affecting the candidacy of a moderate in Pennsylvania just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    I thought all politics was supposed to be local!

    Of course, since when losers have losers minded dragging others down to defeat?

    (On the other hand, not wanting to be a downer can lead to self-censorship. Which is why I have hundreds of unpublished screeds......)

    posted by Eric at 08:50 AM | Comments (5)

    When cell phones are outlawed, rude people will continue to have cell phones!

    This story is a perfect example of the kind of rude and uncivilized behavior called "disorderly conduct."

    Sakinah Aaron was walking into the bus area at the Wheaton Metro station several weeks ago, talking loudly on her Motorola cell phone. A little too loudly for Officer George Saoutis of the Metro Transit Police.

    The police officer told Aaron, who is five months pregnant, to lower her voice. She told the officer he had no right to tell her how to speak into her cell phone.

    Their verbal dispute quickly escalated, and Saoutis grabbed Aaron by the arm and pushed her to the ground. He handcuffed the 23-year-old woman, called for backup and took her to a cell where she was held for three hours before being released to her aunt. She was charged with two misdemeanors: "disorderly manner that disturbed the public peace" and resisting arrest.

    As a form of disorderly conduct, yelling obscenities into a cell phone is no different than simply yelling obscenities while walking down the street. Yet cell phones are targeted for restrictions, even though the vast majority of people carry on conversations in a normal manner. It makes about as much sense to prohibit cell phones because some people yell obcenities into them as it would to prohibit talking because some people yell and scream.

    The civilized should not be penalized for the conduct of the uncivilized.

    It's more national kindergarten egalitarianism; the same kind of thinking which blames responsible gun owners for stuff like Columbine. (Or civilized bloggers for ankle biters.)

    posted by Eric at 08:31 AM

    Not Worksafe...Not For The Squeamish

    Here's a problem that cries out for deeply serious consideration.

    .... As with cosmetic surgery, Botox, and breast implants, the enhancement technologies of the future will likely be used in slavish adherence to certain socially defined and merely fashionable notions of “excellence” or improvement, very likely shallow, almost certainly conformist.
    This special kind of restriction of freedom—let’s call it the problem of conformity or homogenization—is in fact quite serious. We are right to worry that the self-selected non-therapeutic uses of the new powers, especially where they become widespread, will be put in the service of the most common human desires, moving us toward still greater homogenization of human society...

    Leon Kass " Toward A More Natural Science"

    Then again, maybe not.

    If Dr. Kass would crawl out of his academic terrarium and take up a more demanding hobby than BIRDWATCHING, for the love of God, he might discover that people strive for uniqueness as often as conformity. There has NEVER been a time or place as conducive to eccentric tinkering as the contemporary West.

    Extreme Sports, Martial Arts, Creative Anachronism, Civil War Reenactment, Ballista Building, Viking Longship Construction, even, dare I say it, Amateur Typesetting...all these delights and more await the eager novice. I have a feeling that a truly advanced plastic surgery might engender a like diversity.

    I could be wrong, of course.

    Hey Leon, take a walk on the wild side.

    posted by Justin at 09:40 PM | Comments (2)

    No catty remarks

    What's this catblogging deal, and how do I cash in?

    I don't own any cats, so my only opportunity to engage in catblogging would be on those occasions when (despite my cat allergy) I visit someone who has cats. I did that over the weekend, and here's the closest I can come to catblogging:


    Notice that the cat isn't technically blogging, but he does have lots of paper strewn about. And when I got on the Internet, he walked across the keyboard, from left to right. I didn't have a blog entry open at the time, but if I had, it would have looked something like this:

    sadmn cxz jlk

    zxc ][p


    I can't promise to do this on a regular basis, but I don't want anyone thinking I'm pussycataphobic or something.

    MORE: Maybe I should just have the cat scratch this post.....

    posted by Eric at 04:40 PM

    Imitation as a new strategy of appeasement?

    Via Andrew Sullivan, I found this amazing leap of logic by Charles Colson:

    The jihadists claim that wherever freedom travels—"especially in America and Europe—it brings sexual license and corruption, decadence and depravity."

    CT managing editor Mark Galli made the same point in these pages soon after 9/11. Islamic militants are angry at the West, he said, for exporting "hedonism and materialism into their very homes through television, enticing Muslims to become religiously lazy and morally corrupt." Galli quoted a 1985 communiqué from the terrorist group Hezbollah: "Our way is one of radical combat against depravity, and America is the original root of depravity."

    Anger at Western decadence fueled the writings of the radical Sayyid Qutb, which so influenced Osama bin Laden. These people see themselves not as terrorists, but as holy warriors fighting a holy war against decadence.

    We must be careful not to blame innocent Americans for murderous attacks against them. At the same time, let's acknowledge that America's increasing decadence is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. When we tolerate trash on television, permit pornography to invade our homes via the internet, and allow babies to be killed at the point of birth, we are inflaming radical Islam.

    How dare we do anything that might inflame radical Islam! (And remember, this guy is no left-wing apologist.) What startled me the most about this is the idea that pissing off the enemy gives him aid and comfort. Seldom have I seen poorer logic -- or a better example of defeatism at work. Until today, I never knew that tolerating Jews walking around as free citizens, by "inflaming" German Nazis, actually gave aid and comfort to Hitler! Or that allowing private ownership of farms, homes, and businesses gave aid and comfort to Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot!

    Of course anger over American freedom fueled (and fuels) Islamic radicalism. That's why they attacked us!

    Actually (as I have argued before) what would truly constitute giving them aid and comfort would be to grant them the moral authority as Mr. Colson and others quite explicitly propose. Radical Islamists hate our freedom, and they want us to be like them.

    Obviously, some Americans think they're on the right track.

    posted by Eric at 03:46 PM | Comments (3)

    More evil than Watergate or Hitler?

    Remember how Philadelphia's Mayor Street handily won reelection after an FBI bug was found in his office last year? Prominent national Democrats like Terry McAuliffe swooped in with war whoops of "Watergate" and evil Bush racism, and what would have been defeat was transformed into victory.

    I thought readers might enjoy another glimpse into local Philadelphia politics. The bugging of Street's office sprang from an investigation into Imam Shamsud-din Ali. A local mover and shaker, vote deliverer extraordinaire, Ali is a Street crony with a very colorful background:

    His supporters and those who attend Ali's mosque see him as a religious leader who transformed his life and the lives of those around him after serving 51/2 years in prison for the 1970 murder of a Baptist minister. That conviction was later overturned.

    [ED. NOTE: More HERE on the legal details.]

    A founder of Philadelphia Masjid and the Sister Clara Muhammad School, Ali, 65, fashioned himself into a leading voice in the city's Muslim community.

    He adeptly maneuvered city politics, while building a large and devoted congregation in West Philadelphia. He could deliver votes from an untapped constituency, politicians believed.

    To the federal authorities on his trail, Ali, once known as Clarence Fowler, is a former member of the city's Black Mafia who has never cut his ties to the drug underworld.

    In seeking permission to tap his phone, the FBI told a federal judge Ali was part of a network involved in "the distribution of illegal drugs... extortion and kidnapping schemes... money laundering... acts of violence... and a scheme involving bribery of a public official."

    A defense lawyer has said, in a court filing, that information tying Ali to any of this was thin and that reels of wiretap tape captured little, if any, evidence that Ali was immersed in the drug world.

    Still, his detractors say Ali's $250,000 home inside a gated Cheltenham community and the expensive cars he and his wife drive - two Mercedes-Benz sedans - belie the image of a humble servant of Allah.

    Even the drug dealers who have told authorities they made payments to Ali through the school and his mosque could see the irony.

    In a conversation recorded by the FBI and confirmed by a federal prosecutor, one reputed kingpin expressed his frustration: "He's walking with kings, and we're out here on the streets hustling."

    After hearing Ali talk with an alleged major drug dealer in the bugged conversations, the FBI won permission to tap the imam's home and cell phones. The conversations yielded something unexpected - discussions of allegedly corrupt dealings with City Hall.

    And so on.

    For his part, Ali maintains he is an innocent man of God, persecuted for his race and religion:

    "What they can do to an African American is unbelievable," he said. "America has a problem that surely will get the attention of God."

    He says he is under attack because he is Muslim.

    "A person like myself might say they hate Islam - and they probably do - but they are ignorant to Islam," Ali said of federal investigators.

    "What the government doesn't know is Satan rules it," he said in sermon-like fashion.

    Satan? I knew that Watergate was behind everything evil, and I've been getting used to Hitler.

    But until today, I never suspected Satan.

    Makes a lot of sense, though. America has been the Great Satan since the late 70s. (I really should do a better job of catching up with my religious reading.)

    With bumperstickers like this, should I have been surprised?


    posted by Eric at 09:09 AM | Comments (2)

    People who think murder is cool should watch a beheading video

    I don't know if this post is about moral relativism or not. But now that the dust has settled a little bit over the most recent bout of beheadings, I think I should address a couple of questions.

    People have questioned the propriety of telling people where they can download the various beheading videos, while others think it's inappropriate to dedicate the videos to Michael Moore.

    Much as I'd like to think that no American would support cold-blooded murderers of Americans, there's too much evidence that some do. I can't ignore the evidence when it walks around in front of me. While it's true that Americans are not literally supporting Osama bin Laden or the apparent ringleader of the beheaders, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, many are supporting some things which are too close for comfort. Moore, of course, describes the Iraqi beheaders in glowing terms by comparing them to early American revolutionaries. Whether they agree with his statement, it's clear that plenty of Americans support Michael Moore generally. Michael Moore is considered cool.

    In some quarters, he's considered almost as cool as Che Guevara.

    Guevara's image adorns T-shirts which I see on a regular basis. These shirts are worn by young people who think Guevara is way cool.

    Yet Guevara was a murderer. While he didn't torture his victims by sawing off their heads as does Zarqawi, I think most reasonable people would agree that this constitutes torture:

    He [Guevara] was fond of tying people up, blindfolding them and then popping a cap in the backs of their heads while their wives and children were forced to watch.
    Great guy to have on your t-shirt to show how cool you are. While in terms of numbers, Guevara as a murderer doesn't quite rank up there with bin Laden, there's a distinct similarity in style: cold blooded murder of innocent people. Tying up and shooting people in front of wives and children is about as ghastly a crime one can commit. In fact, ask the average guy which of these two ways he'd prefer to go:

  • A. (Zarqawi) To be tied up, and have a guy slice your head off with a knife in the name of his bloodthirsty "god"; or
  • B. (Guevara) To be tied up and shot in the back of your head with your wife and kids right there being forced to watch.
  • I'm not a pollster, but I think many people (perhaps even a majority) would choose the Zarqawi method.

    But who is worse isn't really the point. What bothers me is that too many Americans are glorifying cold-blooded murderers as cool. In my opinion, they should watch the beheading videos, just to be clear on the concept of what it is they advocate. There are so many of these Guevara lovers running around that otherwise rational people might get confused too.

    More on the Hollywood-driven Guevara phenomenon here and here. (Robert Redford has made a touching "Portrait of the Murderer as a Young Stud" aimed at the tender teeny-weenies. Is the idealistic young bin Laden next?)

    As to coolness and Michael Moore, there's little question that despite the obvious problems presented by his physical appearance (let's face it, a teen heart-throb he's not), he's aiming for Guevara status.

    And, while I'd be glad to dedicate the beheading videos to Che Guevara himself, Moore will do.

    It's just my way of mocking the idea that cold blooded murder is somehow "cool."

    UPDATE: Via Andrew Sullivan, here's more on Hollywood's love affair with Guevara, including this lovely Che quote:

    "Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become…"
    Who said hate wasn't cool!

    posted by Eric at 03:52 PM | Comments (3)

    the Classical Reference Watch

    I happened to catch a few minutes of the Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace and they were talking about Bush playing the expectations game.

    The line of they day came when one of the talking heads quoted Ed Gillespie of the RNC as calling John Kerry the best debater since Cicero.

    posted by Dennis at 10:50 AM

    Ghosts . . .

    I returned from New York tonight and while I am too exhausted for blogging, I went through my photos, and thought I'd share this one, taken on the Upper West Side's waterfront.


    Not much left of the area's oldtime industrial maritime heritage, I'm afraid.

    And speaking of heritage, on the subway I heard some very fine doowop sung acapella-style by three winos as they trouped through holding paper bags for contributions. I'm pretty jaded, but I gave them a dollar and clapped. It was downright spooky, they were so good and sang so perfectly in key that I think they must have been the real thing once, now down-and-out and decrepit in old age. But with class -- if that's not too contradictory. The song they performed was one of my favorites, "Church Bells May Ring." (The kind of stuff I'd like to hear when I'm dying if I have time to listen to music!)

    posted by Eric at 11:59 PM | Comments (2)

    Off with his head!
    Dan Rather's initial, furious street-side defense of an amateurish forgery — smug, huffy, self-righteous — brings to mind one of those bad movies about the Paris barricades, especially the grainy, black-and-white shots of powdered and wigged aristocrats on their way to the Guillotine, yelling out of their carriages at pitchfork-carrying peasants.

    Read the rest of Victor Davis Hanson's latest triumph, where he salts the old media, the academic elite, the U.N., and more.

    posted by Dennis at 07:34 PM | Comments (2)

    Here's one for the gun nuts ...

    While Eric's away I thought I'd post this bit on "assault weapons":

    N EW YORKERS are at least four times as likely to be punched to death than to be killed with an assault-style rifle, unpublished state crime statistics show.

    Read it all.

    posted by Dennis at 07:20 PM

    Of Hash and Hatchets: a moral lesson for the kids

    It turns out that old propaganda film Reefer Madness was true!

    BLANTYRE, Malawi (Reuters) - A Malawian man believed to be high on marijuana beheaded two women with an axe Friday, police in the southern African country said.

    The man, in his mid-20s, beheaded a 52-year-old woman while she worked in her garden with her daughter and did the same to a 68-year-old friend who came to the daughter's aid, police spokesman Kelvin Maigwa told Reuters.

    "The unsuspecting woman greeted the stranger who, instead, threw the axe at her, aiming at the chest," Maigwa said.

    He said police found marijuana, or hemp, when they searched the suspect's home.

    "The house was full of stench from recently smoked hemp. We believe he had an overdose of the hemp that made him go berserk," Maigwa said, adding that the walls of the house bore quotations from famous reggae songs.

    Police have launched a manhunt for the killer, who fled into the bush after the attacks.

    One time in college I had to pull a naked and screaming man off of a woman in a stairwell and hold him untiil the police came.

    Clearly nudism drove him over the edge.

    posted by Dennis at 09:33 AM | Comments (2)

    Mirror mirror ...

    Burned out at the library on a Friday night (the bar awaits) all I can muster is my answer to Eric's latest poll results:

    Sci-fi Guy:

    Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

    Ah, good ol' Jean-Luc. Strangely appropriate.

    Brit Lit:

    Which British Literary Period are you?


    1660-1785--Pope, Swift, Johnson. Times they are a changing. You're very cynical and you like looking out for the little guys. You have a sense of humor a lot of people just don't get.

    Personality Test Results

    Click Here to Take This Quiz
    Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

    And as for the weird British show I've never seen, I couldn't copy the code for some reason. But it's just as well. I picked most of the answers randomly because it didn't make any sense. If it matters I got Steve Taylor:

    "A bit neurotic most of the time, you're handsome, intelligent, witty, and very funny. You like to explain your obsessions with lesbian porn at dinner parties, or maybe you just fantasize about Mariella Frostrup a little too often. You could be the perfect boyfriend... if you'd just learn to quit arguing with your girlfriend, mature a bit, get rid of your porn......"

    Pretty good ... except for the porn.

    posted by Dennis at 09:48 PM | Comments (1)

    Periodically restored -- without interpretation!

    Fridays are traditionally Online Test Day at Classical Values, but test offerings lately have been scarce, so the weekly routine has suffered. But this week, my old blogfriend Ghost of a flea has been busy! I filched THREE tests from Nick, and while I'm sorry to report that all of my results differed from his, they're nonetheless quite entertaining.

    The first is "Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?" I am Galadriel:

    Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

    While I didn't ask to be a woman, she seems to have redeeming qualities, so I can't complain too much -- even if my result requires an interpreter. (I also note that my test result has not changed in nearly a year!)

    Nick, on the other hand, gets to be a man, and is Roy Batty of Blade Runner.


    Next is "Which British Literary Period are you?" I have no objection to being the Restoration. (Some good authors there -- and besides, I'm literally in need of restoration!)

    Which British Literary Period are you?


    1660-1785--Pope, Swift, Johnson. Times they are a changing. You're very cynical and you like looking out for the little guys. You have a sense of humor a lot of people just don't get.

    Personality Test Results

    Click Here to Take This Quiz
    Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

    Nick's period is more traditional (and possibly more exciting); he's Old English. Hey, if it hadn't been for the Old English period, what would there have been to restore?


    Last of today's Flea Three is the somewhat puzzling "Which 'Coupling' character are you?" test.

    I'm Patrick Maitland:

    PATRICK MAITLAND. Self-centered, a womanizer,
    obsessed with sex, and quite a 'big man'
    indeed! *wink wink* You don't have enough blood
    to run both your brain and your sex drive at
    the same time, so you usually concentrate on
    sex. You've had bad experiences with haircuts
    and competitive employees at other firms, but
    that's okay! Your staggeringly large
    'equipment' makes up for everything... even if
    it does give you a bit of a balance problem.

    Which 'Coupling' character are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    The Flea is is Jeff Murdoch. (Now I'm really thinking about interpretation.)


    This last item certainly qualifies as a test, and it seems to follow the business about my being a womanizer with a "'big man' indeed! *wink wink*" (however the hell that might be interpreted).

    Thanks to Dr. Rusty Shackleford, I have discovered my pimp name:

    Ice Master Scheie Gates
    Don't know what I'll do with it, but it helps to be pimpified!

    I'm feeling restored already. My precious juices flow!

    posted by Eric at 06:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (1)

    Bonfire survives flood!

    This week's Bonfire of the Vanities is hosted by Daly Thoughts. Dale is a fine blogger and does a superb job despite serious problems caused by recent flooding. (I don't know how I have managed to miss his blog for so long.)

    A few were so good I had to reach in and grab them from the fire:

  • Feste has the latest word in fashionism (but I'm sure it's not the last).
  • Josh Cohen gives a very eloquent explanation as to why he's not quite ready to change diapers....
  • Interested-Participant has a true story about a doctor who found himself in trouble because he sent prayers to a judge.
  • Dr. Rusty Shackleford reveals that brevity in a post (something you'll never catch the long-winded me doing!) is the soul of wit. Or is that sole of wit?
  • Anyway, I'm at the sole of my wit's end, so that's enough!

    Read 'em all!

    posted by Eric at 05:52 PM

    Capturing the war peace war plan.....

    At the heart of the Kerry strategy is to draw a big line around Iraq while declaring simultaneously that Kerry is the best man to lead the war against terrorism -- anywhere but in Iraq. I suppose that means Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the Phillipines. All these are hotbeds of terrorism where supposedly Kerry will be winning the war.

    But not Iraq.

    Here's Kerry, talking tough today in Philadelphia:

    The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy – Al Qaeda -- which killed more than three thousand people on 9/11 and which still plots our destruction today. And there’s just no question about it: the President’s misjudgment, miscalculation and mismanagement of the war in Iraq all make the war on terror harder to win. Iraq is now what it was not before the war – a haven for terrorists. George Bush made Saddam Hussein the priority. I would have made Osama bin Laden the priority. As president, I will finish the job in Iraq and refocus our energies on the real war on terror.

    But I thought terrorism was not in Iraq! Al Qaida is not in Iraq! (And I suppose Zarqawi is not in Iraq, either?)

    And of course even as he claims he'll end the war there, Kerry admits there are terrorists in Iraq:

    Every week too many American families grieve for loved ones killed in Iraq by terrorist forces that weren’t even there before the invasion. The jihadist movement that hates us is gaining adherents around the world. An estimated 18,000 al Qaeda trained militants are operating in 60 countries around the world in a dangerous and more elusive network of extremist groups. Al Qaeda shouldn’t be hitting us anywhere. They should be losing, everywhere. We should be winning, everywhere.
    We should be winning! Anywhere but in Iraq?

    Kerry gets the figure of 18,000 from a critical-of-Bush Institute for Strategic studies report, but even that report's own figures show the number is down:

    The United States is al-Qaida‘s prime target in a war it sees as a death struggle between civilizations, the report said. An al-Qaida leader has said 4 million Americans will have to be killed "as a prerequisite to any Islamic victory," the survey said.

    "Al-Qaida‘s complaints have been transformed into religious absolutes and cannot be satisfied through political compromise," the study said.

    The institute said its estimate of 18,000 al-Qaida fighters was based on intelligence estimates that the group trained at least 20,000 fighters in its camps in Afghanistan before the United States and its allies ousted the Taliban regime.

    In the ensuing war on terrorism, some 2,000 al-Qaida fighters have been killed or captured, the survey said.

    Al Qaida fighters have by all accounts been pouring into Iraq, but there are nonetheless 2000 fewer of them than before the war started.

    Here's what I just don't get: if they're in Iraq, why does Kerry insist on fighting them somwhere else?

    Now, I could understand an argument that Iraq should have been further down on the list of countries to invade, but seeing Iraq in a vacuum -- asserting Iraq had nothing to do with the current U.S. war on terrorism -- overlooks some important historical facts.

    Consider its geopolitical status.

  • The U.S. went to war against Iraq in 1991 after Iraq invaded Kuwait, but, by leaving Saddam Hussein in power (at the request of the coalition) never finished it.
  • Therefore, a large U.S. military presence had to be permanently established in Saudi Arabia -- to deter Saddam Hussein from any further moves. This military presence was what led directly to the creation of al Qaida, a primary demand of which has been and remains the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia. (Next to Iraq!)
  • Al Qaida is a multinational front organization headed (nominally) by a Saudi exile. It has drifted about, first having its headquarters in Sudan, then Afghanistan, and with the Taliban government ousted, now dispersed around the globe, with concentrated forces in Iraq. (Next to Saudi Arabia!)
  • Al Qaida now demands that the U.S. withdraw from Iraq, and that all countries stop supporting the U.S.
  • To this Kerry replies that we should not be in Iraq, but that we should fight al Qaida somewhere else.

    Where might that be? What playing field does Kerry have in mind? He says he wants to return to Afghanistan (which he calls "the front line") to finish the job.

    But will Osama accomodate?

    He may have no choice! Because, if Kerry's wife is right, Osama is all but captured. Meaning no more Osama!

    Which, according to Kerry's latest plan means the war is all but over.

    Bring me the head of Osama bin Laden, and there'll be peace in our time!

    posted by Eric at 04:06 PM | Comments (1)

    Your money is not yours!

    Paypal has become a national disaster. First, they messed with free speech by going after Bill Quick's blog (I don't know if they're calling him a "hate site," but I've already threatened to close my account -- as if they'd care!).

    And now they've announced a Mutaween-style crackdown:

    Beginning Friday, PayPal will begin penalizing users who buy things it doesn't want them to: prescription drugs from unverified pharmacies, material with even a whiff of sex and gambling or lottery services. . . .

    Its policy on adult materials is especially stringent, banning not only any material or services suggesting sexual activity but also "non-adult services whose Web site marketing can be reasonably misconstrued as allowing adult material or services to be purchased using PayPal."

    Via Glenn Reynolds, who opines that "we're past due for more competition in this area."

    I'm not an expert on the competition, but here are some alternatives for people who are disgusted with Paypal.

    And there's always e-gold.

    posted by Eric at 02:40 PM

    Bush's evil post-Beslan bounce!

    It happened! The Philadelphia Inquirer has used the T-word!

    The pollsters now concur: The unspeakable slaughter of Russian schoolchildren by Chechen terrorists discernibly affected the American presidential campaign.

    George W. Bush rose in polls and John F. Kerry fell. Bush's curious blend of doomsday warnings and chesty confidence apparently appeals more than Kerry's wintry, tongue-tied nuances. On style, Bush wins. Few voters have done a sober review of his actual record on terrorism, which is as spotty as his rhetoric is strong.

    So, it seems, those who predicted that a terrorist strike would influence the election were right. And the clear beneficiary is the Bush-Cheney ticket.

    Why aren't the Chechen child murderers called "extremists" or "insurgents" like Iraq's al-Qaida beheaders? Is it because the child murderers are now portrayed as "helping" Bush, whereas the beheaders (who fuel the "quagmire" meme) are not?

    It is one thing to refuse to use the word "terrorist." It is quite another to use it selectively. Are the only real terrorists located in places where the United States is not fighting them? Might this explain why there are no terrorists in Iraq?

    I don't have access to detailed polling data, but the assertion that Bush's numbers went up because of Beslan strikes me as a classic case of the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy.

    Bush's post-convention bounce was much reported and discussed. Democrats complained about such things as the Swift Boaters, and argued over whether or not the bounce would last. (Never mind that Bush got a bounce instead of Kerry, a month before the Republican convention -- and Beslan.)

    Until today I hadn't read a thing about Beslan accounting for Bush's dramatic rise in the polls.

    Of course, I hadn't seen the Inquirer call terrorists "terrorists" either.

    There must be some new strategy. Somehow or other, the soccer moms must be made to feel outrage about the evil Bush taking cynical advantage of a "post-Beslan bounce." Bush finds succor in murdered children?

    Anyone so cynical must have known.....

    Maybe we should ask Michael Moore!

    posted by Eric at 11:25 AM

    Bush knew!

    Not only did he know, but he's got his buddy Osama stashed somewhere, ready for a staged capture just in time for the election! So says the woman running for First Lady:

    "I wouldn't be surprised if he appeared in the next month," said Heinz Kerry, alluding to a possible capture by United States and allied forces before election day.
    I think Michael Moore may be closer to the Kerrys than previously realized.

    (I'd love to hear the paranoid pillow talk.....)

    UPDATE: This fits right in with the husband of the would-be First Lady, who's despicably sneering at our allies in wartime (calling the Iraqi Prime Minister a "puppet") What Glenn Reynolds said earlier is quite apt:

    This is behavior that is absolutely unacceptable coming from a Presidential campaign in wartime, and it's not an isolated incident but part of a pattern of such behavior. Joe Lockhart should apologize for these remarks, and Kerry should fire him. Otherwise you're going to hear a lot of people questioning Kerry's patriotism. And they'll be right to.
    Doubtless anyone who disagrees with the Kerrys will be called a "puppet" too.

    MORE: Speaking of "puppets," here's Kerry in 1971:

    Now, if we set a date [for unilateral withdrawal], then we can still bolster the regime in South Vietnam if that is what the people want. But the important thing is that more American men will not have to go over there and become drug addicts to survive. More American men will not have to lose their limbs and have their lives unalterably changed for what is now so clearly a mistake, for something that is now so clearly illegal, that is based on so much deception.
    Kerry's "new" cries for withdrawal are looking pretty old.

    MORE: Roger L. Simon contrasts the "puppet" with the man who wants to be his master:

    1. Awad Allawi - a man who was once left for dead (1978) in his Surrey home after having been bludgeoned with an ax by one of Saddam's henchman who thought he had killed him. Allawi then spent a year in a hospital. He is still said to walk with a limp and is now the object of, one would imagine, daily assassination attempts.

    2. John Kerry - a man who left the Vietnam War after 4 1/2 months after having been "seriously wounded" - a description that now even his biographer finds dubious.

    UPDATE: To be accurate, it was Kerry's campaign manager who used the word "puppet." (My mistake, although Kerry's campaign can be assumed to speak for Kerry until he specifically disavows the statement.)

    posted by Eric at 11:10 PM

    Reviews You Can Use

    I stumbled upon a piece in the New York Review of Books written by Anthony Grafton, a Princeton professor whom I coincidentally nominated today to speak at a future event (fingers crossed -- there are a number of fine candidates).

    I guess he'd finally gotten round to reviewing Caldwell and Thomason's The Rule of Four, which created a big buzz a while back (at least in Classics circles), but the review is like a lesson in the history of a genre you probably never knew existed: the campus novel.

    Beyond that, Grafton's usual erudition and easy style shine (he's the author of such classics as Defenders of the Text and The Footnote: a Curious History) and there's evern a bit that Eric Scheie (and some CV regulars) might appreciate, as he touches on prior culture wars:

    Still, Caldwell and Thomason are excellent in suggesting how much was genuinely at stake in the culture wars of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Like their hero Colonna, the young philosopher Pico della Mirandola and his German disciple Johannes Reuchlin insisted that Western Christian culture would be incomplete if it refused to learn from the Jews. They made this claim—a radical one in its own terms—in the teeth of efforts to confine Italian Jews to ghettos and make them wear yellow stars, while German Jews were tortured to make them admit that they had murdered Christian boys and used their blood to make matzoh. Later on, Protestant ideologues like Luther would try to eject Aristotle from the universities, and Catholic ideologues like Possevino would fillet Catholic libraries lest some young man trip on the temptation to think outside the constraints of orthodoxy. The fictional Colonna of The Rule of Four has something in common with the real Reuchlin—whose defense of Hebrew learning has become a classic document in the all-too-short list of classic defenses of human freedom of inquiry.

    Read the rest here.

    posted by Dennis at 09:03 PM

    Penis control? Or vagina control?

    Here's the latest news on penis control: a Model Statute has been drafted which would criminalize sex without condoms between consenting adults. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    The crime is described as follows:

    Reckless Sexual Conduct

    (1). A person is guilty of reckless sexual conduct when the person intentionally engages in unprotected sexual activity with another person who is not his or her spouse and these two had not on an occasion previous to the occasion of the crime engaged in sexual activity.

    (2). Affirmative Defense: Notwthstanding Subsection (1), it shall be an affirmative defense to any action brought under this article that the person, with whom the defendant had unprotected sex, expressly asked to engage in unprotected sexual activity or otherwise gave unequivocal indications of affirmatively consenting to engage in sexual activity that is specifically unprotected.

    (3). Definitions:

    (a) "Sexual activity" means vaginal or anal penetration accomplished with a male or with a female.

    (b) "Unprotected sexual activity" means sexual activity without the use of a condom.


    I am not advocating sex without condoms, but I think adults should be free to have whatever sexual relations they want, without the nanny state getting into details. Here's what I said in my comment to the post:

    Your proposal would imprison adults for consensual sex.

    I disagree, and I am reminded of a common argument advanced in favor of sodomy laws -- that people should be protected against their own bad judgment.

    While reckless sex is obviously a bad idea, such conduct between two consenting adults is NOT assault -- and it should not be the business of the state to invade citizens' privacy, especially with criminal sanctions.

    Furthermore, making the accused defendant prove there was consent flies in the face of a long constitutional tradition.

    Not much to add, except that I'm also wondering whether the law would encourage further confusion between victim and perpetrator. If two people have sex without using a condom, under the statute are not both parties equally culpable? How is the state to determine which party was aggrieved? If you think about it, who consents? Who is supposed to ask whom to use a condom? Is the penis-wielder by definition supposed to be the assailant? Nothing in the statute suggests that. But why in logic is not a man just as much a victim of a vagina as a woman the victim of a penis? Applying condom, er, common sense, are not condoms intended to protect the man just as much as the woman? (Or in case of homosexual sex, both parties?)

    Does this mean that whoever calls the police first gets to be the victim?

    I'm very confused now.

    It takes two to have sex, and to consent. If neither party can prove affirmative and express consent, shouldn't they both be prosecuted?

    I guess this means video surveillance cameras in every bedroom.....

    posted by Eric at 09:36 AM | Comments (2)

    Star blogging!

    Be sure to visit this week's Carnival of the Vanities at James DiBenedetto's Eleven Day Empire. It's a Star Wars theme, and the posts are grouped accordingly. Clever, cosmic, fun.

    A few of my favorites:

  • Kevin at The Smallest Minority has a truly excellent essay on whether or not we'll have a Civil War. (I think bloggers can stop it!) A lot of work went into this, and if the topic interests you, it's a must-read. (And if a second Civil War doesn't interest you, well, I'm sure there are some blogs devoted to daytime soap operas somewhere....)
  • Smarter cop discusses the incredible, incomprehensible, logic-defying, Kerry-Edwards, no-backdoor-draft, have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too, "what needs to be done" plan.
  • Incite discusses the UN, concluding it's incapable of reform, and irrelevant. So when do we get to stop paying for it?
  • Sneakeasy's Joint offers a splendid poem; "In defense of the PJ Pundit." (With picture!)
  • Tim Worstall discovers idiocy in the form of the Guardian's Naomi Klein.
  • Those are just a few; there's no better way to find good new blogs than to read them all!

    posted by Eric at 08:25 PM | Comments (1)


    In the name of Allah (PBUH)!


    While he obviously cannot disagree with the following passage (because after all they are Baghdad Bob's ideas and Baghdad Bob is right!), Bob is very unhappy today to see that his ideas have been plagiarized! Yes. Stolen and parroted by an upstart heretic infidel, an American law student at a Jesuit University!

    "After having the misfortune of reading Instapundit's blog, I just have to ask how such a morally-bankrupt character has the gall to call himself an academic? I know there are laws out there protecting academic freedom, but do these laws cover hacks who do nothing but spread lies and misinformation? Every day, he posts intellectually dishonest material.

    "Don't get me wrong, I am all for debate, and always enjoy getting into intense arguments on politics, religion (I'm an atheist at a Jesuit law school). And I definitely support the open dissemination of ideas (Which is why I despised the 'free speech zone' at my undergrad university). Nevertheless, it scares me that such a character is allowed to openly spread lies.

    "When un-educated, right-wing morons cite him, I don't mind as much. But when people teaching at prestigious universities justify his idiocy, it makes me wonder how low those on the right have gone."

    (From Ann Althouse, via the InstaLiar himself!)

    What's the fuss about, you might ask? Why is Baghdad Bob upset about this?

    It must be remembered that Baghdad Bob was the first of the important journalists and commentators to spot the lying lies told daily by the InstaLiar:

    Glenn Reynolds is all about lies! All he tells is lies, lies and more lies! I have detailed information about the situation...which completely proves that what he alleges are illusions . . . He lies every day.
    While Baghdad Bob obviously shares this young man's (and his professor's) assessment of the InstaLiar, that is no excuse for his thoughts being plagiarized. While the clever young lawyer-to-be spins and twists the ideas and words so that they sound different, the core truths are exactly the same truths as those expressed by Baghdad Bob, and they have full copyright protection even under the Satanic American laws.

    Once stolen, the truths were then emailed by this self-described "Jesuit atheist" (doubtless this is a new form of infidel heresy) and posted in the blog of Professor Brian Leiter. As Joseph D. Jamail Centennial Chair in Law, Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the Law & Philosophy Program, Professor Leiter certainly should know plagiarism when he sees it! Under the The University of Texas Honor System (which relies upon The University of Texas Student Standards of Conduct found in Chapter 11 of the Institutional Rules on Student Service and Activities) Professor Leiter should be required to report the "Jesuit atheist" heretic infidel student for immediate enforcement action!

    Considering that the idea theft is compounded by multiple religious heresies, Baghdad Bob (PBUH) also demands that Professor Leiter make the young infidel wretch show atonement by memorizing the Koran! (Stealing is punished much more severely where Bob comes from, so this mild punishment is the least that can be expected from Professor Leiter.)

    The Jesuit atheist heretic obviously knew that the truths he forged were not originally written by him, or else why wouldn't he post his name for the world to see? As we have seen in the case of Dan Rather, the fact that the truth is stolen or forged does not alter the essential message of truth in any way.

    It is Bob's hope that after he administers punishment to this atheist upstart, Professor Leiter will be more careful in the future.

    UPDATE: It has not escaped Baghdad Bob's attention that Professor Leiter is wasting a great deal of time arguing with an admitted female minion of the InstaLiar. It is understandable that Professor Leiter would be jealous that the InstaLiar Reynolds has a much larger harem of minions than his own (the plagiarizing, "atheist Jesuit" heretic), and this doubtless accounts for the ire he has directed towards the minion not of his own harem. It hardly seems coincidental that the InstaLiar's minion asks these questions of Professor Leiter:

    Does anyone else find it ironic that the professor who started out by shaming others for onesidedness has now updated his post to publish the text of two emails that attack me and to let us know that he's receiving a lot of email that attacks him which he's deleting? Email attacking him has also been sent to me. Should I print a choice one to balance each one he prints about me? Because it's all about balance in the blogosphere, isn't it Professor Leiter?
    Bob believes in balance too! The professor should first attend to his own minions -- as Bob demanded yesterday! No one should be fooled by diversionary attacks against minions belonging to the InstaLiar!

    posted by Eric at 04:08 PM

    September is not November

    Commenting on Bush's amazing lead in the polls yesterday, Glenn Reynolds expressed skepticism:

    It's really hard for me to believe that Bush is doing as well, and Kerry as badly, as these state polls seem to suggest.

    According to Zogby, such skepticism is more than justified. Here's the latest Zogby chart:











    President Bush










    Senator Kerry










    After reviewing the data in more detail, Zogby concludes,

    This is not an eleven-point race – and never really was. My last poll showed the President with a three-point lead nationally and about 241 Electoral votes – less than the 270 needed to win. Mr. Kerry has 264 Electoral voters, but neither candidate has hefty enough leads overall or in many of the battleground states.

    I don't think it's a good idea for Republicans to get cocky. As G. Gordon Liddy likes to say, "two weeks is a long time in American politics."

    posted by Eric at 03:28 PM

    Stop bureaucratic trauma!

    I am having conceptual difficulties understanding last week's news report about the shutdown of air communications:

    Los Angeles — Failure to perform a routine maintenance check caused the shutdown of an air traffic communications system serving a large swath of the West, resulting in several close calls in the skies, the FAA and a union official said Wednesday.

    In at least five cases, aircraft in the sky passed dangerously close to each other Tuesday night after the shutdown knocked out radio contact between pilots and air traffic controllers, the union official said.

    Two flights "were almost near-mid-air collisions," said Hamid Ghaffari, local president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

    The Federal Aviation Administration said it was looking into five instances in which planes apparently got too close to each other during the communications blackout.

    In a statement, the agency said radio contact failed but radar coverage remained fully operational and aircraft were safely handed off to other air traffic control facilities.

    The center hit by the blackout controls airspace for a vast region that encompasses California, Arizona, Nevada and parts of Utah. The shutdown caused a ripple effect throughout the country as planes bound for the Los Angeles region were held on the ground for about three hours.

    "A required 30-day maintenance check on the primary radio and voice communications system was not performed," the agency said. "This system turns off if this check is not performed."

    It said a backup system also failed because it "was not configured properly to ensure its availability in the event of the primary system's failure."

    The problems could have been avoided if strict FAA procedures had been followed, the agency said.

    Three workers filed injury claims, saying they were traumatized by seeing flights veer toward one another on radar without being able to do anything, he said.

    The center hit by the blackout controls airspace for a vast region that encompasses California, Arizona, Nevada and parts of Utah:
    The shutdown caused a ripple effect throughout the country as planes bound for the Los Angeles region were held on the ground for about three hours.
    Well, I'm glad there was only a ripple effect.

    What I want to know is why a vital system like this would shut down because of the failure to perform a routine 30 day maintenance check? Imagine if your car was designed to suddenly stop running without warning if you didn't check the oil and fluids! Might as well shut down the planes in midair because some bureaucrat on the ground forgot to check the software.

    And take the backup -- "not configured properly to ensure its availability in the event of the primary system's failure." I know bureaucratic doublespeak when I see it, and if you parse that statement, the second part -- "to ensure its availability in the event of the primary system's failure" -- is completely redundant, and not an explanation at all. By definition, a backup system is supposed to be available in the event of a primary system's failure!

    Why can't the bastards admit that they screwed up by not configuring the damned thing?

    I am sorry to sound so angry about this, but millions of Americans have to travel on planes, and they rely on the people who are supposed to do things like routine maintenance checks, and installing a backup system.

    If they can't do things like that, then how on earth can they be relied on to direct the huge amounts of air traffic in the skies -- to say nothing of protecting airline safety in the event of a real emergency?

    Nor am I put at ease by seeing those who should have done something instead whining about "trauma":

    Three workers filed injury claims, saying they were traumatized by seeing flights veer toward one another on radar without being able to do anything, he said.
    My god, Mr. Ghaffari! The public was endangered by the bureaucratic stupidity of your union employees and all you have to say is that they were "traumatized?"

    Forgive me, but I think the American people are the ones who should be feeling the trauma here.

    It could have been much worse.

    (Which is probably what it would take to make the bastards upgrade their damned backup.....)

    posted by Eric at 11:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (3)

    If your kingdom is crumbling, attack Bush!

    The UN food-for-oil scandal is not being forgotten! Here's Claudia Rosett:

    When U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan opined last week to the BBC that the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein had been "illegal," two words came instantly to my mind: baby food.

    No, I'm not comparing Mr. Annan's thoughts to pabulum. He is a smart man, adept enough that even in his BBC moment of condemning the U.S. (perhaps mindful that the U.S. is the U.N.'s chief financial backer) he took the trouble to blur responsibility for his own words, amending his use of "I" to the royal "we." Said Mr. Annan: "From our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal."

    It's unclear exactly whose collective view Mr. Annan thinks he was authorized to express, or under what terms in the U.N. charter he casts himself on some occasions as the hapless servant of the Security Council, and at other times, such as this, as the outspoken chief judge of world law.

    There's much more, and I agree with Roger Simon's characterization of the Rosett piece as "blood-curdling":
    It doesn't matter what you do as long as you do it in pursuit of an enemy who is supposedly worse than you are.

    .....astride this world upside down, sits the Lord of Stonewalls, the slick king of the United Nations whose silver tongue and elegant manners mask a deviousness perhaps unknown even to him. We are in an era when lying to the self about the self has reached global proportions and takes place on a global stage. This man, Mr. Annan, who so many of us revered not so many years ago, now condemns the US action in Iraq while desperately hiding from view the complicitness of the organization he leads, the United Nations, in the horrors of that very dictatorship. Thankfully, Claudia Rosett is here to remind us of The Real World. Too bad more people aren't paying attention to the Oil-for-Food scandal, because it is the center of it all, the beating heart of global corruption.

    Ms. Rosett's latest report... on the exploitation of baby formula for totalitarian profit... is perhaps her most blood-curdling

    Be sure to read the Rosett report.

    Above links via Glenn Reynolds, who will not forget about the worst scandal in the history of the UN -- even if the Old Media want us to forget.

    In a post I wrote last week, I complained that the news reports like this made no mention of the UN scandal:

    There's more in the article, as well as speculation that Annan's latest statements have something to do with the November election.

    But I didn't see any mention of UN-SCAM -- the Saddam Hussein "Oil for Food" scandal which involves much of the UN high command as well as Annan and his family. Perhaps it wasn't considered relevant that the countries opposing the Iraq war were the same ones taking the bribes.

    That's because, as Roger says, "It doesn't matter what you do as long as you do it in pursuit of an enemy who is supposedly worse than you are."

    And we all know that the enemy wasn't Saddam Hussein; it was Bush!

    posted by Eric at 11:11 AM

    Syracuse 413

    Sometimes, big stories like Rathergate cause me to neglect the Classical Values theme. When this happens, something will usually come along to catapult me back a millenium or two.

    In a previous post, I speculated that a major motivation for the Dan Rather/CBS coverup was to prevent the network from being embarrassed once it was learned that they were taking cues from lunatic fringe nuts. (More here about the latter.)

    I cited a couple of examples of mental pathology, but now I see that I need have looked no further than Rather himself:

    Rather isn't a liberal hack. He's bonkers.

    What other reporter could get away with the spontaneous fits of rage and the homespun corniness that are his trademarks? Raised in Texas, Rather reads the news in a colloquial rat-a-tat: Paul Harvey as performed by Bill O'Reilly. He peppers his copy with aphorisms—e.g., "that dog won't hunt"—and for a while ended the Evening News with a single, baffling word: "Courage."

    Rather's taste for the absurd goes beyond mere oratorical style, according to Peter J. Boyer's excellent book Who Killed CBS? In 1981, Rather decided that he couldn't occupy Walter Cronkite's chair, so for his first Evening News broadcast he read the headlines while crouching behind the desk. When a rival TV journalist ambushed him outside of CBS headquarters—a favorite tactic of the 60 Minutes gang—Rather instructed the reporter, "Get the microphone right up, will you?" Then he barked, "Fuck you." The clip played on television for days. Then there's Rather's odd penchant for costumes. He once trekked across the Afghan border on foot and returned with hours of dazzling reporting—all of which he undermined by wearing a ludicrous peasant disguise on camera. TV critics lashed him with the nickname "Gunga Dan."

    Rather's most embarrassing tantrum came during the 1987 U.S. Open tennis tournament. When producers told him a match would run long and truncate the Evening News, Rather disappeared and left the network with more than six minutes of dead air. (Such was Rather's cachet that no executive dared summon a replacement.) And don't forget the 1986 "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" attack, in which Rather was accosted by street toughs on Park Avenue in New York. You can hardly blame Rather for that one, but Boyer notes that such things rarely seem to happen to Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings. It's as if Rather attracts half the madness in the universe, and the other half comes out of his mouth.

    What makes him bluster? Some say Rather, who attended Sam Houston State College, tries to compensate for his brittle education with hard-charging brio. He often tells a story from his days as a young CBS correspondent, when he bought a Great Books series and plowed through all the volumes. Rather didn't wear his newfound erudition lightly. Once, during a tense moment at the network, he lectured his colleagues, "I only have one thing to say to all of you people. Syracuse, 413." Producers were baffled. Only later did they realize that Rather kept a copy of Sir Edward Creasy's Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World on his desk—Syracuse, 413 B.C., was in Chapter 2.

    (Via Glenn Reynolds, who tantalizes us about the story's canine conclusion. WOOF!)

    Well, this begs the question about whether the man was always nuts.

    It would be a shame to leave out the Buckwheats (although I think Rather has now acquired them).

    Or projection:

    Dan Rather has almost always deflected questions about his bias and lapses in journalistic ethics by dismissing all who question him as partisans. Sigmund Freud coined a term for this psychological condition – projection – the innate tendency to project one’s own traits onto others, e.g., of a thief to assume that everybody else is a thief. Those who call me a partisan, says Rather, are obviously partisans.

    "You have to understand that Dan Rather is Richard Nixon," Goldberg in Bias recounted a colleague telling him. "If he sees you as an enemy even for a second, you're an enemy for life. And like Nixon, Rather must destroy his enemies…[and] has become what he detested."

    “Who among us have not lied about somebody?” said Rather to Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly regarding the veracity of President Bill Clinton. “I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.”

    There's also really mean stuff in there about Dan Rather's heroin and LSD use, but I don't think it's fair to criticize him for that.

    Let's stick to saner themes.

    Or classical themes like Syracuse:

    Led by Nicias, a large Athenian army of about 25,000 troops landed near Syracuse in Sicily in the fall of 415 bc. Their goal was to expand the Athenian empire and to deprive Sparta of a supply source by conquering Syracuse. The Athenians built a double wall around Syracuse and laid siege. The Syracusans were close to surrendering when a small advance force of 2,000 men led by the Spartan Gylippus arrived. Gylippus was able to know the Athenians off balance with a series of raids and the building of counter walls. In the spring of 413 bc. Demosthenes arrived with Athenian reinforcements. Demosthenes led a large scale assault that was repulsed. After the Syracusans destroyed many of the Athenian ships, the Athenians attempted to escape inland. Eventually the Athenians were forced to surrender and Demosthenes and Nicias were both executed. The defeat at Syracuse marked the beginning of the end of the dominance of Athens.
    Did CBS miscalculate in a manner reminiscent of Athens? Will this defeat mark the beginning of the end of Old Media dominance? Too many cracks have opened wide. The battle over fonts quickly spread to Burkett. Then from Burkett to Rather. What's next? Rather to Campaign?

    Here's Victor Davis Hanson on Syracuse and the Fog of battle:

    So the fifth-century B.C. military historian Thucydides commented on the confusion of battle on the heights above Syracuse (413 B.C.), and, indirectly, on the inability of historians such as himself to sort out the conflicting accounts provided by veterans of all battles.

    Fear, panic, noise, dust, motion, all the rare stimuli that so overwhelm the everyday senses, combine with the vagaries of memory both to inflate and to diminish what happens in those rare brief seconds when men's lives are won or lost. Such are the usual burdens of military history, both ancient and modern. When investigating the death of my namesake on Okinawa, or reconstructing some of my father's 39 B-29 missions, I was struck by the difficulty in reconciling all the oral remembrances of the combatants, both with one another and with supposedly "official" histories of the theater.

    Perhaps the fog of battle is getting to the mighty (but mightily partisan) Gunga Dan.....

    I think Rather may have developed his own case of "the Buckwheats." Repeated nightmares of Spartans wearing pajamas have a way of doing that.

    (Not that I blame him. Legions of pajama-wearing Spartans would scare me too.)

    posted by Eric at 08:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (2)

    Victim of whose mentality?

    What I wrote earlier generated some comments accusing me of saying that Kos wrote this post himself. I did not say that! However, it does appear at Kos's web site and he has not disagreed with it. It is therefore reasonable for me to at least pose the question whether his site is bigoted against Charles Johnson -- whose blog was characterized by the Kos "diary" post as "pernicious," "evil," and "racist." If such characterizations misstate the views of Kos, he should say so himself. If one of my co-bloggers said something like that about another blog, I would certainly notice it, and (unless I agreed) I would at the very least point out that I didn't share his opinion.

    As to the correct interpretation of the phrase "other victims of the LGF mentality, like African-Americans and gay people," (whether or not it speaks for Kos) I'm not following this logic: "the poster does NOT say that LGF is antigay, only that the mentality endorsed by the blog is analogous to that of homophobes and racists." Actually, the post clearly DOES say that African-Americans and gay people are victims of the LGF mentality. If someone refered to "other victims of the Classical Values mentality, like Jerry Falwell," the statement (that Falwell is a victim of Classical Values) would have no meaning unless Classical Values displayed animosity towards Jerry Falwell. And what animosity could cause Dr. Falwell to become a "victim" other than deliberate, prejudiced malice towards him (also known as bigotry)? Absent any such imputation of malice or bigotry, the statement would be wholly devoid of meaning.

    What intrigues me here is the idea that anyone can post anything at Daily Kos, without any sort of editorial control being exercised. If Kos has no control over his posters, then I guess he too runs the risk of being accused of a "Kos mentality" which "victimizes" people.

    Can I be a victim too?


    I think my mentality needs more work!

    posted by Eric at 08:41 PM | Comments (5)

    Jack Hensley beheaded

    Via Wizbang, here's a Reuters report (note Reuters' demand that linked stories must refuse to use the word "terrorist") on the beheading of American Jack Hensley:

    DUBAI (Reuters) - A militant group headed by al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has killed a second American captive in Iraq after the lapse of a 24-hour deadline on Tuesday, Arabic television channel Al Jazeera said.
    It said a statement announcing the killing of American Jack Hensley by the Tawhid and Jihad group was posted on the Internet. It gave no further details.

    On an Islamist site, a contributor who has in the past posted messages in the name of Tawhid and Jihad said the group would soon post pictures of the "slaying."

    Hensley's reported death comes a day after the group beheaded American Eugene Armstrong who was also kidnapped along with Hensley and Briton Kenneth Bigley last week.

    There was no word on Bigley's fate.

    In Washington, a State Department official said: "We take these reports seriously but I don't think we have a body yet."

    There'll be another body, and doubtless another video, until the terrorists are killed.

    Kevin also links to Dr. Rusty Schackleford, who's been doing an excellent job of covering these bestial atrocities:

    NEIN reports:
    Zarqawi's group announces "slaughter" of second American hostage. A message posted moments ago on the Ansar message board announced the murder of American hostage Jack Hensley. The posting was made by the same individual who posted yesterday's announcement of Armstrong's murder, and who has a history of posting announcements from Zarqawi's Tawhid wa Jihad group.

    The announcement indicated that photos and a video would be forthcoming shortly.

    Expect updates.

    UPDATE 2:32 EDT: Fox News confirms breaking news.

    UPDATE 2:40 EDT: Al Jazeera website reporting "more soon"

    UPDATE 2:47 EDT: AP via Chad

    “The nation’s zealous children slaughtered the second American hostage … after the end of the deadline,” said the statement, posted under the pseudonym Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, who has posted past statements in the group’s name.

    Critical UPDATE 3:29 EDT: Zarqawi's website now confirms Hensley's death. Is there a reader who can translate Arabic?

    UPDATE 3:40 EDT: Here is a picture of the announcement on the website. Can anyone translate?? (Click image for larger view)

    I quoted liberally, because I had trouble opening Dr. Shackleford's blog, and I want as many people to see this as possible.

    Not much to add to any of it, other than repeat what I said earlier. This is a war between civilization and barbarism. Between freedom and the people who want to destroy it. We must prevail.

    UPDATE (09/22/04): The bloody bastards have supplied their hideous video, which is available here.

    MORE: More links. The video can also be downloaded here; direct link here.

    If you're as appalled as I was, you might consider donating to the Jack Hensley Foundation.

    (Via Dr. Rusty Shackleford.)

    PLEASE NOTE: If you are unfamiliar with this site and have reached this post from an Internet search, please bear in mind that I am a daily blogger, and that while I am as outraged as anyone else, this site is not devoted to the issue of beheadings or beheading videos. However, I have given the matter a great deal of thought, and I believe that if seeing these videos helps fuel the warrior spirit which is required to defeat terrorism, then that's reason enough to help make them available. (Various posts about this can be read here, here, here, here, and here.)

    UPDATE (10/17/04): Some of the comments which have been left here are as heinous as they are remarkable. I hesitate to delete them in because of their possible educational and sociological value. I won't waste my time by dignifying them with detailed answers, but I think that anyone capable of reading this blog knows what I think. I remind readers that I do not consider myself in any way responsible for what other people say. However, if the law -- or this blog -- ever reaches the point where comments can create legal liability, I'll probably just turn them off. (After all, it's not my writing, and it shouldn't be a distraction.)

    posted by Eric at 03:59 PM | Comments (34) | TrackBacks (1)

    Hey Bryn Mawr! What say you give me some money?

    Eric H. from the Dave just pointed me to an article in the Bi-Co news that Michael Moore is coming to speak at Bryn Mawr.

    Moore approached Bryn Mawr for this venture, offering to speak for half of his $40,000 fee. ... [H]e felt it was important to speak in Pennsylvania, a swing state.

    I'm not opposed to Michael Moore speaking. In fact, I think it's a good thing, because the more he speaks the more people will realize how self-serving he is, not to mention how outlandish and radical his claims.

    The fact that he approached the school and offered to speak for $20,000 says it all.

    UPDATE: Eric H. at the Dave (as I should have suspected) has posted on the subject too.

    posted by Dennis at 12:15 PM | Comments (1)

    Who are the victims? And who are the bigots?

    The people at Daily Kos don't much care for Little Green Footballs:

    Perhaps one of the most pernicious and evil spots on the Internet these days is Little Green Footballs.

    LGF used to be a right-wing political blog, but is now simply a dung heap of racist panic, where anti-Arab and anti-Muslim screeds are not only welcomed in user comments, but trumpeted constantly in main page entries by the site operators.

    So, I wandered over there to get my daily dose of angry race rage -- this makes you really sympathize for other victims of the LGF mentality, like African-Americans and gay people -- and found to my surprise that two mainstream companies are advertising on the website:

    AOL Time Warner and the Wall St. Journal.

    I am one of Charles Johnson's regular readers, and I am wondering how it is I have managed to miss the "racist panic" complained of. Sure, there's plenty of criticism of Islamofascist atrocities like honor killings, abuse of women, murdering of children, but I never saw any of these things attributed to the race of the perpetrators.

    What I'd really like to see is the evidence that "African-Americans and gay people" are Charles Johnson's "victims." I doubt there is any. I've never seen a single posting at LGF which victimized blacks or gays. I have seen a number of posts defending gays, though.

    While Johnson can no more be held responsible for his innumerable comments than I can, I'll start with these comments, to the above post about the Daily Kos remarks:

    Number 97, from "Globular Cluster":

    I'm sure Zuniga would hate to visit the Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv -- home of the Zionazi oppressors -- but would love to visit the soccer stadium the Taliban used to hang homosexuals in Kabul.

    Or this (comment 84):

    This is a perfect example of how the left tolerates gays only if I accept a quasi-dhimmitude role as their political pet. This idiot does not care what sharia says about homosexuality and has not the slightest idea that a gay considering his options might be interested to fight for the rule of man-made law. If not worse, he knows but thinks I was dumb enough to buy the lie and drink the kool-aid. Better get rid of your oppressed minority zoo keeper mentality before the crowd laughs at you, leftist.
    I have complained before about the hesitancy of certain gay activists to condemn Islamic anti-homosexual bigotry as they should. But to see a site which does that called anti-homosexual -- really, this is too much.

    I'm not going to spend all day on this (it's almost commenting on the obvious), but I'll link to a few actual LGF reports about victimization of gay people, so readers can see for themselves who's bigoted and who's defending the victims.

  • Aussie Imam: Gays Should be Beheaded (Hint: Charles does not side with the beheaders!)

  • Report of Saudi men beheaded for sodomy (Charles places the word "trial" in quotes, which makes me suspect he actually disapproves of beheading gays!)
  • Throwing gays off buildings, wife-beating, and sexual mutilation of children (Charles makes it clear he's against all three!)
  • Exposé of a shameless attempt at a UPenn Law School seminar to draft Sharia codes including the death penalty for homosexuality. (Again, Charles is against victimizing gays!)
  • The above is not meant to be comprehensive, as I have seen other condemnations of Islamofascist anti-gay bigotry at LGF. Charles Johnson makes it abundantly clear that gays are the victims of Islamofascist bigotry and tyranny, and makes it painfully obvious he's on their side, and against bigotry. The attempt to tar him as doing that which he actually fights is one of the most vicious smears I have yet seen in the blogosphere.

    Makes me wonder whether Kos and Company are merely bigoted against Charles Johnson, or whether they're on the side of the Islamic bigots.

    posted by Eric at 09:09 AM | Comments (11)

    Rather traditional....

    A couple of true ["true blue"?] quotes to start the day......

    Let's start with a modern classic. Here's Dan Rather defending the "Killian" memos:

    CBS News also relied on an analysis of the contents of the documents themselves, to determine the content's authenticity. The new papers are in line with what is known about the president's service assignments and dates.

    And here's Henry Ford, defending the Protocols of the Elders of Zion:

    The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on. They are sixteen years old and they have fitted the world situation up to this time. They fit it now.

    Plenty of people will always agree with Rather, just as plenty of people still agree with Ford.

    Some things never change!

    posted by Eric at 06:35 AM | Comments (2)

    More AP bias in Armstrong Beheading Report

    The AP's story on the beheading of American engineer Eugene Armstrong contains an odd but familiar line:

    The 9-minute tape, posted on a Web site used by Islamic militants, showed a man seated on the floor, blindfolded and wearing an orange jumpsuit - similar to the orange uniform worn by prisoners at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - with his hands bound behind his back.

    It was used in the past by the AP when Kim Sun-il was murdered:

    Kim was shown in the videotape kneeling, blindfolded and wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those issued to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    The first time I spotted the line it struck me as inappropriate, or at the very least unnecessary:

    Or a jumpsuit similar to ... well, orange jump suit pretty much captures it. That little explicative detail feels like a subtle effort at equating the killers in Iraq with US guards at Guantanamo.

    This is clearly meant to lend legitimacy to the cause of the terrorists, and it doesn't stop there:

    In a video Saturday setting the 48-hour deadline, the militants demanded the release of female Iraqi prisoners detained by the U.S. military. The military says it is holding two women with ties to Saddam Hussein's regime, including Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha, a scientist who became known as "Dr. Germ" for helping Iraq make weapons out of anthrax, and a biotech researcher. But there may be women held as common criminals.

    They said no women were being held at the U.S. military prison at Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, where American soldiers were photographed sexually humiliating male prisoners, raising fears about the safety about women detainees.

    So you see? The claims made by the terrorists militants are based on legitimate fears for the safety of their womenfolk.

    But whose fault is it, really?

    At least 55 American civilians have died in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat complete on May 1, 2003.

    In addition to Armstrong and Berg, at least two other Americans have been beheaded since Bush launched the war on terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Bush Bush Bush!

    posted by Dennis at 12:48 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (1)

    Opening the gate?

    UPDATE: Via Drudge, I see that contacts between Bill Burkett and the Kerry campaign have been confirmed:

    NEW YORK - At the behest of CBS, an adviser to John Kerry (news - web sites) said he talked to a central figure in the controversy over President Bush (news - web sites)'s National Guard service shortly before disputed documents were released.

    Joe Lockhart denied any connection between the presidential campaign and the papers. Lockhart, the second Kerry ally to confirm contact with retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, said he made the call at the suggestion of CBS producer Mary Mapes.

    "He had some advice on how to deal with the Vietnam issue and the Swift boat" allegations, Lockhart said Monday, referring to GOP-fueled accusations that Kerry exaggerated his Vietnam War record. "He said these guys play tough and we have to put the Vietnam experience into context and have Kerry talk about it more."

    Lockhart said he thanked Burkett for his advice after a three to four minute call.

    Lockhart said he does not recall talking to Burkett about Bush's Guard records. "It's baseless to say the Kerry campaign had anything to do with this," he said.

    CYA, CYA, and CYA!

    Looks to me as if the speculation by Power Line was dead-on!

    Will the rest of the story about Burkett and his extreme crew be successfully sanitized?

    We'll have to wait and see.

    UPDATE: More from Power Line who asks the Rather rhetorical question:

    is CBS an adjunct of the Kerry campaign?
    (Via Glenn Reynolds, who has more links.)

    posted by Eric at 09:52 PM

    the U.N. Population Fund at Work?

    We've addressed this before. Of course the following article fails to mention forced abortion, sterilization and infanticide, all of which the U.N. Population Fund blindly supports:

    Couple Fined $94,000 for One-Child Rule Lapse

    BEIJING (Reuters) - A court in China's southern boomtown of Shenzhen has fined a couple 780,000 yuan ($94,250) and sealed off their house for having more than one child, the Beijing Morning Post said Monday.

    The pair were among nine couples who were fined "social fostering fees" for their extra children, the newspaper said. They had their first boy in 1997 and last year had twin boys, the newspaper said.

    With approximately 1.3 billion people, China is the world's most populous nation. It has stringent rules on family planning that allow couples usually to have just one child, at least in cities, and limit numbers elsewhere.

    The couple's house had been sealed up "according to the law," the paper said, or until they pay the fine which was unusually large. A house is sealed with a white paper bearing the stamp of a local court pasted across the front door.

    Punishment for having more than one child can include having the power to the offending couple's house or to the houses of relatives being cut off.

    posted by Dennis at 06:41 PM

    Rathergate just gets weirder and weirder

    Our source at CBS has forwarded another screen capture:


    We would not go to web with this again if we were not confident about it's accuracy.

    posted by Dennis at 06:31 PM

    Eugene Armstrong Beheaded

    Via Wizbang I just learned about this act of savagery. For details see my earlier post. (Or just scroll down.)

    This one is really disgusting and made me ill to watch. Be careful.

    UPDATE: Once again, please be careful about watching, but here is the link to the video. Dr. Rusty Shackleford also thinks that this is particularly gruesome. Here's what he said in an update, which also provides additional links:

    UPDATE: NEIN is hosting the video. It can be downloaded here, but this is one of the most awful things I have ever seen. While Zarqawis goons read a statement you can see Eugene Armstrong muttering something over and over. A prayer perhaps? The fact that the victim is an American makes me sick and angry. I was angered by all the other videos, but I have not felt like this since Paul Johnson.
    It's the worst I have seen.

    Americans need to remember what we are fighting. It's nothing less than a war between civilization and barbarism. I won't mince words here: I believe those who defend the torturers of Americans are the enemy, plain and simple.

    MORE: Here's Bat Ye'or, author of Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide:

    The war against a global jihadist terrorism can be won only if the civilized world is united against barbarity. Until now European democracies supported Arafat, the initiator of jihadist terrorism, hostage-taking and Islamikazes. The war will be won if we name it, if we face it, if we recognize that it obeys specific rules of Islamic war that are not ours; and if democracies and Muslim modernists stop justifying these acts against other countries. The policy of collusion and support for terrorists in order to gain self-protection is a delusion.

    posted by Eric at 05:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (1)

    September surprise.

    Despite my despair over mounting incivility, I have a persistent but inexplicable sense of optimism which sometimes surfaces. (Not as often as I might like, but hey, these days even trace amounts will do!)

    A debate I attended on Saturday night triggered this latent optimism -- all the more surprising because I went there fully expecting the worst.

    The debate featured Governor Howard Dean and former Education Secretary and Drug Czar Bill Bennett. Not only are they on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but with the election so close, I assumed that a college age audience would be so loaded with hecklers and protesters that I'd be unable to hear a thing.

    Much to my amazement, this was a lesson in civility. The two men were as polite and well behaved as the audience, and both commented on the importance of civility in dialogue. This was in spite of very sharp disagreements on a variety of issues. They behaved as gentlemen.

    The crowd broke into applause more frequently for Dean, but the applause seemed louder for Bennett, so my guess is that more Republicans turned out than Democrats. But I could be wrong and it didn't matter; everyone was polite and well behaved.

    Frankly, I am still amazed, two days later. I even found myself asking questions like, "Is there still hope?"

    For me, Bennett's remarks on the disgraceful nature of the media hatchet job against Dean (the trumped up "YEEAAGH!" business) were the most memorable of the evening. I could tell that Bennett thought Dean would have been a better candidate for president. (A sentiment obviously shared by Dean.....)

    Each man talked about principles and convictions, and both have them. Dean stumbled a bit when Bennett cornered him into praising Kerry as a man of conviction, but I admired Dean for giving it his best shot. I kept having sad, unrealistic thoughts about how Dean should be running for president and not Kerry.

    And I wondered, "Might at least some of the current anger on the left be their own anger (towards Kerry) that dare not speak its name, and must therefore be repressed?" Repressed anger is not pretty, nor is it rational. My thoughts about this irrational anger were hard to square with the fact of these two public figures behaving so politely and rationally.

    (They reminded me that it doesn't have to be that way.)

    Governor Dean and Secretary Bennett are planning another debate in Maine later this month. I highly recommend it. (More information here.)

    Five Stars!

    posted by Eric at 09:10 AM | Comments (2)

    Truth is red, Rather is blue....

    I guess this is a big enough occasion, so I thought I'd steal a headline from Drudge....



    The linked article is a New York Times piece -- "CBS News Concludes It Was Misled on National Guard Memos, Network Officials Say" -- which I'm sure almost everyone has read by now.

    After days of expressing confidence about the documents used in a "60 Minutes'' report that raised new questions about President Bush's National Guard service, CBS News officials have grave doubts about the authenticity of the material, network officials said last night.

    The officials, who asked not to be identified, said CBS News would most likely make an announcement as early as today that it had been deceived about the documents' origins. CBS News has already begun intensive reporting on where they came from, and people at the network said it was now possible that officials would open an internal inquiry into how it moved forward with the report. Officials say they are now beginning to believe the report was too flawed to have gone on the air.

    What's cool about the blogosphere is there's a charming new division between "red truth" and "blue truth," with the "blue" bloggers contending to the bitter end that the memos "could have been" produced with old IBM typewriters.

    The blue truth?

    The red truth?

    Is there such a thing as the real truth or do only cynical people care about such things? In logic either the documents were forgeries or they were not. When I produced an identical one on Microsoft Word, I was convinced. But had someone -- anyone -- produced one with an old typewriter, I would have admitted that it could have been done. But no one did.

    Anyway, now that the forgery concession's out of the way, CBS plans to air an interview with the alleged source, Bill Burkett. That should prove interesting, as this is a guy who compares Bush to Hitler, and whose friends have equally interesting ideas.

    Dan wouldn't try to colorize the truth by asking soft questions, would he?

    UPDATE: While the CBS statement speaks of being misled by the documents themselves, Dan Rather admits only to being misled by the how the source obtained them:

    ....after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where—if I knew then what I know now—I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.
    combined with some of the questions that have been raised?

    If that isn't weasel language, what is? All he saying is that he wouldn't have done it had he known this was going to happen.

    Why, he's not even sorry for having been caught -- because he won't admit he's been caught!

    posted by Eric at 08:32 AM

    Why do they behead us?
    “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow – and they will win.”

    -- Michael Moore

    The patriotic Iraqi Minutemen have struck again, and more beheadings are in the works:

    DUBAI—The Tawhid and Jihad Group of suspected al-Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has threatened to kill two US hostages and one British hostage seized in Baghdad, Al Jazeera said on Saturday.

    The Arabic broadcaster aired scenes from a videotape of the three men it had obtained from the group, which said Washington had 48 hours to release Iraqi women prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Umm Qasr.

    “The Tawhid and Jihad Group gave a 48-hour deadline for the release of the women prisoners in return for releasing the two Americans and Briton kidnapped on Thursday, or they would carry out the death penalty against them,” Al Jazeera said.

    The brief extracts aired from the tape showed the three men blindfolded as a hooded man stood behind them with a weapon pointed at the head of one of them.

    I doubt these men can expect any better than the three Iraqi Kurds who were just beheaded. The captors released another sickening documentary, which can be seen here.

    WARNING: I have not watched the above, but beware; I am sure it's another very gruesome example of the type of barbarism we've come to expect from the bloodthirsty Iraqis some Americans consider "patriots."

    I wish the beheadings and the videos would stop. Until they do, Classical Values will continue to urge that this and all Iraqi beheading videos be "dedicated to Michael Moore -- a great American patriot who is spreading the truth."

    UPDATE: Via Kevin at Wizbang I see that more Americans are being beheaded.

    A Web site posting Monday claimed that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group has beheaded one of the American hostages in Iraq and that others would soon be killed. The claim could not be verified.

    The short statement was posted by a Web site contributor using the pseudonym Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, who has put up past statements signed in the name of the Tawhid and Jihad group.

    The posting promised video proof "soon."

    It's already been made available. Here.

    I just watched it and it made me absolutely sick. Careful watching it.


    And thanks again, Michael Moore.

    posted by Eric at 07:07 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (1)


    My sleep was just destroyed by mindless modern cruelty. The stupid cell phone battery alarm went off -- not once but twice!

    Because I can't get back to sleep, I Googled the problem, and found that I am not alone:

    It's 2 a.m., and I want to tell you why I hate Motorola. I should be circumspect, since I've had the privilege of serving Motorola as a consultant, and the company was an exceptional client. But I've been staring at the ceiling now for more than an hour, my sleep destroyed by a thoughtful feature on my cell phone called the Low Battery alarm.

    In the normal course of events, when I arrive home in the evening, I plug my cell phone into its charger, which sits on the kitchen counter not too far from the coffeemaker and the key rack. In the morning before I leave, I make my coffee, grab my keys and phone, and go on with my life. The phone is happy. I'm happy. The world is a happy place.

    SILLY DADDY. Every so often something disrupts this routine, however. Sometimes I forget to take my phone out of my pocket. Sometimes my two-year-old finds the phone and, after exhausting the imaginative possibilities of make-believe conversation, abandons it under a couch or behind the desk. And there the phone sits, slowly trickling out of energy.

    Like many smart devices, my phone has an alarm to tell me when the battery is low. I suspect this drains a lot of the remaining energy from the battery in order to fulfill its prophecy more quickly, but normally I might consider it a useful feature. Right now, however, at 2am, I've discovered that the usability engineers at Motorola designed this feature not as an alert, but as a behavior-modification tool. Make the punishment for forgetting to plug in the phone painful enough, and I won't do it again.

    Everyone has had the experience of incorporating external stimulus into the story of their dreams. The sound of a baby crying might be transformed into the sound of a jazz singer at a club. The sound of the alarm clock might become a fire engine racing to a burning building. Motorola's alarm, however, cannot be wrapped into any storyline. The moment I hear it, no matter how deeply I might be sleeping, I'm immediately aggravated and awake. It has the same two tones as a doorbell, but instead of that cheerful resonance and sustain -- a sound full of promise -- it sounds sharp and impatient. The phone is annoyed.

    NIGHTMARE NOISES. If I could just get up and turn it off I could do so half asleep and drift back into my dreams. And I wouldn't be writing this column. But the Motorola alarm only rings once every 4 minutes, and I have no idea where the phone is hiding.

    There's much more, of course, and not only do I agree but I'm glad I don't have to reinvent the wheel.


    Vile corporate sleep disrupters, ye who would subordinate me to a gadget, death to you all!

    My thanks to Christopher Kenton (president of Cymbic and director of Touchpoint Metrics) for writing this post and helping me get back to sleep.....

    posted by Eric at 02:55 AM

    the Primetime Emmy awards

    This came as a bit of a surprise.

    Libertarian Tom Selleck was trying to intro a montage on stars who've passed over the past year, but the audience, who obviously didn't realize he was leading toward a somber note, hailed him with whistles and catcalls.

    That wasn't the surprising part. Politics aside, Tom Selleck is still a ladies man (and I suppose a man's man, though I'm not qualified to comment on that count).

    The surprise came when Ronald Reagan was featured, and the venue erupted in applause.

    The only person from that point on whose reception seemed to approach Reagan's was Ray Charles.

    Not even Brando.

    posted by Dennis at 10:41 PM

    If the truth hadn't been forged, who would have believed it?

    It's official now!

    Via Michael Graham, I see that the terms of the Rathergate debate have been formally redefined. Today that venerable guardian of the word "Gate", the Washington Post, presents the case that it's time to lose the forgery debate -- fast -- and get down to the real issue of the memos' underlying truth! First, says the Post, concede the silly forgery:

    While Glennon continues to insist that the documents could theoretically have been printed on a Vietnam War-era IBM Selectric, no one has been able to demonstrate this . Leading font developers say the technology simply did not exist 30 years ago.

    One telltale sign in the CBS documents is the overlapping character combinations, such as "fr" or "fe," said Joseph M. Newcomer, an adjunct professor with Carnegie Mellon University. Blown-up portions of the CBS documents show that the top of the "f" overlaps the beginning of the next letter, a feat that was not possible even on the most sophisticated typewriters available in 1972. Newcomer calls the documents "a modern forgery."

    Tests run by Thomas Phinney, fonts program manager for Adobe Systems, show that none of the possible font widths available on any typewriter or any IBM device from 1972 are able to produce an exact replica of the CBS documents. "Can they do something 'similar'? Sure," Phinney said. "Could they produce those exact memos? Impossible."

    And now that the forgery's out of the way, it's time to move on. We must recognize that the issue of the forgery obscured the greater truth of what the documents said!
    As conservative critics called for Rather's scalp, the spotlight turned to who provided the documents to CBS and whether that person was part of a hoax, or even a political setup.

    CBS sources confirmed a report in Newsweek that one of the people Mapes interviewed was Bill Burkett, a retired Guard officer who has accused Bush aides of conspiring with the head of the Texas Guard to "sanitize" the president's military records. Burkett's accusations, which have been denied by the White House and Guard officials, have never been proved.

    Since leaving the Guard, Burkett has run a ranch near Abilene, Tex., and been active in local Democratic politics, posting messages on the Internet urging other Democrats to wage "war" against Republican "dirty tricks." He has told reporters that he suffered from depression and had a nervous breakdown after the military declined to treat him for a tropical disease he contracted while on assignment in Panama.

    CBS executives declined to address news accounts that pinpoint Burkett as the confidential source for the documents but say they weighed the fact that anyone turning over the material would not be a fan of the president. Burkett would not comment on whether he supplied the documents but said by e-mail to The Post that he would "encourage everyone to not cast too many doubts prematurely" on the "60 Minutes" broadcast.

    Strong, the former Guard officer, said last week that when Rather showed him the documents, they contained a header showing they had been faxed to the network from a Kinko's copy shop in Abilene.

    As the storm of criticism grew louder, Rather, Heyward and the program's staff still believed that the documents were genuine. They had no way of knowing that an 86-year-old woman in southwest Houston was discussing the controversy with a neighbor.

    "I know Dan Rather is right," Marian Carr Knox, a former secretary in Bush's Guard unit, recalled saying. The neighbor said she should do something about it. So she called a Houston newspaper, Knox told CBS, but did not get a call back. Dallas Morning News reporter Pete Slover soon tracked down Knox and showed her copies of the Killian memos.

    "These are not real," declared Knox, who said she handled Killian's memos. "They're not what I typed, and I would have typed them for him."

    When a "60 Minutes" staffer showed Howard an online version of the Morning News story Tuesday night, "my initial reaction was not, 'Oh, my God, we're wrong,' " he said. But he immediately recognized that his program had to take her account seriously.

    CBS got hold of Knox and had her on a plane to New York on Wednesday. Rather started the hour-long interview at 4 p.m., and while Knox said the underlying story was true -- that Killian had made such comments about Lt. Bush -- she insisted the memos were fake. Mapes had three hours to edit the interview for that night's "60 Minutes."

    As they continue their investigation into whether they were hoaxed, CBS officials have begun shifting their public focus from the memos themselves to their underlying allegations about the president. Rather said that if the memos were indeed faked, "I'd like to break that story." But whatever the verdict on the memos, he said, critics "can't deny the story."

    As the days begin to blur for Josh Howard, he embraces the same logic: "So much of this debate has focused on the documents, and no one has really challenged the story. It's been frustrating to us to see all this reduced to a debate over little 'th's."

    How silly we bloggers are! Imagine thinking that this was going to be about forgery.

    In our obsessive compulsive mania to elevate form over substance, we just couldn't see the forest for the trees, could we?

    We all owe the Old Media an apology!

    UPDATE: Not so fast! There are still a few staunch suporters of the documents who know how to write, and who deserve a pat on the back for their loyalty and stamina:

    It's pretty funny, really, how right-wing bloggers are serially breaking their arms patting themselves on the back for having exposed "Forgerygate." Actually, all they've really managed to prove is P.T. Barnum's famous adage, perhaps recast as "There's a blogger born every minute."
    I'm in hysterics. No really.

    But I wonder..... Might that make me a pseudo fascist? (Gee, I was just getting used to being a pseudo libertarian.....)

    posted by Eric at 09:24 PM | Comments (2)

    Selective reporting by Dan Rather?

    After Dennis's latest triumph in investigative reporting, I don't know how I could add anything relating to Rathergate.

    But I've been puzzled over why -- if the forged military records did in fact come from Bill Burkett -- Dan Rather is so stubbornly intransigent about admitting it, and I found some copies of emails at which might shed some light.

    Especially this one from one of Burkett's friends:

    Please copy me on any emails in support of Bill that you send out so I can print and snail mail them to Bill, if you want him to see your public support. His computer was fried along with his fax machine. I know Bill will be most appreciative of all efforts on his behalf. This brave patriotic solider needs to know we are behind him and will not allow him to be trashed by a paid WH Nazi hack.

    Are we going to allow them to do to Bill Burkett what they did to Bill White, Jim Hatfield, and Margie Schoedinger by trashing them without objection? Two of these people are dead, allegedly by their own hand. Jim was driven to it. I don't know enough about Margie shooting herself in the head. Who will be next? What anti-Bush websites might be in their sites? Bill has been repeatedly threatened, bullets have been fired through his window, his name written on a bullet placed in his mailbox, and the telephone pole to his home knocked down trying to prevent his talking to reporters this past week. Why are they so desperate to silence him if he's wrong or just disgruntled over a promotion? They are using malicious lies to smear one of the finest people I've ever known, just so media won't listen to Bill, or publicize his accusations.

    Bill Burkett put it ALL on the line for his country, and us, in reporting criminal acts of GWB & Daniel James in falsifying personnel readiness reports to the Pentagon, carrying 1700 ghost soliders on payrolls to defraud the DoD out of MILLIONS of taxpayer money. Show me the money Dumbya! Where did all that money go, if not in the pockets of Bush family cronies? Now I ask, what are YOU willing to do to support Bill when he needs us to stand with him and deflect vicious attacks by the Nazis in power? What was their SOLE defense in lawsuits for retaliation against a federally protected whistleblower? Not their innocence, but hiding behind the Feres Doctrine - that military are not subject to civilian authority.

    It's PAST time Americans DEMAND a Special Prosecutor to investigate a host of criminal acts commited by GWB under RICO. I dare anyone to disprove these accusations against GWB and his cronies. See reports below.

    Far be it from me to disprove anything. But I was intrigued enough by whatever light these accusations might shed on Burkett to dig a little further.

    I don't have time to explore each and every conspiracy theory, but for today I decided to check out the case of alleged Bush victim Margie Schoedinger. In 2002 she filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against President Bush:

    According to her account, which was confusing, rambling and incomplete, she also alleged that she has been harassed and threatened by federal agents, her bank accounts looted, her husband fired from his job, and that she had a miscarriage after being beaten. In court papers, she intimated that Bush "might have been the father of the child that was lost."

    Also, she claimed that when she went to a hospital for treatment she was further threatened by federal agents "on behalf of the Defendant [Bush]."

    Additionally, Schoedinger claims she has been placed on a "watch list" for AIDS and is being monitored by the National Security Agency, Secret Service and CIA. She said her home is under surveillance as well.

    "Defendant [Bush] took personal responsibility for these decisions," the court papers say, "explaining to Plaintiff [Schoedinger] that committing suicide would be her best option in his opinion. "

    "Plaintiff is essentially dead in any case," the filing said.

    She said throughout a conversation she had with Bush - for which she gave no time frame - he allegedly never "stopped watching" her, "nor did he stop having sex" with her while she was under the influence.

    "The sole concern of the Defendant and his representatives was whether Plaintiff could actually recall the individual sex crimes committed against Plaintiff and Plaintiff's husband, utilizing drugs," said the court papers. "Whether or not Plaintiff's husband was raped remains in question, as Plaintiff was drugged after she was raped and her husband was drugged before her rape."

    A couple of years later, Ms. Schoedinger was found dead, and it was ruled suicide. More here, and here. Original WorldNetDaily story here.

    While a few bloggers (and some leftist sites) have taken the matter seriously, in general it seems to have been ignored. I seriously doubt this is because of any conspiracy to protect the president. Here's an assessment by an anti-Bush blogger who (by way of background) says he seldom disagrees with Noam Chomsky:

    I don't like Bush, but this story fails the "smell test" before you even pop the top on it, and the closer you look, the more it becomes apparent that the fascinating part of this story is the shape of Schoedinger's psychosis.

    It may be reasonable to question why this story was ignored by newspapers worldwide (other than Pravda and New Nation, a tabloid serving London's urban black population). But if you know the story, it seems more likely that it was ignored to avoid exploiting the tragedy of a sick, sad woman, not out of deference to Dubya.

    His conclusion? If you think there's a real conspiracy here, go to the court file and read the woman's complaint.

    Margie Schoedinger's complaint is indeed remarkable; the original court file may be read here. (You'll have to click "Retrieve as PDF" or "TIFF.")

    [NOTE: The above may not work. If not, then starting from the court's search engine, under "Case Type" you'll have to select "Injury or damage other than a motor vehicle," then (under "Name Type") select "PLAINTIFF," then under "Name" type "Schoedinger," then hit SEARCH. This will bring up two cases, and Ms. Schoedinger's 2002 filing, number 22127. Click "PETITION."]

    If such allegations are the kind of stuff Burkett and his friends believe in, I am beginning to understand why Dan Rather might not want to admit Burkett or anyone working with him is behind the forgeries.


    MORE: Buzzflash, while calling the rape lawsuit "ludicrous," nevertheless speculated that the hidden hand of Karl Rove might be at work "inoculating" the public -- so that such complaints would not be taken seriously in the future. (In light of the plaintiff's death, I think that theory fails.)

    No time to check out the mysterious Jim Hatfield, although from the looks of this WaPo article, it looks like another loser -- even as a conspiracy theory.

    So I can't blame Dan Rather for his selective reporting.

    UPDATE: Link to court file corrected and supplemented.

    UPDATE: Paul at Wizbang links to Allah's post about a new phenomenon -- the red truth versus the blue truth!

    I just got a press release from Time magazine describing the cover package of its new issue. The online version of the article is subscription-only but the press release makes clear that it's all about Rathergate and how the left and right see the story completely differently. Time calls it "Blue Truth Vs. Red Truth".
    Hmmmmm..... All truth is relative, of course, because there is no real truth. I've heard that many times, but it's no way to win an argument.

    Still, I must ask: what color is the truth about Margie Schoedinger?

    MORE: Hindrocket at Power Line asks a related question to the one occasioning this post:

    How could the source be more incriminating than the forgery? The only way I can think of is if the source is the John Kerry campaign. It's one thing to fall for a forgery; it's something worse to participate in a fraud for the sake of trying to help a Presidential candidate. But it increasingly appears that that is exactly what CBS did. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)
    I agree that a Kerry campaign source is more incriminating than the forgery. But I think that a lunatic fringe source is at least as incriminating. And infinitely more embarrassing. (Especially if connected to the Kerry campaign!)

    STILL MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, I see AllahPundit offering substantial evidence that Burkett: a) is having trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy, and b) suffers from seizures when stressed.

    I think it's more and more clear why Dan Rather would go to great lengths to avoid being tied to such a source.

    posted by Eric at 03:11 PM

    Breaking News!

    Classical Values has obtained damning evidence in the Rathergate cover-up, and we ask you Dan, respectfully, to answer the questions it raises:


    Journalistic ethics protect us from revealing our source, but we believe the screen capture to be at least accurate.

    posted by Dennis at 01:09 PM | Comments (2)

    "I beseech you in the bowels of christ think it possible you may be mistaken."

    I'm not one to spoil the end of a good movie, but I had to share this, the last paragraph of Marc Steyn's column in the Chicago Sun-Times:

    As for Heyward and Rather, the other day I came across a rare memo from April 20, 1653, typed on a 17th century prototype of the IBM Selectric. It's Oliver Cromwell's words to England's Long Parliament:

    ''You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!''

    It's worth reading. He hints at what many in the blogosphere have already said more explicitly (viz. that the cover-up is meant to conceal ties to the Kerry campaign).

    posted by Dennis at 10:19 AM | Comments (1)

    A key issue?

    Far be it from me to question the timing of Kofi Annan's latest accusation that the Iraq War is illegal:

    Key states who joined the US-led invasion of Iraq have rejected claims by the United Nations secretary general that the war was illegal.

    Kofi Annan told the BBC the decision to take action in Iraq contravened the UN charter and should have been made by the Security Council, not unilaterally.

    But authorities in the UK, Australia, Poland, Bulgaria and Japan said the war was backed by international law.

    Australian Prime Minister John Howard described the UN as a "paralysed" body.

    And a former Bush administration aide, Randy Scheunemann, branded Mr Annan's comments "outrageous".

    There's more in the article, as well as speculation that Annan's latest statements have something to do with the November election.

    But I didn't see any mention of UN-SCAM -- the Saddam Hussein "Oil for Food" scandal which involves much of the UN high command as well as Annan and his family. Perhaps it wasn't considered relevant that the countries opposing the Iraq war were the same ones taking the bribes.

    Here's more on Annan's touching concern for legal niceties:

    [T]he U.N. got in on the action. It received administrative fees of about $2 billion for the program, which may be fair, but the senior U.N. official in charge of the program, Benon Sevan, is reported to have received 11.5 million barrels himself. Cotecna, a Swiss-based firm hired by the U.N. to monitor the import of the food and medicine to Iraq, hired Kojo Annan, the son of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, as a consultant during the period when the company was assembling and submitting bids for the oil-for-food program. All of these coincidences were reported by Claudia Rosett in the National Review. None, surprisingly, were disclosed by the U.N., Cotecna, or the senior or junior Annan. The imposition of so-called smart sanctions on Iraq, several years after the end of the 1991 Gulf War, allowed Saddam to purchase items besides food and medicine. But some of the things approved by Kofi Annan seem pretty far afield. There was the $20 million he authorized for an Olympic sports city for Uday Hussein, Saddam's reprehensible (and now deceased) oldest son. And then there was the $50 million for TV and radio equipment for Saddam's ham-handed propaganda machine. This is food? Gives new meaning to Kofi Annan's statement, in 1998, that Saddam was a man "I can do business with." And how.
    It's understandable that Annan might want to focus on other matters -- and especially now.

    But once again, it's not for me to question the timing when others predicted exactly this sort of thing months ago, Here's what scholar and human rights activist Anne Bayefsky wrote in a piece called "The Kerry-Kofi Plan for America’s Future":

    Kerry's foreign-policy strategy will now encourage Annan to issue more self-serving reports and statements in the run-up to the election, in the expectation that a Kerry win will mean legitimizing U.S. foreign policy in U.N. offices rather than in American homes.
    Is the latest news part of the run-up to the election? Claims Bayefsky of Kerry:
    According to Kerry, the U.N. "is the key that opens the door."
    But what William Safire called "Kofigate" may also be a key issue. It isn't going away.

    And Kofi may be afraid they're gonna change the locks.....

    MORE: Writing in the New York Post, Amir Taheri has questions:

    ....[W]hy is [Annan] making these wild accusations?

    May be he wants to please the anti-war coalition, which is certainly strong throughout the world. Maybe he wants to enter history as a man who opposed war. May be he is hoping for one of those things they distribute at the Nobel academy in Stockholm every October.

    Whatever Annan's private reasons, he has acted most dishonorably. If he really believes that international law has been violated, he should do something, even if he knows that whatever he does will get nowhere.

    If, on the other hand, he is making these accusations just to look good, he must know that he is destroying the little that is left of the U.N.'s credibility. How can an organization, whose chief executive accuses the principal members of its board of violating its charter with impunity, be taken seriously?

    Why didn't Annan resign when he clearly saw that the U.N. Charter was being violated by a group of "rogue states" led by America? And why, if the toppling of Saddam was illegal, is the U.N. helping consolidate regime change in Iraq by supervising elections for a new government?

    All key questions.....

    But I wouldn't expect key answers!

    posted by Eric at 03:51 PM | Comments (1)

    New face, same storyline!

    Via Clayton Cramer (who paid me a very moving compliment here, for which I truly thank him), I see that they've finally located a replacement for Dan Rather.

    This guy:

    Clayton Cramer thinks he's an improvement on Dan Rather.

    Well, he might be more objective in some ways, but where it comes to the blogosphere, he's just as mean and vicious as Rather, and I think we can expect more of the same.

    Here's what he said about Glenn Reynolds in his last gig (for Air America):

    There is no truth to what the liar Glenn Reynolds said. Not a word! The conservative talk shows - we have slaughtered them all! God will roast the so-called war bloggers in hell at the hands of Air America. War bloggers, prepare to surrender or your computers will be hacked to death!

    Be assured. Air America is safe, protected!

    Glenn Reynolds the hated Instapundit is not in control, the war bloggers not in control of anything - they don't even control themselves! We are not afraid of Instapundit or the stupid so-called war bloggers. Allah has condemned them. They are stupid. They are stupid. And they are condemned!

    We have destroyed their computers, their modems, their fantasies - We have driven them back.

    Glenn Reynolds is all about lies! All he tells is lies, lies and more lies! I have detailed information about the situation...which completely proves that what he alleges are illusions . . . He lies every day.

    "More credibility than Dan Rather"? So says Clayton Cramer.


    Methinks I must respectfully disagree.

    Gunga Dan, Baghdad Bob: a distinction without a difference.

    MORE: Also via Clayton Cramer, I see that California has criminalized sexual intercourse with Dan Rather! (Background here.)

    Sheesh! Next we'll be hearing that Lenin's corpse has rights!

    posted by Eric at 10:02 PM | Comments (3)


    There aren't enough gay gun nuts, either in the world or in the blogosphere.

    My blogfather, Jeff Soyer, is of course the original GAY GUN NUT, but I suspect there are many more of them out there.

    Well, now I have discovered two tests which, if taken in conjunction, will greatly boost the ranks of Gay Gun Nuts.

    The first test is, simply, ARE YOU GAY? (Via Agenda Bender.)

    OK, now bear in mind that this is a two prong test. Once you have taken the above test (which will determine conclusively whether you're gay), you may move on to the next text (which a reader was nice enough to send me in a comment link).

    I think that if you weren't a gun nut before taking it, you will be soon afterwards!

    Take the test here.

    It works regardless of whether you pass or fail!

    posted by Eric at 10:13 AM | Comments (4)

    I love the smell of cocaine in the morning!

    Just before the Rathergate story broke, the groundwork was being laid for the rehabilitation of Bill Burkett:

    Bottom line: Burkett's story is largely credible (though obviously not proven); the number of missing documents from Bush's file is suspicious; and it's possible that even if some documents were purged from Bush's paper file in Austin they might still be recorded on the microfilm records made in the 70s and 80s. AP's request is a legitimate one, and hopefully the microfilm records will be made available to them before the election. After all, Bush is proud of his service in the Guard, right?

    The major players in the Bush/National Guard/AWOL story seem to be Burkett (suspected in the forgery), Eric Boehlert of Salon (who insists that the threat of drug testing was the "reason" that Bush allegedly didn't report for the physical exam), and Marty Heldt. (More here.)

    [TIP FOR BOEHLERT FANS: If you're too cheap to pay for a subscription or don't like watching the video, you might try the Kerry web site.]

    While they're still in the pussyfooting around stages, I believe that ultimately, all roads will lead to cocaine. Kitty Kelley provides aroma, Boehlert offers unproven military regulations, an ancient secretary provides feeling, and Burkett, lovable nutcase that he is, painstakingly recreated the documents destroyed by Bush's evil minions.

    It really isn't important that not one of the pieces in this puzzle can withstand serious scrutiny, because they're intended to work collectively on the American subconscious.

    There's a feeling of cocaine. You can almost smell it.

    Oh, and if the cocaine feelings wear off, there are always the tried and true feelings of Hitler.....

    AFTERTHOUGHT: I wrote this post as a reminder (to myself as well as my readers) that Rathergate is nothing less than an attempted revolution. The New Media which respects new rules like fairness and accountability, seeks to impose these new rules on the Old Media. The latter have never been accountable and have made and enforced their own rules, Rule One being that there is no accountability. Those who believe in fairness and accountability should keep in mind that this revolution is not going to be a garden party.

    posted by Eric at 09:43 AM | Comments (2)

    Bush Makes Headway on Global Weather Device?

    Eric H. at the Dave has more on questionable questioning of time.

    The AP is feeding buying into the theory.

    posted by Dennis at 09:04 AM | Comments (1)

    Is Dan Rather the latest victim of Reichsfuhrer Rove?

    Was Dan Rather snookered by the evil Karl Rove?

    While taking care to note there's no proof (lest anyone imagine that she takes these things seriously), Maureen Dowd -- in a column titled "Pre-emptive Paranoia" -- nonetheless lays out the case for the Rove-as-culprit theory as plausibly as she can:

    There's no evidence - it's just a preposterous, paranoid fantasy at this point. But it speaks to the jitters of the Democrats that they're consumed with speculation about whether Karl Rove, the master of dirty tricks and surrogate sleaze, could have set up CBS in a diabolical pre-emptive strike to undermine damaging revelations about Bush 43's privileged status and vanishing act in the National Guard, and his odd refusal to take his required physical when ordered.

    In this vast left-wing conspiracy theory, Mr. Rove takes real evidence on W.'s shirking and transfers it to documents doomed to be exposed as phony (thereby undermining the real goods), then funnels it through third parties to Dan Rather, Bush 41's nemesis on Iran-contra. A perfect bank shot.

    The secretary for W.'s squadron commander in the Texas Guard told The Times that the information in the disputed memos is correct - it's just the memos that seem fake.

    "It looks like someone may have read the originals and put that together,'' said a lucid 86-year-old Marian Carr Knox, who was flown up to New York yesterday by beleaguered CBS News executives.

    She told Mr. Rather that her boss, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, wrote a "cover-your-back file,'' a "personal journal'' to keep a record about the politically connected Bush in his charge. She said the contents of that mirrored the CBS documents, but she said those documents were not on the right forms and contained Army terms rather than Air National Guard argot. She confirmed that young Bush had disobeyed a direct order from Colonel Killian to take a physical.

    "It was a big no-no to not follow orders,'' she said, adding that the Bush scion's above-the-rules attitude caused some snickers and resentment among fellow officers.

    Those who suspect Mr. Rove note that when he was Bill Clements's campaign strategist in a 1986 governor's race in Texas, he was accused of bugging his own office to distract from a debate, according to James Moore and Wayne Slater, authors of "Bush's Brain.'' They said it turned the election because after that, the Democrat could not get any attention.

    Was the same scenario playing out yesterday evening on CNN? After a five-minute report on the CBS memo controversy, CNN spent about 30 seconds reporting that two more marines had been killed in Iraq.


    The Democratic paranoia is a measure of the intimidation the West Wing is wielding in a race where John Kerry can't seem to take advantage of any of the Bush administration's increasingly calamitous blunders.

    The administration has been so dazzling in misleading the public with audacious, mendacious malarkey that the Democrats fear the Bushies are capable of any level of deceit.

    Not that Maureen would think anything like that, of course.....

    The above link was forwarded to a friend by a man upset enough to ask a question obviously on the minds of many:

    Is Karl Rove any different than any of Hitler's henchmen?
    Believe it or not, there is a difference! Hitler's henchmen were into things like direct physical contact; they behaved more like the people who surrounded Rove's house.

    But why isn't Dan Rather saying something about Rove's Nazi deception? Is he a willing victim of Bush's sinister Reichsfuhrer?

    posted by Eric at 01:56 PM | Comments (3)


    The Carnival of the Vanities has just turned TWO!

    Quite appropriately, the celebration is hosted by Silflay Hraka, who on reflection opines:

    So here we are, sitting in our pajamas, just one single yard further along than we were yesterday. But if you look back, our starting point has vanished into the distant haze.
    I wasn't even a blog embryo when it started, because I'm just over a year old. But the Carnival is bigger and better than ever, and I couldn't begin to review the many fine posts. (Mine included, of course!)

    So don't miss it!

    posted by Eric at 10:38 AM | Comments (1)

    Left behind?

    One of my favorite bloggers, Objectivist Don Watkins (who can hardly be described as an advocate of religion, much less theocracy), links to this WaPo article which sheds some important (often surprising) light on President Bush's religious views:

    George W. Bush is among the most openly religious presidents in U.S. history. A daily Bible reader, he often talks about how Jesus changed his heart. He has spoken, publicly and privately, of hearing God's call to run for the presidency and of praying for God's help since he came into office.

    But despite the centrality of Bush's faith to his presidency, he has revealed only the barest outline of his beliefs, leaving others to sift through the clues and make assumptions about where he stands.

    Bush has said many times that he is a Christian, believes in the power of prayer and considers himself a "lowly sinner." But White House aides said they do not know whether the president believes that: the Bible is without error; the theory of evolution is true; homosexuality is a sinful choice; only Christians will go to heaven; support for Israel is a biblical imperative; or the war in Iraq is part of God's plan.

    So why the constant spin about Bush being the deranged avatar of Armageddon who wants to forcibly convert the Mideast to born-again Christianity?

    Despite shrill allegations to the contrary, the president doesn't claim to be "born again" or evangelical:

    Because he does not claim to have embraced Jesus in a single moment, aides said, Bush does not call himself "born again." Nor does he refer to himself as an evangelical, though evangelical leaders do not hesitate to claim him as one of their own.
    Nor is there evidence that Bush engages in evangelism or proselytizing:
    Bush's record on evangelization is more clear. Some of his religious supporters believe that he fulfills his obligation to evangelize through his example. But there is no evidence that Bush has engaged in direct proselytizing. On the contrary, aides said Bush has joined in common prayer with Sikhs and Hindus, something many conservative Christians would not do.

    According to Jay P. Lefkowitz, an observant Jew who served as Bush's chief domestic policy adviser in 2002-03, the president went out of his way to make White House visitors and staff members of other faiths feel comfortable. Religion, Lefkowitz said, is "part of who he is. But he doesn't try to push it on anyone."

    Private Faith

    Aides said that Bush does not discuss the content of his own faith, either publicly or with his staff. Though religion is far from a taboo subject in the Bush White House, where many workers gather for Bible study during their Thursday lunch hour, Bush rarely if ever participates in such discussions.

    More amazing to me was to read President Bush shares the same concerns which are so often voiced about him:
    Bush himself said in a 2000 interview with, a religion Web site: "To be frank with you, I am not all that comfortable describing my faith, because in the political world, there are a lot of people who say, 'Vote for me, I'm more religious than my opponent,' " he said. "And those kind of folks make me a little nervous."
    Those folks make me (and plenty of other people) nervous too. But I wonder.... How many people know about Bush's remark that he's nervous about the same thing? (It's certainly relevant in light of Kerry's "I dont wear my religion on my sleeve ... I don't want to claim that God is on our side" remarks.)

    Regarding the oft-touted claim that Bush leads a coalition of religious nuts who are deliberately provoking an apocalypse in the Mideast, not only is there no evidence that Bush believes in the premillenial Dispensationist "Rapture" stuff, but there's evidence to the contrary:

    Bush has not publicly voiced any apocalyptic scenario, and aides scoffed at the notion that he holds one. Neuhaus, who has met several times with the president to discuss abortion and other issues, said that "the whole realm of biblical prophecy . . . with respect to the Middle East" is "quite alien to George W. Bush."
    To that it's worth additionally noting that President Bush was raised as an Episcopalian.

    So was I, and while I'm not religious in the sense of attending church, I can state from my own personal experience that Episcopalianism epitomizes mainstream, liberal Christianity. (Much to the consternation of innumerable evangelicals and fundamentalists.)

    The president later switched to the Methodist Church because his wife is a Methodist.

    Not only is Methodism not noted for premillenial Dispensationalist views, but such thinking seems out of line with that of Methodism's founder, John Wesley.

    None of this is to say that there aren't large numbers of Bush's supporters do believe in these things, but there are also a lot who don't. From what I can see, Bush's religious views are solidly within the mainstream.

    (Which is more than can be said for the attempt to portray him as a religious extremist.)

    UPDATE: Speaking of religious extremism, here's a sleeve-wearing Methodist discussing (before a religious audience) the need for religion in public life:

    Letting people hear the message of the gospel as well as the example of our works. We'll do more to change lives than any program that could passed by any legislative body. (applause)

    As I look at this great gathering, I see reflected here John Wesley's words that the world is my parish, and if that be the case, then I am optimistic. Despite the headlines of the moment, and all of the difficulties we know lurk outside in this city we are in today, and every other one. I am optimistic because I see spiritual growth and action based on that. Beginning to manifest itself in so many different ways. In my book, I wrote a little chapter called "Children Are Born Believers" because I feel so strongly that we owe our children a chance for them to have a spiritual life. For them to be part of a church, and it is not only something we do for them. We do it for ourselves, and we know that in ways we might not even predict consequences can be positive.

    Imagine a First Lady of the United States advocating religion!

    posted by Eric at 09:50 AM | Comments (3)

    The Weekly Idiot Award

    My favorite feature at Classical Values is back with a vengeance. This week's winner? 'Trend forecaster' Merrill Greene:

    She said the less-bare look may be a response to the world around us. "It's a way of protecting oneself. We might feel insecure about showing off, of looking too out there and too American," she said.

    While the article doesn't make it explicit, the logic seems to be that if you look American you may be a target in this big scary world.

    Modesty: because Osama been watching.

    posted by Dennis at 02:07 AM | Comments (3)

    Chronicles of Narnia



    Heartbeat is all wrong. His body temperature is...Jim, this man is a Klingon, er, Narn.

    A Narn? I wonder what Starfleet Command will say about that?

    posted by Justin at 04:57 PM

    First sign -- of more to come....

    While running this morning, I saw a Bush-Cheney yard sign displaying telltale evidence that someone (other than the owner) had violently disagreed with it:


    I was immediately reminded of this post:

    Many Republicans are afraid to put Bush-Cheney bumper stickers on their cars or signs on their lawns because they are afraid of physical retaliation from angry liberals.

    It is not just that one sees few Bush-Cheney bumper stickers and lawn signs - even in areas in which one knows his support is high. I do not have such a bumper sticker or lawn sign. In fact, most Bush supporters I have asked, even those who are fairly passionate on the topic, just don't think the risk of a key-scratch or broken home or car window, or much worse, is worth whatever benefit one receives from a partisan bumper sticker or lawn sign. There are just too many personal stories of cars and homes defaced and damaged.

    The sentiment is not symmetrical: One sees plenty of Kerry-Edwards bumber stickers and lawn signs - even in highly Republican neighborhoods. Indeed,one sees plenty of such stickers and signs that express left-wing sentiments much more intense and partisan than mere support of the Democratic presidential ticket. Not infrequently these stickers and signs mention some form of violence or even death with respect to Republican officials. (Via InstaPundit.)

    That is certainly true in my neighborhood, which splits about evenly between Republicans and Democrats. The Kerry-Edwards signs outnumber the Bush-Cheney signs by a ratio of at least 10-1.

    Obviously, people don't want the aggravation of putting up a sign and then having someone rip it to shreds (or do something worse), and I really can't blame them. But instilling fear doesn't strike me as the best way for the Kerry-Edwards campaign (or its supporters) to win hearts and minds.

    I didn't think the Bush numbers went up because of what Bush said in his speech so much as in reaction to mobs in New York's streets. People find the politics of personal confrontation or physical violence (whether against persons or property) alienating, especially those who are not political ideologues.

    I know this will sound crazy, but I think some of this might be an unintended consequence of the Internet -- but not in the way most people would imagine. The Internet, by allowing free and uninhibited dialogue, facilitates the finding of like-minded thinkers and the expression of opinions without inhibition, either anonymously or publicly. Here's how I think it can ratchet up the anger quotient:

  • 1. Free, easy, and instant dialogue tends to contribute to a more robust and more callused approach to stating one's mind than in earlier days when one had to debate things face to face or maybe send a letter to a politician or newspaper editor.
  • 2. Because both offensive and defensive calluses are developed, strident disagreement, even of the ad hominem variety, is not taken as seriously as it would be in a face-to-face setting. No face saving is necessary, and a climate of mutual "fuck-yous" becomes an accepted part of free speech. Even in the far more civilized blogosphere, where anonymity is less common, there is still an acceptance of conduct which would be intolerable face-to-face. The result is fewer apologies, and fewer examples of what I call gentlemen. (A notable exception is Glenn Reynolds, who goes the extra mile even when his opponents refuse to do the same.)
  • 3. As a consequence, those who are accustomed to getting their way by verbal, personal, intimidation are at a loss, finding themselves and their pronouncements largely ignored, not only because intimidation is seen for what it is (ludicrously unpersuasive), but because it is impossible to win an Internet argument that way! Common sense suggests to me that when someone used to getting his way by yelling insults finds himself ignored or ridiculed, he becomes more willing to resort to ever more drastic means. Because there really aren't any drastic means available (short of shutting down a web site through electronic attacks), the only place to escalate becomes the street.
  • Not that people who commit acts of vandalism are trying to persuade anyone. But neither are those who hurl insults. They do want to "win," though, and they may think that getting the attention of people by intimidation ("by whatever means necessary") constitutes winning.

    Even if it means losing.

    UPDATE: I guess this is the second sign:

    In the photo below, three-year-old Sophia Parlock cries while sitting on her father's shoulders. Her Bush-Cheney sign was grabbed by Democratic thugs and ripped to pieces, reducing the child to tears. We are picking up more and more reports of this kind of behavior by Democrats on the campaign trail. A week or two ago, this partisan violence, once unheard of in Minnesota politics, occurred at the Minnesota State Fair when Democratic thugs roughed up a couple of Republican college students.


    The Democrats' violent tactics don't seem to be doing them much good, however, as the latest Gallup poll has the President leading by fourteen points. That isn't right, of course, but it indicates how the race is going, and why Kerry supporters are increasingly resorting to violence.

    Via InstaPundit, who reminds us again that it's part of the new climate of fear.

    It's also fueling a climate of losing. The "Bush bounce" in my view, was more a reaction to this climate -- of ad hominem attacks, attacks on restaurant and theater goers, threatening people's homes, publishing citizens' names and home addresses, and more (cycles of violence, perhaps?) -- than to anything Bush or the Republicans said or didn't say at the Convention.

    Obviously, these attacks don't work, and the ordinary voting public is disgusted -- much as Minnesotans were disgusted by the tawdry display of crass partisanship at Senator Wellstone's funeral.

    But now that a backlash is clearly in play, the angry partisans only escalate their tactics. (And accelerate the process of losing.)

    UPDATE: Atrios speculates that Parlock (the father) had one of his sons pose as the union thug:

    ....was Parlock having one of his sons portray a union stooge?

    This guy is a serial disrupter with pretty much the same story every time.

    Remember this when the Cornerites and Little Green Snot Bubbles spout off and try to make this a big story...especially in the wake of the known abuse protestors get at the regular "Triumph of the Will" functions that comprise a Bush Campaign appearance.

    Charles Johnson (I guess that who's meant by "Snot Bubbles") disagrees:
    Please note: interviewed on the Glenn Beck radio show, Phil Parlock categorically denied that the person in the photos holding a piece of a torn sign is his son. And the attempts to “prove” it at Democratic Underground are laughable. If some real evidence shows up to support this claim, I’ll be sure to take note of it.

    But the prevailing belief in the fever swamps seems to be that if you show up at a Democratic rally with a “Rethuglican” sign, you deserve anything that happens to you. Or to your children.

    Under the circumstances, I think Charles Johnson does a better job of remaining civilized than Atrios.

    If I were a Jewish Republican, I don't think I'd appreciate the characterization of Bush appearances as "'Triumph of the Will' functions."

    Is it really necessary to frame an argument that way? I defend the First Amendment right to call people Nazis, but I worry that such speech leads to further (and more physical) incivility.

    MORE: The painters union president responds:

    The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades believes in the fundamental right for civil discourse, freedom of speech and activism to support our candidates and issues.

    What happened in Huntington, West Virginia yesterday is an affront to everything we, as a union, pride ourselves to represent. We extend our apologies to the Parlock family, especially Sophia, for the distress one of our overzealous members caused them.

    I have personally taken steps to address this issue internally, and will take immediate disciplinary action to the fullest extent allowed under U.S. Department of Labor regulations and the constitution of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

    It is my hope that this incident reminds all of our members that every last citizen in this country has the right to express his or herself freely. Not one single one of us has the right to tell them otherwise.

    General President James A. Williams
    The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

    Good for Mr. Williams! I assume his use of the phrase "one of our overzealous members" means that the union acknowledges the man involved was a union member.

    This might help solve the mystery of whether he's Parlock's son. Doubtless there will be updates by those whose speculations prove false. (If it turns out he was Parlock's son, I'll certainly note that in another update.)

    UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds, I found this link at Rising Hegemon (Attaturk), which initially suprised me, for the language is identical to that of Atrios which I just quoted above. I now see that Atrios was quoting Hegemon. My mistake -- which means my complaint about the characterization of Bush appearances as "'Triumph of the Will' functions" is properly directed at Attaturk, and not Atrios. (But my thoughts about Nazi references remain the same.)

    I also see that Ed Morrisey is skeptical about this. I'm always skeptical, and right now I have no way to verify any of the Charleston (WV) Daily Mail quotes accusing Mr. Parlock of prior acts of sign waving.

    He may well be a professional sign waver. But unless the man who tore up the little girl's sign is shown to be Parlock's son, previous acts of legal protest would be largely irrelevant.

    And why should it suprise anyone that a man who helped his three year old wave a Bush-Cheney sign at a Democratic gathering would turn out to be a career activist? For that matter, wouldn't that be true of most wavers of signs at opposing party events?

    Would I recommend doing what Parlock did? No more than I'd recommend putting a Bush-Cheney bumpersticker on a car and parking it in Berkeley! Or wearing a slutty dress in certain neighborhoods.

    posted by Eric at 04:18 PM | Comments (7)

    Beldar Angry!

    I found this through Instapundit, so half the universe has probably already seen it. Nevertheless, I was impressed with the depth of feeling.

    Dan Rather and everyone else at CBS News who had direct managerial authority over, and supervisory involvement in, the production of last Wednesday night's "60 Minutes II" broadcast about the Killian memos must be fired. Not retired. Not pensioned off. Not allowed to resign. Not given 30 days' or even three days' notice.
    They must be fired — instantly, effective immediately, "for cause" and "with prejudice," forfeiting all unvested future benefits from their employment. They should be escorted by security personnel from the building, with their belongings sent to them in due course after they've been screened for relevant evidence. All of their computers, files, and other items of potential evidentiary value must be segregated immediately and secured under lock and key with a tight and explicit chain of custody. There must be no spoliation of evidence permitted.
    This must be done publicly — before the close of business on Wednesday, September 15, 2004, and preferably before noon.
    If Dan Rather is still an employee of CBS News by next Monday, then the appropriate committees of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate should convene public joint investigative hearings immediately, with Dan Rather as their second subpoenaed witness.
    The first witness must be an appropriate custodian of records from CBS News, who must be directed to bring every shred of paper, every email, every piece of videotape, every computer file, every outtake, every script, every memorandum of staff meetings — and every bit of advice rendered by inside or outside legal counsel to CBS News prior to the broadcast. There is no attorney-client privilege to shield advice rendered to assist a client in the perpetration of a crime or a fraud. See, e.g., Swidler & Berlin v. United States, 524 U.S. 399 (1998); United States v. Zolin, 491 U.S. 554 (1989).

    The comments are good too. Check it out.

    posted by Justin at 04:16 PM | Comments (1)

    Laziness in the Academy

    On my way to the library this morning I noticed a woman pushing a palm-button to open a door. Now, these are intended to assist the disabled who may not be able to open doors as easily as the rest of us, and I've always thought it a sign of extreme laziness when a person fully capable of opening a door in a traditional way uses the palm button.

    This woman grew angry when the door failed to open, and attacked the palm-button with repeated, violent stabs of her hand, before opening the door manually in frustration.

    I saw her a few minutes later at the library, again using the palm button, and in her haste she squeezed through the door as it opened, annoyed that it hadn't done so quicker.

    The irony of course is that opening a door manually is always faster, and she had created her frustration through her own laziness.

    A few seconds later I passed an office in the sociology wing and overheard a different kind of laziness.

    'Well, to put that into a Marxist framework ...''

    posted by Dennis at 10:55 AM | Comments (4)

    A thaw in the Culture War?

    And now for something more alive than Dan Rather.....

    Some issues are tough to discuss logically, and anything having to do with the definition of life certainly falls into that category. That is because the definition of life is murky at best. In the case of humans, there are deep divisions -- political, religious, and cultural -- over when life can be said to begin.

    Perhaps "personhood" is a better term than "life" because most would agree that living tissue is life. Sperm cells and human ova are just as alive as any living cells; additionally they seem to have a status independent of the body which produced them. But I don't know anyone who argues that eggs or sperm are people.

    Once the two get together to form an embryo, things become so emotional that logic is lost. Is it a human being? I have argued that it is no more a human being than a seed is a tree. Others disagree.

    Might it help to recast the terms of the debate? Instead of arguing over whether life begins at conception should the debate be whether personhood begins at conception? Or has the term "life" has become so loaded as to make that impossible?

    I think there's one thing everyone can agree upon: an embryo is either a human being or it is not. If we use that either/or premise as a starting point, then how are we to analyze news reports like this (I'm quoting liberally, because many readers don't want to register and I don't blame them)?

    Much like their patients, U.S. infertility clinics are sensitive and sometimes torn about what to do with leftover frozen embryos.

    In getting rid of surplus embryos, some clinics hold quasi-funerals, others incubate the thawed cells until they stop growing, and still others give them back to couples for disposal, according to the first national survey to look at the fate of spare embryos.

    The variety came as a surprise to the researchers who conducted the anonymous survey of 217 in vitro fertilization clinics. While University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan and Rutgers University psychologist Andrea Gurmankin knew that there were few regulations to impose uniformity on the U.S. infertility industry, they still expected clinics to be pragmatic and predictable in handling spare embryos.

    ....four clinics required clients to take physical custody of their embryos and handle the disposal themselves.

    "We never would have imagined that," said Gurmankin, who is now at Harvard University. "Does giving the embryos back make disposal even more stressful for the patients?"

    The answer is no, at least at Abington Reproductive Medicine, clinic embryologist Scott Smith said.

    The clinic's policy is designed to reassure patients that their disposal directive has been properly carried out. Most couples simply put the coffee-stirrer-sized tube containing their embryos into a biomedical waste bin at the clinic. But "some take it and bury it at home," Smith said.

    The survey was murky about the fate of abandoned embryos - what Caplan calls "orphaned embryos." Clinics charge an annual cryopreservation fee of about $500, and make extensive efforts to contact patients who stop paying. Still, about 5 percent of cryopreserved embryos go unclaimed, according to previous research. The new survey suggests clinics are reluctant to dispose of them, whether for legal, ethical or scientific reasons.

    Since frozen storage tanks can hold hundreds, even thousands, of embryos, storage space is rarely the deciding factor, clinic administrators agree.

    "I would not want to discard them even if it was a space issue," said Coutifaris at Penn, where unclaimed embryos are stockpiled indefinitely. "These are potentially invaluable to science in the future."

    A couple of things stand out:

  • 1. If the embryos are human beings, then the parents who discard them (or allow hospitals to do so) are murderers; and
  • 2. If the embryos are human beings, the good news is that there is eternal life!
  • Eternal, physical life?

    Isn't that what so many have been searching for? I am sorry if I sound facetious, but in view of the cryonic suspension movement, it would seem that there may well be permanent, eternal life in the liquid nitrogen deep freeze, at least for people at their earliest developmental stages. That being the case, the search can be focused on freezing people at ever later stages of life, until at last, fully grown people can choose to put everything on hold and slow down for as long as they want -- possibly forever.

    My question is: Are embryos the youngest (and possibly the only) living cryonauts?

    If the embryo is a human being, then the answer is a resounding "yes." (And of course, the question is not whether people "should be" frozen -- because they already are!)

    And if not, then this is all a pipe dream.

    There's a lingering question, though. If there is no moral distinction between an embryo and a fetus, then can there be said to be any moral distinction between freezing an unwanted embryo and freezing an unwanted fetus? Or would that be an argument based on moral equivalency?

    posted by Eric at 09:54 AM | Comments (1)

    Rather mortis?

    I saw Glenn Reynolds on Paula Zahn's show last night, and he opined that Dan Rather has been pretty much blogged to death.

    He has, and I think he's now in the category of the walking dead. Still, the damning stories continue to flow, like the lastest ABC reports (another bastion of the vast right wing conspiracy) showing that CBS ignored concerns raised in advance of Rather's report by their own experts!

    Sept. 14, 2004— Two of the document experts hired by CBS News say the network ignored concerns they raised prior to the broadcast of a report citing documents that questioned George W. Bush's service in the National Guard during the Vietnam War.
    It just goes on and on.

    Here's Emily Will, a document examiner from North Carolina.

    "I found five significant differences in the questioned handwriting, and I found problems with the printing itself as to whether it could have been produced by a typewriter,"

    "I told them that all the questions I was asking them on Tuesday night, they were going to be asked by hundreds of other document examiners on Thursday if they ran that story,"

    "I did not feel that they wanted to investigate it very deeply,"

    And the other document examiner:
    A second document examiner hired by CBS News, Linda James of Plano, Texas, also told ABC News she had concerns about the documents and could not authenticate them. She said she expressed her concerns to CBS before the 60 Minutes II broadcast.

    "I did not authenticate anything and I don't want it to be misunderstood that I did," James said. "And that's why I have come forth to talk about it because I don't want anybody to think I did authenticate these documents."

    This is looking more and more like an autopsy than a battle.

    CBS should forget about damage control and look for a reliable embalmer.

    posted by Eric at 08:17 AM

    A Brief Focus On Murray

    Abridged excerpts from "A House Divided " A presentation of The American Enterprise Institute, December 22, 2002

    The first speaker is Charles Murray

    ....The report of the President's Council on Bioethics is superb. It embodies the kind of reasoned discourse that you wish were used for all public issues and almost never is. Furthermore, Leon Kass was the best possible person to head up this effort....
    It is then a wonderful document, but also I believe profoundly misguided. Here is how I wish the report had begun: As students of the history of science, we understand that it is not within our power or the power of the United States to have one iota of effect on what is going to happen with human cloning. This technology will develop at its own pace, and to an extent that will be dictated by what can be done, not by what we wish would be done.
    We understand the folly of trying to imitate King Canute. But we are also students of the problems of being human and the problems of human institutions. And we see in this arising technology ways in which these institutions are placed at risk, especially that core institution of the family....
    Therefore, our task is not to propose new regulations or laws, for we understand their futility, but to engage in dialogue with those who are doing this research so that we may manage it with as little harm and as much good as possible. That is what I wish the council's report had said.
    It is simply not serious to think that the U.S. government can pronounce on what is going to happen with this technology. It can't. In no past instance has anybody been able to put a lid on scientific inquiry and its progress, and we won't this time, especially because biotechnology is so attractive to so many people.
    ....The scientists in the field do not see themselves as engaged in the work of the devil; they see themselves as bringing incalculable benefits to mankind. They do not see Leon Kass and other members of the President's Council as people who are trying to hold back and ponder at greater lengths extremely difficult moral questions. They see them as troglodytes.
    Furthermore, hundreds of billions of dollars are to be made in biotechnology. If you take a group of scientists who think they are doing the Lord's work (even if most of them are not religious) and if there are hundreds of billions of dollars to be made, I promise you, it will happen. It may not happen in the United States if we pass certain laws, but it will happen.
    ....the council's report, much as I admire its tone and spirit, represents a missed opportunity. For once we realize that the development of this technology is inevitable, then our approach becomes quite different from the council's. Most importantly, we would take steps to make sure that the United States remains the center of this research....At least then the science would develop within an ethos of moral responsibility. Such will not happen if the center of research is in China, or if it is done under cover in Barbados.
    The council's report exacerbates a number of problems. First, it gets in the way of a meaningful dialogue with the scientific community. My impression from conversations with scientists is that the Jesse Helms syndrome has set in, whereby if Helms favors a position, you can be sure that nobody in academia will admit to supporting it. We now have a situation in which the difficult moral issues posed by cloning are raised mainly by conservative Republicans....
    A second problem concerns the portability of this science. I said a few minutes ago that China's laboratories will do the research if we don't. The report largely ignores this issue, noting only that strict laws against certain kinds of work have been passed in Michigan and in Germany, and yet their biogenetic industries seem to be doing just fine. I'm sorry, but that is not good enough.
    We are at the very early days of a very big business, and the portability of science has increased enormously....The Internet has seen to that. You don't need to be in a university setting in order to have the state-of-the-art laboratories required for bioengineering. All you need is money, and there is going to be lots of money for this kind of work....What concerns me is that the United States will not be at the center of a promising new technology, and that the scientists who do the research will be socialized elsewhere.
    ....let me bring up a few additional topics people just don't want to think about. I have already mentioned China. Biotechnology within a fairly short period of time will open up all sorts of possibilities; some of them are awful. I don't think China is going to blink at any of them....
    I imagine that there are a variety of questions that people might reasonably ask me, such as, "Is this man completely indifferent to the question of simply doing the right thing?" No, I am not. I am probably as troubled by this technology as Leon Kass. I may see more promise in the up side, but I certainly am worried by the down side. However, when one is making moral decisions not just for oneself but for large groups of people, a utilitarian calculus must enter in. Moreover, if I am right in arguing that we cannot stop the science from proceeding at least somewhere, then the council's report amounts to an empty moral gesture....
    ....I am willing to grant that if it were within our power to prevent human beings from having this, there would be a good moral case for taking government action. Yet if that cannot be done--and it cannot--one must face the fact that human beings will have this capacity eventually. The question then is: What can we do to minimize the damage and to enhance the benefits?

    After a too frequent exposure to Kassian prose, the above seems like a miracle of clarity and insight. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Murray's analysis. What says the Doctor in response?

    I go back and forth on this....only thanks to the fact that there are certain firm and nonnegotiable limits do we have a safe moral realm in which prudence can govern.
    I am inclined to say that creating nascent life for the sole purpose of exploitation and research involving its necessary destruction would transgress a moral boundary of that indispensable sort. However, though I am sympathetic to the arguments of Jody Bottum and Diana Schaub, and despite the fact that I regard the embryo as somehow mysterious, I don't believe that it is fully "one of us" ....We do not treat the demise of the five-day-old embryo as we do the death of a child, and we don't react with the same kind of horror--though maybe we should--at the dismemberment of 100 cells for the sake of saving lives as we would if we killed a two-year-old child to remove his kidneys so another child might be saved.
    Yet it may very well be that such moral sentiments are a poor guide here. So let me shift to that question and take it up directly. I think repugnance is not an absolutely firm guide in these matters, but it is a warning....I don't think we can fully make an argument as to what is wrong with rape or murder or cannibalism. Our revulsion at these things is a guide that we are defending something that runs very deep.....
    On the other hand, though I cannot believe that destroying an embryo is tantamount to murder, I am always impressed with the people who bear witness on this subject--even if they are going to lose in the end....I can't persuade myself that they are not right.
    ....nor can I persuade myself that cloning is akin to slavery. Yes, new lives would be created, and on a mass scale, purely to serve other people's purposes...But I am not sufficiently confident about the ontological or moral status of a five-day-old embryo to speak in such abolitionist terms. At the same time, however, I am inclined to give the embryo the benefit of the doubt, refusing to corrupt myself into thinking that we can use with impunity the seeds of the next generation to save our own....

    That was a little...discursive. One more round of compression may be in order.

    I go back and forth on this....

    No, don't say such things.

    ....creating nascent life for the sole purpose of exploitation and destruction would transgress a moral boundary....However....I don't believe that it is fully "one of us" ....We do not treat the demise of the five-day-old embryo as we do the death of a child, and we don't react with the same kind of the dismemberment of 100 cells....

    So, the embryo is not fully one of us. may...well be that such moral sentiments are a poor guide here....I think repugnance is not an absolutely firm guide in these matters, but it is a warning....Our revulsion at these things is a guide that we are defending something that runs very deep....

    Trust your feelings.

    On the other hand, though I cannot believe that destroying an embryo is tantamount to murder, I am always impressed with the people who bear witness on this subject....I can't persuade myself that they are not right.

    So is it murder or isn't it?

    ....nor can I persuade myself that cloning is akin to slavery....lives would be created....purely to serve other people's purposes...But I am not sufficiently confident about the....status of a five-day-old embryo to speak in such abolitionist terms. At the same time....I am inclined to give the embryo the benefit of the doubt....

    Well. That was illuminating. As they say, read the whole thing. The above remarks addressed points raised by panelists Schaub, Bottum, and Galston. They have little relevance to Murray's argument. I was just torturing you, for fun. Now, on to the meat.

    In the view of Charles Murray, the council's enterprise is futile. But my interest in the subject of cloning goes beyond whether or not we should engage in it. My interest is also in whether human beings through their political institutions can exercise at least some control over where biotechnology is taking us. Cloning is an occasion to see whether the community can exercise the will and discipline to make its moral voice heard, and to be a teacher of what can and can't be allowed.

    So the futility angle is irrelevant. As ever, there is a bigger picture.

    Cloning-for-biomedical-research has, alas, confounded the question, for it is really a small piece of embryo research in general. We should be arguing about cloning-for-biomedical-research in the context of all embryo research....

    Excuse me Doc, but the the research cloning is absolutely key. Sick patients, remember?

    So let's just talk about cloning for baby-making....The proponents have the obligation to explain why this is not just a whim but something society should countenance. A legislative ban in this country would shift the burden of proof, even if, in fact, there are renegade scientists elsewhere in the world who would practice it.

    Nice try. And I love the term "renegade scientists". Will there be lasers? Murray wasn't addressing the question of rag-tag black op researchers. He was talking about Red China.

    Charles Murray may be right that an opportunity to engage the scientific community was missed. Perhaps we should follow the British model and directly involve the biotech companies and their scientists, and design some kind of regulatory scheme....


    Yet such prudential boundary lines will always be moveable. Today, the focus is on stem cells. Five years from now we may discover that by putting these little embryos into a pig uterus and growing them to two months, their kidneys and primordial livers are even more valuable than the stem cells....

    Or, we may not. C'mon Leon, why be so negative?

    I am not quite so nihilistic as Charles Murray about the possibility of effective intervention. True, there is little precedent for the control of scientific progress. On the other hand, we have refused to allow the buying and selling of organs for transplant, even though markets in organs would yield more organs. This is a proscription that might not last, but it has managed to hold, at least for the time being.

    He really does think he can pull it off. Based on very little evidence, too.

    Many nations have enacted bans on all cloning, and, in fact, there is a convention under deliberation in the United Nations right now on whether to ban cloning....The United States is leading a coalition to produce the kind of ban that President Bush favors. I don't see any reason why we should shrink from this effort....the scientific community should understand....that progress must proceed within moral boundaries set by the norms of the international community.

    Except when those norms are heading the wrong way. Then, we can stand proudly alone. is simply not true that this research can't progress within certain moral boundaries, providing that the boundaries are not too severe. And it seems to me that the United States should be a leader in determining what should and should not be done....

    What a lovely dream. Apparently Murray's concerns, though seemingly hard headed, are of no account and easily ignored.

    The United States is unlikely, unless we step forward in this matter, to remain the center of ethical biotechnology. Yes, the Chinese might be less restrictive, but because we are Americans, because we believe in progress, and that if something can be done, it will be done.... we will have a very difficult time being the moral teacher of the world in these, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--are not sufficient to defend human dignity from biotechnology's onslaught.

    So, if I'm reading this correctly, we actually can help set ethical standards for the world, but only if "we" work up the grit to "step forward in this matter", which would probably entail a lot less of that vulgar American freedom. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness just don't cut the mustard anymore. Which leaves what, exactly? Trains running on time, everybody?

    Perhaps a governing body of wise elders could be our new guardians. They could wear white, flowing robes and read philosophy to us over the tele-vision machines. And we won't mind if they're stern with us from time to time. They will know what is best.

    posted by Justin at 11:23 PM


    Here at Classical Values, we deeply esteem the art of satire. When one of our witty and well informed readers gently "joshes" us we take it in the fun-loving spirit in which it was given.

    Dude, the document has been authenticated and the White House has not denied their accuracy. Game Over. Know when you are defeated! You can't blame this on the Liberal Media (tm)
    Posted by SixFoot Pole at September 12, 2004 12:48 PM

    Note the easeful mastery of form. Our readers are all far too well-bred to crow their triumph aloud, and far too well read to simply follow the crowd.

    Keen thinkers, every one.

    posted by Justin at 10:27 PM

    What about the public's right to know?

    Rathergate deepens.

    As darkening clouds gather over CBS, the embattled Dan Rather struggles to cope. Former colleague Bernard Goldberg compares his behavior to that of Richard Nixon:

    According to Goldberg, if the source ends up having a connection to the Democratic National Committee or to the Kerry campaign, it will be the biggest story of the year: "It not only sinks John Kerry's candidacy, but it is 'lights out' for CBS News as we know it."

    Goldberg called it ironic that Dan Rather -- a journalist who helped bring President Richard Nixon down -- is now behaving like President Nixon did during Watergate.

    "It's kind of sad," Goldberg said. He said CBS is circling the wagons, and as for Dan Rather -- "he's going to hope this goes away."

    And CBS employees are disheartened and glum. Longtime colleague Mike Wallace is not his usual self: CBS headquarters in New York the anxiety level has hit the red zone, with even Rather's allies saying they're dazed and confused over his shaky performance.

    ....Another CBS source said there was increasing nervousness over the star anchorman's decision to stonewall on an independent investigation into his dubious Guard report.

    "I've talked to colleagues who would love to see more of a defense," he told the Times.

    Even Rather's longtime "60 Minutes" colleague Mike Wallace found it hard to defend his embattled co-worker.

    "I'm confused by some of what I've heard today," he offered before insisting that if Rather's documents were indeed forged, it was an innocent mistake.

    "You're dealing with genuine professionals. The last thing in the world that any of these people would want is to phony something," he told the Times.

    So why not at least tell the public what's going on? What was the deal with those documents?

    Doesn't the public have a right to know?

    I thought's that's what reporting was all about.

    In fact, I still remember, way back when, a thing called "investigative journalism....."

    They can't say I didn't try to help!

    posted by Eric at 06:34 PM

    "I know that this story is true."

    Considering the trouble Dan Rather is in these days, I knew that sooner or later, a concerned citizen would come to his assistance.

    While I can't reveal my sources and thus am unable to reveal how it came into my possession, I decided to share with my readers a scan of a truly remarkable document. As you can see, it appears to have been typed on precisely same kind of typewriters which were in common use in 1973!


    What will the "free-floating cadre of rightist warriors" say now? Doubtless, they'll claim this one's a forgery too!

    Only this time, their task won't be so easy!

    UPDATE: Anticipating complaints by the "professional rumour mill" that the jpg file above is less than adequate for purposes of verification, I'm making the full document available in pdf format, right here.

    I'd say the ball's in the rumor mill's court! (As opposed to someplace it doesn't belong.....)

    UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds, here's another authentic memo from 1973. Who needs Microsoft Word?

    posted by Eric at 10:42 AM | Comments (2)

    You'll Get No Argument From Me

    Abridged excerpts from the President's Council on Bioethics, February 14, 2002

    CHAIRMAN KASS.... Gil, would you mind if I imposed on you since you have made -- I mean, you have made a very strong argument that would seem to imply that, though, great good can come from the use of embryos to derive cells or other means of cure, that this is a -- not just a balancing judgment but there is a transgression here that at least in terms of respect you could not countenance. What are you going to say to Paul McHugh's patients if the moral argument you are upholding prevails?
    PROF. MEILAENDER: Just so we are clear on what I said before, the last thing you said is important that I could not figure out how to work it out under the language of respect.
    PROF. MEILAENDER: If you want a bald faced argument that does not use the language then, you know, we would have to think about that.
    Well, what I would say is something like this, recognizing that....if I am actually talking to his patients -- I mean, the first thing to say is the language is going to limp and that I am not going to say anything....that is kind of humanly adequate to such a person's condition.
    But I would say that what we owe you is not necessarily relief of suffering and not necessarily a cure because we cannot be obligated to give you what we do not that we can provide but we owe you hope. We hope sort of a firm commitment that we will do everything within our moral power, everything that we think we can morally do to try to find ways to, if not cure, at least relieve your condition.
    There may be -- we may arrive at a moment when we think that here is something that could conceivably be done or tried but that we ought not do and what I would say to them then is that the reason I would not do it is because I would not want to do something that helps to create a world in which neither you nor I would want to live.
    Something like that would be what I would say.
    CHAIRMAN KASS: Do you want to respond, Paul?
    DR. MCHUGH Yes. I think that the patients to some extent would say, "Gee, I have got a wonderful doctor here in Gil. Paul McHugh has trained him pretty well but here is my concern: I am a 35 year old woman and I have got this Parkinsonism and you could take my ova and....put my somatic cell in there and develop it. It all belongs to me. It does not belong to somebody else. We are not taking from anybody to give me these cells back in the form that will sustain me from my Parkinsonism and why wouldn't you want to do it. I agree with you that to take embryonic cells and use them for the purposes of others is a transgression but on this occasion -- and it gets worse, the transgression gets worse as the cells develop further and further but we are really taking my cells and allowing them to grow and giving them back to me."
    What is the matter with that, Dr. Meilaender?
    PROF. MEILAENDER: Well, it would be difficult with that patient at that time to have precisely the kind of conversation I might want to have about some aspects of that, namely about whether we really want to think about "my", these things as mine in quite the way that you described them and what that might suggest for other things that we could do with them.
    I mean, there would actually be some important points there. It would be difficult just existential to engage in that conversation with the patient at that point but it seems to me that if we are thinking about it, stepping back and reflecting on it, we need to pay some attention to that and we would not want to be quite so casual about that language.
    DR. MCHUGH: All the nuclei belong to me. All the --
    PROF. MEILAENDER: It is exactly that language that is bothering me. This notion that your body is something that belongs to you. That is exactly what we would want to talk about. If they belong to you, you know, we are not going to let you sell them necessarily for instance. You know, there are a lot of complications there. Now, as I said, we are not necessarily going to have this conversation with the patient but the language would have to be refined considerably it seems to me before I would be prepared to acquiesce in it.


    PROF. SANDEL I just wanted to respond directly to this, which I think Dr. Meilaender with the patient has been overly timid. Why isn't your answer to the patient to say, 'Well, what you propose is just as bad as if you proposed having a baby with a consenting sperm donor or with your husband, just as bad as if you proposed having a baby and taking organs or something from that baby to cure you? Now maybe you have not reflected on that fact but I could persuade you that on reflection it would be like having a baby and using that to cure you.'
    PROF. SANDEL: Why isn't that the answer?
    PROF. MEILAENDER: Well, at one level that is an answer and it is a very good answer. All I was saying was that there are moments when speaking the abstract truth is not necessarily heard as the truth and he had set me up to talk to a patient. I mean, it is like -- and there are many other situations in which you do not walk into the hospital room and say, 'Well, I guess you are dying.' So that, yes, that is -- that is an issue that one would want to take up but really much better --
    PROF. SANDEL: If you were speaking the truth to the patient that is what you would say, isn't it?
    PROF. MEILAENDER: No, not necessarily because you want the truth to be heard as truth and it cannot always be received. That is my point. Ideally we would live in a world in which all of his patients or my patients would already have had the kind of conversations that would have prepared them to think about these things in that way and all I was saying is that if they have not, you know, there are moments when you can take up some questions and moments when you cannot but I do not deny that that is intellectual an appropriate issue to raise.
    DR. MCHUGH: And I disagree. Of course, I disagree. I do not think that they are the same thing. It is not like having a baby and it is not like having a zygote but I have said that so many times that you are bored with it.

    Here's an exercise for long time readers. Try guessing which of the above gentlemen strikes me as having all his marbles. Remember, it's no fair going back to my old posts...

    posted by Justin at 09:58 AM

    Fewer laws, fewer crimes!

    Jeff Soyer, my blogfather at Alphecca, has made the phony "Assault Weapons Ban" the theme of this week's Weekly Gun Bias Report. I am delighted to see that Jeff will be a guest on Cam Edwards radio show (NRANews tomorrow between 2 and 5 p.m.), and I can't wait!

    One of the more astounding abuses of logic is the term "Assault Weapons." Its legal companion, the "Assault Weapons Ban" codifies this abuse of logic into an impractical law which creates power for bureaucrats (at the expense of the Second Amendment) and, of course, a platform for activists:

    Assault weapons "have no place in a civilized society," said Dorothy Johnson-Speight, founder of Mothers in Charge, a group of women who have lost a son or daughter to violence.

    Criminals "are going to have weapons more powerful than the police," she said.

    State Rep. John Myers said: "We should spread the word and have everyone call their congressman" to denounce the expiration of the ban.

    "This is the first full week of school," Qayyum said. "We want to keep homicides down. We want to hit the streets."

    "More powerful than the police?" That's an absurd (but typical) lie from a professional activist who probably knows better.

    The ban on "assault weapons" had nothing to do with any weapon's firepower, as neither caliber nor velocity were in any way regulated. Furthermore, the police have always been exempt from such laws and have been allowed fully automatic weapons whenever they desire. Nor were "assault" weapons banned for the rate of fire (all semi-automatics fire one round for each stroke of the trigger). Rather, they were targeted for such characteristics as cosmetic appearance, magazine capacity, bayonet lugs! Banning large-capacity magazines meant very little in practice, because the old magazines are easily available (and also always available to police). And if anyone thinks banning bayonet lugs or flash suppressors makes anyone safer (or that criminals who have them are "more powerful" than the police), then I suggest a refresher course on the meaning of power. The police have, and will always have more powerful weapons.

    But that's not the way Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson tries to spin it. He claims falsely that the expiration of the AWB places automatic weapons in the hands of the public -- and that such weapons are being used against police:

    Although the investigation continues, Johnson said the officer had been shot with an automatic weapon. He said the expiration Monday of the Brady gun law would put more automatic weapons into the hands of criminals.

    "They fired three automatic weapons at the officers," Johnson said of the supects. "They are like target practice walking right into a trap."

    Now, I don't have access to the police reports, so I cannot state conclusively that these were automatic (as opposed to semiautomatic) weapons. But if they were automatic, they have been virtually prohibited (available only to a specially licensed few) since the early 1930s, and the AWB had nothing to do with them. If, on the other hand Commissioner Johnson is describing semiautomatic weapons subject to the AWB, then considering that the crime occurred last Friday, it's hardly evidence that the ban is working.

    He can't have it both ways. But the weasel wording suggests to me that he's trying.

    Sadly, much more demagogic language was deployed by Commissioner Johnson and other prominent anti-gun activists at a rally yesterday -- words like "genocide" and "terrorism."

    "This is self-genocide," Myers said. "We are killing each other. The government is sitting back and watching us kill ourselves."

    Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson said: "The only reason to have an assault weapon is to kill people."

    Johnson noted that in the shooting of a police officer Friday night during a robbery at a McDonald's restaurant at Broad and Carpenter Streets in South Philadelphia, a gunman used an AK-47 assault rifle. The officer, Carlos Ramos, was shot in the shoulder. One of the alleged robbers was slain.

    "I was in Washington last week, and everyone was talking about terrorism," Johnson said, adding that gun violence in Philadelphia was a form of terrorism.

    Note that the gun in Friday's crime has morphed from an "automatic" weapon to an "assault rifle." I don't know whether it was an "AK-47" or not, but at least one semiautomatic civilian version (the MAK-90), was not on the AWB list, and has been legally available for sale in Pennsylvania for the past ten years. (More here on the legal farce created by the cosmetic AWB.) Obviously, the AWB did not prevent Friday's cop shooter from getting whatever gun he used.

    Has it ever occurred to these activists that anyone crazed enough to gun down police officers might not stop to worry about whether his gun was on a bureaucratic list so complicated that lawyers have trouble interpreting it?

    The deliberate blurring of the distinction between automatic and semiautomatic is being done for political reasons, because most people's eyes tend to glass over when they're given technical explanations. What they want is to hear about machine guns!

    Or better yet, they want to see pictures. Today's Inquirer did not disappoint; just above the headline, there's a picture of a man standing in front of anti-gun activists holding a book showing large pictures of fully automatic Heckler and Koch submachine guns. The caption reads as follows:

    Kenny Ali, president of Men and Women for Human Excellence, peruses a submachine-gun catalog after the rally. Seated are activists Malik Aziz (center), of Philadelphia, and Umar Salahuddin, of Atlantic City.
    It's highly unlikely that either Kenny Ali or Malik Aziz are allowed to own firearms because both appear to have prior convictions. But is it really fair of them to work to take away from others the rights they have lost?

    Aziz asks a good question:

    "Once a person has done his time, why should you further punish him?"
    Many people would agree with Aziz that felons should have the right to vote, but he seems silent on the issue of their Second Amendment rights (and his anti-gun activism would appear to make him anti-Second Amendment).

    Are not Second Amendment rights, grounded as they are in the human natural right of self defense, just as important as voting rights? I applaud both Ali and Aziz for turning their lives around and for trying to help their communities, but I don't understand this inconsistency. Nor do I understand how their communities are helped by undermining the right to self defense.

    As I have said many times, gun control laws, like sodomy laws, criminalize personal freedom, invade privacy, and would put people in prison because of their lifestyle choices. A man's home is not his castle if he can't defend it.

    (Something that politicians like Joseph Hoeffel don't seem to understand.....)

    posted by Eric at 09:04 AM | Comments (6)

    Parasites irritate me!

    I hope my readers will forgive me for a frivolous and much too personal post.... BUT -- I have been scratching so much that I have been miserable; too miserable to post anything. And now that I am driven to abject despair, I decided to write a post just to stop my fingers from doing any scratching!

    The culprit is a small arthropod, Trombicula autumnalis (Harvest Mite), commonly known as the "chigger."

    I haven't had them since I was a boy, but what's happening now confirms my childhood memories. Chiggers are hell! They are also rude:

    Typically chigger mites fall onto shoes or pant legs where they begin climbing in search of some tender, moist, skin to bite. They seem to concentrate in areas where clothing fits tightly against the body, such as around the ankles, groin, waist or armpits. This is exactly the rude behavior that I am talking about. A simple bite on an arm or back of the neck may be acceptable, and can be itched in public. But public itching of the groin area, the armpits or under the bra strap is an entirely different matter. It is socially unacceptable, politically incorrect and may even be illegal in some countries.

    And itch you must. Once chiggers bite, there is no alternative. Chiggers do not burrow into the skin but rather pierce skin cells with their mouthparts and inject their special chigger saliva. This saliva contains enzymes that breaks down cell walls and causes the skin cells to liquefy. Human immune systems react to this foreign enzyme, resulting in not only infuriatingly, and intense itching but also in the formation of a hard red wall at the spot of the bite. The chigger capitalizes on this body reaction – uses the round wall, called a stylostome as a straw to suck up its meal of dissolved body tissues, and then promptly drops off immediately after feeding. The itching intensifies, however, over the next 20 to 30 hours and may go on for days or weeks, depending on the person.

    Well I'm just past the 24 hour stage right now, but already it seems worse than last night. And last night I couldn't sleep! I kept waking up and scratching demonically.

    I don't know whether I acquired these beasties in the Pine Barrens on Saturday or visiting the Eastern State Penitentiary on Sunday. It didn't start until hours after I left the prison, and one of the things I had done was to explore the area around a partially collapsed escape tunnel the inmates had dug which had run into an underground stream. Water, moisture, and weeds are what they like, and their normal host is the rodents which congregate in such places.

    I found another blogger who was been tormented by chiggers, and here is his account:

    The itchiness is unbelievable: especially in the middle of the night when it feels like somebody has chucked a bucket of itching powder under the bedclothes.

    I know that humans are host to millions of tiny unseen parasites but these rank among the worst because of their ill effects.

    If you have ever been walking in the Lakes and come back covered in itchy red spots which you thought were fleas caught off your dog or mother-in-law, well, it wasn't. It was the Harvest Mite.

    Anyway, there we are. I thought I'd let you know what we're going through. Sorry if I've made you itch in sympathy. I'd tell you more only I'm off to dab me buttocks.Any offers?

    I'm reminded of an old saying about mutual back scratching, but geography and time make any offers moot.....

    I'll leave my readers with before and after pictures.

    Here's the chigger larva before feeding:


    And here it is after feeding (drinking my precious bodily fluids!):


    I'm trying to avoid any references to politics.

    posted by Eric at 10:20 PM | Comments (3)

    Reading and writing their minds....


    For what it's worth, here's what I would do if I were running the Kerry campaign. Get some genuine dirt on George W. Bush, and then create an obviously forged document saying the same thing. Then, after the other side has exhausted itself fighting over the details of the "forgery," I'd present the real thing!

    A good way of killing two birds with one stone. Something like that was on my mind last week when I speculated:

    .....the big bad Old Media may be having one at the expense of the blogosphere.
    Hey, even if they haven't done that already, I think it's worth keeping in mind.

    posted by Eric at 12:06 PM | Comments (2)

    Stuck in an imaginary past?

    I am beginning to think that, whether we like it or not, the 2004 election will be about what really happened in the early 1970s, even how things worked back then. Whether this is a good idea is not for me to decide, but right now the big argument is over the precise capabilities of 1970s word processing equipment. The problem is, while I see big media fraud as a larger issue than the election, I am not sure how or where the spin will evolve. Not that spin is my problem, but I worry that Rathergate might cause some people to overstress the importance what went on in the early 1970s.

    By way of personal example, I'm not running for anything, but in the early 1970s I was a crazed Marxist-Leninist who did not live a clean and sober life! Unlike some members of my generation I admit that I was wrong in those days. But so what? How important is any of it now? Not very.... But as I say that, I have to recognize that were I running for office and someone put words in my mouth or said I did something I didn't do, then I too would have to revisit the 1970s to rebut their claim. How to do that and avoid the unnecessary distractions that would inevitably create -- well, that's something I'm glad I don't have to face.

    It's easy for me to understand why most people would never consider running for public office.

    In any event, we are stuck with reality. And there seems to be a Rathther serious disconnect with reality over the genuineness of documents purporting to be from the 1970s:

    The typography experts quoted by major media organizations are nearly unanimous in their doubts that the Killian memos are genuine.

    -- Josh Levin (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Nearly unanimous? According to Gunga Dan, none of them count:

    Until someone shows me definitive proof that they are not [authentic], I don't see any reason to carry on a conversation with the professional rumour mill...

    -- Dan Rather, quoted over the weekend in the New Zealand Herald.

    Does Dan's "professional rumor mill" include ABC News, NBC News, and the Washington Post?

    Dan, no one needs to show you "definitive proof that they are not" authentic. The burden of proof is on you. You introduce photocopies of suspicious documents that can easily be replicated on Microsoft Word. You don't provide the originals, which you say you don't have, and you don't tell where you got them.

    You also have not produced a single expert who is willing to go on the record and say these documents are real. All the experts you have cited have either backed away or said their comments were misrepresented.

    As I said before, if this case were being tried in court, the documents would be without credibility. There's no showing of authentication beyond a naked claim that they're authentic. Not one witness claims any knowledge of their origin. (That CBS refuses to disclose anything about their origin speaks for itself!)

    Meanwhile, I found it worth a chuckle that Eric Boehlert is stating that the forgery allegations are all part of a right wing conspiracy:

    there is clear evidence confirming that the same conservative operatives who have been busily promoting the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smears of Kerry are now engaged in pushing the story that CBS's "60 Minutes Weeknight Edition" aired forged documents in its Wednesday night report on Bush and the National Guard.

    Creative Response Concepts, the Arlington, Va., Republican public relations firm run by former Pat Buchanan communications director Greg Mueller, with help from former Pat Robertson communications director Mike Russell, sent out a media advisory Thursday to hawk a right-wing news dispatch: "60 Minutes' Documents on Bush Might Be Fake."

    This is via Kevin Aylward at Wizbang, who thinks the forger may be one Marty Heldt, an Iowa farmer cited by Boehlert as an "independent researcher".

    That last Media Matters writeup is just too rich and juicy for me to ignore. Most of the piece consists of an item-by-item defense against the forgery allegation (as long as it is unconvincing; another bare recital of how technology was available which might have been able to produce what everyone's now producing on Microsoft Word). But in the last paragraph, the finger is pointed at Republican operatives, notably Karl Rove, as likely culprits behind the "set up."

    Talk about having your cake and eating it too! Arguing in the alternative is sometimes the best way to represent clients in litigation, but is Media Matters representing a desperate client on Death Row? The effect is downright comical.

    Kevin may be right about Heldt, but I'm also fascinated by Salon's Eric Boehlert, who seems to have a bent for fictionalizing the 1970s. From what I can see, Boehlert's the guy who first promulgated the fabricated claim that the Air Force performed drug tests in the early 1970s, even citing detailed regulations -- despite the fact that the Air Force didn't implement drug testing until the 1980s.

    Retroactive nostalgia, perhaps?

    Would someone who'd manufacture drug test regulations also manufacture documents?

    The common thread is the 1970s and George W. Bush.

    With less than two months to go, I fear this election will be so mired in the past that current issues will be forgotten. Perhaps that's the goal.

    Coming soon, I predict: 1975, and drunken driving! I'm sure Boehlert and company will supply new facts about this and other pressing 1970s matters. And when do we get to question the timing?

    The focus might as well be on who was wearing pajamas in the 1970s, or even who was wearing what.

    And speaking of "tired attire," here's Dan Rather apparently wearing a toga! (via Glenn Reynolds.)

    They had toga parties in those days!

    (Which is Classical nostalgia....)

    posted by Eric at 09:13 AM | Comments (1)

    We're sorry, Mr. Annan is busy counting his money.

    Back to a serious issue that has been of great concern here at Classical Values. the crisis in Darfur, Glenn Reynolds has posted a reader pic that you must see.

    I have been critical here in the past regarding the UN and have written about the Bush administration's disgust over U.N. inaction. See? I wasn't just making it up.

    posted by Dennis at 03:55 PM

    PDF You!

    The following information comes from the documents themselves:


    /ModDate (D:20040908210832-04'00')
    /CreationDate (D:20040908210823-04'00')


    /ModDate (D:20040908210815-04'00')
    /CreationDate (D:20040908210807-04'00')


    /ModDate (D:20040908210739-04'00')
    /CreationDate (D:20040908210704-04'00')


    /ModDate (D:20040908210759-04'00')
    /CreationDate (D:20040908210748-04'00')

    So for what it's worth, the documents were all created using Acrobat 5.0 Image Conversion Plug-in for Windows on Wednesday 8th September between 9:07 and 9:08 PM (though I won't speculate about a time zone).

    Give up the 'original' copies, Kenneth.

    posted by Dennis at 03:45 PM

    My Weird Night

    I was in in New York at 3 am when I wrote most of this in a little note pad. My train was scheduled to leave for more than two more hours, and I'd been waiting for what seemed forever. My friend had assured me that the trains ran all night, but I think maybe he knew better and was geting back at me somehow. He blamed me for being bored or something.

    Now, I don't know if it's because it was the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, but the National Guard was there in force. Maybe not force, but there were two guardsman at the main entrance, one or two at the main Police desk, and often several casually making the rounds.

    I was eating a $6 sandwich (with a complimentary bag of chips) and nursing a $2 cup of selve serve coffee. It's a funny thing when what's barely a meal costs more than half your roundtrip fare. But at least I'd brought some work. Yes, I brought work to a party, I spent half an hour leaning against a rail thin tree outside the bar, reading fragments of the neoterics and much of a Wendell Clausen article. As I alluded to earlier, that may be what landed me the graveyard shift with the Guard.

    I'd gotten through all of my work when the crazy howled with glee. It's not when you think. This was a middle-aged white guy with a neatly trimmed goatee on his way back to San Francisco after protesting the Republican convention. His return trip had been delayed somehow over a pre-purchased ticket, though I'm not sure how one gets from Penn Station to San Francisco. Regardless, that was his story, but it didn't end there.

    There was a relatively young retired naval officer on the row of seats behind me, and the San Francisco crazy was facing him. Two young women walked by, one patiently listening with arms folded, the other yelling that she was 'sick of this shit.' I'd seen the patient girl walking with a guardsmen a bit earlier, chatting casually but evidentally looking for someone. It seemed a typical enough scene, and I imagined a drunken boyfriend making an ass of himself not far away, probably vomiting. But the San Francisco crazy howled, like I said, and shouted, "I know which they they should go!"

    The naval officer laughed and said, "back outside?"

    Again with glee the crazy said, "to a hotel room! No, no, no! I don't know that!" He laughed some more apparently imagining rage fueling XXX action, and that got the conversation going.

    It all started when he was twelve years when he got his hands on 'the book.' It was then in 1966 that he dedicated his life to stopping this current war, which was orchestrated by Richard Nixon and George Bush!

    He told the naval officer what a great he'd had in New York at ground zero. Everyone was asking him questions and looking at his cardboard signs! Why, they'd even call their friends and family on their cell phones and share the information with them, reading his signs word for word over the phone. He was in his glory. But this must be nothing new because he knows so much and has been trying to save the world for so long. He rattled off a list of names of politicians he'd tried to warn about various conspiracies and murder plots, but Governor Jesse Ventura was the only one who ever listened to him.

    As it turns out those who lost loved ones on September 11th don't like to hear the 'truth' about how our government planned the attacks to support the Jews.

    Did you catch that? I think he said Jews or Jewish at least 15 times. Osama bin Laden is a cover, Saddam Hussein is a TV show, and the Jews are apparently pulling the strings. I should have predicted he'd blame Jews, because the radical Left always does. Never forget that the National Socialist Party grew out of the radical Left.

    And the San Francisco crazy would not have you forget that twelve Jewish doctors created the AIDS virus in a secret laboratory. His "boss used to work there, man."

    But again, those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attack don't like to hear his truth. But do you know who does? In his words, "you know, the Blacks and the international people, they understand. They get it. This guy from Paris wants to interview me."

    The naval officer showed restraint only saying that he'd had to make a few trips to inform families of deaths before his retirement, and when pressed about his service simply said, 'it's a long story, sir.'

    posted by Dennis at 01:14 PM | Comments (1)

    Who needs pajamas when the emperor has no clothes?

    Let's play "QUESTION AUTHORITY!"

    DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: I know that this story is true. I believe that the witnesses and the documents are authentic. We wouldn't have gone to air if they would not have been. There isn't going to be -- there's no -- what you're saying apology?

    QUESTION: Apology or any kind of retraction or...

    RATHER: Not even discussed, nor should it be. I want to make clear to you, I want to make clear to you if I have not made clear to you, that this story is true, and that more important questions than how we got the story, which is where those who don't like the story like to put the emphasis, the more important question is what are the answers to the questions raised in the story, which I just gave you earlier.

    -- Dan Rather on CNN

    Well! Did Dan make things perfectly clear or what?

    There's a major reason why Dan Rather and the people like him always get a pass (except in the blogosphere) in situations like this; they never reveal their sources!

    CBS has not revealed its source for the documents or the names of experts besides Matley who it said examined the memos before Wednesday's report.
    I majored in Rhetoric when I was at UC Berkeley, and while I am not particularly interested in the phenomenon called "winning" (because of its illusory and elusive nature), I have always enjoyed evaluating and dissecting arguments. And I do enjoy reasoned dialogue.

    However, it is very, very difficult (if not impossible) to engage in meaningful dialogue with people who lay claim to unsupported assertions, because there isn't any way to refute them.

    It's like a child asking "WHY" and being told,


    A few typical examples of this: extreme scriptural literalists asserting the earth is only a few thousand years old, Marxists pronouncing the inevitability of "capitalism's" collapse based on "science," and the Star Chamber and Inquisition (relying on secret undisclosed evidence and anonymous allegations).

    Fortunately, under our legal system, unsupported claims don't fly in court, nor should they. If you assert something is true because others said so, but you will not say who they are, if you assert that a document is authentic but provide no basis for that claim, well, then you have next to nothing.

    Nothing, I guess, except a claim of "moral authority."

    Rather strikes me as behaving like an outraged king -- actually, more like a tyrant/usurper than a king, for Dan can't even lay claim to Divine Right by birth. And never mind that perfectly logical and reasonable people want answers and demand accountability. Like Ceausescu in Timisoara, Rather pouts, sulks, and broods, relying solely on raw power -- and a moral authority which does not exist. (The crowds won't go away this time, Dan....)

    In a fit of artistic license yesterday, I compared Dan Rather to Richard Nixon.

    On reflection, I see that I was being unfair.


    That's because, by any reasonable standard, Rather is less accountable than Richard Nixon. Nixon had to run for office and be elected, and no matter what anyone thought of him, at the end of his second term, he'd have been out. Rather was of course never elected, his hold on power as CBS news "anchor" began in 1981 -- years before the fall of Ceausescu. Until the blogosphere came along, there was little to hold his power in check or hold him accountable at all (save some drastic move which might be based on considerations like the price of his company's stock).

    Yet it was Rather who wrote books such as The Palace Guard, (analogizing the Nixon adminstration's imperiousness to that of unaccountable monarchs) -- knowing full well of the obvious limitations on the powers of the American presidency. And knowing full well that there really weren't any such limitations on his own power.

    You'd think he'd be a little more, er, sensitive.

    Moral authority is all Rather's got!

    And it isn't much.

    I think it's long overdue to question the basis for it.

    Funny how posing honest questions has been called "the shot heard round the world." (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Finally, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I don't own pajamas.

    UPDATE (9/15/04): Speaking of "considerations like the price of his company's stock," via Glenn Reynolds I see that Viacom's stock is taking a modest tumble. (Not that I'd ever question the timing.)

    posted by Eric at 09:24 AM | Comments (3)

    Rather TO EARTH: "I AM NOT A CROOK!"

    I was gone all day and now I am aghast at the latest developments in the Rathergate Affair.

    I'm still shaking my head. But let me see if I can get this right.

  • Here's an excerpt from the obviously forged August 18, 1973 letter which in which Killian states that he's being pressured by Staudt:
    Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job. Harris gave me a message today from Grp regarding Bush's OETR and Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it....
  • And now here's today's Seattle Times:
    AUSTIN, Texas — The man named in a disputed memo as exerting pressure to "sugarcoat" George W. Bush's military record left the Texas Air National Guard a year and a half before the memo supposedly was written, his service record shows.

    An order obtained by The Dallas Morning News shows that Col. Walter "Buck" Staudt was honorably discharged March 1, 1972. CBS News reported this week that a memo in which Staudt was described as interfering with officers' negative evaluations of the future president's service was dated Aug. 18, 1973.

  • Staudt wasn't even in the Guard? When that is added to the obvious forgery, the whole affair takes on the ring of comedy. Not only couldn't they find a typewriter from the early 70s, but they couldn't even use names of people in the chain of command at the time!

    I know this is supposed to be a serious scandal but the underlying details are so incredibly badly scripted that it's becoming as farcical as the antics of Third World kleptocracies. I'm almost reminded of some of Idi Amin's antics, like the staged car crashes involving political enemies.

    Staudt, of course, won't talk to anyone, and CBS is now lamely trying to claim that Staudt might have continued to try to issue commands after he retired!


    What's next? Blaming Nixon? (I know they called Watergate a third rate burglary, but by comparison with this nonsense, Watergate was executed with flawless precision.)

    If CBS had any sense they'd fire Dan Rather right now and hand him over to the cops. Lord knows what he'll do next.....

    MORE: To give Dan Rather the consideration he is due, I suggest this deadly serious interview. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    LINGERING QUESTION: Should Dan Rather resign or be impeached?

    posted by Eric at 07:22 PM | Comments (2)

    Turning over old leaves

    Just got back from a drive to New Jersey's Pine Barrens. They're always fun to visit, because few people bother. Plus it's only a half an hour's drive from Philadelphia.

    Some sights from the Pine Barrens:

    Macro shot of oak leaf, laden down with reddish brown galls:


    Galls, by the way, are formed by a variety of insects (usually wasps), and they do not harm the tree. Human uses for galls have included inks, tanning, a variety of medicines, and even early photography. The Romans were probably the first to use galls for ink. Obviously, forgers of ancient documents should learn to make ink the old fashioned way. For their benefit (and for interested SCA types) here's a must-read account on making a medieval book from scratch; the ink comes from "oak galls and iron sulfate."

    Anyway, once you've written your ancient forgery using ink made from the galls, you could then continue playing time traveler, and mail it from this United States Post Office (opened in 1852, and still in operation!):


    Nearby, there's a well preserved Victorian farmhouse (although you can tell that maintaining it is a constant struggle):


    And last but not least, a lake which I thought did a good job of reflecting the clouds:

    posted by Eric at 06:36 PM

    The blogosphere does not forget

    Preventing another 9/11?

    It's elementary to say this, but the most important thing is to remember:

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Glenn Reynolds has a good memorial post with pictures and links. And another one here at TCS. (And if you haven't already seen this, now is as good a time as any.)

    There will be more 9/11 posts, which is a good thing. At the risk of repeating myself, well, I will repeat what I said last year, which was what I said the year before:

    what really has changed my life -- for better or for worse -- is the realization that I can no longer take our precious freedom for granted. Probably I never could (and maybe I never did) but seeing those buildings come down hammered it home in a way which nothing will ever alter. Never again in my life will I spend one day taking our freedom for granted. That is how September 11 has changed me.

    As an admirer of Ayn Rand for most of my life, I share her view of the American skyscraper as more than just a building. Each one is a monument to individuality, to the American "can-do" spirit, and, most of all, to freedom. The Twin Towers stood as gigantically strong, seemingly indestructible, twin pillars of freedom. I will never be able to shake that awful memory of how, in the instant these giants came crashing down, they were suddenly not strong at all, and certainly not to be taken for granted. Instead, they appeared very frail and delicate.

    And now, I know that American freedom is frail and delicate. It cannot and must not ever be taken for granted.

    Bad as it was to see our enemies bring down such a symbol of freedom as the World Trade Center, it was even worse to see ordinary Americans being told that it was their fault. Unbelievably, this message did not come solely from Osama bin Laden and his supporters. People here, on the left as well as the right, told us that we were to blame. Next, a chorus of voices declared that because our enemies had destroyed the Twin Towers, that we had too much freedom, and that some of it must now be taken away. That was too much for me. It has taken me some time to realize the connection, but I now see that our freedom is like the Twin Towers: seemingly strong and indestructible, but at the same time frail and delicate -- and quite mortal in the face of an evil threat.

    There's more, of course....

    And there needs to be more.

    posted by Eric at 09:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (1)


    Or Rathergate? I can't decide.

    But bear in mind that it's 7am on a Saturday and I was unceremoniusly wakened by the ringtone on my cell phone (don't take that the wrong way, dear). I'm still a bit groggy.

    UPDATE!: I just learned a lesson Eric has tried to teach me on several occasions. You can't have an original thought.

    posted by Dennis at 07:03 AM | Comments (2)

    Muslims Against Terrorism

    Spotted this piece linked by Drudge by a Muslim organization opposing extremism and terrorism, the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism.

    Will Muslims wake up before it is too late? Or will we continue blaming the Jews and an imaginary Jewish conspiracy? The blaming of all Muslim problems on Jews is a cancer that is destroying Muslim society from within and it must stop.

    Muslims must look inward and put a stop to many of our religious leaders who spend most of their sermons teaching hatred, intolerance and violent jihad. We should not be afraid to admit that as Muslims we have a problem with violent extremism. We should not be afraid to admit that so many of our religious leaders belong behind bars and not behind a pulpit.

    Only moderate Muslims can challenge and defeat extremist Muslims. We can no longer afford to be silent. If we remain silent to the extremism within our community then we should not expect anyone to listen to us when we complain of stereotyping and discrimination by non-Muslims; we should not be surprised when the world treats all of us as terrorists; we should not be surprised when we are profiled at airports.

    UPDATE: For those of you not watching the comments, Graham Lester notes a similar NR piece.

    Let reason ring.

    posted by Dennis at 04:45 PM | Comments (1)

    Meet Mr. Meilaender

    Abridged excerpts from the Presidents Council on Bioethics, April 25, 2002.

    DR. BLACKBURN: .... for me a helpful metaphor was thinking about, well, if one were, let's say, there with a blastocyst and you had to do something to keep it alive and then you saw a child drowning, who would you save, if it was a matter of you being in one or the other place and you knew that if you went and helped the child drowning, and I'm using a dramatic example, but if you helped the child drowning, you would have to let the blastocyst die because you couldn't carry out whatever next thing you had to do to keep it alive. So to me, then the choice -- it very much comes down to choosing between two things and making a choice as to what is the more morally imperative, so equating research with its goal of therapy isn't therapeutic benefit and other medical advantages to the idea of saving an existing life in some way that is a fully formed life. So to me, it sort of came down to an either/or. Which one does one weight....

    ........PROF. MEILAENDER: Well, a couple of things.... Elizabeth's original way of formulating it was a way of thinking about several goods, clearly in competition since you could only save one. Alfonso's way of reformulating it has to do with how he changed it into the question of respect and care, but it's really -- that's a form of the right and the good, in a way. And it's worth noting that there might be other factors that would enter in.... suppose the blastocyst is mine and the drowning child or whatever it was, is somebody else's? Does that count? I mean there are all sorts of factors that enter in here, in fact.

    So the notion that we've only got one kind of thing, namely stages of development that makes a difference, when we weigh competing goods is not the case, in fact. It's considerably more complicated.


    DR. BLACKBURN: Well, I think it might be helpful to return to somewhat more the homely and something Gil said that he said to me, well, would you say the blastocyst, if it were yours versus the child and I think I wouldn't be able to look the parents of the child in the face if I hadn't made an attempt to save the child. And I think that also addresses the issue of should we be trying to do cures, even though we know that they're not inevitably going to work tomorrow, next year, 10 years or 20 years. I think we have to try and so I think this question of the fact that we don't have successful answers right now for whether embryonic stem cells or somatic cell nuclear cloning is going to work, I don't think that absolves us from the necessity to try when we see real human disease and suffering that we should try to act on, even though we know we may not be necessarily successful in every attempt.

    CHAIRMAN KASS: Gil, and I then I think I would like to put my oar in and I'll give rebuttals, but we should probably wind up. We need a nap before we drink, right?

    Gil, do you want to comment?

    PROF. MEILAENDER: Well, just a couple of things quickly. To pick up Elizabeth's point again. The hypothesis was and I think it's worth thinking about, the hypothesis was that you could only save one of the two entities, so that I don't know how we set up this case the way the philosophers do it, but there's a fire and you can go up one stair to save the newborn in the crib who's not yours or you can go up the other stairs to save the blastocyst in vitro that is yours. Okay?

    CHAIRMAN KASS: That's a copy of your dead child, if you want to make it --

    PROF. MEILAENDER: Whatever. It's not -- it's not immediately apparent, kind of, that one choice must be made and that suggests that there are other considerations and it's not just stage of development....

    I don't think that I like Professor Meilaender.

    posted by Justin at 02:14 PM | Comments (1)

    My two cents on the -th

    Note that in every instance in which the 'th' following a number appears in superscript there is no intervening space between number and suffix.

    MS Word is set to automatically substitute the superscript when you hit the space bar, but if there is an intervening space, the rule is not triggered, which would explain the lack of superscript in this document.

    Instead, depending on the program's settings, you'll either get a normal 'th' marked for a spelling error, or an auto-correction to 'the,' which is easily corrected.

    Why would the writer, even if a variable-width type head with a special supercript character had been in use, choose to use the superscript in one place but not another? My initial thought was that the superscript 'th' could be a convention in the naming of units as opposed to designating normal ordinals (the 147th vs. my 5th cup of coffee).

    But there's no consistency, and the facts weigh against undocumented documents.

    posted by Dennis at 01:23 PM | Comments (2)

    Forgeries can be a real drag!

    Speaking of humor, someone just sent me a collection of extreme makeover pictures, and I think they're downright disrespectful. Not only that, I suspect that there is a distinct possibility that they may have been forged. Not that I'm an expert, you know, but I have seen things like this done before, and their authenticity strikes me as highly questionable!

    Well, the blogosphere is a democracy, so YOU BE THE JUDGE!


    I ought to be ashamed for posting them, and, well, I am ashamed!

    Especially if they turn out to be forgeries!

    Under the circumstances, I think I should take this opportunity to apologize in advance. Nothing should be taken the wrong way or blown out of proportion until we have the facts.

    UPDATE: Wow, an InstaLanche from Glenn Reynolds! I sure am glad that I apologized in advance, because I now stand accused of employing the standards of CBS!

    I guess that means I'm more than Rather ashamed.


    And a big welcome to all InstaPundit readers.

    ONE LAST THING: I recently wrote a couple of posts about the negativity in the blogosphere, and I posted the above pictures while still in a bit of a funk, and not knowing what if anything I could do about it. (Humor seems the only option right now.....) Anyway, Glenn Reynolds is a hell of a good guy, and of all people he does not deserve the kind of ad hominem attacks which seem to be metastasizing in the blogosphere these days. Once more, thanks to him and to you all.

    Get well soon, Glenn!

    posted by Eric at 10:20 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBacks (1)


    Via ROMENESKO, I see more evidence of unholy collusion between gay activists and religious conservatives:

    [World Journalism Institute director Robert Case II] thinks evangelicals have closed themselves into what he calls a “ghetto” of their own making. They have fled mainstream culture rather than engage it. But if evangelicals expect to be depicted fairly and fully by the elite media, Case says, they need to get their hands dirty and play a role in the institutions that define the larger culture. This doesn’t mean he wants journalism to be done differently. He just wants enough evangelicals to be at places like The New York Times and The Washington Post so that reporters begin to see them as living, breathing people and not backward bible-thumpers.

    “The homosexuals are our role model in this,” Case says. “They had the same problems we do twenty, twenty-five years ago — a despised minority hiding in the closet, and all the stories in the media looked to point out their weaknesses. They overcame this by integrating into the mainstream.”

    Case’s other, longer-term objective is, by his own admission, more controversial. It is to bring “an evangelical or biblical perspective to the newsroom.” Case thinks that evangelicals, seeing the world as they do through the ethical and moral lens of religion, could make much-needed adjustments to journalism’s focus. The institute was not necessary fifty years ago, he says, when “Judeo-Christian values were regnant in America and something like Roe v. Wade would never have become an issue.” But now that we live in a “postmodern, post-Christian world,” Case says, newsrooms are once again in need of a moral compass. He doesn’t want to dismantle the principles of good journalism, which, he says, are “eternal.” He doesn’t want to evangelize. He just wants the “religious aspect of life” to be articulated in stories, and for issues like abortion or gay marriage to be framed in a way that allows for more than just a secular perspective. It boils down to this: “Most of the elite media are tone deaf to religious concerns,” Case says. “They just don’t see the value to any issue that has a flavor of religion. A secularist will always ignore the religious side of life and way of thinking. Evangelicals won’t.”

    I know that I am fond of saying that I hate role models....

    But if more people could focus on their similarities instead of their differences, perhaps the Culture War could be laughed out of existence.

    I've tried humor before, but not everybody finds it amusing.


    posted by Eric at 09:50 AM | Comments (1)

    You too can produce 60 Minutes-quality forgeries!

    Yesterday, I went into something resembling a state of shock when, without any effort at all, I produced a document identical to the questioned August 18, 1973 Killian CYA Memo. That it is a forgery is beyond any reasonable doubt, and I don't think it's even worth debating. What's worth debating now is how a multimillion dollar show like 60 Minutes, which purports to be a sort of guardian of the public's right to know, would so cavalierly accept a forgery which doesn't even rise to the level of a serious attempt at a forgery.

    It's important to point out that I am only one among many who have put Microsoft Word to the test. Via Bill Hobbs, I see that this reporter did the same thing first, and so did others:

  • Charles Johnson, who also superimposed the "original" forgery on top of his own forgery.
  • Power Line (which MT will not ping properly, and I'd love to know why....) cites Independent document examiner Sandra Ramsey Lines, who produced an identical document with Microsoft Word, "which wasn't available when the documents were supposedly written in 1972 and 1973."
  • Hugh Hewitt posts his interview with Farrell Shiver of Shiver & Nelson, a document investigation lab in Woodstock, Georgia, who reflects pretty much the same thing.
  • Glenn Reynolds, despite illness, supplied a comprehensive round-up, and I was particularly taken with this flashing superimposition of the orginal forgery with the blogger's own version, as well as his speculations about who did it.
  • Also via Glenn Reynolds is another matchup from Feces Flinging Monkey, with whose assessment that "Somebody ought to go to jail for this" I thoroughly agree....
  • I'm sure by now it's endless. Anyone with Microsoft Word can produce an identical document. As I explained, I am no document examiner, but I knew and used the IBM Selectric in the early 1970s, and there is no way it could have produced the Killian letter.

    As I said, it's just too obvious, and I'm still worried that it might have been meant to be obvious.

    Who meant it remains the unanswered question.

    UPDATE: Amazing as it sounds, a number of bloggers are claiming the documents might be authentic because proportional spacing was available on electric typewriters. (More here and here.) Actually, my Selectric did a pretty good job with proportional spacing, but the point I was making is that it could never have generated anything like the above document. Plus, there was no way to generate a superscripted "th" (at least, not in mine). I suppose one could remove the carriage ball and (assuming one was available) insert another ball with smaller fonts for the sole purpose of inserting a miniaturized "th"....

    But would anyone in his right mind have done that when writing a memo to himself? Furthermore, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that Word with Times New Roman 12 produces a document identical in fonts and spacing to the alleged forgery. I think this puts the onus on the people who claiming the document could have been done with 1973 technology to simply create one. Surely there are museums of technology which could assist. I don't think they can come up with anything approaching what anyone can create with Microsoft Word -- and what was obviously created the same way.

    MORE: Chagrined! Justin Case sent me to Brian Tiemann's Peeve Farm, which links to an apparently authentic military document proving not only that Kerry was in Cambodia, but that 1960s technology was far superior to anything previously imagined.

    posted by Eric at 09:21 AM

    Another idiot against socialism....

    Sometimes I feel personally insulted and attacked, and when that happens, my only recourse is this blog. Yesterday, just such a thing happened -- and not far from where I live:

    The audience at a Teresa Heinz Kerry stump speech in King of Prussia yesterday craned to hear what she would say next.

    Known for her off-the-cuff comments, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had said on Wednesday that anyone who refused to support her husband's health-care plan was "an idiot."

    I had to read through that last sentence very carefully, but eventually, the meaning become unmistakeable.

    It boils down to a classical syllogism:

  • 1. Anyone who refuses to support John Kerry's health care plan is an idiot.
  • 2. Eric Scheie refuses to support John Kerry's health care plan.
  • And therefore,

  • 3. Eric Scheie is an idiot.
  • Q.E.D.


    I'm so mad I could just spit! I defended Teresa Heinz Kerry in this blog when she was attacked for offering to be a mother to abandoned gay teens! And this is how she repays me? Coming to my neighborhood and calling me an idiot?

    I'm crushed. (Which is probably what would have happened anyway had I shown up wearing this t-shirt!)

    How, you might ask, did I become such an idiot as to oppose the Health Care Plan To Save The World?

    The Kerry website outlines the plan in glowing terms here. Everything for everybody! 99% of all children would be covered automatically! We'd all be able to get the same health care plan as Congress!

    Allow Every American Access To The Same Health Plan Members Of Congress Get Today
    Here here!

    It is of course promised that none of this will cost you a dime extra.

    But Cato Institute analyst Michael Cannon isn't buying. He identifies some serious problems which aren't being disclosed:

    Though Kerry claims he would reduce costs and expand access to medical care, his two-pronged health plan would have the opposite effects, for it would bring America several steps closer to a system of socialized medicine, with all the increased costs and rationing of care that follow. Kerry would nationalize significant portions of the private health insurance industry and subject what remains to tight bureaucratic control from Washington, D.C.

    Kerry's first swipe at patient sovereignty would be to enlarge existing government health programs. While former Clinton administration health official Ken Thorpe estimates these expansions would cover 18 million previously uninsured Americans, those individuals may be disappointed with what they get. Patients enrolled in government health programs often have difficulty finding doctors that accept government coverage. Oregon's Medicaid bureaucracy admitted to such rationing when it lamented in its 2001 Oregon Heath Services Commission Report, "Having coverage does not always guarantee access" to medical care.

    Worse, research by RAND Health suggests this expansion would induce as many as 18 million additional Americans to switch from private health coverage to the "free" government coverage. Not only would this leave millions with worse coverage than before, it would force taxpayers to bear costs that today are borne voluntarily by the private sector. Because it is often employers who decide to drop private health insurance when their workers become eligible for government programs, the Kerry health plan would take away many Americans' current coverage against their will and leave them with poorer coverage.

    The second prong of the Kerry health plan would draw much of the remaining private health insurance market into a nationwide "health alliance" created and tightly regulated by the federal government. Through various inducements, this health alliance would drain employers and individuals out of state-regulated markets, thereby advancing the trend toward greater federal regulation of health insurance at the expense of state regulation. This health alliance also would require invasive controls over the provision of medical care and ultimately bureaucratic rationing.

    Only an idiot would refuse to support invasive government bureaucracy and rationing of health care....

    And surely, only an idiot would dare question the details of Teresa Heinz Kerry's husband's wonderful plan!

    posted by Eric at 08:13 AM | TrackBacks (1)

    It's Alive

    I used to love Bruce Sterling's fiction. Now I find him unbearably tendentious and self-satisfied. Case in point. The Speculist is back from a refit and presents us with this tired, pointless column from Wired Magazine. It annoyed me when I first read it, and it annoys me now. I guess he just got too cool for me.

    More likely yet, we live in a dull, self-satisfied, squalid eddy in history, blundering around with no concept of progress and no sense of direction. We have no idea what we really want from our own lives or from society.

    Well, I guess the squalid part might apply, but as for the rest, gimme a break. Like we needed more windy ruminations on how unpleasant it all is. Damn. I blame Bush.

    On a lighter note, The Speculist points us at this development. Go Navy.

    posted by Justin at 11:34 PM

    A cutely burning!

    And while I'm barely still able to write, don't miss this week's Bonfire of the Vanities at DeCloah blog! In a word, it's very cute! Tigger and Pooh play at guest hosting too!

    A few nice ones:

  • I love Communism! (And how dare the capitalists spread dirty rumors about how I might vote!)
  • The esteemed Ghost of a Flea is trying to distract me with skimpy outfits. OK, I'm distracted!
  • Dodgeblogium is involved in a heavy metal threeway with the BBC
  • Aaron is playing politics with fantasy. Or is that fantasy with politics?
  • They're all hot and cute, so read 'em!

    posted by Eric at 10:46 PM

    Some horses finish last!

    Sometimes I speak in haste, and write things without taking much time to examine them. Earlier, in an afterthought to a comment to a post which I quoted in an update to a post, I quoted my farmer/grandfather:

    You can't make a race horse out of a plowhorse!
    And so you can't.

    Or so it seems....

    But is the point (the one I thought I was making, anyway) whether or not one can make a loser into a winner? Could this country have been built and settled had its pioneers possessed only racehorses? Yet of the two, we normally think of the racehorse as being the obvious winner. Never mind that had it not been for the efforts of the plowhorse, there'd have been racetracks to run on, no leisure time to spend watching the racehorses, and maybe no money to spend betting on them.

    This reminded me of a conversation the other night between a classically trained musician and a successful rock musician (a star, as it happens, but no names). I know the former and had just met the latter, so I found myself listening avidly, but saying little. The rock musician was talking about how technological developments had revolutionized music, so that now virtually anyone could be his own sound studio. He also spoke of techniques for cleaning up pitch, tone, rhythm, explained how flat notes (even off-key human voices) could now be corrected. I was fascinated to hear that just as it was once common to remove vinyl scratchy noises and hisses from old recordings, now it's the height of fashion to put them in. You know, give it a little "authenticity."

    Perhaps the fake authenticity proved too much for the classical musician, who reminded me later that years of training go into getting it perfect, that if an opera singer doesn't sing well or a cellist plays off key, it's curtains for a classical career. Classical music is, it would seem, less forgiving. (I'd hesitate to say it's harder work, though.... any more than I'd care to speculate whether James Joyce or Elmore Leonard worked harder. As to which is "better," I don't know; I'd have to check with Amazon!)

    None of this strikes me as particularly fair. But who gives a rat's ass what's fair? What matters is what the public wants, and if classical musicians can't earn a decent living and rock stars make millions, that's the free market at work.

    And really and truly, I should hasten to add that have no quarrel with that, because any attempt to tamper with it would make things much worse.

    As to who's the winner, I have no idea. (Did Van Gogh win?)

    If we turn to politics, I suppose the racehorse would be the candidate that wins. But what about the American love for the underdog?

    For the plowhorse? Maybe that's what we need. And maybe the skills it takes to win an election are not necessarily the same skills needed to become a statesman. Carrying the maybe a bit further, maybe Americans know this intuitively, and thus become suspicious of the guy who appears to be trying too hard to win. Pragmatism versus idealism is an extremely delicate balance in politics, and even attempting to define a formula for success is way beyond my competence.

    Turning my dark side, I have to confess to something which some people don't like about me. I have this tendency to trust pragmatic -- even crooked -- politicians more than ideological purists. The former can be relied on to make deals and avert danger. They're the kind of people who'd have paid off the slaveholders to free the slaves rather than kill them. They'd have appreciated the need for the grain the experienced Kulak farmers produced and made deals with them instead of packing them off to Siberia. Yet as I say this, I realize that pragmatism can be carried to monstrous extremes. Excesses of pragmatism (the Weimar regime will do; maybe Czarist/Rasputin-style corruption) can also lead to seizures of power by ideological purists.

    On the other hand, inflexibility and ideological purity lead often to reforms. Had it not been for "untouchables" like Eliot Ness who couldn't be bought off and who insisted on enforcing unreasonable laws, Prohibition might have lasted longer. As Ulysses S. Grant said famously,

    I know no method to secure the repeal of bad, obnoxious, or unjust laws so effective as their strict execution.

    When pragmatists meet ideologues, political misunderstandings abound. Wealthy German aristocrats made the same mistake that many Jews made and that Neville Chamberlain made: they assumed Hitler would be, if not reasonable, at least pragmatic. Why would he murder useful people and invade friendly countries? The useful, practical plowhorse may find himself completely unable to understand the impractical, temperamental racehorse.

    Might much apparently endless debating boil down to differences in personality?

    Unchangeable differences?

    Pragmatists are realists and ideological purists are idealists. Is this a difference merely in philosophy?

    Here's something I saw (in the way fancy race-horse New Yorker!) about the differences between introverts and extroverts:

    The classical difference between an introvert and an extrovert is that if you send an introvert into a reception or an event with a hundred other people he will emerge with less energy than he had going in; an extrovert will come out of that event energized, with more energy than he had going in. Gore needs a rest after an event; Clinton would leave invigorated, because dealing with people came naturally to him.
    The article was about Al Gore, but I think there's a consensus among historians that Nixon was an introvert too. Some people suffer horribly when they play golf (I read somewhere that Nixon hated the game), while others consider it "recreation." I used to hate golf, until I came to realize that it was social peer pressure that I hated -- which in turn may have fueled the peer pressure on me to play it! I no longer worry about it, or play it, and I am proud of being a loser in that respect. Golfers might feel sorry for me, but I consider myself free!

    And while I'm on the subject of the New Yorker, I should add that I often don't like it. Perhaps that is because I was brought up to see it as superior, but it seems to exudes the kind of haughty superiority that is annoying. The writing is too pure. Too obsessed with turns and twists of phrases, double entendres, and rhetorical sleights of hand compressed into each sentence. It makes me suspect that the writers think they know more because they write better, and write better because they know more. It's as fundamentally illogical to maintain that stylish writing makes thoughts more true as it is to maintain that stylish clothing makes people more honest. Not that there isn't truth in the New Yorker, mind you. I just don't think dressing it up makes it truer. (Similarly, superior knowledge about a given subject does not make the possessor of the knowledge right; if the world's most knowledgeable expert on Hitler thought he was a great guy, would that make it so?)

    Personality considerations may be related to Frederick Turner's discussion of the good versus the right:

    Thus there is a huge unconscious reservoir of sympathy for the likes of Saddam Hussein among the more secular enthusiasts for a law of the good, and even for the likes of Osama bin Laden among the more religious. And Bush-hatred suddenly becomes deeply understandable. He threatens their whole world. And the annoying thing about Bush is that he is simultaneously, in his own private self, a passionate believer in the law of good, while in his outward actions a staunch upholder of the law of right. If he were merely an advocate of the right against the good, he would be easier to disagree with but harder to hate. For believers in the enforced law of good, anyone who believes in the good but does not seek the power to bring it about is a hypocrite.

    And hypocrisy is the most fundamental and most heinous charge that the good have to bring against Bush. He is a defender of people who freely believe in different goods than his own, as long as they do not seek to enforce them. He is willing to keep his hands off people who, though they may be offending all the laws of goodness, have managed to stay on the windward side of the laws of contract. He will enforce contracts, while leaving people free to exploit each other if they can do so without breach of contract. He will refuse to enter into contracts that he knows he may not be able to keep (or that he knows that his own country might be the only one to actually keep), even if goodness requires him to give lip-service to the ideals of nuclear disarmament, global environmentalism, and a global legal system.

    Like Abraham Lincoln -- another president widely accused of hypocrisy in his own time and since -- he is willing to go to war to enforce a regime of right and to overthrow what at least bills itself as a regime of good. He will hold a tyrant to his contract even if the upholders of the law of good disagree, as long as he himself has won a contractual agreement with a legal legislature to do so. He will hold the United Nations itself to its contract, even if that means offending the sensibilities of his allies. These positions appear monstrously inconsistent, mendacious and hypocritical to people who believe that something obviously good should be forced to happen, and that something obviously bad cannot be right. But in the grand perspective of history, the positions Bush has adopted from his pragmatic Anglo-Saxon predecessors constitute the only policy that has consistently led to large-scale peace, a rough approximation to individual if not social justice, the general prosperity required to make social justice increasingly a moot point, and the freedom that makes goodness possible at all. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    That's a long quote, but nonetheless a very superficial one; I suggest reading the whole essay. None of this has been settled, and it may never be.

    I'm bothered by the implications for the damned "Culture War." If innate human personality differences account for intractable political problems, then what's going to help? National psychiatry?

    Ideologues, I have noticed, tend to confuse the truth with winning arguments. It's not the same thing, because many times, an argument can be won by things like shouting, lying, name-calling. (Especially when a pragmatist sees no point in "winning.")

    As I said before, I think it starts with acknowledging reality.

    If racehorses are pitted against plowhorses, all lose.

    posted by Eric at 10:30 PM | Comments (1)

    I still remember typewriters!

    Andrew Sullivan discusses the question of whether or not these documents (allegedly typed in the early 1970s by one of Bush's officers in the National Guard) are forgeries.

    Like Andrew Sullivan, I am not an expert on fonts, but I was 19 years old in 1973, and I can state that I never saw any typewriter capable of producing the kind of text which appears on this document.

    I had an IBM selectric typewriter, which at the time was considered state of the art, and you could buy typeballs which featured different fonts. But I never saw a font like the above. The layout is all wrong.

    In particular, the superscripted "th" which appears in "187th" would have been impossible with any typewriter of the time.

    Take a look. No one my age would be fooled.

    Unless the military (unbeknownst to me) had advanced word processing equipment in 1973, I think it's a forgery.

    Couldn't they have at least found an old typewriter somewhere?

    UPDATE: Drudge now links to Scott W. Johnson's Powerline story as well as this CNS report.

    How much longer is 60 Minutes' clock going to tick?

    (Maybe I should I write to Edward Wasserman.....)

    MORE: In an interesting and honest post, Kevin Drum speculates that the documents can't be forgeries because the White House faxed out copies of them. But as it turns out (and as Drum concedes) the White House merely sent out copies of the CBS documents:

    UPDATE: I now have copies of the memos the White House released, and they are just versions that CBS faxed to the White House the day before the 60 Minutes segment aired. There's no indication that the White House had its own copies of these memos and had been sitting on them.


    (Via Andrew Sullivan.)

    MORE: Glenn Reynolds links to this National Review story, which confirms these same suspicions, and adds in an update:

    all the words line up perfectly using Times New Roman size 12. Each line ends in the same word. I would tend to believe that the chances of a person anticipating the appropriate time to go to the next line in the exact manner that Microsoft Word does it automatically due to preset margins is highly unlikely.
    OK, I'll try it right now.

    LATER THAT AFTERNOON: UNBELIEVABLE! Using Microsoft Word 2000, in whatever the standard format is (I changed nothing, as I use Times New Roman size 12 as my default) I just typed out the entire document without making any line breaks.


    And here it is, a scan of my "forgery" of the forgery.


    It's starting to look as if this was meant to be obvious.

    UPDATE: Bigger image uploaded.

    MORE: Sorry about the typo; mine says "CTA" instead of "CYA." (Close enough for government work?)

    AND MORE: In a fit of my own "CYA" I've rescanned it with that minor correction, and uploaded it in pdf file format. (Download file.)

    UPDATE: I can't speak for every single one of the documents, for I haven't examined them that closely. But I will say that there is no way that the one above can possibly be authentic. Printing the document in Microsoft Word with the New York size 12 font is an exact match. Since everyone is offering theories as to why (Tom Maguire offers especially interesting speculation), I'd like to offer one of my own: I think the big bad Old Media may be having one at the expense of the blogosphere.

    They're showing a little muscle here, and I'd be willing to bet this won't be reported.

    "Newsrooms under siege" indeed!

    FINAL UPDATE (9/14/04): I am uploading one last version of my forgery of the forgery, in pdf format. At this late date it's beside the point (for countless bloggers have made identical copies), but when I read about the curved apostrophes I realized mine were wrong (I long ago customized Word to get rid of them), so I changed the feature back to the curved apostrophe default, and redid the forgery. (Just so that I can say that I did make an exact copy of the forgery, without even slight deviations.)

    Here it is.

    POST-FINAL UPDATE (09/17/04): Just when you think something is over.... Unbelievably, I now see that an outfit called the Creative Response Concepts or something is claiming credit for being the first to expose the forgery:

    Creative Response Concepts (CRC), the VA-based agency promoting the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, used right-wing blogs and news sites to turn a CBS report casting doubt on President George W. Bush's National Guard service into a potential black eye for both the network and the Democrats.
    They "used" Charles Johnson, Power Line, and all the others? That's pretty arrogant, and I agree with Glenn Reynolds that it's rank opportunism.

    I wasn't keeping track of the order in which any of these bloggers exposed the forgery, although it appears that Charles Johnson was the first, and should get the credit. (I saw Andrew Sullivan's link to Power Line first, so that was what I linked. I made my first forgery quite late in the day.)

    But if there's one thing I can definitely assert, it's that when I made my various forgeries, I was NOT used by Creative Response Concepts!

    posted by Eric at 01:36 PM | Comments (9)

    Is Glenn Reynolds the new Saddam Hussein?

    Not long ago, veteran newsman and professor of journalism Edward Wasserman spoke of how difficult it was to get the story straight when journalists were censored by Saddam Hussein:

    For the news audience, a moreenduring question concerns the unacknowledged compromises that journalists make, routinely and invisibly -- with sources, publicists, apparatchiks, whose connivance is indispensable to the news process, and whose approval has indisputably more impact than the public's.

    To what degree are you, as reader or viewer, the person to whom the news is truly intended -- or are you eavesdropping on another transaction? When does news become currency, with the news organization purchasing what it needs with generous and judicious reporting? The notion of programming as payment isn't new. Marshall McLuhan suggested that TV shows are the payoff viewers get for watching advertisements.

    For a TV journalist, the public is vague and amorphous: Viewers won't scrutinize every reference to Hussein to determine if it's respectful. But censors will. Their jobs -- and perhaps their lives -- depend on it. So when do they become the primary audience for which the message is crafted?

    Unfortunately, the conditions under which CNN operated in Iraq aren't so different, in their essentials, from those that many reporters face. So they tailor their reporting to sustain their access to the sources they need.

    The public is wedded to the absurd belief that journalists pillage their sources. Reporters are far more likely to coddle, flatter and pander to them. Even when they're monsters.

    Now that the Saddam Hussein threat is dead, Wasserman (in a column from my local newspaper titled "Newsrooms under seige") focuses on a new kind of monster, and I'm wondering if he thinks bloggers are the new Saddam Hussein.

    It's hard now even to write for publication without being aware of just how thoroughly what you say is going to be inspected for any trace of undesirable political tilt and denounced by a free-floating cadre of rightist warriors.

    If that's apparent to me as a mere columnist, I can only imagine the current mind-set of supervising editors: If we give prominence to this story of carnage in Iraq, will we be accused of anti-administration bias? And - here it gets interesting - will we therefore owe our readers an offsetting story, perhaps an inspirational tale of Marines teaching young Iraqis how to play softball?

    Now, both stories may well be integral to the news. If so, both should be told. The problem arises when the pressure to tell the softball story comes not from a principled desire to deliver a factual account that is broadly emblematic of significant happenings in Iraq, but from a gutless attempt to buy off a hostile and suspicious fragment of the audience base.

    News then becomes a negotiation - not a negotiation among discordant pictures of reality, as it always is, but an abject negotiation with a loud and bullying sliver of the audience. News of great significance becomes not an honest attempt to reflect genuinely contradictory realities, but a daily bargaining session with an increasingly factionalized public, a corrupted process in which elements of the news become offerings - payments really - in a kind of intellectual extortion.

    "Cadres" practicing "extortion"? Really now, that's pretty tough language to describe what is, simply, criticism. If journalists are in fact reporting the truth in an unbiased manner, why should they fear being "corrupted" by mere criticism?

    Implicit in Wasserman's piece is that those who decide what to report should not be accountable to anyone, and that criticism which leads to a fear of "scrutiny" is a form of censorship.

    Criticism is precisely the opposite of censorship. Just as Wasserman can call bloggers a "free-floating cadre of rightist warriors," bloggers have just as much right to answer back.

    Speaking of scrutiny, Glenn Reynolds discussed Wasserman's column too, and he links to these accounts which document a particularly notorious example of lying and deceptive reporting by Knight-Ridder.

    According to Wasserman, such attempts to correct such lies and deception constitute intimidation and censorship.

    I'm not buying that -- any more than I buy the idea that disagreement with bigotry constitutes religious persecution.

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, I was tickled -- pink -- to see pictures of nice pigs finishing last. (Personally, I think they look like a "free floating cadre of rightist warriors," but I'm not in the business of censorship....)

    QUESTION: Who comes up with slogans like "free floating cadre of rightist warriors" anyway? Was it really Wasserman? Or is Spiro Agnew still alive?

    posted by Eric at 10:23 AM | Comments (2)

    Prevention can be avoided!

    Will this country finally have a Department of Wellness? (Via InstaPundit.)

    When I read that Kerry was proposing such a government bureaucracy, I thought there must be some kind of joke. Come on, guys! I wasn't born yesterday....

    So I went to the story itself, and now I'm a believer:

    The other head-scratcher uttered by Kerry in the past two days came Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C. There, in response to a question from a woman about the health problems caused by mold and indoor air contamination—and her complaint, "There's not one agency in this government that has come forward" to deal with the problem—Kerry endorsed the creation of a new federal department. "What I want to do, what I'm determined to do, and it's in my health-care plan, is refocus America on something that can reduce the cost of health care significantly for all Americans, which is wellness and prevention," Kerry said. So far, so good. But then, "And I intend to have not just a Department of Health and Human Services, but a Department of Wellness." Again, what? Apparently this idea comes from Teresa Heinz Kerry, who told the Boston Herald in January 2003 that she would, in the Herald's words, "be an activist first lady, lobbying for a Department of Wellness that would stress preventive health." Oh, boy. Preventive health is a fine idea, but do we need a new agency—I assume it's not Cabinet-level—to handle it?
    Well, I think being well, is, well, well enough. But shouldn't we let it well enough alone? Wellness, obviously is the condition of being well. I Googled the word "wellness" and got over 14 million hits. So we all love wellness. But we love "health" even more, and Googling that brought me 234 million hits. Plus, there's already a department of health.

    What I'd like to see is a Department of Weirdness. It may be related to the Department of Wellness, because somewhere they're making signs like these:



    Hey, I'm all for prevention and everything but I'd rather avoid it if I can prevent it.

    posted by Eric at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)

    Saving "children" from "assault weapons"

    My blogfather has an excellent post about the expiration of the ridiculous "Assault Weapons" ban. Jeff quotes from a couple of typical hysteria pieces which scare people into thinking that the ban had something to do with fully automatic weapons, and predicts:

    I expect the morning and nightly news programs will be pounding the drums over the AWB expiration for the next several days, with DiFi and the Brady Bunch all over our screens threatening anarchy in the streets. I still predict (or hope) that Republicans will keep the ban extension from reaching Bush's desk.
    I am so cynical as to think that the body-counters are hoping for a pre-election shooting spree (hopefully involving "children") with anything they can all an "assault weapon." The message is then along the lines of "BUSH BRINGS THE WAR HOME," or something equally logical.

    The appearance-based "Assault Weapons" ban had nothing to do with fully automatic weapons, which have been all but illegal since the 1930s. However, among other things, it did mandate the removal of all bayonet lugs -- thus protecting us from the scourge of drive-by bayonetings!

    If we could save just one 24 year old "child" from such a fate....

    posted by Eric at 08:54 AM | Comments (1)

    A guilty plea....
    I too am guilty of what I condemn, and I have resorted to personal attacks. What I'd like to see is a consensus emerge that such attacks be acknowledged to be a sign of failure rather than of victory as they so often are. I'd like to see them be the exception rather than the rule. Because, once we allow vicious personal attacks become the standard rather than the exception, human nature being what it is, dialogue will inexorably degenerate into thuggery – and I mean real brownshirt stuff. Surely we can all agree we don't want that. I think it can be stopped earlier if there is at least recognition that personal attacks are beneath a basic standard of civility – rude, "over the top," whatever you want to call it.

    Recognizing something is wrong is not the same thing as stopping it, and I am the last person to be so naïve as to imagine stopping it is possible. (We'll never stop lying either, but surely that doesn't make lying right.)

    You make a good point that "most face-to-face political arguments are relatively free of reasoned dialogue" and that is a major reason why I blog, because people can't interrupt my stream of thought. But there isn't anything I say here that I wouldn't say in person if people would be crazy enough to give me the time to say it. As to the Internet being a buffer allowing people to be "nastier than they'd ever dare to be in person," I think that's more a characteristic of anonymity. I have long noticed, for example, that the nastiest commenters (and most annoying trolls) are anonymous people without real names and without identified blogs.

    Bloggers and blogging are for the most part very different from the chat room and its denizens. In my view this use of the Internet is different, and better. I truly believe there's a higher purpose involved in blogging, and it is ill served when chat room invective becomes the standard.

    That was my response to the following comment (left by Scrutineer) to my last post:

    Most face-to-face political arguments are relatively free of reasoned dialogue, and the internet provides a buffer that allows people to be far nastier than they'd ever dare to be in person.

    It would be great if every blogger tried to be as civil as Glenn Reynolds and Mickey Kaus (scroll down to "Trustworthy Blogging Initiative II"), but it'll never happen.

    I want to address a misundertanding of the blogosphere which I think may be contributing to the personal acrimony of which I complained in the last post.

    A blog is not an Internet chat room.

    The statement is so self apparent that you wouldn't think I'd need to make it. Yet there is this feeling -- from somewhere -- that "the Internet" is just a wild and uncivilized place, and so be it. That is certainly true of much of the Internet, whether it be the squalid commercial popups, the XXX-rated chatrooms, the endless spammimg, and the unlimited adolescent rudeness of the sort characterizing chat rooms and discussion groups.

    But blogs are not like that. As many have observed, a blog is like a home. It is identifiable and named, and usually so is the person or persons who write it. While commenting -- especially anonymous commenting -- changes things somewhat, it doesn't alter the fact that blogging is personalized, individualized communication.

    I saw firsthand that there was a gap between the blogosphere and the chat room types during the uproar over the networks's refusal to show Nick Berg's beheading, and when I made the video available I was inundated with "regular" (i.e. non-blog related) visitors, who left the rudest comments I have ever had. The comments were, of course, anonymous, standard chat room fare.

    The gulf between blogging and chat rooms/discussion groups is so great that the latter are often used as a smear against the former by people in the mainstream media who should know better. ("The Internet!" "Another cowardly Internet smear!" they say, despite the fact that bloggers are more public and more forthright than most mainstream journalists!)

    Anyway, I believe it is important that the blogosphere remain as accountable as possible, and that accountability ought to include some sort of basic recognition that personal insults, aside from not being a valid argument, are generally outside the scope of civilized discourse.

    Of course, the Internet is wild, uncivilized, and unregulated. Not only would I never change it, I'd fight those who would with everything I've got. What I'm advocating is voluntary acknowledgment that self-civilization is desirable, and that rudeness is, well, rude! There are no rules, and there's no way to make anyone obey them anyway. It's just a heartfelt plea, that's all. I wouldn't even go so far as to call it a pledge, because I know I'll break it at one point or another, and I dislike hypocrisy. I'm simply refusing to acknowledge or accept institutionalized rudeness in the blogosphere, and I hope you do too.

    posted by Eric at 08:14 AM

    It's raining cats and dogs!

    (Well it is, and I don't mean just outside.)

    Civility is not definitely not raining reigning in the blogosphere. Check out the comments to the food fight started by Jeff Goldstein (in response to what can only be called sexed up allegations of acrimony between Glenn Reynolds and Jeff Jarvis.)

    I have to agree with this commenter (Russell Wardlow) that Glenn Reynolds "barely reaches the level of mildly peeved," and I wish more people (myself included) could be like that. Glenn Reynolds is someone I consider a true gentleman, the last person who deserves to be subjected to these kinds of attacks.

    I'm trying to remain at the mildly peeved level, but I want to stress something I saw in many of the comments. Glenn Reynolds went out of his way to help many of the people who are dumping on him now, and there are others I'm not mentioning. I think their behavior is not only rude, but the height of ingratitude. I don't care whether you agree or disagree with someone; if he has been kind enough to help your blog, the least you can do is not attack him with personal invective.

    This election is bringing out the worst in people, and I'm worried that a national pathology -- one grounded in vicious personal attacks -- has been festering for so long that it may become permanent.

    I like to think that the blogosphere is different -- and based on dialogue and reason. Disagreement is a natural part of dialogue, but to my mind, once intimidation starts, dialogue is taken outside the bounds of civilized society. I believe the line which we call "civility" is crossed once vicious personal attacks begin. I am shocked to see this happening between people who once were friends, and I want to know, exactly where does it stop?

    Seriously, what's next? There has even been a serious attempt to get Glenn Reynolds fired from his job. I think that is so despicable that it should have been unthinkable in the blogosphere. Is the next step home invasion? Physical violence?

    I can't believe I need to ask the next question, but I do.

    Is this the United States of America anymore?

    Or are we becoming like the Mideast?

    posted by Eric at 06:46 PM | Comments (2)

    The 103rd Carnival of the Vanities!

    Pete Holiday has done a great job with the 103rd Carnival of the Vanities. My entry -- Life in the Subjunctive Lane -- was a tad late and he still managed to sneak it in, so I am grateful.

    Here are some highlights:

  • La Shawn Barber is angry that the world slumbered while Islamofascist vermin slaughtered child hostages -- with the press deliberately downplaying the entire sickening matter. I agree, and I am sorry to see the U.S. State Department now speaking in terms of "political solutions."
  • Then there's Interested Participant on child suicide bombers:
    ...everyone has to recognize that strapping a child with explosives and sending him into a restaurant in Tel Aviv is not much different than sending a suicide kid into the Mall of America. Personally, I don't think it's possible to have too much dialogue on child suicide bombers. I also don't think that the United States can prevent a child suicide attack forever.
    I don't either -- short of taking children away from parents who sympathize with such evil.
  • PC Watch shows how today's unpardonable heresy can be tomorrow's wisdom.
  • Idler Yet has more about the "timing" of the capture of bin Laden -- speculating about the best time to capture him. (Of course, a successful capture will be said to be political, while continued failure will cause the same people to excoriate Bush for that too. Either way: Bush bad, Kerry good!)
  • And Pete himself has posted an interesting mathematical formula which some would call an endorsement of lesbianism, others would label "heterosexist" -- and which still more would consider just plain "sexist." It wouldn't be fair or balanced of me to comment at all.
  • Read 'em all!

    posted by Eric at 03:29 PM | Comments (1)

    W is for ... wait a minute, I've got a good one ...

    from the AP.

    John Kerry is STILL. FIGHTING. BACK. Elevating the polemic and throwing off the gloves, he revealed his latest slogan late last night:

    "Your Momma!"

    George Wrong Bush avoided serving ... us with a comment.

    After leading the crowd in a chant of "W means wrong!," Kerry finally shouted, "Georgie porgie poo poo head!," and rushed from the stage displaying the kind of tough statesmanship Democrats have been demanding of late.

    posted by Dennis at 10:27 AM | Comments (1)

    War and Crime

    Glenn Reynolds links to a very thoughtful post by Navy SEAL Matthew Heidt, which raises a compellingly important issue:

    Do we want to completely evolve our nations law enforcement tactical teams into de facto military units? I don't see what else we can do. For one, these agencies need to be trained with and released from liability for dynamic breaching techniques. In a world of "less than lethal options" these guys need to be more "lethal" as it were. We need the SRT/SWATs to be totally prepared to assault a terrorist hostage target in extremis without regard to the officer safety concerns or the liability issues that exist today. That is a radical mindset change for many SRT/SWAT officers, Team leaders, departments, and communities. But you know America, we're probably going to have to learn this lesson the hard way, because the squishy PC left still wants to free Mumia.
    To that I'd add that the libertarians -- whether squishy or not -- still want to legalize drugs. They (and I am including "I" in the "they") believe that drug laws, by criminalizing self harm, tend to be more immoral than drug use. And while it is not the purpose of this post to get into another long-winded tirade about why I believe that, suffice it to say that unless the drug issue and drug laws are addressed, the country won't reach a consensus on militarizing the police and SWAT forces for the fight against terrorism.

    What Mr. Heidt proposes makes a lot of sense in the war against terrorism, but if police are given unbridled military power to go after drug offenders without legal recourse, then there's nothing left of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

    Goodbye to freedom. (And in the name of stopping people from hurting themselves!)

    Until this country reconsiders the mistaken approach to drug criminalization (equating malum prohibitum with malum in se is in my view flawed jurisprudence), I agree with Glenn Reynolds and Dave Kopel that arming teachers is the better approach.

    For that matter, why not allow widespread concealed carry, even on airplanes? We love to hear about the heroes of Flight 93, but if they'd been packing, we might have been able to hear their story on the evening news. (Yeah, I know, pro-gun stories get spiked.... but at least the Internet would have covered it!)

    NOTE: Mr. Heidt is absolutely right about the inherent conflict between the nature of SEAL operations and law enforcement, and I cannot think of a more perfect example than the recent story about Navy SEALs facing the oxymoronic charge of battlefield brutality:

    ....the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is looking into possible abuse by Navy SEALs against an Iraqi detainee in April, a Navy official said. That detainee also died later while in allied custody.

    Military officials said it was highly unusual to charge Special Operations Forces, reputed to be highly trained and disciplined, with offenses committed on the battlefield. Investigators have reported that one of the SEALs who was charged struck the captured Iraqi detainee with a rifle butt after the prisoner resisted arrest.

    Resisting arrest? This was combat! In war people get killed for resisting. SEALs are not trained to screw around with things like avoiding excessive force and reading suspects their Miranda rights!

    Another example of how law enforcement mindset and military operations are not a good mix. Notwithstanding the comments of Senator Kerry, war is war, and law enforcement is law enforcement. Terrorism should not be treated as crime, and crime should not be treated as terrorism.

    I hope we never have to choose between treating all crime as terrorism and all terrorism as crime.

    MORE: Those who disagree with me (or who think SWAT teams should be given unlimited power) might want to read more here.

    posted by Eric at 09:21 AM | Comments (1)

    Humor calms crisis!

    When I first saw this report in the Washington Times, I was a bit taken aback:

    The United States and Russia clashed yesterday over a way to end the conflict in the breakaway republic of Chechnya, with Washington calling for a political solution and Moscow vowing to crush the separatist movement.

    Days after a school siege in the Northern Ossetia region that claimed at least 350 lives, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West — and the United States in particular — of having a double standard when dealing with terrorism.

    "Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace?" Mr. Putin told foreign reporters in Moscow late Monday.

    "You find it possible to set some limitations in your dealings with these [terrorists]? So why should we talk to people who are child killers?" he said, according to one of the translations of his remarks in the British press.

    Well, the State Department says they should; as their spokesman just said, "There must be a political settlement" to the Chechen conflict.

    But then I saw David Kaspar's take on things and realized the State Department must be engaged in satire.

    In any case, it is important to keep some simple liberal rules in mind just in case one or more freedom fighters survived the attacks by the Russian police and were taken into custody:

    1. We may not condone their killings - if there were any at all -, but we have to look for the root causes for a better understanding of their behavior. Were they inconvenienced in practicing their religion? Delays during rush hour in Chechnya? Election losses? Only if we know exactly what drove these young men and women to their somewhat regrettable actions can we make a final judgment.

    2. Avoid the term "terrorists" for the hostage takers by all means. They have families with mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and it would be a great disservice for them to have their relatives labeled with derogative terms.

    3. The hostage takers have full rights for proper legal procedure. They should be assigned the best lawyers available, preferably from France or Germany. Both countries have a proud tradition of setting proven terrorists free, either as a result of faulty court hearings or by giving in to blackmail.

    4. It must be investigated in full detail if Putin is behind the hostage taking. He has every interest in the world to appear as a hardliner, and he desperately needed another victory over Chechnyan freedom fighters. While this is only a non-confirmed hypothesis so far, we have not heard any rejection of it from official Russian government sources - which is quite telling in itself, of course.

    5. There can be no - repeat: NO - capital punishment for the hostage takers. Capital punishment is a cruel and inhuman act that violates the human rights of the accused.

    6. We request that an internationally reputable organization such as the Red Cross be permitted to monitor conditions and report cases of abuse and torture in the prison where the hostage takers are held.

    7. Free flow of information between the imprisoned hostage takers and their peers from Al Qaida must be permitted at all times. Access to telecommunications and the internet must be guaranteed.

    8. The search for a political solution of the conflict is imperative. Meetings between representatives of the Russian government and the hostage takers, under the supervision of the United Nations, are the only way out of the crisis. The cycle of violence has got to stop!

    Ah, I get it now! "Political solution" means ending the cycle of violence! How could I be so dense as to not get it sooner? (Sometimes I am just, well, slow....)

    I didn't realize that our State Department had such a keen sense of humor, and I thank David Kaspar for the hat tip, because otherwise I never would have suspected satire by a normally humorless Department of State.

    Humor always helps in dire emergencies. (Hey, maybe the guys in State could dust off a list of dead baby jokes. That way, the whole word would be laughing along.)

    Surely, we wouldn't mind if the Russians did the same....

    posted by Eric at 08:30 AM | Comments (1)

    Hey, Blue Eyes

    Years ago I read about an experiment in infant psychology. Take a curved line and three small geometric shapes. Arrange them randomly in many different patterns, and show them to a baby. Then slip a joker in the deck. Using the same four elements, arrange a stereotypical smiley face. The random patterns don't get no respect, but the anthropomorphic sketch just fascinates em'.

    Now, over on Randall Parker's "Futurepundit" we see further evidence of a newborn's powers of discernment.

    Babies are born with an eye for beauty. Infants only hours old will choose to stare at an attractive face rather than an unattractive one - and they also prefer to listen to Vivaldi straight, rather than Vivaldi backwards.
    According to Alan Slater, a developmental psychologist at the University of Exeter, humans may have a biologically ingrained preference for beauty.
    "It used to be thought that new-born babies came into the world as a totally blank sheet of paper on which experience will then write," he said yesterday. "But what we are finding more and more is that babies are born with a number of in-built mechanisms that help them to organise and make sense of their newly-perceived world - and one of these is that they display an attractiveness effect."
    "Attractiveness is not simply in the eye of the beholder, it is in the brain of the newborn infant right from the moment of birth and possibly prior to birth," the University of Exeter researcher said.

    This should interest Stephen Malcolm Anderson.

    posted by Justin at 09:47 PM | Comments (3)

    The decent people have spoken! It's time to raise the bar!

    Atrios is willing to allow certain Republicans to redeem themselves -- provided they oppose the Bush administration and provided their repentance is deemed sincere. However, no liberal tent is large enough for Andrew Sullivan! He will never be welcome.

    Look, there are moderates and open minded Republicans whose opinions we can respect and whose opposition to the Bush administration is more than welcome, but Andrew Sullivan is not one of those people. Andrew Sullivan is one of those people who, as Charles Pierce has suggested, should simply be shunned by all decent people.
    Admission to the exalted ranks of true Bush hatred is an honor, and not everyone need apply. There's a higher standard to be upheld, and Andrew Sullivan doesn't make the grade:
    ...In response to Matthew, it isn't all people who have come around that I object to (although, I'm admittedly a bit harsh on them at times if they're still up to the same old crap), it's McCarthyite posers I object to.
    McCarthyite posers?

    Might he be confusing Andrew Sullivan with David Brock?

    posted by Eric at 08:08 PM | Comments (3)

    Celebrating a Holy Day?

    Much to my annoyance, I just read about an upcoming religious convention in celebration of the September 11, 2001 attacks!

    The convention is titled The Choice is in Your Hands: Either You're with the Muslims or with the Infidels, and is being headed by Bakri Mohammad -- the same guy who (as noted previously) supports terrorist attacks against children.

    Al-Muhajiroun leader Omar Bakri, a Syrian residing in London, told the paper by phone that the convention would feature Al-Qa'ida "surprises," with the screening of a never-before-shown video. He said that the convention will focus on "the anniversary of the division of the world into two great camps – the camp of faith and the camp of unbelief," and would take place September 11, 2004 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    Bakri added: "On this day, we will talk about the ramifications of these [9/11] operations for Afghanistan and Iraq… We want the world to remember this operation … that lifted the head of the [Muslim] nation." Bakri called 9/11 "a cry of Jihad against unbelief and oppression," and said that the aim of remembering it is to "revive the commandment of Jihad among the youth of the [Muslim] nation."

    Bakri said that the convention will also feature a lecture about the Islamic religious roots of "slaughtering the infidels," that is, beheading foreigners in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and that there will be films by Al-Qa'ida, the Tawhid and Jihad organization, and the Brigades of the Two Holy Places in the Arabian Peninsula, and that there will also be a film on the most recent operations in Chechnya. He added that one of the speeches, by Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi, known to be Al-Qa'ida's military commander in Iraq, will be translated.

    Another lecture, he said, would be dedicated to the memory of three Al-Qa'ida commanders: Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Muqren (Abu Hajer), killed in June 2004 by Saudi security forces; his predecessor Yousef Al-Ayyiri, killed in June 2003 in a clash with Saudi security forces, and Abu Hafs Al-Masri, a top Al-Qa'ida military officer, killed in the U.S. attack on Kandahar in late 2001.

    According to Bakri, the anticipated criticism of Al-Muhajiroun for the organization's insistence on memorializing 9/11 will be "a simple sacrifice in comparison with what we must actually do – that is, support the Jihad led by bin Laden."

    There is, of course, no connection at all between 9/11 and Iraq.

    Can't we infidels have a holy day too?

    posted by Eric at 12:53 PM | Comments (2)

    Look at what happens when he stops talking about Vietnam!

    Everyone, be sure to check out Alphecca's (my blogfather's) Weekly Check on the Bias. Take a good look at that picture of Kerry holding the shotgun (purportedly to show he's on the side of the Second Amendment).

    It has just been reported over at Drudge that Kerry sponsored legislation which would have banned the automatic shotgun he's holding!

    Can't this guy get anything right?

    UPDATE: Lots of discussion and links at InstaPundit, as there seems to be a difference of opinion over whether Kerry would be prosecutable under the law he pushed. (Depends on the exact legal definition of "pistol grip.")


    Shouldn't ambiguities be resolved against the drafter?

    MORE: Dave Kopel explains why the pistol grip language in question would criminalize Kerry's shotgun.

    And (also via Glenn Reynolds) Say Uncle has an excellent discussion of the gift transfer of the gun to Kerry, noting that Kerry took advantage of the dread "gun show loophole" -- something Kerry very strongly supports legislation to close. If Kerry had his way, both parties would have had to go through a licensed firearms dealer, and thus, the transfer would have been illegal!

    What I want to know is why would Kerry behave in such a cavalier manner as to engage in conduct he wants criminalized? Might he be one of those guys who thinks laws should only apply to the "little people?"

    posted by Eric at 12:19 PM

    How many Michael Moores can you fit in a phonebooth?

    (Or how about a convention booth?)

    Was the United States Secret Service protecting Michael Moore last week, or were they just engaged in crowd control? The left seems to think they were playing politics, but I'm not sure precisely how.... Anyway, here's the transcript of the bizarre incident that's making the rounds:

    NPR Reporter Andrea Seabrook:Hello Frank. I'm standing here with Michael Moore, the filmmaker who made Fahrenheit 911. Mr. Moore, why are you here?

    Michael Moore: I'm here writing a guest column each day for USA Today.

    Seabrook: OK, so you have credentials to...

    Secret Service Agent: Come around here

    Seabrook: I'm going to have to join him. They're kicking me out of this exact area but I can go around to...They just asked me to come around to the other side here.

    NPR Convention Anchor Fred Stachio (phonetic spelling): Andrea Seabrook on the floor with Michael Moore.

    Seabrook: [unintelligible]

    Stachio: I know you're still there. I just want to be sure that you can still hear us while your being moved, Andrea.

    Seabrook: Well, well I'm not...the Secret Service has blocked off that area. They're calling it a...a hazard because of the number of people who are gathered around him. There aren't that many people, but the Secret Service won't let me around him anymore, so I think a the access to him might be cut off for a moment. We'll try to get back with him.

    2nd clip begins at 39:55

    Seabrook: Yes, I am in the middle of might be able to hear the Secret Service yelling into my mic at the same time. There, there are a bunch of Secret Service that have surrounded Michael Moore's section. There are three or four reporters with him right now, but they are trying to kick all of the reporters and press photographers who are around him out of his area. The convention staff is also here. They're standing here telling us that we have to move from this are...they're obviously disturbed by the fact that Michael Moore is here and want as little public here as possible.

    Stachio: Can we hear? Can we hear what's going on? Can you stick a mic in there? I don't know if we can hear.

    Seabrook:'ve sort of moved me away from that area.

    Stachio: I don't understand. Who is it? Is it Secret Service?

    Seabrook: It's Secret Service which is interesting because the Secret Service of all agencies is the one that the least involved in the sort of political...political kinds of things, but of course they always cover the candidates and they have to be involved in the convention like this. They claim that what they're doing is for safety reasons, although there is a almost nobody around Michael Moore right now. So a we'll see if I can a...

    Secret Service Agent: [crosstalk] thank you very much

    Seabrook: Yeah, I'm being herded back in four different ways right now.

    Whatever they were doing, this intially seemed very strange to me, because the Secret Service's job is to protect the president, not Michael Moore. And preventing reporters (or angry GOP delegates) from talking with Michael Moore would not appear to be their job either.

    I know, I know, Moore has been accused of being an agent provocateur, but surely surely that wouldn't do as an explanation for the actions of the Secret Service. (For starters, it would blow Moore's cover!)

    Their primary job is to protect the president and vice president (and the purpose of the convention was the nomination of both, plus their appearance as speakers). So, under the circumstances I guess can see why they would at least want to keep the aisles clear. Plus, when I saw the hoopla over Secret Service "censorship" I hadn't seen this:

    Moore first attracted attention about 8:45 p.m. as he walked slowly over the temporary bridge that connects the media spillover building to Madison Square Garden. Stopped by a handful of reporters, Moore began to hold court. Video camera lights quickly popped on, and the knot around Moore grew.

    It quickly became a crowd-control issue, and officials began trying to corral the unruly scribes. "You were told to stop," shouted one police officer as reporters tried to break through his hallway cordon. "If you don't, I can arrest you."

    This set off grumbling in the mob, with several reporters asserting their sacred First Amendment right to chase a celebrity through the corridors of a sports arena.

    "This is my big rugby scrum," Moore said, explaining the scene around him to a security guard. "It's a dangerous situation here," yelled a plainclothes NYPD officer. "Please make a lane. Please make a lane."

    A delegate from Missouri called Moore a "disgrace," a few seconds after asking for his autograph.

    "I could kick his [rear]," said Steven R. Schirripa, an actor on "The Sopranos" who is here as a "correspondent" for NBC's "Tonight" show. "We need to get this Moore guy on 'The Sopranos' in case we need to whack someone."

    "I think that guy's the most disgusting human being I've ever seen," said Jimmy Gilbert, a 66-year-old alternate from Lenoir, N.C.

    Another passerby got in an anti-Moore plug: "Log into and," he shouted, mentioning two conservative Web sites.

    Officials began checking and rechecking Moore's press credential as well as those of his private security detail. He just shrugged and leaned against a white cinderblock wall outside Gate 75. "It's easier to go to a Knicks game, that's for sure," he quipped.

    At one point a photographer asked Moore to hold up his credential. He obliged, and the photographer snapped a picture of Moore with a pass that read "Media Messenger."

    Finally, after starts and stops lasting almost a half-hour, Moore sat down in the press section inside the arena, where the convention was in progress. But working reporters fumed at those who had collected around Moore.

    "I'm Dave Espo and I work for the Associated Press," a veteran reporter thundered to the police. "This is our work space and we need to get our work done. Please get these people out of here!"

    The episode left Owen Ullman, deputy managing editor of USA Today's editorial page, red-faced and a bit shaken. Ullman was, in effect, Moore's sponsor, and thus was left to plead on his behalf with waves of security personnel.

    "We invited Mr. Moore to write a column for us, and he asked if he could unobtrusively observe the convention," said Ullman, recognizing with hindsight the absurdity of that proposition. "We did not anticipate that many would consider him the story and that it would create such commotion."

    Did he think Moore's convention theatrics were planned? Ullman smiled and ducked: "I'll have to talk to him about the experience."


    I think crowd control is the most obvious explanation.

    But Moore as agent provocateur is more intriguing....

    posted by Eric at 10:41 AM | Comments (2)

    A Fair But Pointed Rejoinder

    Some days ago, I wrote a rather dyspeptic post detailing my first encounter with the ideas of Leon Kass, and my continuing disgust with same. This led to a civil and pleasant exchange of views with blogger D.F. Moore, a Kass fan. Re-runs are available in chronological order here, here, here, and here. My main argument, in a nutshell, is as follows.

    Point one. Leon Kass cannot win his crusade against life extension.

    Point two. He might be able to slow progress down, for a while.

    Point three. Such a delay would cost lives. People will die early, who need not have.

    These are fairly easy conclusions to reach. The evidence is very clear and only a modest intellect is required to connect the dots.

    A secondary exchange of opinions involved the morality and utility of embryonic stem cell research, and Dr. Kass’s role in attempting to shut it down.

    Mr. Moore and I, as it happens, share some common ground on these issues. He, like me, considers life extension of a fairly radical sort to be more or less inevitable.
    Unlike Dr. Kass, I’m guessing he sees that as a pretty good thing. He also favors embryonic stem cell research, as I do, and he does not approve of the proposed legislation to ban such research. He believes that it is not too early to begin talking about these issues.

    People need to see the shape of the oncoming future, no matter how blurred the view, or they will make ill-informed plans for how best to live their lives. Really, this sort of thing is not just idle speculation. We can plainly see that many startling changes have occurred in the recent past, and it looks as though many more are still in the pipeline. Big changes are on the way and we should be bracing for what may be a rough ride. If all we had to worry about in the century ahead was homicidal fanatics, I would count us lucky. So, he and I are in agreement there too.

    While I'm still feeling friendly, let me take a moment to wish Mr. Moore a belated happy birthday. Many happy returns! I didn't mean to imply that Chicago undergrads were uniquely dewy-eyed. From my perspective it's a universal collegiate constant, and not entirely a bad thing. And yes, I am mean.

    Where he and I irrevocably part company is in our evaluation of Leon Kass. Mr. Moore feels that I am giving Dr. Kass short shrift as a thinker and force for good. He feels that Dr. Kass is doing the nation a valuable service, by helping to clarify our thoughts on these important matters. The country needs to have these discussions, and who better than a brilliant polymath like Leon Kass to shepherd the debate along? Well fine, I say, but I have some regrettable suspicions about the totality of the Kass agenda. For starters, I believe he is willing to stretch the truth a little when he thinks the stakes justify it. Pursuing that point would double the size of this post, so I hope to address it another day. Stay tuned.

    On a more personal note, Dr. Kass wants us to die. Not Mr. Moore and I specifically, and not from any base motive. And certainly not before we have had long, productive lives. But nevertheless, he is convinced that it will be better for all concerned if we just drop dead in the ongoing fullness of time.

    You know, that really doesn’t work for me. The high-minded, dispassionate moral observer role just doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t fit the facts. I don’t believe you can advocate an arbitrary and limited lifespan for people without wishing for their specific deaths as individuals. You may try to duck and weave a bit by prating about the ”natural shape” of a human life, and thus try to shift responsibility, but it will remain a logical impossibility. To advocate death as a generality is to inevitably advocate particular deaths at particular times. And if cures for a condition exist, or could be made to exist, and you do your level best to stop them, then you really can’t turn around and say it’s all part of God’s plan. Because you have crossed a line, and are attempting to act as his agent. Leon Kass has done that. His actions have gone beyond the bounds of intellectual inquiry and discourse. His position is one of advocacy, tarted up in scraps of philosophy.

    Whenever a discussion of policy drifts into overly theoretical or arcane byways, I think it is helpful to ground it in a realistic scenario. The concrete and specific can be wonderful antidotes to the abstract and universal. Let’s give it a whirl.

    To invert one of Dr. Kass’s less stellar arguments, how soon is it, exactly, that we should consider an individual’s death to be required by society? Can we land on a specific number? If not, then perhaps our thoughts on the subject would benefit from further refinement before we trot them out in the light of day. Let's venture the attempt.

    Is death at 200 a definite social good in the Kass Canon? Clearly so. Living that long would disrupt the ties binding generations together, a delicate cycle honed over eons of evolution. How about 150? Yes, that accords well with Kassian writ. He even said so on the radio, in front of God and everyone. Anyone up for 120? Well, a few people have lived that long, but obviously they were rare and ought probably to remain so. Okay, how about a nice round century? Should most people die at 100? Well....that is still on the freakishly high side, so let’s shoot for 80 instead. Is 80 okay with everybody? No? Hey, I'm easy. We'll bump it up to 90. Better? Good. We're all happy now. We have a tentative determination.

    So, now what? Beta testing, of course! Say I know a man who is 87. Still healthy, still solvent, still enjoying life. Should we kill him in 3 years? That seems extreme to me. We can’t just whack the old duffer, can we? That would be murder and, gosh, murder is wrong. Perhaps we could weasel around it though, by cutting off his medical care. That may seem a little raw, but hey, death is part of life. We all have to go sometime. It would be a natural death at least, with no blood on our hands. And that part is really important.

    I may be cheating here, but the logic seems self-consistent. If longer lives represent a clear threat to our "given nature", then they should not be permitted. No, they should not be permitted at all. Society must be protected. And once we admit that long lives are bad, we need to determine how much life is too much. If we can. Sadly, for the side of pure logic, there is a potential showstopper lurking here. Dr. Kass has expressed an unyielding antipathy towards euthanasia. Houston, we have a dilemma.

    On the one hand people should not live any longer than they do now, but on the other hand, they should not be killed out of hand. How to resolve this? Withholding therapy is not the solution. It might be an option in a rationing, Canadian-style environment, but here in America, people keep inventing things. Therapy will continue to gain in effectiveness while dropping in price. The light dawns.

    If we can’t kill the patient outright…and we can’t withhold treatment…but the patient cannot be allowed to live past a certain date for the good of society…then we must try and stop the improvement in therapeutic effectiveness. Kill the research, not the patient. Old age will do the rest for us, and we remain guilt free. It was not our hand that slew him. We merely bound the hands that could have saved him.

    That seems a bit cowardly and dishonest. If the results of a thought experiment yield nonsensical results perhaps we should re-examine our initial premises. Or junk them.

    And another thing. Guiding the future course of the scientific enterprise, forever, seems unrealistic. Hubristic, even. Well, he is smarter than we, and has his own vision of the good life. Perhaps he has a hidden strategy. Perhaps it could be made to work. The Kassian vision would run something like this...

    A premature death, for instance that of a child or young adult, is never to be wished for. Likewise any "untimely" death. Therefore people will be born, live through a healthy childhood and adulthood, and flourish in the strength of their middle years with as much support as the medical enterprise can ethically offer. They will spawn, nurture, educate, and then commence withering as their own children take up those mystical generational reins. After spewing out a bit of wisdom in their otium, oldsters should shrivel up, so as to make their impending demise more tolerable. And, to be sure, not to outstay their welcome.

    Montaigne saw it clearly. If the prisoner is tortured and maimed sufficiently, death will seem a mercy. It’s all part of the circle of life. What rubbish. What hoary, tired, morally bankrupt rubbish.

    Why is that not more apparent? Part of the problem may be that for many of the academics debating these issues, it isn't terribly real. They seem to regard it as a wonderful opportunity to engage in oneupmanship and wordplay, constructing ingenious hypotheticals, and just having a fine old time.

    As I spent some time reading the Council’s report, I was struck that biologists and doctors like Gazzaniga and Blackburn came out very strongly for pressing ahead with this research. They deal with real experiments, real patients. They realize that time is passing, and is not the patient's friend. The ethicists and lawyers on the other hand , tended to have more nuanced and thoughtful positions, diving into generalities and abstractions, thought problems and caveats, all with the noble purpose of furthering understanding. There certainly was a diversity of opinion.

    Actually, some of those Council scenarios were pretty good. Try this one on for size. A house is burning down, and there are children in it. In the east wing is a toddler that you just met today. In the west wing is a cryostat containing three dozen frozen blastocysts, produced using the eggs of your dead wife. You are their father. Clearly, you can’t be in two places at once. Do you go east, or west? Is it a big struggle for you?

    It took me all of a tenth second to make my choice. I will not stand by and let living children burn to death. I will not, even at the cost of my own “children”. Now, you can play word games here and say that the blastocysts are living too. Yes, yes, they are or at least could become, alive. Granted. Now what’s your point, bright guy? Shall we play at being medieval scholastic logicians? Will you try and convince me that the frozen embryos stand on the same moral plane as somebody else’s toddler? That I should have run west instead of east? Don’t even try, because I won’t believe you. At the end of the day, the “real” children are the ones who need to be fed, bathed, and tucked in. The ones who scream when they burn.

    Just as an afterthought, this little drama works as well with a sweet little old lady substituting for the moppet. And admittedly, the whole thing is a tad overdramatic. It’s just a thought experiment from the President's Bioethics Council, right? To the nuanced, it might seem awfully either or, mightn't it? If not accorded the same respect as a two year old, the two week old embryo deserves at least some human dignity rather than none at all. It would only be when its rights conflicted with those of an older child that we would need to make such an awful determination. Precisely.

    If we were just talking about slacker scientists carving up embryos for cheap thrills, then yeah, this is an affront to human dignity. But that is the whole point. This isn't about cheap thrills. This research, this "violation of human dignity" is being done with the best of intentions, to save people’s lives. People with, you know, limbs. And a head. In an over-the-top metaphorical kind of way, lots of kids are being threatened by the flames, even now. Do we run east, or west?

    Which leads me back to my three points.

    Kass cannot succeed in his stated aims.

    He might be able to fight a delaying action.

    Said delaying action will cause needless premature deaths.

    So what does he think he is doing? He isn't ignorant of this argument. Better men than I have told him much the same thing. Perhaps the Doctor feels that he can do no less. One must fight for human dignity regardless of collateral damage. Perhaps (almost certainly) he will not cede the inevitability. He believes he may yet pull it off. The Mainland Chinese beg to differ. Transpacific airfare is cheap, when measured against your life, and Charles Murray's concerns look ever more prescient.

    There is a kind of hubris here, tricked out as humility. It would seem that nothing less than the future of humanity for all time is at stake here, and only a few clear sighted individuals stand between the horrors of the brave new world and our feckless, helpless descendants. I would actually prefer to leave my descendants fate in their own hands. Presumably, no, hopefully they will have a better idea of their own needs and capabilities than we do. I would also prefer to gift them with the longest, healthiest, wisest lives that we can arrange for them. If our own parents could have done it for us, they would have, and would we not be grateful for their pains?

    What kind of an ancestor is it that wishes his descendants illness and death and stunted intellects? None that we should want.

    posted by Justin at 11:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (1)

    Life in the subjunctive lane....

    Earlier this afternoon, I saw an exasperated man riding his bike in dangerous traffic. His face wore an angry look of the type I associate with Critical Mass activists. Then I noticed that he had reason to be angry: He was towing a bicycle trailer like this, in which rode a small infant (less than a year old).

    I grew a bit irritated, and I wondered what kind of father would subject his infant to the reckless assumption that all drivers are safe and prudent, that they have not been drinking, that their brakes work properly, that other drivers might not cut them off, or even that they might not have a sudden heart attack behind the wheel. It just seemed, well, irresponsible in the extreme. But then, as a libertarian, I don't like government telling people what to do. It's none of my business how people run their lives and raise their children, etc.

    But what about the fact that infants have to be strapped into expensive car seats even when they are riding in much safer vehicles called automobiles? Isn't that a case of government telling people what to do? Putting an infant in a flimsy, lightweight trailer and then hitching it onto a bicycle is more dangerous than putting an infant in car (even without a car safety seat) by a factor of at least ten.

    And then there was that look of moral indignation on the father's face.....

    It's still with me, and I just can't shake it. I'd be willing to bet that he (and others like him) thinks in terms of government solutions which would make government-mandated car seats look positively libertarian.

    Like getting rid of all cars, perhaps?

    I can't think of anything more unfair, more backwards, or more Luddite. It's so impractical as to be ridiculous utopianism. Welcome to the Middle Ages!

    (And it's not as if car drivers are trying to outlaw bicycles. They're no more interested in doing that than are meat lovers in outlawing vegetarianism.)

    So what's going on? Are these bicyclists living in an imaginary world? A world of what should be rather than what is? You might as well argue that war is wrong, because there "should" be peace. And self defense is wrong because there Should. Not. Be. Violence.

    As Trotsky put it:

    Not believing in force is the same as not believing in gravity.

    A Culture War based on intolerance of lifestyles unpopular with the dominant culture is one thing, and I am against that. But this stuff -- wildly impractical ideas based on the wholesale transformation of human nature -- it's as if there's a war between the imaginary and the real. And the imaginary wants to outlaw the real.

    When reality does strike, of course, the new religion of the imaginary simply labels reality as evil.

    If some ordinarily negligent driver (let's say a teenager driving on a new license) were to rear-end the trailer and crush that helpless infant, I'd bet just as Michael Moore blamed Charlton Heston for Columbine, that dad would blame the evil, polluting, war-loving, militaristic culture of Bush.

    Never would he blame himself! Why, he's more than blameless; he's morally superior! He has evolved to a higher plane of existence based on a better world not of what is, but of What. Should. Be. And if his infant survives and turns into a kid, what do you suppose his dad will do when he's attacked by a bully? Teach him how to defend himself? Hell no! He'll demand that the violence stop, and he'll blame evil American culture.

    I assure you that he is not alone:

    You may say I am a dreamer

    But I am not the only one

    Imaginary religion is worse than the real thing.

    First they came for the Hummers, but I didn't own a Hummer.....

    UPDATE: Tim Blair links to an utterly marvelous post on a related note. One of Vanity Fair's finest leading intellectuals, James Wolcott, thinks Hurricane Frances is giving us what we deserve:

    A catastrophe strewing death, fire, and human remains across Bush's home state of Texas was inauspicious to our undertaking; and so it has proven to be. Frances is the second hurricane to afflict Florida, home of brother Jeb, in rapid succession.

    The gods are not pleased. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Who is this morality crusader to dare speak for the gods? Next he'll be claiming the gods want us on bikes!

    MORE: A comment left by "goldsmith" (about Wolcott's revenge-of-the-gods post) is so damningly right that I can't resist repeating it here:

    That is so deeply offensive that I can scarce think of a comment capable of expressing my revulsion. But let's try. Please excuse the rant.

    It's amazing to me that the "left" (how outmoded and meaningless these distinctions are) have evolved into the most uptight, anti-rational, superstitious and piously moralistic bunch since the Puritans walked the wild forests of America (though I hesitate to make the comparison, since the Puritans accomplished great things). The "left" may joke and titter and wheeze about "fundy Christian wingnuts" but find someone lecturing you about your immorality, your materialism, your sinful pride, your lack of spiritual value and, most likely, they will be driving an old Volvo with the radio tuned to "Pacifica" and a GEORGE BUSH IS A LIAR bumper-sticker on the fender. Your average lefty is quicker to take offense than a blue-haired old presbyterian; they are constantly monitoring everyone for signs of racism, sexism, colonialism, anti-animal hate speech. They will criticize your car, your house, your synthetic fiber sweater, your swear words, your cigarettes, your sandwich, your choice of grocery bag, your skin color (if it is in the dusky pink range). Life to them is a laundry list of strictures, taboos and lamentations. They hate science, they fear Christianity, they think heterosexual porn is rape, they believe in magic, aromatherapy, tribalism; they scream about Bush killing children but fail to bat an eyelash at the consequences of "pro-choice". They cringe in disgust and embarrassment at the "black and white" moral distinctions of Bush (and Reagan in his time) when he speaks of the "axis of evil", yet no one uses the word evil more than leftists when describing the Bush Administration, capitalism, America, Israel. They mock and scoff at the president's religiosity, yet speak in reverential tones of Gaia, Buddha, Wicca, Yoga. And on and on.

    In other words, they are as wrought out, blinkered and dangerously conflicted and superstitious as your average Puritan (or probably closer to your average medieval peasant), yet they call themselves progressives and call everyone else fundamentalists, warmongers, fascists. Freedom is slavery.

    The end result of stewing in this murky broth of half-truth, projection, fear, and mis-education? A man sitting in Manhattan at the dawn of the 21st century, writing on a weblog about poorly-understood prehistoric deities taking delight in the destruction of sinful man's hubris-saturated civilizations. Vive Memor Lethi Fugit Hora. Pride goeth before the Fall. It almost makes you want to laugh, if you weren't crying.

    The worst thing about Wolcott is that he's a sow's ear in silk purse drag; when bad logic and superstitious intellectual trash are dressed in the Sunday finery of high-falutin' language, they remain bad logic and superstitious intellectual trash. (Reminds me of John Kerry -- and what my farmer grandfather used to say: "You can't make a race horse out of a plowhorse!")

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste. So is great writing talent. I'd be sorry for Mr. Wolcott if he wasn't so terribly wrong.

    posted by Eric at 05:38 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBacks (1)

    BaghTad Devine: We are in control!

    Senior Kerry advisor Tad Devine, seen in this file photo, assures us that this drop in the polls has been in their plans all along. On one of the network shows recently Devine spun the downward spiral as some kind of wily strategy (perhaps akin to Kerry's secret plan?). The NYT has him saying much the same thing:

    Mr. Devine said any lack of clarity of Mr. Kerry's message was due to the campaign's running few advertisements in the past five weeks. He said the polls are showing a downturn they always planned for.
    posted by Dennis at 01:19 PM | Comments (2)

    There'll be no more of that "reporting for duty" stuff!

    Via Michael Demmons, here's a report of a double standard in action:

    Judicial Watch is a non-partisan group that was formed to expose the corruption of government officials. It's interesting to note that:

    • They sued Vice President Cheney to get the records of his Energy Task Force - something the Left had howeled about for quite some time.

    • They also sued the White House for the release of documents they believe showed that the Bush Administration knew anthrax attacks were coming.

    • They've also sued the Vice President and Halliburton, alleging accounting fraud.

    • And they've sued President Bush to get information about all contacts between the President and Enron.

    • They sued Mayor Giuliani for alleged fundraising irregularities during his senate bid.

    • Judicial Watch sued Tom DeLay and the National Republican Congressional Committee for alledgedly selling meetings with the president.
    Yep. Judicial Watch seems to like suing Republicans as much as they do Democrats. (and there are many many more instances where judicial watch has sued conservatives.) They seem, to me, to be pretty equal opportunity.

    Now that they're into the John Kerry mix though, I suspect you'll now find them labelled as conservative hacks. It should be fun to watch.

    Michael is right. Judicial Watch is fine as long as they go after Republicans (they've been a thorn in President Bush's side for years), but if they dare turn their attention to Kerry's medals, they immediately become part of the evil Bush Republican attack machine.

    Here's Judicial Watch's Request for Investigation, Determination and Final Disposition of Awards Granted to Lieutenant (junior grade) John Forbes Kerry, USNR:

    Judicial Watch also submits this formal complaint and request for investigation to the Inspectors General of the Defense Department and the U.S. Navy, who each have the inherent duty and obligation to conduct concurrent and independent investigations of the serious fraud, waste and abuse matters alleged herein. Evidence and testimony is now publicly available that Senator Kerry engaged in conduct violating law, rule, and/or regulation and abused his authority. While a U.S. Navy regulatory remedy may exist (via an administrative departmental board) for the correction of award records, the matters presented in this complaint are sufficiently serious to merit the full and immediate attention and action of the Inspectors General, as well as the Chief of Naval Operations. Subsequent action by the Secretary of the Navy may also be required.
    It is, of course, of no relevance what the allegations are or whether or not they're true. What matters is who makes them.

    Meanwhile, Kerry has been told -- by no less a figure than the ailing Bill Clinton -- to stop talking about Vietnam!


    That means you too!

    posted by Eric at 12:07 PM

    Junior Attack Dogs Growling at Shadows

    This undocumented piece of psychotic drivel was forwarded to me with the subject line, 'Breaking News..Has America really faced the fact that we have an alcoholic as our president?' The scribbler behind this bitter rant, Susan Estrich, considers herself an intellectual and a feminist, yet writes books with titles like Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women. You go girl! But onto the nonsense (and I reprint this because it shows the lunacy of the left -- Kerry's core is melting):


    My Democratic friends are mad as hell, and they aren't going to take it any more.

    They are worried, having watched as another August smear campaign, full of lies and half-truths, takes its toll in the polls.

    They are frustrated, mostly at the Kerry campaign, for naively believing that just because all the newspapers and news organizations that investigated the charges of the Swift Boat assassins found them to be full of lies and half-truths, they wouldn't take their toll. The word on the street is that Kerry himself was ready to fire back the day the story broke, but that his campaign, believing the charges would blow over if they ignored them, counseled restraint.

    But most of all, activists Democrats are angry. As one who lived through an August like this, 16 years ago -- replete with rumors that were lies, which the Bush campaign claimed they had nothing to do with and later admitted they had planted -- I'm angry, too. I've been to this movie. I know how it works. Lies move numbers.

    Remember the one about Dukakis suffering from depression after he lost the governorship? (Dukakis not crazy, more at 11.) We lost six points over that lie, planted by George W.'s close friend and colleague in the 1988 campaign, Lee Atwater. Or how about the one about Kitty Dukakis burning a flag at an antiwar demonstration, another out-and-out lie, which the Bush campaign denied having anything to do with, except that it turned out to have come from a United States senator via the Republican National Committee? Lee Atwater later apologized to me for that, too, on his deathbed. Did I mention that Lee's wife is connected to the woman running the Swift Boat campaign?

    Never again, we said then.

    Not again, Democrats are saying now.

    What do you do, Democrats keep asking each other.

    The answer is not pretty, but everyone knows what it is.

    In 1988, in the days before the so-called independent groups, the candidate called the shots. To Michael Dukakis' credit, depending on how you look at it, he absolutely refused to get into the gutter, even to answer the charges. His theory, like that of some on the Kerry staff, was that answering such charges would only elevate them, give them more attention than they deserved. He thought the American people wanted to hear about issues, not watch a mud-wrestling match. In theory, he was right. In practice, the sad truth is that smears work -- that if you throw enough mud, some of it is bound to stick.

    You can't just answer the charges. You can't just say it ain't so.

    You have to fight fire with fire, mud with mud, dirt with dirt.

    The trouble with Democrats, traditionally, is that we're not mean enough. Dukakis wasn't. I wasn't. I don't particularly like destroying people. I got into politics because of issues, not anger. But too much is at stake to play by Dukakis rules, and lose again.

    That is the conclusion Democrats have reached. So watch out. Millions of dollars will be on the table. And there are plenty of choices for what to spend it on.

    I'm not promising pretty.

    What will it be?

    Will it be the three, or is it four or five, drunken driving arrests that Bush and Cheney, the two most powerful men in the world, managed to rack up? (Bush's Texas record has been sealed. Now why would that be? Who seals a perfect driving record?)

    After Vietnam, nothing is ancient history, and Cheney is still drinking. What their records suggest is not only a serious problem with alcoholism, which Bush but not Cheney has acknowledged, but also an even more serious problem of judgment. Could Dick Cheney get a license to drive a school bus with his record of drunken driving? (I can see the ad now.) A job at a nuclear power plant? Is any alcoholic ever really cured? So why put him in the most stressful job in the world, with a war going south, a thousand Americans already dead and control of weapons capable of destroying the world at his fingertips.

    It has been said that in the worst of times, Kissinger gave orders to the military not to obey Nixon if he ordered a first strike. What if Bush were to fall off the wagon? Then what? Has America really faced the fact that we have an alcoholic as our president?

    Or how about Dead Texans for Truth, highlighting those who served in Vietnam instead of the privileged draft-dodging president, and ended up as names on the wall instead of members of the Air National Guard. I'm sure there are some mothers out there who are still mourning their sons, and never made that connection. It wouldn't be so hard to find them.

    Or maybe it will be Texas National Guardsmen for Truth, who can explain exactly what George W. Bush was doing while John Kerry was putting his life on the line. So far, all W. can do is come up with dental records to prove that he met his obligations. Perhaps with money on the table, or investigators on their trail, we will learn just what kind of wild and crazy things the president was doing while Kerry was saving a man's life, facing enemy fire and serving his country.

    Or could it be George Bush's Former Female Friends for Truth. A forthcoming book by Kitty Kelly raises questions about whether the president has practiced what he preaches on the issue of abortion. As Larry Flynt discovered, a million dollars loosens lips. Are there others to be loosened?

    Are you shocked? Not fair? Who said anything about fair? Remember President Dukakis? He was very fair. Now he teaches at Northeastern University. John Kerry has been very fair in dealing with the Swift Boat charges. That's why so many of my Democrat friends have decided to stop talking to the campaign, and start putting money together independently.

    The arrogant little Republican boys who have been strutting around New York this week, claiming that they have this one won, would do well to take a step back. It could be a long and ugly road to November.

    To find out more about Susan Estrich, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at

    Originally Published on Wednesday September 1, 2004

    Anyone care to critique this mess? It's hard to believe anyone is this rabid and ... well, dumb.

    posted by Dennis at 12:32 AM | Comments (9)

    AUH2O '04

    George Will has an interesting perspective on the hip, new, expansive Republican Party. It's retro Goldwater chic.

    posted by Dennis at 06:45 PM | Comments (2)

    Sexual shame should have died with Roy Cohn!

    Here's more (via InstaPundit) from Gay Patriot:

    I agree wholeheartedly, and I'm reminded of a recent email exchange with a noted practitioner of "outing." Even though he didn't request anonymity, I decided to go out of my way to respect his privacy as a gentle way of arguing that invading people's privacy because you don't like what they think simply isn't nice.

    Here's my last email to him, which includes the previous threads:

    Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2004 19:34:45 -0700 (PDT)
    From: "Eric Scheie" Add to Address Book
    Subject: RE: Classical Values - correction


    O'Reilly? Fair and balanced? I "must" think that?

    I happen to think very poorly of O'Reilly (which you'd
    have seen if you took the time to read my blog). I
    didn't put words in your mouth, and I'd appreciate it
    if you didn't put words into mine.

    It borders on incivility (something I honestly try to

    Tell you what; send me the link showing that O'Reilly
    lied and I'll be glad to add the post. I'm really not
    sure what's upsetting you, as I already added an
    UPDATE mentioning your email.



    P.S. Looked at your blog, but I just don't care for
    outing people, because I think that attacks the
    underpinnings of sexual freedom.

    --- xxxxXXXXXX Comments Box

    > There is absolutely no proof whatsoever to
    > O'Reilly's assertion. The Chicago
    > Tribune even ran an article about how he was a fraud
    > on this episode of his
    > show.
    > It's ok tough, I am sure someone who refers to
    > O'Reilly's Talking Points as
    > an "article" must also think he is "fair an
    > balanced" and probably out of
    > reach for our campaign.
    > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    > Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx
    > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: Eric Scheie []
    > Sent: Monday, July 19, 2004 1:42 PM
    > To: Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx
    > Subject: Re: Classical Values - correction
    > The story speaks for itself; obviously I can't vouch
    > for the truth of what someone else says.
    > The URL calls it a story:
    > Perhaps it's a story about O'Reilly's commentary,
    > but
    > there's no effort to mislead. I'm not interested in
    > whether it's called a commentary or a story, but if
    > you have any information showing that what O'Reilly
    > says is untrue, I'll be glad to update the post.
    > --- Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx
    > wrote:
    > > the Fox News story you quote about Sosman is in
    > fact
    > > not a story at all, but
    > > a list of Bill's talking points which, on screen,
    > > are clearly marked
    > > "COMMENTARY"...
    > >
    > > Is this an error on your blog or a deliberate
    > effort
    > > to mislead?

    If you've gotten this far (I wouldn't blame you if you hadn't bothered....), you may have noticed that the emailer was indignant because he didn't like the "misleading" way I quoted Bill O'Reilly (a man I neither like nor respect). I visited his blog, and saw that he specializes in "outing" people. This puzzled me, because if he thinks it's a good thing to shame people's sexuality because of their political opinions, well, O'Reilly is doing his work for him. So why doesn't he like O'Reilly? Does he think that only he and not O'Reilly is allowed to out people? Did someone annoint the former to be the Outing Czar?

    In any event, I have always taken a very dim view of outing, because it's based on shaming another human being based on what he does in private with his genitals. From what I can see these days, the two primary groups of people who most believe in sexual shame are religious fundamentalists and gay activists. The former do it in the hope of "saving" people from homosexuality, while the latter do it primarily to induce conformity to their political opinions. Apparently, it is felt that what one does with one's genitalia creates a requirement that one conform to certain political goals; i.e. if one is homosexual, one is not allowed to hold opinions that differ from those of self-appointed "gay leaders." It's errant nonsense, and as tyrannical as it is profoundly illogical.

    Sexual freedom, to my way of thinking, is based not on conformity to group rules or identity politics, but precisely the opposite. You'd think homosexuals would be the first to understand that, but I guess there's always the tyranny of the oppressed. It's bad enough to be a victim of such tyranny; it's worse not to even know it.

    I think those who practice "outing" are behaving more like blackmailers and shakedown artists than as advocates of sexual freedom.

    Perhaps they don't like sexual freedom after all. If that is the case, then I think it is they who honor the true spirit Roy Cohn.

    (Not their victims.)

    posted by Eric at 12:39 PM | Comments (6)

    New outrage, but not much new to say....

    I was just asked why I am not posting more about the situation in Russia, and I replied that it isn't my style to post about things simply because others have.

    Not that I don't think the terrorist swine need to be killed, or that I am suprised when barbarians behave as barbarians, mind you. I think most readers know how I feel about terrorists and their tactics. Much as I would prefer killing only the responsible parties in retaliation, Going Roman may be the eventual Western response.

    Do I feel horror by the pictures of dead and wounded children? Of course I do. I am appalled and I seeing stuff like this makes me just as angry as anyone else:


    That's what terrorists do. They have been doing it for decades, and they'd do it to American children if given half a chance. As I have said many, many times, people who do stuff like this need to be killed. It's too bad the civilized world can't have a more united movement to do just that. Instead, there are people like Michael Moore who encourage and support the terrorists by comparing them to America's founders, while our former "allies" will look at the picture above and claim that Bush and the Americans are responsible. I know there is no way to persuade people like that -- least of all in this blog, so I don't know what I can say that would make much difference. I am sorry to see such suffering, though, and to see such indifference to human suffering.

    Certainly, the fact that I am not writing about it constantly -- when I have nothing new to say -- should not be interpreted as indifference.

    For what it's worth, I'm willing personally to go to war against these terrorists, but they're not yet taking disqualified 50 year olds.

    MORE: Here's a perfect example of the problem:

    Cleric supports targeting children
    By Rajeev Syal
    (Filed: 05/09/2004)

    An extremist Islamic cleric based in Britain said yesterday that he would support hostage-taking at British schools if carried out by terrorists with a just cause.

    Omar Bakri Mohammed, the spiritual leader of the extremist sect al-Muhajiroun, said that holding women and children hostage would be a reasonable course of action for a Muslim who has suffered under British rule.

    In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Mohammed said: "If an Iraqi Muslim carried out an attack like that in Britain, it would be justified because Britain has carried out acts of terrorism in Iraq.

    Occasionally, a guy like Pim Fortuyn will dare to ask what the hell "religious leaders" like Bakri Mohammed are doing in their country. As Fortuyn discovered, they're just gaining in strength.

    posted by Eric at 12:09 PM | Comments (12)


    Here's a news item which ought to make the Kerry forces tremble:

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - The United States and its allies have moved closer to capturing Osama bin Laden in the last two months, a top U.S. counterterrorism official said in a television interview broadcast Saturday.

    "If he has a watch, he should be looking at it because the clock is ticking. He will be caught," Joseph Cofer Black, the U.S. State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, told private Geo television network.

    Asked if concrete progress had been made during the last two months - when Pakistan has arrested dozens of terror suspects including some key al-Qaida operatives - Black said, "Yes, I would say this."

    Black, who briefed a group of Pakistani journalists after talks with officials here Friday, said he could not predict exactly when bin Laden and other top al-Qaida fugitives would be nabbed.

    If bin Laden is caught, the Democrats' only hope will be to scream "BUSH KNEW!" -- and claim that the Republicans had bin Laden stashed away somewhere all along (or else knew where he was and were waiting till the ideal moment).

    Well once again, I question the timing! And in advance, too! (Take that ye miserable Laphamites!)

    There ought to be some law preventing evil presidents from doing things (or allowing things to happen) that might make them look good in an election year.

    Bush has a lot of nerve even trying to capture bin Laden right now. It's dirty politics at its worst, because the capture of bin Laden would carry the clear implication that Bush is competent to fight the war on terror, when we all know he's a chickenhawk draftdodging partner of bin Laden. It's just another carefully orchestrated attack on Kerry's patriotism.

    Kerry should demand that Bush back off any and all bin Laden capture plans.

    And Bush should apologize, of course.

    UPDATE: Here's the inimitable Jeff Goldstein:

    Well then I question the timing of those who question the timing. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)
    (In politics, it's all about timing, and it's always questionable.)

    posted by Eric at 11:16 AM | Comments (1)

    Tad Devine: It's Not Fair!

    On FoxNews Sunday Tad Devine offered this sad defense when told that no challenger has ever recovered when behind so far at Labor Day: no president has ever had a convention this late before!

    Cheaters! Filthy cheaters!

    posted by Dennis at 09:30 AM

    Lying? Or Falsification?

    Calling Arnold Schwarzenegger a liar, Atrios links to this report that historians in Austria claim that Arnold could not have seen a Soviet tank in his native Styria:

    VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Austrian historians are ridiculing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for telling the Republican National Convention that he saw Soviet tanks in his homeland as a child and left a "Socialist" country when he moved away in 1968.

    Recalling that the Soviets once occupied part of Austria in the aftermath of World War II, Schwarzenegger told the convention on Tuesday: "I saw tanks in the streets. I saw communism with my own eyes."

    No way, historians say, challenging Schwarzenegger's knowledge of postwar history -- if not his enduring popularity among Austrians who admire him for rising from a penniless immigrant to the highest official in America's most populous state.

    "It's a fact -- as a child he could not have seen a Soviet tank in Styria," the southeastern province where Schwarzenegger was born and raised, historian Stefan Karner told the Vienna newspaper Kurier.

    That story might have been worth reporting by CNN had Arnold said he'd seen Soviet tanks in Styria. (But he didn't!)

    And what might have been worth reporting by Atrios (and others) was what even CNN reported:

    Margita Thompson, spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger, defended Schwarzenegger's speech.

    "Never in there did the governor reference that the tanks were where he grew up. It was a reference to visiting Soviet-occupied Austria," she said.

    NOTE: I wrote most of this post yesterday, but I decided to finish it (even though Tom Maguire has already covered much of the same ground), because I think that if it's fair to challenge unfair reporting in the Old Media, the same standard ought to apply to the New Media.

    It ought to be enough simply to show that Arnold never claimed there were Soviet tanks in Styria, because unless he said that he'd seen them there he can't logically be accused of saying he did say that. However considering the shrillness of the attacks against Arnold (who these days seems to be hated more than the religious right), I thought I should offer a little more.

    Anyway, here's the transcript of Schwarzenegger's remarks:

    When I was a boy, the Soviets occupied part of Austria.

    I saw their tanks in the streets. I saw Communism with my own eyes. I remember the fear we had when we had to cross into the Soviet sector.
    Growing up, we were told, "Don't look the soldiers in the eye. Just look straight ahead." It was a common belief that Soviet soldiers could take a man out of his own car and ship him back to the Soviet Union as slave labor.

    Considering standard operating procedures under Stalin, I'd say such a belief would have been more than prudent. The Soviet sector was huge area of Austria occupied by Stalin's troops. Graz, where Arnold grew up, is in Styria, bordered by the Soviet sector directly to the north (shown as a large green area on this map):


    (Map via this web site.)

    The small red area inside the large green Soviet sector is Austria's capital, Vienna. Although it was being run by all four powers, in order to get there from anywhere in Austria it would have been necessary to travel through the surrounding Soviet sector. Vienna was just 75 miles from Graz, and while I don't know the exact mileage from Graz to the Soviet zone, it appears to be around 30-40 miles. (That's about a half-hour drive -- to reach Stalin's troops.)

    Here's some historical background:

    In early July 1945, the Allies agreed the borders dividing the country into the occupations zones, which had not been set beforehand unlike those of Germany. Vienna's city center came under four power control, but the remainder as divided into specific occupation zones. The Allied Council held ultimate authority in Austria, each power was represented by its Zonal commanders. Each power had the power of veto on decisions of the council.

    Between 1946 and 1953 the Austrian government implemented more than 550 laws over the objection of the Soviet Union. One such measure was the Soviet seizure of German assets in July 1946 as war reparations. To protect the Austrian economy the Austrian government nationalized all German assets, but when the Soviet Union attempted to veto the nationalisation law it was overruled by the western allies. This did not prevent the Soviet Union from seizing assets in its occupation zone.

    The Soviet Union attempted to block Austria's participation in the Marshall Plan and the KPO pulled out of the government over the issue. However, 1946 Control Agreement enabled Austria to freely sign up to the plan and also join the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation.

    In 1955, the State Treaty was sign which restored Austria's sovereignty and ended the Allied occupation. The country effectively became a neutral, much like Switzerland. Negotiations began in January 1947 and in 1948 the Soviet Union dropped its support for Yugoslavian claims against Austrian territory. In 1953, after Stalin died, the Austrian government sought to break the stalemate by proposing Austrian neutrality between the western and eastern military blocs. The Indian ambassador to Moscow acted as an intermediary between Austria and Moscow and the Soviet Union continued to insist that the fate of Germany be decided first.

    In February 1955, the Soviet Union became willing to settle the Austrian question. Fours day or intense Austrian-Moscow negotiations produced a draft treaty based on Austrian neutrality. The Western Allies accepted, but grudgingly as they feared this would become a model for Germany and objected to a proposed four-power guarantee of Austrian neutrality, which they feared would allow Soviet intervention in Austria. This proposal was dropped under strong Western opposition.

    The final treaty, signed on 15th May 1955 forbade unification with Germany or restoration of the Habsburgs and provided safeguards for Austria's Croat and Slovene minorities. Austrian neutrality and a ban on foreign military bases in Austria were later incorporated into the Austrian constitution by the Law of 26th October 26 1955. 40,000 Soviet troops in Austria were withdrawn by late September and the small number of Western troops that remained were withdrawn by late October 1955.

    Having a huge portion of your country occupied by 40,000 troops loyal to Joseph Stalin and having to travel through that in order to reach the capital is a scenario most adults would find frightening, much less a child less than eight years old. Even the death of Stalin in 1953 did not effect their removal; Austria had to agree to "nonaligned" status, and thus had its national character shaped directly by Soviet hegemony. How many of Arnold's critics grew up with Stalin next door -- literally where his troops were a half an hour's drive away? (Or might some of them believe Stalin wasn't such a bad guy after all? Would they also belittle and doubt people who had to live next door to Hitler's troops?)

    The situation was serious enough that it was feared that Vienna would face (and Americans would have to defend against) a Berlin-style blockade:

    In 1945, Austria had been divided like Germany into four zones of occupation: a Soviet one in the East; an American zone west of it; a French zone in the Tyrol and Vorarlberg; and a British one in the southern provinces of Styria and Carinthia. Vienna like Berlin was divided into four allied sectors, but the center of the city was jointly administered by the four powers. Unlike in Berlin, where the western Allied had two airports in their sectors, their airfields near Vienna were in Soviet-controlled territory: Tulln-Langenlebarn for the Americans, and Schwechat - now Vienna International Airport - for the British and French. As an American study pointed out in the summer of 1948, in the case of a Soviet blockade "our forces would be trapped, unable to maintain themselves or to withdraw except by Soviet permission and on Soviet terms ... Our forces and their dependents would be at the mercy of the Soviet authorities and subject to whatever indignities Soviet policy might deem expedient."

    To their credit, the Americans were not content to wait till this happened. In 1948. they upgraded the stockpiles for their garrison and the population of Vienna, and surveyed possible sites for airfields in Vienna. A first proposal concerned extending a street in the 17th district, but this would have been suitable only for smaller planes like the DC-3/C-47 "Dakota," under visual flight rules (VFR). A better site existed in the British zone, on the Simmeringer Haide in the 11th district, near the Central Cemetery.

    Lieutenant General Geoffrey Keyes, the Commanding General, U.S. Forces Austria, expected to build there two 5,000 ft. runways, to handle a maximum amount of 1,500 tons daily to be flown into Vienna. Air Force officers warned against over-optimistic expectations, but Keyes pushed his plans forward. In August 1948, the Army Chief of Staff approved the provision of 1,500,000 square feet of "pierced steel planking" landing mats (for one 5,000 ft. and one shorter runway). It was pointed out "that the shipment of pierced plank to Vienna would be evaluated by the Russians as another indication of the firmness of our determination to maintain our position in Berlin and Vienna."

    There are more details in the piece, but the point is, Austrians had every reason to be afraid, and children must have been terrified. What Americans called "the Cold War" from across the Atlantic would not have seemed quite as cold, or quite as distant. I am glad to see that the Americans stood ready to help. (Fortunately, of course, there was no blockade.)

    Schwarzenegger would have been 8 when the Russians finally pulled out, and 9 when the Hungarian refugees poured into Austria after the Soviet repression of the Hungarian Revolution. Arnold says he helped feed the refugees. I'm sure that will be doubted and questioned too; after all, the Hungarian freedom fighters were called "hooligans" by the lovers of Soviet peace.

    Considering Stalin's status as one of the greatest mass murderers of all time, why the haste to attack someone clearly in a position to have been menaced by him as a child? I realize politics is a partisan game, but of all the things to attack Arnold Schwarzenegger for, why this? If they want to make him into a liar, why make him into a liar about Communism? The transparency of the smear is so obvious that I can't help but wonder if he's simply being hated for being anti-Communist.

    If he is, I can't think of a better reason to love the guy.

    posted by Eric at 11:20 PM | Comments (1)

    Walter Williams: the Appeasement Disease

    Walter Williams addresses the failings of appeasement, and unlike most (who cite Hitler as the ultimate example) Williams does not fail to address the outrages of communism:

    Quite interestingly, Western leftist appeasers exempted communist leaders from the harsh criticism directed toward Hitler, even though communist crimes made Hitler's slaughter of 21 million appear almost amateurish. According to Professor R.J. Rummel's research in "Death by Government," from 1917 until its collapse, the Soviet Union murdered or caused the death of 61 million people, mostly its own citizens. Since 1949, the communist Chinese has been responsible for the death of 35 million of its own citizens.

    To avoid strong and determined action in the war on terror is to take up the mantle and the ring of Neville Chamberlain's impotence.

    posted by Dennis at 08:55 PM | Comments (5)

    An indictment of Bush, or Barnes?

    We've all surely heard of Texas Democrat Ben Barnes, who is selling himself out for John Kerry, and taking many others along for the ride:

    Barnes has told friends that he intervened with Rose to help a number of other prominent, young Texans into the National Guard. In addition to Bush, who was accepted for pilot training in May 1968, other recruits to the Texas National Guard during the late 1960s included the son of former Texas senator Lloyd M. Bentsen (D) and members of the Dallas Cowboys football team.

    "I was collecting chits," Barnes told a friend, in explaining why he was willing to help Republicans as well as Democrats.

    Despite no memory of Bush family involvement and no evidence, Barnes just knows they were behind it. The only man who could clear things up is dead, but for what it's worth Lloyd Bentsen III calls it all hogwash.

    But in the end, who's the bad guy here? The young Bush or Barnes, a double-dipping political opportunist?

    In the Democratic Party faith confession means pointing fingers, and not only does it absolve one of private sins, but brings the wrath of god upon the rest.

    posted by Dennis at 08:36 PM | Comments (1)

    Hentoff: What's Kerry hiding?

    Nat Hentoff's welcome voice once again joins the blogosphere's chorus asking, 'What is John Kerry hiding?'

    Referencing an August 23rd Washington Post article by Michael Dobbs (buried in the print edition but available here), Hentoff writes:

    What I find strange is that Dobbs writes that "Kerry himself was the only surviving skipper on the river then who declined a request for an interview."

    Why did more than 250 Vietnam veterans testifying in O'Neill's "Unfit for Command" make themselves vulnerable to a libel suit by Kerry, which, if they lost, could do great damage to their careers and incomes? After all, in such a suit, both sides would have to testify under oath. Are they all liars for Bush?

    posted by Dennis at 08:10 PM

    The Leo-Con Conspiracy Knows No Bounds!

    Atrios asked me to post this for him.

    You doubted that this administration was targeting prominent Democrats for attack when Ted Kennedy was 'accidentally' placed on a list of terror suspects and delayed in boarding flights, but now the Bushies are using their cronies in the Oregon state police to extort money from Al Gore!

    posted by Dennis at 11:57 AM | Comments (1)

    More fowl language

    A new blogger called Gay Patriot has a simple question:

    Russia's 9/11
    First NYC/DC, then Madrid, now Russia faces its own "9/11". How many more will have to die until Europe, and ostriches here in the US wake up and realize we are in a World War? (Via Glenn Reynolds.)
    A good question. I'm tempted to ask how many of the Peace Ostriches actually served in the Peace Corps, but I guess it borders on the ad hominem to question anyone's peace service.....

    Great new blog!

    posted by Eric at 10:58 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (1)

    Blaming the Victim Again

    Leave it to that quasi-governmental body, the E.U. (which even my girl in Paris dislikes), to disrespect the dead, second-guess those who respond to crisis, and blame the victims:

    Putin has long tried to paint the Kremlin's conflict with Muslim separatists in Chechnya as part of the global war on terror. Some countries, particularly in Europe, have been critical of Russia's actions in region, where Russian forces have been accused of human rights abuses.

    The European Union directed veiled criticism at Russia's handling of the school standoff, saying it regretted the violence and bloodshed.

    "It's very difficult to judge from a distance whether the right decision was taken or not," Bot said, apparently referring to Russian forces' decision to storm the school. Russian officials said that happened only after the militants set off explosions and began shooting fleeing hostages.

    Bot said the 25-nation EU understood Russian authorities had few options, but added that the tragedy highlighted the need for Russia to end the long-standing conflict in Chechnya.

    But now let me point out the journalist's odd bias: 'Putin has long tried to paint the Kremlin's conflict with Muslim separatists in Chechnya as part of the global war on terror.'

    I'd say the 'Chechen Rebels' have done well enough themselves.

    In the end Ben Bot says that Russia needs to end the conflict, which presumably means 'cave-in.' And that would certainly teach terrorists -- I mean insurgents -- a valuable lesson: killing children gets results.

    When the United States responds to murderous terrorism, when Israel retaliates for massacres, when Russia resists Islamic terrorists (euphemistically called Chechen Rebels by the press), the uniform cry is 'human rights.'

    And when the cry goes out, 'murder!,' another returns:

    'What did you do to deserve it?'

    MORE: Here's another AP article in which the 'rebels' are given the benefit of the doubt, and it is suggested that the intervention of the Russian commandos was responsible for the death toll. Some choice excerpts:

    Medical officials said more than 542 people including 336 children were hospitalized after the eruption of violence that ended the 62-hour hostage drama on Friday. The hostage-takers - who had been demanding independence for nearby Chechnya - held the more than 1,000 hostages in the school's sweltering gymnasium, refusing to let in food or water.

    The eruption of violence is presumably the storming of the school. This is the set-up.

    Russian authorities said the bloody end to the standoff came after explosions apparently set off by the militants - possibly by accident - as emergency workers were entering the school to collect the bodies of slain hostages.

    The freedom fighters from Chechnya probably didn't mean to set off the explosions. So had the commandos not reacted so violently to the mistake, there may have been fewer deaths.

    An Arab presence among the attackers would boost Putin's argument that the Russian campaign in neighboring Chechnya, where mostly Muslim separatists have been fighting Russian forces in a brutal war for most of the past decade, is part of the war on international terrorism - seen by Putin's critics as an attempt to deflect human rights criticism.

    Like not giving radical militant muslims the right to kill your children in peace?

    Two major hostage-taking raids by Chechen rebels outside the war-torn region in the past decade provoked Russian rescue operations that led to many deaths. The seizure of a Moscow theater in 2002 ended after a knockout gas was pumped into the building, debilitating the captors but causing almost all of the 129 hostage deaths.

    And yet 800 hostages survived.

    The only good, and the one small consolation for those affected, out of this horrendous event is a renewed sense around the world that we must unite against militant islamic terrorism. Even France and Germany agree.

    The Dutch? They can start criticizing Russia and the rest of the world when they stop celebrating Sinterklass by parading Santa's African slave (Zwarte Piet) through the streets.

    AND THEN SOME: Glenn Reynolds links to David Kaspar's tongue-in-cheek guide to dealing with the 'freedom fighters.' A must-read.

    posted by Dennis at 01:53 AM

    Something Nice For A Change

    Too much stupidity can make you irritable. Heres a proper antidote.

    In July and August, a team from MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) deployed its sixth field "fab lab," based on the campus of the Takoradi Technical Institute in the sister cities of Sekondi and Takoradi in Ghana's southwest corner....
    With about $20,000 worth of equipment, a fab lab is a hands-on laboratory that provides the technology to let people build just about anything from inexpensive and readily available materials. The goal of the fab lab is to help people use advanced information technologies to develop and produce solutions to local problems.
    The idea for the fab labs arose from CBA research on the ultimate "personal fabricator" -- a machine that can make any machine, including itself -- supported by a "wildly oversubscribed" course at MIT called "How to Make (Almost) Anything,"....
    Each fab lab comes equipped with computer-controlled fabrication tools, open-source computer-aided design and manufacturing software and associated electronic components and test equipment. Capabilities include a laser cutter for 2-D and 3-D structures, a sign cutter for plotting interconnects and electromagnetics, a 3-D precision milling machine for applications such as making surface-mount circuit boards and programming tools for low-cost, high-speed embedded microcontrollers.
    "We are producing key chains by the pocketful," Sun wrote. "At first blush this might not sound profound; however, most students show up in our lab with zero to very little computer skills. They so desperately want fluorescent pink key chains that they eagerly spend hours in the process."
    Besides the lack of computer skills and limited Internet connectivity, the Ghana fab lab highlights other practical challenges in bringing high-tech to developing areas. For example, with humidity near 100 percent and no air conditioning, the cardboard, paper and card stock used to prototype objects turn soggy. And in a country with a 2003 per capita income of $320, even the cheapest of materials can be hard to come by...

    I am reminded of the motorheads of my youth. Kids in garages, building hot-rods. At the end of the day, you want more than pixels.

    More details available here.

    Hat tip: CRN

    posted by Justin at 10:01 PM

    Yeah, Whatever...


    Abridged Wisdom Alert.

    For Wisdom in Bulk, click HERE.

    Excerpted from "L'Chaim and Its Limits: Why Not Immortality?" by Leon Kass

    ....The core question is this: Is it really true that longer life for individuals is an unqualified good?
    …. How much more life do we want, assuming it to be healthy and vigorous? Assuming that it were up to us to set the human life span, where would or should we set the limit and why?
    The simple answer is that no limit should be set. Life is good, and death is bad….most public advocates of conquering aging deny any such greediness. They hope not for immortality, but for something reasonable—just a few more years.
    How many years are reasonably few? Let us start with ten. Which of us would find unreasonable or unwelcome the addition of ten healthy and vigorous years to his or her life, years like those between ages thirty and forty? We could learn more, earn more, see more, do more.
    Maybe we should ask for five years on top of that? Or ten? Why not fifteen, or twenty, or more?
    If we can’t immediately land on the reasonable number of added years, perhaps we can locate the principle. What is the principle of reasonableness? Time needed for our plans and projects yet to be completed? Some multiple of the age of a generation, say, that we might live to see great–grandchildren fully grown? Some notion—traditional, natural, revealed—of the proper life span for a being such as man? We have no answer to this question….
    ....lacking a standard of reasonableness, we fall back on our wants and desires….the simple answer is the best: we want to live and live, and not to wither and not to die. For most of us…. the desire to prolong the life span (even modestly) must be seen as expressing a desire never to grow old and die….
    Some, of course, eschew any desire for longer life…. For them, the ideal life span would be our natural (once thought three–, now known to be) fourscore and ten, or if by reason of strength, fivescore….
    ....Who would not want to avoid senility, crippling arthritis, the need for hearing aids and dentures, and the degrading dependencies of old age? But, in the absence of these degenerations, would we remain content to spurn longer life? Would we not become even more disinclined to exit?….
    Montaigne saw it clearly:

    I notice that in proportion as I sink into sickness, I naturally enter into a certain disdain for life. I find that I have much more trouble digesting this resolution when I am in health than when I have a fever. Inasmuch as I no longer cling so hard to the good things of life when I begin to lose the use and pleasure of them, I come to view death with much less frightened eyes....

    …. Perhaps mortality is not simply an evil, perhaps it is even a blessing—not only for the welfare of the community, but even for us as individuals. How could this be?
    I wish to make the case for the virtues of mortality. Against my own strong love of life, and against my even stronger wish that no more of my loved ones should die, I aspire to speak truth to my desires by showing that the finitude of human life is a blessing for every human individual, whether he knows it or not.

    He can "speak truth to his desires" till the cows come home, for all of me. Just stop speaking for all the rest of us.

    posted by Justin at 07:30 PM

    Republican wretched refuse!

    Rarely I have never seen the left so obsessed with the importance of military service! It's refreshing, really, because so often one associates their sort of politics with an anti-military mindset.

    Let's start with a quote from Kerry:

    We all saw the anger and distortion of the Republican Convention. For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as Commander-in-chief. We’ll, here’s my answer. I’m not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into Iraq.
    I'm wondering, just who are these questioners of commitment who "refused" to serve? Surely he doesn't mean the Swift Boat veterans? I mean, he might not like them, but it's a bit tough to argue they refused to serve.

    This web site gives a pretty good idea of what's on Kerry's mind, and I for one was shocked by some of the details about those who had refused:

    Bush: no combat, got dad's help
    Cheney: no military service ever
    Rumsfeld: avoided Korea; no combat
    Rove: no military service ever
    FoxNews' Bill O'Reilly: avoided Vietnam; no service ever
    FoxNews' Sean Hannity: avoided Desert Storm; no service ever
    Joe Scarborough: avoided Desert Storm; no service ever
    Rush Limbaugh: avoided Vietnam; no military service
    Tom DeLay: avoided Vietnam; "all spots taken by blacks, hispanics"
    Trent Lott: avoided Vietnam; no military service ever (Via Atrios.)
    Now, whether or not anyone served in the military is not my business. Unless, I suppose, they put it at issue. But I don't think the military background (or lack thereof) of those who question Kerry's service or fitness to command is logically any more relevant to their right to criticize Kerry than it would be if they praised him. Discussion of someone else's military service -- particularly a veteran who wants to command the entire military -- doesn't put one's own service at issue, any more than questioning the war itself. The chickenhawk argument is miserable failure, as many have pointed out, because it presupposes such a connection, and, more ominously, is based on a very misguided, Orwellian assumption that only those who have served in the military should have the right to support the country's wars. Might as well say that only cops should have the right to opinions on law enforcement!

    I don't think it's my job to get into defending anybody, but the Desert Storm angle particularly intrigues me. Sean Hannity and Joe Scarborough are accused of "avoiding" Desert Storm, although there was no draft, and military service was a privilege, not a right. How did they avoid service? The same way I "avoided" becoming an astronaut?

    For that matter, didn't they also avoid service in Bosnia and Haiti?

    Under the circumstances, I think it's fair to ask an analogous question: How many of the angry peacehawks actually served in the Peace Corps? I'd like to know. I think it's only fair that if you demand that peace be waged, you should have waged it yourself!

    But don't ask me! I was never qualified for military service. Does that make me a refusenik?

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that Bush's lead is now in the double digits.

    Yes, but how many of those polled actually served in the military?

    That's what counts. If they didn't serve, they have no moral right to vote for Bush.

    These polls are dishonest. Unless they are restricted only to those who can show they've actually served (or are presently serving) in the military, I don't think anyone should pay attention to them.

    Besides, I think the shift in numbers may represent a backlash against the demonstrators. And a fake backlash; I'm beginning to see clear evidence that many of those demonstrators were a bunch of agents provocateur for Bush!

    Surely, Bush knew!

    posted by Eric at 03:29 PM | Comments (3)

    Later comes the fallout.....

    And now, for something more frightening than Michael Moore, or George Soros (or Dennis Hastert's remarks about the latter)....

    Reza Bayegan, described as "a commentator on Iranian politics who was born in Iran and currently works for the British Council in Paris" says Iran is just about ready to launch the Big One:

    The Islamic Republic already has stockpiles of chemical weapons and has told the EU three (Britain, Germany and France) 'that it could possess nuclear weapons within three years. The real time limit the mullahs need to obtain a nuclear bomb however is less than 11 months.

    The danger we face from the regime in Tehran acquiring the nuclear bomb cannot be exaggerated. Our democratic values and the very survival of Western civilization are at stake. In particular such an eventuality would be the worst nightmare scenario for the state of Israel and an unprecedented blow to peace and liberty throughout the world.

    Since September 11, we have seen how terrorists are able to strike anywhere they choose and hijack Western democratic processes by intimidating the public as they did during the recent Spanish election. With a nuclear bomb at their disposal they can do this without risking their own lives and by pushing -- or just threatening to push -- a button.

    With or without WMDs, the danger the clerical regime poses is far greater than the other members of the 'axis of evil' i.e. Iraq during Saddam Hussein and North Korea. This danger is rooted in a ruthless anti-Western ideology that manipulates the religious belief of the masses and justifies any means for reaching its deadly objectives. If the mullahs get their hands on a nuclear bomb we might as well assume that Hamas and other terrorist organizations have access to it also.

    On August 15 2004, the military chief of the Islamic Republic declared that the entire Zionist territory 'is within the range of Iran's new advanced ballistic missiles'. The mullahs are counting the days until they can arm these missiles with nuclear or biological warheads. Experts believe that although due to their inherent inaccuracy the Iranian Shahb-3 and the planned for Shahab-4 missiles make no military sense if armed with conventional warheads, they can become immensely effective as terror weapons against civilian targets.

    In other words, the dictators in Tehran gaining weapons of mass destruction would impose the same or worse state of terror on the rest of the world as they have imposed on the Iranian people for the last quarter of a century.

    Those inclined to dismiss the thoughts of an Iranian exile might also read a rather unsettling piece by George F. Will, in which he recites some very grim data:
  • A dirty bomb — conventional explosives dispersing radioactive materials that are widely used in industry and medicine — exploded in midtown Manhattan could make much of the island uninhabitable for years. As many as one in every 100 Manhattanites might develop cancer. Perhaps even more people would die in the panic than would be killed by radiation. But even dirty bombs are relative pinpricks.
  • In 1993, U.S. officials used ordinary bolt cutters to snip off the padlock that was the only security at an abandoned Soviet-era facility containing enough HEU for 20 nuclear weapons.
  • In 2002, enough fissile material for three weapons was recovered from a laboratory in a Belgrade suburb. Often an underpaid guard and a chain-link fence are the only security at the more than 130 nuclear reactors and other facilities using HEU in 40 countries.
  • Allison says that at least four times between 1992 and 1999 weapons-useable materials were stolen from Russian research institutes but recovered. How many thefts have not been reported? The U.S. Cold War arsenal included Special Atomic Demolition Munitions that could be carried in a backpack. The Soviet arsenal often mimicked America's. Russia denies that "suitcase" nuclear weapons exist, so it denies reports that at least 80 are missing. Soviet military forces deployed 22,000 tactical nuclear warheads — without individual identification numbers. Who thinks all have been accounted for? Russia probably has 2 million pounds of weapons-useable material — enough for 80,000 weapons.
  • In December 1994, Czech police seized more than eight pounds of HEU in a parked car on a side street. A senior al Qaeda aide's proclaimed goal of killing 4 million Americans would require 1,400 9/11s, or one 10-kiloton nuclear explosion — from a softball-sized lump of fissionable material — in four large American cities.
  • There's much more, and most of it comes from Graham Allison's Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe -- which Will is reviewing.

    My fear is not an if fear but a when fear, because I don't think it's possible in the long run to stop the nuking of Manhattan. It may not be this year, but its chances of happening within the next ten years strike me as about as likely as the chance of another earthquake in California.

    Unpredictably inevitable.

    I experienced many earthquakes (the October 17, 1989 quake was especially unforgettable). There's something about not being able to take for granted the ground under your feet which takes some getting used to.

    We all take our freedom for granted. September 11 reminded me that we shouldn't, because there are lots of people with lots of reasons to destroy it. What might happen to American freedom after the Big One could be more destructive than the bomb. My ultimate fear is that the non-nuclear fallout will be worse than the real thing.

    posted by Eric at 11:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (1)

    Incompetent, egotistical, Lily-livered, fudge-eating moron!

    Today's Friday Online Tests are an example of why I don't especially enjoy supplyng these tests every week without fail; these are the dumbest tests I could find -- which is another way of saying they're the only tests I could find!

    And seriously, they are all pretty bad. (Consider yourselves warned.)

    According to the first test, I am "Lily" from a show called "Grounded for Life." I have never heard of the show or Lily, and the results make me sorry I ever did. I don't watch much television, so I apologize to the better Grounded fans I may have offended.

    You're Lily! You're wear lots of purple clothes,
    it's probably your favourite color. You're the
    oldest and the most spoiled. It wouldn't hurt
    if you stopped yelling. But I'm sure that
    you're kind to your .

    Which character from Grounded for Life are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    To be fair to the show and its producers (and just so I know what I'm getting into as "Lily") here's a description:

    Sean Finnerty and his lovely wife, Claudia, became parents right out of high school. Now 32, they struggle to keep their lives (and three children) under control. Claudia is a hostess at a swank restaurant, and Sean works in the subway tunnels. Working 9 to 5 and having three kids to maintain isn't an easy task, but they're doing the best that they can. Oldest daughter Lily, 14, is more than a handful. At that age where she thinks the world revolves around her, Lily devours the majority of the Finnerty's free time. Her little brother, Jimmy, is bookish to say the least, and stays out of trouble -- for the most part. And then there's the baby of the family, Henry, who's just a little off. Hyperactive and mischievous, Henry is usually secondary when it comes to problematic children.

    Helping Sean and Claudia deal with the brood is Sean's father, Walt, a crotchety man whose idea of a learning experience is teaching the boys how to dig a hole. If he hadn't been a father, he would have been a drill sergeant. Also helping to lighten the load is Sean's younger brother, Eddie, an unemployed stoner who spends his time hanging out with friends and "unknowingly" selling beepers to drug dealers.

    Over its first season the show evolved a unique take on standard sitcom structure. Each episode begins with a family crisis "explained" in flashbacks from various character's points of view, often overlapping, sometimes contradicting each other as we learn to distinguish what the narrators THINK happened from what we eventually learn REALLY happened. Since the Finnertys are at least nominally practicing Catholics, this usually involves issues of blame, responsibility, and guilt, guilt, guilt.

    I feel guilty already -- even though I've never watched the show! But don't blame me! I accept no responsibility! I know less about Lily than does Lily herself!


    Next comes junk food -- another thing I try to avoid. I am a brownie!

    (How deeply disturbing....)

    Brownie- Your like a brownie you melt on people and
    people stick to you your kind and affectionate.
    Your a good listener whether you know it or not
    and people look up to you no matter how they
    act everybody has a place for you in their

    JUNK FOOD QUIZ! What junk best decribes you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Awwww..... No way to "fudge" on these results, is there?

    Frankly, I much prefer the tests which call me a vampire or a psychopathic killer. And at the rate I'm going, today's tests will turn me into one or the other!


    As if I wanted to know, the next test tells me whther a "nice guy, badass, punk, or a goth boy" would "go" for me.

    "Kyle" would:

    You got Kyle. Stats: Bloodtype AB, height 6',
    hobby is swimming (SPEEDO) and racing around in
    his faithful moosekiller, he hates to sit
    around, his favoirite subject in school is
    lunch and his least favoirite are all the rest.

    would a nice guy, badass, punk, or a goth boy go for you 5 (Three new pics)
    brought to you by Quizilla

    I'm too bored to want to know which category "Kyle" fits. I guess Lily can have him -- provided he visits her "pad."


    SCIENTIFIC NOTE: "Kyle" has type AB blood. That would make him what vampires call a "universal receiver."


    A fitting end for this series of moronic tests is a test promising to rate me as a moron!

    I'm great. Like gold.
    Which Office Moron Are You?
    Rum and Monkey: jamming your photocopier one tray at a time.

    How true! Anyone who would go the the trouble of taking a test like that must be an incompetent egotist.

    posted by Eric at 10:01 AM

    Smearing Shmearing!

    A lot of people think a lot of Eugene Volokh, and people I know personally have told me that he's brilliant and one of the webs true intellectual gems, so I can only scratch my head on this one. In the sequel to his censure of Dennis Hastert's on-air question over the source of George Soros's funding ('drug groups?'), he cites similar statements made by Hastert on a recent radio show, then challenges those who still disagree him:

    Those who are tempted to come to Hastert's defense by saying that he was just giving a hypothetical example -- "I'm not saying he is getting this money, I'm just saying we can't know" -- should ask themselves what they'd think about (the purely hypothetical case of) some Democratic politician's saying "I don't know where Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are getting their money, if it comes from overseas or from neo-Nazis."

    Those like me? But I'm not coming to the defense of Dennis Hastert. I'm coming to the defense of speech, and I think you're thundering loud over nothing. I've already responded both to your misplaced outrage and to that bit of trickery at the end, and that Hastert says is 'it could be drug money' is still no indictment. It wouldn't shock me in the least to hear a leftist accuse anyone of Nazi ties or sympathies.

    That's their bread and butter.

    posted by Dennis at 09:59 AM | Comments (1)

    Moore loves his victims!

    The big-hearted Michael Moore claims that he "loves" President Bush's twin daughters, and, kind man he is, he doesn't even begrudge their celebrating with their dad. Still, he reminds them how lucky they are not to share the plight of their father's victims:

    ....I loved the Bush daughters: They were funny, sassy and free spirits. Back in 1999, they told their father in no uncertain terms that they did not want him to run for president. They wanted their dad at home, they wanted their privacy, and they wanted to go to college in peace. He chose to ignore their pleas — and I guess Tuesday night was their way of saying, "Thanks, Dad."

    And thank him they should. He and Laura have obviously done a good job raising two bright, independent women. He made their privacy a top priority and did what he could to protect them. They clearly love their parents and, when you see that happen, you know the Bushes did something right in their home. For that, they should be commended.

    Other fathers and mothers who loved their daughters and sons across America can no longer celebrate with them. That's because their children are dead on the streets and roads of Iraq, sent there by Mr. Bush to "defend" America.

    That condescending sentiment above expresses perfectly Moore's mentality -- and that of many of the left. The word "defend" is in quotes, because the real defenders are those who are killing the "children" who are "dead on the streets and roads of Iraq." The problem is that this sets up a contradiction, for if only the Iraqis are entitled to "defend" then that makes the daughters and sons of Americas the attackers! Thus, Moore has to paint them as children, as victims of the evil Bush. Innocents who know not what they do.

    Just like Bush's poor daughters! They couldn't stop their madman of a father any more than his victims in the military.

    Or the innocent beheaders in Iraq.

    Moore's conclusion? Bush would have apologized to America and the world had he only looked into his daughters' eyes:

    If he takes a moment to look into his daughters' eyes tonight, he will know the answer and give the greatest speech of his life.
    Jenna and Barbara as antiwar activists?

    I guess a malignant narcissist can dream.

    posted by Eric at 09:07 AM

    "Classics Farm"

    The following is an excerpt from "L'Chaim and Its Limits: Why Not Immortality?" by Leon Kass.

    It is severely abridged wisdom. For the full wisdom, go here.

    ....Jewish commentators....nearly always come down strongly in favor of medical progress and on the side of life….They treat the cure of disease, the prevention of death, and the prolongation of life as near–absolute values, trumping most if not all other moral objections…. the Jewish commentators, even if they acknowledge difficulties, ultimately wind up saying that life and health are good, and that therefore whatever serves more of each and both is better.
    …. when I gave testimony on the ethics of human cloning before the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, I was surprised to discover that the two experts who had been invited to testify on the Jewish point of view were not especially troubled by the prospect.
    The Orthodox rabbi, invoking the goodness of life and the injunction to be fruitful and multiply, held that cloning of the husband or the wife to provide a child for an infertile couple was utterly unobjectionable according to Jewish law.
    The Conservative rabbi, while acknowledging certain worries, concluded: “If cloning human beings is intended to advance medical research or cure infertility, it has a proper place in God’s scheme of things, as understood in the Jewish tradition.”
    Let someone else worry about Brave–New–Worldly turning procreation into manufacture or the meaning of replacing heterosexual procreation by asexual propagation. Prospective cures for diseases and children for infertile couples suffice to legitimate human cloning—and, by extension, will legitimate farming human embryos for spare body parts or even creating babies in bottles when that becomes feasible.
    ....At a meeting in March 2000 on “Extended Life, Eternal Life,” scientists and theologians were invited to discuss the desirability of increasing the maximum human life span and, more radically, of treating death itself as a disease to be conquered. The major Jewish speaker, a professor at a leading rabbinical seminary, embraced the project… asserting that, for Jews, God is Life, rather than Love, he used this principle to justify any and all life–preserving and life–extending technologies….When I pressed him in discussion to see if he had any objections to the biomedical pursuit of immortality, he responded that Judaism would only welcome such a project.
    I am prepared to accept the view that traditional Jewish sources may be silent on these matters, given that the halakhah could know nothing about test–tube babies, cloning, or the campaign to conquer aging. But, in my opinion, such unqualified endorsement of medical progress and the unlimited pursuit of longevity cannot be the counsel of wisdom, and, therefore, should not be the counsel of Jewish wisdom.

    Damn me, but that was modest! Bravo, sir! He is prepared to accept that the ancient wisdom of his people, articulated by learned men who have made it their life's work, is ignorant and incomplete. It would seem that, regarding the ancient wisdom, some wisdom is more equal than others.

    "The halakhah could know nothing about test-tube babies, cloning, or the campaign to conquer aging..."

    Therefore, we are justified in looking elsewhere for more palatable wisdom.

    Homer, for instance.

    It goes without saying that there is no virtue in the death of a child or a young adult, or the untimely or premature death of anyone....I do not mean to imply that there is virtue in the particular event of death for question concerns the fact of our finitude.... the fact that a full life for a human being has a biological, built–in limit, one that has evolved as part of our nature. Does this fact also have value? Is our finitude good for us—as individuals?....
    To praise mortality must seem to be madness....

    Yes. It does.

    ....For it still stands as it did when Homer made Glaukos say to Diomedes:

    As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity. The wind scatters the leaves to the ground, but the live timber burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning. So one generation of man will grow while another dies.

    Just for today, Homer is much more on point.


    And yet it also still stands, as this very insight of Homer’s itself reveals, that human beings are in another respect unlike the leaves; that the eternal renewal of human beings embraces also the eternally human possibility of learning and self–awareness; that we, too, here and now may participate with Homer, with Plato, with the Bible, yes with Descartes and Bacon, in catching at least some glimpse of the enduring truths about nature, God, and human affairs.... Children and their education, not growth hormone and perpetual organ replacement, are life’s—and wisdom’s—answer to mortality.

    It must be a fine, fine thing to have the entire Western Canon in your corner.

    Confronted with the growing moral challenges posed by biomedical technology, let us resist the siren song of the conquest of aging and death. Let us cleave to our ancient wisdom and lift our voices and properly toast L’Chaim, to life beyond our own, to the life of our grandchildren and their grandchildren. May they, God willing, know health and long life, but especially so that they may also know the pursuit of truth and righteousness and holiness....

    By all means, let us cleave to our ancient wisdom. When it agrees with us, eh?

    posted by Justin at 06:21 PM

    He Left Out The Best Part

    Communists for Kerry have dispelled the puny flea-bites of the crimethink death-merchant counter-revolutionaries known as Swiftboat Veterans.

    Behold their triumphant righteous fisting....

    posted by Justin at 06:01 PM | Comments (2)

    The enema of my enemy?

    Not all Communists are bad people!

    Check these pictures out.

    Very, very funny!

    And while you're at it, read about America's love affair with elitist defecation.

    (Via Comrade Justin.)

    MORE: The more I think this over, the more it appears that the comrades over at ComradesforKerry.Com have just as much right to lay claim to being the shining stars of Communism as anyone. That is because it is now the official line that true Communism has never existed, and that the Soviet and Chinese varieties were simply aberrations. (A fact grudgingly acknowledged even by the capitalist Wall Street Journal.) In any event, Communist or not, those regimes fell. So I'm with CommunistsforKerry as the true heirs of Marxist thought! Raise high the banner!

    Hey, there's a power vacuum on the so-called "left," and the fact remains that someone has to lead the great proletarian masses! I realize some readers may not like my choice, but who ever said that proletarian dictatorship was a democracy?

    MORE: Communism: "There's nothing LEFT of it. We'll get it RIGHT this time."

    posted by Eric at 04:10 PM | TrackBacks (1)

    Bugs that leak, and leaks that bug....

    Everybody loves to question the timing. But how about questioning the timing of the questioning of the timing?

    Last year, Philadelphia's Mayor John Street "discovered" that the evil Bush administration had planted a Watergate-style bug in his office. Street had been behind in a close race, but the hoopla surrounding the bug -- replete with charges of Watergatism and racism -- turned what would in older days have been a defeat into victory.

    Terry McAuliffe (who appeared out of nowhere right after the bug was "found") was a major part of the Bush-bash festivities:

    "Serious questions arise when the Democratic mayor of the fifth-largest city in the country discovers, just weeks before a close election, that senior Bush administration officials approved a plan to bug his office," Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement.
    I posted about this last year, and now it's hit the papers again. (Over the past year, the spin degenerated from an exciting tale of a right-wing, Watergate style attack on the mayor into a much more sobering account of indictments for bribery and corruption.)

    In the latest twist, federal investigators are asking questions about something I'd like to know: how'd the word about the bug get to Philadelphia's Street? Who leaked?

    Might the Street adminstration have been given an inside tip from a Justice Department "mole"?

    In the old days, bugs were used to stop leaks. Now, it seems to be the other way around. And, of course, in the old days, corruption scandals meant defeat; now they mean victory!

    I do think it's a bit strange that when the bug was detected a year ago, bug sweeping was described as "routine." But now that the investigation has focused on the leak, the former officials are saying that there had only been one sweep in the previous five years:

    After the news of the bug broke, former Police Commissioner John F. Timoney and other former top commanders said that City Hall sweeps were far from routine.

    A former head of Internal Affairs, the division with expertise on surveillance, recalled only one before Oct. 7 in the previous five years.

    Johnson countered by saying that he had been in charge of mayoral security for the last three mayors and had conducted sweeps without telling his superiors, including Timoney.

    He also said others in the department had not learned of all sweeps because he had used outside personnel. He suggested that he had bartered with other law enforcement agencies for the free use of their experts.

    Johnson said he had avoided using Philadelphia police for fear that they would leak word of the searches to the media. He did not say why he had nonetheless chosen to use Philadelphia police for the Oct. 7 sweep.

    His comments baffled and annoyed some of Johnson's colleagues, who said they found them implausible and insulting to local police.

    If they'd brought in "outsiders" to do the "routine" bug sweeps, then surely they can now be subpoenaed as witnesses. (Forgive my sarcasm.) But why would they suddenly switch from "outsiders" to the Philadelphia police, right before the close election? And why would the local police have described the search as "routine" when they'd performed only one in the past five years?

    It now appears that Mayor Street's aide George Burrell ordered the sweep because he "had a feeling."

    One person familiar with Johnson's account said that the police commissioner recalled that Burrell told him, "I have a feeling. I just have a feeling," that the office needed to be checked.
    Predictably, Commissioner Johnson won't discuss any feelings now -- "or to discuss any aspect of the sweep, including his earlier public statements."

    I have a feeling too!

    This whole thing reeks.

    It almost makes New Jersey Governor McGreevey look clean by comparison....

    UPDATE: When I said that bug sweeping had originally been described as "routine," I had not seen this contemporaneous account:

    7 a.m

    The story of Oct. 7 begins at the Roundhouse, the police headquarters building, where Mayor Street attended a meeting with Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson on Operation Safe Streets.

    The commissioner knew something that the mayor did not. Johnson knew that, nine blocks away, three officers from the Police Impac Unit - a division of the Internal Affairs Bureau - were in Street's second-floor office in City Hall, conducting a security sweep.

    The sweep, which occurs every three or four months and can take two to three hours, involves searching desk drawers, telephones and ceiling tiles, starting in one location and working around the room.

    Johnson's phone rang at 7:30 a.m. The officers in Street's office had found something - a sophisticated electronic listening device.

    Sooner than you can say "WATERGATE", national figures, we are told, were calling with gratuitous offers of damage control:
    Soon, a campaign strategist said, the message had been distilled into a set of talking points for national Democrats who were calling to offer support, including Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe, strategist James Carville and Donna Brazile, who ran Vice President Al Gore's campaign in 2000.

    The key points: the timing of the bug seemed suspicious; Street had 25 years of integrity in public service, and the U.S. Department of Justice should not insert itself in a competitive race with "national implications" four weeks before Election Day.

    The pols were told to stay away from comments like "the mayor has done nothing wrong," which seemed too defensive.

    And in today's news I see that almost a year later, everyone is pointing the finger at the Philadelphia Police Department's chief legal counsel, one Karen Simmons. She was certainly there when the bug was "found" a year ago:
    When labor leader and top Street supporter John Dougherty returned a call from a reporter in mid-afternoon, he too pulled no punches. He called the timing suspicious.

    "You have an African-American Democratic mayor who's starting to pull ahead in the polls...Suddenly there are newly placed listening devices in the mayor's office."

    3:30 p.m.

    Still, there was more emotion than news. Commissioner John- son returned to City Hall to meet with Street. In the mayor's conference room, he and the Police Department's chief legal counsel, Karen Simmons briefed the mayor; mayoral adviser George Burrell; Shawn Fordham, Street's campaign manager; and Dan Fee, the campaign's senior communications adviser.

    But yesterday, Simmons' was described as having provided a "tip" to her boss (Chief Johnson), "sparking the sweep that uncovered the FBI listening device last fall." Her attorney of course says she knew nothing, ever, about anything.
    Simmons' attorney, Patrick J. Egan, said yesterday that his client had not violated any law.

    "She categorically denies having any specific knowledge that there was a bug in the mayor's office," Egan said. "She never told anyone she knew there was a bug in the office."

    Remember, a year ago this was described as a routine sweep, which occurred every three to four months. Falsely describing the sweep as "routine" served a dual purpose; not only did it conceal the existence of an inside tip (further concealed by dramatic public displays of surprise and shock), but it allowed the bug to be spun as "newly planted" -- thus evoking vivid memories of Watergate lore:
    When labor leader and top Street supporter John Dougherty returned a call from a reporter in mid-afternoon, he too pulled no punches. He called the timing suspicious.

    "You have an African-American Democratic mayor who's starting to pull ahead in the polls...Suddenly there are newly placed listening devices in the mayor's office."

    There's a lot of finger pointing at Karen Simmons right now. Hope she's not an agreed-upon fall guy person.

    posted by Eric at 11:44 AM

    Anyone can play guitar

    I got an instant message last night from someone who posts on a message board I used to be involved with. He was very excited about his new song ('i'm writing a protest song heh') and asked me to critique his lyrics.

    I asked what he was protesting, and though I didn't get a direct response I did end up with a screen full of empty images and bad rhymes.

    All that stands out now is the opening, 'This freedom isn't worth my fragile life,' or some such rot. There were nonsensical lines about avoiding 'Islamic lights' (written presumably to rhyme with 'rights' and for no meaningful purpose) and the pretense of speaking as one who had experienced war.

    After I'd asked whether he'd ever been to war, and he responded that he never had and never would! (emphasis his), I told him what I thought: 'I think it's pretty lame to write about war as if you've been there.'

    Now, before you throw Shakespeare at me or anyone else know there's a world of difference between fictionalizing an account of war (or anything else) and writing a protest song, the best of which has always been rooted in the experience of the folk who sing the songs. Forgetting the old masters for a moment whose songs were more meaningful in this way, the best of Bob Dylan is cerebral, or philosophical, like Only a Pawn in Their Game. The song would have been absurd and hokey had Dylan written from the perspective of the assassin and tried to tell you how 'he' felt, or had he written any of his songs as a first person emotional response to events he had never experienced. There's a world of difference between writing about an event and propagandizing an opinion in song. In the example cited Dylan is passing judgment on events, but never pretending to be a part of them.

    So to return to the hack and his rambling song, he tells me that we've done what we set out to do and it's time to leave Iraq. His reason is beyond comprehension: the people who continue to fight are average citizens who don't understand what we're doing there. They're confused and think we're trying to kill them, and the Iraqi media is useless to change their misguided but well-intentioned actions. So we'd best pick up and move on, and peace will establish itself.

    I'm not making this up.

    Instead, he says, we should move to Sudan. At least we partially agree about something. The crisis in Sudan has been discussed on Classical Values for months: here, here, here, here, and here.

    But he would doubtless cry for withdrawal in three months or whenever it seemed like the politically cool thing to do.

    I tried to explain to him what the actual political situation is in Iraq, why it's necessary in the real world to undertake difficult and unpleasant military campaigns, and why Iraq is no less important than Darfur. His only response was, 'i'm sorry i brought it up ... go back to watching nascar.'

    Which means he has much in common with the Democrats: he views everyone with contempt, from the 'ignorant' average Iraqi mistakenly killing American troops, to the American with differing views, whom he labels an ignorant redneck in leftist shorthand (that is, afterall, what Nascar means to the left -- it's right up there with 'thump your Bible').

    posted by Dennis at 10:03 AM | Comments (6)

    Laphamizing "race"

    It looks as if the Lapham school of journalism has twice decided Arnold Schwarzenegger was a liar before the uncooperative transcripts of his speeches dared to refuse to reflect the Laphamized lies he was supposed to have told!

    TWICE! Once on Tuesday night -- and once last year!

    This has even created a battle between MSM outfits (and apparently within CNN itself) as they labor to come up with, or at least define the context of the "lie."

    Worth a debate? CNN misquotes Schwarzenegger on '68 remarks

    By the Mercury News

    Did he say it, or didn't he?

    According to the Associated Press and guests on CNN's "Larry King Live'' show, during his Tuesday night speech before the Republican National Convention, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he decided to become a Republican after watching Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon debate in the 1968 presidential election.

    "Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air,'' Schwarzenegger said.

    There's only one thing wrong -- Nixon never debated Humphrey.

    According to the prepared text of Schwarzenegger's speech the passage was written, ``I remember watching the Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV . . .''

    Mercury News reporter Jim Puzzanghera, who was in Madison Square Garden during Schwarzenegger's address and who taped the speech, said after reviewing the audiotape that the governor said "race'' not "debate.''

    You'd think it would be a fairly simple matter to determine whether Arnold said "race" or "debate." The problem is that this canard -- that Arnold is a "liar" for saying that he listened to the 1968 Nixon-Humphrey "debate" -- is over a year old:
    Or Maybe It Was Laugh-In? The L.A. Times debunks Austrian Ah-nuld's story about how he decided to become a Republican in 1968 after listening to a friend translate the Nixon-Humphrey debate. There was no Nixon-Humphrey debate.
    Well, one sentence in both accounts is true; Nixon managed to avoid an actual, one-on-one, timed, moderated debate with Humphrey. But, although I was only 14 at the time, I am here to tell you that there was definitely a race! And, lo and behold, Nixon and Humphrey disagreed! On a lot of issues!

    Imagine that! An election for president, which involved a race! And a contested race at that!

    Where exactly did Arnold use the word "debate"? Here's the transcript of what he said on August 31, 2004:

    As a kid I saw the socialist country that Austria became after the Soviets left. Now, don't misunderstand me, I love Austria, and I love the Austrian people.

    But I always knew America was the place for me. In school, when the teacher would talk about America, I would daydream about coming here. I would daydream about living here. I would sit there and watch for hours American movies transfixed by my heroes like John Wayne.

    Everything about America seemed so big to me, so open, so possible.

    I finally arrived here in 1968. What a special day it was. I remember I arrived here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of desire.

    The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend of mine who spoke German and English translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which I had just left.

    But then I heard Nixon speak. Then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military.

    Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.

    I said to my friend, I said, "What party is he?"

    My friend said, "He's a Republican."

    I said, "Then I am a Republican."

    And I have been a Republican ever since. And trust me -- and trust me -- in my wife's family, that's no small achievement.

    And here's the transcript of a very similar speech in September of 2003:

    In 1956, the Soviet tanks crushed the uprising next door in Hungary. Hungarian people by the thousands fled across the border into Austria. I saw what communism did to those people. When I was nine, I helped my father in the refugee camps. I ladled soup out to the children.

    Then I saw the socialist country that Austria became when the Soviets left. Even when I was young, I knew America was the place for me. I arrived here in 1968, and I was listening to the Nixon and Humphrey presidential race on the news. My friend who spoke German translated so I understood what they were saying.

    I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which is what I had just left. I heard Nixon talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering taxes and strengthening the military.

    Listening to Nixon, I said to my friend, "What party is he?"

    My friend said, "He's a Republican."

    And I said, "Then I am a Republican!"

    I have been a Republican ever since. I handed out leaflets for Republicans. I went door-to-door for Republicans. I couldn't wait to become a citizen so I could vote Republican. I gave money to Republicans. And now I am running for governor as a Republican.

    Imagine! That lying bastard! Twice in a year, Arnold has refused to admit to the truth! How dare his words refuse to reflect his lies?

    And now he hides behind the "race" card! Is there no low below which these dastardly Republicans won't stoop?

    UPDATE: Kos has joined the chorus in calling Arnold Schwarzenegger a liar ("liernator" is just too clever!), but, quite inexplicably, he quotes Arnold using the word "race" -- following which he says there was no Nixon-Humphrey "debate." Wouldn't Kos have made his point better had he said there was no Nixon-Humphrey race? (Via Atrios, who also believes that "race" and "debate" are synonyms.)

    MORE: The most puzzling thing about this whole flap is that if you assume Arnold made up the story of his conversion to Republicanism, why would he select the evil Nixon as his savior in the first place (much less repeat it for years)?

    Even the lowest paid political speechwriters would not have dared select Nixon!

    posted by Eric at 07:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (1)

    The Weekly Idiot Award

    I'm fast gaining a reputation as a not very nice guy. So our newest winner, following inaugural Idiot of the Week Carl Lewis, is my fellow Pennsylvanian, Kathryn Miller of Greensburg:

    Store Clerk Accepts Fake $200 Bill, Makes Change

    PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - At first glance it looked like the real thing, so store clerk Kathryn Miller was happy to accept the $200 bill as payment -- and even make change.

    The bill did carry a picture of President Bush, but he is not one of the presidents who appear on the U.S. currency and in any case there is no such thing as a $200 bill.

    That did not stop Miller, who works at Fashion Bug, a women's clothing store in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, from taking the bill in payment for an item costing $99.

    She also gave change to Deborah Trautwine, a resident of nearby Jeanette, said Jeanne Martin, a spokeswoman for the state police in Greensburg.

    "Anyone with any bit of knowledge should have recognized that it wasn't the real thing," Martin said.

    Trautwine, who was located by police on the basis of information from the clothing store, was charged on Wednesday with forgery, theft by deception, and receiving stolen property.

    The bill was probably a joke rather than a forgery, said Martin. "It was some sort of gag money," she said.

    She didn't know whether Miller still works at Fashion Bug.

    posted by Dennis at 11:38 PM | Comments (1)

    After The X Prize...

    Stuff like this was supposed to arrive in the 23rd century.

    Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

    posted by Justin at 07:56 PM

    Sounds Like Something From Bruce Sterling...

    My attention was caught by this article on this site .

    Reuters reports that the Danish company Aresa Biodetection has developed genetically-modified flowers which change color when their roots come in contact with Nitrogen Dioxide in the soil. Explosives used in mines produce NO2 as the chemicals gradually decay.

    Okay, so some of these ideas are none starters. I still like what these guys are trying to do. Their rich bloggy goodness soothes my inner geek.

    Check out this.

    One of the ideas we've talked about in some detail on WorldChanging is the "participatory panopticon" -- the notion that the evolution of networked mobile personal cameras (i.e., cameraphones) will trigger big changes in how we interact with each other both individually and socially. Signs of this are hard to miss, but key aspects of the revolution are still missing. One important step will be to make the devices wearable, not hand-held; primitive versions of such devices are already on the scene. Another step will be to make these devices record images constantly, not just when the user clicks a button, to allow the user to review what s/he had previously seen. Again, primitive versions of this concept are in development, although these are set to record a picture a minute -- a snapshot, not a journal.

    Or this.

    One possibility is the compostable tent city. In this model, the tents themselves would be treated cardboard shelters -- like Icopods (which resemble paper geodesic domes) -- which provide basic shelter and last for a couple years. The shipping containers and packaging for medical goods and food would also be treated cardboard. When the tents wear out and the packaging is discarded, though, it shows its true nature -- for each panel of cardboard would be impregnated with appropriate local seeds, spores of topsoil fungi and harmless fertilizing agents, so that by tearing them up and watering them, refugees could start gardens, complete with mulch, fertilizer and the microorganisms good soil needs. Even clothing and blankets can be designed to be composted as they wear out. The entire transitional tent city can end up plowed into gardens as the refugees settle in to stability.

    You have to love it. They're thinking outside the box...

    posted by Justin at 07:03 PM

    More Israeli Tech

    To go along with this entry, a new wrinkle on keeping cool. Still punching above their weight.

    posted by Justin at 06:54 PM

    Welcome Back

    Staunch Mac Blogger Brian Tiemann is back from Toronto. Besides being an irredeemably nice guy, he has enriched my conversational ability.

    "I don't give a rat's left ass cheek." strikes me as one of those rare improvements on the original. I use it frequently now. Thanks Brian!

    posted by Justin at 06:52 PM

    Calling General Organa...

    The following testimony is abridged. You are viewing a mere skeleton.

    The fullness of its wisdom can be found here.

    Testimony Before
    United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary
    Subcommittee on Crime
    “The Ethics of Cloning”
    June 7, 2001

    Testimony of Leon R. Kass, M.D., Ph.D.*

    Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. My name is Leon Kass, and I am the Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago. Originally trained both as a physician and a biochemist, I have for more than thirty years been professionally concerned with the social and ethical implications of biomedical advance. In fact, my first writing in this area, in 1967, was on the moral dangers of human cloning. I am therefore very grateful for the opportunity to testify before this Committee on the ethics of human cloning and in support of HR 1644, the “Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001.” And I am profoundly grateful to Rep. Weldon and the many co-sponsors of this bill for their vision in recognizing the momentous choice now before us and for their courage in stepping forward to protect us from what is surely a very great danger to the future of our humanity.
    My testimony takes the form of an essay written precisely to gain support for such a bill....I begin by calling attention to what is humanly at stake in the decision about human cloning.... I argue that we stand now at a major fork in the road, compelled to decide whether we wish to travel down the path to the Brave New World....Once embryonic clones are produced in laboratories, the eugenic revolution will have begun. And we shall have lost our best chance to do anything about it.... I heartily endorse HR 1644....

    The urgency of the great political struggles of the twentieth century.... seems to have blinded many people to a deeper and ultimately darker truth .... all contemporary societies are travelling briskly in the same utopian direction. All are wedded to the modern technological project.... Leading the triumphal procession is modern medicine, which is daily becoming ever more powerful.... thanks especially to astonishing achievements in biomedical science and technology—achievements for which we must surely be grateful.
    Yet contemplating present and projected advances....we now clearly recognize new uses for biotechnical power that soar beyond the traditional medical goals.... Human nature itself lies on the operating table, ready for alteration....

    In leading laboratories.... new creators are confidently amassing their powers and quietly honing their skills, while on the street their evangelists are zealously prophesying a post-human future....

    Some transforming powers are already here....

    Years ago Aldous Huxley saw it coming. In his charming but disturbing novel, Brave New World....he made its meaning strikingly visible for all to see....Huxley depicts human life seven centuries hence, living under the gentle hand of humanitarianism rendered fully competent.... The Brave New World has achieved prosperity, community, stability, and nigh-universal contentment, only to be peopled by creatures of human shape but stunted humanity.... Brave New Man is so dehumanized that he does not even recognize what has been lost.

    Huxley’s novel, of course, is science fiction.... But the kinships are disquieting....

    In Huxley’s novel, everything proceeds under the direction of an omnipotent—albeit benevolent—world state. Yet the dehumanization that he portrays does not really require despotism or external control....we can reach the same humanly debased condition solely on the basis of free human choice....give us the technological imperative, liberal democratic society, compassionate humanitarianism, moral pluralism, and free markets, and we can take ourselves to a Brave New World all by ourselves....

    Some among us are delighted, of course, by this state of affairs: some scientists and biotechnologists, their entrepreneurial backers, and a cheering claque of sci-fi enthusiasts, futurologists, and libertarians....

    Yet for all our disquiet, we have until now done nothing to prevent it..... Denial and despair, unattractive outlooks in any situation, become morally reprehensible when circumstances summon us to keep the world safe for human flourishing.....

    ... it will not be easy for us to do so.... there are indeed many features of modern life that will conspire to frustrate efforts aimed at the human control of the biomedical project.

    First, we Americans believe in technological automatism: where we do not foolishly believe that all innovation is progress, we fatalistically believe that it is inevitable....

    Second, we believe in freedom: the freedom of scientists to inquire, the freedom of technologists to develop, the freedom of entrepreneurs to invest and to profit, the freedom of private citizens to make use of existing technologies to satisfy any and all personal desires....

    Third, the biomedical enterprise occupies the moral high ground of compassionate humanitarianism, upholding the supreme values of modern life—cure disease, prolong life, relieve suffering—in competition with which other moral goods rarely stand a chance....

    ....Our cultural pluralism and easygoing relativism make it difficult to reach consensus on what we should embrace and what we should oppose....Since we live in a democracy, moreover, we face political difficulties in gaining a consensus to direct our future....we are in danger of forgetting what we have to lose, humanly speaking.

    ....our situation is far from hopeless.... Though we favor freedom of inquiry, we recognize that experiments are deeds and not speeches, and we prohibit experimentation on human subjects without their consent, even when cures from disease might be had by unfettered research
    ....Our moral pluralism notwithstanding, national commissions and review bodies have sometimes reached moral consensus to recommend limits on permissible scientific research and technological application....

    ....we have nationally prohibited commercial traffic in organs for transplantation, even though a market would increase the needed supply.... the majority of Americans are not yet so degraded or so cynical as to fail to be revolted by the society depicted in Huxley’s novel....

    ... it would be disgraceful to concede defeat even before we enter the fray....sometimes we come to a clear fork in the road where decision is possible....Events have conspired to provide us with a perfect opportunity to seize the initiative....I refer to the prospect of human cloning....

    Four years ago I addressed this subject....Subsequent events have only strengthened my conviction.... my emphasis this time is more practical.... I am more interested in encouraging those who oppose human cloning but who think that we are impotent to prevent it, and in mobilizing them to support new and solid legislative efforts to stop it....
    For we have here a golden opportunity to exercise some control over where biology is taking us....Now may be as good a chance as we will ever have to get our hands on the wheel of the runaway train now headed for a post-human world....

    Revulsion is not an argument; and some of yesterday’s repugnances are today calmly accepted—not always for the better. In some crucial cases, however, repugnance is the emotional expression of deep wisdom, beyond reason’s power completely to articulate it....

    I suggest that our repugnance at human cloning belongs in this category. We are repelled by the prospect of cloning human beings not because of the strangeness or the novelty of the undertaking, but because we intuit and we feel, immediately and without argument, the violation of things that we rightfully hold dear.

    ....In this age in which everything is held to be permissible so long as it is freely done, and in which our bodies are regarded as mere instruments of our autonomous rational will, repugnance may be the only voice left that speaks up to defend the central core of our humanity. Shallow are the souls that have forgotten how to shudder.

    Yet repugnance need not stand naked before the bar of reason. The wisdom of our horror at human cloning can be at least partially articulated, even if this is finally one of those instances about which the heart has its reasons that reason cannot entirely know. I offer four objections to human cloning:

    that it constitutes unethical experimentation;

    that it threatens identity and individuality;

    that it turns procreation into manufacture (especially when understood as the harbinger of manipulations to come);

    and that it means despotism over children and perversion of parenthood.

    Please note: I speak only about so-called reproductive cloning....The objections that may be raised against creating (or using) embryos for research are entirely independent of whether the research embryos are produced by cloning.

    We have here a perfect example of the logic of the slippery slope. The principle of reproductive freedom currently enunciated by the proponents of cloning logically embraces the ethical acceptability of sliding all the way down: to producing children wholly in the laboratory from sperm to term...

    If you think that such scenarios require outside coercion or governmental tyranny, you are mistaken....The so-called science-fiction cases—say, Brave New World—make vivid the meaning of what looks to us, mistakenly, to be benign. They reveal that what looks like compassionate humanitarianism is, in the end, crushing dehumanization

    ....human cloning is unethical in itself and dangerous in its likely consequences.... the overwhelming majority of our fellow Americans remain firmly opposed to cloning human beings.

    ....What should we do about it?....What we should do is work to prevent human cloning by making it illegal.
    We should aim for a global legal ban, if possible, and for a unilateral national ban at a minimum.... renegade scientists may secretly undertake to violate such a law, but we can deter them by both criminal sanctions and monetary penalties....

    Michigan, for example, has made it a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten years or a fine of not more than $10 million, or both, to “intentionally engage in or attempt to engage in human cloning,” where human cloning means “the use of human somatic cell nuclear transfer technology to produce a human embryo.” ....

    Two major anti-cloning bills were introduced into the Senate in 1998. The Democratic bill (Kennedy-Feinstein) would have banned so-called reproductive cloning by prohibiting transfer of cloned embryos into women to initiate pregnancy. The Republican bill (Frist-Bond) would have banned all cloning by prohibiting the creation even of embryonic human clones. Both sides opposed “reproductive cloning,” the attempt to bring to birth a living human child who is the clone of someone now (or previously) alive. But the Democratic bill sanctioned creating cloned embryos for research purposes, and the Republican bill did not.... Owing to a deep and unbridgeable gulf over the question of embryo research, we did not get the congressional ban on reproductive cloning...

    ....I now believe that what we need is an all-out ban on human cloning, including the creation of embryonic clones....all halfway measures will prove to be morally, legally, and strategically flawed....Anyone truly serious about preventing human reproductive cloning must seek to stop the process from the beginning....
    .... Creating cloned human children...necessarily begins by producing cloned human embryos. Preventing the latter would prevent the former....Yet some scientists favor embryo cloning as a way of obtaining embryos for research or as sources of cells and tissues for the possible benefit of others. ...
    The prospect of creating new human life solely to be exploited in this way has been condemned on moral grounds by many people....

    A ban only on reproductive cloning would turn out to be unenforceable. Once cloned embryos were produced and available.... it would be virtually impossible to control what was done with them.... Huge stockpiles of cloned human embryos could thus be produced and bought and sold without anyone knowing it....
    Assisted reproduction takes place within the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship.... Many infertility experts probably would obey the law, but others could and would defy it with impunity.... Moreover, the transfer of embryos to begin a pregnancy is a simple procedure....
    Even should the deed become known, governmental attempts to enforce the reproductive ban would run into a swarm of moral and legal challenges...

    .... the only practically effective and legally sound approach is to block human cloning at the start, at the production of the embryo clone....

    Some....may balk at such a comprehensive restriction. They want to get their hands on those embryos, especially for their stem cells.... It is the promise of rejection-free tissues for transplantation that so far has been the most successful argument in favor of experimental cloning.

    Yet new discoveries have shown that we can probably obtain the same benefits without embryo cloning....
    Numerous recent studies have shown that it is possible to obtain highly potent stem cells from the bodies of children and adults.... Beyond all expectations, these non-embryonic stem cells have been shown to have the capacity to turn into a wide variety of specialized cells and tissues. (At the same time, early human therapeutic efforts with stem cells derived from embryos have produced some horrible results.... Since cells derived from our own bodies are more easily and cheaply available than cells harvested from specially manufactured clones, we will almost surely be able to obtain from ourselves any needed homologous transplantable cells and tissues.... By pouring our resources into adult stem cell research....we can also avoid the morally and legally vexing issues in embryo research....

    A few weeks ago an excellent federal anti-cloning bill was introduced in Congress, sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback and Representative David Weldon. This carefully drafted legislation seeks to prevent the cloning of human beings at the very first step, by prohibiting somatic cell nuclear transfer to produce embryonic clones, and provides substantial criminal and monetary penalties for violating the offers us the best chance—the only realistic chance—that we have to keep human cloning from happening...
    Getting this bill passed will not be easy....

    .... let us be clear about the urgency of our situation.... Scientists and doctors.... are today working to clone human beings. They are aware of the immediate hazards, but they are undeterred.... They are prepared to gamble with the well-being of any live-born clones.... all for the glory of being the first to replicate a human being.... our silence can only mean acquiescence. To do nothing now is to accept the responsibility for the deed and for all that follows predictably in its wake.
    I appreciate that a federal legislative ban on human cloning is without American precedent.... Perhaps such a ban will prove ineffective; perhaps it will eventually be shown to have been a mistake. (If so, it could later be reversed.)... Even if cloning is rarely undertaken, a society in which it is tolerated is no longer the same society—any more than is a society that permits (even small-scale) incest or cannibalism or slavery....

    But the present danger posed by human cloning is, paradoxically, also a golden opportunity.... we can strike a blow for the human control of the technological project.... The prospect of human cloning, so repulsive to contemplate, is the occasion for deciding whether we shall be slaves of unregulated innovation, and ultimately its artifacts.... The humanity of the human future is now in our hands.

    posted by Justin at 05:25 PM

    Lingering memories of August.....

    Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I didn't even need to set my VCR to catch John McCain's speech.

    A bit late, perhaps, but well worth the wait. Senator McCain is an inspiration to me (even though I disagree with him on campaign finance reform as well as gun control). There's a lot of talk about war heroes lately, but McCain is the real thing. I don't think anyone could have rattled Michael Moore's cage as he did. That alone is worth seeing. John McCain is one of those guys who practices what he preaches, and genuinely believes in forgiving the past. This forgiving nature is one of the things that pisses off the conservatives, but when someone as reasonable and forgiving as McCain does get angry (as he did at Moore), that honest, righteous condemnation is something to behold. It's not as if McCain is a partisan hack taking orders from Bush (remember there was even speculation that he might be Kerry's running mate), but the common sense --and the enough is enough tone -- really got the crowd going:

    After years of failed diplomacy and limited military pressure to restrain Saddam Hussein, President Bush made the difficult decision to liberate Iraq.

    Those who criticize that decision would have us believe that the choice was between a status quo that was well enough left alone and war. But there was no status quo to be left alone.

    The years of keeping Saddam in a box were coming to a close. The international consensus that he be kept isolated and unarmed had eroded to the point that many critics of military action had decided the time had come again to do business with Saddam, despite his near daily attacks on our pilots, and his refusal, until his last day in power, to allow the unrestricted inspection of his arsenal.

    Our choice wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war. It was between war and a graver threat. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

    Not our political opponents. And certainly -- and certainly not a disingenuous filmmaker who would have us believe...

    AUDIENCE (Booing filmmaker Michael Moore who attended the convention):

    [The noise went on for so long that McCain was a bit taken aback.]

    Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

    MCCAIN: Please, please, my friends.

    That line was so good, I'll use it again. Certainly not a disingenuous filmmaker who would have us believe, my friends, who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace, when in fact -- when in fact it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers, mass graves and prisons that destroyed the lives of the small children inside their walls.

    Moore was visibly agitated, and I'd have loved to have had a cardiologist present to report his pulse and heart rate. The whole thing reminded me of Robert Welch's devastating remark to Senator McCarthy:
    Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
    These things happen only occasionally in politics, and are not to be missed.

    Kerry is a genuine fool. He had an opportunity to do the same thing to Moore.

    If he had, he might have turned things around, and won the confidence of middle America. (He can't say I didn't tell him so!) Instead, Kerry went after elderly Swift Boat veterans, leaving McCain there to speak up for middle America and against Michael Moore. Middle America will remember it when summer is over, when Halloween has passed, as it starts to get cold.....

    MORE: Might there be a plan to put McCain on the ticket? Soxblog thinks it's a distinct possibility:

    the stakes of this election are huge. If subbing McCain for Cheney will make a huge difference, as it likely will, it’s the proverbial offer we can’t refuse. (Via Glenn Reynolds, who'd prefer Condoleeza Rice.)
    I guess we'll find out soon enough about that!

    UPDATE (9/03/04): Obviously, McCain never made it onto the ticket. But the WaPo's Richard Cohen thinks Kerry would do well to emulate McCain's style:

    This is a moment for Kerry to speak plainly, to embrace all Vietnam veterans and say that any suggestion that they were war criminals does not represent how he feels now and how he felt then -- and if he gave the opposite impression, he's sorry. If it takes an apology -- if it takes saying he was once an angry young man who saw blood spilled in a dubious cause -- then that's what he should say. Otherwise Vietnam and its immediate aftermath will stick to him as has his complicated and too-nuanced position on the Iraq war.

    Kerry's inability or refusal to walk his cats back to the origin of his problems -- a wrong vote on Iraq and some incautious words on Vietnam -- has trapped him in a kind of rhetorical molasses. He's always trimming weeds that need to be yanked out by the roots.

    Either by happenstance or design, I've been with John McCain for three nights in a row and have watched the magic he works on people. At a dinner one evening, someone asked the secret of his appeal. A colleague and I looked at each other in disbelief. It's his honesty, his willingness to (mostly) say what's on his mind. He just clears his throat and says what has to be said. John Kerry ought to try it. It could make him president.

    Good advice, but I don't think Kerry can follow it. That's because in his mind, any apology for his Vietnam era conduct would erase the only semblance of moral authority that he has.

    posted by Eric at 04:52 PM

    More videos, Moore dedications?

    More beheadings of innocent people by bloodthirsty barbarians.

    Every time this happens, I wonder whether each beheading video should be dedicated to Michael Moore with something like this:

    "The beheading video you are about to see is dedicated to Michael Moore -- a great American patriot who is spreading the truth."
    The latest video atrocity involves the beheading of Nepalese contractors:
    BAGHDAD - Islamic extremists in Iraq beheaded one Nepalese kidnap victim and executed 11 others with bullets to the backs of their heads, according to a video posted on a Web site yesterday.

    The little-known Ansar al-Sunna Army posted the video, which shows a masked man in military fatigues beheading a hostage who is lying blindfolded on dusty, gray soil. Eleven more prisoners are then killed by single shots to the back of the head as they lie face down in a row.

    The group said the men, kidnapped in August, were working for a Jordanian company in Iraq and were killed for working with the United States against Islam.

    I am sick and tired of seeing my local newspaper (and all the major newspapers) refer to psychotic, bloodthirsty terrorists as "extremists." (A word they use to describe Americans who believe in things like lower taxes...)

    For most readers, there's little point in watching the video (available for streaming here as they all are). I won't bother. But I'm glad it's available anyway, because some people need a reminder of what we are fighting.

    Why we fight.

    And what Michael Moore supports.

    posted by Eric at 10:44 AM | Comments (1)

    Hedonism is joyous!

    NEWSFLASH! (About "pursuit of happiness" and other liberal heresies....)

    According to Alan Keyes, Dick Cheney's daughter is a "selfish hedonist" -- and the reason is simple:

    Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary is a "selfish hedonist" because she is a lesbian.
    Without getting into the question of hedonism, and whether it's good or bad (discussed infra, here) the notion that loving a member of the same sex is hedonistic has long intrigued me. I suppose that some would believe all sex is hedonistic. If so, then lesbian love is by definition as hedonistic as heterosexual love. But the logic of why only love displayed towards a same sex partner is hedonism escapes me. Perhaps Keyes does not believe that there can be sexual love between two members of the same sex. (Which means he must think that homosexual love and partnership, not being real love, are only about "fun" -- to the exclusion of personal and public responsibilities.)

    I suspect he hasn't seen too many lovers die in the throes of AIDS.

    I have. You can call such an experience many things, but it didn't feel hedonistic to me.

    UPDATE: Stephen Green thinks that Alan Keyes is a Republican stalking horse:

    Single-handedly, (and perhaps unknowingly) Keyes might just have taken the heat off of Bush for his Idiotic Pander Maneuver -- er, I mean support for the ill-fated constitutional amendment against gay marriage rights. As of tomorrow, the President can say, "Look, I don't support gay marriage, but Keyes is talking about my Veep's daughter, and that's just going too far."

    Best part? Bush doesn't even have to actually say it. People will assume it, because, rightly or wrongly, most people tend to think of Bush as a pretty decent guy.

    Quite astute.

    And certainly, that may be the way things will work out in practice. However, I think I'm as Machiavellian as anyone, but when I researched the history of the Keyes selection, it appeared to be the handiwork of disgruntled local Republicans.

    MORE: A longtime favorite blogger, Objectivist Don Watkins, shares his thoughts in a post called "UNSELFISH SEX," ("the idea that sex should be anything but a selfish pursuit of pleasure is so obviously evil, that I can't bring myself to discuss it further"), and refers readers to his earlier post on contempt for joy:

    Sex isn't an end in itself -- it isn't a right. Sex, in Kurtz's view, is a permission granted to (some) individuals by the state for the purpose of procreation.

    What utter contempt for joy must a person have to promulgate such a view? I can't fathom it, but the scary thing is, he's not the only person who believes it. A lot of conservatives do.

    This results in an error all too common among conservatives: viewing the family, not the individual, as the fundamental unit of civilization. This leads to the unforgivable sin of demanding the individual be sacrificed to "the family" as if the family were a soverign end in itself, apart form the rights of its members.

    That's hogwash, and anyone who believes it is NOT a friend of freedom.

    "As an ultimate symbol of sexuality for the sake of pleasure (rather than reproduction) homosexuality has traditionally been taboo. That taboo was embodied and expressed in sodomy laws. Rigorous enforcement of these laws was secondary — and in any case, next to impossible. The important thing was the statement of collective values made by the laws against sodomy. By making homosexuality taboo, the law reinforced the idea that the highest and proper purpose of sexuality itself was to bind and energize families."

    Yeah, that's the idea, but it's also a lie. A lie built on the foundation of pure, unadulterated, Kantian altruism. As sick as it is that Kurtz thinks this is the purpose of sex, what's sicker as that he's willing to impose his view on everyone else -- he's willing to sacrifice individuals for engaging in sex for pleasure rather than procreation. And for homosexuals, and presumably, straight couples who don't want or can't have children, he's willing to demand that the state BAN them from having sex altogether.

    I'll tell you, friends, I hardly have words to describe the kind of dispicable nonesense this is. I've already had to erase a couple of explicatives. But what worries me is that THIS is the voice of conservatism. Conservatives, who pose as friends of freedom, are trying to justify banning sex for pleasure. They are demanding the government have the right to put you and me in jail for engaging in consentual acts in the...err...privacy of our own homes.

    Life is short enough and painful enough as it is. But there are people who want to keep it short, and make it hurt. In the name of "unselfishness."

    posted by Eric at 10:13 AM | Comments (4)

    Nostalgia burns brightly!

    Here's an experiment in the counterintuitive: instead of starting my day with yet another post about nostalgia for leftist demonstrators who remind me of Berkeley, I'll fast forward to more recent nostalgia -- and remind everyone to read this week's very funny Bonfire of the Vanities. It's hosted by Dr. Rusty Shackleford, and the theme is 1987; "a bad year in a bad decade!" Categories include war heroes, the Cold War, High School Yearbooks (gulp!) rad collectibles, rad movies, bad booze, Eddie Murphy, and Babes (mine got the crabs, but Interested Participant has the cure! Really now....Boudreaux's Butt Paste?)

    Plus, the doctor offers some serious social commentary! Like this:

    it was the 80s that saw the first wave of metrosexuals. Come on, you're telling me Poison, Ratt, and those Nelson dudes weren't just a little bit too pretty for comfort? There is a direct correlation between gay chic in the new millenia and teenage boy sexual confusion because of the glam-rock bands of the 80s. Those teenagers are all grown up and working for Act Up! The 80s also gave us scandal babes Jessica Hahn, Donna Rice, and the star of the popular Proctor & Gamble produced daytime soap opera, Iran/Contra, Fawn Hall (pictured).
    Memory lane! I'm reminded that I still have brain cells (which means that I failed in another important respect....)

    A few burned memories for your unburned brain cells:

  • The American Mind informs us that there's acid talk on KLSD!
  • More mind alterations at Drunken Wisdom (No "laugfhing while typiung!")
  • Aaron lovingly captures the sight and sounds of the Democratic Party.
  • Incite has a question for contestants: "What small furry scavenger does Iraqi "cleric" Muqtada al-Sadr most closely resemble?" (Personally, I think he's a vole, but my choice was unavailable.... At any rate, there's a remedy -- and it's called Warfarin!)
  • I'm embarrassed to report that this cutie pie is trying to shame me into making my young mug publicly available. What's the world coming to? (I'm still looking for the boxes which I may or not have, Nick!)
  • Read 'em all, and heed this warning: those who fail to remember 1987 are condemned to repeat it!

    posted by Eric at 09:28 AM

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