Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Monday, January 31, 2005

Down (and up again) With Hillary

I wasn't going to mention this story - because it's kind of a non-story, really - but funny is funny.

And if you want proof positive that Amish is going to burn in Hell for all of eternity, and if you don't mind humor at the expense of religious sensibilities, click here. NOTE: it involves the phrase "monkey with a chainsaw."

Blogging Note

Blogging will probably be light this week. I have a thing due. Also, I'm on drugs, but frankly they aren't very effective, so that's no excuse.

More on Democracy in Iraq

Via Stephen Green, the VodkaPundit, I found this WSJ piece by Arthur Chrenkoff, who has been posting the good news from Iraq for quite some time now, in order to offset the primarily negative treatment by the MSM.

Post-election coverage on conservative blogs has basically emphasized two points.

1. Rounding up as many inspirational quotes as possible, showing how committed some Iraqis are to Democracy. One particularly amazing story is about a guy whose leg was blown off in a car bomb last October (you can find it at the link above, and elsewhere) but who voted anyway.

2. Slamming the liberals who are downplaying the significance of the election or undermining its legitimacy. Hans Bricks has a particularly good example of this latter approach. I especially like his summary of prominent lefties Atrios, Chomsky and Joshua Michah Mellencamp Marshall's Talking Points Memo.

Because these are the only big stories in town, and because I don't really feel like rounding up all the links that round up all the links, I think I'll just be satisfied with the posts I've done and call it good.

But there is one other point I think needs to be made, and it doesn't fall neatly into number 2 above, so I'll flesh it out here. Matt Yglesias responds to the elections:

"Looks reasonably successful so far, no mass casualties, turnout low only in a few trouble spots. It's time to prepare for three weeks of gloating from the hawks before they realize that nothing has really changed and they return to previous hawk practice of not mentioning Iraq. The interesting thing to watch, I think, will be whether or not Shiite political unity starts to break down now that the elections are behind us."

I guess it's no surprise that Lefties are genuinely disappointed by the high turn-out and lack of violence. But get this: Yglesias' complaint is not that the election is illegitimate, or that Iraqis never really wanted democracy in the first place. What's got him in such a bad mood? Let's look again:

"It's time to prepare for three weeks of gloating from the hawks..."

Is that seriously your biggest concern, here? Never mind the fact that 25 million Iraqis now live under a democratically-elected government for the first time in decades, how will this look politically? I don't know that much of what I've posted here has been "gloating" (other than a photoshop of an Iraqi woman flipping off Zarqawi and a crack about Ted Kennedy), but this kind of comment absolutely begs for it. Matt Yglesias, ha ha ha on you. You, personally, suck. Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries. If you are more concerned with petty politics on the day the Iraqi version of the Berlin Wall comes down, you deserve to be shamed and harassed by gloating hawks for far longer than three weeks, and you deserve to watch your party of choice get voted into oblivion time and time again.

For the love of everything good and holy, can petty partisanship not play the deciding role in your reactions for one single day? Can you actually find it in you, somewhere, deep down, to actually feel happy that oppressed people somewhere far away have taken an important step towards enjoying the freedom you're so quick to crap all over? Or is your soul too small, shallow and embittered to see and acknowledge the good, just because of how it will play in Peoria?

Arguably at least, observations by John Kerry or Markos Zunigas that the polling was flawed can be advanced (much as I disagree with them, for basically the reasons you'll find here). But to assail the elections, not out of some committment real or feigned to a higher vision of democracy, but just because you don't want to hear your political opponents gloating - that redefines shallow. Congratulations, Matt Yglesias, you have set the bar at an all-time low.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

A Riddle

Q. What do Ted Kennedy and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi have in common?

A. Neither of them wanted this woman to vote:

Hey Zarqawi... Better luck next time.

And you absolutely must read this story. It shows both the good and the bad. We need to keep both in mind.

“Am I scared? Or course I’m not scared. This is my country.”
"This is democracy,” Abbasi said. “This is the first day I feel freedom."
Abed Hunni, a stooped, whiskered man walked an hour with his wife to reach a polling site in Musayyib. “God is generous to give us this day,” he said.
“We fought terrorists who took shelter in a cemetery behind the polling center, we captured some and found weapons hidden in graves. It was all worth it. This is great.”
Crowds burst into impromptu demonstrations, shouting, “No to dictatorship. Yes to democracy,” and “Long live freedom.”

Meanwhile, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry are hitting the sauce pretty hard.

Elections Over in Iraq

It's still too early to tell just how happy Happy Jihadi is, but I can think of two reasons for celebratory gunfire. The first is that Dr. Condi Rice says things went better than expected, despite some deadly attacks on polling places. The second is that John Kerry is already trying to downplay the significance of today's events. I can think of no better indicator that the elections have been successful than that prominent Democrats are trying to say they are no big deal.

"In a statement Sunday, Sen. Edward M. Kenned, D-Mass, said Bush "must look beyond the election."

Thanks Teddy. That kind of talk makes Happy Jihadi want to fire off a couple rounds in your honor.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Addendum to the Addendum

It seems that Amish, who I must assume is posting in my comments section using a computer powered by butter churns, agrees (gasp!) with the Dems on the Anti-Propaganda stuff. I haven't had any time to look into existing federal laws, so I can't comment more fully just yet. But I will publish (with permission) the full text of an e-mail that Amish sent me for my readers to consider:

Amish v. Sobek

Lets pretend that i am a car salesmen and you came to buy a car from me. You listen to my sales pitch but you arent sure that the car is as good a deal as i claim it to be, so you decide to take the car to a local mechanic to get the car checked out first. So you take the car to the shop and the mechanic tells you its a great car and you should snap it up before somebody else buys it. Now if it turned out that the mechanic you saw actually worked for me and didnt tell you? Wouldnt you feel you were mislead? And what if it turned out that i jacked the price up by a couple of hundered bucks to pay the mechanic? How is this different from a president, who cant seal the deal with the American people about "No Child Left Behind", who pays a journalist (who claims to be giving nothing but his honest opinion) to publicly make the case for the administration? The fact that Williams was paid with taxpayer money is the worst offense. What if democrats in congress decided to spend millions of dollars in advertising to promote partial birth abortion or affirmative action? No- spending taxpayer money to promote pet legislation is wrong no matter who is doing it.

If a politician isnt skilled enough to presuade the public that his policies are in the best intrests of America, then i dont think they should be allowed to use cold hard cash to make up for their shortcomings as a public speaker. The President of the United States has the greatest pulpit in the world; any time he wants to speak directly to the american people he just has to say the word, and no matter how much the media filters his message, the American people will hear him. Ask yourself: Why Williams? Was there no one in the White House, the Senate, or the House on the republican side who would be a more effective spokesman than Williams? How many people have ever even heard of Williams? Very few i believe. $200,000 given to a man in exchange for a few editorials and a promise to interview Rod Page a time or two on a television show that airs at 2 a.m. is not what i would call a good deal. What if the Kerry campaign had paid 60 minutes reporters to air nothing but negative stories about Iraq for the last month of the election? How is it ok to buy reporters opinions on one policy issue and not another?

So (for once) i am going to have to agree with the democrats, and say that their should be a law to stop this sort of thing. I love free speech but i dont think that giving taxpayers money to a journalist in order that he might influence a policy debate qualifies.

now lets pretend im a traveling salesmen and your a farmers daughter....

Congratulations to Brian B

He and his wife, The Feared Redhead, had a rather strapping baby boy. And now, for some reason, Brian is looking for a fight.

Boneheads Protesting Iraqi Elections...

... in Australia.

Tim Blair has a picture of one of the protestors wearing a Karl marx shirt (huh?) and waving a red flag. Half of the flag is cropped out of the picture, but the part I can see says (in Arabic) "No to Terrorism" and then what looks like a modifying noun.

I wonder what Protesty Boy thinks of Marxist terrorism. Is it okay, as long as it's committed in the name of a cause he supports? By protesting the Iraqi elections, he is very clearly on the side of the terrorists who keep threatening voters. Some of the protestors ally themselves with al-Zarqawi more directly:

"Mr Hogan said [the protesters] were holding the same black flag with white lettering that has appeared as a backdrop in videos released by Iraqi insurgents featuring foreign hostages."

Just something to think about.

Thanks to the Unpopulist, guest-blogging at Ace.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Update: Addendum to Free Speech Post Below

According to this article (in which yet another columnist gets burned for being paid by the Bush administration), "Federal law bans the use of public money on propaganda."

I had no idea.

Neither, it would seem, did Senators Kennedy, Lautenberg, Durbin and Corzine [corrected; I accidentally wrote Conyers. ed.].

The difference, of course, is that I am not paid to write laws all day. I'll update this theme after I track down that law and have time for a little comparison. To be fair, it seems that politicians of whatever stripe tend to react to big stories by trying to pass a new law (e.g. the Intelligence Reform bill), with an eye more towards attracting attention than to solving a problem. Duplicative legislation can't be that effective of a problem-solver. But again, that's a bipartisan trait, and I don't know how duplicative it really is. Update forthcoming (assuming I feel like it).

Pray for Dave


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Democrats Hate Free Speech - Still

Story here. Update forthcoming (assuming I feel like it).

In what can only be described as a major breakthrough for Senate bipartisanship, four Democrats are introducing a bill to make President Bush shut up. While the preceding sentence was clearly tongue-in-cheek, the following does not appear to be:

"Formuzis told E&P that while the bill is being introduced by Democrats, its message and intent is something endorsed by Republicans and Democrats alike."

To which Republicans are you referring? John McCain, perhaps? If so, why is the bill being introduced by Kennedy (D - Mass), Lautenberg (D - NJ), Corzine (D - NJ) and Durbin (D - NJ)?

But to be fair, let's parse this out a little bit. The proposed bill is called the "Stop Government Propoganda Act." Nobody likes propoganda, right? Everyone knows that propoganda is an evil thing, the kind of thing Hitler did, and therefore the U.S. government has no business creating propoganda, and therefore both Republicans and Democrats can all agree that a bill to stop government propoganda is a Very Bad Thing, no?

The problem is that I suspect Sen. Kennedy et al have a very subjective view of what constitutes "propoganda." The word "propoganda" is defined in the last paragraph of the article. My main objection to that definition is that it leaves too much open to political wrangling. For example, it prohibits "messages with a 'self-aggrandizing' purpose or 'puffery of the Administration, agency, executive branch programs or policies or pending legislation.'" That sentence reads like an unrestricted license for Democrats to gripe about every single statement made by any Republican anywhere. People could sue President Bush for his inaugural speech. They could sue Condi Rice for her testimony in the Senate. White House spokesman Scott McClellan could be sued every time he spoke to reporters.

Developing another legislative mechanism for partisan sniping is not, in my view, a responsible use of Congress' time.

So let's take this from the beginning. The first thing we must consider is the Constitutionality of the proposed bill. The First Amendment is, quite naturally, the subject of a great deal of controversy, and that is because it doesn't tend to define its own terms. Congress is forbidden, for example, from making laws abridging the freedom of speech. But what is the freedom of speech? The Constitution doesn't say, so we have lawyers argue about it, and eventually we come up with something of an idea of what "the freedom of speech" means, at least as of January, 2005. And yet, in spite of these arguments, the text of the amendment clearly and undeniably restricts the power of Congress. That's the very first word in there, and the most important word when we're looking at a bunch of Senators who want to restrict speech.

"Congress shall make no law..." Does that mean "no law," or does it mean "some laws, depending upon whether I can get political mileage out of it"? I prefer the former, but Kennedy and friends apparently do not.

So then, does the government have freedom of speech? Undoubtedly it does, and the case law is abundant on the issue. Government can both speak and fund the speech of others, and furthermore it is not constrained by the First Amendment to fund every speech, only that which it wants to fund (barring certain kinds of discrimination).

Therefore, the President has every right to create and broadcast any message it wants, however it wants, and Congress is expressly forbidden from doing anything about it by the plain and undeniable language of the First Amendment.

The next issue, then, is whether there are no safeguards against abuses? After all, we recently saw that the government paid two columnists to promote its programs, without disclosing that contractual relationship. Most people think that's improper, for varying reasons, and I agree. Senator Lautenberg's spokesman, Alex Formuzis, justifies the Stop Government Propoganda Act in part by arguing, "it's just not enough to say, 'Please don't do it anymore.'"

I strongly disagree, for two reasons. First of all, in the wake of the revelations, President Bush expressly instructed his cabinet not to do it anymore, so we have an Executive restraint (which the First Amendment allows), rather than a Legislative one. Second, and more importantly, there are political controls. The story hurt Bush's credibility, it hurt his No Child Left Behind Act, and it probably did irreversible damage to Armstrong Williams' and Maggie Gallager's careers. What columnist is now going to accept a secret contract with the government? What politician will run the risk of getting embarrassed by a similar story?

Back to the justifications:

"We only have a few senators on the bill so far, but we hope and expect that we'll get a number of others to sign on to the legislation once we introduce it," he said. "This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an issue about an independent press, and I think that's something that will cross party lines."

Issue of an independent press? That's certainly an odd way of framing the problem. The two columnists who got burned were perfectly independent - they had unlimited freedom to accept or reject their contracts, and they knew the risks they were taking. Moreover, as I pointed out above, their public crucifixion will probably serve as a better caveat to future would-be beneficiaries of the government payroll than any legislation. And there will always be a reporter who would rather tell the story of how the government tried to buy him than would take the check. Imagine, for example, what a Paul Krugman column would look like the day after Bush asked him to cheerlead a government program.

Additionally, the bill sweeps much wider than Formuzis' justification allows. He previously attacked not just the practice of buying columnists, but also films released by the Drug czar's office and the Department of Health and Human Services. Clearly there is no connection between these practices and an independent press.

Time for a Revolution?

Not a political one, a blogging one. And not an ideologically-driven revolution, but a traffic-driven one. Dare I say it?

Dare I say that it's time to commandeer Ace's blog?

Now let's be clear, I like Ace a lot. When Allah (PBUH) crapped out on us, Ace was all I had left. Many of my jokes are comprehensible only if you've been reading Ace for a while (for example, anything "cowbell" oriented, inlcuding Happy Jihadi).

The thing is, since Ace has been gone, my traffic has gone through the roof. First, I've been getting vicarious Ace-O-lanches because two of Ace's guest bloggers link me. Second, I got a trackback from Benedict blog which gave me another decent wave of hits. Third, in Ace's absence he managed to get an Instalanche (oh, the irony!), and his traffic is better than it has been in months, as he admits.

Is it heresy, then, for a small, petty part of me to hope Ace gets his movie deal, which in turn keeps him away from his blog, thus diverting all that crazy blog money to me?

Update: Uh oh. What have I started?

Also, Cameron knows how to write a slogan. Must be all that time he spends writing poetry.

Update: The Unpopulist points out my rather inelegant use of words above, when I said "in Ace's absence HE managed to get an Instalanche..." I double-checked, and while I'm sure the author of the auspicious post would be too embarassed for me to publicly congratulate him or her on a job well done, I think I can hint that it rhymes with "shmunpopulist."

And in my own defense, I'd just like to point out that while Ace's writing, in and of itself, did not garner the coveted Instalanche, it was his blog that recorded the hits. My statement therefore captured the spirit of the event, even if some of the details may have been (honestly, I don't think we'll ever know for sure) completely fabricated. I therefore stick by my original phrase, as any impartial observer will agree that it was fake, but accurate.

Also, I offer my condolences to guest bloggers who write something so compelling as to catch the fickle eye of the Instapundit, and yet not get any hits of their own. Dude, that has to sting.


From Sen. Byrd's Mr. Potato Head Collection

Clarification: A friend of mine didn't catch this immediately, but the whole point of this sight gag is that this is Senator Byrd's Mr. Potato Head, not my own. I just wanted to make that as clear as possible.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Yesterday's News, But Still Great

Yesterday, featured a story entitled "Democracy Finds Hope in Iraqi Town."

"Although most say they don't know who the candidates are or where to go to vote, they say they will vote come January 30."

Well, other than the voting part, that sounds an awful lot like America. It's really a great story - the kind that makes Happy Jihadi very happy, indeed. But the real reason I needed a Happy Jihadi siren on this story is that CNN is actually reporting good news about Iraq! It was actually featured as the lead story on the home page for a while yesterday. With that kind of progress, we might see more of Happy Jihadi.



Thanks so much to Fat Kid, I now have the Arab version of a cowbell. Nothing conveys the idea of good news quite like firing a weapon into the air.

Now I need to be clear about the significance of the Happy Jihadi.

A police siren can be either a good thing (a bad guy is about to get arrested and, possibly, raped in prison) or a bad thing (my house is on fire). Drudge uses the siren simply to convey the idea of "something very important is happening, or else I'm just jumping the gun on something!!!"

A cowbell is either a boring thing (it doesn't seem to serve much of an actual function when hung around the neck of a cow), or a good thing (for example, the last link to this post). Ace (and others) uses the cowbell to signal good economic news.

So we see that the symbols we use, absent some kind of context, can send mixed messages unless properly clarified. Of course, in any context a happy Arab can reasonably be expected to shoot into the air. The only question is whether it's a happy jihadi, or an evil jihadi. Mine is a happy jihadi. I will use Happy Jihadi to indicate that there is incredibly good news for those Arabs who have no particular desire to see me, personally, die a horrible death.

Thanks, Happy Jihadi!

Congratulations, Dr. Rice

She was confirmed, just as everyone predicted.

The vote was 85-13 (with two not voting) in her favor, so she had all the elbow-room she could possibly want. The following people voted against confirmation:

Akaka (D-HI)
Bayh (D-IN)
Boxer (D-CA)
*Byrd (D-WV)
*Dayton (D-MN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Harkin (D-IA)
*Jeffords (I-VT)
*Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Levin (D-MI)
Reed (D-RI)

I starred the names of those senators who are up for election in two years. You'll note that there aren't very many of them. The most surprising one is Byrd - unless he's banking on West Virginia to forget that he was in the freakin' Klan again.


Reminder: I just thought Senatr Byrd might want to be reminded of this. GWB took West Virginia by 95,240 votes. That may sound like a small margin, but it's a 13 point margin (56% to 43%). That's an official trouncing. Does it mean anything? Perhaps not - West Virginia voted in a Democrat governor and two (out of three) Democrat Reps. Even so, right now might not be the best time for Robert KKK Byrd to draw a lot of attention to himself.

Update: Karol knows that brevity is the soul of wit.

Update: Dave is a lot more pessimistic than me in the comments, and probably with good reason. I just found the election results for 2000, the last time Kleagle Byrd was up. Byrd beat his Republican challenger David Gallaher 77% to 20%. That's an official trouncing. Gallaher didn't take a single county. Bush took WV by a wider margin in 2004 than in 2000, but not that big of a margin.


Fat Kid and I collaborated on the answer to the burning question, "What is Arabic for cowbell?" and came up with this.

But I'm too dumb to figure out how to put it in my posts and still have it animated. Every time I try to save it, it turns into a motionless bitmap image instead of a dancing .gif

Update: I just realized that even if I knew how to save it to my hard drive as a .gif, I still wouldn't know how to put it on the blog because I use Hello, which only lets me do .jpgs. Crap. I'd appreciate any technical assistance.

When in Doubt, Trash Talk the UN

Thanks to Supernatural Rabbit Scribe for sending me a link to this interview with Richard Perle.

"We don’t want to emulate the Europeans. The Europeans employ soft power day and night. Theycannot get enough of it. That isn’t our role. Our role is not to pretend – as the Europeans pretend –that soft power can change North Korea’s Kim Jong Il or the mullahs."


"We cannot depend on Zimbabwe’s vote to assure our safety."

Indeed, negotiations are notoriously ineffective with dictators, regardless of how much European "leaders" like to cozy up to them.

That's Crazy!

This guy and I have the same dream!

Via Dave at Garfield Ridge.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Oil-for-Food Panel Quizzes Annan

1. Exactly how far into the sea should the Jews be pushed?
a) 100 meters
b) 1000 meters
c) 10,000 meters

2. Do you want us to have Don Cheadle killed?
a) Yes
b) Torture him first

3. L'anglais, c'est une langue des cochons, n'est-ce pas?
a) Bien sur!
b) Des cochons et des singes!
c) Je suis un ananas!

4. So, did you steal a bunch of money from starving kids in the Middle East?
a) Bush is a criminal!
b) Send more tsunami relief through UN channels. How do you expect Jan Egelmann to pay for his Porsche?
c) What's that over there?

5. Now that you're no longer embezzeling millions of dollars in history's largest scam, what do you plan on doing with your time?
a) Take up raquetball
b) Devote more time to hating Jews
c) Looking at another oil-rich nation we can sanction back into the stone-age. I know a sweet gig when I see one

6. Do you have any remorse for all the Iraqi children who starved to death, or who died from tainted or diluted medicines, because of the scandal?
a) No, it's their own fault for not becoming suicide bombers in Israel
b) No, my $9,000 suit has a built-in "remorse-blocker." Who's up for some fresh Maine lobsters?
c) No, the cries of the innocent don't affect me much after all these years

7. So how much dirty money did you end up stealing?
a) I lost track because I kept using briefcases full of money to light the Cuban cigars Fidel gives me
b) I lost track when I realized there's no such number as "a jillion."
c) I lost track when I discovered Jacques and I were both starving the same small village north of Basrah. We laughed ourselves silly when we realized.

Essay section

Write a 300-word essay on one of the following themes:
1. Saddam sure had the right idea about those Jews
2. The delightful sobs of the exploited
3. The best places to ski in the Austrian Alps

Lousy Fark

Fark stole my idea.

And I never did get Ace to link me. Hmm. There's no justice.

Update: Justice is served. Thanks to Dave's generosity with other peoples' Ace-O-Lanches, I got my traffic spike. Mmmmmm...

SobekPundit: Apocalypse Edition

Pardon my unannounced absence yesterday evening. I had a debilitating headache, so I was busy whimpering instead of blogging. I'll try not to let it happen again.

So ... anything exciting happen while I was away?

1. Hans Bricks speculates irresponsibly that we may have captured Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born freedom fight... I mean, terrorist who heads up al-Qaeda in Iraq. This comes on the heels of an Ace of Spades speculation to the same effect. Hans links Cheese and Crackers as saying that al-Jazeera is reporting that we've got Zarqawi, and Cheese and Crackers links - nobody. I have no idea who Cheese and Crackers' source is.

Check out the Ace link to see why he says "that 'no comment' thing is very interesting."

2. A plane was just forced to land in Texas, reportedly in connection with a dirty bomb plot - with possible ties to the recent dirty bomb scare in Boston. Dave, guest-blogging at Ace (I'm green with envy, but then again I am a crocodile, so I guess that's nothing new), has some thoughts, as well as a link to Michelle Malkin. Let's hope we can chalk up another good save by the good guys.

3. A fire in a New York subway station has destroyed 600 relays. That puts the C line out of commission for up to five years. I sure am glad I don't have to commute around that city.

4. Another subway problem, this one in London. Holy crap, is there a curse on this day or something? 100,000 people were stranded. It looks like human error compounded by a signal failure. Sucks to be them.

5. A stampede and a fire killed hundreds near a temple in Bombay. Although a few quips spring to mind, I think I'll pass, given the gravity of the situation.

That's the news, ladies and gentlemen. I checked al-Jazeera's web site and didn't see anything about Zarqawi, but Cheese and Crackers could have been passing on a televised report, for all I know.

Note: if the Zarqawi thing turns out to be real, I'll have a perfect opportunity to use my brand new .gif, courtesy of Fat Kid, best described as "the Arab version of cowbell." We can only hope.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Thank Goodness for Scientists


Story here.

Speaking of which...

Update: Thanks to Supernatural Rabbit Scribe for telling me my link was broken. It should work now.

A Boortzian Hero

Neal Boortz loves stories where a violent predator gets a taste of his own medicine, so I'm sure he would love this story (via Hans Bricks). You can safely skip the first bit about Red Dawn, unless you happen to like gratuitous references to old Patrick Swayze movies (and let's be honest - who doesn't?).

The point is an old one...

"Take away the handguns from law-abiding citizens. But wait, you have criminals, who by definition of the name, DO NOT FOLLOW THE LAW! Who thinks that criminals are going to think twice about using a firearm in a crime, especially when they can run through the flock like a rabid wolf, taking what they want. Who thinks that the same rabid wolf would enter that flock of timid sheep if it thought that one of those sheep was packing a .44 magnum? Atleast that wolf would think twice."

...but it's recast in the light of more recent crimes, and worth a look, especially if you want to read more criticism of San Francisco loons and find out about today's Boortzian hero.

Another important aspect is referenced in Craig D.'s comment:

"Do you think that the liberals would stand for the enfringement on the 1st amendment. Probably not."

Here's what I can't figure out. The deep and abiding principle of the First Amendment is that we do not trust the government. We do not want the government telling us what we can read or watch, or what we can say or write, or how to worship however we believe is proper. Because I do not trust the government, I think the First Amendment is a wonderful idea.

The deep and abiding principle of the Second Amendment is the exact same thing. I don't trust the government to protect me fast enough when someone breaks into my home. It's not that I think all cops are incompetent or corrupt (no, that's just New Orleans), it's that I take a realistic view of the power of the police to respond as quickly as I would like when seconds really count. And because I do not trust the government, I think the Second Amendment is a wonderful idea.

Now ask yourselves this: since when do liberals trust cops? I'm referring here to the same cops they picket, or revile, or obstruct. And yet, by requiring by law that only cops can have guns, they are in effect placing ultimate trust in the hands of the police - the same police that they seem to hate on every other occasion. Why is that?

Because I consistently mistrust the government as to both my freedoms of speech and religion, and my freedom to keep and bear arms, I don't want the government interfering in either arena of my life. But liberals - who do not trust the government as to speech and religion - are willing to trust the government with their very lives when it comes to self-defense. Whence the inconsistency?

SobekPundit Brings it on Home

I just took top honors in The Man's photoshop contest. You can see my entry here (NOTE: It's different from the one I linked previously).

Photoshopping is a tricky thing. The first element is experience with the software - a factor that is modified by your ability to track down useful source material. In my Trotsky series from a while back, my job was made much harder by the mysterious lack of high-quality, full color photos of Leon Trotsky.

The second element is actually thinking of something funny to photoshop. All the skills in the world are useless if no one gets the joke, or thinks it's funny.

But it looks like I fooled The Man on both counts this week. We'll have to see what the future holds.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Dumbest Fox Headline Ever?

Maybe they're jealous that CNN got a "dumbest ever" award from Garfield Ridge.

Fox News is reporting that "Iran Won't Let Women Run for President"

The first objection to that headline is that it's a little like reporting that the sun is really hot. While it may be true, it's not exactly news. And the second problem is that their unenlightened views of executive power aren't necessarily the worst of their problems.

Condi v. Venezuela

Dave and Hans (mostly Hans) offer some thoughts on the Condi nomination hearings with regards to Venezuela and dictator Hugo Chavez. First:

"At one point he begged her : 'Is there not one good thing you can say about Venezuela?'"
"Condi’s answer: 'No'"

Heh and indeed.

Like Dave and Hans, I enjoy Rice's no-nonsense, don't mince words style. I think it's an essential quality in a National Security Advisor or a Defense Secretary (which is why I love Rumsfeld in that seat). These are jobs that are done most effectively by those who can cut the crap and get solid results without worrying about flowery language or stepping on peoples' feelings. All well and good.

The problem is that the job she's applying for is neither NSA nor SecDef. She has been nominated as Secretary of State, the nation's top diplomat. In order to be an effective diplomat, I should think one needs to know a little something about diplomacy. And Condi's answer, while I agree with it whole-heartedly (with the exception pointed out by Dave), is problematic because it is not diplomatic. That is, I can think or say whatever I want about murderous thug Hugo Chavez. But I will not be sent to Venezuela to try to negotiate with Hugo Chavez. Not being a diplomat means I have no need for diplomacy. Condi is clearly not in that same position, correct?

I don't mean to sound like I'm trashing on Condi. But just as I don't think she would be a good Secretary of Agriculture - because she has no agricultural experience, that I know of - I am not convinced that she would be a good SecState. That's not a criticism of her abilities, it's only a caution to put people in the jobs that suit them most.

The Ecstasy and the Agony

Hans Bricks put me at the top of the list of the first every Neo-Pimpertarian Round-up. That's the ecstasy part. I'm quite flattered, really. Years from now, when aspiring young bloggers are filling Hans' inbox with pathetic attempts at humor so try to make it onto the round-up themselves, I can sit back contentedly and know that I made the list back in the day. I will use phrases like "old school."

The agony part is where Revered Ron makes the end of the round-up. Read to the end, including the two updates, to the part where Hans says "now we're even, Sobek." I have lost the will to live.

In completely unrelated news, Dave has a link that you must click if you've ever played Dungeons & Dragons. A high-speed modem helps, too.

Friday, January 21, 2005

A Few Technical Matters

First, I'm updating the blogroll. If you think I need to expand my reading, let me know. I inspected Hans Bricks' blog and, having found no weapons of mass destruction, decided it was safe to link him. Fat Kid gets a link, in part because he's doing something nice for me, and in part because he linked me a long time ago and I've been too much of a lazy slacker to do anything about it.

Second, The Man at GOP and the City is running a Photoshop/caption contest. I submitted a photoshop (actually, I think the contest is just for the caption), which you can find here. I chose to go with as psychedelic an approach as possible.

Finally, via the aforementioned Hans Bricks I found this disturbing revelation, and via Small Dead Animals I found this helpful suggestion by Kevin Steel. Kevin's post is funny enough, but in the second comment Damian P turns it into comedy gold. At least, if you like Canadian humor, that is.

Speaking of, I saw that Small Dead Animals has a Saskatoon cam. I just can't imagine there are more than 10 people in the entire world who want to look at a Saskatoon cam.

Update: Via Cornblog, I found the "global test" that John Kerry referred to in the debates. It's a little dated, given that Kerry lost the election, but still interesting.

Whatever you do...

Do NOT follow this link.

Brian B is normally a sensible guy. What would make him do such a thing?

Productivity Enhancers Alert

First, I need to give a shout out to Dave Barry, from whom I am borrowing the phrase "productivity enhancers." I hope retirement disagrees with you.

Second, as long as I posted a link to that army game, I really should direct everyone's attention to this classic.

Next up, if you need to hone your cheating skills, this game will help you out. It's got an odd/amusing story line. According to the game designer, only about 50% of people manage to get past the fourth level. And it turns out, the game has an even more bizarre sequel.

NOTE: SobekPundit disclaims all responsibility for lost productivity. If you get fired, it's your own fault for not knowing how to slack off at work properly.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

SobekPundit's Potato Head Collection

Come with me if you want to live.

Have you seen this boy?

This one's for my Lefty friends. Don't ever say I don't do anything for you.

Game over, man, game over!

Update: Welcome Ace readers, and thanks to Dave for abusing his position of trust to get me Ace-o-lanches while Ace is gone.

Feel free to browse a little. For exclusive coverage of Condi testimony on the Hill, look here. To see Leon Trotsky photoshopped onto movie posters, look here, here and here.

Darth Tater

Darth Tater. Now that's about the coolest thing ever. With the possible exception of this.

It's a toss up.

Update: Also for your perusal.

Condi on the Hill

Under intense grilling, Dr. Rice confesses that she did, in fact, keep the hearts of Uday and Qusay Hussein as souveneirs, but justified her actions by pointing out that they don't need them any more.

She also collects human eyeballs, but she doesn't remember where this one came from, because someone [Colin Powell] messed up the labels to piss her off. Hence the scowl.

Iran to U.S.: "I'll Cut You!"

Iran is threatening America. I see.

"With reliance on enormous popular support, diplomatic capacity and full military capability, the Islamic Republic of Iran will firmly respond to any unwise measure or plan," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a statement responding to "recent comments by US officials".

Enormous popular support? I suppose if you spend a few decades killing those who don't support you, the number of dissenters will drop sharply - at least the ones you know about.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I've Decided to Quit Blogging

In order to devote more time to this.

Don't try to contact me. I'm already too far gone.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Ace Radio: Evaluation

Well, it didn't totally suck, so I guess that's something.

The problem is that if you go on the air and get interviewed by a bunch of numbskulls, the program as a whole isn't going to be great no matter how good you are. Ace was in that unfortunate position.

On the whole, he sounded just like Ace: serious at times, funny at times, and frequently drowned out by the less-worthy.

Woot! Ace of Spades on the Radio!

Ace will be on the radio in Stanford. I'll be liveblogging, in case anyone cares. Not that my liveblogging should make him nervous, or anything.

Right now they're playing music, all of which sucks. It's a college radio station, so they don't have to suck - apparently their doing it of their own free will. Ace, be careful. It might be a trap.

Update: they moved from crappy psychedelia to crappy punk, and now they're playing an anti-Bush song. It's a trap!

Update: the anti-Bush band was called "Noodle Muffin." Classy. I bet they are well-schooled in foreign policy. Fat Kid says they even mentioned the Illuminati, but I didn't hear it. I guess he's a bigger Noodle Muffin fan than I am.

Update: In Ace's comments, Jeff B. says, "you could do nothing during your time on the air except offer strangled moans and off-mike gurgles, and you'd be more professional and competent than whoever the dudes were who did the lead-in show."

Agreed, but he wouldn't be more German than the lead-in show guys. That was one sweet ol' accent.

Update: Everyone but Ace needs to shut up right now. Wait a sec, this is just a bunch of freakin law students. Nobody cares what law students have to say! What is this demonry?

Update: Ace is a "lonely boy," if the theme music is to be trusted. One of the people there called him one of the big boys of the blogosphere. They can't seem to get him on the phone. Suck. See Jeff B's comments, above.

Update: deeper voice than I expected. Still having technical issues. They were playing Paul Anka just for Ace's benefit. Someone did their homework.

Question 1: Where's Joe?

Answer: It's a zen question.

Question 2: from "fat kid," who's your main blogging inspiration, other than Andrew Sullivan?

Answer: Steven den Beste, but he's too shallow to be influenced by den Beste, so he wants to be more like Drudge and Instapundit, but with humor. Stop it with the self-deprecation crap! He finds that glib sarcasm is easier than hard work.

Question: Did you have a really good put-down of Dan Rather?

Answer: He can't remember, but "if man ever landed on the moon, Rather would like to break that story."

[My connection isn't great, so I'm not getting all of this].

Now the guy is asking Elliot about his blog. Who cares about Elliot? We're here for ACE! He calls his blog a chick magnet. Hasn't gotten this much attention since he was president of the Mork and Mindy fan club. Ace sounds good; nice and relaxed. Keeping the hosts laughing, which isn't too surprising.

Update: Question: What's up with the blue bracelets?

Answer: Wearing one's politics on one's sleeves (literally). He points out the personal investment that liberals have that conservatives don't seem to have.

Update: I have an idea: let's invite a popular blogger on the radio and then ignore him.

Update: Why do you keep anonymous?

Answer: blogging was super-dorky when I first started. First D&D reference! Yes!

He says it would be fun to work with Michael Moore. Clearly, this isn't really Ace.

One of the hosts just compared Michael Moore's People's Choice Award with a "World's Greatest Grandpa" mug. Nice. The best non-Ace comment so far.

Update: now someone (not Ace) is talking about obnoxious people in movie theaters. And what's the deal with airline peanuts?

"Speaking of Michael Moore, I hear the EU is proud of their newest super jumbo."

Update: Ace trashes the New York Times, but he practically has to beat everyone else into the ground to get some air time. What is with these morons?

Update: We just got a Full Metal Jacket reference, but not a single mention of Cowbell.

Update: If, like me, you thought they were about to ask Ace another question, instead of yammering on about stupid things, then we were both wrong together.

Update: Question: Is John Kerry a drunken bear?

Answer: Who can say? (Heh). If you don't understand the reference, shame on you.

Now these boneheads won't shut up while Ace is talking? He had some great stuff, and no one could hear it.

Worst. DJs. Ever.

They're ripping into the UN, which is all well and good. The problem is that any fool can rip into the UN, but only a complete fool does so instead of letting Ace do it. What a travesty.

Question: Right is right, and left is wrong. Do you really believe that?

Answer: (He can't really hear anyone else, so that's why he's not engaging in the banter). Yes, he does believe that.

Question: Who does want to negotiate with people who want to kill us? Is that really a charge you can level at the left?

Answer: If you listen to them, that's exactly what they're saying. We need to understand why they hate us, etc. Chris Matthews asked straight out, "can we negotiate with bin Laden?"

Update: We as Americans won't be free until Tavis Smiley gets million-dollar endorsements. Good line.

Question: Are they being too hard on Prince Harry?

Answer: It was pretty outrageous. He can't get away with wearing Nazi insignia.

Good question: What if Harry had been wearing a Che Guevarra outfit? And Dave from Garfield Ridge got a mention! Sweet! Dave says you can get away with dressing like an SS officer because black is slimming.

Conclusion: They're playing more Paul Anka, for Ace of Spades fans. HAHAHA! They guys get shirts, and sorry about all the loose, er, "stuff." "You're the only one on stage"? Way to mangle that quote, bonehead.

By the time the show ended, Ace had 195 comments on his pre-show thread. Feel the love, man.

New Quiz at Are You Conservative?

Are You Conservative? doesn't get updated as often as I would like, but I'll take what I can get. Go read the latest post. I wonder where she gets her artwork. It's sort of Milkman Dan-ish.

The quiz reminds me of a girl (a friend of a friend) whose parents were so liberal that she couldn't possibly think of anything sufficiently crazy to shock them or rebel against them, so she started dating a Republican. I would love to have been in the room to see them sobbing, "Where did we go wrong?"

Also: Liberal Larry has a moving tribute to Jesse Jackson. Good times.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The SobekPundit Guide to Religious Debate

Step 1: Gather and analyze all reasonably-available, relevant facts. Read primary materials, instead of relying on someone else's summary.

Step 2: Construct reasoned arguments based on sound premises. If you wish to speculate or offer theories, that is acceptable, but you should specifically tell others that's what you are doing.

Step 3: If someone disagrees with you, murder his entire family.

Update: Fat Kid comments on the story and, unsurprisingly, uses an expletive. He also asks the question, "Where's Jesse Jackson / CAIR for this outrage?" Dr. Shackleford asks basically the same question, and links a lot of other bloggers.

I don't know what Rev. Jackson has to say (if anything). CAIR (Council on American/Islamic Relations) is the frequent object of derision of Neal Boortz and conservative bloggers, so I know their reputation well. I remember a while back I heard a CAIR bigwig express frustration with these questions, because he said he does condemn violent acts by Muslims, but conservatives never notice or report it. Perhaps we're too busy being astounded that you spend your time nitpicking the Fox series 24.

But let's be as fair as possible. I checked out the CAIR web site, where I found a petition called "Not in the Name of Islam," where Muslims can assent to the following:

"We, the undersigned Muslims, wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent. No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam. We repudiate and dissociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him."

The bolded part is an interesting choice of words, because it goes to the core of what Boortz et al complain about: if you really frown upon terrorism, why don't you condemn those who hijack the faith? Well, at least in word, CAIR is doing just that. At least in word.

I also found a page of CAIR statements condemning terrorism.


Average Joe and his wife just had an enormous baby boy. May the baby quickly learn to sleep through the night.

Iran: Part II

Dave made some more extensive comments on the whole Iran thing. Like him, I'm assuming (for some reason) that the factual predicate of the article is sound, and then discussing the implications. But that assumption is not necessarily grounded in reality, so take that into consideration.

Dave takes issue with my post on one point:

"Where I disagree with my good friend is in his second point, where he writes 'a few well-placed cruise missiles could knock out military installations without unneccessary destruction.' I fear that the challenge is much greater."

And he later makes a point I should emphasize: "much depends on how you define 'victory.'" I didn't define "victory," so shame on me.

Under the circumstances, I'm not talking about the military conquest of Iran. My previous analysis assumed that we don't have the ground assets to make an invasion a good idea (and a few minutes looking at a map of Iran should shore up that assumption). When I refer to victory, I'm only talking about keeping the U.S. as safe as possible. We only care about Iran getting nukes because that threatens our safety and that of our allies. If that threat is neutralized, or even significantly delayed, then I'm willing to declare victory.

To that end, I hold to my theory that relies on "a few well-placed cruise missiles," because if gut their ability to project power, we give ourselves all the time in the world to prepare a more comprehensive strategy. That's why I think we should sink their navy: naval forces are a very effective means of projecting power. And when I refer to a few well-placed cruise missiles, I'm not talking about hitting their tanks, barracks, or even airfields. These are instruments for seizing and occupying land, not for the projection of power.

The most effective use of cruise missiles, then, is to target silos that house long-range ballistic missiles, and facilities for the development and storage of nuclear weapons. We stop Iran from getting the extra-territorial gimmes, and buy ourselves all the time we need.

It may be a happy result that popular revolt will ensue, and that moderate Iranians will take courage from the destruction of military forces in the hands of their oppressive government. That may be the case, but my theory doesn't rely on it, and is therefore more sound than a theory that relies on predictions of what the locals will do (always a tricky exercise in prognostication).

I concede to Dave's criticism that things are more complicated than I am making them out to be. First, there are political ramifications that I haven't even touched upon, let alone dealt with in the necessary depth. There must be some justifiable predicate to casually chucking explosives into a sovereign nation, and that predicate must be sufficiently hyped up by the Commander-in-Chief who wants to pull the trigger. That strikes me as unlikely.

Secondly, it's one thing to casually discuss hitting all the necessary targets to eliminate Iran's ability to project power, and another thing entirely to actually do such a thing. Of course, good intelligence is a necessary pre-requisite, and that's why I saw the previously-linked article as a positive thing.

Third, I didn't discuss the blowback from such an operation. Dave points out that any direct retaliation against U.S. forces will probably lead to Iran's sound and decisive defeat, but that the influx of Iranian hard-liners could tank Iraq's hopes for stability.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

US Conducting Secret Reconnaissance Missions in Iran

Good. For three reasons:

1. It means we might be serious about Iran, which is a country that we need to take seriously. Their aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons is only matched by European naivete' regarding their agressive pursuit of said weapons.

2. It means that if we do strike Iran, we will hopefully have good intel. Because I have no hatred for Iranians, I would only be happy with an operation that minimizes casualties on all sides, while effectively reducing Iran's capacity to wage war. A few well-placed cruise missiles could knock out military installations without unneccessary destruction, but only if we know where to put those missiles.

3. Iranians read American newspapers, so they know we are spying on them (assuming they didn't before). Sometimes the effect of a limited leak is immeasurably greater than keeping the information close. If we can spook the Iranian government into paranoid speculation about what we know, that gives us a powerful psychological weapon against them.

Iran has a proud history, magnificent culture, and a warm and friendly people. I wish them nothing but happiness, peace and freedom. I don't think they have peace or freedom as long as they live under their mullocracy, and for their benefit I hope things change for the better. I would prefer non-violent change, but sometimes that's simply not going to happen. I would also prefer change before the mad mullahs lobs a nuke somewhere.

Rwanda Loves the UN

Rwanda loves the UN

I went to see Hotel Rwanda yesterday. I do not only recommend it, I think it should be mandatory viewing. As we left the theater, my brother said, "that's the reason films were invented."

Dave did an excellent review, which I will link so I don't have to retread adequately-covered ground. Key quote:

"By far the most humiliating example of Western indifference occurs while Paul and others listen to the radio. The radio broadcasts an American press conference with then-Clinton spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers, who is painfully trying to parse the difference between "genocide" and "acts of genocide." By this point in the massacre, it's not just insulting to reality-- the semantics thousands of miles away mean little to the refugees in Paul's hotel. Either help arrives, and they live; or it does not, and they die."

You should also read the comments for See-Dubya's apt use of the phrase "cranio-rectal insertion."

There's an interesting phenomenon in the movie. At the end, the refugees are trying to get into territory controlled by rebel Tutsis (the majority Hutus started the massacre at the beginning of the genocide), and we all breathe a sigh of relief when we finally see the heavily-armed Tutsis. What the movie doesn't point out is that at the same time, in neighboring Burundi, the Tutsi majority was slaughtering the Hutus. The movie doesn't intentionally lionize or demonize either group, but it is strinkingly easy to walk out of the theater thinking "Hutus are bad, Tutsis are good." Both sides seem well-practiced with the use of machetes.

What is Going on Here?

The CNN Headline reads: "Israel orders crackdown; PLO calls for end to violence"

Well, Israel is no stranger to cracking down - usually in a very violent manner. Ariel Sharon was an effecgive (read: dead Palestinians) general before he was elected. And the PLO has certainly called for an end to the violence before (although it was hard to take such calls seriously, when the same people were stirring up violence in the very next breath).

What we have here is nevertheless a bit of a puzzler. "Moderate" leader Mahmoud Abbas was overwhelmingly elected to succeed Yasser Arafat last week. The next day (and without any provocation that I could detect), Israel deployed troops and made some aggressive statements. The Palestinian response - at least from the text of the linked article - was stunning: "The PLO's executive committee announced Sunday 'that the Palestinians are ready to carry out their obligations to stop violence against Israelis anywhere.'"

Is it all just blowing smoke? It certainly could be, although it doesn't quite seem to fall into the past history of peace gestures and threatenings. Palestinians usually react to Israeli crackdowns with fiery rhetoric, not peace overtures. And consider this:

"Erakat said Abbas, who also heads the PLO, planned a trip to Gaza on Wednesday 'in order to get all Palestinian factions to agree to this call.'"

Again, it is all I can do not to read this through the lenses of extreme skepticism, but apparently there's an undying optimist in me somewhere. No, I'm not optimistic that Abbas' trip will have the intended effect - that of Palestinian unification around a pledge to peace. I'm cautiously optimistic only that Abbas will be what he said he would be: a moderate.

My older brother bets five bucks there will be an explosion in connection with Wednesday's trip. Any takers?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Is Kennedy v. Holyfield in the Works?

I WANT HOLYFIELD! You pick the time, you pick the place! You're going down!

More Humor at Teddy's Expense (With More to Come)

Via Oriental Redneck.

Why Am I Finding Out About This AFTER Christmas?

"No one can be told what the PHENOM is... You have to experience it for yourself.


"This quick revving core design creates the defined breakpoint necessary for increased entry angle and pin carry."

Link here.

Update: Looks like Ted Kennedy found out about it before Christmas. I guess that's because he's a Senator.

"Yeah, baby, increased entry angle and pin carry."

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Dave, who is the Blogosphere's last bastion against the coming attack of Danes and monkeys, sounds the warning alarm again. In order to fully appreciate this post, you absoluetly must follow the link that says "Pet Monkey Info." Nothing here is for the faint of heart, but we must be forewarned.

Update: Dave may be the strangest person alive. Er, I mean, good work keeping an eye on those Danes, Dave!

Thomas Sowell to the Rescue

Thomas Sowell has a great piece that, unlike Kennedy's bloviating ramblings, you should actually read. It's about the art of disagreement.

"My assistant sorts the incoming mail into various categories, such as 'critical mail,' 'fan mail,' etc. But the so-called critical mail is seldom critical. It may be bombastic or vituperative or full of pop psychology, but it seldom presents a critical argument based on facts or logic."

I can't possibly add anything to Sowell's well-reasoned column, so instead I'll just say a few things about the ramifications of it. I know many liberals who can disagree without being disagreeable. Occasional contributor Average Joe (follow the link in my sidebar to his blog, Digressions from the Omniverse) assuredly disagrees with me on a lot of what I say, but he gets a link because he isn't disagreeable about it. He doesn't call me an idiot, racist, bloodthirsty war-monger (at least, not that I know of), he tells me why he disagrees. Then I respond. That kind of back and forth can create the most wonderful of intellectual excercises, and it is the very best of what blogging has to offer.

I also think there's a place where reason isn't the governing rule. Consider this post in which Ace makes fun of Michael Moore's weight. And you'll notice that his very first commenter states, "Your anti-Mooreism has has now reached ridiculous status. What does his weight have to do with his policitial leanings?"

Speaking of ridiculous status...

Look, I think everyone can agree that a man's weight has nothing to do with the persusiveness of his arguments. But (jeez, I hate having to point this out) Ace was making a joke. As in, hah hah, let's all laugh at Michael Moore, who is a worthy object of our ridicule anyway.

Time to Get My Fisk On

Ted Kennedy speaks; can the fiskings be far behind?

"Thank you, Sheila Cherry, for that gracious introduction and thank you to the Press Club for inviting me here today."

Kennedy then offered Ms. Cherry a ride home, to which Cherry enigmatically responded that she didn't have any scuba gear with her.

"These two young leaders have a passion for public service and a talent for inspiring others. After spending a few minutes with them, you'll be reassured that the nation's future is in good hands."

This is rich. One of the two young leaders Kennedy mentions is Andrew Gillum, who organized the Get Out the Vote effort in Florida. Given that Bush took Florida's 27 sweet, juicy electoral votes by 380,978 votes. If that is the future of the nation, it is indeed in very good hands. Just to emphasize, that's an even bigger margin than we saw in Ohio.

"2004 was nothing like that. It was more a replay of 2000. This time a switch of less than 60,000 votes in Ohio would've brought victory. Unlike 2000, it would've been a victory against an incumbent president in a time of war.
Small swings in other states could also have given Democrats control of the Senate or the House or even both. "

And calling for help could have saved Mary Jo Kopechne's life, but "coulda" doesn't change anything, does it you fat lush?

Still, your point is well taken, that the election was close in some states.

"I categorically reject the deceptive and dangerous claim that the outcome last November was somehow a sweeping or even a modest or even a miniature mandate for reactionary measures like privatizing Social Security... "

Heh. I wonder what Kennedy thought of Clinton's non-majoritarian 'mandate." But I suppose I can't disagree with the point that Bush has no mandate as regards Social Security privatization. Of course not. We didn't have record turn-outs because of Social Security, we had them because we are in the midst of two wars: the war on terror, and a cultural war.

But so what? Since when does a politician need an issue specific mandate to overhaul a failing system? No one will ever get a Social Security-based mandate, because the vast majority of voters will never get excited enough about it to swing a single-issue election. Does that mean it cannot be touched?

Social Security was not put into place by a president with an issue-specific mandate, so it may be changed by a president without an issue-specific mandate.

"... redistributing the tax burden in the wrong direction or packing the federal courts with reactionary judges."

Au contraire, monsieur. Remember those red state "values voters" that the media disparaged after their candidate lost? What do you think those values voters thought about reactionary judges? Bush has done a fine job of pissing off his base through his Medicare expansion (for which, incidentally, he had no mandate) or his liberal immigration policies, and it was conservative moves like tax cuts that kept that base from outright revolt. And that same base feared the idea of Kerry putting libs on the federal bench.

"Those proposals were barely mentioned or voted on in an election dominated by memories of 9/11, fear of terrorism, the quagmire in Iraq and relentlessly negative attacks on our presidential candidate."

*Snicker* Did Kennedy just mention attacks on Kerry? Heh.

"In truth, we do not shrink from that debate."

Unless you consider filibustering conservative judges to be shrinking from that debate. But other than that...

"Unlike the Republican Party, we believe our values unite us as Americans instead of dividing us."

If that's what you believe, Senator, then you are a fool. Your pro-choice values are deeply divisive. Perhaps your alcohol abuse has damaged your brain so much that you can't see that, but people have extremely strong views on abortion, and it is utter nonsense to suggest that fiercely-held pro-life views are more divisive than fiercely-held pro-choice views.

The same is true of gay marriage, of affirmative action, of anti-military policies, of the appeasement of terrorists, and of the treatment of detainees.

"If the White House idea of bipartisanship is that we have to buy whatever partisan ideas they send us, we are not interested."

I agree with that sentiment completely. Ted Kennedy doesn't have to bend to George W. Bush's ideas one whit. He doesn't have to compromise his views in any degree, and the White House cannot credibly call partisan legislation anything other than partisan.

But note that America sent a Republican to the White House, and sent more Republicans than Democrats to Congress. As a practical result, you may choose to be unyielding in your principles, but you won't get your way on anything at all. [In my best Scottish accent]: You don-a have the power!

"In fact, our values are still our greatest strength."

Other than the fact that you lost the election to "values voters." And the fact that your abortion values lead to millions of deaths every year. And that your gay marriage values rely on anti-democratic judges and mayors to get a foothold (because you could never get anywhere by relying on voters). But other than that, yeah, greatest strength. Sure.

"Despite resistance, setbacks and periods of backlash over the years, our values have moved us closer to the ideal with which America began, that all people are created equal."

Yeah, that's a good one. This from the party that embraces historians who argue that Washington, Madison and Jefferson were all a bunch of racist elitists. Right. Leftists believe that the only reason white people ever grant rights to minorities is because it coincides with some white goal. And yet here, during this talk, you lionize the men you would so quickly demonize.

"We have an administration that falsely hypes almost every issue as a crisis."

This, from the guy who just called Iraq another Vietnam? Wow.

"Today I propose a progressive vision for America; a vision that Democrats must fight for in the months and years ahead; a vision rooted in our basic values of opportunity, fairness, tolerance and respect for each other."

Stated in such broad terms, who could possibly disagree? The conflict isn't one of broadly stated vision, Senator, it's one of mechanics. So Democrats want racial justice (or at least claim to want it)? So do I, but we will disagree on the best means to get it. I believe affirmative action is a failure and counter-productive. You believe that rewarding people for their skin color rather than their ability equates to justice.

"Today, as we know too well, that dream is again in peril. The hopes of average Americans have faltered, as global forces cause the economy to shift against them."

Unless you consider unprecedented economic growth to be a shift in favor of them, in which case please disregard the preceding.

Okay, I'm spent. It's a long speech, and I don't have the stomach to read what the fat, white son of enormous privilege who has never worked a day in his life, and who was spared a negligent homicide prosecution because of family connections, has to say about justice. Apologize to the family of Mary Jo Kopechne and then maybe you can start to use the word "justice" again.

Success or Failure?

Neal Boortz is running a poll today that asks the question, "Do you think the war in Iraq has been a success or failure?" Right now 85% of his readers call it a success.

I voted in the "don't know" category. For the same reason, if someone asked me to determine whether a half-finished painting was any good, I would answer that I don't know. Look, the war in Iraq, as a military operation against Saddam's army, was flawless. It exceeded even optimistic expectations, and utterly humiliated the liberal critics who predicted tens of thousands of dead Americans. The war, as such, was a resounding success. There is no disputing that point.

But I think it is only fair to include reconstruction in "the war in Iraq," because we didn't go there to flatten their army. Success can only be measured according to the goal, no? And we went there to get rid of a terrorist regime for the purpose of establishing a beachhead in the Middle East to advance the War on Terror. Remember that Iraq was never the goal, only a waypoint on the path to a larger goal. Has that beachhead been established? It's entirely too early to tell. We won't know that until the Iraqis try their hand at Democracy.

Update: There is an article in the Wall Street Journal that points to the growth of markets in the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular:

"Yet definitive policies to normalize the Middle East have made regional and global market investors bullish, repatriated capital exported (or that had fled) from the region, and encouraged a sea change in foreign direct investment. The end of Saddam's regime sent a major, unconfused market signal after the West's years of disinterest in the Middle East as a Levantine backwater. Subsequently, every major capital market index in the Middle East has risen."

What's the Arab version of cowbell? Ululation, I suppose. LULULULULULULULULULULU!!!

Note that this doesn't change my analysis from before the update. This is information that makes me optimistic about ultimately achieving our goals in the War on Terror, but we still have a long way to go.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Surprise! Bush is Religious

Drudge is reporting an excerpt from a Washington Times interview with President Bush, in which he says, "I don't see how you can be president without a relationship with the Lord."

Neal Boortz expects the crap to hit the fan over that statement, and is quick to emphasize (as did Drudge) that the President also said, "I fully understand that the job of the president is and must always be protecting the great right of people to worship or not worship as they see fit."

Will the crap hit the fan? I don't see how it possibly could. This is not news, by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe I should check the Kos and Atrios types before making such a guess, but seriously, people have been objecting to this very same point for four years now. Why would their objections be any more prominent or vehement this time around?

But as long as I'm on the subject, I read a while back that someone counted the number of times Clinton mentioned God while speaking publicly, and compared it to Bush. It seems Clinton mentioned God more frequently than Bush, and (no one will be surprised) no one seemed to care. Why is that, do you suppose? Just another liberal double-standard? Maybe, but I think that what's more important is that no one ever took Clinton seriously. When Bush mentions God, everyone knows he's being serious. When Clinton mentioned God, everyone read it as political posturing, creating a persona.

The reason I think that's the dominant motivation is because I've seen it operating elsewhere. Consider this exchange on Instapundit from last October (scroll down to "still more"):

Andrew Sullivan writes: "The usually even-keeled Instapundit says that Kerry's 'position on gay marriage is the same as the President's.' I can't see how that's even remotely the case."
Well, it was
this Kerry statement that led to my conclusion:
"The president and I have the same position, fundamentally, on gay marriage. We do. Same position."
Call me crazy, but I took that to mean that they had the same position. Since it was a Kerry statement, I should have realized that I was probably missing out on a crucial nuance. My bad.

What's going on there? Andrew Sullivan has ears, doesn't he? Of course, but no one ever believed Kerry when he said it (and Instapundit is right to rib Kerry on that point), and so it made no difference. I think the exact same phenomenon is at play with Bush's religious life compared to that of Clinton.

Update: Dave has a post that proves Andrew Sullivan is determined to have a hissy fit at this statement in spite of the points I made (if he'd read my blog, it would save him a lot of trouble), and which also proves that Jonah Goldberg steals my ideas.

Math Geek Blogging

Ace has a post here about a probability-based riddle that has, as of this writing, generated 74 comments, some of them quite heated.

And another post here that has, as of this writing, generated 43 comments (with less arguing).

Given that, I've decided I need to change formats. There is absolutely nothing in this world so glorious as a knock-down, drag-out fight by math geeks over probability theory. If I can make that part of my blog, I will have arrived. The only trick is, I don't know any riddles that aren't painfully obvious, so ... um ... okay here's a good one:

What number am I thinking of? It's between one and 50.

Click here for a hint that only the geeks out there will get.

Also, Fat Kid has a link to a fun quiz. He got a 96% and I got a 93% so I'm never going to link him ever again. That'll teach you an important lesson.

Monday, January 10, 2005

UN Promises to Keep Close Eye on Tsunami Funds

The rest of the world heaves a big sigh of relief.

Better late than never, eh Kofi?

More enthusiastic UN supporters

These kids haven't been this excited since the UN successfully averted famine in Somalia

Lighten up, Jacques, I don't think they're serious. We're talking about the freakin' UN, here. It's just one of those things you say, like "no, that dress doesn't make you butt look big," or "sure boss, I'll get right on that."


Where on earth did this clown go to law school?

"A lawyer for Charles Graner, accused ringleader in the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal, on Monday compared piling naked prisoners into pyramids to cheerleader shows and said leashing inmates was also acceptable prisoner control."

Look, when the facts are undisputed the Defense needs to generate sympathy. You do that by telling a compelling story, explain how dangerous Iraq was, explain how frightened/frustrated/agitated/whatever the guard was. You try to get into the listener's head and make the listener start to wonder, "what would I have done in such a situation?" It worked extraordinarily well in the case of the Marine who shot a wounded Iraqi in a mosque, because any American with an empathetic bone in his or her body concluded that the self-protection impulse justified the actions.

Now compare that success with the instant case: what if I were a guard in Iraq, and I just had this desparate urge to help my prisoners act out their American cheerleader fantasies? That's not such a bad thing, is it? I'm not such a bad guy, just because I like to photograph hot man-on-man Iraqi naked cheerleading pictures, am I?

Now raise your hand if you sympathize. Anyone? Anyone?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

I'm Not Crazy!

This might be a little too esoteric for most of you, but here you go.

This is Kind of Creepy

I got an e-mail from WuzzaDem with a link to interesting quotes by retired military officers who oppose the approval of Alberto Gonzalez. It made me thank my lucky stars that they are retired military officers. Go take a look.

But that's not the creepy part. The creepy part is that he also sent this link, which purportedly deals with the Gonzalez issue but in fact does not. It's a series of letter which demonstrate that WuzzaDem is only slightly less organized than myself. The final letter is what really creeps me out:


Pull your head out! Even if Wile E. Coyote did manage to somehow buy the rocket-powered skates from Acme (and you still haven't explained where he'd get the money, and I'm not buying your "trust fund" theory), there is no way he could just hang in mid-air without falling for a full three seconds once he goes off a cliff..."

Now it's clear to me how WuzzaDem could figure out that I'm interested in the whole Gonzalez affair. What is less clear is how this person - who as far as I know I have never met - somehow knows that I have in the past engaged in long and detailed discussions of the philosophy of Wile E. Coyote cartoons.

We're through the looking glass, people...

New Attorney General

It is with a heavy heart that this blog must announce that it cannot endorse Alberto Gonzalez, President Bush's choice to replace John Ashcroft as U.S. Attorney General, after reading this story (via Drudge).

Sean Penn, referring to critics of his activism, said,

"I think they should shove it with their hypocritical Ronald Reagan standard right up their a**."

What does that have to do with Mr. Gonzalez? As a reporter, I have a duty to report this story with a screaming, exclamation point-laden headline which assaults conservatives in general. With Mr. Ashcroft - I think everyone at the Democratic Underground would agree with me - we had the perfect Attornery General, because the headline would read, simply, "More Crushing of Dissent in John AshKKKroft's AmeriKKKa!!!" Because Gonzalez doesn't have a hard "k" sound in his name, it is with regret that I must oppose his nomination.

And Sean Penn can go jump in a lake.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Saturday Morning Link Dump

You really should be reading Are You Conservative without my having to tell you, but in case you aren't, this one is especially good.

And for more information on the Alberto Gonzalez hearings in the Senate, which I have been largely ignoring, Liberal Larry does some first rate reporting. Key quote:

"'Ever enjoy a nice taco while you torture a prisoner, Pancho?' Sen. Robert Byrd grilled him."

Look for updates throughout the next few hours, while I look for new blogs to feature.

Update: I stumbled upon A Certain Slant of Light, and I was amused when in this post he sneers at the pretentiousness of celebrities becoming "affianced" instead of "engaged," and then I noticed he uses the word "postprandial" on his sidebar. Heh.

In this post, he takes issue with Walter Williams' claim that the U.S. was set up as more of a Republic than a Democracy.

"The thesis postulated by Messrs. Diamond, Fisk and Garfinkle is that the democratic elements of majoritarianism and strong centralized government are not irreconciable with the republican elements of checks and balances and limited, decentralized government. 'We argue that the American system is a novel experiment in reconciling the advantages of democracy with the sobering qualities of republicanism.'"

Certainly our Constitution is a mixture of approaches. But it might also be noted that any time Williams or anyone else refers to the "vision of the founders," you need to take what follows with a grain of salt. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were both founders, but their visions of American government were by no means the same.

Update: Ben needs to lay off the crazy pills. Seriously, I hear those can be bad for you. Unless you want to use evidence of crazy pill use to get out of jail.

Ben complains about Colorado drivers. I know a good solution for that. Move to Louisiana for about a month. Then move back to Colorado. You will notice that, quite miraculously, all the Colorado drivers have gotten better.

Note carefully that I said the Colorado drivers would get better. In Colorado there is a phenomenon known as the transitional California driver. Californians move to Colorado in large numbers and, naturally, have no experience driving in 20 feet of snow. But they see that all the Coloradans are still driving fast, so they think, "Hey, I can drive fast, too!" That, of course, is pure self-delusion. Now after a few years the Californians learn how to drive in snow, but there is a constant influx from California, so there is never any dearth of transitional California drivers. Sadly, Ben, not even moving to Louisiana can change that.

Update: Oh baby, gimme some of that sweet sugar!