Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Blogging Update

First, as soon as I find the time I need to blogroll this guy. I found his page while flipping randomly through blogs, and it seems like right now is an especially good time to start reading, because he's focused on the ridiculous protests going on in NYC, where he lives the ignominious life of a New York conservative.

Second, I was just informed by a classmate of mine that my First Amendment professor is "basically a communist." This will be all kinds of fun.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Communism v. Capitalism

I have two final summar book reports to make, even though I only read about half of the second one. The first is The Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-Hwan (Basic Books, 2001) and the second is Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the Richest, Most Powerful Man in History by Mark Bowden (Atlantic Books, 2001).

I selected the title for this post, Communism v. Capitalism, because I think these two books effectively illustrate just how similar the two can be when unchecked.

Aquariums is heart-breaking. I hesitated a long time before buying it, because I knew it was about life in a North Korean gulag, and I wasn't sure I had the stomach for it. It turns out that the author, while pulling no punches in describing the horror, doesn't hit us over the head with the brutality of it all.

The true story is about a Korean family living in Japan during WWII. After the war, the North Koreans started recruiting expatriots to come back to the Fatherland to work toward building a Communist utopia. The husband, who had built an impressive fortune, was indifferent to politics, but his wife was an active communist who convinced the whole family to return. She quickly came to regret that. A few years later, they were all in jail. The author is a grandson of that couple, and he talks about his grandmother never losing her faith in Communism, although she decided the North Koreans weren't "true Communists." The author was nine years old when he was sent to the camps. His "crime" was being the grandson of a political dissident. Apparently, North Koreans believe that political subversiveness is genetic.

When he was finally released, our author tells us that at the beginning, North Koreans were all about two things: money and power. By the time he successfully fled the country, the quest for power had gone the way of the dodo, and money was the be-all and end-all of life in communist North Korea.

As my brother-in-law Trevor noted when I told him about the book, it's ironic when fleeing into China is a vast improvement over your situation. At the time, I had no idea how right he was. When the government started spying on the author again, he and a friend bribed their way north and into mainland China, where they were amazed at how relaxed and prosperous the Chinese were. So that should say quite a bit about how bad North Korea is. Eventually he made his way south, worked for a few months in the port city of Dalian, and caught a boat to South Korea, where he lives today.

The second book, Killing Pablo, is not a political treatise at all. It reads like a Tom Clancy novel (specifically, Clear and Present Danger), but it is non-fiction. The author does not directly discuss capitalism - I only made the connection because I had just finished a book on communism. But really, that's what we're looking at here. Pablo Escobar became one of the world's wealthiest criminals by being a better, more vicious thug than anyone around him. He bought or killed cops, judges, jailers, congressmen, political candidates - anyone he needed.

Escobar eventually turned himself in to the authorities because he worked out a very sweet deal. He was "imprisoned" in a jail of his own construction, all the guards were his employees, he left whenever he felt like it, and he had all the resources at his fingertips to build his cocaine empire. Things went along swimmingly for both drug lord and government for about a year, until Escobar started killing people he suspected of cheating him. In a fascinating little scene, Escobar has taken hostage a Deputy Defense Minister, and he explains, "Doctor, I know you guys are worried about those killings. Don't worry. These are problems among mafioso. They do not concern you."

It is amazing that it never seems to occur to him that murder - even among mafiosi - does in fact concern the government. To Escobar, there was no such thing as respect for human life, only what he could and could not do (and at the height of his power, there was very little of the latter).

This is the heart and soul of Capitalism. That which can make money will make money. Had Escobar not been at the center of the Medellin cartel, someone else would have been (and indeed, his death certainly didn't end the war on drugs, by any means). It is Adam Smith's invisible hand, pure and simple. Escobar doesn't sell drugs because he likes to sell drugs, but because the benefit to him (a zillion dollars and every creature comfort imaginable) offsets the cost (the effort exerted, a very nasty reputation, and the risk of getting shot in the head by Delta Force). Where benefit outweighs cost, the invisible hand moves people.

Adam Smith's theory is not perfect, as Killing Pablo shows. Every government official, cop, judge or reporter who stood up to Escobar risked not only being kidnapped, tortured and/or killed in nasty ways, but also seeing his or her family kidnapped, tortured and/or killed in nasty ways. I can't think of any economic motivation for doing such a thing, and yet people did it. In other words, while there exists an "inivisible hand" pushing people towards profitable economic activity, other forces push and pull in opposite directions.

The Communism in Aquariums is not a perfect match-up for the Capitalism in Killing Pablo, however, because Pablo Escobar never succeeded in his goal of becoming the state. He never exercised the utterly unfettered control over the people that Kim Jong-il and his father exercise. The parallel is only complete in some hypothetical alternate reality where the Columbian government legalizes the cocaine trade and Escobar's methods become official state policy, or else in Saudi Arabia.

Back from Vacation

Nothing of substance to say until I get caught up on the news. For the record, I just finished driving 1600 miles in two days, with an 18 month old boy in the back seat. More details forthcoming...

Sunday, August 22, 2004

McGreevey Needs a Fisking

Jim McGreevey thinks people care what he has to say. Sadly, I suspect a lot of people do. For that reason alone, I think it's time for a good fisking.

"Ten days ago, I made a very difficult personal decision to announce my sexuality and resignation as governor of New Jersey."

I'm sure it was difficult, given the federal corruption investigation, and the huge lawsuit Golan Cipel filed against you. But I salute your political acumen in rallying liberals all over the country to your cause by making it sound like it was your homosexuality - rather than your adultery, corruption, lawsuit or possible indictment.

"I also apologized to my wife for my failure to respect the covenant of our marriage, and to the citizens of New Jersey for allowing my professional decisions to be distracted by my personal life."

But he didn't apologize for hiring $10,000 prostitutes to compromise federal witnesses. I know, minor quibbling point...

"I accepted full responsibility for the sins, transgressions and errors in judgment I exhibited during my tenure and will work to correct the consequences."

Horse crap. You don't accept full responsibility for "sins, transgressions and errors" by throwing up a smokescreen based on gay persecution. And Ace does a good job of illustrating how much we can trust you to correct the consequences. The quick version is that McGreevey is exhausting the state treasury to make pointless, expensive commercials with the sole practical function of rehabilitating his image. But don't take my word for it - go read Ace.

"If any good is to come from this episode - as distinct from the accomplishments of my administration - hopefully, it is that New Jersey and increasingly America recognizes that sexuality is an individual imprint and not a statement of competency and capability."

Still with the smokescreens. Reports indicate that basically everyone in NJ knew you were gay for a long time. You quit because you were about to get very publicly sued, or privately blackmailed (depending on whose version you believe). As far as competency and capability go, you sir are not a poster child of either. I have yet to see any conservative commentator take issue with your homosexuality, only with your profound dishonesty in the manner of your quitting, and your intention to resign only after it's too late for NJ residents to democratically elect a new governor.

"While there are many different and sometimes competing influences, it is my humble hope that my 'coming out' could, in some small way, help those gay Americans who have yet to become open with their sexuality."

You're a real trooper, McGreevey. Care to tell us what those "different and sometimes competing influences" are? Or shall we just assume that a grand jury investigation played some small role?

"Much has been said about my decision not to resign immediately, but to set Nov. 15 as the effective date of my resignation. My initial inclination was to accept responsibility, apologize and move on quickly. The more I reflected, however, the more I realized that leaving office abruptly would be an abandonment of responsibility."

No, you abandoned your responsibility when you used your office to get your boyfriend (at best - victim at worst) a cushy job for which he was not qualified, took illegal campaign contributions, and then hired hookers to cover it up. I'd say you and responsibility parted ways long ago. And if you're now trying to empty the state coffers on useless advertisements, you're still not being responsible. So once again, you're raising a smokescreen.

"I fully believe in the importance of elections within a participatory democracy."

Just so long as my side wins.

"There can be no greater instrument for ensuring the strength and foundation of our system of government than the electoral process."

Which is why my critics are so justified in thinking I am a piece of human garbage for undermining that strength and foundation. You have to know that whatever McGreevey is about to say, it will somehow involve his interests taking precedence over participatory democracy, and in deed the very strength and foundation of our system of government. Just wait for it.

"Recognizing that principle, nonetheless, I can identify two specific reasons for choosing to remain governor until Nov. 15."

Well, we didn't have to wait very long, did we?

"First, there are immediate public policy considerations and actions, which need to be completed. Simply put, there are demands and projects which need to be addressed and put in place now."

McGreevey then lists some of those actions: establishing a stem cell institute, preserving the Highland watershed, establishing a property tax constitutional commission, and security concerns surrounding the RNC in New York. There are two very significant problems with this excuse, however. First of all, if these projects are indeed important for New Jersey, then New Jersey residents will elect someone for whom these projects are similarly important. It is simply absurd to suggest that McGreevey - and only McGreevey - can bring these projects to completion.

The second problem is that we know, based on one of the few problems McGreevey actually admits to, that he is willing to put people in positions they do not merit (i.e. Golan Cipel). McGreevey's actions now stink of corruption, all public trust having been lost, and there is no reason to believe that McGreevey is pursuing the enumerated projects for anything other than personal or partisan political purposes. (Wow, say that five times fast). In other words, if McGreevey was willing to spend lots of money and jeopardize the safety of New Jersey just to get in Cipel's pants, at what point would his conscience forbid him from appointing other cronies to his constitutional commission? Or should we just take his word for it?

"The second major reason is that our 1947 state constitution establishes the Senate president as the official who would succeed a governor in an unexpired term. I acknowledge that the constitution would permit a special election to occur if I were to resign at or about the first week of September. But the constitution does not outline provisions or state requirements for the timing of a resignation. While the constitution does provide the mechanism for an election, the decision of when to make that resignation effective is a personal one."

Similarly, the U.S. Constitution doesn't state when or how a President must make a resignation effective. In the case of Richard Nixon, his resignation was timed to avoid impeachment. So I acknowledge that there is a historical precedent for timing a resignation for shrewdly personal reasons. That precedent doesn't make the calculation any less despicable, however. And I suspect that, had Nixon tried to delay his exit, his ability to govern would have been so far compromised that his continued stay in office would have constituted a further violation of the public trust.

Exactly like what you're doing to New Jersy.

"I made this decision in the context of what I thought was in the best interest of the state."

Sure, just like you made the decision to cheat on your wife in the best interests of the state. Given the above, I think it is clear that you are doing what's in the best interests of Jim McGreevey. No more, and no less.

"I truly believe that an orderly transition is important for continuity and stability."

Just not if an "orderly transition" involves, you know, democracy.

"An acting governor is more inclined by title to finish the good work that has been started."

That's an interesting, unfounded assertion. I'd say a public officer with no direct responsibility to the public whatsoever is more likely to do whatever the heck he feels like than someone who makes actual promises to his actual constituency during an actual campaign. Unless that person in John Kerry, in which case it would be logically impossible to honor all campaign promises.

"Moreover, in this case, there will still be an election next year as called for in the constitution."

Which undermines all your rhetoric about your personal needs trumping democracy.

McGreevey, not that I expect you to care (or even notice my blog), but you are human garbage. You are the reason that Americans get so apathetic about government. And it seems there's nothing - public opinion, a sense of decency, or even calls from people in your own party - that will dissuade you from your selfish decision.

Kerry Urges Bush to Demand Attacks Stop

Three words, Senator Kerry:

Bring. It. On.

Senator Kerry does not seem to understand the nature of the First Amendment. He also does not seem to understand how big of a sissy he looks like by first copying Bush's notorious "bring it on" statement and then griping like a Sitzpinkler when people (other than Bush) do, in fact, bring it on.

Keep on digging, buddy.

As usual, Kerry is on two sides of an issue. He simultaneously encourages similar attacks ("bring it on") and discourages them (Bush, quit being such a meanie, and BTW I'm suing you). Here's a little advice, Flippy. If people all across this great nation of ours daily mock you for your seeming inability to actually take a stand on something, you might want to consider taking a stand on something, just to prove the nay-sayers wrong.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Blogging Update

First, I've added BigRedHammer (who is decidedly not a Communist) and Patton's blogs to the blogroll. I would have added Patton's Opinion8 sooner (as he was the first to blogroll me), but I was under the mistaken impression that he was on posting hiatus. I'm glad to see he is not. And I would have blogrolled BigRedHammer sooner, but I had no idea he was posting at all. But it seems he is, and I'm glad to see that.

Second, blogging will be spotty for the rest of the week-end - although I confess it's hit-and-miss at best - because I'm traversing the countryside, and I don't know when I will have a computer in front of me. But I do know that, due to the intrinsic cruelty of the universe, I will be forced to spend a week on a houseboat and water-skiing at Lake Powell, where blogging will be ... well, it won't be. I know, I appreciate your pity, but somehow I'll slog through the days.

In the meantime, I'll see what I can do about saying something profound, insightful and eloquent to tide all four of my readers over until I return. Stay on the edges of your seats.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Make Every Vote Count (Unless it's Against Our Guy)!

Just summarizing the story-line, so you don't have to do the surfing.

In 2000 (the year George W. Bush stole the election), Democrats whipped themselves into an insane frenzy over making sure every single vote in Florida was counted. Well, that's not quite right. They actually only wanted recounts in certain heavily Democrat-leaning counties. In addition, they actively sought to disqualify as many military votes as possible, as revealed in a memo that somehow ended up in the hands of a Republican, who quickly gave it to Drudge. Thanks to Cold Fury for the link.

The moral of this story: Count Every Vote simply does not apply to the men and women stationed overseas to make sure we maintain our freedom to (inter alia) vote.

Fast-forward to 2004, to this story, where once again Democrats aren't particularly excited about voters having their voices heard. That's the trouble with freedom, as I've noted elsewhere. If you give a pack of idiots the right to vote, they might go out and vote for the wrong person! Good thing we have Dems to throw legal obstacles in the way of their opponents. Hence the title of Hugh Hewitt's book (which, other than the title, I have not yet read), "If it's Not Close, they Can't Cheat." I should buy that. Oh wait, I'm about to spend hundreds of dollars on law books.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

This is Just Sad

John Kerry, can you try to sound just a little less like a pathetic whiner?

He is very upset about the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth ads, most likely because recent polls show him slipping in battleground states, especially among critical, undecided voters.

"John Kerry fought back Thursday against campaign allegations that he exaggerated his combat record in Vietnam, accusing President Bush of using a Republican front group 'to do his dirty work' and challenging Bush to debate their wartime service records."

First of all, these are not "campaign allegations," if by that phrase we are to understand that they are allegations made by either the Bush campaign or the Kerry campaign. They are being made by soldiers who are not formally associated with any campaign, and indeed, it would be illegal if they were.

Second, the silence was deafening when Michael Moore made his tripe, or when repeatedly compared Bush to Hitler (note: they're still doing it, so it's not too late for Kerry to denounce them). In other words, we have all sorts of liberal front groups doing Kerry's "dirty work," and yet Kerry is only distraught with the conservative front groups. It's certainly understandable, but it's also completely transparent and makes you look like a total idiot, John.

Third, neither Bush nor anyone else can effectively debate Kerry's war records, because John Kerry won't release his records. That's in contradistinction to Bush's actions in the wake of the AWOL scandal, and in spite of the fact that by releasing his records Kerry can clear up all questions about his own, and in spite of the fact that he actually promised to release said records (and later reneged on his promise), and in spite of the fact that the media, were it anything other than brazenly partisan, would be just as insistent on viewing Kerry's records as they were on viewing Bush's.

So the ball's in your court, John. If you want a debate, give us the facts. What are you hiding, if the Swiftboat Vets aren't telling the truth? And then Kerry has the temerity, in spite of his willful failure to release those records, to tell the President, "Bring it on!"

"'Let's not be selective here,' White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in Crawford, Texas, where Bush is spending the next week. McClellan said Bush has been on the receiving end of more than $62 million in negative, false attacks by independent groups and 'the president has condemned all of the ads,' both those that criticize him and those that go after Kerry."

Kerry seems to forget that zillionaire George Soros has pledged to spend millions of dollars to defeat Bush, and has been doing so quite consistently for a long time now. Nary a peep of criticism from Kerry the martyr.

As fascinating as that story is, however, the real gem is what Kerry doesn't mention. The linked article is about the action in which Kerry won his Bronze Star and his third Purple Heart. Swiftboat vets say there was no enemy fire on that day, and that Kerry lied to get his commendations. But the swiftboat vets have also pointed out a gaping hole in Kerry's testimony, repeated over the past 30 years, that he spent Christmas, 1968, in Cambodia. That would have been illegal, but he says he was there under Nixon's orders, and he used the anecdote to disparage Nixon and undermine support for the Vietnam war. According to the Swiftboat vets, Kerry was nowhere near Cambodia on Christmas, 1968, and if he had been, he would have been court-marshaled.

Internet sleuths like Captain Ed, Wizbang and Powerline have tracked down every minute detail of the Christmas in Cambodia story, and it is full of more holes than a colander. Indeed, the Kerry camp retracted the story, changing it to "he was near Cambodia," or "he thought he was in Cambodia." Neither of these stories fly, because Kerry's sworn testimony before the Senate was for the express purpose of showing that he was given orders to illegally cross into Cambodia. Merely coming close or crossing the border accidentally simply don't pass muster.

And I point this out because in the linked article, Kerry doesn't say a word about it. Nothing. Nada. How are we supposed to believe a word he says about the Bronze Star incident when he has been caught in such a glaring lie about another Vietnam incident? The former story suggests that Kerry was willing to lie to embellish his credentials. There is therefore an enormous credibility gap between Kerry and the swiftboat vets, and Kerry's continued silence, combined with ludicrous machismo ("Bring it on, but don't ask me to release my records!") suggest that the man is in some serious trouble.

Enough trouble to cost him the presidency? Too soon to tell.

I Have a Blogroll!

Many thanks to The Iraq War Was Wrong, for e-mailing me with instructions on how to make a blogroll. Hey, I don't care if you gave me the inelegant version, I just care that it works. So here's your complimentary link, even if you are a barking moonbat liberal (and I mean that in the nicest possible way, on this post).

Good News for the Big Red Hammer

That's because BRH doesn't think highly of copyright laws.

Grokster can't be sued for "encouraging" file transfers.

Of course, individuals might still lose if sued. So easy on the trigger finger, BRH. Big Brother's watching.

More: Why Instapundit thinks the Bush administration should oppose the RIAA and similar groups who want to enforce the copyright laws.

And here's the Ninth Circuit's opinion in the case, for those who read Legalese.

Iraqi Soccer Players Unhappy with Bush

The headline is about Bush referring to them in a campaign ad, but in the body of the story we see that it goes much further:

"Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. 'How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?' Manajid told me. 'He has committed so many crimes.'"

Bad news for the Bushies? Yes and no.

First of all, if the ad is showing footage of the soccer team, and the team isn't happy about that, then Bush should pull the ads. He should do it immediately and with an apology. I say this by way of consistency, because I've been annoyed that John Kerry uses a picture of himself and other soldiers in his unit for ads, when only one person in that picture actually supports Kerry. I think it is utterly classless that Kerry is willing to use the images of people without their permission, to imply they support someone they do not. Similarly with President Bush, if the soccer players don't want to give the impression that they support the President, Bush has no right to use the offending footage.

The foregoing is based on an assumption. According to the article, the ad simply says, "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes."

I haven't seen the ad, and my computer is too slow to let me follow the link on the SI page, so I am willing to stand corrected on this. But if that statement, with no images of Iraqi soccer, is the extent of the ad, then I think Bush is perfectly within his rights to say that. It is a statement of fact, without any implied statement about any particular athlete - Iraqi or Afghani - who doesn't in fact support Bush. We have a privacy-based right to monopolize our images, but not to monopolize facts.

That said, regardless of Ahmed Manajid's and Salih Sadir's attitude towards the Iraq invasion, I hope they go all the way. And I don't care if they criticize Americans the whole time. I'll just rejoice in their success while basking in the irony that they will go home to a Saddam-free Iraq - courtesy of the United States military.

The Other Side of the Coin

While certain Iraqi soccer players are very unhappy with things (as is their right), Instapundit points us to an interview with an Iraqi, done very recently, the full text of which can be found here. It is in Mosul, by a U.S. soldier, who just snagged the first English speaker he could find.

Here are some highlights, but I hope it doesn't dissuade you from reading the whole thing:

"Yes the United States did the right thing about coming here. As I told you, to give the Iraqi people freedom. Because we don't have any freedom before the war. We can't speak, we cannot talk about the government, we can't talk about the president. We are restricted here in Iraq."
"QUESTION: What do you think of people that protest us being here?ANSWER: I think some of them are crazy, because why are they protesting? They protest for nothing. Why they protest? American Forces came over here in order to help them. I consider American Forces a friend to the Iraqi people, not an enemy, there is no need to protest."
"QUESTION: What do you think of Americans?ANSWER: Each of one of us have traditions. American people they have there tradition, and we have our own tradition. But I think they're friends to the Iraqi people. QUESTION: If you had a chance to jump on a plane with you family and fly to the United States and live there happily ever after would you do it?ANSWER: Yes! (Huge smile) I wish I could go there and live in the United States."

A few notes, just to be fair. Our informant candidly admits that things are still not safe in Mosul (not that that's any different from before the war). And he is being interviewed by an American soldier with a visible tape player (but no weapons). That could certainly influence the man's answers, especially if he fears that Americans are anything like Saddam's old regime. In other words, while we are getting unedited primary text, we cannot necessarily take it at face value. Also, what people think in Mosul doesn't necessary tell us anything about what people think in Kirkuk, Basra, Baghdad, Fallujah, or Najaf.

That said, this is not the first time I've read stuff like this. And in the early days after the war, I remember seeing a poll that said something like 90% of Iraqis were happy that the U.S. invaded (and, more informatively, something like 50% wanted the Americans to stick around). I attended a lecture at Tulane University by a military judge person (pardon me, I don't know the exact title) who was in charge of rebuilding the judicial system in Wasit, and he showed us pictures of Iraqi kids who were very happy to hang out with Americans, and said that many people cried when the Americans left (control was passed to a Polish unit).

In other words, I think all the evidence suggests that one story, positive or negative, simply doesn't give us a complete picture of the "Iraqi" attitude toward Americans.

Does that Matter?

I've seen many liberals argue that Iraqis don't want us there, and certainly the soccer players would agree with that sentiment. How, then, can we justify keeping our troops there?

Well, I don't recall asking the Germans whether or not they wanted us there in WWII.

That's right, folks, it's easy to forget that we're at war. Not with Iraq, really. Not anymore. But it was never with Iraq alone. It's a War on Terror, and in wars, sometimes you occupy the territory of people who would rather not have you there. As I've said elsewhere, I'm thrilled that Iraqis, even those who oppose American intervention, are learning that they can speak their minds without fear of reprisal. And many Iraqis really do like us. And many of them, even if they oppose continued occupation, will certainly not complain about increased potable water, more electricity, more schools, and more hospitals, and those things will make a difference.

But even if they don't, it doesn't matter, because this is a war. It's better to win a war with minimal casualties, and the best way to do that is by winning hearts and minds.

But even if we don't, it doesn't matter, because this is a war.

And I still hope the Iraqis take the gold in soccer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Nintendo Endorsement?

Ace's discussion on Dungeons & Dragons has me nostalgic for my utterly wasted youth, so here's another Nintendo-oriented post.

The real reason for this post is that I just realized I haven't had any pictures in a while, and I figure I should try to be more visual.

"Super" Mario

Who do you suppose your favorite Nintendo people are voting for this November? My automatic assumption was that they are voting Republican. After all, Mario fights evil, right? And liberals are evil, right? QED.

But wait, Mario is a plumber. He's probably union labor. And he's an Italian-American with a strong New York accent ... seriously, I think this whole "Super Mario Bros." thing is just a scam. Bowser was the good guy the whole time! And innocent kids are duped into dropping him into a lake of lava, just because they don't realize they're being tricked into the nefarious liberal agenda! "Thank you Mario (D - NY), but our princess is in another castle!"

Okay, readers, tell me who's voting for whom, and why.

Shel Silverstein Update

The perplexingly named Boabhan Sith just posted this old poem. Go read it and remember. Stick around for the original (or, in the alternative, unattributed) poetry.


Looks like McGreevey will get "outed" for the second time in a week.

First of all, I assume that my readers (both of you) read/watch other news sources. I don't have the time to mention every news story. I will probably never break any story of importance. I just comment on happenings when something gets my attention.

That said, in case you haven't heard the McGreevey story, here's the skinny: New Jersey's governor recently announced that a) he was resigning and b) his truth is that he is a gay American. He did not mention the federal investigation, or that his "lover" (who claims not to be gay) is suing him for a lot of money for sexual harassment. In other words, I feel (as do many bloggers) that McGreevey turned the politically disastrous revelation that he cheated on his wife with a man, took money from illegal sources, and hired $10,000 prostitutes to compromise potential witnesses, into a "Help! I'm being oppressed! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!" moment.

It hasn't worked for a single conservative blogger I've read. Every single one of them reacted to the news of his coming out with a "so what?" Myself included. I don't care that he's gay (bi?), and apparently most New Jerseyans already knew or suspected. And so what if he is? The only person he hurt was himself. Oh, and his wife, who had to stand on a podium at a press conference while her husband told the world he prefers hot manflesh over her. Oh, and his children, who were also at said conference. Oh, and the guy he sexually assaulted. Oh, and the people of New Jersey, because McGreevey appointed his lover to a position for which he was not qualified, and gave him over $100 k per year to do it. But note that I am nowhere on that list, and so I don't care.

The other tricky part of his resignation is that McGreevey could have stepped down then and there, but instead he chose to delay his resignation. It seems New Jersey's constitution has a provision that basically means if he steps down after a certain date, the Democrats get a new Democrat governor without all the messy business of dealing with voters. New Jersey Republicans were understandably angered at this.

That's the summary.

This new story is about Democrats trying to "out" McGreevey from the governor's office a little sooner than expected. Great plan, right? I'm certain they're doing it for purely altruistic and virtuous motives, right?

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Dumbest Thing I've Read Today

Keep in mind that I haven't read anything on today. This item definitely takes the prize.

Not the story as a whole, mind you. It's a rather pedestrian ruling that Louisianans can't challenge a vote on a proposed amendment until after the vote takes place. The legal doctrine of standing to sue requires injury in fact, rather than speculative injury. I won't comment here on whether Louisiana's Supreme Court was correct or not. Instead, I want to highlight this quote:

"A group called Forum for Equality sued, arguing the ban would violate the Louisiana Constitution's guarantee of individuals' rights to enter into contracts and own property together."

This is stupid. This is every bit as stupid as arguing that the 2d Amendment is unconstitutional. By definition, an amendment to a constitution is constitutional. And an amendment, by its very nature, will modify, create or eleminate rights. One cannot reasonably complain that a proposed amendment is invalid because it will conflict with other rights - all amendments do that. My right to privacy conflicts with the press' right to make factually accurate statements about me. The eighteenth amendment violated my constitutional right to get loaded - but seriously, did anyone ever complain that the amendment was unconstitutional? Stupid, maybe. Inappropriate, maybe. Contrary to the public good, maybe. Caused more problems that it solved, maybe. But it was constitutional, because it was part of the Constitution.

Sheesh. I honestly think you have to try to be that dumb.

'Cause, You Know, It Worked so Well Last Time...

A group of Christian fundamentalists want South Carolina to secede. Good plan, guys. Interestingly, this is not the first time I've heard such an idea. Rumor has it, the Libertarian Party wants to take over a small state (like New Hampshire) and turn it Libertarian. I don't think secession is on their game plan just yet. What if every state basically catered to a narrow group of interests with little or no ties to the nation at large? Oh, right, we'd need some Articles of Confederation to keep things running, but other than that?

"We have to look at the great mission posed to us by Jesus Christ: Go as a disciple to nations," [Exodus founder Cory Burnell] said. 'We want to go into the rest of the world.'"

Christ taught that individuals are to go into the world. I don't remember Him saying anything about governments doing it. The same biblical passage alluded to (Mark 16:15-18) says that believers are to be baptized. Does that mean nations are to baptize? "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, and South Carolina..." Indeed, a fairly strong argument can be made that by creating a new nation, you are doing the exact opposite of going as a disciple to the nations. One idea suggests radiating outwards. The other suggests a gathering inwards.

But I suspect that the South Carolina experiment (which won't happen) would fail for basically the same reason we can't simply have 50 states catering to 50 carefully refined ideologies. Just as there are more than 50 ideologies, there is more than one idea of what constitutes "Christianity." Is it Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant? Do Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses count? Assuming we agree on Protestantism, are we talking Lutheranism, Presbyterianism, Methodism, Episcopalianism?

These are not merely academic questions, to be brushed aside by saying "it's all Christianity," because part of Exodus' plan is to teach Christianity in schools. This automatically creates a very practical problem - what, specifically, will be taught? Is Arminianism to be favored over Calvinism? Are the teachers preterists? Moderate preterists? Do they practice baptism by immersion or by sprinkling?

It is easy enough to propose creating a new nation based on Christianity, but "Christianity" is a very ill-defined word.

"Isn't she a little young?"

One the one hand, I probably shouldn't complain that Virginia is trying to curb statutory rape.

On the other, there's something to be said about public image. For example, if Wyoming were to put up giant billboards all over its highways saying, "Sex with Sheep: Don't Go There," you would have to wiegh the pro (the possibility that incidents of sheep-rape would drop) against the obvious con (everyone who drives through Wyoming will be freaked out by those billboards).

Shotgun-Wielding Droids

Half of me wants to know when I can buy one of these for home defense.

The other half of me wonders, have we really learned nothing from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace?

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Puerto Rico Beats US Team in Basketball

By 20 points. Wow.

Not that I care about basketball. The reason I'm blogging this is to wonder why Puerto Rico, which is not a country, is playing against America in the Olympics. If anybody knows, feel free to enlighten me.

Update: It looks like I'm not the only one to wonder about this.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Gay Marriage Story That Isn't

Although what I wrote two posts down might imply otherwise, anti-gay marriage advocates did not just win a victory in California.

True, the legal effect of the California's decision today is to void all the gay marriages performed in San Francisco earlier this year (about 4000 of them). But the court expressly states that they are not deciding anything at all about gay marriage. Then they repeat it. Then they repeat it again, just in case.

Instead, this is a case about separation of powers. Basically, all that was decided today is that it is for the courts to decide whether a statute is constitutional. Gavin Newsom is a mayor, not a court. Ergo, Gavin Newsom cannot decide wether a statute is constitutional. Or, rather, more precisely stated, he cannot refuse to enforce a statute simply because he feels it is unconstitutional. Because Newsom exceeded his authority, the marriages were declared invalid.

So the issue of constitutionality is still wide open, and it's pending in the lower California state courts. In other words, in terms of the actual debate on gay marriage, today's opinion means nothing at all.

I'm not entirely happy about the decision. The idea that the judiciary - and only the judiciary - can determine the constitutionality of a statute is found nowhere in the Constitution. The first hint you get of it is in the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison, where Justice Marshall famously said something like "it is emphatically the province of the judiciary to say what the law is." And why is that? asked my Con Law professor. Because Justice Marshall said so. Emphatically.

I think that works all kinds of mischief with our separation of powers. If the three branches of government are equal, then assuredly a determination by both the executive and the legislature should trump a contrary determination by the judiciary. 1 + 1 is more than 1, after all. I would like to see something akin to a veto override, where a super-majority of the Congress plus the Exective can override a judicial opinion. That way, two branches beat out one. But the framers didn't say anything about judicial review (neither the existence nor any limitations on it), and so we've got very little outside of Marshall's emphatic-ness to go on. That's screwed up. But I readily admit it is History and it is The Law. And the California Supreme Court was merely re-emphasizing both History and The Law in its decision.

Note that, even if my highly radical approach were to be adopted, it wouldn't change today's ruling. Gavin Newsom is an executive officer (mayor of a city and county), but he is not a statewide executive officer, the head of a co-equal branch of state government. I think we would invite anarchy if every state employee at every level could refuse to do a job or do a job in violation of the law simply based on a personal determination of constitutionality. Imagine going in for a drivers' license and having Patti and Selma say "no, you can't have one because you're ugly." Well, I can't imagine that. I'm gorgeous. But if they said that to an ugly person, and then justified their actions by claiming there is no constitutional bar against a DMV employee denying a license to ugly people - and if that action was upheld until the courts stepped in and forced them to issue the license, daily life would quickly become unbearable. That's largely because of the pervasive influence that government has on your life. Partly because government employees are virtually unfireable, so they can get away with whatever they want.

Let me conclude with a quote from the Simpsons. Patti and Selma work in the DMV, in case you don't know.

Patti: Some days, we don't let the line move ... at all.
Selma: Yeah. We call those "week days."


Why am I so happy about this?

And I'm not the only one. Bill from INDC is stoked, as are his commenters (myself included). And Willow wonders in those same comments, as do I, why soccer is suddenly so interesting.

Plain and simple, I'm happy to see Iraqis succeeding at something. But why? Why should I care about a group of people I've never met (I met one Iraqi back in college - very nice guy), who live half a world away, while feeling indifferent to others I've never met (i.e. Portugal) half a world away?

I feel a sense of solidarity with Iraq. There is a connection. And I think liberals feel it, too. For better or for worse, Americans are bound up with Iraqis. But it's interesting to notice the difference. I am excited to see Iraqis succeed. Enjoy freedom. Enjoy a booming (for them) economy. Enjoy hot running water, electricity, schools, and soon enough a right to vote. I am even encouraged when they voice dissent - they could never have done that under Saddam, and every chance they get to see what free speech is like is an excellent prophylactic measure against future tyranny.

Liberals, on the other hand, feel a different sort of solidarity. It is the solidarity of victimhood. This is typified by the scene in Michael Moore's F9/11 (which I have not seen, but which even liberal critics have derided) showing happy pre-invasion Iraqis enjoying their lives. The implication is that the U.S. messed everything up, destroyed their utopian society based on "stability" (defined as "the right to be randomly shot, tortured or raped if a government official so desires) and substituted chaos. Iraqis are therefore victims of U.S. aggression, and American victims share that solidarity.

To such a worldview, any Iraqi success is a very bad thing. It weakens the victimhood. It demonstrates that Iraqis are doing just fine, thank you very much, in spite of their admittedly serious problems. That's why you don't mention increased electricity, safe drinking water, increased oil production and economic activity, 90% support for the U.S.-led ouster of Saddam - it destroys that victimhood worldview, and thus the solidarity.

I prefer the solidarity that values the success of Iraqis. Nothing personal, Portugal, but I am so glad you lost.

California Supreme Court Declares Gay Marriages Void

I'll have more on this later, after I've had time to read the opinion, which is courtesy of Fox News. The super-quick summary is that Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco, does not have legal authority to decline to enforce a statute because he personally feels it is unconstitutional. I kind of agree and kind of disagree, but that will have to wait for an update. The opinion is 118 pages long in .pdf format. I'm sure it will be much shorter on Lexis or Westlaw, but it's not available there yet.

For the Sake of Fairness...

As something of a counter-point to my previous posts criticizing liberals, here's an example of a conservative being a moron.

The short version is that a conservative group is running ads broadcast on stations which cater mostly to blacks, calling John Kerry "rich, white and wishy-washy" and criticizing Teresa Heinz-Kerry for calling herself an African-American.

The first part of that is true. John Kerry is rich. He is white. And he is profoundly wishy-washy. I have no problem with the facts as stated, although whether or not they should have been stated that way or at all is up for grabs. After all, if I find liberal race-baiting despicable, why shouldn't conservative race-baiting be equally despicable? I think the "taste of their own medicine" argument is stupid. My approach, basically, is that while I acknowledge the childishness, I just won't lose much sleep over it.

The second part, on the other hand, bugs me. And it's not because of the obvious argument that Teresa was born and raised in Mozambique, which is in Africa, and therefore she's African American. Patrick Rooney, the guy who funded the ads, knows that much. But he says, "His wife says she's an African American. While technically true, I don't believe a white woman, raised in Africa, surrounded by servants, qualifies." I'm sorry, qualifies for what? Is there some special status that America bestows upon anyone who "qualifies" for the magical appellation? Does she get a free bicycle? A different tax form? Does she get to vote twice?

This is beyond ridiculous. Rooney is basically reinforcing the same stereotype that liberals reinforce when they want to race-bait. Liberals tell blacks that rich black people aren't really black (or, a la Ted Rall, they are "House Niggers"). That blacks who have servants aren't really black. That the only authentic black people are poor, and therefore they should rally around the Democratic party which promises to give them special favors. It drives me nuts when liberals do that, because it reinforces a crippling victimhood status which keep blacks in a cycle of poverty, violence, drugs, ignorance and illegitimacy, rather than helping them out of it.

Rooney's commercial is basically doing the same thing. The message is, "You are special because you don't have servants. You aren't rich. You aren't surrounded by luxury, and therefore you are a cohesive group. You should maintain that group identity, and not allow outsiders to enter. Theresa Heinz Kerry is wealthy and has white skin, and therefore not one of you, and therefore..." Therefore what? You should reject her ideas wholesale? You should vote against her husband? She can't possibly speak for you, or want to help you? The reality is that all presidents are wealthy, and we've never let that stop us before. It might be lamentable, but it certainly is the reality.

Here's the money quote:

"Rooney, who is white, said in an e-mail response to an inquiry from The Washington Post: 'I support [the] group because the genuine word from the black community should be heard, not white folks saying for them.'"

Dude, do you seriously not realize how dumb that sounds? You are the president of a group called People of Color United. You are speaking on behalf of that group. You are white. Wow.

Reverting to conservative mode, here's where the liberals fight lunacy with lunacy:

"The Kerry campaign denounced the ads, all of which are being aired on radio stations with largely black audiences. 'It's disgusting that the president's political allies are now using race as a political weapon,' said Bill Lynch, deputy manager of the Kerry campaign."

What, disgusting that it's happening, or disgusting that it's being done by someone other than you, for once? Lynch continues:

"First a group of right-wing Swift boat veterans began smearing John Kerry's military service, and now another group has resorted to playing racial politics."

I didn't hear Lynch saying anything about Michael Moore's smear attacks, or attacks by George Soros', or any comment about the anti-Bush movies and books which have and will come out this summer. Once again, the selectivity of his rage diminishes the impact of that rage.

Kerry on the Defensive over Iraq War Comments

This editorial from the New York Times says the Kerry people are on the defensive over his recent statement, while visiting the Grand Canyon, that he would have gone to war even if he knew in advance there were no WMDs. I will mention in passing just to note that yes, I take some pleasure in seeing the Kerry-ites squirm.

But the real reason I'm blogging it is for this quote from Sen. Joe Biden:

"I saw a headline that said 'Kerry Would Have Gone to War.' That's bull. He wouldn't have. Not the way Bush did."

I wonder if Biden has any idea that he just completely contradicted himself. Perhaps he's been hanging out with Kerry too long. Look at the quote sentence by sentence. 1. "I saw a headline that said 'Kerry Would Have Gone to War.'" Okay, that's a statement of fact. I don't particularly care whether or not it's true that Joe Biden saw such a headline. 2. "That's bull." That means Kerry would not have gone to war. No problems so far. I suspect he's right. 3. "He wouldn't have." Confirming his belief that the headline is bull. Again, no problems so far. 4. "Not the way Bush did." Whoa there, pilgrim. That sentence (actually, it's a sentence fragment, but who's counting?) means he would, indeed, have gone to war. He would have done it in a different manner, perhaps, but he would have done it.

In other words, Biden manages to change his mind from one sentence to the next. Again, I think he's been spending too much time talking to Kerry.

Tunisian Travels

You absolutely cannot miss this report by Michael Totten about a recent trip to Tunisia. When I went on my honeymoon to Italy, I really wanted to make a side trip to Tunisia. My wife, my dad, and her dad talked me out of it because of the danger. (This was in the summer of 2002). Now I'm kicking myself.

Okay, to be fair I should note that we were short on time, short on money, and that my three months pregnant wife couldn't exactly get around as well as I could (NOTE: we had been married almost a full year by the time we went on our honeymoon, so nobody get any ideas about any hanky-panky!). So I suppose it probably couldn't have happened in any event. But *sigh* it's always fun to dream.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

In the Doghouse

Drudge tells us that John Kerry and his sugar mamma had a big shouting argument before staying in separate motel rooms after a rally on Sunday.

Drudge also gives us this picture, apparently because he went temporarily insane and thought it was actually a decent shot. It looks like it was taken by a five-year-old.

Okay, now in a perfect world this would not be news. All married people fight sometimes (other than my wife and me), and there's no reason to hold these two to some unrealistic standard.

And of course, we're not in a perfect world.

I won't make fun of them for this, because really, there's nothing to make fun of. I won't even feel any Schadenfreude, because seriously, I'm not exactly cackling with glee over it.

But I will mention it, as well as another bit of anecdote, because it's an interesting - and basically impartial - commentary on the Kerry campaign. This morning on talk radio the local hosts, who were at the Las Vegas rally last night, commented on how everyone on the campaign strode excitedly onto the stage, except for Teresa, who shuffled on. She stood far apart from her husband. John had to cross the stage to give her a kiss, and her body language showed she wasn't very excited about it. And Alan Stock (one of the above-mentioned radio hosts) was thrilled to note that Teresa didn't say anything at the rally.

The Drudge story sounds legit, because "a top source" described the sleeping in separate rooms as "a cooling off." That clearly indicates that there was a boiling over (as opposed to the official saying "no, it didn't happen at all"). And it looks like at least some of that bled over into the Vegas rally.

Consider the possibility that Teresa isn't in this for the long haul. I'm happy that I'm a totally obscure blogger who will never incur the same prying wrath that Teresa has put up with since her husband took Iowa. Few people have what it takes to deal with that kind of scrutiny. And consider that Teresa has, up til this point, led a relatively cloistered, sheltered existence. She's not used to anyone disagreeing with her, let alone calling her out on her contradictions ("Shove it!") or posting unflattering pictures of her on the internet.

Okay, so she's not going to be the President. But clearly her attitude will have an effect on Kerry's attitude, and energy levels.

Another blogroll!

I just noticed the Liberal Larry put me on his blogroll. I guess now is a good time to reiterate that his blog is a must-read.

His latest is particularly good. Go read it, or I will devour your soul and stuff.

Racist T-shirts and Kool-Aid Drinking Moonbats

Read Michelle's narrative about the background here.

And Allah thought of a way for Glenn Reynolds to sufficiently apologize.

The Reader's Digest version is this. Glenn Reynolds (a.k.a. Instapundit) bought a shirt that says "Celebrate Diversity," and there is a picture of eighteen different kinds of pistols. As much as it pains me to do, let me explain the joke. (BTW, I told my wife what the shirt looks like before telling her any other part of the story, and asked he to explain the joke to me, and she came up with the same answer I had. So I know I'm not the only one who gets it). Liberals like to use the mantra of "diversity." Some conservatives thought it would be funny to satirize that mantra by referring to a diverse selection of guns. Liberals - generally - don't like guns, or favor strict gun control (note: I met a guy at a Borders who claims he is very liberal, and owns several AK-47s. I'm just speaking in generalities, here). Therefore, ha ha, the joke is I, the shirt-wearer, am poking fun at your definition of diversity. End of story. I don't find it particularly funny, but at least I get the joke.

Atrios thinks the shirt is racist. Fine. He has a right to be an idiot.

I'm writing this post because this guy thinks Atrios didn't go far enough. So, you know, we're dealing with a really stable person. And I was prompted to fisk Gillard's post because Akefa, a commenter at Ace of Spades linked the page and said, "Go to this website if you need some enlightened discourse. But I guess you're too wimpy to challenge yourselves?" And soon thereafter, "Maybe you'll understand why Bush has to be fired."

Akefa's whole premise collapses quite readily when it is observed that George W. Bush did not make the shirt. He did not design the shirt. He does not sell the shirt. He did not ask Glenn to wear the shirt. There is, therefore, no logical connection whatsoever between that shirt and George W. Bush. Therefore, the conclusion that Bush should be fired because of that shirt is a complete non sequitur.

Now let's get to Gilliard's post, which is supposed to provide "enlightened discourse."

"I think Atrios is being far too kind about this."

Okay, in what way is Atrios being too kind? Ah, by not pointing out that Frank J (who is not Glen Reynolds, by the way) used the word "monkeys," indicating that he really meant the word "niggers." If you are now lost, that might be for one of two reasons. First of all, what Frank J says about monkeys has absolutely no bearing on what Glenn Reynolds thinks about black people. Second, Frank J was clearly making a joke about - well, about monkeys. As in, the animal. As in, you're a complete idiot if you read anything racist into Frank J's comment about the shirt, " has not only some of the highest quality shirts I've ever seen, but they also deflect bullets, give you super strength, and ward off monkeys. I hate monkeys." Note again, Frank J does not say that the "Celebrate Diversity" shirt wards off monkeys, he says shirts from a web site ward off monkeys. Here's one example of such a shirt. If Gilliard can somehow demonstrate that this shirt is racist, then he has superhuman powers. And yet it is the kind of shirt to which Frank J was referring.

In summary, there are just so many things wrong with Gilliard's very first sentence that I can't even write a cogent paragraph about it. I jump from one topic to another, absolutely amazed at the profound ignorance displayed. Wow.

"I think Glenn Reynolds is either the most clueless law professor at the University of Tennessee or the kind of sick racist who doesn't have the balls to wear a Klan robe or burn a cross. There are thousands of gun shirts."

But Glenn is not just wearing "a gun shirt," he is wearing a gun shirt that is poking fun at liberal conceptions of diversity.

"But that noxious shirt is one no decent person would wear, because there is no joke in it."

Translation: because I can't see any humor in it, no one can. Therefore it is noxious. That's a very ego-centric approach to reality, bud. The problem is that there is, in fact, a joke there. You might not think it's a very good joke, and you might disagree with the policital premise of the joke, but it's clearly a joke. And Pollack jokes can be both racist and jokes at the same time. They might be inappropriate. They might not be funny. They might even be offensive. But that doesn't mean they aren't jokes.

"A number of handguns and 'celebrate diversity' on it implies something pretty dark and evil."

That's a hoot - I thought liberals didn't believe in evil.

"Especially with the colors used on the white shirt, red, yellow and green."

But as Atrios reluctantly acknowledged, Glenn Reynolds' shirt does not, in fact, have red, yellow and green. It is black, with white and yellow lettering. Oh well, minor technicality. Incidentally, the socks that Steve Gilliard is wearing today, if made out of human skin, would make him one sick piece of crap. That would imply something pretty dark and evil. No matter that his socks are not, technically, made out of human skin - they're close enough that the implication is still there (when I recklessly and without any foundation whatsoever make that implication).

"You would have to be a moron not to see the pan-African connotation with."

Note that the above is not, technically, a sentence. Also please note that the colors on the shirt to which Gilliard, Atrios and Akefa so strenuously object is red, orange, yellow and green. Oops, what's that orange doing in there? Crud. I guess it's not really pan-African anymore, is it? Therefore I dare say you would have to be a complete moron to see some kind of reference to Africa.

"That shirt is the kind of thing you see at Klan and militia rallies."

I wouldn't know. I've never been to a Klan or a militia rally. But Gilliard seems surprisingly familiar with Klan rally dress codes. Why is that?

"It isn't about political correctness either, because it implies the only kind of diveristy is a heavily armed one which is clearly anti-black in tenor and temperment."

Both tenor and temperment? Wow, that shirt sure does run the gamut. I don't know how it implies that there is only one kind of diversity. On the contrary, liberals tend to assume the only kind of diversity that is to be tolerated is the non-conservative type of diversity.

"And why would a law professor, who has diverse classes make such a public statement."

Why should a law professor be lambasted as a racist for wearing a shirt that opposes gun control? Incidentally, I have law professors who I know differ radically from me on political issues, but I've never once worried about their fairness. Know why? Because some people in this world can disagree with a political view in a civil manner, without resorting to hyperventilating character attacks based on a shirt that is not, technically, the offending shirt, but you know, close enough.

"Reynolds has said any number of biased, unfair and truly repellent things on his site."

Such as?

"I think it's time we start asking people, like his boss, how his views and public statements coincide with the education provided by the University of Tennessee."

Indeed. If you don't like his politics, don't bother responding to them. Just attack his livelihood. Great plan.

After posting several e-mail addresses so people can more effectively harass Mr. Reynolds, Gilliard continues:

"Just ask them if they agree that a professor at the state's public university should be advertising a shirt which opposes diversity."

Yes, that's a wonderfully phrased question. While you're at it, ask them whether they've stopped beating their spouses, or whether they ever talked to anyone about their pedophilia problems.

"Do they find the message on the shirt representative of both the school and the state's policy of allowing access for all citizens to it's law school, especially after the state's regretable history of racial bias and segregation."

Or do they instead support a policy of silencing political opponents, contra First Amendment protections, in the name of "diversity"?

"I don't think anyone should call for him getting fired or shutting down his website or anything draconian like that. Just inquire as to whether they share his beliefs, if he is a fitting representative of the University of Tennessee's College of Law, and if that shirt and his public association as a professor at that school represents the values and ethos of his employer, the state of Tennessee."

That's a subtle little trick. You don't have to ask for the man to be fired, just phrase your question so that it is unmistakably implied. Smooth.

"After all public employees across the United States have been sanctioned for expressing racially hostile opinions."

Such as?

In summary, we have here a complaint about a shirt Glenn Reynolds is not actually wearing, a comment said by someone other then Glenn Reynolds, a color scheme that doesn't actually fit with Gilliard's thesis, an assumption that what Gilliard doesn't find funny must necessarily be "noxious," and then a few indirect suggestions for how to get a man fired or silenced for his political views. All of this, I am told by Akefa, is supposed to amount to "enlightened discourse."

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

More on France

Allah points me to two stories that let me take another shot at France. Seriously, they seem so bent on supplying conservatives with material, I suspect they'd feel disappointed if we didn't comment.

First is this one, from the Christian Science Monitor. Jean-Marie Colombani, a French person, criticized Italy for institutionalized racism, after Italian writer Oriana Fallaci sold half a million copies of an "anti-Islamic book." Colombani says his adopted son, of Indian descent, is routinely harassed by Italian officials.

Having lived in Italy, I know from personal experience that many Italians don't think highly of Africans. Many do, of course, but I don't have anything like a statistic to determine whether racism is deeply entrenched. I didn't conduct surveys while I was there. I also know that profiling dark-skinned people at train stations is not necessarily racist - it can be an eminently practical thing, in a post-9/11 world. Getting back to Mike Adams' definition of racism - the belief that one race is inherently superior to another - there is nothing racist about profiling. Other, more cogent arguments might be made against profiling. But inherent racism is not one of them.

Of course, profiling might be done by a racist person. That reflects on the profiler, not on profiling.

Furthermore, evidence of Fallaci's book sales is not synonymous with evidence of acceptance of Fallaci's thesis. I routinely read things with which I disagree in whole or in part. I've even been known to buy books although I knew I would disagree with the author's argument. I've so far avoided paying money to see Fahrenheit 9/11 as a means of non-support for Michael Moore's propagandist distortions and outright lies - but that is an exceptional move for me. Liberals routinely listen to Rush Limbaugh. One of my favorite talk radio hosts is Neal Boortz, and in part that's because I frequently disagree with him.

So I think that Colombani's argument is fundamentally flawed, because neither the examples of racial profiling nor the evidence of Fallaci's book sales leads to Colombani's conclusion.

The second link is here, to a Jerusalem Post article about Jewish students being verbally assaulted at Auschwitz by three - you guessed it - Frenchmen. In other words, it is supremely ironic that Colombani can complain about Italian racism while anti-Semitic attacks in France (or in Poland, by French people with no apparent sense of history) rise unabated.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Breaking News! Nintendo Star Bowser Outed!

As America still reels from shocking reports that a group, Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, is questioning presidential contender John Kerry's Vietnam record, the SobekReport can now reveal that Kraid, one of the two so-called mini-bosses from the Nintendo game Metroid, is really Bowser from the Mario Bros. series!

"It was before the whole Mario thing got really big, you know. Look, I still made a lot of money from [Super] Mario Bros., but I blew it all on cocaine parties and Faberge eggs. I was strapped for cash, and basically it was either do the [expletive deleted] Metroid project, or else porn. I'm not proud of my choice, but I made it, and now that it's out, I have to deal with it."

Some skeptics point to obvious differences between the two characters. For example, Kraid can fire missiles from his chest, as well as launch something that appears to be a fingernail clipping at the intrepid Samus. Bowser blew off all such accusations.

"Look, I could always do the missile thing, but when I first got involved with Mario, everyone told me to hold back. I mean, Samus has a big [expletive deleted] gun on her arm that can shoot missiles, [expletive deleted] if I know what else. But look at Mario. I mean, he's a little Italian guy who's whacked out on mushrooms half the time. I had to dumb it down to a fireball or there's no way the [expletive deleted] producers would have kept me in."

Bowser in the original Super Mario Bros. game

Other fans of the video game series, which has moved into its fifth platform, are surprised they didn't make the connection sooner. "Dude, I must have been blind not to see it. Seriously, I must have spent three quarters of my waking hours playing Nintendo when I was a kid, and I it never occurred to me," reported James Schulz of Liberal, KS. "But now that I think about it, it all makes sense." Schulz declined to elaborate on that last point.

Bowser as "Kraid" in the later Metroid series

When asked what he plans now that his past indiscretions have been made public, the surprisingly foul-mouthed turtle/spiked duck responded, "I learned my lesson after the Game Boy version fiasco. When Super Nintendo brought me back [for Super Mario Kart], that was like a whole new [expletive deleted] beginning for me. "I was no longer playing second banana to that little [expletive deleted] Mario or his gangly brother. When I'm in that go-cart, I kick [expletive deleted]! And I'm keeping clean, instead of wasting my money on drugs , booze and [long string of expletives deleted]. On top, and I'm a-gonna stay-a here, you [expletive deleted] [ethnic slur deleted]!" He also revealed that he is considering a television movie deal based on his life, to be aired on Lifetime, tentatively titled, "The Bowser Story: So, is he a turtle, or a dog, or what? And why does he have a beak?"


So Long, Super Freak

Rick James is dead at 56.

If his funeral gets less coverage than the Reagan funeral, I think we'll all know what that tells us about conservative media bias.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Kerry Video: Liberal Blogger Roundup

So you've seen my thoughts on the pseudo-review in Let's take a look at what some bloggers are saying about the issue. And because all the conservatives are linking one another, I'll focus on citing and fisking (without linking) the liberals.

Oliver Willis: Nothing. Not a single thing. He's got two video-related posts, and he offers absolutely no analysis whatsoever. Instead, in the first one ("Swift Boat Smears") he quotes the entire text of this report, in which John McCain bascially complains that the video is unfair, and in the second one ("The Smear's Unravelling") he quotes four paragraphs from a Yahoo News story which, like the Salon article, only discusses the producers. At the end of the second, he sums up all his investigative journalism by saying, "When the race gets tight, Bush gets dirty."

That's all. Very deep stuff. No attempt to actually show Bush had anything to do with the video (and I suspect Willis would hotly dispute any suggestion that John Kerry had anything to do with Fahrenheit 9/11), no inquiry into the substance of the claims made in the video. Is that really too much to ask?

Joshua Michael Jackson Marshall: Nothing. Not a single word. Not even a lazy, Oliver Willis-style link.

Atrios: Gets bored with the story after THREE WHOLE WORDS!!! Man, that guy's got an attention span like a .. like a, um... you know.

Like Willis, Atrios is content to let others do his writing for him. He quotes a wholly irrelevant bit about none of the people in the video actually serving in the same boat as Kerry. Fine, Atrios, show us where any of them said otherwise. He also quotes a bit from Jim Rassmann, the guy who was saved by John Kerry. Note that a) Rassmann's quote doesn't actually contradict a single thing said in the video, and b) Rassmann's version of events is disputed on CNN, transcript here. (You have to scroll down a bit).

Atrios then fools us by mentioning Swift Boat Veterans in the title of his next post, but it's really a story about something else. In other words, Atrios gives us five words of original text. He's too lazy to even quote as much as Oliver Willis. But he's five words up on Josh Marshall.

Daily Kos: The guy who notoriously said of American civilians killed in Fallujah, "Screw them," has more than the three previous candidates combined.

Like Atrios and Willis, he starts with a quote from John McCain. Then he moves into his own remarks:

"The ad is beyond the bounds of common decency..."

Two words, Kos: "Screw them." I'm sorry, were you just saying something about common decency?

"-- to attack the highly-decorated Kerry, who volunteered for combat duty while AWOL Bush played pool volleyball with ambitious secretaries in Texas."

Interesting point (even if everything in it has been vigorously challenged, something I won't bother to duplicate). What Kos fails to mention is that the people doing the attacking were not AWOL and did not, to the best of anyone's knowledge, play pool volleyball with ambitious secretaries in Texas. They were on swift boats in Vietnam. If they don't have a right to speak about Vietnam, then neither does Kerry, right?

"And the ad doesn't feature a single vet who served on Kerry's swiftboat."

True, but that's neither contested nor relevant. No one ever said they were on Kerry's swiftboat. Neither did they have to be to see the man in action.

"But why is McCain acting all shocked? The Bush machine pulled the same smear crap against him in 2000, as he himself notes."

Gripe, gripe, gripe. Politics is dirty, plain and simple. I won't pretend otherwise. But given the absolutely appalling tone of this election cycle ("SCREW THEM!!!"), I'm a little surprised you would even mention it. Oh yeah, you have cheap political points to score. If highy liberal groups, not technically affiliated with the DNC, can spend two solid years pulling "the same crap" you now complain of, then I'm a little surprised you have the gall to complain about a little tit-for-tat.

"If McCain wants to campaign against the politics of personal destruction, then he needs to cast his lot elsewhere or remain neutral."

I disagree, because I think American politics needs a serious civility injection, and it never hurts to get it from any source. If people are going to ask us to act decently, we ought to pay attention, rather than asking for neutrality.

Later that same day, Kos mentions the CNN interview linked above.

"Thurlow was claiming that during Kerry's rescue of Rassman, there was no enemy fire at all, and hence Kerry didn't deserve a purple heart or a bronze star. Rassman held his ground, saying he that Thurlow must be telling this story for partisan reasons. "

Kos doesn't tell us whether he thinks "You're a stinking partisan!" is a valid rebuttal to someone's recounting of past events. We'll just have to wonder.

"A simple Google search reveals a completely different story in American History magazine from this past April."

In all sincerity, Kos, thank you. You are right when you say a Google search is simple. It takes virtually no effort, and can actually add substance to a discussion. Oliver, Atrios and Joshua Micah Haversham Shimboopy Dillybopper Marshall (if you don't get the joke, you haven't been reading Ace like you should) could learn a lesson.

What Kos doesn't expressly say, although it doesn't look like he's deliberately concealing the information, is that his Google hit is not a different version of the story from the same witness. I thought at first that Kos had caught our guy in a contradiction. No such luck. The story was written by Douglas Brinkley. So now we have a third version of events (if you count the two on CNN), but none of the three is the definitive version.

Kos quotes about how Kerry and Thurlow were both treated for wouonds on a Coast Guard cutter after the incident, and concludes thus:

"In other words, if Kerry doesn't deserve his bronze star, seems that Thurlow doesn't deserve his either."

But this does not follow. Kos, the medal you get when treated for a wound is a purple heart, not a bronze star. Getting treated aboard the cutter only means the two should have gotten purple hearts. It is clear from Thurlow's narrative that he disputes Kerry's bravery because he fled the area after an explosion (in all fairness, I can't say I blame him), although he later came back and got Rassmann out of the water. I won't get into the merits of whether Kerry's actions deserve a broze star - really, I'm not qualified. But it does not follow logically that because on person exhibited valor on one occasion, and he and another person were injured, that both of them must have exhibited valor.

"It's unforgivable to allow a vet like Thurlow, whatever kind of person he is now, to tarnish his own heroism by encouraging these lies."

Agreed completely. All Vietnam veterans, therefore should be absolutely forbidden to speak unless their words are pre-screened to weed out anything "tarnishing." Of course I'm joking, and the joke is based on Kos' inexplicable use of the word "allow." Since when do we forbid people from speaking? Or rather, since when does anyone other than a Democratic Congressman seek to forbid people from speaking?

"If Bush had the slightest understanding of honor he would never allow this by his surrogates. It's just disgusting."

Again we have a value judgement from Mr. "Screw Them" Kos. Considering that Kos is basically a Kerry surrogate, and considering that his "Screw Them" post was absolutely disgusting, has John Kerry's honor been impugned by his failure to take down Kos' blog?

It's Illegal, But It's Matrix-y, So It Must Be Cool

James Lileks stumbles across a very wierd site and gives it a good fisking.

Scroll down to the bolded "Medved." The good part starts in the next paragraph.


Don't Miss This Article by Larry Elder

Boortz tips me off to this one.

Money quote:

"Liberals frequently call John Ashcroft a 'fascist' -- Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, etc. Yet the very same people want gun control. Why is this inconsistent?"

Good question, Larry. Apparently strong central government control is a very bad thing when it tramples on some Constitutional rights, but not when it tramples on other Constitutional rights. And speaking of trampling on Constitutional rights, check out this. It seems that the Second Amendment isn't the only one within the liberal half of the government's gunsights. Query: what would be the reaction if these were Republican congressmen suggesting "legislative avenues" to get CNN to only sing from the conservatice hymn book?

Kerry Video Update

The story is all ober Blogistan, has yet to hit the mainstream press, and may or may not get substantial air time (the producers are relying on donations). Most of the blogs I've read focus on speculation about a) how big of an impact the video will have and b) how it will be spun by the pro-Kerry-ites.

As to issue a) I suppose we'll have to wait and see. Alternatively, we can donate huge amounts of money to the producers to actually effect how big the impact will be.

Issue b) is already playing out, as more and more stories pop up countering the video. One laughably pathetic attempt can be seen in an article by Joe Conason on

I thought I'd give the article a vigorous fisking, but ironically, it might actually be a little too fluffy for that. The tagline says:

"The "swift boat" veterans attacking John Kerry's war record are led by veteran right-wing operatives using the same vicious techniques they used against John McCain four years ago."

In case the phrases "right-wing operatives" and "vicious techniques" don't sufficiently tip you off, I will spoil the surprise and tell you that the article is devoted to smearing those responsible for the video. In other words, thos who "smear" Kerry will suffer retaliation in kind. Nowhere in the article will you find any hint that Conason believes the video represents falsehoods, no quotes from pro-Kerry vets who deny the charges, no factual inquiry into Kerry's actual service. All we have is a "left-wing operative" using the same "vicious techniques" he decries in the video. I see. Perhaps "they did it first!" isn't an argument confined solely to kindergartens.

So that you don't have to read the angry invective yourself, let me present the highlights:

"The latest conservative outfit to fire an angry broadside against John Kerry's heroic war record... this group's political connections make clear that its agenda is to target the election... veteran corporate media consultant and Texas Republican activist Merrie Spaeth... eternal Kerry antagonist and Houston attorney John E. O'Neill... retired Rear Adm. Roy Hoffman, a cigar-chomping former Vietnam commander once described as 'the classic body-count guy' who 'wanted hooches destroyed and people killed.' ... O'Neill has been assailing Kerry since 1971... she says, that he 'sounded like a crazed extremist' ... she specialized in promoting 'news' items that boosted President Reagan ... her history of handling difficult P.R. cases for Republicans... Spaeth participated in the most subterranean episode of the Republican primary contest... Rear Adm. Roy Hoffmann, first gained notoriety in Vietnam as a strutting, cigar-chewing Navy captain... obsession with body counts and 'scorekeeping'... 'In this light, one of the great merits of Vistica's article is its portrait of the Kurtz-like psychopath who commanded Kerrey's Navy task force, Capt. Roy Hoffmann.' ..."

Okay, that sounds like a pretty bad bunch, right? Especially that Hoffmann guy, who we are twice informed likes to "chomp" cigars (does he not smoke them?), which must make him pretty evil. We are given the resumes of Spaeth, O'Neill and Hoffmann with some detail, but there is no mention of anyone who actually served on the boats. In fact, Conason doesn't even mention the people featured in the video - only the producers. That seems like the ultimate in shallow rebuttals.

"Arguments about the war in Vietnam seem destined to continue forever."

Of course. That's the nature of the historical profession. Just like arguments about the Revolutionary War, the Nuremburg trials, the historicity of Jesus Christ, and crocodile worship in ancient Egypt are destined to continue forever. If the arguments end, academia will have nothing left to discuss.

"For now, however, the lingering bitterness and ambiguity of those days provide smear material against an antiwar war hero with five medals on behalf of a privileged Guardsman with a dubious duty record."

Okay, let me first point out that a huge chunk of the responsibility for any "lingering bitterness and ambiguity" must fall squarely on the shoulders of one John Forbes Kerry, who made it his mission after he came back to the states to stir up strident opposition to "those days." The other day I remarked to my wife that one good thing about the present election cycle, and John Kerry's heavy reliance on his Vietnam service, is that I have never heard Americans on both sides of the aisle so enthusiastically supporting Vietnam veterans. In fact, I think John Kerry deserves almost single-handed credit for that fact. But my wife pointed out, and she was right, that Kerry also helped to contribute to the bad image he is only now helping to repair. Kudos to him for finally doing the right thing, but let's not forget that he originally did the wrong thing.

Second, the only reason the Vietnam are gives anyone - Republicans or otherwise - smear material is becase Kerry himself has made Vietnam the centerpiece of his whole candidacy. He won't mention what he did during his brief law practice. He won't tell us what major initiatives he sponsored in the Senate. He only mentions Vietnam, and he mentions it as frequently as possible. I think that at a certain point, Americans have a right to ask the man who would be our President what, exactly, he did in Vietnam. We have a right to ask how he got the purple hearts he so frequently mentions. Asking the questions raised by John Kerry himself is not smearing John Kerry. It's following up. Plain and simple. If I hadn't promised my wife to keep this blog clean, I'd have some very choice words for Joe Conason right now.

"The president's Texas allies -- whose animus against his Democratic challenger dates back to the Nixon era -- are now deploying the same techniques and personnel they used to attack McCain's integrity four years ago."

Why are you so hung up on technique (smearing is not the exclusive province of either political party, you know) instead of actually addressing the claims?

"Bush's 'independent' supporters would apparently rather talk about the Vietnam quagmire than about his deadly incompetence in Iraq."

Again I remind myself about my no-swearing promise. It is not the Republicans, but the Democrats who constantly remind Americans of Vietnam. The comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam all come from the left side of the aisle.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

New Anti-Kerry Video

The beginning of the end for Kerry's candidacy?

Hat tip to Ace.

On the one hand, having people who served with you in Vietnam, including the doctor who treated you for your first Purple Heart injury, call you a liar - ouch. That's about as harsh as it gets.

On the other hand it seems that at this point, if people have listened to him speak in his low droning voice for 55 straight minutes at the DNC, seen the pictures of him gleefully torturing E.T., heard his wife say one embarrassing thing after another, watched the two main planks of his platform (Iraq and the economy) crumble as Iraqis get more and more independent and the economy is in full-fledged boom mode, not to mention all the other stuff that bloggers have been pointing out for the past year - if after all of this stuff Kerry is still neck and neck with Bush, I don't think the video can possibly have much of an impact. People are not voting character in this election. They are not voting economy in this election. They are not voting stupid campaign trail gaffes, they are not voting campaign promises, they are not voting hamster-CPR skills. They are voting for Bush, or they are voting against him. That's all there is to it. Kerry could murder a black woman on national television while screaming "Die, you nigger ho!" and he would still get every single "anybody but Bush" vote in America.

That's my guess.

Conspiracy Theory Central

I'm posting this because it's a conspiracy theory, but I need to admonish my sister that conspiracy theories are much more entertaining when they are about Republicans. Just for future reference.

"Actually, the democrats are buying all the gasoline around the country and storing it in toxic waste barrels to trick people into thinking gas prices are high, then when they get into office, they are secretly going to put that gas back on the market so prices drop so they can congratulate themselves on lowering gas prices. how's that for a conspiracy theory?"

I actually prefer the conspiracy she subtly hinted at next:

"p.s. sobek, you really need to work on your spelling, it's atrocious. i'm embarrassed to call you brother."

I actually went back and ran some of my old posts through a spell checker. For the record, I am not a bad speller. Evil Repulicans infiltrated my blog and messed up my posts to smear me. But don't worry. They have been devoured.

Summer Book Report, Pt. 2

As I mentioned in one of the comments, one of my birthday presents was Professor Mike Adams' book Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel. I enjoy Dr. Adams' columns on, and I knew that I would like the book. Therefore I read the whole thing (200 pages) in two evenings. I was right.

Let me start by saying Dr. Adams is just fun to read. He's got a good sense of humor, a healthy dose of common sense, and is very approachable - the two times I've e-mailed him he has responded quickly.

Adams describes a visit he made, before (and as a part of) his conversion to conservativism and to Christianity, to a prison in Quito, Ecuador. He was touched by a display of religious faith exhibited there, in spite of the absolutely horrid conditions, and he writes:

"When i stepped out into the streets of Quito, I looked up at the statue of the Virgin Mary and thought about how people in my own country have so much to be thankful for and yet try so hard to find ways to be unhappy, to be offended, and to be seen as victims. So many true victims in that prison found ways to be thankful and to have faith in the face of hopelessness." (p. 18).

That's quite a bit to chew on in what is otherwise a fun, but not always very deep, book. I don't mean that as an insult, and I hope to explain my meaning a little better below. But I think we all might consider whether we are hunting for reasons to be offended, or finding ways to be thankful.

The book is mostly a collection of letters (some sent, most not) and columns, as well as a more lengthy description of how he, a UNC student and the administration got embroiled in a legal battle over privacy and Freedom of Speech. Generally speaking, I don't find op/ed columns get very deep. You only have so much space, and if you want to tell an introductory story, maybe tell a joke or two, and make a brief point, you're all out of space. The real purpose of an op/ed piece, in my view, is to get people talking. Sometimes it's to bring an event to peoples' attention, and sometimes a well-known event is mentioned as a catalyst for a discussion of some political point.

That's why I said Dr. Adam's book is not always very deep. Constrained by the normal space limitations of a newspaper op/ed column, he has enough time to tell us about a problem, make an observation or two, and write a quick summary. If the columns don't get people thinking independently of the brief text, or actively discussing/debating it with others, then it doesn't serve much of a purpose. Possibly it will reinforce the beliefs of people who agreed with him anyway. Possibly it will galvanize the opposition further. Muckrakers don't rake muck simply because muck likes to be raked - they rake muck so that people can do something about it.

This inherent deficiency with a space-constrained format really comes through in some of his chapters. One example is his chapter entitled "The Viagra Monologues." (pp. 137-39) Adams briefly summarizes his impressions as he read "The Vagina Monolgues," which his campus proudly presents every years. Other than inserting a few snarky comments, we don't get much in the way of an evaluation. Granted, the evaluation may safely be inferred. Adams is a conservative, and the rest of the book is introduction enough into how he feels about feminism and sexuality discussed in poor taste. But although he leaves no doubt that he disapproves of the Vagina Monologues, he does not really dwell on his specific reasons. It is as though stating the message is tantamount to a principled refutation of that message. It is not. What I would like to have seen in that chapter is some sort of discussion about the level of feminine sexuality in public discourse he deems appropriate, and more importantly, why.

Let me expand on this latter point somewhat. After reading the book, I have no idea how Dr. Adams feels about public discussion of womens' issues. You might observe (correctly) that Adams teaches Criminal Justice, not Women's Studies. But if Adams is going to publish a chapter on the topic, I think I reasonably hold his feet to the fire if he does not, in fact, discuss that topic. For example, how free should women (or men, for that matter) feel to discuss female sexuality in public? A lot? A little? Not at all? What are the benefits and costs of each, if any? What is the best way to educate women on rape awareness or prevention, or dealing with it after the fact?

I don't claim to have any answers to these questions. Like Dr. Adams, I am not trained in Women's Studies (for the record, I have a Bachelor's degree in Near Eastern Studies and two-thirds of a law degree). But the unasked question isn't likely to get answered, and Adams doesn't do much, after mentioning the issues, to say anything constructive about the issues.

That said, I agree with him that "The Vagina Monologues" sound like they are in extremely poor taste. And the promotional materials on UNC campus even more so - I will refrain from quoting Dr. Adams' book on that point.

In other areas, the book is extremely well done. I love his chapter called "Answer a False Accusation of Racism" (pp. 7-11), in which he reveals his two-step method for, well, answering false accusations of racism. First, ask the person to define "racism." Adams notes that this question will very rarely get a response. When it does, ask how that definition applies to the issue being discussed. What a brilliant and elegant way to disarm the all-too-frequent charge of racism! In that chapter and again in "An Illegitimate Attack" (pp. 20-22) we see fine examples of knee-jerk race warlordism effectively shot down by asking two simple, perfectly valid questions.

Reading the book is something of a roller-coaster ride. I always laughed when the evil bad guys were vanquished and humiliated by the cold, hard light of logic. But I soon began to get a little frustrated that, year after year, the same culprits popped up again and again doing the same old stupid things. I started to wonder whether there is any hope at all for some sort of sanity to ever come back to our nation's universities. I e-mailed Dr. Adams and asked if he feels at all optimistic about the prospects of making any headway in his efforts, and he very enthusiastically gave me a link to, which is an organization dedicated to protecting free speech on campuses. Sort of like the ACLU, but not, you know, evil. The site is full of stories of how people on campuses everywhere successfully fight college administrations for basic constitutional rights. I encourage everyone to check it out. I also encourage everyone to buy the book, and to go to to get acquainted with Dr. Adams.