I Really Don't Mean to Bash the EU, But...

How else to explain this?

As the article points out, two years ago, when Austria rana clean, legitimate election and came up with neo-Fascist Haider as their leader, the rest of the EU threatens sanctions and generally cries that the sky is falling (as they did with Le Pen in France recently).

Today, when the U.S. says that it won't deal with a known terrorist and murderer who to this day is funding suicide bombers, and whose supporters admit is powerless to control his people, and the EU members rail against us.

Double standard, anyone?

I'm not sure why this OpEd in today's Times bothers me so much. Especially because I do sympathisize with the author and his wife, and would probably have acted exactly as they did in similar circumstances. But let's go over it in detail and see if we can figure it out:

Two years ago this summer, my wife and I lost a baby. I say "lost," as if we had misplaced it. There is nothing like abortion to make you appreciate the solace of euphemism. Lord knows the zealots who have occupied the field and mined it with moral explosives have left little room for comfort.

I guess using the word "lost" here bothers me, as well as the utterly casual throwing around of abortion.

Let's begin with what happened. At 17 weeks, we went to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City to view ultrasound pictures of our future child and have amniotic fluid drawn for testing. The ultrasound image showed that the fetus was not growing as fast as expected, and before long we had a couple of specialists puzzling over the pictures. Why was there so little fluid? Why was the placenta so large? Was there a defective chromosome? Were the kidneys missing?

They rushed the tests, but the chromosomes revealed nothing more about our stunted fetus, except that he was male. This is the double-edged scalpel of reproductive science. The technology that informs you your future baby is mysteriously endangered also makes him real, a boy-like creature swimming in utero. (And this was before the new, hyper-realistic sonography that, judging by General Electric's TV commercials, portrays your fetus as a mesmerizing little 3-D merman.)

I suppose I can't really blame the author here, but the sense of - I don't know, entitlement, maybe? - bothers me. As though the Universe owes us perfect knowledge. Some things simnply can't be known, some choices can't be informed. I don't like it any more than the author does, but I have yet to find God's Complaint Department to register my protests.

Yes, I know how shamelessly the anti-abortion lobby has exploited this illusion to give tadpole-sized fetuses the poster appeal of full-grown infants. But no amount of reasoning about the status of this creature can quite counteract the portrait that begins to form in your heart with the poetry of the first heartbeats. Sentimental fools, we gave him a name, Charlie, maybe imagining it would help him put up a fight.

Right here; this is bothersome. The author again casually smacks those who are opposed to abortion - while at the same time describing how he came to view his unborn child precisely in the way that they view all unborn children. And then: "sentimental fools". It almost reads as though he feels required to distance himself from his unborn child in order to retain his Upper West Side Liberal membership card.

For the next five weeks Emma was examined by the best minds at one of the best hospitals. She was screened for viruses, blood disorders, hereditary indicators — all normal. She had weekly sonograms by virtuosos of the machine. There were momentary highs (kidneys were functioning after all; a dissenting sonogram reader even thought the amniotic fluid was on the rise) and dispiriting lows (bad blood flow to the fetus, which meant organs were probably not developing properly), but no definite answers. Something was clearly, badly wrong.

The doctors assumed that, of course, we would want to abort, as soon as possible. "We know you can get pregnant easily," Emma's obstetrician said. "Why risk an unhappy outcome?" She urged us to schedule quickly, because it would be difficult to line up a surgeon around the July 4 holiday. Appalled by the rush, Emma changed doctors, but we never quite escaped the feeling that by holding out, week after week, hoping for better odds, we were being more than a little eccentric.

"Risk an unhappy outcome"? THat's a pretty unchangeable part of human life, unfortunately. It can't simply be eliminated.

The author also fails to realize - and clearly is ungrateful for - the fact that the knowledge available to him and his wife and the tests performed have not been available until the past few years;until recently, no potential parent in the whole history of the human race woud have been able to know so much about their unborn child as the author did. And even with universal health care, such knowledge would not be available to everyone. There simply aren't enough machines, or enough specialists, and there could never be; the author is so priviliged, and so unaware of it, that there simply aren't words.

My wife clings more firmly to her faith than I, so she called the hospital's Catholic chaplain for counseling and left tear-choked voicemails explaining the predicament. He never called back. She found some consolation outside official channels, from a nun she's known since school. "Think about what God would want, not what the church would want," the nun advised, with a wisdom that would surely disqualify her from Vatican office. "They are not always necessarily the same thing."

As we approached 24 weeks, the legal deadline for abortions in New York, the most explicit prognosis we could wheedle from the experts was that chances were high — one was willing to say over 90 percent — that the baby would be born dead or in a vegetative state. And carrying the child to term would pose some danger to Emma's health. Facing the prospect of a greater heartbreak, watching a child die or suffer inconsolably, or exhausting the emotional resources needed for two other children, we decided to end it. The last thing Emma was aware of before surrendering to the anesthetic was Charlie kicking madly.

I believe that abortion is utterly repellant. But in this situation, I imagine that I would likely make the same choice as the author.

Two years later, past the mourning and the guilt and into the precarious hope of a new pregnancy, our experience at the intersection of science and parenthood haunts my thinking in ways I did not anticipate. Among other things it has deepened my suspicion of moral clarity, and also of disembodied rationalism, both of which seem to offer a kind of ethics without human beings. The ideologues on both sides, those who view abortion as an absolute wrong and those who view it as an inalienable right, too often treat these decisions as if they were clear-cut and pain-free.

If you'd asked me before that summer, I'd have told you reflexively that I was pro-choice. As a matter of law and politics, that is still my position, for this is not a decision I would entrust to courts and legislatures, even given that some parents will make choices I would find repugnant. But like a lot of parents who have lived through it, I have come to see "choice" as a mixed blessing.

Moral clarity isn't easy. Doing the "right thing", whatever that is, isn't easy. It is often very painful. That's precisely why it's so rare.

I've often wondered what we'd have done if the decision had been less stark — if the doctor had said 50-50, or if the gamble had been on something known, on Down syndrome or one of the severe crippling diseases. Would we have had the strength to ride it out? The fact that I think of this as something to aspire to is itself a change of heart.

Science is rapidly chipping away at biological uncertainty. In addition to the growing sophistication of pregnancy testing — amnio and chorionic villus sampling and sonograms and specialized blood screens — some fertile couples now spend the money for in vitro fertilization, accompanied by genetic analysis before the embryo is implanted, to screen for abnormalities that may not kick in for 20 years. It is already possible to check embryos for a gene that will show a predisposition for Alzheimer's. Scientists anticipate tests that will predict whether your child is likely to be homosexual, or unusually aggressive.

And what's unsaid here is that the folks who can afford this are people who - generally - view their children as trophies or qchievements rather than people.

There is astonishingly little good research on what parents do with this proliferating prenatal information (the subject of abortion is too much of a political minefield to get the research funded), but it is fair to say that the reproductive industrial complex grinds in favor of "perfection." For some parents, the abortion threshold is multiple sclerosis. For some, it's a cleft palate. Counselors who specialize in this say there are prospective parents who end pregnancies because they had their hearts set on the other gender.

"You get questionable news and you make the abortion decision," said Adrienne Asch, a Wellesley bioethicist who argues that prenatal screening and selective abortion have become too routine. "Anything else you do is viewed as stupid by your educated friends, by your doctors, by your genetic counselors."

I don't know where the line is, between MS and a cleft palate. I wouldn't want to be the one to draw it. But wherever that line is, I think it's safe to say that cleft palate is on one side of it and MS on the other. That's the peoblem with this; while there is a large gray area, some things are still black and white, and folks like the author don't want to admit that.

Just as with the sex selection. Prospective parents "who had their hearts set on the other gender" and therefore abort are, to my mind, vile. I'm sorry. It's just selfish; it's not about what your heart is set on; it's a human being of its own who will have a whole life ahead of it - a life you might not approve of, someday, but that's what life is all about.

No one mandates prenatal testing, although it is such an automatic part of the regimen that many expectant mothers believe it is obligatory, and few fight it. My wife is a testing skeptic. She is convinced that if we had just let nature take its course, without sonograms and amniocentesis, "we would have lost that baby, but we would not have killed that baby." All the same, the next time around we tested. Emma says she didn't have the energy to defend her "right to be ignorant" — to doctors, friends and a husband who can't bear not knowing.

It seems to me a plausible fear that eventually these decisions will slip more and more from our hands. In a world of market-driven health care, I can imagine insurers refusing to cover a costly childhood disability that could have been detected in advance and "prevented" by aborting. Wouldn't that be an infringement of choice as surely as outlawing abortion?

This is not a subject with much of a middle ground, but one reasonable alternative to reducing parents' choices is to make their choices more educated. Adrienne Asch, for example, advocates better counseling of prospective parents at the time of testing, including some informed discussion of what life is like for children born disabled — to present that as a choice rather than an unthinkable horror. Glenn McGee, a University of Pennsylvania ethicist who is more sympathetic to prenatal screening, agrees with her that the system offers too little support for parents who might want to keep an "imperfect" baby. Most parents who reach the second trimester, when the most intensive testing takes place, have already made a place in their hearts for a child. But the counseling they get when something wrong shows up is cursory, not covered by insurance and geared to avoiding the burden of abnormality. Perhaps Planned Parenthood would like to live up to its name by taking this on.

I can agree with this. More information is obviously a good thing. And this is a place where the pro choice side can behave with some of the compassion they claim to have, rather than just dogma and demagogery.

As for our story, it has, if not a happy ending, at least a happy new beginning: Our daughter Alice was born 11 days ago. L'Chaim!

Good for them. I think that the author will be a very caring parent, and I wish his family the best, even if the likely result is that one day Alice will end up as another spoiled, pampered Mahnattan liberal, just like her daddy. That is her right, after all...


Such a Bargain!

Have you ever wanted to own a professional sports franchise? Well, now you can!

It's easy, too. Just log on to EBay, and check out:

this listing.

And all for only $2 million (plus some additional costs: the listing notes that: "Buyer pays for all shipping costs. Will ship to United States and the following regions: Canada.").

I wonder if they'd take a personal check?
Surprise, Surprise

Once again we are given the spectacle of someone who knowingly does something that he knows will be deeply unpopular and misunderstood, and then acts surprised and plays the martyr when, lo and behold, his actions prove to be unpopular and misunderstood.

In this case, of course, we're talking about the plaintiff in the Pledge of Allegience case. There has, unsurprisingly, been a lot of reaction to his lawsuit and the results to date.

Obviously the threats are wrong, and most likely criminal, and those who have threatened this man and his family need to go to jail.

But why is it a surprise that there's a strong, mostly negative reaction to this? Whatever the legal merits of the case, the majority of Americans don't have a problem with the words "under God" in the Pledge; and the majority of Americans at least claim to pollsters to believe in some sort of God.

Why is anyone surprised that a lot of people don't like what the plaintiff did, and take it as an affront?

Again, any threats, or worse, actual violence against him or his family are utterly wrong, are criminal behaivor, and must be punished severely. But criticism of him is certainly fair; strong criticism, even vulgar and hateful criticism is certainly legal, and, again, unsurprising.

But of course the plaintiff knew this when he filed the suit, just as now he plays the heroic martyr:

Newdow is planning to go ahead with two other similar lawsuits, one against Congress for passing religious resolutions and the other against religious references during President George W. Bush's inauguration.

Far from deterred by all the attention, Newdow seems more determined than ever to continue with what he sees as a patriotic crusade.

"You know, upholding the Constitution is about as patriotic as you can get. And risking your safety to do so..." Newdow said.

Yes, of course, he's a hero. The rabid psychopaths at Media Whores Online think so, at any rate.

He's also wrong; the separation of church and state is not nearly as absolute, in the Constitution, as the Left would have us think; it's mainly there to prevent the establishment of one official state church, not to prevent any government mention of anything related to religion. Bit as always, why bother with te facts? Most of those on the Left certainly don't...
Al Gore Doesn't Like President Bush's Policies! Film At Eleven!

Yes, it's a shock, isn't it? Robotic ex-candidate Al Gore today criticized the President and his SEC chairman, during remarks at "Lot 61, a trendy Chelsea night spot" (maybe that's President Monkey Boy's problem - he isn't talking about government policy at nightclubs often enough!).

Gore claims that current SEC chair Harvey Pitt is "too cozy with captains of industry", presumably unlike Clinton-era chairman Arthur Levitt, who no doubt kept a respectful distance from those evil "captains of industry" during his ten years as President of the Shearson brokerage firm, his ten years as chairman of the American Business Council, or his eleven years as chairman of the American Stock Exchange.

Let's be realistic here. Where does Gore think we're going to recruit potential SEC chairmen from? A Buddhist monestary or something (probably not, although one can apparently find lots of Deomcratic donors in them)?

We're going to find them in the securities industry, most likely having spent their careers among the "captains of industry". And Gore has to know that, but there's clearly no point letting reality get in the way of a good political smear.

I'd also point out, as I have previously, that this did not start on January 20, 2001. The scandals we're seeing now have been going on for a long time, certainly through the Clinton administration as well.

But again, why let the facts ruin some nice solid demagogery?
The Times Gets it Wrong

Predictably, the Times doesn't like the Supreme Court's school voucher decision.

They argue that the Constitution "never intended public tax money to underwrite" a choice between public schools and parochial schools.

That's true, but only in the sense that the Constitution never intended universal, taxpayer-financed public schools at all.

They also argue that the First Amendment prohibits public funding of religious training. Also wrong. It prohibits government support of any single religion as an official state religion. It does not absolutely prohibit government support of religious activities, despite what People for the American Way and the ACLU and the Times editorial board would have us believe.

There's more, but you get the idea.
Unwarranted Whining

Yet more complaining about the use of cellphones in public, this time on trains.

The writer argues that it's not the loudness (which is a legitimate complaint - people tend to talk much louder on cellphones than they do in in-person conversations, and that's a matter of courtesy to those around you), but the length, and the "involvement of those around you into your life" during a long cell phone call.

So if the person next to you on the train is talking about some personal problem on his phone, you get sucked into it. But how is that any different than the person next to you talking to his friend who's riding with him about the same problem.

It isn't; it's just unwarranted whining by the letter-writer. And it's sad, because New Yorkers ought to be above such stupid, petty nonsense.
Religion and the Courts, Again

This time it's in Florida. a Muslim woman is suing because the Florida DMV won't allow her to keep her face covered by a veil in her driver's license photo, as this story explains.

The state argues, convincingly to me, that it's a matter of public safety - the entire point of the license is that it's a means of identification, which requires a clear photo of the license-holder.

If she doesn't want to de-veil, no license. Simple. It's not discrimination against Muslims; if their religious views prevent them from obtaining drivers licenses, that's their choice; just as other religions have rules that may prevent them from taking part in some public activities.


More Blogs

Check out this neat Blog...Grouchy Old Cripple.

Definitely a kindred spirit. He clarifies the obligations laid upon the Palestinians in the President's much criticized speech:

if they want a state, they gotta quit killing Jews and accept the fact of Israel's existence. Once again, it's up to them.

How simple is that? They gotta quit killing Jews. It isn't that difficult to understand, or to accomplish, for that matter. If they want to.

But I think we've already seen the answer from their apologists both in the Middle East and here at home...
The Court Giveth, the Court Taketh Away

And here I was praising the Supreme Court earlier today. And then they go and hand down this decision.

A further expansion of the stupid and wasteful War on Drugs. Random drug tests of public school students. Idiocy.

Yet another reason that any (very hypothetical) children I might someday have will never, if I have any say in the matter, spend a single day as public school students. Never.
The Tolerant, Peaceloving Left

Read this.

It's a letter from a woman named Laurie Zoloft, who is the Director of the Jewish Studies Program at San Franciso State University.

The letter describes her experience recently during a "Peace in the Middle East" rally.

The reaction of the student body to this rally?

A riot, with such charming slogans shouted at the Jewish students as: "Get out or we will kill you" and "Hitler did not finish the job."

I keep railing against the Palestinians on this site, and in favor of Israel. There's a reason why, and this letter shows it very clearly.

A liberal Jewish student group holds a rally for peace - not in favor of Sharon, not for Zionism, not to support the settlements, but for peace. And Palestinian students and their supporters call for their deaths, and praise Hitler.

Anyone who questions the need for settlements, for a buffer zone, for Israeli policies that place the security of Israel and her citizens first above all else - this is why it is so, and why it must be so.

Because a lot of people hate the Jews. Not Israel, not the Zionists, not the settlers. The Jews. They hate the Jews, and they want the Jews dead, whether they're in settlements on the West Bank, or in Tel Aviv, or in the Hillel House on the campus of San Francisco State University.

For 2,500 years, that sort of hatred of the Jews has, inevitably, been followed by the killing of Jews - and for the first time since their Biblical kingdom, the Jews, finally, have said ENOUGH! And they've backed that up with their blood and sweat and tears and build a strong and prosperous and altogether admirable nation, in the very midst of dictatorships whose leaders and people want the Jews dead.

That's why I support Israel, and oppose the Palestinians. Because the hatred on the part of the Palestinians, and the rest of the Arabs, is right there on the surface. It isn't just about the settlements, or about dignity or checkpoints or Ariel Sharon. It never has been.

The truth is, and no one in the Arab world will admit it, nor will their sycopantic supporters in Europe, or on the American far left, that if ANY of the Arab states or peoples had ever made the slightest honest gesture towards acceptanbe of Israel, there would be peace.

They haven't, and it seems they never will, and the EU and anti-Israeli commentators in the U.S. will continue to apologize for them and excuse them. Until eventually one of the Arab states, or the Palestinians, get hold of a nuclear weapon or two and kill most of the Jews in Israel in one go, and that'll be a great day for them; none of the cowardly, soulless Jew-hating apologists will ever have to think about those damn hateful Jews any more.

I apologize for the length and vitriol of this piece, but it's something that I feel strongly about. The hatred and contempt and anger towards Israel is wrong. It's that simple. It's wrong, and I'll go further: it's evil. And evil must be opposed.
Good News

The Supreme Court today issued a ruling in support of private school voucher programs. You can read the opinion here.

This is, obviously, good news. Anything that cuts away at government run schools is a good thing, and to hear it from the highest court in the land is especially heartening.

The NEA, naturally, naturally has a different view. They see vouchers - or anything else that represents a "divisive and expensive distration" from the mission of shoving all our children into state-run factories for bueraucratically-approved socilization.

Now most of the public school teachers I know are wonderful people; very dedicated, very conscientious, committed to helping their students excel. I also hear what they tell me about the bueraucracy they must cope with, and that's the problem right there. Principals and administration offices and school boards - there is the problem, and that's why fundamentally unaccountable public schools are a bad thing.
Completely Pointless Rant

I have to point something out.

I hate the weather here in Washington, DC. I hate it passionately. I loathe it. I despise it. It is horrible beyond the ability of the language to adequately express.

This city is utterly unfit for human habitation. While this is not an issue for, say, members of Congress, it is miserable and wretched for the rest of us.

It all goes back to our Founding Fathers. While we have much to be greatful to them for, having bequeathed us the best society in the history of the planet, their choice for the siting of a national capitol deserves nothing but condemnation.

Why did such wise and august men choose to place their seat of power in a stagnant, stifling, fetid swamp? Why force those who would govern this great naiton to live in scorching tempratures and humidity that reaches a level of about 18,000 percent in the summer? Why condemn their heirs to have to walk around in air with approximately the consistency of pea soup? Air that you can see?

It was a horrible decision, a misguided decision, a decision that today condemns those of us whose work bring us here to untold misery and deprivation and horror.

And the summer is only beginning...
One More Time

Mary McGrory parrots the "conventional wisdom" that President Monkey Boy's Middle East speech was a disaster because of its unfairness to the Palestinians.

She draws the usual parallels between Arafat and Sharon; both use violence, both are bad men.

So, one more time:

Sharon is the legitimately and honestly elected leader of his people. Arafat is the (at best) questionably elected leader whose term ran out in 1999, but who remains in power nonetheless.

Sharon's military attempts, even in its "brutal occupation" to at least try and minimize civillian casualties. Arafat's forces (which, despite his lies, he supports and pays for, as recent evidence should convince even the most die-hard pro-Palestinian) deliberately target civillians, often teenagers and children who have no voice in Israeli policies.

Sharon's government protects the rights of dissenters. Arafat's government allows (and sometimes itself carries out) the murder of "suspected collaborators" without trial or even formal accusation.

And then, there's the inconvenient fact that the West Bank never belonged to the Palestinians anyway. Pre-1967, it belonged to Jordan, and the Palestinians lived in squalid refugee camps with no control over their own destiny and no hope.

Under Israeli "occupation", they have been offered a state; however unsatisfactory or unfair they may feel it to be, it's more than they ever had, or ever would have had, while they were under Arab occupation. Why do the pro-Palestinians never mention this? Why does no one ask them?

Why does no one ask the oh-so-compassionate Saudis (or Kuwatis) why, if they care so for the Palestinians, they ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their countries in the not too distant past?

And on and on and on.

But of course none of that matters. It's all about "the occupation" and if only Israel would get rid of the vile Sharon and give back all the land and treat Palestinians with dignity, all would be perfect. There would be peace and a new golden age with milk and honey flowing in the streets.

Does anyone seriously believe that? Really and truly?
One Nation?

Well, there's going to be a lot of talk about the federal court decision yesterday that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. You can read the full opinion here.

I have not done so yet, so I can't fully discuss it. But I can make a couple of points.

First, that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which handed down the decision is the most frequently overturned federal appeals court in the country, as well as being generally regarded as the most liberal.

Second, that the decision is riduculous on its face. The idea of "separation of church and state" is not meant as a massive wall that bars even the slightest mention of the corrupting taint of religion from any governmental activity; at least it was not so intended when the Constitution was written.

That logic has been used to ban not just school prayer (arguably reasonable), but the display of creches on town property at Christmas (madness), and so forth.

What's next? A suit against the Treasury to remove "In God We Trust" from all currency? Don't laugh - there's probably such a suit planned, and if it's filed in California, they'd probably find a judge to rule in their favor on it.

Personally, I think there's a much better argument against the concept of compulsory education; you must send your kids to school, and in most cases that works out to: you must send your kids to public school, since most parents can't afford private school, and voucher programs are fought tooth and nail by the education lobby. Homeschooling is subject to myriad restrictions (varying by state), so that isn't always an option and in any case is not solely at the parent's discretion.

I want to know where in the Constitution it authorizes the states to require that parents pack their children off for 8 hours a day, 200 days a year, under penalty of losing the kids to Social Services. I wonder if anyone's ever challenged that in court?
Boys and Girls

It's interesting that this hasn't received very much national attention - the fact that, currently 57% of college degrees go to women.

Which means that only 43% go to men.

Were it the other way, do you think we'd be hearing 24/7 from NOW, and from the grievance wing of the Democratic Party, and so forth?

Check out some commentary on this from Glenn Reynolds' site.

Personally, I think there are a lot of reasons for this, and I do think that the horrendous political correctness movement bears a good portion of the responsibility.

I wonder if there's a Title IX lawsuit here somewhere?


Quelle Suprise

Salon reviews Ann Coulter's new book and, wonder of wonders, they don't like it.

The reviewer's entitled to his opinion, of course; but when he starts with the personal attacks, and ends with descriptions of Coulter as "smug", a "spoiled brat", a "telebimbo", and someone who should be told "to wipe that smirk off their face and to speak up only when they've learned something about the world," one has to wonder about the reviewer as well.

It's certainly laughable for anyone at Salon to comment about smugness and smirking; that's what they're best at themselves, after all...
Cry Me A River

Check this out. It's from the Guardian, discussing how the President's recent speech is a defeat for (hopefully soon to be ex) Secretary of State Colin Powell.

If that's how it's seen, good. The sooner we're rid of Powell, the better.

Breaking All the Rules

In his ongoing quest to find some way to justify his unconscionable and dishonest efforts to keep President Monkey Boyu's judicial nominees from the bench (or even from a fair hearing), Senator PAtrick Leahy has taken the unprecedented step of requesting secret, privilidged documents and memos from the Department of Justice.

Unfortunately, he's running into opposition.

Several former Solicitors General, including three men who served under and were appointed by Bill Clinton, and one (Archibald Cox) who served under President Kennedy(!) have signed a letter opposing this request, and explaining why. The actual writing was done by former Clinton Solicitor General Seth Waxman.

These folks are hardly right-wing ideologues, and their arguments make sense.

As opposed to Leahy's. Leahy and his cohorts are trying every trick in the book to oppose Monkey Boy's nominees.

Except, of course, the truth: that this is payback for the Republican-controlled Senate's similar treatment of Clinton-appointed judges.

It would be one thing if they were honest; that this is simple political payback, and the Republicans don't have any standing to whine about it - or even to claim that they won't approve ANY Monkey Boy appointees because he's an illegitimate President who stole the election in Florida.

But they want to have their payback AND claim the moral high ground, and that is something they can't have, and can't be allowed to even try and claim.
Double Standards

Good column today from Jonah Goldberg on NRO.

He says several things I've been thinking about and which (obviously, or I wouldn't be writing this) I agree with.

He takes as his starting point the current Martha Stewart debacle, pointing out that, had Martha made her millions in the 1980's, she'd have been far more widely despised and decried - mainly by Democrats - than she has, until recently, been. She'd have been a poster child for the "decare of greed".

Goldberg's point, and he's right, is that the Clintonian 1990s were every bit as much a decade of greed as were the Reaganite 80's. More so, possibly - look at the whole dotcom boom and bust. Income inequality - suddenly an apocalyptic problem, if you listen to the editorial board of the Times or the baying loons at The Nation - increased under our former Narcissist-in-Chief just as much as it did under President Reagan, or as it is now under President Monkey Boy.

But we didn't read these horror stories during Clinton's regime - at least not in The Nation or the Times.

Equally, Goldberg points out something that the writer of this Post article and the Democratic politicans profiled, fail to mention:

While the current wave of corporate malfeasance is being uncovered, this activity did not begin on January 20, 2001 at 12:05 PM after Monkey Boy was sworn in. Ken Lay and Jeff Sikking and the boys at Arthur Andersen and WorldCom and all the rest didn't suddenly say "Hey, we've got a Republican back in charge. Let's go and be crooks!"

The damage began under Clinton's SEC; and if Republican sponsored legislation is to blame for any of what's happening now, well, Clinton had to sign those bills into law, didn't he?

The fact is, there's plenty of blame to go around, and neither Republicans nor Democrats are guiltless. But turning it into a solely partisan sideshow with playground-esque cries of "He started it!" "No, HE did!" is stupid, unproductive...and utterly unsurprising.
Supressing Speech

While commentators both in the U.S. and abroad (generally though not limited to the Left) have been whining about the "supression of speech" and "criminalization of dissent" from the Monkey Boy administration (especially by Attorney General Ashcroft), it's interesting to note that in oh-so-enlightened France, there are already laws in place to seriously supress freedom of speech

This should come as no surprise; but it would at least be nice of the folks who constantly compare the U.S. and Europe and find us so sadly lacking could admit that there are at least some areas in which the U.S. is doing OK, civilization-wise, and Europe is the one with the problem.



Elsewhere on the Media Whores site (see the previous article), you can read about their ongoing fight with Ralph Nader.

They go after good liberal Broder; they've got a blood feud with Nader. It's heartening to see the Democrats eating their own.

It's also hilarious to see these folks describe themselves as both progressives and staunch Clinton defenders. Their view of the world is...somewhat divergent from reality...is probably the best way to describe it. Truly, the mind boggles.
Deja Vu All Over Again

Tom Friedman basically repeats word for word his column for Sunday (the same as last Wednesday and last Sunday, too). I hope the Times is at least docking his pay until he writes something original again.

And Maureen Dowd writes an almost entirely pointless column. She's going on about how all the old bugaboos of the radical 60's protestors have come true today (complete with digs at the Evil Right Wing), neatly wrapping up 9/11 into her grand conspiracy scheme. At least, I think that's her point; with Maureen it's often hard to tell what she's trying to say.

And from psychotic liberal site Media Whores Online, check this out.

In yet another example of a journalist desperately attempting to force the facts into a conclusion (in this case, "it's hard for senators to become president"), David Broder has lied to Washington Post readers by reporting that Al Gore "lost" the 2000 presidential election.

As the Post and MWO readers know, Al Gore in fact won the election and the final outcome of the 2000 coup in no way supports Broder's contention that it is difficult for senators to be elected to the presidency.

Of course, the fact that Bush won the original count in Florida, and would have won under the recount plan sought by Gore, doesn't mean anything. Nor does the fact that not one single voter who was prevented from voting was ever produced; or that the "contreversial" Palm Beach ballots were designed by a Democratic official, and signed off on by the head of the local Democratic party (unless, of course, they were both Republican moles!); or that some of the "spoiled" ballots were the result of incorrect instructions given to Democratic voters by Democratic officials who had bused them in to the polls and gave them a top-to-bottom ballot to fill out - no thinking necessary.

The Democrats - at least, the rabid wing of the party - can whine all they want, but the election was not a Gore victory, nor was it stolen.

It's sad that we have to keep pointing this out, but there you are. Horrendous lies like the above cannot be left unchallenged.
And More From the Barbarians

Some words from the people our President would like to give a brand new state to.

Look, I understand their anger. But I do not understand this:

The mother makes no apologies. She said she believes armed attacks and suicide bombings are bringing the goal of Palestinian independence closer, because they have made Israelis feel insecure. "We love martyrdom as much as Israel loves the fantasy life it is leading," she said, weeping.

Wusam said he would like to imitate his older brother. Hearing this, Farahat's composure returned. "I love all my children," she said, "but my feelings for them can never match the feelings I have for my martyred son."

"We love martyrdom." Not "We love victory", not even "We love killing our enemy", but "We love martyrdom."

The Palestinians are deliberately not just choosing death, but embracing it. Welcoming it. Loving it. They want death more than they want victory, it seems, and that is madness. That cannot be negotiated with, or reasoned with, or co-existed with.

How Much More Evidence Do We Need

Check this out.

The words are those of Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, third highest official in Saudi Arabia.

Says he, regarding who runs U.S. foreign policy:

“we watch them on television wearing their yamaka in congress and that is enough evidence.”

Yes indeed. Perhaps we ought to outlaw the practice of Judiasm under penalty of death, and expel all our Jews, as the Saudis have done. Perhaps then we'd have a foreign policy more to the Prince's liking.

Or perhaps we ought to, once and for all, tell the intolerant, corrupt, and hateful Saudis exactly what they can go do with themselves and their anti-Semitism. Maybe we could remove the whole miserable House of Saud once and for all and do the whole world a favor.

Speed the day.
The Idiots Chime In

On Salon.com, one of the usual gang of leftist apologists, Gary Kamiya, opines about President Monkey Boy's speech.

The article is part of Salon's "premium" content, which means that only subscribers can read the whole thing. But the free introduction, which is quoted below, is enough, really:

George Bush added another chapter to the long history of American ignorance, ill will and condescension toward the Palestinians in his statement about the Mideast crisis on Monday. His plan -- demanding that the Palestinians change their leadership and offering them a provisional state if they do, asking the Israelis to pull out of the occupied territories and stop building settlements -- allows him to say that he is engaged in trying to solve the most dangerous crisis in the world, and it shores up GOP support with two vital constituencies, Jews and right-wing Christians. But it is impossible to believe that anyone knowledgeable in the Bush administration believes that it will bring an end to the vicious ongoing semi-war between Israel and the Palestinians. By embracing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon' s position that the whole problem is Arafat, -- while making vague, pleasant-sounding noises about a Palestinian state -- Bush paid obeisance to American political realities, and if the votes he gains have to be paid for in Israeli and Palestinian lives, so be it.

How many fallacies can the author pack into one paragraph? Let's count them:

1. Jews are not, to date, a Republican constituency. The Republicans would like them to be, but they still heavily favor democrats.

2. The "it's all America's fault" thing rears its head. Again.

3. "The most dangerous crisis in the world". Might not that title be claimed by the blood feud between two nuclear armed powers who share hundreds of miles of disputed border on the Indian Subcontinent?

4. "Ignorance, ill will and condescension". No. Awareness of the nature of the Palestinian leadership and the people.

It would be lovely if Bush's fairy tale came true. It would be lovely if the Palestinians denounced suicide bombings and embraced other forms of nonviolent resistance, as Palestinian-American intellectual Edward Said recently called for them to do. But national liberation struggles rarely play by Marquis of Queensbury rules. The weird schizophrenia of the Bush administration's position is that it implicitly recognizes that the Palestinians have a just cause -- why else would Bush call for a Palestinian state and use the word "occupation" to describe the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza? -- but denounces the fact that it uses violence to realize that cause. This is the language of the pulpit, not the real world. Yes, suicide bombings against civilians are abhorrent. War itself -- which in the 20th century generally involves the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians -- is abhorrent. But it is not customary for world powers to lecture militant movements about their tactics or leadership while implicitly endorsing their goals: Such lectures are nothing more than moral grandstanding. Attacking Arafat may be a good political move for Bush, but it takes less courage than just about any political posture you can name.

Again with the "national liberation" crap. They weren't a national movement when the West Bnak was controlled by Jordan and the Palestinians were kept in camps and treated like human garbabe by their Arab brethren, were they? Why not? Why only when Israel controls the land? Why is it perfectly fine and just for Arabs to oppress and murder Palestinians? Why won't any of the pro-Palestinian shills answer that? Oh, right. Because they can't.

Kamiya is right that Bush shouldn't have - however obliquely - endorsed the Palestinian cause, but that's the only thing he's right about.

And of course "war is bad." Yes, but most civillized states now wage war with at least some regard for avoiding civillian casualties. The Israelis do. The U.S. does. The Palestinians do not.

And it will almost certainly have no effect. Forget the fact that it is far from clear that Arafat, and the Palestinian leadership in general, supports the current wave of terror attacks or has the power to stop them. The Bush administration presumably knows that the Palestinians are not going to suddenly elect to throw out the corrupt leadership of the Palestinian Authority and replace it with a bunch of hitherto nonexistent Martin Luther Arafats just because the American president -- whose words and actions have shown him to be a one-note moralist who is ignorant of the issues -- told them to. Even if a full-fledged Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza were the reward, with Israel's borders defined by the consensus international interpretation of U.N. Resolution 242 (i.e., the June 4, 1967, borders, plus or minus a few adjustments), Bush's patronizing demand that the Palestinians carry on their struggle within parameters set by the U.S. would be doomed. And Bush is not even offering that much of a political horizon: His Palestinian entity is so conditional and ill-defined that from the Palestinian perspective, it actually represents a step back from the state envisioned at Camp David and Taba.

He says it here: even if the Palestinians got everything they wanted, it's too much to ask that they come up with vaguely honest and non-criminal leadership and attempt to rein in terrorism. That's not patronizing, it's reality.

And, again, if Arafet and his cronies cannot control their people, why are we treating them like statesmen and negotiating with them.

Oh, I forgot - Israel is evil, Jews are bad, anything the U.S (especially the Republicans) support is corrupt and hopeless.

Thanks, Gary. Keep pumping out the lies, distortions and slander - who needs honesty or even rationality when you've got a job at Salon.com?
Give it Up, Paul

Paul Krugman has yet another hit piece on the President in today's Times. I'm not even going to link to it; you can look it up for yourself if you care to. It's just pointless, baseless accusation - Krugman may be a "brave, crusading, unapologetic liberal" as some of his fans would have it, but this is all he writes about - you'd think that the President ran over his dog, or something.

It's amusing just how much vitriol and hatred the supposedly "tolerant" Left is capable of. Psychotic and distirbung as well, but amusing.
Not Getting It

New York state comptroller Carl McCall recently suggested that ex-cons be given tuition assistance in order to be able to go to college. A letter writer in today's Tmes supports this idea.

It's nice to think about giving peple who have, as the writer says, paid their debt to society, a second chance.

But before we spend money on ex-cons to give them a second chance - if we're going to spend tax money on giving "chances" at all - I'd think we might spend it to give poor and middle class folks who aren't criminals and who want to go to college but can't, a first chance.

Just a thought.
It Never Ends, Does It

More good news for the Catholic Church.

Today's Washington Times writes about a pornographic website apparently frequented by some priests (and bishops!) called "St. Sebastian's Angels".

On the site, Father Cliff Garner:

boasted in the chat room about a "cute" male youth minister from Dallas with whom he shared a room at a November 1999 national Catholic youth retreat. "He's no Ricky Martin — but he is Hispanic and we got along — wonderfully. It was almost like we were meant to be together. I do have a very special place in my heart for those Latin blooded ones."

Father Garner has since apologized, but it's not really clear if that will be good enough for his bishop or his congregation.

It just keeps getting worse and worse for the Church, and who knows where it will end?
Follow the Money

Will wonders never cease? This AM, Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein gets the investigative treatment from his former newspaper.

He's accused by two former research assistants of bouncing checks to him, and in general being a useless jerk:

"A lot of people really idolize Carl but Watergate was 30 years ago, for goodness sake," (recntly fired assistant Hilary) Rose told us. "He's been living off his success for 30 years. The time has come for him to humble himself and get a real job."

At least there's no burglary involved...yet.


Well, He Said It

President Monkey Boy gave his Big Middle East Speech today, and called for a Palestinian state provided that certain conditions are met over the next 18 months.

First: given the behavior of the Palestinians, and their desire to see the Jews pushed into the sea (see the recent poll which has 51% of the Palestinians saying precisely that), and the coziness of the Palestinian militants (and the PA) with other hostile Middle East governments (Syria, Iran), is this really a good idea? Or will this new state be, more likely, a staging area for future wars against Israel, especially if/when Israel goes back to the 1967 borders, as Monkey Boy calls for?

Second: what is the likelyhood that the Palestinians will meet Monkey Boy's conditions (security arrangements with Israel, a new leader, democratic institutions)? And what will happen if they don't? Might the State Department and the UN not pressure Monkey Boy into giving them their state anyway, thus defeating the entire purpose of this exercise?

Third: why do these conditions apply to the Palestinians, and not to the other Arab states in the Middle East, none of whom have anything resembling democratic institutions or accountable leadership?

Fourth: will the Palestinians even go along with this anyway? Early comments are not encouraging - they're already complaining. Every time they're offered something, they bite the hand that's feeding them, and yet it's never their fault.

Fifth: this whole plan seems a lot like a reward for terrorism. Kill enough people and we'll pay you off to stop. I wonder how we'll react if/when there's another major terrorist attack on America and hundreds or thousands more die. Will President Monkey Boy be so quick to offer the terrorists precisely what they want in response?

This is madness, plain and simple. It's unfortunate that the Palestinian people live in such wretched conditions, and do not have sovreignity. But that's the fault of their leaders, who threw away the chance for a state of their own in 1948, and tried (and failed) to overthrow the Jordanian government in the 60's, and who have pushed for half a century to destroy the state of Israel. And it's the fault of the neighboring Arab governments, who have used the plight of the Palestinians to distract their own people from their own wretched conditions and who have funded and supported terrorism but not done thing one to actually improve the lives of Palestinians. And it's the fault of the Palestinian people for following the blind, corrupt murderous fools who have comprised their leadership for the past 50 years.

The one group whose fault it isn't is the Israelis. But that is continually forgotten in the whining about oppression and repression and the evils of the settlements. If several Arab nations hadn't started the 1967 war, there would be no occupied territories in the first place. And if the Arab nations had welcomed the Palestinians, and allowed them to assimilate into their own societies, there would be no refugee camps today. But they didn't, and there are, and it is not Israel's fault. Got that? IT IS NOT ISRAEL'S FAULT.

But the State Department doesn't care, and Monkey Boy either doesn't know enough about it, and so we are where we are, and there will be more bloodsheed because of it.
Think About the Future!

I received in the mail today my personalized Social Security statement. It explains that, if I retire at age 61, I would receive $1,065 per month; if I wait until age 67, I would get $1,541 per month, and if I held out until age 70 (September of 2039, if you're counting), I would get $1,911 per month.

It also explains how much I have paid to date in Social Security taxes, and how much my employers have paid on my behalf. It comes to a sum of approximately $25,000.

The sad thing is that money ought to be in my pocket right now; it should be up to me if I choose to save for my retirement or not, and how much I do. Not the government.

I could be earning a much better return on that money if I were allowed to invest it myself; or I could use it for the down payment on a house, or (more likely, to be honest), I could use it to buy, say, a pair of Martin Logan CLS IIZ electrostatic speakers, a Krell Class A Full Power Series model 300cx amplifier, a Krell Current Tunnel CAST preamp, and a Wadia model 861 CD player. Just for example.

Now, that would be a massively irresponsible thing to do - but that's my right, or at least it should be.
Voices From Beyond

Reader Steve Rothandler writes in. Steve's comments are in italics, my reply in plaintext below.

Israeli helicopters helicopters flying over the southern Gaza Strip reportedly fired missiles at two taxis in Rafah killing Hamas activist Yasser Said Mohammad Rizeq, the commander of the Hamas military arm responsible for several armed attacks on the Israeli army, two of his brothers and another person in Rafah.

(see the full story)

It is the second targeted killing by Israel in less than a week. Last week they killed one of the Fatah leaders.

I think this is a good strategy. Kill the militant leaders, and isolate Arafat. Show that he can't rein in his own people, and that Israel will take matters into its own hands. Taken together, I believe Israel is doing the right thing. Granted, their actions are not perfect as we would like them to be. But they are dealing with geopolitical realities in a decent way.

Everyone already knows Arafat cannot rein in his own people.

In the short run, this is the best Israel's going to be able to do, and killing off terrorist leaders is good because, although there may be an unending supply of willing suicide bombers, there is not a limitless supply of people to help them make explosives, teach them how to avoid Israeli security, and dispatch them to specific targets.

I think they should be a little more aggressive and test the limits of their relationship with the U.S. What is the use of having an advanced military if you are not willing to use it? If Israel was willing to solve their problems once and for all with a decisive strike against its enemies, it wouldn't really matter much if the U.S. cut off aid, since they wouldn't need the aid anymore. Of course, that assumes that they could in fact solve their long-term problems with short-term military action.

The Troll Queen of Foggy Bottom once said to Colin Powell precisely what Steve writes above, regarding the use of the U.S. military. Doesn't mean anything, just an interesting note.

The problem here is that - short of using nuclear weapons - Israel isn't capable of a decisive strike against all her enemies. The Israeli military is superior to any other force in the Middle East, that's true. But they are still massively outnumbered, and fighting an offensive war is far different than defending their own territory. While they could defeat one-on-one the armies of any one enemy, they could not defeat all of them at once, and they certainly do not have the manpower to conquer or occupy any of them.

Clearly, massive Israeli military action against Syria, Iran, et. al. would destabilize the region, creating a power vacuum which would require U.S. intervention. Of course, lesser scale efforts, similar to the attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirik, would give its enemies pause, but would not solve the problem in the long-term (it surely did not make Saddam Hussein stop his buildup of WMD).

Israel, by itself, cannot create a long term solution. That's an unfortunate fact, but it is a fact.
Fly the Bankrupt Skies

So, the question is: can any U.S. airline be run at a profit?

Not United Airlines, apparently.

They're seeking federal loan guarantees to the tune of $2 billion, claiming that they deserve such help due to 9/11 and their status as one of the targets of the terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately, United has yet to come to an amicable agreement with its unions over pay cuts (which it appears to believe are necessary for the airline's long-term survival).

Of course, United was in serious financial trouble before 9/11, as were several of the other major U.S. airlines.

So what's the deal? Is it simply not possible to run a profitable airline in today's world?
Have They Nothing Better to Write About?

Oh, right, they don't. It is the Post's Style section we're talking about.

In today's Post appears quite possibly the single most pointless newspaper story ever written. Seriously. In the whole history of newspapers.

It's a tribute to, and examination of, the human thumb. The wondorous opposable thumb. Because, of course, we had no idea how useful it was until Post writer Libby Copeland had her revelation and told us.

It's worth reading the article, to see how breathtakingly unnecessary and obvious it all is.

I mean, I like my thumbs. I think opposable thumbs are a wonderful thing. But I didn't really need almost two full pages of the newspaper of record for the Capital of the Free World to tell me so, and I doubt anyone else really did, either.

They must be really, really hard up for interesting things to write about in the Post, I suppose.
He Doesn't Get It

Yet another letter to the editor in the Times.

This one's about soccer. Specifically, it's from a professor of cultural anthropology and Latina/Latino Studies. He's responding to a Times article last week about Mexico's reaction to the U.S. team's victory over Mexico in the World Cup, which was:

properly characterized Mexico's defeat to the American soccer team as "what may be the biggest blow to national pride since the Americans conquered half of this country in the War of 1847."

The letter-writer agrees with that, and says:

Now the American soccer team, after defeating Mexico, might go on to become a leader in world soccer. Why does it have to be, or so it seems, at the expense of the tears and sweat of the Mexican working-class masses, once again?

Um, because soccer is a competitive sport, and all competitive sports are zero-sum games with a winner and a loser; and when one team moves up in the standings, inevitably another team must move down?

And therefore whenever two teams play, one set of fans will be happy with the result, and one set will be upset with the result?

It seems like that's kind of inevitable with sports.
Sleepless Nights

More on the doctor-training debate in the Times letters to the editor this AM.

Five letters! Three of them support the sane position that doctors do in fact belong to the species Homo Sapiens and are subject to the same biological limitations as the rest of us, and therefore ought not be made to work for 36 hours straight.

One letter from a medical educator, again with the theme that "I did it, why should today's med students get off easy?" - which seems to me, as previously noted, to be a particularly dumb basis for education policy.
Deja Vu

Once again, Israeli forces have occupied Yasser Arafat's compound.

We've been here before, haven't we? Twice in the past couple of months.

What are they thinking? Personally, I have no problem with Israel using force. I have no problem with them killing Arafat - I'd like to see that, actually.

But we all know that they're not going to do so - so what's the point of this latest occupation? All it will do is make him look like a victim to the rest of the world, and like the victor when the Israeli tanks finally leave, which they will sooner or later. There's no sense to it.


They Never Learn, Do They?

Interesting little tidbit that showed up in the Washington Times of all places.

It seems that there's a provision in the bill to create the new Department of Homeland Security that will exempt its employees from whistleblower protection.

That means, of course, that employees who speak out about problems would not be protected from retailiation or even firing for their actions.

Coming on the heels of revelation after revelation about security lapses, bueraucratic foul-ups, and the like both pre and post 9/11, this is pretty appalling.

What I'd like to know is who, exactly, inserted that provision into the bill, and why they believe it's a good idea.

The Ever-Growing EU

Interesting little tidbit from the recent EU summit in Spain.

It seems that there's talk of an independent EU police force.

Without knowing more about it, I can't comment intelligently (not that that usually stops me, of course). From the article, and from common sense, it seems safe to say, though, that Britain's not going to like it - they haven't adopted the Euro yet, I can't imagine the reaction to official EU police will be any better.

And the folks, like Le Pen in France and others, who have been screaming about loss of sovreignity and loss of control to faceless, unelected bueraucrats in Brussels, will only have more ammunition.

If nothing else, it should be interesting to watch.
Al Qaeda Speaks

A spokesman for Osama bin Laden claims that the Al Qaeda leader is still alive and planning more attacks.

This is obviously nothing new. We've heard all this before. The spokesman also claimed that Al Qaeda:

also claimed al Qaeda was behind the fuel tanker explosion on the Tunisian island of Jerba, in which 15 people died, 10 of them Germans.

"This is an operation that was carried out by the al Qaida organization (by a man) ... who could not see his brothers in Palestine being killed, slaughtered, their blood spilled and honor violated and he looks around him and sees Jews in the city of Jerba wandering and enjoying and practicing their rituals at will,"

Now, if the audience to whom Al Qaeda was speaking was even vaguely rational, they might ask what killing Tunisian Jews and German tourists has to do with Palestine.

Of course they won't, because to them, all Jews are evil, and all are connected in the vast Zionist conspiracy. Because they're a pathetic people, who cannot build decent lives for themselves and must tear down what has been built by others.

Which is why they need to be utterly crushed. Which we've been saying here all along.