Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Last Call for the Night

I'm all done blogging, but I won't be going to sleep. Instead, I plan on watching this over and over again.

Hamas Demands That Israel Change It's Flag

I didn't mention the story before, but D.C. Thornton has a link to a solution that should keep Israel and Hamas both happy.

It's all about finding middle ground, you know?

Democracy: A False Hope?

Battle-born Blogger Alexander Marriott wrote an essay criticizing Bush's Middle East democracy project in the wake of the Palestinian elections.

"Bush such naivete and false hope was dashed when the terrorist group Hamas won a fair and convincing victory in the January 25 Palestinian parliamentary election. Said election can now join its rightful place in the history of democracy's greatest and most appalling failures, along with Athens in the forced suicide of Socrates, Athens in the Peleponnesian War and the fall of the Weimar Republic in Germany in 1932-33."

I'm not quite sure why the Hamas victory was such a failure of democracy. The people knew what they were getting, and got what they wanted, didn't they? So what's the problem? And is the author seriously suggesting that it would be better to abandon democracy so that the enlightened elites can hand down their wisdom to the rest of us? I certainly hope not.

"What legitimacy is gained from getting a majority of voters to pass anything? If 70% of voters vote to ban gay marriage, does that make it right? If 51% of voters vote to ban smoking, does that make it right? If 99.99% vote to redistribute property, does that make it right? The answer to all of these is 'NO!' absolutely not. Truth isn't determined by how many adherents one can get to go along with you."

But this misstates the whole purpose of democracy. We do not embrace democracy as a means of truth, but as a means of governing by the consent of the governed. As long as the elections are free and fair, people pretty much get what they deserve. If Americans vote to ban gay marriage, even if gay marriage could be objectively demonstrated to be a positive benefit to society, then Americans would be worse off for their decision. But it would be their decision. You know what that means? It means we're free to choose our own fate, for good or for ill (or, as a practical matter, for some of each). Any attempt to deny us that freedom to choose, even when we choose "wrong," would be infinitely worse than anything Hamas ever could do to Palestine.

A Thought on the Passing of Coretta Scott King

I never listen to Rush Limbaugh (I'm at work while he broadcasts), but today I happened to be in the car for this segment:

"You know, Coretta Scott King died today. And there's all this coverage. I mean, I'm not critical of the coverage, but I just think it's ironic. I just think it's as hypocritical as can be because here's Coretta Scott King being lionized and deified practically today, but none, zilch, zero, nada of the reporting is mentioning who it was that wiretapped her husband, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., for the purposes of destroying his marriage. It was good old Bobby Kennedy. Party? Democrat. Year? Sixties. Same year that Democrats in the Senate are fighting the Civil Rights Act.

"So they're wiretapping Martin Luther King. They were spying, domestic spying, Bobby Kennedy, because the rumors were that Martin Luther King had mistresses all over the place and they wanted to find them, and they wanted to discredit Martin Luther King. The Kennedy administration, for the purposes of making it all public and destroying his marriage. Today, they lionize Coretta Scott King but leave out an interesting, I'd say 75%, of the story."

Seventy-five percent? I'd say that's a serious over-exaggeration. To suggest that a full seventy-five percent of the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife revolves around a (failed) attempt to discredit him through wiretapping is to do injustice to what King himself accomplished. After all, it's not what happens to a man that makes him great, but what a man makes happen.

But while I think the wiretapping is no more than an interesting footnote in the King story, it's at least 75% of the wiretapping scandal story. If the same Democrats* who are going ballistic about Bush's use of wiretaps to monitor phone calls made to or from suspected terrorists from numbers with known al-Qaeda links were called on their support for wiretaps to bring down a black man who fought for civil rights, maybe they'd realize how hypocritical they are.

Then again, maybe they wouldn't realize that.

*Another problem I have with Rush's observation is that the Democrats of the 60s aren't the same Democrats in power now. It's dishonest to simply claim that "Democrats back then opposed civil rights legislation," and thereby imply that modern Dems are racists, because America has seen major political upheavals since then.

Two Federal Courts Strike Down Partial Birth Abortion Bans

The 2d Circuit (covering New York, Vermont and Connecticut) and the 9th Circuit. They both struck it down because there was no exception for the life and health of the mother, so it the statute couldn't be saved by a narrower remedy.

Which, of course, sets us up for a Supreme Court battle. Roe v. Wade afficionados need not fear; even with Alito's confirmation today, conservatives don't have the votes to ban abortion outright. But as I've noted before, the narrow issue of partial birth abortion has come before the Supremes before (Stenberg v. Carhart, 2000). Justice Anthony Kennedy voted with the dissent in that one, to uphold the ban. If he sticks with his guns, then along with Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts, that's five, and a bare majority to overturn Stenberg. Which, as far as I'm concerned, would be a pretty great thing, as I've never read anything to suggest that partial birth abortion is ever medically necessary to protect the life or health of the mother, so such an exception is the height of ridiculousness.

But note that I said "if" Kennedy sticks to his guns. Kennedy has been trending left for some time now, and I suspect he'd really enjoy taking O'Connor's "swing vote" crown (as suggested in this MSNBC piece, which was mostly pap, but may be dead on about Kennedy).

Quick, Elect That Woman to the U.S. Senate!

Cindy Sheehan got arrested today, at the State of the Union address.

To her credit, I can't really say her immature stunt really puts her out of the same league as, say, Harry Reid. And she still has my complete support in her candidacy.

"Schneider said Sheehan had worn a T-shirt with an anti-war slogan to the speech and covered it up until she took her seat. Police warned her that such displays were not allowed, but she did not respond, the spokeswoman said."

Cindy Sheehan has a spokeswoman? Wow, I have to update my list of "world's crappiest jobs." I can't imagine having to stand in front of a camera and reporters and try to explain why my boss has permanently jettisoned all pretense of acting like she graduated from elementary school.

Sheehan was invited by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D - CA), who had this to say:

"'I'm proud that Cindy's my guest tonight,' Woolsey said in an interview before the speech."

Uh, yeah that would be before she got arrested.

"She has made a difference in the debate to bring our troops home from Iraq."

Not really a difference in the sense that the troops are, you know, home from Iraq, but more in the sense that ... uh ... give me a minute, here. I'm sure I can think of something. And I'm sure our soldiers really appreciate Cindy's bravely posing with Jesse Jackson in front of an army of reporters.

State of the Blog

Does this blogroll make my butt look big?

Other than that, I can't really complain.

Monday, January 30, 2006

One Last Post Before I'm Done for the Night

Cindy Sheehan needs your support. Seriously. This is one cause that conservatives and liberals can get behind.

Denmark Caves to Muslim Protestors

This is all over the blogosphere. A Danish newspaper carried several political cartoons depicting Muhammad in an unflattering light. Arabs went berserk and called for a boycott of all things Danish. The newspaper caved in. Dr. Rusty Shackleford has several posts on the subject (see here, here, here, here, here, and here; that first one has all of the offending pics).

Here's my take. I have nothing against a boycott, in principle. I disagree with the merits of this particular boycott, because I think Muslims need to suck it up, rather than focus their lives on living a hair-trigger away from murderous rage over the slightest offense. But regardless, I fully support their right to boycott.

What I do not support, and emphatically resist, is government squelching of free speech. And that's exactly what happened here. Muslims went to the UN for sanctions, attempting to use governmental (or rather, quasi-governmental) force to deny someone else's right to say something offensive. They're trying to get the Danish government to do the same thing.

Government is never an appropriate venue to squelch speech. If it is pernicious, then other options must be available, including boycotts, social outrage, and contrary speech.

What I find most ironic about this situation is that I'm willing to wager that the same Arabs who called for government intervention halting what they deemed offensive speech would be the first to take shelter under the First Amendment if they were in America, and someone told them to stop spreading a certain message.

Alito Filibuster Goes Down In Flames

By an overwhelming margin.

A few thoughts.

First, that means that absent a freak lightning strike, Alito's as good as confirmed, as he's got more than the 50 votes he needs. I think he will make a wonderful replacement for O'Connor. But then again, anyone who can flip a coin would be just as good as O'Connor, so that's not necessarily a huge honor.

Second, the filibuster attempt was doomed from the get-go. When even Harry Reid and Turban Durbin are calling it a lost cause, it's a lost cause. That means the ditch-effort by Kerry and Kennedy could have only served one purpose -- to shore up street cred amongst the insane left (i.e. most of their base). Not that the transparency of his ham-fisted political maneuver will make any kind of a difference.

Third, a respectable number of Senators plan on voting no to Alito, but don't support the filibuster. I guess there's some kind of meaning to the phrase "extreme circumstances" still. Or rather, there's some respect for the sense that the President gets to pick the judges, and the Senate should only shoot them down for serious reasons. And failure to vociefrously defend "rights" invented by previous Justices is not a serious reason.

Finally, I just got off the phone with Alito, who gave me permission to tell you all that the moment he is confirmed, he plans to moon Kerry and Kennedy and loudly tell all those assembled that he plans on killing Roe v. Wade, writing the Equal Protection Clause out of existence, reviving slavery, requiring that Genesis 1-2 be taught instead of science classes, and granting George W. Bush the title of "King, Lord Protector, and Defender of the Faith." Good on ya.

Iran to Face UN Scrutiny

But if it's anything like the "scrutiny" they gave Kofi Annan and his son Kojo, I can't imagine Iran's sweatin' it much.

What a fundamentally useless institution. Let's take a closer look:

"China and Russia, longtime allies and trading partners of Iran, signed on to a statement that calls on the U.N. nuclear watchdog to transfer the Iran dossier to the Security Council, which could impose sanctions or take other harsh action."


"Foreign ministers from those nations, plus the United States, Britain and France, also said the Security Council should wait until March to take up the Iran case..."

'Cause, you know, it's not like we're in a hurry or anything. I guess February is too booked up with taking bribes and raping Congolese teen-agers to get around to actually investigating psychotic regimes that may be close to nuclear warhead technology.

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other foreign ministers discussed Iran at a private dinner at the home of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. After the four-hour meeting, which spilled over into the early hours Tuesday, a joint statement called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to report the Iran case when it meets in Vienna on Thursday."

How many hours could it possibly take to determine that Iran needs to be sanctioned back into the Stone Age (which, for Iran, isn't that far of a trip, I suppose).

"Foreign ministers from Germany and the European Union also attended the dinner and agreed to what amounted to a compromise..."

Apparently they were haggling over how many Jews would have to be turned into radioactive smoke before the UN would be forced to "condemn Iran's actions in the strongest possible terms." France was holding out for "all of them," but Condi talked them down to "as many as Germay can stuff into an oven." Future talks have been scheduled to determine what kind of oven. Oh wait, here are the actual terms of the compromise:

"... take the case to the Security Council but allow a short breather before the council must undertake what could be a divisive debate."

Ah, a breather. See, that's why I'm not a professional diplomat. It never would have occurred to me to actually consider the needs of the Council, which will be so winded by the Herculean task of signing a document that it will need to break for tea and raping Thai hookers.

"The group agreed that the IAEA 'should report to the Security Council its decision on the steps required of Iran, and should also report to the Security Council all IAEA reports as resolutions as adopted relating to this issue,' a statement from the group said."

I could just save them all some trouble and tell the SC what the IAEA report will say, in handy bullet-point format:

* Iran should be "strongly warned" against blowing up too many more Jews
* Hey, remember that time we filmed ourselves raping Congolese hookers? Good times, man
* Maybe if we give Iran a bunch of nuclear warheads, they'll stop pursuing nuclear technology
* Russia should not be prevented from interfering with the sanctions process by selling missile technology to the Iranians
* Persian chicks are way hot; get a few bottles of peach Schnapps in 'em and they get all kinds of freak nasty. Before we strangle them just to feel the death rattle in our hands
* Seriously, if Iran nukes another Israeli city, we're going to be all kinds of angry. Well, not "retaliate" angry, but all other kinds of angry
* Okay, that nuke almost killed some Palestinians, too. What's wrong with you people?

"The IAEA has already found Iran in violation of nuclear obligations and issued a stern warning to Tehran in September. Thursday's vote would be the next step, one long sought by the United States." (emphasis added).

Yeah, and you guys thought I was joking about the UN being totally useless.

"Iran insists its nuclear program is intended only to produce electricity."

Which, given that they insist that Jews are filthy sons of pigs and monkeys who God wants to die in a fiery apocalypse, my spidey-sense tells me maybe I shouldn't take that at face value.

"The United States and some allies say Iran is hiding ambitions to build a nuclear bomb, but the Security Council members have been divided aout how strong a line to take."

U.S. - "I say we prevent them from blowing up the Jews."
Germany - "Well, how many Jews are we talking about here? I mean, let's not do anything crazy."
France - "Hey, are there any more hookers? I'm almost out."

"It is still not clear how Russia and China would vote if the questions of sanctions came before the Security Council. It is also not clear that the United States will win the broad international consensus it seeks when the IAEA votes."

Yeah. It's also "not clear" whether Ted Kennedy will spend most of next week passed out in a dumpster behind Hooters. But we can make an educated guess.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

So That's How They Do Things in Idaho

Via Retired Geezer, who will probably deny that this happened in Idaho.


How to Poison Your Own Well

Yesterday, while reading through the comments section at DailyKos (and laughing my butt off about their Alito filibuster argument), I chanced upon this post, purporting to reveal yet more cronyism in the Bush White House in connection with the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB).

The gist of the article, for those of you disinclined to click through (and I understand completely), is that the PFIAB is supposed to provide expert, non-partisan legal advise on foreign intelligence operations, but that a list of current members of that board suggests it is staffed by Bush groupies rather than experts or non-partisans (e.g. Pete Wilson, former GOP Senator and governor; Cresencio Arcos, AT&T executive and former ambassador).

The problem, here, is that this information is coming from the Daily Kos, who has managed the unenviable feat of poisoning his own well. "Poisoning the well" is a logical fallacy, a for of ad hominem attack, in which one person pre-emptively attacks the credibility of another so that the following discussion cannot possibly be expected to be balanced. One example would be, in a Presidential debate between George W. Bush and John Kerry, for Bush to start out by reminding the audience that Kerry faked his way through three purple hearts and then ran for election on a "military hero" platform. While true, such a statement is wholly irrelevant to any substantive issue (like Social Security, abortion, judges, Medicare/Medicaid, foreign policy, etc.) and designed only to discredit.

As I said, Kos has managed to poison his own well. It is true that the shrieking hystrionics over at Kos have little to do with the substantive merit of any of his claims. In fact, everything he says or insinuates about the PFIAB and cronyism may in fact be true. The problem is that, because the information comes from the shrieking, hystrionic Kos, I'm completely and utterly disinclined to care, let alone find out. He's so discredited himself in the eyes of all but the insanest of the insane that rational discourse is basically impossible.

In such a case, the only thing left to do is read through his comments section, laughing at the frenzied comments in the wake of John Kerry's filibuster.

Friday, January 27, 2006

New Caption Contest

Over at The Man's place. Check it out.



Thursday, January 26, 2006

Alito Gets Filibustered

John Kerry announced it today: he's going to filibuster Sam Alito, and it looks like Kennedy is on board, as well.

Of course, he has to realize he doesn't have the votes. Three Democrats (Nelson, Byrd and Johnson) have already announced they're voting for him, and several others (including Harry Reid) have said they won't support a filibuster. So what explains Kerry's move?

The answer, obviously, is politics. If it were a matter of principle, Kerry would have announced his decision before the outcome were certain, thus making it more likely that the filibuster would succeed. The only thing to be gained by a filibuster at this point is a soundbite that Kerry can use to court votes and dollars from the insane far-Left, and he seems hell-bent on getting that soundbite. Well, I certainly don't have anything against Kerry shamelessly pandering for the crazy-vote on national television, while trumpeting a lost cause. It won't slow down the nomination at all, and it alienates him (and his ideological chums) further from the vast majority of Americans who want Alito confirmed. Also, it get the Daily Kos crew whipped up into a psychotic frenzy, which is always exciting.



France is still largely populated by cowards and socialists with no sense of history and an apparently unlimited capacity for snobbery, pretentiousness, and arrogance unjustifiable by any discernable criteria.

Some of you may be wondering why this is such a revelation; after all, haven't the French been a bunch of preening surrender-monkeys for as long as living memory? Yes, yes they have.

It's just that, apparently, the manifestly obvious still somehow manages to shock large segments of the population, so I thought I'd mention it. Also from the "Shocking News" file, Palestinians stunned the world by electing a terrorist organization to lead them. Incidentally, I cannot urge you too strongly to click that link, if only to read the headline. Proves my point nicely.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Breakfast of Champions

So I woke up this morning, and thought "that's odd, usually I wake up because my kids wake me up. I wonder why I don't hear either of them." I get out of bed, go to the boys' room, and there's my younger son sitting in his crib, content as can be, just hangin' out. No sign of his older brother.

So I pick up #2 and bring him to my wife, still in bed, and go off to track down #1. Now you have to realize that #1 long ago figured out how to drag the chairs in the kitchen to wherever he needs to go. He's done that this morning, pulling it to the counter next to the stove. He pulled it there because he knows his parents, in a desparate gambit, have "hid" the box of cookies in the cabinets above the stove, the highest cabinets in the kitchen.

Some of you may know where I'm going with this.

So kidd-o has, indeed, procured said box. The cookies are a health-food version of Oreos from Trader Joe's. He took ten of the cookies, twisted them open, scraped the gooey, chocolately inside out, and abandoned the hard edges.


After that, he wasn't the least bit interested in eating anything of substance, so that was the extent of his breakfast. Oh, and since the wife was still in bed at that time, I got to clean the sticky mess off little fingers, red smiling cheeks, and countertop.

There's an epilogue to this story. And not just the epilogue that involved kidd-o bouncing off the walls all day while I was at work. When I got home, kidd-o insisted I sit down with him and watch a movie. Maybe twenty minutes into it, I realize he's crying. So I pick him up and hug him, and pat him on the back, and tell him it will be okay. I didn't think the movie was very disturbing, so the reaction was a little ... oh wait, oh crap, he just threw up all over me. And all over the bedspread. And all over the carpet on the frantic trip to the bathroom. And all over the floormat in the bathroom on the way too the toilet. Not to mention all over my and his clothes. Almost everywhere, in fact, except for in the toilet itself.

So in retrospect, cleaning up the cookie mess wasn't really all that bad, now was it?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Hoax Hits the Blogosphere

I've seen a bunch of blogs, mostly conservative ones, falling for fake news reports that Canada just voted in a conservative prime minister. The obvious tip-off was the implication, in said news reports, that Canada has, like, an actual government, instead of whatever fakey-pretend thing they use to pretend they're a real country.

I mean, I expect someone like Slublog (guest-posting at Ace's) to botch this story, but Powerline? Come on, guys...

Condi Rice Kicks Butt at State

The New York Post has a story on Condi's proposed house-cleaning for the State Department. Registration required, so you might just want to read Vodka Pundit, who posts some of the bullet points. Here's an exerpt from Stephen Green's exerpt:

"* Crucially, Condi named China, India, South Africa and Brazil as countries of the future while declaring that an initial 100 diplomatic slots would migrate from Europe immediately to countries that actually matter. More reassignments will follow, with even Moscow demoted to the international enlisted ranks — while Indonesia gets promoted (Double ouch!)."

It's nice to see some real initiative here, and one more reason (other than black leather boots, JeffH) to wish Condi would run for Pres. Check that -- we ought to see whether she has the talent to put good ideas into practice, first. But she's showing some initiative.

My immediate concerns with this story are three-fold. First, Stephen asks the right question: "The question is: 'Can she go far enough in the next three years, that her immediate successor can't immediately undo all her changes?'" So we've got the problem of the successor. The second problem is inertia even during her three years. Moving bureaucracy is a bit like moving Michael Moore out of the ice cream line at the Old Country Buffet -- technically possible, but it usually requires controlled explosions. Third, I wonder if Condi-mania could possibly sweep into other government departments. I'd be interested to hear Dave's thoughts on whether DoD can be cleaned up, and if so, how he would go about it.

Update: I guess Condi isn't the only government-type that JeffH spends his time ogling...

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever that you should click that link. The future of the Republic may depend on it.

On the Present and Future of Realpolitik

I agreed with most of this post, but I think Jeff is a little off when he says:

"The days of measured responses and Realpolitik are over."

No, Realpolitik is alive and well. North Korea is a nuclear power run by a psychotic fool who doesn't blink an eye at the deaths of millions of his own people, and missile capability to hit our allies. Why haven't we done something about it? Because of logistics, lack of popular support at home, and the incredibly tricky China question. But for the immediate future, it's more China's problem than ours, so we can sit on it. Iran is almost nuclear, and run by lunatics who think God wants them to nuke Israel. Why haven't we done anything about it? Well, we might be on the verge of doing just that, but in the mean time, we've got logistics, popular/international support problems, the hope that maybe Israel will make our problem go away. Realpolitik.

Administration critics frequently cry "hypocrisy!" when Bush-supporters point to Saddam's human rights record as an excuse to invade Iraq. "Look at all the other places we haven't invaded!!! That's conclusive proof that it's all about the ooooooiiiiiiiilll!" The response is that America can't possibly invade every nation that is run by a brutal dictator. So that gives us a couple of options: (1) we can choose to invade none of them, because we can't invade all of them, (2) we can invade them one at a time, in a completely random fashion, or (3) we can invade those nations that, by deposing genocidal dictators, also gives our nation some advantage.

The third option is unquestionably the most attractive, although you'll never get a Lefty to agree.

But that option also pre-supposes a healthy dose of Realpolitik. America has done nothing about the on-going tragedy in Sudan. But while it would be nice if we could, invading Sudan would give us no benefits, would be extremely difficult, and would more or less committ U.S. troops on the basis of whatever blood-letting CNN decides to feature most prominently. So why invade? Doesn't it make much more sense to topple someone like Saddam, where we stand some sort of chance of seeing positive benefits accrue as a result? So sure, maybe by invading Iraq, we may secure a source of oil (Note: I've never seen a Lefty willing to drill ANWR in exchange for leaving Iraq), but that's a reason to invade, not a reason to ignore it. And we have already seen the benefits accruing, in Lebanese freedom and democracy, an increasingly unstable Syria, Iraqi Kurds willing to let Israel use airbases for possible Iran strikes, and an increasingly cooperative Libya (to name a few), in addition to the simple fact that millions of Iraqis (and let's not forget the Afghans) now know what it's like to vote.

Jeff may be right that the days of Clinton-esque "measured responses" are over, but Realpolitik is alive and well, as it should be.

Wisdom from W.H. Auden

I just finished The Once and Future King, which is a remarkable book in a lot of ways, and a mighty quick read (in spite of its 640 pages). I highly recommend it.

Now I'm on to W.H. Auden's Collected Poems. From his "Letter to Lord Byron," (July-October, 1936) comes this prescient passage:

"The Higher Mind's outgrowing the Barbarian,
It's hardly thought hygenic now to kiss;
The world is surely turning vegetarian;
As it grows too sensitive for this,
It won't be long before we find there is
A Society of Everybody's Aunts
For the Prevention of Cruelty to Plants."

And I also like this couplet, from the same poem:

"All the ideals in the world won't feed us
Although they give our crimes a certain air."

For the Sake of Consistency ...

... I should point out that this is really, really stupid.

Harry Reid was slammed yesterday for racial insensitivity to Italian-Americans. His crime? This statement:

"Having [Pennsylvania] Senator [Rick] Santorum talk about [ethics] reform is like having John Gotti talk about doing something about organized crime."

Well, it's a stupid thing for Reid to say, sure, but that does not justify the reaction:

"'Senator Reid's callous comment is shocking, unjust and inappropriate since it invokes the specter of organized crime in a criticism of an Italian-American,' foundation president Louis Tallarini said."

If identity politics used by Dems as a bludgeon to attack Republicans is ridiculous, it becomes no less ridiculous when used against Dems, even if I sometimes take a certain measure of satisfaction in watching Dems with the tables turned (for example, the hit Hillary took after telling an African-American group that Congress is run like a plantation).

Update: By request, this post at Protein Wisdom provides some good analysis into the Hillary! plantation fiasco. Long, but worth the read.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Congratulations to Sobek's Sister

Good to see she's finally taking seriously her obligation to give my dad male grandchildren. Baby Noah is cute as a button, and it looks like his older sister isn't trying to kill him.


But you see the look in her eyes.

Seriously, I Should Be Getting Federal Subsidies to Make Kids This Cute

For my dad, to keep him from griping about me not posting enough pics of the kidd-os. (Click the pic to enlarge)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Osama bin Laden Recommends Book by American Leftist

Allah's got the scoop.

"In an Arabic transcription of the entire tape on the Al-Jazeera Web site — but not aired — bin Laden ... tells Americans that 'if you are sincere in your desire for peace and security, and if Bush refuses to do anything but continue lies and oppression,' then he recommends Americans read a book entitled 'The Rogue State,' apparently a reference to a book of that title by political analyst William Blum. The book has been published in Arabic. In its introduction, it states: 'If I were president, I would stop the attacks on the United States: First I would give an apology to all the widows and orphans and those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended,' he said."

I bet Bloom is thrilled. Check Allah's for a hilarious list of testimonials by other American Lefties about how good the book is.

Meanwhile, note that Allah's not giving us the whole story. bin Laden reportedly recommended some other books that he thought were worth reading:

1. Old Yeller. He still cries at the end, every single time.
2. Heather Has Two Mommies. Because wow, that's hot!
3. Where's Waldo? It's actually more of a technical manual than most people realize.
4. A Clockwork Orange. Just like occasional SobekPundit commenter Enas Yorl, Osama once went three weeks speaking nothing but Nadsat.
5. Kublai Khan. I mean, he does live in the opium capital of the world, so I guess this makes pretty good sense.
6. The Idiot's Guide to HTML. In case that whole world-wide jihad thing doesn't work out, it's good to have something to fall back on, and IT guys are always in demand.
7. Of Mice and Men. See Old Yeller, above.
8. Plato's Republic. Get it? Plato? It sounds like "Play-Doh." Ha! Good times, man, good times.
9. The liner notes to the Britney Spears album "Oops! I Did it Again." Look say what you will, but that vile infidel writes some powerful stuff.
10. The New York Times. Duh.

One Possible Interpretation of Osama bin Laden's Latest Communication: A Visual Metaphor


So, is it just a coincidence that Osama bin Laden is asking for a truce a week after air strikes killed his master bomb maker?

I didn't think so either.

Also, I think it's interesting that the article, linked above, mentions the truce in the lead paragraph. In this article, you have to read to the thirteenth paragraph. Not that there's an media bias or anything...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Dave from Garfield Ridge Owes us All an Apology

Yeah, we all assumed that if Dave ever started up a web site other than his blog, he'd tell us, right? Shows what we know.

Liberal Larry Needs a Fisking

I generally have a lot of respect for Liberal Larry, Professym of Midget Studies at some college in Seattle whose name escapes me. But it's more a grudging respect for his formidable academic prowess than any agreement with his substantive views. His latest post especially got my blood boiling, and I think it's about time I let him know what I think.

"In a week full of profound speeches by patriotic progressives, President Al Gore’s stood head and shoulders above the rest. The right-wing dominated media will, of course, attempt to make him look like a raving lunatic by printing everything he said word-for word."

Shut up you dirty, stinking hippy! Why don't you take a shower?

"They pulled the same trick on Howard Dean. So it’s important that unbiased and objective pundits such as myself set the record straight."

Oh yeah? Well YOU SUCK.

"Al Gore’s powerful oratory Monday was not only a testament to the skills of his lesbian manliness coach, but a righteous roar of rage against Bush’s wholesale destruction of our most fundamental civil liberties. For the past six years, Gore has sat quietly by while Republicans furiously chipped away at the Bill of Rights. However, the news of Bush’s domestic spying program was the last straw, and as a patriotic American War Hero he was duty bound to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough!'."

I cannot express how much I'm looking forward to the day when, my Christian God willing, commies like you are hunted for sport. If James Madison had known there would be people like you 200 years later, he would have written several express, profanity-laden exceptions into the Bill of Rights. And I think we can all agree that the Bill of Rights would earn more respect for flagrant use (and misuse) of the word "c*cksucker." With lots of exclamation points.

"Bush continues to deny that he has done anything wrong and insists that he will only eavesdrop on the telephone conversations of people who are 'a threat to national security'. But that could describe just about any liberal Democrat in Congress. Does Sen. Kennedy deserve to have his phone sex interrupted for the sake of Bush's war on terror? And what of the thousands of legitimate calls to and from terrorists every day? What if you or I were to simply dial Osama Bin Laden’s number at Crawford by mistake? Does that make us terrorists? Does that negate our rights as American citizens?"

The Second Amendment, for example, is waaay too stuffy and technical. I think Madison would have preferred (and certainly he intended) for it to read something closer to "Ted Kennedy is a flaming douchebag who needs to be shot. Repeatedly, but never fatally." Yeah, now that's an Amendment, baby!

"Al Gore doesn’t think so."

Speaking of Kennedy, how is that fat sack of fat even still alive? My understanding of physics may be a little shaky, but I thought once his sodden liver attained a certain mass, it would collapse in on itself, possibly tearing the fabric of time and space in the process.

"Bush also claims that his new American Police State is for our own protection. He insists that spying on terrorists may actually prevent another attack on our soil. Maybe so. But at what cost? What good are a few American lives if they are saved at the expense of our most precious civil liberties? The right to carry box cutters onto planes. The right to leak classified information to the New York Times. The right to make long distance phone calls to Al Qaida. All sacrificed in the name of national defense."

And I'll bet Bill Clinton knows how to put a few brewskies away. And that's not just a comment on his girth, either. I don't drink, but if I were married to that shrewish harpy of a "wife," I'd start right quick. I might even skip the booze and head straight for the crack, hoping against hope that each hit would be my last. Honestly, when humiliating oral sex from a fatty, as the lead story in every newspaper in the world, is actually less soul-crushing than daily existence with Hillary! even crack might not take the edge off. Maybe crack laced generously with battery acid and grape Kool-Aid...

"Thousands willingly gave their lives to secure us such cherished freedoms. If a few thousand more must die to maintain them, then that’s a price Al Gore is perfectly willing to pay."

I actually feel kind of bad for the guy, really. But what's Daschle's excuse? First he gets drummed out of the Senate when voters realize he's not only an obstructionist crap-weasel, but an ineffective obstructionist crap-weasel, and then he actually says -- in public -- that he's considering a run for President? What part of "even your fellow South Dakotans don't like you, let alone citizens of real states" don't you understand? And for the life of me, I will never understand why Harry Reid of all people watched Daschle crash and burn and thought to himself, "you know, that seems like a pretty good political model." Unless he's a Karl Rove plant, which would explain a lot.

Anyway, I hope Liberal Larry has learned an important lesson, here.

Ask Sobek

A reader writes: "Dear Sobek, is there an on-line, Egypt-themed game I can play to while away the hours of my meaningless existence when you aren't posting? Sincerely, Seneb Khufru."

As a matter of fact, Seneb Khufru, there is.


He who lives by the bomb, dies by the bomb (cruise missile, whatever). Pakistan named three jihadis killed in a U.S. airstrike last week.

One of the dead was Abdul Rehman Al-Misri al Maghribi, a name which means "slave of the Merciful, the Egyptian, the Moroccan." I'm actually not sure what to do with the fact that he has two nationalities in his name -- is he an Egyptian, or a Moroccan? You see, this is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.

At any rate, one thing I'm sure of is that happy jihadi's gonna sleep well tonight:


A Pair of Abortion Stories

From this morning, the Supreme Court basically punted on an abortion case. In a 9-0 decision by O'Connor, the Court reversed a 1st Circuit ruling forbidding the enforcement of a parental-notification law. Basically, New Hampshire passed a law requiring minor girls to tell their parents before getting an abortion. The trial judge said the whole law was unconstitutional, and the First Circuit agreed.

The Supremes said the trial judge painted with too broad a brush. The statute might be unconstitutional in case of medical emergency (I don't know how many teen-age girls really have medical emergencies such that they absolutely cannot tell their parents 48 hours before an abortion, but we'll let that pass for now), but that doesn't necessarily make the whole statute unconstitutional. The Supremes sent the case back for reconsideration.

While this is a "punt," it's interesting for a few reasons. First of all, this was a unanimous opinion. That means flaming ultra-liberals Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter today voted that a parental notification law might, in some circumstances, be constitutional. Well, sorta. What it really looks like is that the Nine decided to agree to kick this one back, and take it on later. Ace speculated that maybe it was so O'Connor's replacement could be in on the voting, rather than O'Connor the short-timer. Maybe, although the prospect of completely screwing up the law has never stopped Sandra Day before.

So that's from this morning. This evening, MSNBC posted this story: Crucial abortion battles expected on state level.

"While the national abortion debate is now focused on the Supreme Court, both sides expect crucial battles to unfold this year on the state level."

Of course, every Supreme Court abortion case inevitably starts either at the state level, or in Congress. Roe v. Wade was two cases challenging Texas and Georgia statutes, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey was a case involving a challenge to a Pennsylvania statute. So really, nothing about this article is a shock at all. Sine Roe and before that, states have been passing statutes to ban, restrict, or otherwise regulate abortion. Some laws get struck down, some get upheld. That's the way it's been forever.

That said, it seems like there's been a recent uptick, either in legislative attempts to curb abortion, or in reporting about it. The latter is a very realistic possibility, given that first Roberts and now Alito went through the confirmation process, and liberal outlets like MSNBC need to scare up the opposition.

"Lawmakers in two states are proposing broad abortion bans they hope will eventually win approval from a reconfigured, more conservative high court. Legislators elsewhere are seeking to tighten a range of abortion restrictions; one leading liberal advocacy group gave 19 states a failing grade on reproductive rights in a national status report issued Wednesday."

That's probably an over-optimistic assessment. Roberts cannot possibly be more conservative than his predecessor, Rehnquist, so his nomination is a wash. And Alito could be more conservative than wishy-washy O'Connor, but that only puts the Court at 4 of 9 in the reliably-conservative column. With three justices (Ginsburg, Souter and Breyer) guaranteed to vote against abortion restrictions, that leaves Kennedy and Stevens. A little while back I wrote that Alito may not be enough to shoot down Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but that he might be enough to get Stenberg v. Carhart, a 2000 case that notoriously struck down a partial-birth abortion ban as unconstitutional. But I'm not sure even of that. Kennedy dissented in Stenberg, so I orginally thought he might be persuaded to side with Alito et al. But now I'm not so sure, because Kennedy has been trending leftward, and he might vote to uphold Stenberg on stare decisis grounds alone.

At any rate, the "conservative trend" may or may not materialize, so it remains to be seen whether states will be able to clamp down on abortions.

"'It’s a picking away at our freedom and privacy, legislature by legislature, law by law, with the ultimate goal of overturning Roe v. Wade,' said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America."

Arguably better than picking away at human fetuses, little by little, until their dismembered remains are collected in a trash can and thrown into the back alley. What Keenan doesn't seem to realize (or acknowledge, anyway) is that if state legislatures are doing this, it's because that's what Americans want their elected representatives to do. Hey, I want this country to turn into a jack-booted theocracy as much as the next psychotic conservative, but we have not yet abolished the right to vote, so any time the liberals want to do something about the erosion of Roe, all they have to do is start winning elections.


(Oh, and tangentially-related to that last point, I've been quietly chuckling almost constantly since I read this).

"Among the states getting F’s in NARAL’s report are Indiana and Ohio, where conservative lawmakers are introducing bills to ban abortion outright. They hope their measures become law and then face legal challenges that lead to a Supreme Court reconsideration of the 1973 Roe ruling that established abortion rights nationwide."

Just as a matter of strategy, I think Indiana and Ohio are jumping the gun. John Paul Stevens may be on death's door, but he hasn't walked through yet, and until he does, President Bush does not get to pick another associate justice. That means a challenge to the Indiana and Ohio schemes could very well end up with even more precedent upholding Roe v. Wade, and one more reason to keep upholding it (under the John Roberts theory that the more a case is upheld, the harder it is to overturn it).

"'It is time to return the abortion issue to the states,' said Mark Harrington, executive director of the Center for Bio Ethical Reform Midwest and a supporter of the proposed Ohio ban."

Maybe, and maybe not. On the one hand, the Constitution nowhere refers to abortion, or to a privacy right that supposedly undergirds abortion rights, which -- federalism principles suggest -- means it's a state issue. On the other hand, if the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause (the one that says you can't be deprived of "life, liberty or property" yadda yadda) is read to cover, you know, human babies and such, then it's not a state's rights issue at all, but a matter of the Constitution protecting those least capable of protecting themselves.

Roe violates both of those premises, and needs to be overturned on either one. But that doesn't mean there isn't a real debate to be had over which of the two options is constitutionally correct.

A while back, on Are You Conservative?, a liberal commenter attacked Mrs. R for wanting to shut down abortion debate by overturning Roe. I responded that Roe was the ultimate example of the Supreme Court telling America "no, you are not allowed to debate this. You are not allowed to discuss it at all, because we've decided what's right for all fifty states. No state has anything to add after we're done." I find that the basest tyranny, made only marginally more so because of the blood-soaked aftermath. America did not fight against the English monarch only to end up with a kingdom in the judicial branch, five of nine tyrants whose unassailable whim is law, with no constitutional restraints upon them.

Now the states are writing laws that challenge the very fabric of Roe, and I say it's about time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I just wanted to point out that driving has been so much more enjoyable since I had those tire slashers installed.

Roberts Gets it Wrong

Good news and bad news about the new Chief Justice.

The Bad: He, Scalia and Thomas dissented in today's decision in Gonzales v. Oregon, a case challenging Oregon's Death With Dignity Act. The majority held that the Controlled Substances Act does not pre-empt states from enacting legislation such as Oregon's, while the Court's three conservatives disagreed.

Roberts didn't write his own dissent -- he just signed on to Scalia's -- but I single him out because even though Scalia and Thomas screw up occasionally, they are reliably conservative, and the big question is how Roberts will turn out.

I actually don't support Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law. I think it's a bad law, and there's no way I would have voted for it. That said, a majority of Oregon voters disagreed with me. Twice. The only question, after the people have expressed their will, is whether something in the federal Constitution prevents that will from taking effect. As the Constitution is silent on the question of physician-assisted suicide, I think that leaves the matter firmly in the hands of Oregon voters.

The Constitution was not actually at issue in Gonzales v. Oregon. That's because it was freshly established, in Gonzales v. Raich, that (contrary to common sense) Congress somehow has power under the interstate commerce clause to outlaw drugs. So the question in Oregon was whether the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was broad enough to cover physician-assisted suicide. As the statute was intended to criminalize drug abuse and trafficking, rather than the knotty question of government power vs. a right to die, I think the question is a simple one. Congress hasn't spoken, so there's no pre-emption, so the state can do whatever it wants.

The basis of Scalia's dissent was that Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Alberto Gonzales after him, promulgated regulations saying that the CSA does cover physician-assisted suicide. Scalia argued, for technical reasons I won't get into here, that Ashcroft's regulations should be given deference by the courts. His is not an unreasonable argument, but I didn't find it convincing. That's the one Roberts signed.

Thomas dissented separately, and noted that in Gonzales v. Raich, the Court had to interpret the CSA very broadly to cover marijuana grown, prescribed and consumed locally. He then complained that the Court essentially back-tracked on Raich when it decided to read the CSA narrowly for purposes of this case. I think he's right. We've got two clear-cut cases of liberal ideology trumping honest discussion of federalism. (Note: the same is true of Scalia, who in Raich was willing to jettison federalism concerns just to stop marijuana use).

The Good: If Roberts is going to be wrong, at least he's in good company. So far this term, there have only been two cases with serious splits (a death penalty case, and now this right to die case), and both times he voted with Scalia and Thomas. If anything, I find this as evidence that Bush knew what he was doing when he nominated Roberts as Chief.

The Ugly: As if it needed to be said.

International Opposition to Iran Mounts at Lightning-Quick Speed

By "lightning-quick" I mean "utterly imperceptible." Check out these two headlines:

U.S Wins Support in Iran Dispute (Washington Post)
Countries Agree Iran Must Halt Nuclear Activity (MSNBC)

Wow, sounds like the gears are really moving, right? Well, what exactly is the nature of this "agreement"? From the second link:

"Russia and China agreed with the United States and its European allies Monday that Iran must fully suspend its nuclear program, but the countries stopped short of demanding referral to the U.N. Security Council, Britain’s Foreign Office said."

That's it? I suppose these nations can all agree that famine sucks, and that MC Hammer's pants were, in retrospect, kind of ridiculous. And what exactly does that agreement accomplish? Other than making the WaPo and MSNBC write headlines making it sound like somehow, somewhere, progress was made.

Let's be serious. No nation in the entire world is happy about Iran right now, including, I suspect, the majority of Iranians, who would prefer not to get hit by U.S. missiles as a result of Ahmadiejad's pissing match with the EU. And since the French, Germans and Russians aren't making any profit off of the mullahs, they've got no financial incentive to refrain from action. Getting this agreement must have been about as difficult as getting the original members of NWA to agree not to sample Pat Boone in "Straight Outta Compton."

Yo, I dunno, Sobek. "Love Letters in the Sand" was some pretty dope sh*t."

Damn straight, nigga.

Monday, January 16, 2006

So How Did SobekPundit Celebrate the Life and Accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?

By thinking about the history and present status of race-relations in America.

Oh, and also by going on another mountain-climbing/site-seeing trip with kidd-o. I have a Rand-McNally map of Nevada, which indicates Cathedral Canyon as a point of interest in western Clark County. However, owing to conflicts between Mr. McNally, Google Maps, and reality, instead of finding Cathedral Canyon, I got pleasantly lost, and accidentally spent most of the day photographing California, without even realizing what state I was in. You'll see what I mean when I say "pleasantly lost."

Nevada has more than its fair share of nothing, but it's beautiful nothing. Or rather, it looks like a lot of wasteland when you're flying by at 120 carefully driving slightly under the legal speed limit, but when you stop the car for a picture or two, you notice a lot more detail.

Here's a couple happy residents of middle-of-nowhere Nevada. Seriously, I've never taken a picture that can really convey how far from civilization I was at this point. Once I turned my back on the two-lane highway, there was nothing but scrub brush, yuccas, ghostly mountains and hidden animals as far as the eye can see. And I assure you, the eye can see a very, very long way.

The vast valleys of southern Nevada are bordered by jagged mountains that rise up from oceans of dust. The air turns the solid mountains into haunted wraiths unless you're right up next to them.

I carried kidd-o up another mountain. Actually, I did much less carrying this time. He is increadibly independent, and insisted on climbing as much as possible. He did a pretty good job, for a three-year-old, although I held his hands the whole time, and occasionally lifted him over prickly bushes when he walked into a corner. This is a view to the west.

Kidd-o posing for a shot to the north. If I hadn't been carrying him, and if I had all day instead of a few hours, I would love to have climbed those mountains in the background and just walked all along the ridge at the top.

From the summit, looking west. Someone built a pile of stones at the top, and kidd-o thought that was pretty cool. That road is Old Spanish Trail Highway, between Nevada and California. When I took the picture, I thought I was still in Nevada. The border, it turns out, is only marked from the California side. I guess Nevada is too cheap to let drivers know when they're leaving. I like this pic because the road gives some sense of perspective about how massive the valley is.

For me, there are few more impressive things in this life than standing on top of a mountain, breathing the cold, pure air, taking in the vast sense of perspective that altitude gives. I took the opportunity to point out the mountains, the rocks, the sky, and the plants to kidd-o, and asked him "Who made all these things?" He enthusiastically answered "Jesus!" "That's right," I told him, "He made all this just for you, because he loves you."

He was even more enthusiastic about climbing down than up. He doesn't yet realize that going down a hill is easier than going up, but that going down safely is harder than going up safely.

The flat rock at the bottom of the pic is igneous. All the way up the mountain, I noticed these huge black-grey slabs of rock with the characteristic bubbles, and I wondered whether there was actually volcanic activity in Nevada (or California, as the case may be). On the way down, we followed a long, winding furrow that was lined with massive slabs of igneous rocks, as though it had flowed down in the extremely distant past. So now I think kidd-o and I climbed a volcano today.

Another shot climbing down the ravine. The slabs of lava rock were roughly-textured for grip, and were almost like stairs, making things much easier on me than I had hoped.

When kidd-o smiles spontaneously, it's the most adorable thing ever. When I ask him to smile for a picture, I get something like this. Oh well, there's one close-up for the benefit of my parents, who are probably more interested in their grandkid than in the scenery.

We found a cave on the way down, with a little hole opposite the main entrance.

After climbing the mountain, we continued our westward trek into California. We came into another massive valley, miles across and so long I couldn't see the end of it. The road I was on ran along the northern edge of the valley for a long time, then cut right through a winding pass. In the meantime, I could see off in the distance, on the southern end of the valley, something I couldn't quite make out. You can see it on the right side of this picture.

Anyway, there were no signs, and it didn't look like a paved road led to whatever it was, so at first I ignored it. But maybe twenty minutes later, after I finally convinced myself that I was in California instead of Nevada, and after I turned around and came back to that winding mountain pass, I again saw that strange white thing. It looked like a man-made complex of buildings or something, like a secret base run by a mad scientist. The effect was enhanced by the apparent inaccessibility of the thing. But there was a dirt road that led generally south through the valley, so I decided that, as I was already lost, and not really trying to reach any particular destination, I would follow the dirt road and see if I couldn't get a little closer.

So I took the dirt road, which after going south for less than a mile, cut to the right and went down the middle of the valley. This was more or less the right direction, so I thought maybe I'd solve the mystery.

Then the road forked. I took the southerly one, thinking that was more likely. But it turns out it wound around and took me back towards the eastern end of the valley, before looping around the mountain range. I never figured out where that road went, either, because the dirt road turned into gravel, and the gravel turned into large stones, and the large stones turned into me wondering whether I was on a path or not.

At that point, it was late, my wife was probably wondering where I was, I feared for my car (especially the tires), and I was obviously not getting any closer to the mysterious white things. So I turned around and headed back to the pavement, eventually back to civilization. I snapped a couple of pics on the way out, so that I could blow them up and try to see what the white things were. It looks like they are huge piles of white dirt supporting a winding road, but a road to what? And why haul all that dirt out there to build a road, with no signs anywhere to say where the road leads? That's something I'll have to wonder about for months, now, if not longer.

I thought our adventures were over, but there was one more surprise in store for us. We had been back on pavement again for a while. Suddenly I saw this massive bird in the middle of the road, about the same time the bird saw me. It lifted off, trying to carry its recently-slaughtered dinner, then decided it wasn't worth trying to race me with its prey. It dropped the bloody wreckage and flew to the top of a utility pole.

I pulled up near the thing, which turned out to be most of a rabbit. No, I didn't take any pictures of it. And no, kidd-o couldn't see it from his car seat. I sat there for a few moments, hoping the predator would come back for its food so I could snap a close-up picture, but it looked a lot more patient than I felt. I drove a little closer, got this shot, and then it flew back to the carcass (in the interim, a more enterprising crow had spotted the abandoned rabbit and staked its claim.

I don't know anything about birds, so I don't know what kind this is. But when it again took flight, it was absolutely magnificent. A perfect end to a perfect day, lost in the middle of nowhere with my boy, a camera, and as many hours as I cared to spend.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Confirming "A Theory Confirmed"

The crack young staff at Hatemongers Quarterly apparently just noticed something that I noticed, oh, maybe a few months ago:

"Yet the clever “weblogger” who goes on extended “weblogging” vacations is often rewarded for his e-laziness. Unlike quotidian scribblers, this “weblogger” gets all kinds of attention when he briefly returns to his “weblog.” All manner of “webloggers” offer their huzzahs, and the lethargic “weblogger’s” “website” gets bigger than Tom Cruise’s desire for homosexual intercourse."

I quote this for three reasons. First, props for a nice use of the word "quotidian." Second, the crack young staff is absolutely right: whenever I say I'm taking a break, or that my computer will be in the shop for a while, my comments shoot way up. It seems the important lesson to be learned is that the best way to get people enthusiastic about my blog is to stop writing.* Third, by linking that post, and thereby sending all of nine or ten hits their way, the aforementioned crack young staff will see its theory further confirmed.

* The only reason I still write after noticing that phenomenon is to take revenge on you, the reader. Why should I reward your perfidy with my silence?

Stupid Criminal Story of the Day

From the Macon Telegraph:

"Landon McQuilkin, 21, arrested in November in Jacksonville, Fla., after he allegedly abducted a man and said he would kill him, relented to his victim's "last request" to visit his girlfriend before he died; with McQuilkin waiting in the car outside her house, the victim went in, locked the door and called police."

It's a Good Thing We Have Elected Officials give us pearls of wisdom like this:

"The military option is the last option but cannot be taken off of the table." John McCain, who gets paid to say stuff like this.

Well of course it's the last option. That's like observing that your car keys are in the last place you look. After you find them, you stop looking. And when you're bombing the snot out of Tehran, it means the time for diplomacy is long gone.

Thanks for clearing that up, Senator.

Update: Over the past few weeks or so, the rhetoric between Iran and, well, pretty much everyone else has gotten increasingly heated, including threats to refer Iran to the IAEA and the UN Security Council for sanctions, with even Russia on board with the idea. Iran's Ahmedinejad sounds increasingly like a lunatic who is begging for an excuse to push the button. The U.S. is rotating air force units into an unnamed nation in "Southwest Asia," and Israel has worked out a deal to use Kurdish airstrips in northern Iraq to hit Iranian targets. Even France and Germany have talked about sanctions.

I've read bloggers predicting active U.S. bombing before the end of February. Personally, I think it will take a few months more (Bush will probably tread more lightly here than he did with Iraq -- more's the pity), but absent some intervening factor, all-out war with Iran looks like a very real possibility.

With that as a background, note that France just started back-pedalling on its tough-talk. Now note the trends at work, here. Every nation in the world is ramping up calls for Iran to stand down, to avoid a conflict by disavowing nuclear research -- except for France. So what does John McCain think is the appropriate posture for his public comments to the news media? Following the French example, it would seem.

I hope all his talk about running for Pres in '08 is just part of a running joke that he hasn't explained yet.

Update: Michelle Malkin's got a huge round-up of comments, for those of you with plenty of time.

Alito: Good as Gold, Baby

Ace says Dianne Feinstein (D - Disneyland) has basically conceded there won't be an Alito filibuster, and he's had the votes to get through the Senate since day one. Go read it, because it's one paragraph after another of utterly crushing Dem hopes. Here's my personal favorite line:

"Democrats said the lesson of the Alito hearings was that this White House could put on the bench almost any qualified candidate, even one whom Democrats consider to be ideologically out of step with the country."

I like that one because rabid-insane Dems are hardly the authority on who is or is not out of step, and because it seems to come as a genuine shock to them that a President should get to pick the judges he was elected to pick.

The wife points out that this is also a refutation of the Meirs defenders (e.g. Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved) who argued that Bush couldn't possibly get an ideologue with a proven track record on the Court, so Meirs was the best we could expect. Those conservatives who, during the Meirs nomination, were spoiling for a fight saw the Meirs nomination as a total cave-in. But note that the Alito supporters also didn't get a fight. This whole process was a cake-walk. It seems that Roberts and Alito have amply demonstrated that they learned the lesson of the Bork nomination: don't answer any questions, and you won't have any problems.

Update: Captain Ed notes that even the L.A. Times and Washington Post have thrown in the towel, both on "elections have consequences" grounds. From the Times:

"...there are no legitimate grounds to entertain a filibuster of this nominee, or to be overly shocked that he is the sort of justice Bush would select. Bush never made any secret of his desire to put conservative jurists on the highest court, and he was elected to the presidency twice."

Captain Ed also refers to Dianne Feinstein as "one of the few Judiciary Democrats to not embarrass herself during the hearings." I didn't get to see the video (hey, some of us have to work for a living), but Michelle Malkin gives me enough evidence to think he's right on:

"Maryanne Trump Barry [is] a Clinton appointee who gave a glowing endorsement of her colleague, Sam Alito, earlier today, along with six other judges from the appeals court who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to support Alito. Chuck Schumer walked out before the judges started to speak. Teddy Kennedy showed up late, stayed for 10 minutes, then left. Pat Leahy put on a dour face for a short time, and also bailed. Dianne Feinstein, to her credit, remained for the duration and asked respectful questions."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Fun with the Referral Logs

I dare say, the poor chap who found my site while googling for "picture of Bill Kristol" probably got a shock when he or she found this.

Ditto with the person who googled "Barney the Loveable Purple Dinosaur for 2008" and got this, although less so.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Brief Conversation Between Ted Kennedy and the Dead Hooker in the Trunk of his Car

Ted: Can you believe that Alito guy?

Dead Hooker: ...

Ted: I mean, how is the little guy supposed to get a break in his courtroom?

Dead Hooker: ...

Ted: You know, the guy without political connections, or a rich daddy? I mean, where's the justice?

Dead Hooker: ...

Ted: And that wife of his. Doesn't he know how to keep her in line?

Dead Hooker: ...

Ted: And don't even get me started on his membership in a plainly racist organization.

Dead Hooker: ...

Ted: Makes me sick.

Dead Hooker: ...

Ted: And I'd sure like to give that Specter guy a piece of my mind.

Dead Hooker: ...

Ted: I mean, first he gives me all that crap about the letter I would have sent if I hadn't been in such a drunken haze ...

Dead Hooker: ...

Ted: ... and then he trots out a bunch of freakshow Clinton-appointed judges who have the cajones to actually praise Alito. What's wrong with women these days? No way was I going to stick around for that; not when I could be at Hooters sexually assualting the waitresses

Dead Hooker: Hey, could you at least try to keep your eyes on the road?

Ted: Nobody questions my driving, bitch.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Okay, Seriously This Time

I'm packing up the computer tonight to send it off for repairs. No blogging for at least a week, probably more. In the mean time, I recommend checking out the links on my side bar, which is where you're most likely to find me commenting.

Just remember:

"We're not gonna take it. No, we ain't gonna take it. We're not gonna take it anymore." Thomas Jefferson, 1784.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Happy Alito Day Eve

Tomorrow is Alito day at the Senate. Given my profession, and my interests in law and the Constitution, I'll be paying close attention to the proceedings. I don't have much of a chance to blog during the day, but I'll do my best to provide summaries and commentary every night.

This is, of course, potentially a moment of enormous significance. But the reason it's only "potentially" enormous is because regardless of what happens to Alito, the numbers the conservatives are looking for won't be in place yet. On the "solidly conservative" side of the bench we've got Thomas, Scalia and, I submit, Alito. Roberts may or may not be on that side, but he's so far not given much evidence one way or the other.* We've still got the unholy triumvirate, Breyer, Souter and Ginsburg on the entrenched left, with Kennedy and Stevens who can't seem to decide what they believe. If -- and only if -- Roberts turns out to be the conservative he was packaged as, and if Stevens retires (he's in his 80s), and if -- and only if -- Stevens is replaced with a conservative, will the Court actually have the solid and reliable votes it needs to be a "conservative" court.

* Roberts has authored one opinion as Chief Justice, a unanimous case involving attorney's fees in federal removal cases. If you don't understand what that last sentence means, you're in good company; it's the kind of cases that only practicing attorneys will ever care about, and it's not the least bit politically-charged or politically-indicative. That should be especially clear because it was a unanimous opinion. That said, having read that opinion I was impressed with his approach. He was very focused on the text, rather than with determining the outcome and then finding the textual support he needed. I believe that bodes well for his conservative bona fides.

More from CNN and Drudge, the latter in hyper-sensationalistic Drudge style.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Ariel Sharon Hospitalized; Prognosis Grim

For the two or three people out there who don't read Drudge.

This looks ugly:

"Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a 'significant' stroke with 'massive bleeding' in his brain late Wednesday night... Sharon was rushed to the hospital shortly before 11 P.M. Wednesday night after complaining of chest pains, less than three weeks after suffering a mild stroke and the day before he had been set to undergo a heart procedure. Sharon's personal physician said that he expected him 'to emerge from [surgery] safely.' Channel 10 quoted hospital sources as saying that while the bleeding in the prime minister's brain is extensive, it is not in the brain stem itself."

I'm actually not a huge Sharon fan. He was an extremely brutal general. Yes, the Palestinians were also brutal, but the accounts I've read suggest he went way further than necessary, in the process exacerbating an already horrible situation. Worse, he managed to personally spark a round of violence in Jerusalem and Israel before getting elected as Prime Minister by marching a crowd of people into a heavily Palestinian area waving an Israeli flag -- he was then swept into office on a wave of popular opinion, but at the expense of ending what had been a decently long lull in violence. On the opposite side of the coin, his caving in on the Gaza thing left me deeply disappointed.

Nevertheless, this stroke does not bode well, especially coming as it does so soon before the elections, scheduled for March, and when Iranian hostility and rhetoric are getting ramped up. While not a perfect leader, he did a lot of things right, including the security fence, rocket attacks on Hamas leaders, and his apparent willingness to do what needs to be done about Persian nuclear aspirations. More, he is a symbol of stability in a region that has very little. I would have voted against him when he was first elected, but I would have voted for him in March. I fear the power grab that will probably erupt if he dies or becomes incapacitated.

The Abramoff Post

I'll probably only have one post on the indictment of lobbyist/Nazi from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jack Abramoff, because I don't really care about the story. Not because fraud by a lobbyist buying off elected representatives isn't a big deal -- it is -- but because the guy has already made a plea agreement, and he's going to the slammer for what he did. So, everything worked out in the end. As an added bonus, he's probably going to name some names in Washington (bribery is a two-way street, you see), and I like to see corrupt politicians get called out on their perfidy. And for the record, yes that applies regardless of political party.

The reason I'm writing about Abramoff at all is because my senior Senator, the honorable Harry Reid, needs to get called out on -- well, not his perfidy, but his general douche-baggery. And he's keeping me really busy these days.

From today's Review-Journal, Reid and John Ensign (R) both denied they were worried about the Abramoff affair. After all, it's not like either of them had any ties to the now convicted felon, right? Well, other than Ensign, to the tune of $16,293. And other than Reid, to the tune of $61,000.00.

"Reid said at a news conference in Carson City that he has 'not a thing' to be worried about as far as Abramoff. 'I've never been in the same room with the man as far as I know,' he said."

Fair enough, but of course you don't have to be in the same room as the guy to cash a check for $5000.00 from him:

"Reid, a Democrat, and Ensign, a Republican, were linked to the lobbyist in a news report in November that focused on a letter they wrote on March 5, 2002, to Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
The Nevadans urged Norton to reject an application from the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, which was seeking to open a casino outside its Louisiana reservation.
An Abramoff client fighting the Jena casino, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, donated $5,000 to Reid's political action committee, the Searchlight Leadership Fund, the next day, according to The Associated Press report."

Now, a few words on what this story is not, and on what it is. First, the check came not from Abramoff, but from an Indian tribe. I'm willing to take the Senator at his word that he's never met Abramoff, and even that he didn't know the money was at all related to possibly illicit activity. I'm willing to grant him this, even though Abramoff's client mailed him $5000.00 the day after he wrote a letter advancing Abramoff's client's interests. I'm willing to grant that the $61,000.00, all of which came from, according to the story, "donors with links to Abramoff," was still legitimate. The reason for my magnanimity in this respect is that a major K Street player like Abramoff makes it his business to have as many "links" as possible. That's the nature of lobbying -- make the contacts, make the deals. I imagine every politician in America can be linked -- Six Degrees of Separation-like -- to Abramoff or other disreputable characters. It's simply impractical to expect otherwise, given the nature of the beast.

All that said, Reid has and will continue to mount attacks on Republicans on similar or even more flimsy grounds. He has railed extensively about the Scooter Libby indictment, even going so far as to demand the President promise not to pardon him should he be convicted. He never explains why Bush should do such a thing, or why Libby's actions ("leaking" the name of a CIA desk jockey in order to refute a man who used CIA contacts to lie to America and damage a sitting President in a time of war) indicate a "culture of corruption."

That said, imagine if Reid had no connections to Abramoff, tenuous or otherwise. Now imagine that Reid heard that the top Senate Republican had accepted a check for $5,000.00 the day after endorsing a position advocated by Abramoff and his clients. Is it possible that Reid might ask Americans to connect the dots, as it were, and excoriate said hypothetical Senator with all manner of execrations?

Knowing my senior Senator, I'm gonna have to say yes, that's possible.

Um, Is This Good News or Bad News?

The feds no longer consider Las Vegas to be a "high threat" for terror attacks. On the plus side, maybe that indicates that the terrorists finally realized that they shouldn't bomb the strip, because the strip symbolizes the liberal mindset of "anything goes/don't you judge me" more than almost any other landmark in America, and (according to the liberals, anyway) the terrorists only want to blow up America because it's too darn conservative.

The down side is that a couple of federal dollars that otherwise would have come into the state to help prevent an attack will now be diverted to other, more high-risk cities. I didn't read very far into the article, but I assume the new list includes Meeteetsee, Wyoming, which went 93.4% for Bush in 2004.*

Of course, if someone does detonate a dirty bomb downtown, we'll just use the Chief Wiggum response: "It's a good thing the dirty bomb went off in that huge, smoking crater."

*Note: may or may not be a fact.

Monday, January 02, 2006

2005: The Year in Review

For those of you who weren't paying attention, or who were too trashed on Jim Beam and Nyquil (Sobek's Sister, I'm looking at you) to remember, Dave Barry tells you what you missed.

Monday in the Valley of Fire

I spent several hours on a father/son outing to the Valley of Fire, a state park maye 30 minutes outside of Las Vegas. I'm freakin' exhausted now, because not only did I work out this morning for the first time in four or five years, but because once I got to the Valley of Fire, I decided it would be a good idea to climb a mountin while carrying an almost-three-year-old boy.

I've got some great pics, but they'll have to wait for tomorrow. I'm wiped out.


Did I mention that I carried a toddler up a mountain? Because my arms are still extremely sore. Maybe if I weren't such a wuss I wouldn't have this problem, but well, you know, that's water under the bridge.

Nevada skies have this tendency to turn iron grey with clouds, making this the Silver State in more than one sense. It was absolutely beautiful from on top of that mountain, so it was worth the effort. One thing you can't see in the picture is the howling wind, which about knocked kidd-o off his feet, and in fact almost knocked me off my feet.

That first picture is actually not in the Valley of Fire, and neither is this one. You drive around a little bend in the road, and all of a sudden you're looking down into this incredible valley. Right at the bottom of it, there's a ranger station, and on the other side of that you can see the red rocks that give the park its name. This picture doesn't even come close to hinting at how breathtaking that view is.

The scenery was so colorful that my camera wasn't able to capture all of it. I had to sacrifice, in this picture and others, some of the red in those rocks in order to bring out the blue/grey in the sky.

The rocks are filled with holes and gaps in the most unusual formations. Kidd-o thought they looked like monster faces, so for the first part of the drive, he said there were monsters in the rocks. For the second part, he decided that they weren't rocks at all, but monsters that were coming to get him, but he knew Daddy would keep him safe from the monsters. "Yes," I said, "there are monsters in the rocks." "No! Not rocks! Monsters." What can I say? The kid's pretty persuasive.

Climbing on said rocks. I keep telling the wife that kidd-o is a little monkey, and she denies it. I don't know how, in the face of all this photographic evidence. He's got a real aptitude for climbing.

A scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Inside the caves. Some idiots had broken beer bottles nearby, and there was graffiti here and there. More proof that capital punishment is too restricted in this country.

We had a lot to see and not a lot of time to see it. But for reasons that should be obvious, it got increasingly difficult to coax kidd-o back into the car to drive to the next point of interest.

Another picture that really suffers when shrunk down into a 300 x 400 pixel image. I was so stunned by this scene that I actually threw the car into reverse and drove backwards 50 yards to make sure I got the best angle. I think I got the angle right, but the colors are off. The sky was that same iron and blue, the rocks were red monsters rising from a sea of green, with light brown mountains in the extreme distance. Absolutely stunning stuff.

I had to cut the trip short right around this point, but as it happened, it started to rain on us minutes after we got back in the car for the last time. And kidd-o, who missed his afternoon nap, quickly zonked out in the back seat for the trip back home.