8/03/2002

Also in the Times

Tom Friedman, also on Sunday's OpEd page, makes a lot more sense.

He writes about the imprisonment of Saad Ibraham in Egypt, for the crime of advocating for democracy.

Friedman asks, before we go to liverate a whole nation (Iraq), why can't our government do something for Mr. Ibraham.

I'd like to see us get the American citizens kidnapped to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere first, but Friedman's point is well taken.

We call Egypt an ally, and we sit by as they do disgraceful things - things not very much worse than what Saddam Hussein, whom we demonize, does.

Think the President, or anybody at the State Department, has anything to say about this?
A Pettiness That Knows No Bounds

Maureen Dowd must be really hard up for material.

Today's (well, tomorrow;s, technically) column is devoted to her thoughts (if that's the word) about Steven Soderburgh's new low-budget film, "Full Frontal".

Not having seen it, I don't know whether it's any good or not. But Mo unloads on it for being repetitive (she should talk!), derivative, and so on and so forth.

For this they give her a column twice a week in the New York Times?

8/02/2002

Words From the Past

Most folks have seen, or at least know of, the movie "Patton", and specifically George C. Scott's rendition of General Patton's speech to the Third Army just prior to D-Day.

That was the edited version.

Here (thanks to Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial Musings for pointing it out) is the real thing.

What I wonder is, do we have anybody in our Army with a star on their uniform today who would - or even could - give such a speech, and not just say the words but mean them, and then follow through on them?

I think I know the answer, but I hope I'm wrong.
Food for Thought

Check out this article on Salon about the new "bootleg remix" phenomonon that's popping up in music. It involves, essentially, "mashing toghther" different songs to create a new entity. It's different from "sampling" in that there is no addition of new, original content from the remixer; the bootleg is entirely an amalgamation of two (or more, I guess) songs created entirely by others.

The article discusses the recording industry's (predictable) response to this, as well as considering what the legal and commercial status of such bootlegs (and also movie "bootlegs", like the fan-producted re-edit of Star Wars episode I, entitled "The Phantom Edit" - which was, according to those who've seen it, a big improvement on George Lucas' actual work).

I'm not going to comment myself on the subject here, because I need to think about it a bit more and figure out where I stand. I think I disagree for the most part with the author, and more-or-less side with the recording industry position, at least on this specific issue, but I want to clarify my thoughts before I post them here.

Anyway, it is a pretty interesting article, and well worth a look.
Advice From the Unlikeliest of Places

This quote, which actually comes from a humorous role-playing gaming article at Steve Jackson Games, sums up what our policy towards Iraq, and pretty much every other Arab state in the Middle East, should be:

...disrespect from peasants and the like calls for a sneer and a dismissive use of overwhelming force, not a rant

A dismissive use of overwhelming force. That sounds exactly right, doesn't it?
Bush on the Palestinian Murderers

Our president is very upset at the Hebrew University bombing:

President Bush said on Thursday he was "furious" over American deaths in a Palestinian bombing in Israel and officials announced the FBI was launching its own investigation of the attack.

Well, if we're sending in the FBI, that should solve everything. They've done so well thus far in the war on terror

"I'm just as angry as Israel is right now," Bush told reporters in the Oval Office as he met with Jordan's King Abdullah a day after a bombing at a Jerusalem university cafeteria killed seven people, including five Americans. "I'm furious that innocent life was lost. However, through my fury, even though I am mad, I still believe peace is possible."

Well, Mr. Bush, if you believe that, then you are the idiot your detractors claim you to be. Peace is not possible with the Palestinians now. Their actions - both the unending barbaric attacks on Israel, and the reactions of the general Palestinian populaton to them - makes that abundantly clear. They do not want peace. They want the destruction of Israel and the death of all the Jews. They say this openly, and they act on it, over and over and over.

A senior administration official said the FBI has opened an investigation into the bombing and would cooperate with Israeli law enforcement agencies.

The FBI would look at "everything concerning the deaths" of the Americans in the bombing, which could complicate U.S. attempt to be an evenhanded broker in the Middle East, the official said.


What investigation? We know who did it. Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing. They did it, and they want the world to know they did it. We don't need to delve any further than that.

And as for "evenhanded", why? Israel is our friend and ally. The Palestinians are not. We should most certainly not be even remotely evenhanded in this matter.

Bush gave no indication that the United States would retaliate against the militant group that claimed responsibility for the attack Hamas, noting that Israel has a right to defend itself.

And why not? The bombing was an act of war. It was an act of war not just against Israel, and not even just America, but against civilization itself, and it should be treated and responded to accordingly. Anything else is madness, and anything else will just encourage future bombings.

"But as I say to all parties involved: We must keep the vision of peace in mind. We must be committed to peace. We mus understand that the consequences we take to make the area more secure also must be ... made in the context of peace in the long run."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made clear Washington did not intend to join Israel in any retaliation.

"If you're suggesting that the United States ought to use force in in some way ... I would think it's really unlikely," Rumsfeld told NBC. " just can't imagine it."

Bush later dropped by a meeting that his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, had with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Peres told reporters afterward that "basically we see eye to eye on all the issues."

Bush and Abdullah said they both sought a Palestinian state that can exist side by side in peace with Israel.


Unfortunately, that isn't what the Palestinians are seeking, nor have they ever, and it's far, far past time that we recognized that fact.
Iraq and Stuff

So now, apparently, we believe that Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi intelligence agents in the months before 9/11.

The FBI still isn't sure, but the White House now is convinced.

The thing is, we don't need to tie Iraq to 9/11 to justify the removal of Saddam's regime; we have their ongoing pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, their constant and flagrant violations of the sanctions regime and other agreements they signed at the end of the first Gulf War, their support of Palestinian terrorists. Any one of those is enough justification.

Let's just go in there and do it already.
Tom Daschle, Parasitic Insect

Hey, I didn't write it - it's the theme of this article at Slate.com. Check it out.

8/01/2002

Cynthia McKinney - Maybe We Need To Ask Some Questions

Check this out, courtesy of the Indepundit (and, yes, this too was first spotted on Instapundit. That's four in one day!).

Whas Scott Koenig (proprietor of the Indepundit site) discovered, at Open Secrets, a site that contains searchable FEC records of donations to political candidates, was that pro-Arab and anti-Western Civilization Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-Riyadh...oops, D-Georgia) received just over $20,000 in donations - nearly all from people who, to judge by their names are Arabic - on September 11, 2001.

As America watched the WTC fall, and thousands of our citizens die, Cynthia was raking in the money.

Congresswoman McKinney, you'll recall, accused the President and the Administration of a conspiracy to profit from the events of 9/11, and just about accused them of knowing about the attacks ahead of time and allowing them to happen in order to make those profits.

I guess they weren't the only ones to profit from those terrible events. Care to explain, Congresswoman?

I doubt it. I doubt it very much.
It's an Instapundit Kind of Day

I think this is the third reference I've found on Instapundit today; that must be some kind of record for the Empire.

Anyway, Glenn points out, via Patrick Ruffini, this new campaign literature from Bill Simon, the Republican challenger to the truly odious Gray Davis for the Governorship of California.

Remember, it's not just a vote for Bill Simon, it's a vote for Blinky.

Two Quick Bits

A couple of things worth noting at Instapundit.

First, another perspective on the Hebrew University bombing yesterday:

What would things be like for Palestinians now, if Israelis or Americans thought like Arabs?

They wouldn't be like anything at all, of course. There wouldn't be any Palestinians.


Second, Glenn notes a very good, if disturbing, post from Susanna Cornett at cut on the bias.

Susanna writes about the privacy risks of supermarket "Super Saver" cards. She notes this fun bit of information, from Fox News:

According to one privacy expert, at least one national grocery chai voluntarily handed over to the government records from its customer loyalty card database in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

And others say customer databases -- including those culled from travel, financial and insurance industries -- are routinely shared with the government for surveillance purposes.


Susanna goes on to discuss the possible consequences:

...information has a way of getting around. The first question to an objection is, why don't you want us to have it? Do you have something to hide? So of course we feel guilty and are sure we look suspicious if we don't agree. And bit by bit our right to privacy is destroyed.

What does the future hold? Certainly, like I wrote to Glenn, civil courts will try to get the information - can you imagine the havoc a divorce attorney could wreak with all that data?

Think about this scenario: Your insurance company wants to know if you are a decent risk. They contact a centralized database, similar to but much more comprehensive than a credit rating company, where they learn that you drive too fast (as measured by how long it takes you to travel between toll booths where you used EZ Pass), you eat an unhealthy diet (as evidenced from your grocery slips), you've been checking out books from the library lately on skydiving and rock climbing without ropes, you've gone to four bars over the last two weekends where you've spent an awful lot on liquor, and you've bought three packs of condoms - are you into promiscuous sex? High risk of sexually transmitted disease.

All this information would be gathered and analyzed without your sayso. All you know is that even though you're in good health, have no history of disease or injury and are under 30, you're denied insurance.


(sorry for the long quote, but I wanted to give you the gist of her argument in case you don't follow the link to her site, which you really should go and do right now)

This is dangerous because it isn't just privacy, it's social control. Susanna mentions insurance. In most states, auto insurance is required for all drivers. If insurers can do what Susanna discusses above, they can prevent you from driving legally - rendering you either unable to get to your job or partake in any other activities you'd have to drive to; or making you a criminal if you drive anyway. And they'd be doing it on the basis of information obtained without your knowledge or consent, and you can bet that they wouldn't tell you the specific reason for denial, so that you wouldn't even know what behavior you'd have to modify in order for them to approve you for insurance, assuming that it was a behavior that you could or were willing to modify in the first place.

The same, obviously, with health insurance.

Hoe about employment? What employer wouldn't want to know ahead of time which employees were more likely to be risks for serious health problems, or behavior problems, or absenteeism, etc.?

You could be denied a job as easily as insurance. And there's obviously another risk factor: bad information. You're not going to know exactly which information of your goes into what database, so there won't be any opportunity for you to correct errors. It will be like your credit rating, except with no accountability or mechanism for disputing or removing inaccurate information.

Not fun. Not fun at all.
More Thoughts on Israel and the Palestinians

Jeff Durkin opines on the subject at his site, The Jeff Report (note the new URL and layout changes):

The attack on Hebrew University left 5 Americans dead. Since Hamas has claimed responsibility why isn't W on national TV informing the American people of an upcoming attack on Palestinian areas? Shouldn't we be pursuing terrorists to the ends of the Earth? And, given that 10000 Palestinians were dancing in the streets of Gaza, celebrating the slaughter of students, shouldn't we assume they are all full supporters of Hamas? How much longer will we suffer dead Americans, just to appease Arafat and his allies in the region and in Europe?

Unsurprisingly, I agree with Jeff.

I'd go a step further. We know that Iran supports Hamas, as does Saudi Arabia. Did not our President say that any nation that supports terrorists is the enemy?

Well, we have dead American citizens at the hands of Hamas; why aren't we retailating against Hamas itself, and also against the leadership in Riyhad and Tehran that helped pay for the murder of our citizens?
An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Regular reader Steve Rothlander writes in to recommend this article from Jewish World Review.

The author, formerly a supporter of the "peace process", has come, finally, to the only conclusion possible to deal with the terrorist war the Palestinians are waging against Israel; remove all of them from the West Bank, and transfer them to the Gaza Strip, or Jordan, or wherever; but out of the West Bank where they will, inevitably, continue to murder Israelis day in and day out.

Most of the world will bitterly condemn Israel for this; but most of the world despises Israel already. The condemnation of the hypocrites who already despise Israel is preferable to the annihilation of Israel, and that's the alternative we're talking about here.
Just When You Think You've Seen Everything...

The following was noted on a mailing list I'm on. I pass it along without comment, because, honestly, there really isn't any comment I can think of that would do it justice:

Here you go.

I guess I do have one comment: ouch!
Morons on Parade

Al Qaeda has, apparently, gotten a foothold in, of all places, Scotland:

SCOTTISH sympathisers of Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaida terror group are targeting American tourists in Edinburgh with a leaflet calling for the murder of US civilians.

Al-Qaida supporter David Allison - whose actions were described as "stupid and irresponsible" by a spokesman for Edinburgh’s Central Mosque - has already begun distributing the leaflets on Princes Street.

Mr Allison, from Dundee, claimed to be part of a network of al-Qaida supporters who call themselves "Al-Quaeda Scotland". He admitted that the leaflets were designed to shock.

"We will be specifically targeting Americans during the Festival to let them know that there are people who are opposed to the US war against innocent people in Afghanistan," Mr Allison said.

"Obviously we expect an aggressive response, but they have to find out there is another point of view which they will not have heard in their own country."


Well, actually, we have heard it; there's this thing called "satellite television", where broadcasts from other countries can be watched in the U.S. You may have heard of that?

Although it is true that, for the most part, outright calls for the murder of American civillians is not a point of view often expressed in the United States. Surprising, I know, but then, we are a bunch of ignorant unilateralists, so what can you expect?

Mr Allison, a photographer and freelance computer expert, describes himself as a "political green" with Hindu religious beliefs. He warned that his group would be targeting US performers during the Fringe, adding: "There is an American band appearing at the Festival who we are planning to target by distributing these leaflets outside.

I wasn't aware that there was anything in Hinduism that supported wholesale murder; maybe I need to study more.

One city resident told of his disgust when he received one of the leaflets as he walked down Princes Street. He said: "These leaflets are offensive. I’m all for freedom of expression but this guy is clearly a lunatic."

I think that pretty much says it all.
I Thought Political Dynasties Were Bad?

Only when they're Republican, apparently.

It isn't just the Kennedys who cash in on the family name and seem to feel that political office is an inheritable property, like Grandma's good china and those 50 shares of Coca Cola stock that Uncle Bob bought back in the forties.

We also have Andrew Cuomo, son of Mario Cuomo, campaigning for the office that his dad lost, and (if he wins the Democratic primary), running against the man who beat his dad (funny, Democrats had a lot of fun ridiculing our current President for doing exactly the same thing. Wonder if they think the jokes are as amusing now?).

But Cuomo isn't content to use his own family name; he's enlisted the dynastic spawn of several other Democratic heroes in new campaign ad.

Martin Luther King III and Adam Clayton Powell IV are pressed into service, in an effort to stir the memories of their famous fathers in support of Mr. Cuomo. A Kennedy (Ted) is also thrown in, just for good measure.

This goes along nicely with Mr. Cuomo's other strategies: attacking Governor Pataki for, I guess, not being Rudy Giuliani in the aftermath of 9/11; and more recently, claiming to have fought the KKK. Because, you know, the Klan has been such a big problem in New York lately; the beleagured people of the Empire State have been crying out for a savior from their drepedations. I guess I must have missed that story.

Anyway, obviously Mr. Cuomo is a giant among men, a hero for the ages, and we ought to all bow down before his glorious wisdom; let's just canonize him right now and end the waiting.

Or, and this is more likely, he'll lose the Democratic primary and slink into the obscurity he so richly deserves. We can only hope.
The Oppressed Palestinians

I wasn't going to comment on the latest atrocity committed by the Palestinians.

But I do have to comment on these photos, which the blog Little Green Footballs has posted, of Palestinians, including lots of children, celebrating in the streets after they received word of the bombing and the results: 7 people dead.

They're not celebrating a victory; they're not celebrating an achiievement that will bring the slightest benefit to themselves. They're celebrating the murder of 7 people, 5 of whom weren't even citizens of the hated Zionist oppressor state.

Note the contrast: Israel bombs a Hamas leader, and kills several civillians in the process. Members of the Israeli government resign; there's a harsh debate in the Israeli press, and bitter recriminations, over the attack. There is no dancing in the street to celebrate and honor the deaths of the civillians. There are certainly no processions of children joyously contemplating the death of Palestinina civillians.

The reverse, of course, is true of the Palestinians. Yet more proof, if such were needed, that peace and a stable two-state solution, is simply impossible.

As one commentator to the posting at Little Green Footballs puts it:

When you consider the number of nations that profess some degree of "solidarity" with the Palestinians, and you consider the vast wealth commanded by those nations --- not to mention the largesse that the U.S. is prepared to dish out --- why don't these kids have some kind of future that includes a real education and reasonable economic opportunity?

Because they're TOOLS, that's why. The Lords of Jihad don't want happy, peaceful, well-fed Palestinians, they want dead ones --- as Arafat so helpfully put it: "Martyrs, martyrs, martyrs by the millions!"

So they drench them in hatred and hopelessness until they're old enough to sacrifice, in the sacred cause of murdering as many Jews as possible. What could be sadder than this? The fact that the safe and well-fed idiots of this world stand in utter awe of this disgusting process, as if it were the most noble and beautiful thing they ever beheld.


The people who still support the Palestinian position; those who pin all or most of the blame for the current mess on Israel's "illegal occupation" should think about those words; but they won't, because they are, as noted, "well-fed idiots" - or worse, they know precisely who and what they're supporting, and they do so anyway, because they really do despise Israel and would be happy to see all the Jews wiped out.

Disgraceful doesn't even begin to describe them, or the "poor, oppressed" Palestinians they support.
The Bear Doctrine

N.Z. Bear at The Truth Laid Bear has the foreign policy answers. He lays out a clear and convincing policy for the U.S. to follow:

The United States should consider military action to effect a change of regime against a foreign power when:

1) That power has demonstrated that they are hostile to the U.S. and its citizens, either by directly attacking us; by threatening or planning such an attack, or by supporting other actors who have executed or have threatened such an attack.

or

2) All of the following are true:

a) We have the means to decisively execute such a military operation without significant casualities, to our own forces or to innocent civilians.

b) Deposing the regime is clearly in the best interest of its citizens, and our intention is to establish a democratic government upon completion of the operation.

c) Such an operation is in the selfish best interest of the United States (economically; politically, etc.).


Makes sense to me...

7/31/2002

This is Just Cool

I wish I'd had one of these when I was a kid!

What began as a simple "backyard fort" for the kids to play in eventually evolved into a perfectly detailed scale model replica of a BattleMech - a giant armored war machine.

Obviously the project has become a huge hit among neighborhood kids:

Just about every kid who has seen it has either asked Jim to build them one or gone home to ask their dad to build one. One neighborhood dad (not willing to build one) told his kids that they were very lucky to have a dad like him – one who was smart enough to move to a neighborhood where another dad would build a BattleMech that they could play on.

Neat.
More Thoughts on Baseball and the Lawyers

Just to follow up on the item posted yesterday about the fan-run MetsOnline website and Major League Baseball's demand that the site "cease and desist" its activities...

I was just thinking about how counterproductive MLB's actions are. And how similarly counterproductive things are done every day by people who really ought to know better.

Let's assume (although I don't agree, let's just pretend for the sake of argument) that MLB is legally 100% in the right. Let's assume further that the traffic that goes to MetsOnline doesn't also to MLB's official Mets site, and thus deprives MLB and the Mets of potential revenue from online advertising, and also from anything that might be sold on the official site.

If all that were true, it would clearly be in MLB's interest to see MetsOnline closed down; and it would be their legal right to see that done.

Even given that, it seems to me that a rational person, taking into account the ongoing troubles facing MLB (the labor issue, steroids, the All Star Game debacle, etc), and also taking into account that MetsOnline has a good sized and seemingly loyal user base, a lighter touch would be the way to go.

Instead of starting with the demand letter, MLB's lawyers could have given someone at the Mets offices a call. The Mets, after all, had themselves hired the site's owner a couple of years back to spiff up the official Mets site. The Mets could have dispatched one of their marketing folks to talk to the kid running MetsOnline. They could have explained that MLB feels that MetsOnline violates MLB's copyrights, and draws users away from the official site. They could have offered a compromise; change the name of MetsOnline to something that makes it clear it isn't an official Mets-approved site (Bryan Hoch's Mets Online, or MetsFansOnline, or whatever), and remove the official Mets logos from the site, and put a big link to the official Mets site and the MLB homepage somewhere on the MetsOnline homepage. And maybe the Mets could kick in a couple of hundred dollars to pay for a new domain name for MetsOnline. In return, the MetsOnline.net name gets signed over to MLB.

Everybody wins. It takes an hour out of the day of somebody in the Mets offices, five minutes out of the day of an MLB lawyer, a few hours of site redesign for Mr. Hoch, and it costs the Mets $200. And no bad will is generated.

And if Mr. Hoch refuses, then maybe it's time for the demand letter and the threats and so forth.

But why not start with honey before dipping into the vinegar? I understand that copyright law requires that the holder vigorously defend their copyrights. But that can be done without heavy handedness and threats; much better to try and retain as much good will as possible.

So why didn't MLB's lawyers try that approach? Why did they immediately resort to threats and adverserial tactics? Why did they consider a fan-run website an enemy rather than an opportunity - if someone takes hours every day to run a website devoted to their favorite team, and if thousands of users visit that site, obviously we're talking about people who care deeply, and who want to see their team be successful. They're on MLB's side, and on the Mets' side. They're friends. I simply can't comprehend why MLB's legal staff doesn't think that way.

The same is true for efforts by studios like Paramount and Fox to close down fan websites for "Star Trek" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and other shows. Obviously sites that host video clips of the shows (or even whole episodes) are a problem, but the studios have, as MLB has, been extremely heavyhanded in going after fans and treating them as a problem rather than as an opportunity.

Maybe I'm missing something here. But it doesn't make a damn bit of sense to me.
Saddam's Germ Factories

The Washington Post reports this morning on U.S. reconnaisance efforts to determine what, exactly, is going on in a suspected Iraqi biowarfare lab.

The mere possibility that Saddam's military is working on Ebola-esque viruses is enough reason to go in ASAP and remove his regime from power.

Of course, the Post's editors don't agree; the subhead for this story on the Post's homepage is:

Inconclusive satellite images add to the uncertain merits of a U.S. attack.

Apparently the editorializing doesn't just happen on the OpEd pages at the Post.
Swarms

Specifically, "cellular swarming"; the phenomonon wherein gaggles of twentysomethings form spontaneous groups and assemble at the latest, greatest, hottest events via the use of cell phones and text messagers.

That's the topic of an interesting Style section piece in the Washington Post this morning.

The article discusses the use of cellular technology not just to find the best parties, but to coordinate protests and other more serious events; and also the potential military value of cell swarms.

There's actually some good discussion of the social and psychological effects that go along with cell phones and text pagers, especially as they become ubiquituous.

There's one glaring omission in the article; even as the author and vairous interviewees talk about being connected and available 24/7, not a word is written about how that constant connectivity has also made work a 24/7 pursuit for many. After all, if you can be reached any time, anywhere, by friends, you can be reached any time, anywhere by your boss, and you can call that co-workers or client or vendor to resolve that bg urgent problem Right Now, since they can also be reached any time, anywhere.

Certainly an interesting read, well worth checking out.
Pointlessness Personified

THat's Maureen Dowd, whose column in today's NY Times wanders all over the map without really making any sort of point.

Even for the scattered Ms. Dowd, this one is a doozy.

Hollywood doesn't like President Bush. Then Hollywood sort of thinks maybe he's not so bad. Then Hollywood likes Bill CLinton again. Then some Democrats give speeches in New York. Then john Edwards has a "volatile" wife. And then, in a new Eddie Murphy scifi comedy, there's a joke about Hillary Clinton's face on currency in the year 2087.

Got all that?

Maybe it makes sense to someone, I don't know. It looks to me like stream of consciousness rambling after one too many Cosmpolitians; it's amazing that the nation's newspaper of record has room for this twice a week on their OpEd page.

7/30/2002

How Low Can They Go

Well, Bud Selig and his goons at MLB have lied and cheated, alienated entire cities, pushed their game to the brink of labor-relations apocalypse, and even taken their umpires to court.

What's left for them to do? Who else remains to attack?

The fans, of course!

MLB's attorneys, taking a break from their earnest efforts to force a stoppage that might kill the game forever, are threatening a Mets fansite with legal action.

MLB has issued a "cease and desist" letter to the proprietors of Mets Online, a fansite run by 20 year old college student Bryan Hoch.

Hoch has run the site since 1997 (predating the Mets' own official site by a year), and was in fact hired by the Mets to do some work on their official site in 2000; and the Mets provided Hoch with press credentials to cover Mets games in 2001 and this season.

But Major League Baseball (which last year took over and homogonized all 30 team sites) doesn't like Bryan, or fansites, despite the fact that Mets Online doesn't appear to do anything except promote the Mets and increase fan interest in the team (something sorely needed for that sorry, second rate team).

Apparently a Mets fan forum, an FAQ about Shea Stadium, and team history pages with old statistics and anecdotes are anathema to Major Leage Baseball and its legal staff.

Just as good sense and decency and honesty are anathema to them.

I just wonder how they'll manage to top this latest outrage. Never fear, though; I'm sure they'll find a way.
And Away He Goes

ex-Representative Jim Trafficant was sentenced to 8 years in jail today.

Trafficant was defiant to the end, criticizing the judge, and even claiming that:

his expulsion from the House was sufficient punishment and that being sent to jail on top of that would violate the U.S. Constitution's guarantee against double jeopardy -- being punished twice for the same offense.

There really isn't much to say to that, is there?
The World Hates Israel, Part XXIII

From today's Washington Post: Israel's entertainment industry is suffering due to the Palestinian war of terrorisim against it.

Some are openly shunning Israelis for political reasons:

Influential academics, angry at the Israeli government's actions against Palestinians, are pushing a boycott of Israel that hundreds of university professors have joined. And on the economic front, some Norwegian supermarkets label Israeli products with stickers so customers can decide whether to buy them.

This is obviously disgraceful. I wonder if those Norwegian stores also put stickers on Saudi, or Egyptian, or Syrian products so that consumers can make similar moral decisions? Oh, right, there aren't a whole lot of such products, because none of those countries have societies condusive to producing anything that anyone might want.

But of course, Israel's "oppression" of the Palestinians is the cause du jour. No matter that the Palestinian leadership itself treats its own people far worse than does Israel; as do the other Arab states. No matter that, while Arab Israelis are - however difficult their lives may be - at least explicitly granted legal rights and can practice their religion without sanction, Arab citizens of Saudi Arabia and Syria and Iraq and on and on have no explicit legal rights; and citizens of other faiths are prevented by law from practicing their religion.

Forget all that; Israel is the villain.

Aside from the rank hypocrisy of the anti-Israeli forces in Europe and elsewhere, there's also plain old fear keeping Israeli entertainers from pursuing their art:

The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra announced today that it was forced to cancel an eight-concert tour in the United States next month because no insurance company would cover the performances due to concerns about possible terrorist attacks.

This is also disgraceful; if the insurance companies won't cover them, that's where the State Department - which bends over backwards to please Saudi Arabia and orther repellent regimes - ought to secure and insure the orchestra to allow the tour to go forward.

Israel is our ally, and Israel is our friend, and we ought not slam the door in the face of our friends. It's an embarrassment.

Disgraceful.
The Answer Is Obvious

Well, the answer to all our nation's problems has been made clear to me.

Coming to work today, as I entered the Metro station, I was handed a pamphlet by a Lyndon LaRouche supporter.

The pamphlet explains the cause of all our country's problems, and outlines the solution: a LaRouche Presidency.

The pamphlet helpfully explains that, in case you might think that Lyndon LaRouche isn't electable (perhaps because he's currently in prison; perhaps simply because he's a nut), that in fact he is "intrinsically, the most electable U.S. Presidential candidate since Dwight Eisenhower."

It also tells us who's to blame for our problems. It's not President Bush, or former Narcissist in Chief Clinton. No.

Our real enemy is "the McCain-Lieberman cabal." Or, as it's also referred to, the "Lieberman-McCain-Buckley-Steinhardt connection."

Aparently "the crew around Lieberman" (which includes National Review founder William F. Buckley and his pals) "holds U.S. policy-shaping hostage."

Of course. Everything is clear now. It all makes sense.
The Peace Process

Yet another Palestinian terrorist attacked in Jerusalem yesterday, injuring four Israelis.

It's another reminder why peace is impossible; at least until the PA and the other Arab states in the region stop giving financial, moral and logistical support to barbaric murderers.

Or, in this case, would-be murderers; from the latest reports, this bombing was not all that successful - the only person the bomber succeeded in killing was himself.

Which, of course, makes the headline of the cited article - "Jerusalem Blast Kills 1, Injures 4" - utterly misleading. The bomber himself should not be counted as a casualty (and, of course, he'll be counted in those false statistics telling how many Palestinians have been killed by the Israelis during this campaign of murer and terror); only his intended victims should be counted. If you're a suicide bomber whose goal is to forfeit your life, you don't count as a victim in your own attack.
Legal Question

Here's a theoretical law question for anybody out there who might know. This came up while Jeff Durkin and I were talking politics and stuff:

LEgally, what would happen to a criminal defndant if no lawyer could be found to represent them? Imagine someone like the defendand in the Samantha Runnion case. They can't afford an attorney with their own funds and no one is willing to lend money to pay for one. No attorney will take the case pro bono. And the public defender assigned to the case says to their superiors and the judge: "Disbar me if you want, fire me if you have to, but I'm not defending a guy who raped a five year old girl!"

Now, as a practical matter, they'd eventually find a public defender who wasn't ready to face contemnt of court or disbarrment and would take the case; or some private attorney, either out of a sense of legal principle, or for the publicity, would take the case.

But, in theory, what of no attorney stepped forward, and nobody could be found to defend the accused? Assume also that the accused demands his right to a lawyer and won't defend himself in court.

What happens? Would the defendant have to be released, since he could not be tried without violating his Constitutional rights? Would he have to stay in pre-trial detention indefinitely, without release, but without trial? Or would something else happen?

Just curious...

7/29/2002

The Dogs of War, and All That

Isntapundit has a very clear and coherent explanation of why we need to go to war with Iraq, and what's wrong with the bleatings of those who oppose such a course. As he notes:

Left to itself, the enemy culture will eventually produce a glassy-eyed fanatical leader armed with nuclear weapons or equivalent. To achieve the kind of lasting peace and security we all crave, we must by all means steer the enemy culture off that course. As a first step, we can use a doctrine along the lines of "You're not allowed to make heroes and leaders of any more mass-murdering, maniacal monsters. We will, starting now, grind any such heroes and leaders into the dust."

Most Americans possess sufficient common sense and decency to see all this. That's why war against Iraq is such a popular policy. But to the Left, Americans' common sense and decency are oxymorons. We're a bunch of bloody-minded pigs, the rings in our noses firmly held by lackeys of the RNC. No other explanation for the current state of affairs need apply.


I pretty much have to agree with that. Check out his site for more...
Does Bush Get the Credit, Too?

The Dow Jones average went up over 400 points today; since many in the media and in the Democratic party were blaming the President for the recent big drops in the Dow...will they now credit Bush with the recovery?

Raise your hands if you think so. Anyone? Anyone?

Thought so.

Right. It's only the President's responsibility when it's bad news. Got it.
Beaming In

Expelled ex-Congressman Jim Trafficant will apparently appear on Fox News Channel tonight, on "Hannity & Colmes."

It should be nothing if not interesting...
Everybody's Talking

...about what we're going to do regarding Iraq. The Times reports today on the latest military ideas, which presumably were leaked.

Maybe it's disinformation. And maybe right now, Don Rumsfeld is in the midst of a screaming fit, or just coming down from one, and vowing to find and punish the leakers no matter the cost.

This goes along with yesterday's story in the Washington Post (reported widely elsewhere) about dissent in the upper ranks of the military regarding the need to go into Iraq at all. It's hard to know whether or not to believe any of it, but as with today's leaks, if what we're hearing is on the level, Rumsfeld and the White House must be absolutely livid.
Yes, Exactly

A letter-writer to the NY Times has the right idea about rebuilding at the World Trade Center site.

The correspondent proposes, as Frank Lloyd Wright once envisioned, a mile-high tower.

Why not? It would be an unmistakeable symbol of our determination, our vision, and our ability to do absolutely anything that we as a society set our minds to.

If we were truly a sane society, there's no question that we'd already be building that mile-high edifice; it's a shame that we almost certainly won't even seriously contemplate such a momumental project.
Crooks Forever!

It would be really nice to leave the bad old days of the Clinton administration behind forever.

But the crud keeps popping up, as Bob Novak in today's Washington Post (the article appeared in the print edition of the paper, but for some reason not on their website, so you have to go through TownHall.com to find it).

Novak discusses politically-motivated IRS audits of convervative organizations during the oh-so-ethical Clinton years, claims that are bolstered by 1,500 pages of newly-released IRS documents.

Does this surprise anyone? No. Would it be on the front page of the Post instead of in a column by Bob Novak if it were about charges of IRS audits in the Bush administration against liberal groups? Almost certainly.

7/28/2002

The Royal Family

Jeff Durkin notes this article from the Weekly Standard about the highly touted Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

The article is more balanced than you'd think, considering that it appears in the Weekly Standard, and it concerns a Kennedy. It's worth reading to get a bit of perspective on someone who's already being touted as a potential Vice Presidential nominee in 2004.

I'm not a real big fan of the Kennedys myself; I think it's appalling that so many people consider them American royalty - and especially people who whine about the "Bush dynasty" while deifying the Kennedys.

To start with, the entire family is built on a fortune obtained from bootlegging and organized crime; maybe if my grandfather had been a vile criminal like Joe Kennedy was, I'd be in elected office right now just like all the nice Kennedy kids.

Past that, we've got the Kennedy "curse", which mainly is the result of privilidged jerks who never had to work for anything in their entire lives behaving incredibly irresponsibly and stupidly (skiing accidents while doing forbidden moves on a closed slope; flying a light plane in poor-to-impossible conditions; all knds of drug and criminal problems, etc). And somehow we're supposed to pity them for their own misdeeds.

But on to the fair Kathleen...

Townsend has been called the "Un-Kennedy," defined not by what she is, but what she isn't. As Kennedy-watchers will note, Townsend has not parked any dates at the bottom of Poucha Pond (Uncle Teddy). She has not slept with a 14-year-old babysitter (brother Michael), had a messy divorce (brother Joe), or a nasty drug habit (brother Bobby). She has not been accused of raping anyone on a beach (cousin Willie), murdering anyone with a golf club (cousin Michael Skakel), or throwing a security guard through a metal detector, trashing a yacht, and acting like an all-purpose ass (cousin Patrick).

In most families, not doing these things would merely be considered a baseline indicator of fitness for office. In the Kennedy family, it's considered nothing to sneeze at.


Screw that. If we're awarding brownie points for not committing major felonies, and if that qualifies one for elected office, I ought to be the goddamn President.

With all the elderly, black women in the day room of the Council House retirement complex, Townsend's victory seems a foregone conclusion. Beside a Heimlich chart instructing seniors how to dislodge food that might go down the wrong pipe during a spirited bingo game, a poster announces, "The next governor of Maryland comes to Council House." The crowd is a swirl of rose perfume, peach-tinted glasses, and oversized earrings. I plunk down at a table of senior women, asking if they know who's running against Townsend. "We don't really care," says one. "I've always been with the Kennedy family. I'm just sorry the other one got killed in a plane crash--I had great hopes for him."

Unbelievable.

Or not. Maybe it's just natural stupidity. The "other one" - poor, departed John-John - his entire resume consisted of failing the New York bar exam twice, prosecuting a total of three cases in four years during a stint in the DA's office, and starting a vapid, pointless magazine with his family's ill-gotten fortune. Yes indeed, that's a stellar resume for a future leader of the land.

It just points up the blind worship people have for this family; if she were simply Kathleen Townsend, and not Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, she'd be an assistant DA in a mdeium-sized city somewhere, or maybe a semi-anonymous policy wonk in some Brookings-esque think tank. But because she's one of the sainted Kennedys, every door is open to her. As some prominent Democrats have said of the President, she was born on third base and everyone acts as though she hit a triple.

I'm sure she's a perfectly decent human being, but she isn't special; she isn't an heiress and she isn't entitled to high office merely because of her family name, and I am really and truly sick of the damned Kennedys being shoved down our throats as though they were anointed from on high to be our leaders for all eternity.

It's bad enough that we've had Teddy in the Senate for decades, and it's bad enough that he's going to probably get to more or less will his seat to Patrick Kennedy, and the adulation and "when will he ride to Washington on his white horse and save us like his daddy" garbage we had to put up with about John-John before he went and crashed his plane. It's all appalling, and yet another Kennedy in high office is absolutely the last thing anyone in this country needs.
Two Brief Notes

A couple of quick items worth commenting about on NRO's Corner today:

Andrew Stuttaford reports on something depressing and stupid, but unsurprising:

A reader (who had been traveling to Reno for a NRA convention) reports that she had her gun-themed lapel pins confiscated at LAX. The reason? Not that they were potentially dangerous in themselves, but because they represented weapons.

So they can't stop actual gunmen who bring actual weapons and do actual harm at LAX, but they can put a stop to the scourge of inappropriate lapel pins. As Stuttaford notes:

Well, in a way that makes sense. After all, Norm Mineta's efforts only represent airport security.

Can't we fire Mineta already?

Rod Dreher also chimes in, on the subject of the newest member of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH organization: Louisana State Senator Cleo Fields:

In 1997, Fields was videotaped by undercover agents receiving $20,000 in cash from then-Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, a political ally, in connection with riverboat gambling licenses. Fields narrowly escaped being indicted along with Edwards, who was later convicted of racketeering and other charges in connection with the case. Fields has never explained what he did with the wad of cash, and was never required to by his constituency. Fields now joins such Democratic political worthies as former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds, convicted of having had sex with a minor, on the Rainbow/PUSH payroll. Go team!

And Jesse Jackson and his extortion machine are considered leaders and great men why, exactly?
Amazing

A brief diversion into the world of sports:

This has been covered all over, but it's am incredible achievement and thus worth noting here as well: American cyclist Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France again; this was not just his fourth Tour victory, but his fourth consecutive Tour victory, which is all the more amazing considering that four years ago, Armstrong was recovering from a bout with cancer.

Armstrong completed the 2,036 mile race in just over 82 hours, finishing seven minutes ahead of his closest competitor.

So congratulations go out to one of the greatest atheletes in the world for an achievement that's not likely to be surpassed any time soon (especially since Armstrong, who's only 30 years old, is far from finished as an elite competitor in his sport).
It Belongs in a Museum!

Great news (if it's true) from Aint' it Cool News.

They report that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" will be coming to DVD next year; specifically next Christmas. No details as to what features or extras we can expect, or if the other two Indiana Jones films will be released on DVD at the same time, or later, or ever.

It's a bit of a wait, but at least (again, if the report is accurate) it's on the schedule, and that's a Good Thing.
Yesterday's Future, Today

Interesting article in the Post's Arts section about Hollywood's fascination with Philip K. Dick.

In addition to "Blade Runner", "Total Recall", "Screamers" (the less said about that one, the better) and this summer's "Minority Report", the article reports that there are three more films based on PKD's writings in the works.

Cool article, but I've got to nitpick a bit: as someone who isn't familiar with all of PKD's work, I'd have liked at least a one or two sentence description of the upcoming projects: "Paycheck" and "King of the Elves", which the author fails to give us), and some mention should have been made of "Terminator", which owes qulte a bit to PKD's short story "Second Variety".

But other than that, it's well worth taking a look at.
Did He Really Say That? Part 2

This comes as less of a surprise than the Dionne paean to machine politics: former Narcissist-in-Chief Clinton shirking responsibility for things that happened during his Presidency.

Clinton took exception to suggestions that, maybe, since many of the horrendous corporate practices now being so roundly condemned got their start during his Administration, it's possible that - to the extent that any blame can be assigned to any national politicans - he and his Administration could, just possibly, bear some of the responsibility.

Apparently not. Says Clinton:

"These people ran on responsibility, but as soon as you scratch them, they go straight to blame," Clinton said. "Now, you know, I didn't blame his father for Somalia when we had that awful day memorialized in 'Black Hawk Down.' I didn't do that."

No, Bill, but you're doing it right now. Does that count? Of course, Bush Senior and his people didn't expressly deny the request of commanders in Somalia for additional forces, particularly armor, which might have prevented that "awful day". But why let the facts get in the way, right? That's never been a problem for Bill Clinton anyway.

Clinton opined further:

Clinton said Republicans on Capitol Hill had impeded his proposals for protecting investors. Referring to Bush, Clinton said, "There was corporate malfeasance both before he took office and after. The difference is I actually tried to do something about it, and their party stopped it."

Well, if you count Joe Lieberman as part of Bush's party; or other Democrats who, for various reasons, also worked diligently in favor of corporate interests, that's true.

But more than that, this is all typical of Bill. Nothing he did was wrong. It was all good and noble, every minute of every day for eight years.

Won't he ever go away?

Did He Really Say That?

In today's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne takes up the subject of D.C. Mayor Tony Williams and his recent problems.

Dionne concludes that what the Mayor really needs is a little bit of the old "machine politics". He writes approvingly of local Chicago political practices; it's almost an ode to the good old days of ward bosses and so forth.

Dionne tries to qualify his praise:

You don't have to be an apologist for political machines to appreciate their genuine respect for doing the little things right. The regulars understand that politics is not just about ideology, five-point plans visionary speeches or the slickest TV commercials. It's about finding the right guy here and the right woman there to get the day-to-day jobs done well -- something that Marion Barry, at campaign time, at least, was rather good at.

Dionne isn't exactly calling for a return to the crooked bad old days; but this column is about as close as you'r going to see anybody these days doing so.

Eek.