10/05/2002

Democrats, Elections, Courts - Here We Go Again

Thanks to Susanna Cornett for pointing this out:

Supporters of Cynthia McKinney are filing a lawsuit trying to get her defeat in the Georgia primary overturned, because the crossover voting from Republicans is "unconstitutional" and that:

"The issue is that black Democratic voters in the 4th District had their voting rights interfered with and violated," according to one of the plaintiffs.

Of course, as Susanna notes:

In a way, though, this whole exercise has been useful. It's starkly highlighted that the goal amongst the "black leaders" isn't to get black politicians elected - because Denise Majette is black. It isn't to get Democrats elected - because Majette is a Democrat. It's to get their person, their politics, elected. And isn't that what the democratic (little d) process all about? We just need to make sure their outing is widely noticed.

Just as in New Jersey, as in Florida in 2000 - the Democrats now turn to the courts every time an election doesn't go their way. Appalling.

Insane Lawsuit Watch

Per this article in today's WashPost, a California jury (where else?) awarded a smoker $28 billion in her lawsuit against Philip Morris.

The decision and aware are, obviously, absurd. As the defendants noted:

"Testimony during the trial showed that Ms. Bullock was aware of the health risks of smoking and was warned repeatedly of those risks by her doctors over four decades, and her daughter also urged her to quit. Her response: 'I am an adult. This is my business,' " said William S. Ohlemeyer, Philip Morris Companies vice president and associate general counsel.

"This jury should have focused on what the plaintiff knew about the health risks of smoking, and whether anything the company ever said or did improperly influenced her decision to smoke or not to quit," he said. "Instead, it appears that this decision speaks to more general policy issues regarding smoking that can't fairly be decided in lawsuits like this."


Exactly. The risks of smoking were abundantly clear by the mid-60's, when the plaintiff started smoking. But, as with everything else these days, It's Not Her Fault.


If the legislators in California, or the voters, want to ban cigarettes, that's their right to do so. But to try to sue into oblivion companies that are producing a legal product that citizens use of their own free will, is simply wrong.
A Dark Day

Well, it's a crummy day for Yankee fans. Our team disgraced itself, completing the worst post-season perfornace in the franchise's 100-year history. The Yankees lost three straight games to a clearly inferior Anaheim Angels team, and for the second straight season their season will end in abject failure.

For the Yankees, anything less than a World Series championship is, or at least should be, unacceptable. That's cleatly the view of owner George Steinbrenner, who will no doubt demand major changes to a team that choked in an unforgivable manner.

That change, perhaps, should start with manager Joe Torre, who must shoulder at least some of the blame for the disaster. It's hist job to mold the players into a team, which he failed to do, and also to ensure that the fundamentals are done correctly, which he also failed to do. He may well be fired, and it won't be totally undeserved if he is.

Light Blogging Day

There were several topics I planned to rant about today, but it's been a busy day/weekend, and I didn't have the chance.

Later tonight or tomorrow there will be posts.

Hannibal Returns

Went to see "Red Dragon" today. Good film. Definitely recommended. Having not seen the first filmed version, "Manhunter", I can't compare the two, but this one is pretty darn good.

10/04/2002

More Radio Morons

Yet another stupid DJ stunt - this one in Phoenix, Arizona. It seems that a moron employed by KUPD-FM called up Flynn Kile, widow of baseball player Darryl Kile, who died during the season, to ask if she had a "date" for the St. Louis Cardinals' playoff games.

Needless to say, the station was forced to issue an apology almost immediately.

The Cardinals' manager, Tony LaRussa, was not mollified:

I'm vehement in saying that whoever is responsible should suffer serious and dire consequences," La Russa said. "If we could get our hands on them, we would deal with them physically. It was so brutal that something should happen to them. I hope whoever was responsible gets nailed."

I agree with him, and I hope something awful happens to the moron DJ who made the disgusting prank call. If there's any justice, someone from the Cardinals' organization will run into this jerk and beat the hell out of him; he certainly deserves it. Unfortunately he won't be fired, apparently - the station intends to take no action against him.

I know, I know...the First Amendment, blah, blah, blah. Well, you know what? While it does exist to protect controversial or offensive speech, I don't think it is or ever was intended to protect the rights of sophmoric jerks who deliberately and knowingly taunt widows who've recently lost their husbands to a tragic and untimely death.

Disgraceful.
Bill Redux

Jeff Durkin has a much more succint analysis of Bill Clinton's appalling speech:

I'm just going to say it demonstrates the worst aspects of the Left, of which Clinton is the perfect example. It is self-centered, utopian, socialistic, unrealistic, anti-American, full of lies about his record, full of self-deception, condescending, and narcissitic...

...as usual Bill shows himself to be a sociopath, a stupid, emotionally retarded child in the body of a man. He exemplifies all that is wretched in humankind.


What he said.
Will He Never Shut Up?

The former Narcissist-in-Chief gave a speech in Blackpool, England earlier this week. It's a perfect example of everything that's wrong, awful, and corrupt about him, and why we are so, so fortunate that he is no longer in office. You can read the whole speechhere.

Some excerpts:

I have just come here from a trip to Africa which provided me with all kinds of fresh evidence of the importance of politics. I spent a week working on issues that are central to the mission I follow now that I am no longer in office and to the future of Africa; increasing economic opportunity for the continent's poor, fighting HIV and AIDS, building bridges of reconciliation between races, tribes and religions, supporting still new democracies. Time and again I was reminded of the importance of politics to the lives of ordinary people.

"Ordinary people" - as opposed to Important People like Bill.

The "central mission" he follows. Too bad he didn't bother with it when he actually had any power; ovbiously Dick Morris' focus groups didn't register AIDS and poverty in Africa as concerns that would work in the polls for Bill.

(I also visited) Rwanda, where the government has established a reconciliation village and welcomed me with amazing evidence of new beginnings in the aftermath of the terrible genocide just eight years ago which claimed the lives of over 10 per cent of the country's population. I met a Tutsi widow in that village whose husband died in the slaughter, standing right next to her neighbor, a Hutu woman whose husband is in prison awaiting trial for participating in the slaughter. I saw Hutu and Tutsi children dancing together in a ceremonial dance for me, for what the governor said was the very first time since 1994.

They were dancing for him!

Ironic, considering that Bill didn't do a goddamn thing to prevent the slaughter that went on there. Mr. International Community sat by and didn't lift a finger while a couple of million people died in an entirely preventable orgy of violence.

But they dance for Bill. And that's what's important. They might be living without sons, without brothers, without fathers, but they dance for Bill!

...the only way we can really live together is if we say that the celebration of our differences requires us to say that our common humanity matters more.

There are a lot of obstacles in the road towards that kind of world. There are terrorists, there are tyrants, there are weapons of mass destruction, there are all these people who are not part of our prosperity -- and there are a lot of people on our side who think that we can for ever claim for ourselves what we deny to others.

Fuck you, Bill.

We don't "deny" prosperity to anybody. We're prosperous because - despite attempts by you and your ilk to destroy it - we live under the best system ever created by man to generate wealth and improve the quality of life. The folks who aren't prosperous don't live under that system - they live in kleptocracies and under vicious tyrants, one of whom we'd like to remove from power if you and your ideological pals don't get in the way.

The United Nations is not what I hope it will be in five, 10 or 20 years. There are still people who vote in the United Nations based on the sort of old-fashioned national self-interest views they held in the cold war or even long before, so that not every vote reflects the clear and present interests of the world and the direction we are going.

Again, fuck you, Bill.

"Old fashioned national self-interest." Our national interest is far from old-fashioned. It's the most important interest we have. At least you're out in the open admiting that you don't give a damn about it. Some of us knew that all along.

You also see the same thing when we, the United States, do not contribute in my view as much as we should to international institutions. You know I have a difference in opinion with the Republicans about whether we should be involved in the Kyoto protocol, the comprehensive test ban treaty, the international criminal court, and all these things, but these things stand for something larger which is our larger obligation to create an integrated world. You cannot have an integrated world and have your say all the time.

We are not going to surrender our sovreignity just so that you can kiss up to European diplomats, or, I guess, run for UN Secretary General someday, Bill. You did your damndest to chip away at it, but you're out of office, and no one here cares what you think anymore.

Your horrid policies led directly to the war on terrorism we now are forced to fight; your credibility on these issues is zero.

The empty, soulless bastard of a former President goes on and on and on some more, but the above is more than enough, and I'm too disgusted to keep going through his vile, dishonest, self-congratulatory words.

He was, is, and continues to be, a disgrace.
Getting the Point

George Will skewers Robert ("whyen did we become such an unforgiving nation?") Torricelli and the Democrats generally in today's WashPost.

He also, as others in the blogosphere have, makes the point that the Democrats' run to the courts is a natural extension of Al Gore's illegitimate attempt to steal the Presidenvy via the Florida Supreme Court back in 2000:

Now people may fully understand the recklessness of what Al Gore almost accomplished in Florida. Unhappy about the result the political process was producing, he tried, with the assistance of a compliant state Supreme Court, to rewrite the rules of the process.

He concludes thusly:

A political party's enthusiastic embrace of the likes of Torricelli should be like getting drunk -- a wretched excess that carries its own punishment. The party should stay locked in the embrace it voluntarily entered into with a reprobate, until voters are given a chance to render their judgment on the party's judgment.

For 36 days in Florida in 2000, Democrats displayed ferocious contempt for any rules under which they do not win. Next month, voters everywhere should consider the New Jersey spectacle when weighing how much power Democrats deserve.


We here in the Empire obviouslyu wholeheartedly agree with that.

10/03/2002

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

The saga of incompetence among the folks who run Major League Baseball and its teams just never ends.

This almost unbelievable story has nothing to do with labor, or moving teams, or Lying Buddy Selig.

It does have to do with the laughable New York Mets. Their dismal season included a lawsuit by one owner against a co-owner; an attempt to shut down a popular, not-for-profit fansite, controversey over possibly gay players, and over drugs, and, of course, a last place finish.

And the year ends with the revelation that the Mets were ripped off to the tune of $2,000,000 by a gang of con men, including one "trusted ex-employee" of the organization, who were today arrested.

What else can go wrong for them?
Ethics-Free Zone

Well, the bad old Richard Cohen we all know and loathe is back. He writes today about Robert Torricelli, sort of.

What he's really writing about, of course, is the former Narcissist-in-Chief:

Once upon a time, Democratic politicians modeled themselves after John F. Kennedy. They would thrust a hand into their suit pocket, use self-deprecatory wit, pretend to have read books and declaim in backward-flowing sentences -- "Ask not . . ." Trouble was, as Lloyd Bentsen famously said of Dan Quayle, none of them was JFK.

Is he saying that JFK also "pretend(ed) to have read books?" I can certainly believe it, I'm just wondering...

Now the model appears to be Bill Clinton. Unlike Kennedy, it is not Clinton's style that is emulated, nor his eloquence and wit. It is his tenacity, his refusal to quit no matter what. This, above all, is what Robert Torricelli tried to duplicate when he sought reelection to the Senate from New Jersey. And this, more than anything else, accounts for the debacle facing New Jersey Democrats and the party in general. If it loses control of the Senate, it just might be on account of the example set by Bill Clinton.

Because it's all about Bill Clinton. Everything is. Cohen's unrequited love for Bill is simply embarrassing to watch, although as with his hero, embarrassment and shame are emotions that are clearly alien to Mr. Cohen (see his previous column for ample evidence of that).

Clinton's shadow was all over the Torricelli campaign. Given Torricelli's own driving ambition, it's hard to say that Clinton's example was the sole reason Torricelli sought reelection. But Torricelli offered us a peep into this thinking when he said, in effect, that he had failed to live up to the Clinton Standard.

Oh, please. Torricelli is plenty responsible all by himself. Does any sane person really believe that if Clinton hadn't escaped impeachment, Torricelli would have slunk off meekly into the night without a fight?

"President Clinton called several times today from Great Britain," Torricelli said in his speech announcing he was quitting. "We recalled all the fights that we were in together, all the times I went to the White House and told him in the darkest days that what I admired about him is that 'you never give up -- you never compromise, you never stop, you never give up.' . . . I admire that man so much."

Of course, Clinton's problems were all self-inflicted. Had he not been an entirely corrupt shell of a human being who cared for nothing except the gratification of his ego and his vile desires, he would not have had any dark days in the White House.

This quality of Clinton's -- the sheer ability to get out of bed in the morning when you or I would have pulled the covers over our heads -- is indeed one of Clinton's great attributes. Sometimes -- in New Hampshire after Gennifer Flowers or in the White House after Monica Lewinsky -- I could only marvel at his ability to keep going. A lesser man would have quit.

"You or I" would not have done what Clinton did; well, I wouldn't have, and nor would any remotely decent man. Based on Richard's history with interns, as noted last time we discussed him, maybe he has more in common with Clinton that bears thinking about in any detail.

The fact that he shamelessly pressed on fighting entirely legitimate charges brought on by his disgusting and dishonest behavior, lying through his teeth at every opportunity, is not a matter for admiration. You might as well say that you admire John Gotti for his refusal to "give in" to prosecutors.

But Clinton is a bad model for other politicians. In the first place, few of them have his charm -- or, in the impeachment era, his enemies. Torricelli was facing an unobjectionable Republican named Doug Forrester and not that Talibanic inquisitor, Ken Starr, and the goon squad that supported him in Congress.

"Talibanic?" Um...it's called following the law, Richard. You might want to learn about that sometime.

And as for Clinton's charm, well, it obviously works better on some people than others. Funny that...

Second, Clinton's offenses were not about job performance but about sex. His critics tried to make abuse of power and perjury the issue, but at heart it was always about sex -- something about which most Democrats, and even a few Republicans, have some knowledge. We all have our secret lives, whether real or fantasy -- and thank God for us that no Ken Starr calls us to account for them.

Well, there was also massive campaign finance corruption; selling of trade mission seats; selling of the Lincoln Bedroom; a foreign policy that was remarkable in its lack of concern for our national security; I could go on, but it's all on the record.

It was never "about sex," no matter how often Richard and other water-carriers for Clinton try to claim that it was.

Torricelli's "mistake" -- his characterization -- was not about sex but about corruption. It is a nasty word and maybe too expansive for what Torricelli did. But he did take gifts from a campaign contributor, for which he was "severely admonished" by his Senate colleagues. What's more, he came cheap -- a Rolex watch, some suits, a TV set. This was almost an insult to New Jersey's heritage of industrial-strength corruption. Tony Soprano would be appalled.

Note how he uses quotes around mistake - it's clear that Richard believes that Torricelli's only real mistake was getting caught.

And, by the way, Richard, Tony Soprano isn't a real person. And using pop culture references isn't going to get the NY Times to offer you a column like Mo Dowd's got. Sorry, but the truth hurts, I guess.

Still, a near-indictment by the U.S. attorney and a hard slap from the Senate should have amounted to a pink slip. But Torricelli clearly thought he could pull a Clinton. After all, he had his hero's verbal dexterity and, more than that, his hero's precedent to follow. He was not fighting for the rest of his term, though, but for a renewal of his contract. All his opponent had to do was remind voters over and over again that Torricelli was an ethical mess. Torricelli never could gain traction. He beat himself to a pulp.

No, what he didn't have was the blind, mindless adoration of lemminglike followers who were willing to ignore any crime, any transgression, anything at all, because they were so blinded by Clinton's "charm".

In the New York gubernatorial contest, Andrew Cuomo needed Bill Clinton's blessing to pull out of the Democratic primary race. Clinton was at his side when he made the announcement. The great non-quitter was saying it's okay, he might have done the same thing under the same circumstances. Of course, he would not have.

Sure he would have. If defeat was inevitable, he'd have pulled out ina heartbeat, to preserve future "political viability." Because that's the only thing that he ever cared about.

But better than knowing when to quit is knowing when not to run in the first place. Torricelli simply did not belong in the race. Not all nooses can -- or should -- be slipped and not all politicians have the footwork to do it. Bill Clinton did, but he would be the first to say you got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em -- and know, above all, when not to get into the game at all.

If that's true, Richard, why do you still write these columns?

Ack.
Addendum

Reading over the previous article posted here, it might sound kind of bitter and apocalyptic.

It is.

The reason that this New Jersey mess is important is not just because of the crookedness involved; and not just because control of the Senate may hinge on it.

It's important because it points up a fundamental disconnect between the behavior of the Democratic Party (or, at the very least, it's leadership) and it's professed ideals and public opinion about it.

The Dems are, generally, regarded as the party that cares more about "the little guy", and about principles, and so on and so forth, than do the Republicans - who are viewed as "the party of the rich and powerful".

And that just isn't true. The Torricelli matter should make that abundantly clear. The Dems can try and manipulate the rules, they can overlook ethical lapses by their members, they can run every kind of political machination that can be dreamed up - all politicans are liable to do these things. But that's the point. They do not care any more about the "little people" than do the Republicans. They do not care any more about principles than do the Republicans. They have no moral high ground.

It's the same issue with the Senate's treatment of judcial nominations. The Dems are doing exactly what the Republicans did to nominees of the former Narcissist-in-Chief. Payback is fair enough. But the Dems also try to claim some sort of principled motive, which is simply not there. They should not - cannot - be allowed to get away with this double standard. The cannot be allowed to play "politics as usual" and also claim to be champions of the people.

The idea that the Dems are somehow morally superior to Republicans is given the lie by their actions, and it is absolutely imperative to point that out at every possible opportunity.

10/02/2002

Disgrace in the New Jersey Courts

Well, the Garden State has yet another embarrassment to its name tonight. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the Democratic Party can replace Robert Torricelli on the ballot with former Senator Frank Lautenberg.

This decision sets aside clearly written state law, and it allows the Democrats to get away with a blatantly dishonest bait and switch to replace a sure-loser candidate. The Democrats of New Jersey nominated Torricelli with full knowledge of his ethical "lapses", and well after his admonishment by the Senate. Nothing that has happened since then is a revelation - except, perhaps, that voters seemed to be taking Torricelli's vile, corrupt behavior more seriously than the Democrats would have preferred them to.

So seriously, in fact, that Torricelli had dropped to 13 points down in the polls, and even worse than that in his own internal polls. And rather than live with the candidate they had nominated, and rather than follow the law, and rather than give voters the choice to decide for themselves what they think of Mr. Torricelli and his "lapses", the Democrats opted to go to the courts.

This shows - as if more proof were needed - that the Democratic Party, and certainly its leaders, has no shame, and that it has nothing but contempt for the voters, for the law, and for the very spirit of democracy on which this country is based. The only thing that the Dem leadership, starting with Tom Daschle, and right on down the line, cares about is maintaining their own power. They will lie, and cheat, and subvert democracy; they will do absolutely anything they deem necessary, and damn the voters, damn the consequences.

They are a disgrace to this country, as is the court that rendered this horrible decision.
Talking Sense

Jeff Durkin discusses Iraq's latest lies, distortions and evasions, and lays out what should be - and, one hopes, actually is, the U.S. policy towards Iraq. Note especially the last three sentences:

Well, the Iraqis and the UN inspectors have reached an agreement to allow UN inspection teams back in, operating under the inspection regime as it existed in 1998. Obviously, this is unacceptable - the Administration has said as much - but it does give Iraq's allies, such as Russia and France, an excuse for blocking US efforts to introduce a new, tougher inspection process with military consequences for non-compliance. The Iraqis have played out the period after Bush's UN speech masterfully, using diplomacy to hinder American efforts and providing the rest of the world with further excuses to stop our necessary actions in the Gulf. Thankfully, no one in the Administration seems to care that much, but this will still hamper operations and may delay the US long enough to provide Iraq with time to finish a nuke or two. America has to maintian a timetable for war with Iraq independent of the UN. Once we are ready for offensive operations, Saddam should have 24 hours to demobilize his military, step down and turn himself over to us for trial, and Iraq must submit to US occupation. Otherwise, we do it the hard way.

Exactly right.
Wonder When We'll See The Correction?

Check outthis item on NRO. It details the saga of an article written for Salon a month ago that made some serious accusations against Secretary of the Army Thomas White.

Since it was published, bit by bit, the basis of the article has come apart, due both to plagarism and the inability to actually verify the allegations made.

Salon fessed up on September 23rd, and has more or less disavowed the article.

Some other folks, notably the NY Times' Paul Krugman, have not. Krugman picked up on the Salon piece, mentioning it in one of his interminable hit pieces against the Bush Administration.

I wonder if we'll see him issue a "clarification" or a "correction" or somesuch, and how long it'll take him to get around to doing so.
The Mighty Yankee Machine

Despite the "byline strike" at the WashPost, it's easy to pick out the distinctive style of the best writer currently employed at that newspaper, baseball scribe Dave Sheinin. He writes this morning about the Yankees' victory last night:

There is a blase quality to the way the New York Yankees play postseason baseball. No matter how hard opposing players work, the Yankees simply hold a casual certainty about their ability to swoop in at the end and smother it...

Inning after inning, the Anaheim Angels scraped to piece together runs at Yankee Stadium, and inning after inning, the Yankees sat back and ripped each gain apart to jump ahead. By the time Bernie Williams's three-run home run finally finished the Angels off in a four-run, come-from-behind eighth inning, New York had an 8-5 win, a one-game lead in the best-of-five series and another illustration of Yankee inevitability...

Jason Giambi, who is now part of the Yankee conviction that used to suffocate him when he was with the Oakland Athletics, said:.

"I was telling [the first base coach], thank God I'm in this dugout and not the other one this time, because I've been in there going, 'Here we go again.' It's unbelievable. It's like clockwork."...

...regular season statistics are for the regular season, and the postseason is, well, for the Yankees. By the bottom of the fourth, New York had taken a 3-1 lead with another hit from Jeter and a home run from Giambi. And while the Angels worked and worked to tie the score at 3-3 at the top of the fifth, massaging counts and shoplifting bases to set up Garret Anderson's two-run base hit down the left field line, the typical Yankee hammer came down just two hitters into the bottom of the inning as Rondell White reeled off an opposite-field home run to push the Yankees out ahead once again....


It's good to know that there are still a few things in the world that can be relied upon...
Your Recommended Daily Quota of Richard Cohen Bashing

As noted here yesterday, I didn't have the heart to take apart Richard Cohen's lamentations on his advancing age.

Charles Austin had no such qualms. He also points out this sordid little tale of Cohen's behavior towards interns, which I did not know about.

If I had, I wouldn't have felt nearly as chairtable towards Richard. But since Charles has already done the definitive takedown of Richard, I'm not going to go back and do another one myself - read his (which you should be doing regularly anyway!).

We'll return to treating Cohen with the withering contempt he deserves starting with his next column. Normal service will be resumed.
Another Day at the Office

This goes without saying, really, but the New York yanees won the opening game of their playoff series against Anaheim last night.

It was a typical Yankee postseason victory; won in dramatic fashion in the late innings. Last night's hero was Bernie Williams, whose three run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning spelled doom for the outmanned Angels.

It didn't help Anaheim's cause when manager Mike Scioscia brought in reliever Scott Sconenweis to face Williams, instead of ace closer Troy Percival. That continues a trend of opposing managers making utterly mystifying moves in Yankee Stadium in the playoffs - see Bob Brenly's use of his pitching staff in games 4 and 5 of last year's World Series for proof of that.

And of course it was good just to see Yankee Stadium filled with 56,000 fanatic fans; there is simply no place in sports - in any sport - that compares to Yankee Stadium in October.

One win down, ten to go.
Blind, Stupid Fools

Opponents of the removal of Saddam Hussein are crowing over Iraq's agreement with the U.N. to permit weapons inspectors to return.

They will have "no restrictions", except for the restrictions that Iraq got written into the deal. They concern "Presidential palaces", of which there are, I believe, 70 or so at last count. One wonders what other restrictions and changes might crop up as the process goes along.

Of course, the inspections are worthless; we had 7 years of them which didn't put a dent into Saddam's weapons programs. And in any case, the goal is the removal of him and his government, not merely its disarmament.

It's all appalling; opponents of war in Iraq keep changing their tune; there was whining about "violating Iraq's sovreignity", and "setting a new precedent", and now they whine about "a new American Empire."

But the point is that Saddam has violated the sovreignity of his neighbors, made a joke of the U.N., and on and on and on, and he's a threat to everyone both in the region and around the world, and his removal and replacement by a more acceptable government is imperative. At least the Bush Arministration seems to understand this, even if no one else does.

10/01/2002

They Could At Least Get Their Facts Straight

The loons at Media Whores Online are at it again. Today, they're trumpeting a story by Nick Confessetore of the Washington Monthly, which alarmingly notes that the Republicans are "one vote away" from controlling the Federal Government completely.

Confessetore points out that this would be the first time Republicans would have such control "since 1953".

Except that's wrong. It would be the first time since May of 2001; until Jim Jeffords' switch, the Republicans controlled the House and, by virtue of Dick Cheney's tiebreaking vote in the Senate, they controlled that as well. There's a reason that Trent Lott was called "Majority Leader" until the switch.

If they want to argue that Republican control of the government is a bad thing, fine. But at least get the facts right when you do.
Hard Numbers

This article by Meryl Yourish is pretty mind-boggling, but not, sadly, surprising.

Meryl did some research into U.N. Security Council resolutions. Dating back to the U.N.'s founding, she finds that fully 15% of all Security Council resolutions were directed at Israel.

15 percent!

For a country of, what, ten million people?

With everything else that's gone on in the world since 1946?

The Cold War. Apartheid. The disintegration of Yugoslavia. The Korean War. Vietnam. International terrorism. Famine, civil war and genocide throughout Africa. War between India and Pakistan. War between India and China. The Taiwan issue. The breakup of the Soviet Union. Nuclear testing. Environmental problems. Financial crises. Just off the top of my head.

And with all that, one out of every seven Security Resolutions concerns Israel. That goes so far beyond absurd, beyond madness, that it defies description.

Here's one example of the U.N.'s concerns:

Amazingly, the only UN Security Council resolution in 1960 lambasted Israel over the capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the most notorious architects of Hitler's Final Solution. Why? Because Israel violated Argentina's sovereignty. Gee. Perhaps if Argentina hadn't been so willing to let Nazis live out their lives peacefully within their borders, Israel wouldn't have kidnapped Eichmann from his home there. They demanded reparations. Is anyone out there laughing? I didn't.

If more evidence were needed that the U.N. and "international law" are nothing but shams, this serves nicely. The U.N. is a platform for corrupt, vile despots to rail against the West, primarily Israel and the United States.

It would be funny, if it weren't so horrendous.

I Just Don't Have the Heart

It's Tuesday, and that of course means a new Richard Cohen column to rip to shreds.

Not today, though. His column inspires pity rather than the usual increduilty-followrd-by-outrage this AM.

Sure, there are jokes that could be made at his expense; he leaves the field wide open for them. But I just don't have the heart to do that today; and besides, it's too easy, kind of like fishing with dynamite. There's no challenge, no joy to it.

So for today, we here in the Empire will merely feel sad for Richard, and wait until Thursday, when it's a safe bet that Richard will revert to his old self, and we can get back to smacking him around.

The Torch, Again

Howie Kurtz of the WashPost writes this AM about Robert Torricelli's demise. He chalks it all up to the media, which "wouldn't allow the campaign to be about anything else."

Well, if that's true, the media did something right for a change.

Kurtz also says, about Torricelli's farewell speech:

It was hard not to feel sorry for Torricelli, as his voice cracked, because he so obviously threw it all away.

Actually, it's easy not to feel sorry for him. People who voluntarily and knowingly throw away their careers are very easy not to feel sorry for. Why should we pity them?

The Post's own Reliable Sources column poits out at least one person who, like me, found it quite simple not to feel sorry for the crooked Torricelli:

...at least one Washington establishmentarian--blue-chip Republican lawyer C. Boyden Gray--was decidedly unsympathetic. The first George Bush's White House counsel was sweating in the Four Seasons Hotel fitness center while the Torch snuffed himself out on television. When Torricelli invoked the spirit of forgiveness, Gray shouted aerobically at the screen: "Give me a [bleep] break!"

Yeah. That pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter as well.
Kissing Up to Buddy Selig

That's the only explanation I can think of for Tom Boswell's column in today's WashPost (although Boswell's name doesn't appear on the column, thanks to what I assume is another "byline strike" at the Post - I'm not really clear how such an action actually helps the writers in their struggle over...whatever it is they're struggling over - it's obviously Boswell; his style is easy enough to recognize).

Boswell pens a paen to the state of the game:

Now, for no apparent reason, there's progress everywhere you look. Not solutions, mind you, but real progress.

From labor relations to competitive balance, from the homer glut to steroid testing, this was the year baseball started to seriously address its major issues. Okay, the games are still slow. But if that's the only area where the game is totally stalled, it's worth a cheer.


And why would he say these things, when they're - at best - wishful thinking, and more likely entirely untrue?

Well, maybe because he wants to say nice things in the hopes that his kind words will influence Lying Buddy Selig. After all, as Boswell sees it:

Why, in the next year, even the local baseball situation may improve. The owners may decide to move the impoverished Expos to the affluent Washington area. Making decisions about relocation of franchises is finally -- f-i-n-a-l-l-y -- on the front burner of the game's agenda.

I would like nothing more than to see that happen. But it's not going to. Lying Buddy and his boys have already said that there won't be a team here in 2003; the Expos might be moved - "temporarily" - to such a place as Prtland, or Charlotte, or Las Vegas, or Buffalo.

None of which has a 55,000 seat stadium ready for baseball - where Major League Baseball used to be played, in fact. And none of which has two of the ten wealthiest counties in the United States in easy driving and public transportation distance of said stadium. And none of which has not one, not two, but THREE ownership groups ready willing and able to purchase the belageured Expos and bring them here. And none of which is as big a media market as the DC area.

But Lying Buddy has to pay off the awful Peter Angelos for his loyal service during thr labor wars, and Angelos doesn't want a team in DC, or Northern Virginia, or anywhere that could even concievably take even a single fan away from the team he's run into the ground.

And Lying Buddy wants to keep DC open forever, as a looming threat to extort new ballparks from other cities at taxpayer expense, as he got in Milwaukee.

Boswell argues that the new labor agreement will help address the problems of competitive balance; this is immediately after he waxes rhapsodic about how small market teams (Oakland), teams that haven't won in two decades (Anaheim), and teams marked by Lying Buddy for termination (Minnesota) all managed to make the playoffs despite the evils of financial imbalance that currently exist. Which makes it really hard to take the rest of Boswell's piece seriously.

And the sad thing is that it's all for naught; even if Lying Buddy reads it (or one of his lackeys reads it to him), Boswell's words aren't going to change his dishonest policies one iota.




At Least Somebody Gets It Right

The WashPost editorial board, of all people, has the right idea about Robert Torricelli's withdrawl from his Senate race.

Unfortunately, his selflessness and magnanimity, attested to at considerable length by the senator himself, come a little late. The senator thought he could win despite having improperly accepted gifts from a constituent seeking favors. Senate Democratic leaders, focused only on retaining majority control, similarly belittled the findings of the Senate ethics committee. Only when it turned out that New Jersey voters actually cared about such ethical lapses -- only, that is, when he saw he would lose -- did the candidate step aside. "When did we become such an unforgiving people?" he tremulously asked yesterday.

Ouch!

To answer the Senator's question, I'd say that you have to actually ask for forgiveness - and mean it! - before you can be forgiven. He seems to have missed that step.

Nice to see that the Post can be honest, and take an entirely legitimate shot at the Dems, at least once in a while.
They Never Quit

Racist jerk Johnny Cochran is at it again. Besides his involvement in the disgraceful, extortionate "reparations" issue, he's now talking about bringing anothr blackmail lawsuit, this one against the National Football League.

Cochran wants to see more black coaches and more black participation in the ownership of NFL teams, and if he doesn't get his way:

"We can litigate this. We can bring a lawsuit,'' Cochran said. "I think the NFL is reasonable. They understand that this can end up in the courts, and they'd rather not see that happen. But let's see if we can have a dialogue. You only litigate after you've done everything you can to negotiate.''

Here's hoping the NFL tells the vile Cochran exactly where he can shove his blackmail and threats.
Another Opening, Another Show

Stepping aside from politics for a moment, tonight Major League Baseball's playoffs begin.

For the next three weeks, labor strife and steroids and the continuing shafting of the Washington, DC area by the "Commisisoner" of Baseball will be forgotten, as the league's best teams compete for the World Championship.

Of course, it's all a formality; when the dust settles, the Championship will be back in the Bronx where it belongs, in the hands of the New York Yankees.

9/30/2002

More on Torricelli

It looks like the Dems are going to try and fold, spindle and mutliate the election laws in an effort to put a new candidate on the ballot in New Jersey:

Gov. James E. McGreevey, who stood beside Mr. Torricelli during his announcement, said he and fellow Democrats would ask the State Supreme Court to allow the change because of the unusual circumstances.

What unusual circumstances? Their candidate, due to his well-known and long-term ethical lapses, was down by double figures in the polls.

As the Republican candidate, Douglas Forrester, said:

"The laws of the State of New Jersey do not contain a `We-think-we're-going-to-lose-so-we-get-to-pick-someone-new' clause,"

The Dems may push Torricelli to actully resign his seat:

Democrats said that one provision of New Jersey election law allows the party to replace any candidate who dies or leaves office within 30 days of the election, leaving open the possibility that Mr. Torricelli might be asked to step down from his Senate seat before the election.

Apparently, under that scenario, the Senate election would then be cancelled, and whomever the governorn appointed would serve until a special election in 2004.

That, of course, would be cynical, dishonest, and entirely hostile to the idea of democracy; which of course some Dems don't have a problem with.

I guess it's okay to circumvent the process and the will of the people, so long as it keeps Tom Daschle as Senate Majority Leader.

Something else to remember when the Dems start whining about being on the side of "the people, not the powerful."


Putting Out the Torch

Well, it's official. Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, with a big, black, stinking cloud of ethical troubles hanging over him, is going to withdraw from the race to retain his Senate seat.

This creates a problem for the Democrats, because New Jersey election law states that you can only replace a candidate on the ballot 48 days or more before an election - and we're now 36 days away from the election.

The Dems plan, apparently, to appeal to the courts to allow a replacement candidate on the ballot. The Republicans, needless to say, are not down with that plan:

Republicans promised to challenge any court effort to have another Democrat placed on the ballot.

"You can't just decide you don't like your candidate and put someone else in," said Ginny Wolfe, spokeswoman for the Republican Senate campaign committee.


Unsurprisingly, I agree with the Republicans on this one. It's one thing if a candidate becomes incapacitated in an accident or due to illness (or death). But when the candidate is a crook - or at least viewed as potentially a crook - and has to bow out because their ethical lapses doom their chances, well, the party in question just has to take their lumps for nominating and supporting a crook. The knew about Torricelli's ethics issues for a good long time - and Torricelli himself obviously knew about them. They took a chance that he could squeak by in spite of it, and they were wrong. Too bad.

On this one, despite all the whining we're no doubt going to hear, the Dems have absolutely no one to blame but themselves.

Dissenting Opinions

Congressman James McDermott, speaking from Baghdad, said this yesterday on ABC's "This Week":

McDermott also said on ABC's This Week that "I think the president would mislead the American people" in order to bring about war with Iraq.

That led Republican Senator Trent Lott to reply that McDermott should:

"should come home and keep his mouth shut"

leading to McDermott's comment that:

"I'm speaking for the peace process," McDermott said. Lott is "talking from absolute ignorance of what's going on on the ground. I think he ought to be a little more careful about what he says in a country where we value free speech. Dissent is an American right. Without it, it's not a democracy."

And Congressman McDermott is right, that we value free speech, and that dissent is an American right.

Why, then, does he feel that Trent Lott shoulsdn't be able to speak his mind just as he himself has?

We've heard a lot, generally from the left, about how dissent is being quashed, marginalized, shut out, and so forth. The problem is, I think, that the folks who say that have the mistaken belief that the First Amendment guarantees you the right to a willing audience, and also the right not to be criticized or ridiculed or insulted or ignored.

And it doesn't.

Yes, everyone has the right to say whatever they like about the issues of the day. And everyone else has the right to tell them that they're full of crap, that they're fools, to quesiton their motives or their sanity or their patriotism, or whatever else, and to say to them "shut the hell up!"

And that's every bit as important as the right to make your comments in the first place. The American people can judge whether they agree with Congressman McDermott and his views, or whether they don't. And they can judge for themselves whether they agree with Trent Lott's assessment of McDermott, or whether they think Lott is out of bounds with his comments. That's how free speech works.

It isn't just one way. It isn't just for Congressman McDermott to dissent; it's also for his oponents to express their dissent towards him.

What critics do not have the right to do, is to forcibly silence the dissenters, or to outlaw their dissent. But that has not happened, and there is no indication that it's going to happen.

What the dissenters need to realize is that, just maybe, the reason they're being "shut out" of the debate is not that the President or the Republicans or some evil corporate cabal is silencing their voice; maybe it's because the American people don't, in general, agree with them, and because they don't, in general, want to listen to the dissenters anymore.

Just a thought.

Europe vs. the U.S., part XVIII

Here's the headline of a front page piece in the WashPost this morning: "Bush Policy Irks Europeans".

The article refers to the new doctrine of preemption, which challenges the existing approach favored by Europe:

"The mixture of containment and establishing an international rule book by and large encouraged democracy, the rule of law and open markets throughout the world," Chris Patten, the European Union's external affairs minister, said in an interview Friday. "Why should anyone think that that approach was somehow less relevant after September 11th? I think it's more relevant."

The problem is, the existing order has, in many cases, failed miserably. Putting aside September 11th, "containment and an international rule book" didn't prevent tens of thousands of deaths in the former Yugoslavia; preemption there might well have prevented untold human misery and death. Preemption might also have been a better policy in any number of places in Africa, where the death toll in the past few years has gone into the millions.

I don't mean to be sarcastic here, as we often are here in the Empire. The system of coalitions and treaties and multilateral action has not prevented truly horrible things which were at least potentially preventable.

The Post piece notes that:

Rallies by tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators in London and Rome on Saturday were reminiscent of the protests of the early 1980s in favor of nuclear disarmament and against President Ronald Reagan's tough stance on the Soviet Union.

Without noting that, well, President Reagan was right, and that within a decade, the Soviet Union was no more.

A good point is made here:

Officials concede that one of their problems is that they do not speak with one voice. The views of European leaders range from British Prime Minister Tony Blair's spirited endorsement of the Bush administration's Iraq policy to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's equally spirited criticism, with French President Jacques Chirac somewhere in between. "It's our weakness, not America's strength, that is the problem," said Elmar Brok, chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee. "We have no influence because we have no common European approach."

In the interest of fairness, it isn't weakness - or at least not only weakness - that's the problem here. Europe wants to speak with one voice, but as noted above, there is no one voice. The EU is not a "United States of europe", and when it tries to act like one, it can't help but fail, because of the various interests of its constituent members.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's recent appearance at a NATO meeting in Warsaw, during which he snubbed the German defense minister because of Schroeder's strong opposition to military action against Iraq, was the latest insult.

"There's a tone of contempt that people here deeply resent," said John Wyles, a journalist and policy strategist who works for GPlus Europe, a consulting firm.


The contempt does go both ways. Comparing President Bush to Hitler certainly does not help matters any.

European officials now concede that they were slow to recognize the depth of the wound and shock to Americans -- and the degree to which Americans would take literally the concept of a war on terrorism. "For you, it's not symbolic, it's a real term," one official said. "From that moment, you decided it's your problem and you have to solve it and the rest of the world can either help, or, if not, to hell with them."

Precisely.









Did They Really Say That?

This has been commented on elsewhere, but I'll throw my $0.02 in as well.

Two Democratic Congressmen, David Bonior of Michigan, and James McDermott of Washington, had some kind words for Saddam Hussein while on a "fact-finding trip to Baghdad.

The comments came on ABC News' "This Week" yesterday:

On a fact-finding trip to Baghdad, Bonior and McDermott said there is no reason to consider military action until Iraq fails to live up to its word. For now, McDermott said, there is no need for resolutions by Congress or the U.N. Security Council authorizing force.

"You don't start out by putting the gun to their head and saying we're going to shoot you if you blink," McDermott said.

Asked about Iraq's history of denying access to inspectors, Bonior said the United States should not "play the blame game."

Bonior said they he and his colleagues met with Iraqi ministers, who assured them that weapons inspectors could "come any time you want, anywhere you want."

"They want their sovereignty respected," Bonior added. "They don't want to be having knocked on the door during prayer and say, `Open up this building in five minutes.' They want to be treated with some dignity and respect. But basically they're suggesting that everything will be open."


The "blame game?" It's interesting that United States Congressmen would have more faith in the word of a murderous tyrant who's spent a decade violating the agreements that he signed after his defeat in the Gulf War, than in the government of the United States.

I'd like to see the full transcript, because some of the blogosphere comments suggest that Bonior and McDermott had far more controversial/stupid/borderline-traitorous things to say, which wouldn't at all surprise me.

9/29/2002

Drug Testing

The NY Times has a front page article about the debate over drug testing in schools.

The debate centers around:

the Tecumseh, Okla., schools' policy that required random urine testing as a condition for participating in any extracurricular activity involving interscholastic competition, including sports teams, the chorus and the Future Homemakers of America.

That policy was upheld by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision:

the majority opinion, by Justice Clarence Thomas, said the search was entirely reasonable, given the nationwide epidemic of drug use by schoolchildren. By emphasizing the schools' "custodial responsibilities" for their students, the majority opinion seemed to point to judicial support for testing all students.

The remainder of the article discusses the questions many school districts are asking themselves; whether to adopt drug testing, and if so, what policy to adopt, with the Tecumseh policy serving as a model for many.

The federal government is squarely on the side of testing:

the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy began distributing a guide supporting drug testing in schools.

"Testing has been shown to be extremely effective at reducing drug use in schools and businesses," the government guide said. "As a deterrent, few methods work better or deliver cleaner results."


Personally, I'm glad to see that there even is a debate; that school districts are not blindly signing on to invasive drug testing programs.

As far as I'm concerned, our drug laws are absurd; some substances that are potentially every bit as harmful and/or addictive as marijuana or cocaine (like, say, tobacco and alcohol) are legal, and some are legal with perscription (valium, etc). It makes no logical sense, and it certainly makes no moral or ethical sense.

Obviously, following with that, I'm opposed to random drug tests in schools (and the workplace). There are specific situations where drug tests make sense - maybe for airline pilots, who hold the lives of a couple of hundred people in their hands on the job, and for whom even a tiny impairment of reflexes could be disastrous; or for similar professions.

And - as long as the stupid drug laws we have are on the books - if there is a history of drug use or other illegal behavior, then testing students, or others, makes sense.

But random tests of students who are not under suspiscion - no. To my mind, it's offensive and wrong, and it sends a clear message that we do not trust our children, and we do not believe they can make good decisions on their own, and that the only way we believe they can act properly is with constant, intrusive monitoring. And that is, frankly, a shitty message to send to our children, and it can only lead to them becoming rotten adults.




Speaking of Movies

I've seen this reported a couple of places; apparently "Gladiator" writer John Logan has been drafted to write a sequel to it.

The sequel will, supposedly, take place 15 years after the events of the original "Gladiator", which means that the only character who could possibly reprise their role is Connie Nielsen as Lucilla, sister to the (dead) Emperor Commodus.

Of course, since Gladiator's ending left viewers with the utterly ahistorical idea that the Lucllia character was going to serve as a kind of regent, who would hand power back to the Senate (as personified by Derek Jacobi) and restore the Roman Republic, God only knows what Logan might have in mind for a sequel.

Despite it's...somewhat loose...treatment of history, I loved Gladiator and thought it was a great film. But it's a film that really doesn't need a sequel in any way, shape or form.
Superman Lives?

To follow up on the insanely bad script that Warner Brothers was banking on to revive the Superman movie franchise, here's an update.

A couple of items are worth noting. One, dated from Monday, confirms that the script review from Ain't It Cool News was genuine.

The second, dated Thursday, reports that Warner Brothers had...issues...with AICN's review:

WB are absolutely furious at Aint It Cool News' review of the script and is complete panic mode. Heads are rolling and the entire studio is in turmoil. It seems they are scared to death they may have another BATMAN & ROBIN situation on their hands (they do) where negative buzz kills the film before it is even released. This time before it is even shot! The entire project is now in jeopardy and that they may have to throw out the entire script and start over.

Someone who HATED the script and fought against it is the one who leaked it. But basically, there are a few people in the company who understand how bad the script is and that it will be a disaster the likes of which the company has never seen. We're talking a "CUTTHROAT ISLAND" sized bomb.


Well, if this is true, and they're really going to scrap the awful script that they planned to shoot, then more power to Ain't It Cool for getting the word out and helping to prevent a massive waste of time, talent and money that would have disappointed and enraged fans and moviegoers.

See, the Internet is good for something after all!