8/10/2002

Baseball, George Will-style

George Will, on the OpEd page of tomorrow's Washington Post, continues the recent spate of Post stories that unquestioningly accept the owners' position on the current state of the game.

Major League Baseball's labor negotiations involve two paradoxes. The players' union's primary objective is to protect the revenues of a very few very rich owners -- principally, the Yankees'. The owners' primary objective is a more egalitarian distribution of wealth.

Yes. Again, we read that it's all the Yankees' fault. Of course. And the rest of the owners, and the saintly Buddy Selig, want nothing more than fairness for all.

I'm not buying the swampland in Florida, either. This is complete and utter garbage. What many of the owners, like Carl Pohlad of Minnesota, want is to be handed money from George Steinbrenner, and maybe Ted Turner, and maybe Rupert Murdoch, and be allowed to pocket it, and continue to field mediocre teams that they don't bother to market or attempt to improve, while having their profits subsidized by owners who actually do try to win.

That's certainly what Selig, owner of the small market Milwaukee Brewers, wants.

The union believes that unconstrained spending by the richest three teams pulls up all payrolls. Most owners believe that baseball's problems -- competitive imbalance, the parlous financial conditions of many clubs -- result from large and growing disparities of what are mistakenly treated as "local" revenues.

Come on, George! Even the most Chicken Little-esque of the owners says it's a "big six" teams, not three that are driving up salaries.

And "mistakenly treated as local"? Um...they are local, because they're negotiated by each team, and the games are generally only shown in their own local area. Hence the descriptive word "local" in the first place.

These disparities largely reflect differences in teams' broadcasting revenues. The Yankees' broadcasting revenues ($62 million) are more than those of seven other teams (Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Florida, Milwaukee) combined.

Geography lesson, George: there are more people in the New York metropolitan area than in those seven other cities combined. And hence more viewers of Yankee games, and hence more advertising money paid, than in those seven other cities combined.

Unlike the NFL and the NBA, both of which adopted their basic economic arrangements after (and because of) the advent of television, baseball's economic model predates radio. And flight. And the internal combustion engine. Today, as when the National League was founded in 1879, locally generated revenues stay with the local owner.

Comparing the NFL and MLB is absurd. The NFL plays a 16 game season, where all games are broadcast nationally. There are no local TV contracts (well, except for pre-season games). There is much more interest in each game, because each NFL game is far more important to the overall season than an individual baseball game (1 out of 16 vs. 1 out of 162).

While there is potential national interest in every NFL game, a mid-August matchup between any two given baseball teams is of primary interest only to the two cities involved.

The nature of the two sports is so different that any meaningful comparison is impossible.

But the concept of "local revenues" is problematic, because no team sells a local product. To buy a team is not to buy an entitlement to all dollars generated by games in that market.Rather, it is to buy an association with MLB. All revenue streams of all teams flow from that association.

And 20% of the revenue is now shared. And I would agree that some more sharing is necessary, because it is true that it doesn't serve the game well to have disparaties of $80 or $90 million in payroll.

However, one more time, rather than simply saying "the Yankees are the problem", baseball should be telling other owners to be more like the Yankees and to market themselves agressively. As I noted in a posting on this subject yesterday, look at what Seattle is doing. Why can't other teams be more like them?

And in any case, until the owners are honest about their books, it's all irrevelant; they are proven liars who lie habitually and without remorse, and do not deserve to be trusted. Why, for example, as noted yesterday, did the new owners of the Boston Red Sox pay $660 million for a franchise that the league's formula itself valued at less than half that. Why did they buy in at all if baseball is such a mess? When they can give a straight answer to that, maybe we can start to take their concerns seriously.

I'm not holding my breath.

Blah, Blah, Woof, Woof

Mary McGrory whines in tomorrow's Washington Post about the sad, sad state of the Democratic Party as we head into the election season.

She whines about Gray Davis' travials in California; nobody likes him, apparently. Maybe that's because he's fundamentally unlikable, verging on loathsome?

She whines about the Dems' lack of a national leader, about Al Gore, and about DC Mayor Tony Williams.

Fine; I enjoy reading about the troubles of the Democratic Party.

But of course she can't leave well enough alone; it wouldn't be a McGrory column without gratituous shots at the Republicans:

The first President Clinton is still the one-size-fits-all scapegoat for Republicans, and he is blamed for Bush's bloody mess in the Middle East, the collapse of the stock market and the Sept. 11 attacks.

Um..."Bush's bloody mess?" As though there was no violence there before Bush took office? The seeds for the current Palestinian war on civilization were sown in Clinton's term, with his desperate efforts to twist Israel's arm into signing something, anything, that would give the former Narcissist-in-Chief a Rose Garden treaty signing and a shot at the Nobel Peace Prize; no matter how damaging that treaty might be to Israel, no matter how many Jewish lives it might cost. Yes, that's Bush's fault.

And the current economic problems did begin in Clinton's last year of office; just as the current wave of corporate malfeasance has its roots in the go-go Wall Street that Clinton and Al Gore were crowing about back in 2000.

And as for 9/11, well, the Clinton Administration was offered Osama on a silver platter by Sudan, and they refused. So maybe there is some blame there as well...

But facts are a tricky thing for McGrory, and I guess we really shouldn't expect too much from her.
One More Time: Fire Norm Mineta! Now!

Yet another airport security horrow story, from blogger Laura Crane, via Instapundit.

Laura, it seems, was felt up by security personnel at the Reno airport. Go and read her own account for the full story.

Breast milk, 2 inch G.I. Joe action figure weapons, and now this. It just gets stupider and stupider. God only knows what they'll come up with next to top this...but I think we can be sure that they'll find something.

Fire them all.
Maybe This Is Why They Hated Napster So Much

Via Ted Barlow's site, check out this article about the recording industry, and how it does business.

The bottom line is unsurprisingly grim for the actual musicians. For a first album that sells 250,000 copies, along with a successful 5 week tour, the article lays out who gets paid, and how much, in detail.

The final numbers look like this:

The Balance Sheet: This is how much each player got paid at the end of the game.

Record company: $ 710,000
Producer: $ 90,000
Manager: $ 51,000
Studio: $ 52,500
Previous label: $ 50,000
Agent: $ 7,500
Lawyer: $ 12,000
Band member net income each: $4,031.25


And note that that $4,031.25 per band member is not counting $14,000 owed by the band to the record company from their initial advance - that makes the income per band member actually $531.25, for several months of work that resulted in $3,000,000 worth of record sales.

Eek.
I Wonder If This is In His Book

A quick note about the litle controversey at the University of North Carolina, where incoming students have been assigned the book "Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Relevations" by Michael Sells of Haverford College.

I'm not criticizing the idea of studying Ismal or the Koran; but it might be worthwhile to assign more than one book so that students don't get just one person's perspective on the subject.

That's a secondary point, though. Ithought that the author's name sounded familiar, and it turns out I was right; he was a regular poster on the alt.politics.clinton Usenet newsgroup, and so, with thanks to Google's Usenet archive, I present to you a sample of Mr. Sells' thoughts and political viewpoints:

Here's a posting of his from December, 1999

There's a lot more like that. It is interesting that the webpage he mentions in his posting no longer appears at his Haverford College website. I wonder why?
Still Not Getting It

The Catholic Church (or at least, portions thereof), still don't get the message that the pedophilia issue is a serious matter.

Check out this article in today's Washington Post. It details the response of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (which comprises the religious orders to which about 1/3 of American priests belong, like the Jesuits, the Franciscans, and, I imagine, the folks who ran my high school, the Marists, among others).

They feel that the "zero tolerance" policy adopted by American Bishops is too harsh.

...the group's president, the Rev. Canice Connors, described zero tolerance as an apocalyptic "war slogan" and "shock rhetoric." The policy, he said, "scapegoats the [sexual] abusers."

Further:

In his speech, he talked of "sexaholic priests" saved by compassionate therapy, and called their transformation a "holy moment."

The bishops at the Dallas meeting had "no patience for the narrative of recovery and reconciliation," he said.

Instead, they merely bowed to pressure from the media and "unreconciled victims" and ignored "who we really are" -- men who believe in "miracles of grace."


Reconcillation is all well and good. But so what? We can forgive a bank teller who embezzles a million dollars from his bank, but we still wouldn't give him back his old job at the bank afterwards.

The good Father has forgotten what his calling is: to serve the flock, not to serve the interests of his priests, or the Church hierarchy.

And he's not the only one who doesn't get it, as this article, also from today's Post, details. It reports on comments in the Pilot, the newspaper of the Boston Archdiocese (Cardinal Bernard Law, publisher), which criticizes former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating (current head of a lay review board monitoring the pedophilia scanda).

Keating suggested that, in doiceses where the bishops aren't doing the right thing with regard to the scandal, parishioners might:

attend Mass in a different diocese or use "the power of the purse" by halting donations. "In effect a strike, if you wish, a sit-down until things change,"

Sounds reasonable to me. But Cardinal Law doesn't think so. His newspaper writes:

"For a Church-appointed leader to publicly orchestrate a kind of protest that would call for the faithful to stop contributions or, worse, to boycott Sunday Mass -- in effect calling all Catholics in a diocese to commit a mortal sin -- is just surreal,"

Well, Cardinal, if that is a mortal sin, what do you call aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of hundreds or thousands of children over the course of three decades?

Aside from sin, I call it a crime, and as I've said before, I would like nothing more than to see Cardinal Law taken away in handcuffs.

And in further Cardinal Law news, check out this item at Rishawn Biddle's blog, which I found via Ombudsgod, who I found via PostWatch.

Rishawn comments:

CARDINAL LAW TO MOLESTATION VICTIMS: DROP DEAD: At least that should have been the headline of this AP story on the Boston Archdiocese's possible plans to file for Chapter 11. It is a brilliant strategy: Besides giving the archdiocese the power to force litigious victims into a 'global settlement' a la' early Nineties breast implant suits--only good for the lawyers in this case--the church can even setle these suits without admitting culpability. And while Cardinal Law and his crew may suffer further embarrassment, the bankruptcy would also give them time to make 'reforms,' in this case, oust some bad seeds off its trough, then emerge from bankruptcy with something of a clean slate. Makes one not want to step into a cathedral ever again.

I can't really argue with that.
You Can Call Him Al

Poor Al Gore. Nobody really wants him to run again. At least, that's what Bill Keller of the NY Times thinks.

But before Keller gets to that, he sings Al's (and former Narcissist-in-Chief Clinton's) praises. According to Keller, they:

defanged the socially divisive issue of welfare, left us budget surpluses without the need for a lot of funny bookkeeping, and — after some early dithering — settled on a policy of responsible engagement in the world that ought to have been a source of national pride. (The Clinton peace plan is still the obvious template for an eventual settlement in the Middle East.)

Too bad none of that's true. They "defanged" welfare by demagoging the issue against the Republicans and then adopting the exact same plan that the Republicasn congress had pushed. They did engage in funny bookkeeping; check out Bob Novak's column yesterday for more on that. And as for the Clinton peace plan, that as much as anything led to the current bloodbath in Israel; the plan called for, more or less, capitulation by Israel. It was, and remains, madness.

Keller then repeats the vicious lies of the bleating Left about the 2000 election:

A bone-headed campaign he WON, don't forget. He got 537,179 more popular votes, and only lost the Electoral College thanks to a lot of well-documented funny business. The best estimate of the various investigative post-mortems was that an honest statewide recount would have awarded Florida to Mr. Gore and denied Antonin Scalia the role of American kingmaker.

One more time, kids. The popular vote is entirely irrevelant. And both Gore and Bush campaigned based on that assumption. And besides that, what about the hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots not counted in California and elsewhere, which would have reduced, or even eliminated Gore's popular vote lead.

We also know that the "best estimates" show that the recount plan Gore asked, and sued, for would have resulted in Bush winning the state anyway. And as for "funny business", what about Missouri? What about noncitizens voting in California? What about the precincts in Philadelphia which went heavily Democratis, and where there were more total votes counted than registered voters? What about Democratic operatives bribing homeless people with cigarettes in Milwaukee to vote for Gore? And on and on and on. Not to mention Gore's own dirty tricks, lies and so forth in Florida.

But Keller does at least admit that Gore is, fundamentally, unlikable, and a poor choice to run again in 2004:

During the 2000 campaign, even my 3-year-old daughter, channeler of the zeitgeist, went around chanting the refrain: "Al Gore is a snore."

It's something, I guess...

8/09/2002

The Next Time You Hear Someone Whine About Civillian Casualties From Our Campaign in Afghanistan

You can tell them all about the 35,000 children now alive today who wouldn't be if the Taliban were still in charge there.

That's the estimated number of Afghan kids who would have died from measles in the past year, and who will not do so now, since 19 million Afghans have been inoculated against the disease since the removal of the Taliban (who forbade such inoculations).

Thanks to Andrew Stuttaford on NRO's Corner for pointing this one out.
Moral Clarity

The ever-reliable Victor Davis Hanson writes on NRO this morning about Israel and the Palestinians.

He says the same things I've been saying here for a while now, and he says them clearly and eloquently. I'm not even going to take out snippets - go and read his whole column; it's all good.

Hypocrisy? In Congress?

Nice OpEd in today's Post about the recent flap over FBI attempts to get members of Congress to take lie detector tests.

It's certainly reasonable to oppose such tests and investigations of leaks on principle. But it's quite another thing when the people screaming now about being asked to take lie detector tests themselves wrote legislation to require them for others.

For example, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. He doesn't want to be wired to the polygraph machine:

"I don't know who among us would take a lie-detector test,'' said Sen. Shelby. "First of all, they're not even admissible in court, and second of all, the leadership [of both parties] have told us not to do that."

That's all well and good, Senator. But if they're "not even admissible in court", then why did you:

creat(ed) a massive program to polygraph some 15,000 scientists at Department of Energy laboratories and to remove their security clearances if they declined.?

And why did you:

insert(ed) language that prevented the secretary of energy from waiving the polygraph under any circumstances?

Just curious...

Baseball Again, Courtesy of the Washington Post

For those readers who have any interest, check out this piece in today's Washington Post about the problems facing Major League Baseball.

It more or less toes the owners' line; it's those few big revenue teams like the New York Yankees that are causing all the problems and making everyone else lose money. It's also all lies and propaganda and flat-out bullshit.

The article lists the "big six" high revenue teams: both New York squads, the Chicago Cubs, L.A. Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox:

These teams enjoy inherent advantages over the other 24 in market size, revenues and ties with media groups. AOL Time Warner owns the Braves, Tribune Company the Cubs and News Corp. the Dodgers. Sheer market size and corporate connections give the Big Six more resources -- and fans.

But there's no mention of the California Angels (who play in the massive southern California media market), the Chicago White Sox (who play in the 3rd largest city in the country along with the Cubs), Seattle (praised elsewhere in the article for its current financial success), and so on.

It's simply parroting the owners' lies. Even when the article points out how a "small market" team like Seattle can succeed (by aggressive marketing, seeking out corporate sponsorships, appealing to the huge Japanese baseball market by signing players like Ichiro Suzuki, etc), it makes it sound like a unique exception, rather than something that any team could do with proper ownership. Seattle is contrasted with Minnesota, which has no big corporate sponsorships (their own fault), a crappy lease deal on their stadium (their own fault), and no real marketing program (their own fault).

What's interesting about the article is that:

It appears on the front page - a little bit surprising.

And it isn't written by the Post's main baseball writer, the excellent Dave Sheinin.

I wonder if there's an agenda at work here. Is the Post trying to kiss up to Buddy Selig for some reason? It wouldn't really surprise me, but I can't see why they'd bother.
More Friends

I've added a couple more blogs to the link list, since I find myself checking them out every day and referring to them now and then:

There's Juan Gato's Bucket o' Rants, which is very cool, and I've also added fellow Richard Cohen basher Charles Austin and his site, Sine Qua Non Pundit.

Check them out.
Traffic Hassles Will Be a Thing of the Past!

Well, they will be if you buy this vehicle.

Ibis Tek of Pennsylvania is now producing the ultimate SUV - one with a pop-up turret that houses either a .50 caliber machine gun or a grenade launcher (complete with laser sights and TV camera), and armor plating.

They are not, currently, selling them for use in the U.S. - but you know it's only a matter of time...
Why People Can't Warm to Al Gore

Lots of reasons. There's lots of bleating from those who supported him in 2000 that if only "the media would have told the truth about Al," he would have won the election.

(and please, no bleating about the overall popular vote, which is irrevelant under the Constitution, or Florida, which Gore would have lost under his own proposed recount standards)

Sorry, but no. The problem with Al Gore is that Al Gore can't tell the truth about Al Gore. He also isn't - at least in his public persona - a very nice guy, as witnessed by this, or this, from Instapundit.

But it goes further. It's not just that Gore lies - most politicans (let alone most humans) do it, some every day if not more often. Gore, during the campaign, and to this day, lies and misrepresents his record when he doesn't even have to, when the truth would serve him just as well.

His recent attack on the President was a good example. Gore wrote that:

“There has always been a debate over the destiny of this nation between those who believed they were entitled to govern because of their station in life, and those who believed that the people were sovereign.”

The problem, of course, is that Al himself was from much the same station in life as President Bush; he more or less inherited his father's Senate seat and was groomed just about from birth to someday run for President.

Which is fine; but to then deride the President for the same thing rings hollow. And it's unnecessary; we all know President Bush's background - this serves only to remind us of Gore's and how he's trying to pretend he's something other than what he is.

Another example, from the 2000 campaign. Once upon a time, Gore took a fairly strong pro-life position; it's documented in both Congressional votes and speeches from the 1980's.

During the campaign, he repeatedly claimed that he had "always" been in favor of a woman's right to choose.

It would have been enough to say that, a long time ago, his position was different, but it has evolved over time. It's not like anybody on the NARAL side of the issue was going to vote for Bush regardless; and anyone pro-life who factored that into their vote wasn't going to be voting for Gore in any event, so why lie about his past record, when it's easy enough to dig up the real truth?

It's because Gore, seemingly, wants to be the uberCandidate, the man with no flaws and an ever-perfect record, and if that means distorting or denying his own record or his background, he'll do it. And that shows through. He's "trying too hard."

It's kind of like cheating on a test to raise your grade from an A to an A plus - the A would get you into Harvard, and there's no point taking the chance for that tiny improvement, yet Gore does it anyway (please don't take this to mean that I consider Gore an A plus candidate or politican or human being; I only use it as an analogy!).

There's that - and the thing with the Springsteen tickets doesn't help, either.

8/08/2002

This Is Why We Bash Norm Mineta

The ever vigilant new airport security regime strikes again!

Yes, this time the watchful eyes of security personnel at LAX saved passengers on an L.A. to London flight from the potential threat of the 2 inch replica gun on a G.I. Joe doll.

It's absurd nonsense like this, or like the breast milk story that's been making the rounds of the blogosphere the last day or two, that makes you want to either laugh or cry, or, I guess, both.

I understand there are rules and procedures for a reason. But there's also such a thing as common sense and human judgement. And the judgement that leads to confiscating the gun from a G.I. Joe action figure is judgement has no place securing our airports.

A spokesman for Los Angeles International Airport said: "We have instructions to confiscate anything that looks like a weapon or a replica.

"If GI Joe was carrying a replica then it had to be taken from him."


It's people like that who need to not be working in our airports; and people who draw up the policies that lead to this sort of thing who need to not be allowed to keep their jobs as well.

Idiots.
Media and Responsibility

I was thinking about the Howie Kurtz article I mentioned earlier today, and about the general bashing that Big Media (and politicans, and...) get gere in the Empire, and in the blogosphere generally.

The question is, how much of the bashing is really deserved?

The answer, I think, is that most of it is.

It's probably easier to start with the politicans; you can go to any random blog, and find someone calling for the head of Norm Mineta, or Colin Powell, or anybody at State, really, and so forth. You can read on any random blog the harshest criticisms: this official or that agency is inept, incompetent, a bureaucratic sinkhole, etc. You can read a lot of that here.

Part of the criticism is about policy: they're not doing what we want done, and of course we know what's best, so we criticize.

And some of the criticism emanates from inaccurate or incomplete or out of context news reports, describing some horrible practice at the State Department or in the White House, or wherever, that in truth isn't actually so awful once you learn the whole truth.

But a big part of the criticism, at least from me - and I suspect from many bloggers - is that we expect better from our leaders, and the men and women they appoint to run the various agencies meant to protect us, and educate our kids, and secure our borders, and run our justice system, etc.

And that is completely fair. We should expect, and demand, better. And the reason why is simple. The people who run for elective office, and who seek out and accept government jobs, are asking us to hand to them power over our lives. They ask us to cede to them the power of making our laws, of taxing us, of carrying guns and using lethal force, of running schools for our children, etc.

They ask us for this power. They seek that responsibility. One does not come without the other. I've used this quote from "Spiderman" before, and no matter how cliche it is, it's also true: with great power comes great responsibility.

Nobody press-ganged Norm Mineta into becoming Transprtation Secretary; he wanted the job, and all the attendant responsibility. And he chose to become our employee.

The problem is that far too many elected officials and high appointees forget that, and behave as though they are not accountable to the people. And that's when we bash them, and deservedly so.

The same goes for the "big media". They claim a similar responsibilty. They claim to be the watchdogs in our name, the guardians of the truth, the ones who keep the citizenry informed.

But with that claim comes a responsibilty to be objective, to be accurate, and also to consider the consequences of what they publish.

Here, the Kurtz article is instructive. The numbers show that child kidnappings are in decline; yet from the media coverage, you might think that there is an abductor hiding on every streetcorner. We the news-consuming public are responsible for our news choices, but CNN is responsible for theirs as well. It is incumbent on them to ask themselves if it's really a good idea, if it really presents an accurate picture of the world, to run 24/7 coverage of the latest abduction.

So again, we bash because CNN and the Washington Post and the NY Times seem to be ignoring or abdicating their responsibilities, and they need to be called on it. When you're considered the newspaper of record for the United States, more is expected of you than of others.

So that's why we bash, at least here in the Empire.

The Peace Loving Palestinians

Israeli intelligence sources are warning of "mega-terror" attacks by the Palestinians.

These could include attacks on fuel depots, 9/11 style airliner attacks, and other atrocities designed to kill hundreds of people at a stroke.

One such attack was attempted already, at Israel's largest fuel depot. Had it succeeded, thousands would have died and an entire town wiped out.

Sooner or later such an attack will succeed. I wonder what the Palestinian apologists and Israel-haters will say then?
Who Does Their Math?

More crud continues to bubble up to the surface concerning the shameful and dishonest practices of MAjor League Baseball and its owners.

This article at ESPN.com describes the minutes of a baseball owners' meeting on January 16th; it was filed as part of the paperwork in the lawsuit between the co-owners of the New York Mets.

According to those minutes, MLB projected a net loss for all the teams collectively of $220 million in 2002.

They also claim that 28 of the 30 teams projected net losses for this year.

Two teams were sold this past spring, both to ownership groups that included owners of existing franchises. Boston was sold to a group that included John Henry Williams, who was a part owner of Florida. And Florida was sold to Jeffery Luria, who was the owner of Montreal.

Both groups paid into the nine figures for their new teams; Boston went for $660 million. So these groups - composed of successful and wealthy businessmen, who presumably didn't get rich by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to buy businesses that were money-losers - both bought teams that were, we can presume from the owners projections, in the red.

Why?

Could it be that, oh, I don't know, maybe the owners are lying? That they're, as Mets co-owner Nelson Doubleday accused, using accounting tricks that would make Enron execs blush?

You think?
Over and Over and Over...

Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial Musings writes this interesting bit about, well, repeating oneself.

Rand starts by wondering about the wisdom of saying the same things, more or less, that others in the blogosphere and the wider world have aleady said a million times. I do that on this site; heck, most of us do it in our daily lives every day.

But Rand thinks that:

But I think that there's value in saying things that aren't new, and even in repeating things you've said before yourself, because apparently, the message continues to not get through in many cases, as evidenced by editiorial insanity continuing to spew from the WaPo and paper formerly known as the Paper of Record.

Besides, heck, syndicated columnists get paid to say, more or less, the same things every week. Why shouldn't we bloggers, who mostly do it for free, be able to do likewise.

So I guess I won't feel quite so bad if I find myself repeating themes from time to time...

Reporting on Reporting

Howie Kurtz writes today about the recent rash of child kidpannings; or, more accurately, about the rash of saturation media coverage of child kidnappings.

Kurtz points out, as some in the blogosphere have, that kidnappings of children by strangers have been in decline for the past few years; despite the media reaction, children are actually safer than ever from kidnappers.

Kurtz asks:

Are we all in the exploitation business?

Are journalists basically vultures who pick at the carcasses of tragedy victims?

And are politicians also getting into the act?


I think it's fair to answer "yes" to all three questions.

But the thing is, the public is listening. There is a two way street here. Does anyone think that CNN doesn't monitor their ratings (and those of its competitors) on an hourly, or probably even minute-by-minute basis? And does anyone think that if the data showed declining viewership as the endless coverage of the Smart family and other victims of kidnappings, that CNN wouldn't cut back on the saturation coverage?

The other thing is that we're not talking about rational thought here. It's easy to step back and say that the coverage is too much, and its blowing the stories far out of proportion. But they are dramatic, gripping stories, that speak to some of our deepest fears - of course people will watch them.

I certainly bash the media in this space often enough, but they are not the only ones to blame here.

8/07/2002

Well, That's Just Fine

Our good friends the Saudis won't let us use their bases in any attack to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud said that:

his country opposes any U.S. operation against Iraq "because we believe it is not needed, especially now that Iraq is moving to implement United Nations resolutions."

Of course it is. We all believe that Saddam's latest offer is on the level. And I've got a bridge to sell, too.

Prince Saud also said that:

"For the government of Iraq, the leadership of Iraq, any change that happens there has to come from the Iraqi people. This is our attitude."

Coming from a member of a despotic royal family that brooks no dissent in its own country, this is hardly surprising.

Of course, it's somewhat difficult for the people of Iraq to make any change in their government, when they're subject to arrest or execution by the secret police, and when all remotely credible rivals for power have been killed by Saddam (including members of his family).

But that's just details, I suppose.

Maybe we ought to start the regime-changing in Riyadh instead of Baghdad. It's not as though the Saudis could do all that much about it if we chose to remove the House of Saud, really.
Do We Need More Proof?

Via Midwest Conservative Journal, check this itemout.

Apparently, American tax dollars (my tax dollars!) are going to be used to help repair the Dalal Mughrabi Girls' High School in Hebron. Dalal Mughrabi was a terrorist who, in 1978, participated in a bus hijacking that ended in the deaths of 37 people, including an American citizen.

So we're paying to rebuild a school named in honor of a terrorist murderer. We're paying for the very propaganda that will help turn the next generation of Palestinians against us and our Israeli allies.

That's just spectacular, isn't it?
Some Historical Perspective on the Palestinian Problem

Check this out; it's a good rondown of the history that has led us to the current situation in the Middle East (credit where credit is due: I found this via Wesley Dabney's blog, The Color of Thieves).

Here's one of the most important, and relevant, bits:

Jordan didn't want the West Bank back, they were glad to be rid of their Palestinian problem; Egypt wanted the Sinai and it was returned, but they didn't want Gaza and the Palestinians back; and there was no way Israel was going to return the Golan Heights to Syria without a negotiated and guaranteed peace, which Syria refused. So the Six Day War didn't end with peace treaties or surrenders, it stopped on the basis of cease fires; and left Israel occupying the captured territories.

Something for the Palestinian apologists to think about, I'd say...
No, No, No

In today's NY Times, Tom Friedman contrasts the use of suicide bombing in Sri Lanka by the Tamil Tigers and its use by the Palestinians, in order to see if the steps that led to a truce in Sri Lanka last December might be applied to the Middle East:

...To begin with, one of the key factors in halting Tamil suicide bombings was the Tamil diaspora, living in North America, Europe and India. This Tamil diaspora had been the main source of funding for the Tamil Tigers. But the Tamil diaspora is made up largely of middle-class merchants and professionals, and when in the late 1990's the U.S., Britain and India all declared the Tigers a "terrorist" group, not freedom fighters, the Tamil diaspora became embarrassed by them and started choking off their funds.

"The Tamil diaspora started out as a force encouraging Tamil radicalism, but eventually it evolved into a source for moderation," said Suresh Premachandran, head of a Tamil rights party in Sri Lanka. "Sept. 11 changed that even more. People here knew after that there would never be any sympathy for any suicide bombers."

Unfortunately, in the Middle East Arabs and Muslims continue to indulge, justify, praise or provide religious legitimation for Palestinian suicide bombers, even after 9/11. The Palestinians have convinced themselves, with the help of many Arabs and Europeans, that their grievance is so special, so enormous that it isn't bound by any limits of civilized behavior, and therefore they are entitled to do whatever they want to Israelis...


I'm with him so far. It's the support, both moral and material, from outside that allows the Palestinian madness and barbarioty to go on and on and on. It encourages, as Friedman says, the idea that their actions are right; and more, it gives them hope in an eventual victory.

But his next sentence is utterly wrong:

And Israelis have convinced themselves that they are entitled to do virtually anything to stop it.

This is bullshit, plain and simple. Israel has showed absolutely remarkable restraint. If Israel were really doing "virtually anything", we would have seen something like Hama, or Kuwait and Saudi Arabia's mass explusion of their Palestinians, or the use of poison gas as Iraq did with its Kurds, and on and on and on.

The idea that there is any moral equivalance between Israel and the Palestinians, either in their motives or their actions, is utterly false.

He goes on in this vein, and it's all more of the same garbage. Israel has to bear her throat to the wolves, is what Friedman's advice comes down to in the end:

Unfortunately, the Palestinians abandoned a peace offer and opted instead for the delusion that suicide bombing will get them more, and Ariel Sharon has opted for a purely military response.

Israel tried it Friedman's way already. They tried negotiating, and all they got for their trouble was more dead Israelis, condemnation from Europe, and lectures from the New York Times. Thanks but no thanks.

"Sharon has opted for a purely military response" - what else is he supposed to do? Wait patiently at the peace table while more of his citizens are murdered by the Palestinians, until some magical day when they get tired of murdering Jews?

Newsflash, Tom: they're never going to get tired of that, and to ask Israelis to sacrifice their lives so that we can get yet another treaty or accord signed by an unrepentant and deeply corrupt terrorist and his gang of murdering thugs, who will dishonor it even before the ink is dry, is madness.

8/06/2002

When It Rains, It Pours

Major League Baseball, already in a swamp of legal and financial troubles, may be even worse off than previously thought.

One of the co-owners of the New York Mets, Nelson Doubleday, filed papers in federal court claiming that MLB conspired with former Arthur Andersen accountants to "manufacture phantom operating losses."

This would fit in with what many fans, the player's union, and Forbes Magazine, among others, already believe: that MLB and many if not most of the teams are cooking their books.

Doubleday's filings claim that:

the commissioner's office was "in cahoots'' with Fred Wilpon, his co-owner, to put an artificially low value on the team.

and that:

"Unbeknownst to Doubleday, MLB was at the same time engaged in a systematic effort to undervalue baseball franchises as part of its labor-relations strategy,'' Doubleday's lawyers said Tuesday in an answer filed to Wilpon's suit. "In short, MLB -- in a desperate attempt to reverse decades of losses to MLB's players' association -- determined to manufacture phantom operating losses and depress franchise values.''

For example, one strategy was to peg the value of a major league team at twice its 2001 revenue. Never mind that a business rule of thumb is to value a business at ten times its yearly revenue. And never mind that, to take one team, the Boston Red Sox would be valued at $321 million at the moment...but they were sold for $660 million just a few months ago.

Another trick is to count long term player contracts as debts, while not counting long term broadcasting contrasts and their associated revenue as assets.

It's just more of the same, and should come as no surprise; Buddy Selig and his cabal of owners are fundamentally dishonest, and seem perfectly willing to lie to the public, or to Congress as Selig did earlier this year, and to push baseball straight into the abyss rather than tell the truth.
Yeah, It's All Napster's Fault

Blogger Charles Dodgson at Through the Looking Glass comments on a story that first appeared in the New York Times Magazine.

It's all about today's recording industry and how new pop stars are created (if you're thinking "Frankenstein", you're on the right track here). Dodgson notes from the Times story:

''One-take Amanda,'' (Artists-and-Repitoire Director for J Records James) Diener says with admiration. ''The lyric to the song is so Amanda, don't you think? It's very uncompromising.'' He pauses. ''Some artists walk in and they won't budge. Amanda is open to direction.''

Dodgson's comments?

Uncompromising and open to direction. What could go wrong?

The nightmare scenario for this sort of music marketing is that what is actually turning people off isn't the dressing du jour on the industry's plastic puppets, but just that they are in fact plastic puppets, poured into a commercial mold formed entirely by record executives who are completely out of touch with their audience.


It just might be that the problem with the industry isn't the rotten thieving customers and their horrible, evil Napster clones. It's just possible that the problem is the soulless, cookie-cutter, focus-grouped crud that's extruded out into the world by the industry.

Maybe?

Hmm...Not a Bad Idea

British blogger Peter Cuthbertson at Conservative Commentary gives some thought to ressurecting the concept of honor duels.

It's more a thought experiment than anything else, but still...in some ways it isn't necessarily a bad idea. It might well decrease the crassness and vulgarity that infests our society, and raise the level of public discourse.

Aside from that, there's plenty of other good stuff to read at Peter's site; give it a look.
Freedom and Independence

There was something of an uproar from the geriatric thugs who currently run the People's Republic of China at recent comments from Taiwan's President that hinted at Taiwan's sovreignity.

The uproar forced President Chen Shui-Bian to back away from his words yesterday to placate the Communist bullies who seek to subjugate the people of Taiwan as they have the population of the PRC.

This is, as always, a disgraceful situation. During the Cold War, there were legitimate reasons for the United States to make overtures towards the PRC, part of the cost of which was recognizing the PRC as the legitimate government of all China, and accepting that Taiwan was not an independent nation.

There is no longer any good reason to do so. Taiwan has been independent since 1948; that's 54 years of freedom. Taiwan does not want to be ruled by the despots who rule the PRC. And it flies in the face of both our principles and our national interests to see Taiwan swallowed up by the PRC.

It is long, long past time that our leaders recognize the truth: the People's Republic is our adversary, and its interests and ours are directly at odds. Sooner or later there will be open conflict, and every day that we fail to prepare for it, while the PRC continues to build its military at an alarming rate, and with the express purpose of challenging us, the more dire the consequences will be.

It is madness to pretend that the PRC as it currently exists can ever be our friend or "strategic partner", and it is appalling beyond words that we allow a democratic ally to be bullied and threatened by them.
A Voice From Israel

Michael Ledeen reports on NRO today on an interview with a survivor of the Hebrew University atrocity.

This should be required reading for absolutely everyone. I'll just quote a couple of the comments from the young woman, Eliad Moreh:

I see history repeated. It is again considered a crime to be a Jew, just as it was during the thirties and forties. Nobody gives a damn. Just as in the thirties and forties, the rest of the world stands by while Jews are assassinated every day. The difference is, thank God, that today we have a state. But we are refused the right to defend ourselves against our enemies, which is a more perverse way to forbid our existence. By finding reasons to justify the assassins, some people in Europe encourage them to shed more Jewish blood.

and

Unfortunately, memory is short. Today, Israelis who are constantly victims of terrorist attacks are presented as executioners through the demonic propaganda of the Arab world and the help of Europe. At least the Americans can understand, because of the catastrophe of September 11th. All those Americans who lost friends and family know how we feel, how we feel every day, because every day Jews are assassinated. I was just in France, and I looked in the windows of the bookstores and saw horrible books, books saying that September 11th never happened, that it was all a lie invented by the Americans. Can you imagine how pernicious the terrorists' propaganda can be?

September 11th was a tragedy for all humanity, and its threat still exists, the same threat that exists today in Israel exists throughout the Western world. And there is only one way to deal with it: The terrorists, everywhere, must be put to death.


Exactly right.
Words Mean Things

The Washington Post reports today on a recent effort by the Social Security Administration to clean up their records.

This effort, which involves trying to clear up bad Social Security numbers, has resulted in thousands of illegal immigrants losing their jobs, as their employers confront them with letters from the SSA asking them to clear up discrepancies between the SSNs provided by the employer and the SSA's records.

The Post sniffs:

But the result could be the most dramatic blow in years to undocumented workers on company payrolls.

"The impact is enormous," said Cecilia Munoz of the National Council of La Raza, which represents Hispanics. "We're hearing about it from all over the country."


Gee whiz. Undocumented workers - illegals - don't have vaild SSNs. Boy, that's a surprise. How dare the government actually do its job and enforce the laws!

Among those who lost jobs was a Venezuelan from the Maryland suburbs. The 30-year-old worker, who asked not to be identified because he lacks legal papers, said his boss at a glass factory approached him in March with the letter.

"He said, 'Look, this came from Social Security,' " the Venezuelan said. The boss told him that "if I didn't have a [proper] Social Security [number], I couldn't continue working there."

The worker, who said he had invented a number, left the company. He now does odd jobs for cash, cutting grass or cleaning buildings, earning half the $12 an hour he received at the factory.

"It's depressing," said the man, who is married and has two children. He said he and his family left a middle-class life in their homeland because of the economic and political turmoil there and came to the United States on tourist visas, staying on after they expired.

"We're not all criminals," he said. "We add to the economy of this country, too. We pay taxes, too."


OK. I'm sorry that life sucked for this man in Venezuela. I'm sorry that there's economic and political turmoil there. But, hey, he is a criminal. He stayed in the country illegally, and he fabricated a Social Security number. Both of those things are crimes. When you commit crimes, you're a criminal.

But controlling our own borders is just so,, so Evil of us, I guess. What right do we have to sqay who can come into our country? How dare we expect immigrants to follow our laws?

Ack.
Hello, Richard!

Here in the Empire, we haven't discussed Richard Cohen in a while, so now's as good a time as any.

Amazingly enough, Richard makes a kind of sense for about 2/3 of his column. He discusses the funadmental differences between Israel and her neighbors:

In 1962 Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser used poison gas in a now-obscure war in Yemen. Twenty years later, President Hafez Assad of Syria crushed a rebellion by bulldozing much of the city of Hama and killing anyone who got in the way. That same decade, Saddam Hussein of Iraq used poison gas against his enemies. The Middle East is a tough neighborhood.

It goes without saying that had Israel fought its Arab foes the way they themselves do, the world would scream bloody murder and bureaucrats at the United Nations would get carpal tunnel syndrome banging out condemnations. What's more, tasteless references would be made to the Holocaust and how -- such irony -- the victims had turned oppressor and were using the methods of their one-time enemy.

The fact is, though, that Israel has largely eschewed such methods. It fights hard and sometimes ruthlessly -- assassinations, for instance -- but it has generally adhered to Western standards of warfare. It has the only army in the Middle East in which reservists have refused to serve for reasons of conscience -- an option I wouldn't recommend to any soldier in any Arab army. Israel, it can be argued, has the "most humane army in the world."


I don't want to carp here, because I actually agree with all of this. I will point out that the U.N. bureaucrats Cohen bashes here are the same U.n. bureaucrats that he's written over and over again that the U.S. should be listening to and working with. Can't have it both ways, Richard.

He continues by reporting on the debunking of the "Jenin massacre", describing some of the IDF's actions there, and ends with:

What, dear reader, would you have done?

That's all well and good. And then he does a complete 180, and it's back to Bad Old Richard:

Israel should get out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the Palestinians should get a state of their own. What's more, Israel is no paragon of virtue. It is a country as good or as bad as the best of them, and it will occasionally do despicable things in the name of national security. The United States has sometimes strayed from the straight and narrow. Should I mention My Lai?

He spends several paragraphs detailing how Israel is morally suprrior to her enemies, and then this: Everybody does bad things, and, Israel should give the Palestinians everything they want.

He finishes up with this gem:

Two peoples, convinced of the righteousness of their cause, are struggling for the same piece of land. But one engages in the inhumane murder of civilians while the other strives, sometimes vainly, to retain its humanity

And Cohen's answer, expressed above, is for the ones struggling to retain their humanity to essentially give in to the ones engaging in the inhumane murder of civillians.

Because, of course, surrendering to their demands will make them stop their inhumane behavior.

Cohen is right that there is a struggle for land. Where he's wrong is that while he, I presume, thinks that it's the West Bank that's at issue, it's really all of Israel that's being fought over. The land the Palestinians really want - and they have said this over and over and over again, year after year after year - stretches to the Mediterranean, and it includes Haifa and Tel Aviv and all of Jerusalem.

The violence will never end until either the Palestinians and their Arab allies are victorious and all the Jews are dead or gone; or until not only the Palestinians, but every one of the Arab states that support them, have been utterly defeated, their leaders removed, and the manifest inferiority of their governments and societies demonstrated once and for all to their populations, as was done to Germany and Japan in World War II; or until Israel is backed into a corner and unleashes the "Samson option" and annihilates every population center in the Arab world.

Cohen doesn't get that yet.

8/05/2002

Our Allies, Showing Their True Colors

According to a report in The Guardian, our friends and stalwart allies in Germany want no part of our upcoming attack on Iraq.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his Social Democratic Party had this to say:

"Independently, of what the UN decides, there must be a German way, that we must decide for ourselves what is to be done. That decision for us means no involvement in any... conflict or war in Iraq."

Fine. If we have to go it alone, we will. Let Europe and the U.N. wring their hands; our leaders are obligated to act in our defense, not to please the cowardly and corrupt elites that slink through the halls of power in other nations. Whatever the faults of the Bush administration, at least they act as though they understand that some of the time.

Checkmate!

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov opines about the war on terror in today's Wall Street Journal. Says Mr. Kasparov:

Those who instigated the current war must remember that Coventry and Pearl Harbor backfired on Dresden and Hiroshima. There will be no peace in Gaza, no freedom from fear in Jerusalem, until we have prosecuted the war on terror in Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus and elsewhere. U.S. leadership saved Europe from fascism and communism. It is again the last hope.

Exactly.
Bush Knew?

That's what the rabid psychopaths of the hard Left would like you to believe. Their latest attempt to dishonestly claim that President Bush was somehow responsible for 9/11 is this cover story in Time Magazine. The story claims that the Clinton Administration handed the incoming Bush Administration a complete plan to attack Al Qaeda, and that through bureaucratic review and the usual political delays, a plan wasn't approved just before 9/11.

So, by the logic of the baying Lefties, like the insane Joe Conason, it's all Bush's fault. If only he'd listened to the wise counsel of the Clintons, who, of course mounted:

ongoing covert efforts by the Clinton administration to neutralize bin Laden and cripple al-Qaida

well, the events of 9/11 clearly wouldn't have happened. It's Bush's fault.

Of course, before we canonize Bill Clinton and consign Bush to one of the outer circles of Hell, let's review:

We had the first WTC bombing in 1993. We had the embassy bombings in 1998. We had the Khobar Towers bombing. And on and on and on.

And we had offers from Sudan to literally hand Osama bin Laden over to us, which the Clinton Administration refused. We had the ability to blow his chartered jet out of the sky when he was finally expelled from Sudan, and the Clintons failed to do it.

But of course, in the last month of his term, Clinton had the perfect plan to save us from bin Laden. Of course.

The really insane folks at Media Whores Online go even further than Conason; as far as they're concerned, Bush is so culpable for 9/11 that he may as well have gone out and individually murdered each of the victims himself.

It doesn't matter that it isn't true, or that the claims of Bill Clinton and his staffers are remarkably self-serving, and that in any case, their honesty is somewhat open to question.

And it doesn't matter that, had Bush launched a full scale offensive against Al Qaeda in Feburary or March of 2001, without the provocation of 9/11, the rabid Left and their lapdogs in the national press would have screamed bloody murder; they'd have crucified Bush and his administraiton for launching an unjustified, unprovoked, destabilizing war.

Actually, they've said all that about our campaign in Afghanistan anyway, haven't they? They've said the war is unproductive, immoral, an overreaction, and on and on and on.

So let's be totally clear. Bush was wrong to launch the war in Afghanistan in repsonse to 9/11, because it hasn't really worked and lots of civillians have died, and the rest of the world despises us.

But Bill Clinton came up with exactly the same war plan in December of 2000, and Bush should have implemented it then, and it would have been OK with those who now criticize Bush. Because it was Clinton's plan, and Bill Clinton could do no wrong.

Got it.

On a Lighter Note

From a mailing list I'm on comes a recommendation for the Thought Screen Helmet, just the thing to stop those alien mind-control rays. Conveniently enough, there are detailed instructions on how to buuild your own Helmet from easily available materials.

Hmm...wonder if Al Gore's got one...?

And noted on the Steve Jackson Games site is this, which is something of a revelation. I wonder if this is how they do it in the Gateway and Dell assembly plants, too?
Freedom to Lie?

The Post this morning editorializes about a revent criminal case in Kansas City.

A small "gadfly tabloid called the New Observer" (their words):

published a series of articles alleging that Carol Marinovich, mayor of the unified government of Kansas City and neighboring Wyandotte County, was violating the law's residency requirement by not living in town. This was false and verifiably so.

Rather than sue for damages:

a criminal case (was brought) under Kansas's rarely used criminal defamation law -- and last month a jury convicted on several misdemeanor accounts.

The Post finds this a threat to free speech and an affront to the First Amendment:

the Supreme Court has insisted both that truth is an absolute defense against any libel charge and that good-faith errors may not constitute libel. Civil suits provide ample redress for those public figures who can show, within the exacting standards of the Supreme Court's case law, that they have been defamed. Additional criminal penalties can only serve as means for states to intimidate the press.

Prosecutions such as this are particularly anomalous given the fact that the court has broadly protected even categories of speech that may be truly dangerous.


If you knowingly and maliciously cause harm to someone by making what you know to be false statements against them, why shouldn't that be a criminal act?

Yes, speech is protected. But that does not protect the speaker from the consequences of their speech.

Obviously "good-faith errors" shouldn't be criminalized. And there needs to be a high standard - the "actual malice" standard seems a good one to me.

In this case, the prosecution seems somewhat petty. But consider: what if the articles in the New Observer triggered a criminal probe against Ms. Marinovich for fraud (knowingly violating the residency law). What if it cost her the election; or forced her to defend herself against baseless criminal charges herself?

If the New Observer knew their accusation to be false, and it resulted in those kind of consequences for their target, a civil suit and monetary damages seem wholly inadequate as a remedy or a deterrent.

Would the Post be so opposed to such a prosecution if the irresponsible accusation had been one of, say, child sexual abuse, ending in the ruination of the target's career at a minimum?

(the original article from the New Observer that started all of this can be found here).

Money, Money

On the front page of today's Washington Post, we find a piece about the growing appeal of casino gambling for states facing budget deficits and unwilling to raise taxes or cut spending.

Even states that have been very reluctant to allow any sort of casino gambling, like Maryland and Virginia, are now considering, at a minimum, the introduction of slot machines at racetracks, and possibly actual casinos.

I say, it's about time. Why shouldn't people be allowed to gamble if they choose to? And I'm not just saying that because I won $200 in Atlantic City last weekend.

Virginia, which has strongly opposed any sort of casino gambling, has a state lottery. In the state lottery, which the state runs a big advertising campaign for, something like 10% of the money wagered is returned to players in the form of winnings. The rest is, essentially, a tax. The games are promoted as an opportunity to get rich quick, to make one's dreams come true. The odds of winning vary by game, but they're generally abysmal. For a $1 scratch-off lottery ticket, the odds of winning any prize are something like 1 in 4, and most of those prizes are $1 or $2 anyway.

It ain't such a good deal for the people who plan, and it's targetted to the poor and the uneducated. But lotteries are Good.

Casinos, on the other hand, are highly regulated, and do not spend state budget moneyt to advertise. They return between 80 and 90 percent of the money wagered to players in the form of winnings. And the odds on many games approach 50/50 (especially blackjack, roulette - if you play certain bets, and craps). But casinos are Bad.

Obviously. Because it's OK for the government to deliberately target its most vulnerable citizens with deceptive advertising and horribly unfair games; but it's Evil for private copmanies to run highly regulated and relatively even games.

Right.
The Most Ethical Administration in History, Revisited

Deroy Murdock writes on NRO this morning about widespread destruciton of potentially incriminating documents during the Clinton administration.

You'll recall that shredding of important documents relating to legal matters is one of the things that happened at Arthur Andersen during their Enron debacle; and it's something that Democrats rail against when it's Republicans (or folks who they can link to the Republicans) doing the shredding and erasing.

But when it's Democrat-appointed bureaucrats getting rid of the evidence, as happened at Treasury, Commerce, the EPA and the INS during the former Narcissist-in-Chief's regime, nary a peep is heard from the "party of the people, not the powerful".

I wonder why?

Can You Read the Signs?

So I saw "Signs" today (well, yesterday, technically).

Excellent film. Extremely atmospheric and tense, tightly paced and very well acted (including great performances from two child actors, which is something of a rarity in Hollywood).

In case you don't know, "Signs" is the tale of the Hess family of Bucks County, PA, who find themselves confronted by mysterious crop circles and other signs that may portend a visit by extraterrestrials.

It is highly recommended. Go see it.

8/04/2002

The Catholic Church Scandal - Not Going Away

Mary McGrory writes today about the Pope's visit to Toronto, and the unspoken messages sent by that visit in regard to the pedophilia scandal.

I generally disagree strongly with McGrory, but she's right to write about this matter, and to try and keep it in the public spotlight.

She focuses on Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, who was at the World Youth Day with the Pope on Toronto, and who was, among other things, "dancing and singing with young pilgrims from Massachutses."

She describes Cardinal Law thusly:

Cardinal Law went back to Boston and professed himself rejuvenated by his encounters with the enthusiastic young people who surrounded him -- instead of the usual pickets calling for his resignation. "His attitude is that he has weathered the storm," said one Boston Catholic who did not wish to be uoted by name.

It isn't over for the Cardinal yet; he was in court just the other day testifying about his breaking of a settlement agreement with victims of pedophile priests whom Law shuffled around to cover up their activities.

His resignation is the absolute minimum thing that should happen to him. In an ideal world, he'd be behind bars for aiding and abetting the activities of his priests; the fact that he is stil Archbishop of Boston is a disgrace and a stain on the Church.
Post Editorials

A couple of articles worth mentioning in the Washington Post's Outlook section today:

First, John McWhorter writes about the new admissions system at the University of California, which explicitly evaluates applicants based on what sort of "hardships" they've experienced. McWhorter shares a few horror stories of absurdity in this new system, which, he argues (and I agree) is designed solely to serve as an affirimative action plan in contravention of Propisition 209, which outlawed rac-based preferences in college admissions. McWhorter is exactly right; check him out.

The Post's Editorial Board takes a swipe at Bob Torricelli, who was "severely admonished" by the Senate Ethics Committee. They also take his fellow Democrats to task for minimizing the action taken against Torricelli:

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle announced that the "sensational" allegations against Mr. Torricelli had been "proven false and without foundation" -- an imaginative reading that suggested itself to no one else. It was enough to make you wonder whether these Democratic friends of Mr. Torricelli -- friends whose slim majority may depend on his reelection this fall -- were reading the same letter made available to the rest of us.

That letter, dated July 30, was signed, without dissent, by the three Democratic and three Republican members of the ethics committee -- a unanimity significant in itself given the partisan divisions of this Senate.


Sounds about right.
Absurd Lawsuit Watch

John Hawkins at Right Wing News points out the latest example of an utterly frivilous lawsuit.

An Ashland man is suing Delta Airlines because he was seated next to an obese man during a two-hour flight last November.

Philip Shafer said that Delta breached its contract to provide him with a full seat and reasonable comfort. Shafer claims he suffered embarrassment, severe discomfort, mental anguish and severe emotional distress from the flight."


Do I get to sue for the time I was on a flight to Paris and I had the aisle seat and one or the other of the couple next to me had to get up and go to the bathroom every half hour or so, making it impossible for me to sleep, which caused me discomfort and mental anguish?

It's unfortunate that we don't have a legal system where the plaintiff and his attorney can be thrown in jail, or summarily executed, for bringing such an obviously riduculous case before the court.
I'm Sure There's a Joke Here Somewhere

Senator Joe Biden is on Meet the Press right now, talking about Iraq. He just said that predicting what Saddam will do is like "reading the entrails of a goat."

I wonder if he does that regularly himself? Would it surprise anyone if he did?
More Barbarity

The Palestinians have committed two more atrocities in Israel.

Hamas has claimed responsibility for the murder of 9 civillians on a bus in Galilee, while another innocent Israeli (as well as a Palestinian passer-by) was murdered by an Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem.

President Bush said:

"I am distressed to hear about the latest suicide bombers in Israel,"

And further, that:

"There are a few killers who want to stop the peace process that we have started. We must not let them," Bush added, wagging his finger. "I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers."

Wagging his finger. Well, that will get the message across, won't it?

A spokesman for Ariel Sharon said:

meetings with the Palestinians were off for now. "What have you got to talk (about) with a Palestinian leadership that continues to harbor and support terrorist activity?" he asked.

Nothing. The Palestinians have made their choice: they do not want a negotiated peace. They want to drive the Jews out of Israel, or kill them. All of them. Their intentions are clear.

How long will it take for us to listen to what the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world have been telling us for decades? How many more Israelis have to die before we really and truly get it?
Overstating the Case

The Washington Post began a series of articles today entitled "Fifty-Fifty America: the Weakened Parties.

It's an interesting piece; the writers examine politics in Minnesota, the state that elected Jesse Ventura governor, and which boasts probably the most mismatched pair of Senators imaginable: Paul Wellstone and Rod Grams.

They also note that, despite its strong Democratic leanings in the past, Minnesota was only carried by Al Gore by 60,000 votes (out of 2 million cast). It also, incidentally, gave Ralph Nader one of his strongest showings, with 5.2% of the vote (Nader only did better in 5 states: Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Rhode Island, and Massachutses).

The writers examine the nearly even split between Democrats and Republicans across the country, and conclude that this is a result of the increasing weakness, rather than strength, of the two major parties:

Neither Republicans nor Democrats have a clear majority in Minnesota because neither party is successfully appealing to the majority -- a diagnosis that could apply to other states. Instead, strategists try to build winning coalitions from relatively narrow interest groups -- a few percent here and there. The parties draw their energy from the extreme wings, left and right.

There's truth there, but it doesn't necessarily bode ill for the two big parties; the apparently dissatisfied majority is still voting almost exclusively for Democrats or Republicans. There are exactly two Representatives, one Senator, and two Governors who do not identify themselves as a D or an R. Five national politicans out of 585 does not a trend make.

The problem for the independents is that they don't nessarily share any views that could build a lasting party of their own that could compete nationally with the big two. A lot of people are dissatisfied with both Democrats and Republicans, but for widely different reasons. A strong personality, like Jesse Ventura, or Ross Perot, can carve a campaign out of that dissatisfaction, but once they leave, what is there to build on for future elections? There is no real coherent Perot-ist program that could become a basis for a serious third party.

And the existing third parties - Libertarians, Greens, and so on - are too narrow in their appeal to be anything more than spoilers, the way things are now.

That's the real strength of the two major parties: there isn't any room on the political spectrum for anyone else to carve out enough of a space to really challenge them. Sure, you can go to the left of the Democrats, as the Green do, but how many Americans really support that? And you can go to the right of the Republicans, and join the Right-to-Life Party (or the Libertarians, depending on your philosophy), but, again, how many like-minded folks will you find there?

Barring a change in the way our voting system works (Instant Runoff Voting, or somesuch new system), I don't see the big electoral shakeup that the authors of this piece seem to believe is coming.