6/15/2002

The Sunday Post

Well, it's hard to know what to think about this: George Will writes a column praising ex-California governor and current Oakland mayor Jerry Brown. Unqualified praise. Without sarcasm or snide remarks of any kind. And it even all makes sense. Very odd.

It's also hard to wrap my mind around this: I agree completely with Mary McGrory's column. Without reservation. She writes about Judge Evelyn Queen, who was noted in tnis space a few days ago. She makes much the same argument as I did, and even writes approvingly of the Congressional Republicans who are opposing Judge Queen's appointment as a senior judge.

At least I can confidently disagree with David Broder, who's whining about the attempted permanant repeal of the estate tax. It's so unfair, he whines. It's only for the superrich, he bleats. And he pulls numbers out of nowhere to come up with a $740 billion shortfall to be created by the permanant repeal in the decade beginning in 2010. He's wrong, of course, for reasons that have been more than adequately laid out in this space previously.



The Sunday Times

Just some quick notes on tomorrow's Times, specifically the OpEd page.

Maureen Dowd goes after Karl Rove, again. The idea of her calling anyone else a "pinhead" is laughable; she'd be klucky to be thought of so highly herself.

And Tom Friedman talks about the wonderful prospect of a youthful, anti-fundamentalist revolution in Iran. Sure, sounds great; but let's see what actually happens before basing policy on Tomm's wishful thinking. Tommy's got to be angling for Secretary of State in a future Democratic presidency - maybe Lady MacBeth's in 2008? Good luck to him if that's his goal.

There's Dumb, and Then There's Dumb

Check out this article, about a Canadian schoolteacher who came up with a...unique...math exam for her students.

The mind boggles.
We Can Only Hope

According to this article, the (hopefully soon to be ex) Secretary of State really will be the ex-Secretaty of State.

It seems that poor Colin is unhappy because he's being "undermined by the white House" (for whom he works, and whose policies he is supposed to implement).

(The most recent) trouble began on Monday when Mr Bush gave unequivocal backing to Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, and appeared to rubbish Gen Powell's proposed ministerial conference on the Middle East.

"It totally undercut what we were trying to do and was very damaging," said a State Department source. "We have spent the rest of the week trying to reassure Arab nations that the president was misinterpreted."


See, that's the problem right there. State's job is not to convince others that the President was "misinterpreted". Their job is to interpret the President's wishes and make those clear to other nations.

"He is intensely loyal to the president but there may well come a point when Gen Powell will wonder whether it is worth being secretary of state if he cannot shape American foreign policy," said the State Department official.

His job is to "shape" our policy only within the guidelines set out by the President. The President is the chief executve and head of state, not Colin Powell.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, Colin.
Exactly!

Great opEd in today's Post from Colbert King.

He's writing about the increase in government surveillance and questions of security versus freedom. He makes the very imnportant - and generally ignored by the mass media - point that such policies and issues are not unique to conservatives, Republicans, or the Monkey Boy administration.

He discusses questionable or actually illegal surveillance programs implemented at the order of the sainted JFK and the kind-of-sainted LBJ. He describes how born-again-Leftist Ramsey Clark, when he was attorney general, carried out policies that were every but as intrusive and Constitutionally dodgy as anything John Ashcroft has proposed.

As King says, it was not a Republican or conservative administration that:

sucked up and spit out files on Cesar Chavez, Sammy Davis, Jr., Coretta Scott King, Charles Evers, New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, the Urban League and VISTA among others.

Further:

Attorney General Robert Kennedy signed off on FBI requests for approval of wiretaps on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Kennedy also received the "fruits" of the taps on King. And Kennedy, whose name now graces the Justice Department building, gave written ex post facto approval to wiretaps that had been installed on the residence of New York Times reporter Hanson Baldwin and his secretary

Yes, that would be the same Robert Kennedy who's been all but canonized by the Left and the media.

King then says:

My point is this: In their day, good Democrats Kennedy, Johnson, Clark et al. believed the country faced serious domestic threats: civil disorder, subversive forces and revolutionary beliefs, black nationalism, communist infiltration.

Kennedy, Clark and Johnson weren't driven by their Democratic Party registration or by some perverse desire to infringe upon civil liberties. They justified and rationalized their actions -- intrusive, abusive and injurious to constitutional values -- as in the nation's interest: They were keeping us secure.

The September attacks and the threat of al Qaeda-sponsored terrorism are similarly driving the current Washington crowd. As with Democrats of decades ago, detecting the violent and foiling threats to the social order are, in the minds of this administration, their highest calling.


He finished by talking about the role of the media in "guarding against the excesses of government power", regardless of which party is in charge, because "as we should have learned in the 60s and 70s, party label is irrevelant."

Precisely. Thank you, Mr. King.
Get Over It!

The National Executive Director of the Sons of Italy in America writes in to the Editor in today's Times to complain about portrayals of Italian-Americans as criminals in movies, TV and news coverage.

He cites a survey that claims that 3 out of 4 Americans associate Italian-Americnas with crime.

This nonsense has been said before, and it's as dumb now as it has ever been. There was a Mafia (still is, although it's not doing real well these days). People like stories about it, because it's compelling, just as tales of John Dillinger and Bonnie & Clyde once were. So what?

I have never once encountered the slightest prejudice or negative reaction, or even the tiniest assumption that I might be somehow involved with the Mob because of my ethnic background or my name (or even the fact that, as noted in this space last week, there actually are real life mobsters with my last name).

Hell, I sometimes wish people did think I had Mob connections; I might get a bit more respect that way!

People who complain that Tony Soprano or the Godfather movies make all Italian-Americans look bad are morons. It's really that simple. The complains make them look bad, and that's all they do.
Thoughts From the Times

Interesting OpEd from Bill Keller in today's times. He writes about his feelings, and reader response to, an article he wrote for the Times Magazine (which can be found here. but it's in their "premium archive" so you'd have to pay for it).

He tells us that some readers wrote in to complain that he was "giving the terrorists ideas" about tactics or targets. That's riduculous; anyone with two brain cells to rub together could easily come up with a hundred horrifying targets for a terrorist attack, and basic ideas on how to carry such an attack out. The terrorists themselves surely can.

He also talks about the parallels between the new fear of terrorists and the old Cold War fear of nuclear war. One difference, which he doesn't mention, but I think is important, is the totality of the Cold War threat. If a full nuclear war happened, there wasn't much anyone was going to be able to do, or anywhere safe, really, to go. It was utterly out of our hands.

The terrorist threat is more arbitrary. They're not going to hit everywhere, or even more than two or three places at once, and even the worst attack will leave survivors. And of course, it won't be delivered by missiles from another continent, but likely in person by the terrorist himself. So the sense most people have is that there is something they can do. Perhaps it's figuring out what the likely target is, or some way of spotting the terrorist before he strikes, etc. I think that's a legitimate difference.

Of course, this being the Times, there must be cheap shots against Republicans. There's a jab at President Reagan's missile defense program, and a summary dismissal of the bio-weapons allegations made against Cuba, and of course accusations that Republicans are using the crisis for political gain.

Which may well be true; but the Democrats (are trying to) do the same thing; they're just not in the same position for it to work as well for them - and an honest writer would mention that when he talks about political posturing. But as with the rest of the Times' writers, he's not.

Still, it's a mostly good or at least thought provoking piece. That's progress of a sort.
Since No One Else Will Stand Up For Them

Israel again and again is proving to be a shining example of national spirit and resolve in the face of adversity. Surrounded by enemies who openly call for its annihilation, abandonded by Europe, it's U.S. support subject to the whims of presidents and their short term political needs, Israel has chosen to do whatever is required to defend itself, and to do so without complaint or apology.

The latest development: building the capability of launching nuclear-armed cruise missiles from their submarines. This is vitally important because their current nuclear force could be at risk, were one of Israel's many enemies to develop a nuclear weapon of their own - as they have been trying to do for years.

Critics of Israel will no doubt harp on this as an example of their disregard for laws or treaties or diplomacy; but the fact is that at the end of the day, what really matters is the ability to defend yourself, and Israel is doing its best to ensure that it safeguards and expands that capability.
Imagine What They Sell at the Concession Booths

It's really encouraging to see people turn a potential negative into a positive. The people of Sighisoara, Romania are doing just that. Sighisoara is the home of Vlad the Impaler, a 15th century tyrant and the inspiration for Draclua, and the people there are planning to Dracula theme park.

Good for them.

6/14/2002

Get Your Wallets

There's a gentleman on Fox News right now, Harlan Ullman, speaking about what the West (read: the U.S.) needs to do to reduce the threat of terrorism and militant Islam.

He's called a "National Security Analyst" but I didn't catch what his actual qualifications or expertise are. I do know from five minutes of him that he's an idiot.

He claims that what we in the West (read: the U.S.) must do to reduce the threat of terrorism and militant Islam is to create a "Marshall Plan" for the poor in the Islamic nations, and "make the autocratic rulers understand that they need to integrate the poor into their societies" - that's a more or less exact quote, by the way).

Of course. If we only give them money, all will be well. But...why did 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers come from a prosperous nation like Saudi Arabia, and almost all from the middle class? Doesn't that sort of blow the poverty argument out of the water?

He didn't have a real answer for that. For him - as for many, sadly, since it's such a stupid and wrong view - the root cause is the poverty of the Islamic masses, and it's our responsibility to alleviate that, and therefore since we're not yet doing so, the terrorism is basically our own fault.

Of course it is. Right. Just like everything else bad in the world is.
Rats. Ship. Glug, Glug, Glug

It isn't a good news day. The stock market is tanking this morning.

"When the sky is falling usually you try to duck," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp.

Not good. Not good at all.
It Was Only a Movie, Right?

Hey, I liked the movie "Wargames". A lot of folks did.

I don't think most people want to see it acted out in real life.

Between the CIA broadcasting "Covert Ops TV" for all to see, and this, it's fairly disturbing.

Security? What security?
For Those of You Just Joining Us

A quick rundown of some of the "pet names" we here in the Empire have bestowed upon regular subjects of the news, so you know who we're talking about:

Monkey Boy - President George W. Bush

Daddy - in reference to Monkey Boy, George H. W. Bush

The Former Narcissist-in-Chief -Bill Clinton

The Former Peanut-Farmer-in-Chief - Jimmy Carter

(Hopefully soon-to-be-Ex) Secretary of State - Colin Powell

The Senator from Chapaqudick - Ted Kennedy

Pharoah Byrd of West Virginia - Senator Robert Byrd

a couple of names that haven't been mentioned here yet:

Lady MacBeth - Hillary Clinton

The Troll Queen of Foggy Bottom - Madeline Albright

and for organizations

The Times and the Post refer (unless otherwise noted) to the New York Times and the Washington Post. NRO is of course National Review Online.

Suggestions are selcomed from you, the readership, for other public figures and organizations not mentioned here; due credit will be noted as appropriate...
Cargo Cults and Dog Poop

What do they have in common? Both are mentioned in a column on NRO this AM from John Derbyshire.

Makes a lot of sense, too. For those who don't know about Cargo Cults:

Cargo cults came up in the Melanesian islands of the South Pacific during WWII. The peoples of these places saw the Americans and British come in and build airstrips. Then, when the airstrips were built, planes started to arrive, loaded with cargo. The Melanesians deduced, not altogether unreasonably given their state of knowledge, that if they built airstrips, then planes would come to them, too, likewise bringing cargo. They accordingly hacked makeshift runways out of the jungle and built mock-up control towers out of grass and mud. Then they sat and waited for the cargo to arrive.

Derbyshire's point is that most of the Arab world functions similarly today. As he puts it, the thinking goes like this:

"America has skyscrapers. America is rich and strong. Let's build some skyscrapers — then we'll be rich and strong, too!" The idea that the wealth and the strength are rooted in customs, arrangements, laws, liberties, traditions, patterns of thought and behavior and association, and that the skyscrapers are an incidental byproduct, is not well understood.

Exactly. And looking at the Middle East, the same things are true of the difference between Israel and her Arab neighbors.

No doubt, Arab generals wondered why, despite having the tanks and planes and reginemts and flags and chains of command of a real army, their forces never fought the way the Israelis did.

Because Israeli military success came not just from equipment but from training, from dedicated men who came out of a society based on principles of freedom, and democracy, and individual worth.

The same with economics. Why is Israeli (relatively) rich and prosperous and stable, and it neighbor states are not? It isn't American aid, because the U.S. also gives to Egypt, to Kuwait, to Saudi Arabia, to the Palestinian Authority. It isn't size, because Israel's six million people are a drop in the bucket compared to the popluations surrounding them. It isn't natural resources, because Israel's neighbors have far more than Israel does.

So how have the Israelis built a pretty good country, whereas, say, the Saudis, with immensely more wealth due to oil, have not? Why are there more elected Arab political figures in Israel than in Saudi Arabia?

Because Israel is based on values and principles that are alien to the rulers of Saudi Arabia, just as the U.S. is.

Simple, really.

Unintended Consequences

When I read this article from the Metro section of today's Post, I was more annoyed than it probably warranted.

The article describes harried parents (mothers, mainly) who are celebrating the end of the Little League baseball season, even (secretly) rooting for their children's teams to lose so the season will end sooner.

"Usually, they've lost by now," groans Cindy Palamone, a Howard County mom dismayed by the stellar playoff performances of her sons' teams this week. "This is getting on my nerves."

I don't have kids, and I'm not at all sure, even if the option ever does somehow present itself, that I would ever want them. They become the focus of one's life; one's schedule revolves around them, their school calendar, their Little League games, their skating practice, their play groups, and so forth.

What annoyed me about the article was the complete lack of recognition of that fact from the complaining parents. They made a choice to have kids, knowing (from their own childhoods, if nothing else) what raising chindren involves. I have no sympathy whatsoever for "Little League fatigue".

Part of the problem may also be the insane overscheduling of today's kids. Especially when the kids aren't necessarily suited for every activity:

The kids also get easily distracted, and it's not uncommon to hear parents shout, as happened with an 8-year-old shortstop in Fairfax, "Thomas! Get ready. No dancing." And again, two minutes later, "Thomas! No moonwalking."

The outfielders stand at the edge of the infield, and their biggest concern is: "What is today's snack?" Often, they are oblivious to the finer points of the game – like who's up and who's down.

In the sixth inning of the Sand Gnats game, as his team is getting creamed 10 to 1, one little boy in the dugout watches his opponents score another run and shouts gleefully, "We're winning!"

"No, we're not," shushes a mother from the bleachers.


Not every 8 year old wants to play Little League, or should be. And kids need some time to just play by themselves and "be kids". Maybe if parents (and it's mainly the suburban minivan set that does this) didn't schedule every moment of their children's lives, they might have some peace themselves, too.

(incidentally, even for a kid's team, "Sand Gnats" is a really, really terrible name. An insect name is just not right for a sports team name. If you absolutely have to have an insect name, "Wasps" or "Hornets" or maybe even "Spiders" might be okay. But "Sand Gnats"? Ack!)
Broken Records

In the old "Bloom County" comic strip, one day's strip took place in the offices of the local newspaper. The editor was going over the stories, and at one point, he says the following:

"It's all Reagan's fault. Floods, volcanoes, earthquakes...Reagan's fault."

Substitute "Bush" for "Reagan" and you've got the policy of the Times OpEd page. Yes, it's more Monkey Boy bashing from Paul Krugman and Nick Kristof.

Krugman's going on about wealth disparity, bashing Republicans, the previous Bush administration, and of course the evils of business.

Kristof assigns the U.S. - and specifically President Monkey Boy - for not stopping crises in Kashmir, the Middle East, North Korea, and Taiwan.

I'm not sure exactly what Kristof expects the U.S. to do, but I'll bet it involves putting aside our own interests and selling out friends like Taiwan and Israel, and sticking U.S. troops in as peacekeepers in several places at once.
Time is on Our Side

Some (hopefully) encouraging news from the world of medicine, specifically from the world of medical education.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (which oversees medical schools and training in the U.S.) has adopted new rules limiting the hours that residents can work both consecutively and over the course of a week.

Presently, some residents work up to 120 hours a week, at up to 36 hours in a single stretch. It's not so much that I weep for their tough lives; they knew what they were getting into, after all. It's more a question of how good their care and their decision-making can possibly after 30+ consecutive hours awake and on call. I'm pretty sure I don't want the person treating me not to have slept for a day and a half.

The new rules - if they're properly enforced - will limit resident's work to an average of 80 hours in a week, and no more than 24 hours at a time.

I think it's a great idea, but I wonder what Dr. Greene and Dr. Carter would think of it?

6/13/2002

The Word We're Looking For is "Liability"

As in "political liability".

As in, "What is Karl Rove fast becoming for the President?"

The wonder boy who's apparently the major power in President Monkey Boy's White House somehow managed to lose a floppy disk containing a confidential anaylsys of the upcoming 2002 elections.

Other than Monkey Boy himself, no one seems to like poor Karl. The press picks on him, the Democrats scoff at him, and a lot of other Republicans appear to despise him. And his track record to date really isn't that great.

And he's the most trusted advisor of Monkey Boy. Which explains a lot.
Must See TV?

In the absence of anything better being on, I watched a bit of CNN's Crossfire again.

Today's topic was the Catholic Church scandals, and the debate over Title IX (the law that requires equal opportunity for women's sports teams in high schools and colleges). Neither topic was especially enlightening; the hosts (today it was Carville and Bob Novak) kept talking over each other and over their guests.

I still say that Carville looks like the henchman for a James Bond villain.

And Novak appears to be channeling Ronny Cox's performance in "Total Recall".

Eek.
Go Bob!

I'm watching the Discovery Wings chanel at the moment (digital cable is a good thing), and they're running a program called "Space Colonies" - an exploration of the concept of, obviously, space colonies, how they might develop, and so on.

One of the folks who's getting significant time on this show is the wonderful Bob Zubrin, a man whose praises have been sung in this space previously, and who in a sane society would currently occupy a position of power and influence, and be in command of multi-billion dollar budgets.

It's also narrated by Deep Space Nine's Captain Sisko, Avery Brooks, who's got a perfect voice for this sort of thing.

On a related note, astronomers announced the discovery of a solar system that may be very similar to our own.

Which obviously is yet another reason to get our space program in gear and start working on the colonizaion program. Every day we wait is another day lost.
Sad, But Probably True

This column on NRO today does an excellent job of explaining why a lot of folks on the Left seem to have such a problem with Israel.

The author makes the argument that the Left (at least the American Left) began to turn away from supporting Israel after the Six Day War of 1967, when an outmanned and outgunned Israeli Army emerged victorious against all the forces arrayed against it.

As the article puts it:

Simcha Dinitz, a former parliamentarian from the Labor party and one-time CEO of the World Zionist Organization, was sent to run Israeli public relations in America following the 1967 Six Day War. According to Dinitz, who was interviewed on Israeli television last week, the liberals in the United States preferred an Israel that was weak and needy — a perpetual, objectified victim. On the other hand, Dinitz said, the conservatives saw Israel defeat Soviet-backed Arab states on three separate fronts and reached the conclusion that the Jewish state was an ally to be counted on. Political alliances switched almost overnight, throwing American Jews for a loop.

To illustrate the problem Israel faced at that moment, Dinitz told the story of a speech he gave in 1967 to a group of American liberals who had traditionally supported Israel in the past. He was forced to explain to them that Israel's impressive victory had not transformed it from a David into a Goliath. Rather, he told the assembled liberals, we are David after he beat Goliath. Had David lost, Dinitz said, he would only have merited two lines in the Bible; he is David the King precisely because he defeated Goliath. After the speech, an activist with the Democratic party approached him and said, "That's all very well and good, but how can we support you when you are so close with the Republicans and Nixon?"

(emphasis mine)

That's it exactly. The Left - generally - prefers weakness to strength. It ascribes a sort of nobility to weakness. It looks at strength - military, economic, or any other kind - as illegitimate, as something that can only ever have been obtained wrongfully, and that can only ever be used for harm and not for good.

This is the logic of unilateral disarmament, and of appeasement, and of surrender. It is a fool's logic, and it can only lead to one's own destruction in the end.

It is, simply, madness.
Why Can't He Just Stick to Building Houses?

Former Peanut-Farmer-in-chief Jimmy Carter is apparently taking another break from his second career as an amateur carpenter for Habit for Humanity, in order to go visit yet another leftist, anti-American foreign leader.

What is it with Mr. Carter? Why does he have such a soft spot for dictators like Fidel Castro, criminal terrorists like Yasser Arafat, and failed demagogues like Venezuala's Hugo Chavez, the man whom Mr. Carter will soon visit?

Carter's Presidency was an utter failure, and his private efforts at diplomacy since then have been almost uniformly contrary to U.S. interests, and have served only to lend whatever dignity and legitimacy Mr. Carter might be seen to still possess to some of the most despicable people on the planet.

He has become, if he wasn't already, a joke and an embarrasment.
Some Philosophy

Expanding on my posting yesterday about the Estate Tax, I decided that I should clarify and expand my view on taxes and associated subjects.

It's important to start at the beginning: what is the purpose of taxes in the first place? The answer is simple: taxes are how we pay for the activities of our government.

The key here is in how you think about that. My view is that, essentially, the government itself is a contractor - an organization that we the people have "hired" to do a job. Taxes are how we pay for it, exactly the same as we'd write a check to an aluminium siding contractor.

In this case, of course, the job is much bigger: all the things that we either cannot accomplish individually but require nonetheless; or things that make our lives easier or our society run more smoothly.

The Constitution is, viewed in that light, an excellent contract. It explicitly sets out what we require of our contractor, and what power we will cede to that contractor over our lives and over society generally in order to accomplish the tasks we are asking of it. The Constitution directs our contractor to provide for the defense of the U.S., to establish a common currency, to "promote the arts and sciences", and so on.

Viewed in that light, it's clear that taxes are necessary. Not in a moral sense, but in a practical sense, and in a contractual one. What form they should take, however, is not nearly as clear.

Currently, there are a myriad of taxes: income taxes, excise taxes on specific items/services, gift taxes, the estate tax, and so forth. On a state and local level, we also have sales taxes and property taxes (more on those later). The rules regarding all these taxes are very complex, requiring a massive bueraucracy to administer them, and an entire industry to interpert them for the public. There is constant debate over who should pay which taxes, at what rate, etc.

This is partly due to the understandable human desire to pay as little as possible; to get a "free ride" if that can be accomplished. It is also due to the massive expansion of our contractor, and the scope of its responsibility and powers, far beyond anything our original contract ever contemplated.

And this is the heart of the problem: the government has become more than a contractor; it has become an end unto itself, and it has taken upon itself the power to expand its own scope and power at its discretion. With such expansion comes, naturally, higher costs, which must be paid by the American people.

The government has taken it upon itself to reshape the American people into what it believes they should be. One small example is the myriad rules towards the use of psychoactive chemicals by the citizenry. To wit:

Some psychoactive and potentially addictive substances are deemed acceptable for any citizen to use at any time, and are not specifically targeted with excise taxes: caffeine.

Some are outlawed to citizens below a certain age, and are specifically taxed due to their potential harm: nicotine, alcohol.

Some are allowed only by perscription: ritalin, coedeine.

Some are completely outlawed, with minimal penalties for use or sale: marijuana

Some are completely outlawed with heavy penalties: cocaine.

Of course, nowhere in our original contract does it call for the government to regulate which chemicals citizens may use, in what quantity, or at what age, or with whose approval. Certainly nowhere is it specified that the government should adjust tax rates so as to increase or decrease the use of such chemicals.

Similarly, nowhere in our contract does it specify that the government should have any role in redistributing wealth, or in enforcing any specific concept of "social justice". Yet this is precisely what the estate tax does, and, more, what its proponents claim in support of it.

All this points to the clear fact that whatever form ou tax system takes, it should be as simple as possible, as entirely devoid of attempts at social engineering or other such things that are not called for in our contract with the government. A flat tax, with all citizens paying an equal percentage of their income, would seem to be the most rational system. Wealthier citizens would pay more as their income rose, but this can be justified - as their wealth increases, it can be argued that they have more things to be protected by the government and more call on the other services of the government.

Earlier I mentioned local taxes. These are, generally, even more "contractual" than federal taxes - it is, usually, very clear what services are paid for by which taxes. For example, in most states, property taxes go directly to a few services: public schools being one of the main ones. Further, in most jurisdictions, any increase in such axes must be directly approved by the voters, and such increases can only be applied to the specific purposes set forth in the issues as they are written.

This is the ideal model: an explicit statement of what the taxes will pay for, and direct control by the voters. If they choose not to pay; if they choose not to contract that "service", they then must live with the result of that, for good or ill. In either case, it makes clear the proper relationship between citizen and government.

Obviously the federal government, with its large responsibilities, and the American people, nearly 300 million strong, cannot do things quite that way; it would be far too unwieldy.

But the principle there should be observed as far as possible, as should the principles set forth in the Constitution.

And thus, clearly, the estate tax should be immediately and permanantly repealed. And we're back where we started.
Unsurprising

The accusations of improprt content against American troops in the war on terror continue.

According to the article, a documentary titles "Massacre at Mazar" was sceretly filmed in Afghanistan, and was shown Wednesday at the Reichstag in Berlin. The showing was sponsored by the Party for Democratic Socialism. It will be shown to the European Parliament in a few days.

The article does give a few details on the film; apparently there is no footage of any actual war crimes or other improper conduct. There are reports by witnesses of horrible things they saw; that apparently makes up the entire film.

I wonder if the film mentions anywhere that it is specifically mentioned in Al Qaeda's training manuals that, when speaking to the media, members should claim to have been tortured, mistreated, etc by the enemy in order to score propaganda points.

I guess that trick works after all.
All Classified, All the Time

Or not. It turns out that the newest satellite-TV entertainment option is subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, thanks to the CIA.

For example, last week, viewers could have tuned in to watch:

a sudden security alert around the US army's Kosovan headquarters, Camp Bondsteel in Urosevac.

This almost unbelievable security lapse was brought to the attention of the intelligence community by a private citizen, John Locker, who's a satellite-TV hobbyist:

"I thought that the US had made a deadly error," he said. "My first thought was that they were sending their spyplane pictures through the wrong satellite by mistake, and broadcasting secret information across Europe."

He tried repeatedly to warn British, Nato and US officials about the leak. But his warnings were set aside. One officer wrote back to tell him that the problem was a "known hardware limitation".


Is it too much to ask that the CIA be even minimally competent? Apparently so.

6/12/2002

I (Don't) Want My MTV!

The latest bright idea from MTV: a show called "Harassment".

Unfortunately for the music channel that doesn't actually show music anymore, the show's facing a $10 million lawsuit even before it airs for the first time.

A Washington couple has slapped MTV and the Hard Rock hotel-casino with a $10 million lawsuit. The couple said they were given a room with hidden cameras.

Their reaction to finding what looked like a corpse was filmed for the MTV series "Harassment." When they tried to leave the room, two actors posing as security guards forced them back inside.

The show's host finally emerged to reveal the gag.

The Ryans claim their privacy was invaded. No comment yet from MTV or the Hard Rock.


Lovely. What will they think of next?
Death is Just the Beginning

At least, when it comes to taxation. The Senate today rejected the permanant repeal of the Estate Tax.

Or, as some of us refer to it as, the Death Tax. As the article notes, the Republicans (who generally supported the permanant repeal) will probably have a difficult time with the general public making this a big issue.

That's unfortunate, because it's an issue on which the principle in question is crystal clear. The Estate Tax is a flat-out redistribution of wealth. It's pure socialism. It attacks the very foundations of pivate property. And that's why it's wrong. It isn't about how much revenue will be lost or gained. It isn't about which programs will have to be cut or curtailed due to the lack of income from the tax. It's about the standing of the individual citizen versus that of the government.

And even if the repeal will only benefit a few, wealthy citizens, that's irrevelant. The tax is still wrong, on principle, and it's a shame that the Republicans don't have the nerve to actually stand by what they claim to believe and fight for it.

Family Ties

Following up on the note a couple of days ago reporting on the death of former Gambino Crime Family boss John Gotti, I feel that full disclosure demands I mention a couple of namesakes of mine who have a few things in common with the late, lamented Mr. Gotti.

When I was in junior high school (which puts it im 1982 or 1983), the New York Daily News reported on the conviction of one Jimmy "The Clown" DiBenedetto. He had made an unfortunate and socially disapproved-of career choice: contract murder. I believe that Mr. DiBenedetto is presently a "guest" of the State of New York, and will remain so for the rest of his natural life. I have yet to find an online reference to document this, but I will continue the search and post it if and when it is found.

More recently, and fully documented, are the legal troubles of one Joseph "Little Joe" DiBenedetto, son-in-law of the Boss of the Luchese Crime Family (who's also in jail for life; there's something of a theme here). He was indicted last June for racketeering and embezzling in the construction industry (clearly in addition to a truly unimaginiative Maria nickname, Little Joe went with a well-worn mob career choice).

To my knowledge, I am not actually related to either of these gentlemen (it's not impossible, though, and I wouldn't be completely surprised if three or four generations back, there is some tenuous family connection here), for which I am very grateful. Although I bet that the Christmas presents from a hitman and the son-in-law of a Capo would probably have been really, really cool.
Fair Weather Friends

There's a lot of talk in the media and among policy elites about how unilateralist the U.S. is; how we try to get out of, or don't sign in the first place, treaties we don't like; how we act like a bad international citizen; and how barbaric our legal system can be (this last mostly pertaining to the death penalty, used in the U.S. and opposed throughout Europe).

Well, there may be some truth to some of that; the U.S. is hardly blameless or faultless.

But neither is Europe, as this article, originally printed in April and today reposted on NRO, points out.

The situation described therein has been reported on in the Post and in other U.S. news outlets occasionally: the unwillingness of European authorities to return to the U.S. children who have been abducted to Europe by their parents (in the case of a marriage of a U.S. citizen and a foreign citizen, when the foreign parent decides to return home with their child, with or without legal authority).

This is absolutely a disgrace. There are over 1,000 cases a year reported. In many, there is explicit legal authority for shared custory and visitation rights, or full custody awarded to the U.S. parent. And yet, in the face of legal authority, European courts refuse to enforce the laws - even refuse to enforce their own court orders, while the U.S. parents are forced to spend months or years and thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in efforts to retrieve their children, only to be slapped in the face by our friends and allies.

There is an international treaty that addresses this: the Hague Convention. The U.S. acts in accordance with it, and U.S. citizens proceed under its authority to try and retrieve their children, and our oh-so-observant-of-international-law European allies flount it.

We should all remember that the next time we are lectured about American disrespect for international law.

Back to Court!

It appears that Former Narcissist in Chief Clinton cannot completely escape the consequences of his behavior. The U.S. Court of Appeals today today reversed a lower court's dismissal of two counts of a lawsuit against Clinton (and several others) filed by Dolly Kyle Browning, one of the many women Clinton had a "special relationship" with.

I know, I know, we're all sick of Clinton, and we'd like to see him slink off into the sunset once and for all. But this is a mess of his own making, and it is heartening to see that he'll have to trudge back into court and deal with it.

Something Old, Something New

There's an interesting variety in the Congressional reaction to news of the arrest of the so-called "dirty bomber", as this article shows.

We've got the usual: Tom Daschle making an accusation and in the very same breath denying the possibility that he would ever, ever make such an accusation:

"The information was available earlier — why was it not announced?" asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, adding that he wants to know why Attorney General John Ashcroft disclosed the May 8 arrest while in Russia on Monday. "There may have been a rush to bring it before the news media" in the wake of last week's criticism of U.S. intelligence agencies, Mr. Daschle said. But the South Dakota Democrat was quick to add, "I am certainly confident that the administration would not politicize this issue."

Yes, that's exactly tre same sort of confidence that sports team owners express in their coaches the day before they fire them. Thanks for the refreshing clarity and honesty, Tom.

We also have the somewhat unusual: generally reliably liberal Senator Charles Schumer of New York, talking tough:

"If you aid and abet the enemy, whether you're a citizen or not, you're not entitled to the right of due process," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We don't give prisoners of war due process. There's the Geneva Convention and other rules. With this terrorism, that man is like a prisoner of war."

I might have expected such words from some of the Republican Senators, but from Mr. Schumer? Wow.

It just goes to show, you never know what can happen.
Begging the Question

This morning on NRO, Dov Fischer asks a blindlingly obvious question:

If Yasser Arafat can't control the terrorism of "his" people, what is the point in negotiating with him?

This is a question that no one at the State Department, or among Arafat's groupies in the EU seem to be asking. Perhaps that's because the answer is, as Fischer puts it:

In the end, Arafat finally has maneuvered himself out of the playing field. If he cannot control the terrorism, it is pointless to negotiate with him. And if, in the face of these many months of horrible suicide-bombing indecency, he has continued participating in the ongoing terror infrastructure that he so methodically constructed and nurtured during the eight years since Oslo, then the suffering he has caused must no longer be suffered.

Precisely.
Shut Up, Maureen

Maureen Dowd is in especially tiresome form with her Wednesday AM column in the Times.

She's whining about how the Monkey Boy administration is playing on public fears in order to retain its popularity, and over-hyping everything they're doing as part of the campaign against terrorism.

I don't know how great their claimed victories really are, or how dire the threats they speak of may be. But I do know that in the eyes of Ms. Dowd and her duplicitious ilk, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

If the administration doesn't talk about what it's doing, they're obviously losing the war on terror and are incompetent; not to mention being far too secretive. If they do talk about positive accomplishments, they're overhyping matters to distract the public. If they downplay threats against us, they're doing a disservice to the American people who deserve to know what risks they face; if they talk about the threats, they're deliberately scaring us.

I think that for Ms. Dowd, the problem with Monkey Boy is that he's not a Martin-Sheen-on-"West Wing"-esqie President - too clever for his own good, handsome, always ready with a bon mot, and of course a liberal Democrat in the spoiler Manhattan yuppie mold. No matter what President Monkey Boy does, she (and most of the folks who write at the Times, and the Post for that matter) will never accept him.

And for this drivel she's a columnist on the most prestigious newspaper, arguably, on the planet. Go figure.

6/11/2002

Look and See

No news here, just an admonition to take a look at Jeff Durkin's site; he's updated it with a lot of info and some commentaries (it's updated more or less daily and is worth a look every morning just to browse his detailed collection of news, commentary and information links).

He's got some very on-point things to say about President Monkey Boy's proposal for the new Department of Homeland Security. In part, he says:

It is also unclear how the new Department will interact with the FBI and CIA. Can it force them to take action if it deems such action necessary? Will we see further turf wars, now amplified by another quasi-defense/intelligence agency? Given the way the government functions - and the scope of this new agency - it seems unlikely that it will function well over the long term. Many of the groups it will encompass - the Coast Guard, the INS successor, Customs, the Border Patrol - have substantial peacetime responsibilities. How compatible will these be with the War on Terror focus?

I have to wonder if anyone in the administration has even thought about these questions in any depth, let alone come up with any answers.

I suspect, and I'd guess that Jeff would probably agree, that the answer is a resounding no.
Those Darn Christians Again

While wandering through NRO's very own Blog, I happened upon a link to this article written by NR writer Rod Dreher last year.

He discusses a book written by semanirian (and daughter of a sitting Supreme Court justice) Chloe Breyer. The book, "The Close" describes her first year at the seminary, and based on Dreher's withering commentary regarding it, I'm going to have to read t for myself and report back to you about it.
Make Up Your Own Joke

It's just too easy, so I leave it to the regular four readers of this site to come up with their own pithy and clever headline for this story.

It seems that at a meeting of the local Democratic Party in Atlantic City, NJ, tempers were strained to the point that a knife fight erupted. Two supporters of rival factions, Jihad Calloway and Elijah Steele, pulled out their blades in order to resolve their political differences.

Craig Calloway, brother of the unfortunately named Jihad, is the leader of one faction of the A.C. Democrats. AS a rival put it:

Craig Callaway is the Mike Tyson of Atlantic City politics. Eventually the same thing that happened to Tyson will happen to Callaway."

You know, there really isn't much I can add to that.
Post Postings

A few comments on the Post's OpEd page this AM.

To begin: this may be the first time I have ever unqualifiedly agreed with E.J. Dionne. He's writing about the Catholic Church, and specifically about the article penned by Carinal Maradiaga (commented upon in this space previously).

Dionne takes essentially the same tack I did, and obviously I agree completely.

I don't agree with Richard Cohen, unsurprisingly. He's in Italy for a conference, and he attended a speech by Bill Kristol.

In his speech, Kristol laid out his (and, Cohen claims - and on this I hope he's right the administration's) view of what the U.S. should do in the Middle East. Kristol called for the removal of governments in Iraq and Saudi Arabia among other places.

Cohen, needless to say, doesn't like this. He grudingly agrees that an Iraq armed with nuclear weapons would be a bad thing, but that's just about as far as he goes. He talks about European opposition to this view, including a note that "Europeans are not much concerned about Israel."

They are, but in the wrong way, viewing Ireael (generally, if what I'm reading from the European press is to be believed) as an oppressive power, and even as an illegitimate nation ("that shitty little country" as the French foreign minister would have it).

Well, too bad for them. If the European leaders can't tell right from wrong, good from bad, legitimate military action in defense of one's nation from terrorism and murder, that's their problem.

More NRO

It's an National Review kind of morning here at the Empire. Check out Jay Nordlinger's column. I'm going to quote a couple of paragraphs here, because what he says is important, and he says it more eloquently than I could:

I related a tale about Norman Mailer, who said — at a conference on the Cold War sponsored by the New York Times — that he and his fellow American writers in the 1950s were “like the Russian dissidents.” Typical, I said, for the likes of Mailer to latch on to the achievements and sufferings of others. Mailer wasn’t anything like a Russian dissident. For one thing, he talked and wrote and agitated openly, without fear of arrest. The only thing he had to worry about was receiving two awards on the same day: which ceremony would he attend? Second, Mailer spent much of his career apologizing for the Soviet persecutors of the Russian dissidents; therefore, he effectively opposed those dissidents.

Anyway, when I spoke of this phenomenon to my colleague David Pryce-Jones — the phenomenon of false identification or false comparison — he instantly remembered an event in Budapest. The year was 1989, in the summer, just as things were breaking up. Imre Nagy, the Hungarian leader who was killed by the Soviets in 1956, was being re-buried. At the gravesite, a member of the British delegation, one Christopher Hope, a novelist, spoke. He said (roughly), “Imre Nagy opposed tyranny, and we in Britain know all about tyranny, because we’ve lived under Mrs. Thatcher.” Typical stuff.

Then a remarkable thing happened. The leader of the Soviet delegation, the poet Andrei Voznesensky, got up and said, “What are you talking about? Mrs. Thatcher has been elected, more than once, by popular will. She is subject to all democratic processes. Britain and Mrs. Thatcher have nothing to do with what we’re talking about or commemorating here.” This was a member — the leader — of the Soviet delegation, mind you. Not even the Hungarian.

It was an electric moment. For all those Western leftists who now shed a tear, or have a kind word, for the Russian dissidents: Too late.


I could not possibly agree more. Yes, there are things in the U.S. - in the West generally - that are wrong, there are abuses of human rights, there are abuses of power, there are all kinds of things that one can and should criticize.

But the fact is, whatever the sins of the West, they pale in comparison to the documented atrocities committed by the Soviet Union, and its satellite powers, during the Cold War; or the atrocities currently ongoing in the People's Republic of China, and in just about every state in the Middle East except for Israel.

These are facts, facts which the people of those states would confirm - if one could ask them, and if they could speak freely without the threat of imprisonment or death.

Sad But True

Very depressing but accurate column from John Derbyshire on NRO this morning.

Derbyshire discusses the issue of civic participation in governance, taking as a starting point his experience as a local school board meeting. He makes some good points: the average person seemingly doesn't have the time, energy, or background knowledge to actively participate in local politics on a consistent basis. I think I have to agree with that, unfortunately. And as the issues get larger, they get even more complex, and the consequences more wide-ranging, forcing us to leave everything to our self-selected political class.

Not sure what the solution is, to be honest, but it is worth a lot of thought to try and come up with one.
Baby Steps

President Monkey Boy took another tiny step towards earning back some measure of respect with his comments about a Middle East peace summit.

He said that the time is not right, because "no one has confidence in the emerging Palestinian government."

No one who's honest - or sane - at any rate.

The real test is not what the President says, though, it's what he does. Let's see his actions, and maybe we'll have to stop calling him Monkey Boy for a while.
Why Does He Even Bother Anymore?

Another day, another Paul Krugman column bashing President Monkey Boy.

I wonder if he's got a template where he can just fill in a few words onto the generic rant against the administration, sort of like the old Mad-Libs books for kids. He might as well.

Today's column goes after Monkey Boy adviser Karl Rove. Krugman says nothing we haven't heard a million times already; Rove is a political creature, which I'm not sure why anyone is surprised about. Krugman approvingly quotes an Esquire story that's already been partly discredited, and also praises Former Narcissict-in-Chief Clinton:

One of his underappreciated virtues was his considerable idealism when it came to economic policy.

Yeah, sure. Would you like us to buy some swampland in Florida, too, Mr. Krugman?

Stepping Back Towards the Abyss?

Tensions between India and Pakistan seem to have been cooling the past few days, but it seems that President Musharraf of Pakistan isn't so happy.

He wants to see more "concrete" steps from India; yesterday's re-opening of Indian airspace to Pakistani passenger flights is just a "cosmetic" move.

Musharraf also talked about his visit to the Persian Gulf nations:

"The least the Pakistani people expect is moral and diplomatic support. The Arab and Muslim worlds have to see the realities on the ground and uphold justice and come openly in support of Pakistan."

I don't think the whole Muslim world rallying behind Pakistan would be good for stability, but I do have to wonder: if, as we're told, all Muslims are brothers, who must support one another regardless of nationality, why is it that when Israel kills a handful of Muslims in the West Bank, it's an atrocity that raises calls for total war throughout the Middle East, but when a war between Muslim Pakistan and largely Hindu India threatens to potentially kill millions of Muslims, we don't hear a peep. Al Jazeera doesn't seem to be calling for Jihad and the annihilation of India and the Hindu people. Why?

Oh, right. It isn't really about Islan, or brotherhood, or anything except hating Jews. Sorry, forgot that for a minute.

6/10/2002

Who Knew?

It's sort of a random news day here in the Empire. And here's another odd little bit that doesn't really have anything to do with anything, but is amusing nonetheless. It's from an interview with Captain Picard himself, Patrick Stewart. In Stewart's words:

we have a big following in the police force, which is sometimes useful. We have some real stars as fans: Frank Sinatra was an obsessive Star Trek watcher, Bob Dylan is and so is Tom Hanks. The first time I met Tom, all he wanted to talk about was the series. There are small libraries of books written about The Next Generation and two books written about my character. There's even one on my character's business technique.

Frank Sinatra was a Trekkie? Can you picture it? Frankie and Dean and Sammy and the rest of the gang, after a long day of boozing and gambling and general Rat Pack-ery, going back to a big, glitzy suite at the Sands, kicking back and watching some Trek.

Cool.
Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto You

It looks as though the Monkey Boy administration may be doing a couple of things right after all.

According to this article from today's Post, the administration is looking at a shift in policy towards "preempting" terrorist attacks by striking first.

It's about time. Our question is, is this just more groundwork for a near future attack against Iraq, or groundwork for an entirely other planned attack against someone else, or just theoretical policy?

I'm guessing Iraq, but I suppose time will tell.
You Are Dead to Me, Fredo

Well, the last of the famous Mafia dons has met his fate. John Gotti, former boss of the Gambino crime family, died of cancer while languishing in prison.

Gotti took over the family in 1985, after the murder of then-boss "Big Paul" Castellano (which took place at Gotti's order). His son took over the family, until his conviction in 1999; he too is now a guest of the state.

Gotti's longtime attorney, Bruce Cutler, said the late don was "a man of pride, principle and dignity" in a 1999 interview with ABCNEWS' 20/20. "John Gotti always made it a point of proclaiming that he was his own man, and I think a lot of people find a very appealing message in there."

We presume that Gotti was also a man who always paid his attorneys promptly and in full.

There Are Bad Reviews and Then There Are bad Reviews

While looking at advance reviews for the upcoming spy thriller "The Bourne Identity", I came across this one.

It's not really remarkable, except for this little bit at the end. The reviewer is discussing what Robert Ludlum, author of the novel upon which the film is based, would think of the film:

Ludlum, who passed away last year at the age of 74 and who has sold more than 200 million copies of his 20-odd books, would not be happy with this adaptation. In an 1992 interview with Martin H. Greenberg, he related seeing the adaptation of his “The Osterman Weekend” he said after seeing an advance copy of the film, related that “twenty minutes into the film I picked up the phone and booked passage to Hong Kong so we wouldn’t be here when it opened…Hemingway did it best when he sold a novel to movies. He tore up the manuscript and threw it into the Mississippi River.”

He left town so as to not be there when the movie opened. Wow. Could there be a better statement about your opinion of a movie than that? You have to admire it.
Planned Obsolescence

This doesn't have much to do with anything, but it is really neat in a pointless, retro, gee-whiz sort of way and therefore merits mention:

Check this out.

In case you surf there and the story's gone:

Last week, after the report on vinyl records as a solution to music piracy, we asked "Now . . . can they get a computer game onto one of those things?"

"Yes, actually: many years ago a British computer magazine had a cover flexidisc containing programs for several early 80s home computers; ZX80, Commodore Pet, and so forth. You just needed to connect a record player to your cassette recorder, then play the cassette into the cassette port of your computer. I think there were a couple of 1k and 4k games. It would have been possible to plug the record player directly into the computer with the right cable.


Who knew?
It's a Start

Cardinal Avery dulles, currently a professor at Fordham University, has an OpEd in today's Times.

He talks about the priest-abuse scandal, and the actions the Church is taking to deal with it. He seems to be keeping mostly to the Church's official line, although he does raise some questions worthy of thought.

For example, what to do with priests who have committed their act(s) of abuse long ago, have repented, and have not harmed anyone for 20 or 30 years?

I'd argue that what the Church does with them is up to the Church, but they should still be subject to the criminal justice system, if it's applicable, and the victims wish to pursue their complaints. Certainly two decades is no bar to justice: just ask former radical Sarah Jane Olson or Michael Skakel about that.

Although he does talk about reporting accusations of abuse to the civil authorities, the Cardinal is still focused on Church justice. What will the Church do? Will the Church defrock abusive priests? Will it send them to monasteries?

This misses the point. As has been noted in this space repeatedly, if priests sexually abuse children, they have commited a crime, which the state will judge and punish. Before they are sent to a monestary or defrocked, they should be going to prison, if convicted. That's the step that's missing here, the full acceptance that what's going on is not "just" sin but also criminal behavior.

The Church certainly recognizes civil law; in the Gospels, does it not say "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's"?


Blogs Within Blogs

I received this article from the Wall Street Journal in email; since the WSJ is not free online, I'll post excerpts here. It seems that there's something of a civil war among us in the blog community (or blogosphere, as some would have it).


Then came the war bloggers. The war-blogging movement took off after Sept. 11 as people used blogs to vent their anger about the terrorist attacks. Though they are still commonly known as war blogs, these sites now address a wide range of news and political topics, usually from right of center.

Thanks in part to the participation of some prominent journalists and academics, the pundit-style blogs quickly reached a level of public and media recognition that other blogs had never achieved. As a result, some latecomers now think Weblogs are inherently political. That has perturbed some Weblog veterans, who say the war bloggers are rewriting history and presenting a distorted view of blogs. They say the diversity of Weblogs is being overshadowed by the attention-getting style of war blogs.


I suppose that the Empire would have to be counted as a war blog, if it has to be categorized in one camp or the other.

I think the big problem is explained thusly:

(longtime logger Jeff) Kottke acknowledged that he felt a little resentment about the rise of war blogs, but said that was natural when an underground phenomenon goes mainstream. "It's like being the punk-rock fan who was into punk rock before everyone else," he said. The criticism of the book project was meant to improve the book by providing some perspective, Mr. Kottke added.

I suppose if nothing else, we can observe that you know something as "arrived" when the navel gazing and "it was better in the good old days" talk begins.
He's Not the President, He Only Plays One On TV

Martin Sheen, uber-liberal and star of "The West Wing" (where he plays a sanitized - heck, utterly faultless almost to the point of sainthood - version of former Narcissist-in-Chief Bill Clinton) spent the weekend campaigning for Janet Reno.

Reno is the Democratic candidate for governor in Florida. Sheen explained that:

"She's one of my heroes, one of the most impressive public servants I've known in my lifetime."

Thank you, Mr. Sheen. What I wonder is what he finds most impressive:

Her hampering of campaign finance investigations against the Clinton administration?

Her role in the Waco debacle?

Her insanely over-zealous actions as a prosecutor in Florida during the day-care abuse hysteria before she became Attorney General? She had a role in keeping some people in prison long after their accusers had recanted.

There's more, of course, but the above is good enough for now.
Calling Curtis Sliwa

Anyone remember the Guardian Angels? They were a New York City based group that sent volunteers out on safety patrols. Some called them vigilantes, but the group seemed to work out alright, and was even exported to other cities.

Well, the 21st centuryt version of the Angels is here.

Only, unlike the Angels, they're going to be armed. With shotguns. As the article says:

the street patrols would include 50 to 200 people of various religious faiths, mainly Jews, carrying shotguns in bags, along with people licensed to own and carry other types of firearms. Others will carry bats, pipes, cell phones and walkie-talkies and will patrol the streets daily from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. except Friday, the Jewish Sabbath.

Hey, makes sense to me. I do wonder what the NYPD will have to say about it, though, not to mention Mayor Bloomberg.

I think we can all guess what former Mayor Rudy Giuliani would have thought of it. He'd probably have joined them for the occasional patrol...
Mistakes Were Made

There's a story in this morning's Post about former D.C. Judge Evelyn E.C. Queen, who's trying to be appointed to the position of Senior Judge.

Judge Queen is the jurist who, a couple of years back, placed a 23 month old child, Brianna Blackmond, with her troubled birth mother, taking the child away from a loving and stable foster. Brianna died from abuse by her mother 13 days later.

Judge Queen was, as the Post story notes, absolved of responsibility for this, and, as the story also notes, there were mistakes made (and perhaps lies told) by other attorneys involved in the case.

Doesn't matter. To quote a cliche: with great power comes great responsibility. If you want the fate of others place in our hands, you have to be perfect, or as close to perfect as a person can get. And if you make such a terrible mistake, that should disqualify you from holding that power in the future.

Now, readers of this site will note that I'm not big on forgiveness. Fair enough. But would you trust your child's fate to be decided by a woman who consigned a 2 year old to death?

At the time, Judge Queen retreated behind the judicial wall of silence. Had she been completely open; had she taken full responsibility (regardless of the errors of others, the final decision was hers) for what happened; and had she addmitted her error in detail and her regret and her determination to do everything in her power to make sure suich a thing never again happened in her courtroom, I might be more inclined to forgive.

But when, as you can read in the story, Judge Queen continues to justify herself and absolve herself of responsibility, there can be for forgetting and certainly no forgiveness.

6/09/2002

The Android Speaks!

Well, it was only a matter of time. Former vice president Gore spoke out about President Monkey Boy's handling of the global warming report.

Unsurprisingly, he is critical of the simian-in-chief and the way in which he's dealt with the report.

Now we agree that the handling of the report was pretty poor, but Al Gore's view (as laid out in his book) is an extreme one, which would utterly wreck our economy; Gore, like some (not all) on the far left/Green axis, is opposed to large scale industrial civilization in principle.

Which, of course, is why, disappointed as we are in President Monkey Boy, we're still grateful that it's him rather than Gore in the Oval Office right now.
Their Own Worst Enemy

Watching the talking head shows this AM. On Fox, a long interview with the brother of convicted murderer Michael Skakel. Lots of sobbing about what a great person Skakel is, how much sadness he's been through in his life, how innocent he is, etc.

Forgive me for being so heartless, but the evidence was pretty clear; and the only reason it took 27 years for the crime to be prosecuted was the Kennedy family connections. He's where he belongs, and he'll be there for a long time, and that's a good thing.

After that, a very brief segment with two awful congresspeople: Democrat Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, and Republican Peter King of New York. I was actually more annoyed with King; his effusive praise of President Monkey Boy (King claimed that our simian President had turned around U.S. policy towards Al Qaeda in July of 2001; complete nonsense) bordered on the absurd.

Now, on Face the Nation, we just had Tom Ridge, trying to explain how Monkey Boy's proposal for a Cabinet-level department for homeland security wasn't a complete 180 degree turn in policy, even though all the evidence says it was; and how coming up with the proposal was a consultative process, even though it clearly wasn't.

Ack.
They Should Have Killed Him When They Had the Chance

Yasser Arafat is at it again.

If he doesn't get everything he wants, and right now, and without any compromise or any action at all on his part, well..."there will be a disastrous explosion that will impact the stability of the whole world."

Yes, he's a partner for peace. Of course he is.
They Just Don't Get It

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras writes in the Italian Catholic magazine Trente Giorni about the U.S. media coverage of the pedophilia scandal, as described in this article.

The Cardinal, reported to be one of a half dozen leading candidates to become the next Pope, says that:

"The U.S. media appears ... to act with a fury that reminds me at times of Diocletian and Nero and more recently of Stalin and Hitler. "The church should be free of this kind of treatment."

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. That's the Cardinal's. Mine is that maybe, just maybe, the Church's hierarchy shouldn't have protected and covered up and shuffled around known pedophiles for the last half century (or longer). Maybe the Church, in its role as shepherd, should have been more concerned with the good of its flock and less with protecting its own reputation.

No doubt there is some opportuism on the part of some of those who attack the Church now; there are other agendas at work. But so what? The slings and arrows of the Washington Post and the Boston Globe should not worry the Church. The Catholic Church existed for 1900 years before either of those newspapers came about, and the Catholic Church will exist long after they're both long gone. If those organizations are using this scandal to make a broader attack on other Church policies or beliefs, let them. This too shall pass.

But the heart of the scandal, the real wrongs done to parishoners by priests, and concealed and abetted by bishops and cardinals; these will not go away, and these will poison the congregations if they are not forthrightly addressed and corrected - and prideful nonsense such as Cardinal Maradiaga puts forward will not help.