News Archive

About that Wikileaks business

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Being known to my relatives and friends as a person with actual experience (albeit many years ago) in the field of military intelligence, I often get asked for my opinion when intel-related matters pop up in the news. Not that my opinion is any more valid than anyone else's, usually, but I do get asked.

First, I'd say that it's hard to imagine an alternate reality in which I could do better than Tunku Varadarajan in describing Wikileaks proprietor Julian Assange.* He concludes:

Unless there is evidence that Assange conspired with employees of the military to procure these leaked materials, there is no scope in the law to take action against him. But let us put the law to one side. Our aversion to Assange and his ways — to his posturing, gaudy psuedo-insurgency — need not be expressed in ways prosecutorial. Let us, instead, shower him with our most basic contempt, and dismiss him as the fraud that he is. WikiLeaks is a brothel of self-promotion, Assange its puffed-up pimp.

I don't think Varadarajan goes far enough. If Wikileaks is acting as a de facto intelligence gathering and dissemination service for al Qaeda and our other enemies — and I think it is — then rather than showering Assange with mere contempt, we ought to consider having a Predator drone shower him with a Hellfire missile.

Assange seems to think he's playing some sort of game. Not so. Real lives are at stake, and he's put many of those lives at risk. He ought to be prepared to pay with his own.

(John Hawkins has similar thoughts.)

The same applies to the "leaker" of the information in question, PFC Bradley Manning. If proven to be the source, then he is no mere "leaker" — he's a traitor.

Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution sets a properly high bar for Treason:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The "two witnesses" requirement might be hard to meet; I don't know what would count in this instance. If the charge can be sustained, however, it ought to be pursued.

(See also Mike's views on this at the aptly named Cold Fury.)

Not that I have any confidence in the current administration to do so. The Bush administration was, in my opinion, far too lax in hunting and prosecuting leakers, and I don't see the Obama administration being any better; there are too many "fellow travelers" therein, people who, during the previous administration, would have cheered Manning and Assange, and loudly criticized their prosecution.

There's one caveat to that, of course: Obama has to occasionally appear to be tough to appease his critics, and there's no one he won't discard for the sake of political gain** — the fate of some PFC matters not a whit to him.

Even if it's purely for personal political gain, the Obama administration would be doing the right thing by taking the infowar fight to the enemy.

* One might be forgiven for thinking that "-ange" is, in this case, pronounced "-hole."

** See how I didn't say "throw under the bus" there?

Best Chyron Ever

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Not news: Australian gets drunk, tangles with crocodile.

News: and survives.

I present this story only to highlight the best chyron I think I've ever seen:

Click for larger.


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Let me get this straight....

Roman Polanski drugged and raped a teenage girl, and he gets off scot-free. Indeed, he is perpetually lauded by the glitterati, and is in no danger of ever being under-employed, if he should ever desire to work. He has his millions, and could in theory simply spend the rest of his life sipping Dom Perignon on the beach at the French Riviera.

Sure, he has a reputation as a brilliant movie director. Let's grant him that much.

Nevertheless, Roman Polanski drugged and raped a teenage girl.

Mel Gibson, on the other hand, used harsh language and had the bad taste to be caught on tape doing so.

Maybe if, like Roman Polanski, he'd drugged and raped a teenage girl he'd be treated better by his peers and the press.

Civil Rights Victory

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It appears that the Supreme Court has incorporated the Second Amendment against the states.

This is a major civil rights victory, as well as a "win" for reading comprehension. Naturally, the Left side of the Court voted en bloc against it.

I'm looking forward to reading the majority opinion when the decision is published.

UPDATE: OK, that was quick... via Ace o' Spades HQ: the 214 page decision in PDF format.

Queried late last night by one of my oldest friends, I banged out a quick response.

Q: Do you agree with this administration's response - or what you consider the response to be?

A: Well, I haven't noticed what the response has actually been. There may have been a response, I just haven't noticed it... or the response was deliberately intended not to be noticed by anyone other than the Norks. And even if there was a public response, I wouldn't be at all certain there wasn't a hidden response at the same time. Layers....

Of course, you may have sussed out that I am no fan of Obama. I think he's completely out of his depth. I just hope the adults are in charge on matters such as this.

If I were POTUS, I would have done something like surge the Pacific sub force to cordon (at a distance - international waters) the North's naval bases - not to actually sink anything (yet) but to let them know we *could* put every single one of their hulls on the sea bed in a matter of minutes, and roast much of their land and air forces (via SLCM) at the same time.

I don't think anyone seriously doubts we have that capability; the question is one of willpower.

Of course, Kim is a lunatic, always has been. The kind you have to handle with kid gloves. Most despots are intensely interested in their own self-preservation; Kim, though... I seriously wonder if he really believes he's impervious, and might act without regard to his own long-term prospects. I have no doubt, though, that like virtually all despots, he'd cheerfully let his country burn if he thought the ends were justified.

To be honest, I've always kind of wondered, after his father died, why the generals didn't immediately off the SOB and take power for themselves. On the other hand, the North is as heavily propagandized and indoctrinated into the cult of personality as anyplace you could imagine - the generals might not survive a *successful* coup. I've seen what the regime feeds its own people on the one state-run TV station. It's utterly appalling.

Wow. Just... wow.

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This story about the doddering doyenne of the Washington press corps is stunning on so many levels:

Far Left Media Darling Helen Thomas Tells Jews: “Get the Hell Out of Palestine… Go Back to Germany & Poland” (Video)

It's surprising — nearly unbelievable — that someone who's spent pretty much her entire adult life being "on the record" would make such patently bigoted statements.

This would be akin to, say, William F. Buckley suggesting that blacks should go back to Africa.

Except, of course, that Thomas hasn't a fraction of the intelligence Buckley had.

Or wit.

Or class.

Or talent.

Even more of a surprise: Helen Thomas is still alive. I thought all her hatred would have consumed her by now.

Having been a Korean-linguist-slash-intelligence-specialist in the Army, I'm the closest thing most of my friends and family have to a "go-to guy" on such things.

To be honest, I haven't given a lot of thought to the situation following the sinking of the Cheonan. Were I the President of the US, I'd be tempted to order the sinking of every surface vessel in the North Korean navy, but that's just me.

Earlier today my brother dropped me a line asking what I thought of the recent doings on and around the Korean peninsula. I was getting ready to go to the dentist to have some stitches removed, so I banged out a quick reply. So quick, in fact, that I got the date of the tree cutting incident wrong — it happened in '76, while Ford was president.

Re: How about whats happening in Korea???

I suspect it's the usual pattern of provocation - like the 1979 axe murders - wherein they do something outrageous, everyone raises their readiness levels, and then nothing happens.

The difference this time is that not even Jimmy Carter in '79 was as weak-willed as Obama is. I have no confidence, none at all, that he would commit additional forces to the defense of South Korea.

Look, when I was over there we knew - *knew* - that if the s*** had ever hit the fan we were just going to be speedbumps to slow the Norks until more forces could be brought in. That was a steep potential price, but we knew that ultimately it would preserve a friendly nation and its people. Most of those people loved us, absolutely loved us. It was strange, being in the countryside, meeting people who nearly worshipped the ground we walked on.

Now? I don't think Obama gives a damn about the guys over there, or about our allies, and would leave them to be overrun if he thought he could get away with it, politically.

I have zero confidence in this administration, and I am sure that all of our enemies know now what a pantywaist Obama is... except when he's criticizing his fellow Americans. So, I figure they'll try to extract some sort of economic concessions.

I might have refined it some or done some fact checking, given time. Otherwise, I'm good with that as a rough "first pass."

Excellent, excellent must-read piece at Ace o' Spades HQ on the failure of Newsweek magazine. Read the whole thing.

Newsweek became essentially indistinguishable from a teen "fan" magazine — as if Tiger Beat featured Obama on the cover of every issue. Rolling Stone has greater intellectual depth.

So, for that matter, does Highlights for Children.


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Y'know, if an oil well on land had begun leaking at the rate of the current spill off the coast of Louisiana, I'm fairly sure it could have been contained a whole lot quicker and easier than a well head at the bottom of the #$%#@! ocean.

Environmentalists don't want anyone drilling in a comparatively microscopic portion of, say, the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve.* Apparently, they prefer harder-to-contain oil spills on the ocean.

* I know, I know — they really don't want anyone drilling anything, anywhere. They'd much rather we all starve and freeze in the dark.

Jim Treacher pithily rounds up Healthcare Reform commentary — do NOT miss what the inimitable Bill Whittle has to say on the matter:

These Marxist bastards have no idea what is coming for them. No idea.

Indeed not.

I would consider this to be good news: ACORN is going bankrupt. (Link via JammieWearingFool.)

Serves them right. I wonder how Hitler would react?

Faster, Prius! Kill! Kill!

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When your car begins runaway acceleration, as has apparently been happening with some Toyotas, isn't the immediate solution as simple as taking the car out of gear, or switching off the ignition? I fail to understand.

In any case, Toyota's going to have some massive legal bills.

In other news, I'm utterly shocked that a Prius can reach 94 MPH, even with the accelerator welded to the floor.

At what point do we begin to see politicians hanging from lamp posts?

I don't know... but surely this [Flaming Skull alert is in effect] would take us one step closer.


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With the Saints' win in the Super Bowl yesterday, as well as the election of a new guy to replace the utterly incompetent Ray Nagin, I've been wondering: can we please stop feeling sorry for New Orleans now?

I thought they all were.

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Justice Department is looking for a few good retarded lawyers. No, really.

Sorry. I'm too busy laughing to take this any further.

Fail to Nail

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Jon Stewart accidentally commits acts of journalism; the Left howls; Stewart apologizes.

Michelle Malkin has the video and details.

What struck me in Stewart's "clown nose: off" interview of so-called "torture memo" author John Yoo was his apparent inability to understand that there is a broad range of possible legitimate interrogation methods that fall between Miranda on one end of the spectrum and Mengele on the other.

(And for the record, I have no problem with waterboarding as an interrogation method.)

Update: I don't know how I missed it*, but there were more videos comprising the entirety of the interview; all three can be seen at Newsbusters. Yoo really does well as an interviewee.

*Yes, I do. I had an errand to run, so I rushed.


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Last night, on the news that Rush Limbaugh had been hospitalized, an old friend of mine who happens to reside on the liberal side of the aisle suggested that it was ironic that, after opposing socialized medicine, a.k.a. Obamacare, Limbaugh was initially treated by socialist healthcare ("government") paramedics.

I don't think this quite fits the definition of "ironic." Paramedic services are pretty much a "natural monopoly," as are fire and police departments, and don't necessarily have to be government-provided.

Here in my town, for instance, the EMT/ambulance service is privately operated. If you want to "subscribe," you can pay a modest annual fee, but if you are not a subscriber and they respond to a 911 call, you (or your insurance company) are going to pay a hefty charge.

Relying on a monopolized service isn't ironic.

On the other hand....

Would you call the following scenario ironic? Our country's most vocal proponent of socialized medicine, upon discovering a medical problem requiring expert care...

  • seeks out the world's best specialist in that particular field
  • travels hundreds of miles to receive immediate VIP treatment
  • with little chance of a cure
  • rather than wait in line to use local services under a more cost-efficient schedule.

Yes, I'm talking about Ted Kennedy, whose treatment may have given him a few months of life, but which I am certain cost well into the 6-figure range.* Could not those resources have been better used elsewhere?

But no, that's not irony.

That's hypocrisy.

In any event, neither term applies to Limbaugh.

* As regular readers will recall, I'd earlier had the same neurosurgeon do my own brain surgery, and I know how much that cost. Boy, do I ever know.


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It was bound to happen.

I don't think I've ever made it a secret that I am not a fan of former Arkansas governor and GOP aspirant Mike Huckabee. He might be a decent, upstanding guy — I mostly believe him to be — but his executive judgement has always been questionable.

In the past, I opposed him because of his nanny-state tendencies. Though I would appear to fit squarely into his "base" demographic — protestant, evangelical, conservative, white male in the South — I am in fact rather more libertarian in my political leanings. More than once Huckabee has expressed a desire to use the power of government to intrude into peoples' lives in ways that are as obnoxious to a free society as is the currently proposed health care reform, and that's all I needed to know to oppose him. I am thoroughly antagonistic to that sort of government intrusion into the sphere of decisions which are inherently personal, whether it comes from the Left or from the Right.

What I was unfamiliar with before yesterday's horrific crime in Washington was his record as governor of Arkansas of issuing pardons and commutations, often against the advice of law enforcement officials. He took an admirable attitude — the Christian concept of forgiveness — entirely too far, applying it where it ought not to have been used. He failed to take justice into account.

For the Christian, forgiveness towards the person who has committed a crime against you isn't optional, it is commanded. But that does not remove the obligation to pursue justice for criminal actions, or for the criminal to pay the price for their crimes. Huckabee often let his personal feelings override his obligation as governor to see justice done.

Huckabee's response to the deaths does even more to call his judgement into question.

I'm only surprised that he hasn't tried to blame Mitt Romney and the Mormons.

His executive judgement is no longer a matter of speculation; I would no more trust him in the Oval Office than I trust Obama and his Chicago cabal. It was only a matter of time before his leniency would come around to bite him in the backside. I only wish it hadn't come at the cost of the lives of four police officers.

Brain Dead

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I'm operating on a total lack of sleep last night/this morning, so I'm not at my thinkin'est best... indeed, I'm a vitual zombie at this point.

I've been led to believe there have been some elections today; I hear the New Jersey governor's race is within the margin of fraud. I suppose I could turn the TV on to a news channel to find out more... but if I get bored and fall asleep right now, my body clock will be completely hosed for the work week ahead.

I think I have an episode of Top Gear on the DVR... that'll keep me awake for an hour. After that, we'll see.

Zero Tolerance = Zero Sense

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While "zero tolerance" sounds like a good idea, in practice it all too often turns into the sheerest lunacy, viz.:

Zero tolerance policies do nothing but allow schools and school districts a way to avoid using proper judgment in settling issues on campuses. If one needed any more proof of this, look no further than the six-year-old boy who may spend 45 days in reform school for bringing a Cub Scout camping utensil tool to school. Yes, it contains a knife … and a fork … and a spoon.

Zero tolerance policies serve primarily to protect those in positions of power at schools — teachers and admins — from risking injury by exercising their brains. "Policy" has been made to substitute for "judgement."

I have more trust in the average Cub Scout with a knife than in the average teacher with a piece of chalk.

Heck, I'd trust an Eagle Scout with any firearm before I'd trust the average school administrator with a pen.

Quote of the Day

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Ann Althouse:

Riddle: Why didn't Barack Obama win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

Answer: He wrote 2 books.

Literally the last thing I read on Twitter before going to bed in the wee hours this morning was a breaking news announcement that Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I was convinced that after a long day (night) at work I was mentally exhausted to the point of hallucination.

Obama receiving a formerly prestigious award like the Peace Prize is a precise demonstration of why the award can rightly be described as "formerly prestigious."

The Nobel committee is a joke.

Depravity: follow up

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A week or so ago, I quoted an article on CNN, and commented:

The French culture and communications minister, Frederic Mitterrand, said he "learned with astonishment" of Polanski's arrest. He expressed solidarity with Polanski's family and said "he wants to remind everyone that Roman Polanski benefits from great general esteem" and has "exceptional artistic creation and human qualities."
There's nothing wrong with backing Polanski's family. And yet there is nothing -- including "great general esteem" or "exceptional artistic creation and human qualities" -- that mitigates the crime. Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year old girl. Mitterand (gee, that name sounds familiar) is another depraved government functionary... and a terrific example of why Europe is dying.

I could not, sadly, have been more right about Mitterand's depravity. At Patterico's Pontifications, via Ace of Spades HQ:

When Roman Polanski was arrested, none was more critical than French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand:
Mitterrand said, "To see him like that, thrown to the lions because of ancient history, really doesn't make any sense."

Mitterrand continued with a jab against the United States: "In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America that has just shown its face."

Now it's clear why: Mitterand is also a pedophile:

France's new culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, who has defended the filmmaker Roman Polanski against extradition charges for statutory rape, was attacked on Wednesday for his admission in a 2005 autobiography, "The Bad Life," that he "got into the habit" of paying "young boys" for sex in Southeast Asia despite "the sordid details of this traffic."

The mind boggles.

For the Record

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If I had a 13-year-old daughter who was drugged and raped, the penalty for the rapist would be death... even if the State won't inflict that penalty.

I have two teenage nieces. I have thought about this.


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[Updates below.]

I saw the news early this morning of the arrest by Swiss authorities of Roman Polanski, who for thirty years has avoided paying for his crimes by living in France.

Two things struck me immediately when I saw the report. First, Polanski is going to get tons of support from the Hollywood community. "A great artist," they will call him — as if that excuses his crimes.

Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year old girl.

Anyone in the "arts community" who would support and excuse this monster is just as evil and depraved as Polanski is. I don't care if he'd won a Oscar and a Palm d'Or every year, that's no excuse for his crimes.

The second thing that occurred to me was: this is yet another reason to hate France.

For thirty years, this monster lived in France, unbothered by law enforcement, unconcerned about being extradited to pay for his crimes.

Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year old girl.

And yet in France this is apparently not a good enough reason to send him back here to face justice. True, treaties between France and the US allow France to refuse to extradite its citizens... but nothing requires them to do so. This is particularly true as his guilt is not in question — he has admitted it, pled guilty for it.

Those in France who allowed this despicable, loathsome creature to remain at liberty for thirty years, unmolested by the law, are depraved.

Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year old girl.

To be honest, I was a bit surprised that the Swiss authorities had the stones to arrest him. That having been accomplished, one can only hope that their extradition process works as efficiently as, well, a Swiss watch.

Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year old girl.

I look forward to the news that Polanski has died old and alone in prison. At that, he'd be getting off light.

Our great-grandfathers had the right idea. Rope, tree, child molester — some assembly required.

Update: Whoa! Linked (temporarily, at least) from CNN. (At the bottom, under "From the Blogs." Looks like a link-bot.)

Now, as to the content of the CNN article. You don't have to take my word for it — the depravity found in the French ruling class is exemplified by their own words:

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he hoped authorities would respect Polanski's rights "and that the affair (will) come to a favorable resolution," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

A favorable resolution in Kouchner's eyes would be one that overlooks the fact that Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year old girl. Now do you see what I mean by "depraved?"

The French culture and communications minister, Frederic Mitterrand, said he "learned with astonishment" of Polanski's arrest. He expressed solidarity with Polanski's family and said "he wants to remind everyone that Roman Polanski benefits from great general esteem" and has "exceptional artistic creation and human qualities."

There's nothing wrong with backing Polanski's family. And yet there is nothing — including "great general esteem" or "exceptional artistic creation and human qualities" — that mitigates the crime. Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year old girl. Mitterand (gee, that name sounds familiar) is another depraved government functionary... and a terrific example of why Europe is dying.

Why on earth would we in the US ever want to take any of our social or cultural cues from them?

9/29 Update: See what I mean about Hollywood? Whoopi, et al., are immoral cretins.

Hitler rants about ACORN

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Hitler's rants from the film Downfall have been fodder for hundreds of parodies.

My first-ever shot at making a humorous* video is a bit topical. I wondered last night how long it would be before someone did this... then reasoned that perhaps I ought to do it myself. It made for a longish evening.

So here goes.

I'm guessing they will end up out of the bunker and under the bus.

* Assuming one defines "humorous" broadly.

Update, 21Oct09: Philadelphia... LOL.

Google Eulogy

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Yesterday, I wrote about Ted Kennedy.

Today, I noticed the Google Ads appearing here.

Click to see the full-size image.

I had to preserve it for posterity.

Teddy and Me

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As I noted last year, when Ted Kennedy had brain surgery, I knew he had the best neurosurgeon in the world; that same surgeon was the one who had operated on me six months earlier.*

At the time, I sent the senator my best wishes, and I meant it. I'm not going to say that no one deserves to be killed by brain problems of whatever sort,† but even with all his well-documented failings Kennedy didn't fall into that class.

And now with his death, it's a certainty that the Left will use his legacy as a lever to try to inflict a government takeover of the medical industry on the nation. It was, after all, his "signature" issue over the years.

Here's the problem: under the scheme of government control of healthcare Kennedy advocated, a person in my shoes would not have had the same choices as Kennedy made for his own care, nor would care have been delivered as promptly as it was.

Let me be perfectly clear here. My condition, hydrocephalus, if left untreated, kills. Without timely diagnosis and treatment, permanent damage can result — a fact I have to live with every day now, and for the rest of my life. As regular and long-time readers may recall, in my case, diagnosis was difficult; there has been permanent damage, and now I cannot walk without a cane or crutches

I cannot tell you how glad I am not to have to wear adult diapers.

Kennedy spent his career fighting for a program under which, as in Canada, waiting times to see a specialist (like my neurologist) or to have a test (multiple MRIs and spinal taps) or to have surgery are vastly increased — time during which even more permanent damage than I have suffered would have happened to me.

In my case, a longer wait for treatment could have meant much much worse, and had Kennedy been forced to seek medical care under his own program,‡ he would not have lived as long as he did.


So call it "socialized medicine" or "single payer" or "public option" or whatever you want. By any name, the system Kennedy spent his career pushing for would result in fewer doctors and nurses, rationed care, with longer waits for that care. And if you think it would be free, just wait until you see the tax bill.

I have a cousin in Nova Scotia who comes to the US annually to pay, out of her own pocket, for treatment for a chronic condition; she can't get that treatment under Canada's system. Under what conceivable circumstances would a sane nation want to inflict such a system, with evidence of its unworkability for all to see, upon itself?

If you really want to improve the medical system, let people have the same options that the Kennedys want for themselves: the right to choose their own doctor and seek medical care with whatever alacrity they desire, without government interference and without packs of ambulance chasers filing spurious malpractice lawsuits.

Which pretty much sounds like the system we already have, except for the tort reform.

* Not that my case required the best. My surgery, for the doctor in question, would have been like a miniature golf par 3 would be for Jack Nicklaus.

† I can think of a few people that really need to die in as horrible a manner as possible — bin Laden tops the list.

‡ Not that the political class in Washington will make themselves live by the rules they inflict on the rest of us, of course. If you think there won't be a "congressional exemption" from the rules, you haven't been paying attention.

Kennedy Dead

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I didn't think it would be long.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, the longtime, beloved lawmaker whose personal tragedies along with his professional triumphs and losses unfolded in the public eye, has died of brain cancer. He was 77.

Beloved by some, perhaps. Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.

Me, I merely rue the fact that of the four Kennedy brothers, he was the only one to live a full life. I swear, there must be a curse on that family. The sins of the father....

And if you thought Paul Wellstone's funeral was a political circus, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Proper response

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The REAL story

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South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, as everyone now knows, is back at home and work, after a mysterious disappearance of several days' duration. He claims to have had an affair.

I have an alternate theory.

Politicians can be outed as being gay, they can be busted on video doing drugs, they can be nailed in bribery scandals, they can even be caught having extramarital affairs... and yet all of these are politically survivable.*

But for a politician of any stripe with presidential aspirations, there's one thing that would be the kiss of death, and it would explain why he would claim to have had an affair:

Alien abduction.

Bear with me here. Think about it... what do we know about aliens?

1) They prefer kidnapping people from the South; given the incidence of abductions, their eventual nabbing of a sitting governor rather than a one-tooth-havin' moonshiner is a statistical certainty.

2) The governor flew in from Argentina. Aliens are notoriously inconsiderate as to where they drop off their abductees, so it's not entirely unanticipated that they might drop off the Governor somewhere away from home. He should count himself lucky that they dropped him in the Western hemisphere.

3) The most commonly reported aliens are known as "greys." Where better for them to pick up a human than the birthplace of the Confederacy, South Carolina? Confederate uniforms were — you guessed it — grey.

It makes perfect sense.

Any politician claiming to have been abducted by aliens can kiss his presidential hopes, and perhaps his entire career, goodbye. Compared to that, marital infidelity can be thought of as an astute political move.

* Especially if you're a Democrat — the press has your back.
† Except for Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.

[This post brought to you by the Andrew Sullivan School of Journalism. Prove me wrong.]

After a few days of downtime due to my injured back (which is improving, albeit slowly, thanks for asking) I went back to work this weekend. The network was running pretty smoothly; there were very few problems I had to deal with.

I spent my free time furiously hitting "refresh" on Twitter's #IranElection search page.

Fascinating, and heart-rending.

Note to the Bush haters: that is what a stolen election really looks like.

Hot Air headlines points to a handy guide on how to track the Iranian uprising on Twitter and other social media.

One bad apple. . . .

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I'm Pro-Life. Always have been, always will be. The casual murder of the unborn is an evil beyond compare, and needs to be fought. This, though, is not the way..

Looks like they caught the shooter, by the way. I've seen people wishing that the killer was a disgruntled husband, or a relative of one of Tiller's patients; I don't think so. Gateway Pundit quotes one of his commenters:

Despite peoples' wishes, I think we're going to find out that Tiller's murderer was indeed associated, albeit on the fringes, with some sort of pro-life organization.

That association will indeed be used to tar the entirety of the pro-life movement, in precisely the same way that the entirety of Islam wasn't after 9/11, or the Left in general wasn't after a Weather Underground bombing.

Don't kid yourselves. The odds of Tiller having been murdered for any reason other than his "medical" practice are vanishingly small.

Actually, yeah, that's me he's quoting.

There will be a backlash against the Pro-Life movement. It's coming. Never mind that the murder has been universally condemned — the forces of the Left, with the willing assistance of the most abortion-friendly (and gun-hating) administration in our history, will use this crime as a pretext to do their utmost to silence their opponents and, as a bonus, will likely try to leverage this incident to disarm Americans.

Now, I have a very hard time shedding a tear over the fate of a man who committed what I consider to be infanticide for a living, and I know I'm not alone. But let me be perfectly clear: murder, every murder, is wrong.

I am always dismayed when someone takes into his own hands the powers that are reserved to the State and to God: administration of justice, and judging a man's soul. The latter is particularly to be regretted; there is always a chance for anyone to reform their ways, to repent of their evil past. Though the odds may have been slim, the murderer robbed Tiller of that opportunity to change.

The irony, of course, is that the murderer will get the justice he deserves... but in the right way, through the legal system. Meanwhile, he has done incalculable damage to the cause he purports to support.

Aside: Tiller was killed at church. I'm guessing that particular church isn't really strong on the whole "repentance" thing. I mean, seriously, what kind of allegedly Christian church welcomes an abortionist, particularly one who unapologetically performs late-term abortions, without insisting on repentance and reform?

Would your church welcome, say, an unrepentant serial rapist into the fold?

Ed calls it domestic terrorism. Yeah, I think that's about right.


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There's one aspect of the the whole Nancy Pelosi "CIA lied to me" story that hasn't been, but needs to be, made clear.

It's the CIA's job to lie to America's enemies.

Just sayin'.

Areas of concern

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The Jesusita fire in Santa Barbara is making the news. For my family, it's more than just news; it's a threat. My brother, sister and mom are pretty close by.

(Click for larger.)

My brother's home is in the blue-circled area; my sister and mom live in the region I've circled in red. A lot of other folks I know back home are affected, as well.

Fingers crossed.

Google Map here — click the links on the left.

This won't end well.

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Swell. Just swell.

North Korea defiantly launched a rocket over Japan on Sunday, claiming to have put a satellite in orbit even though other countries said the communist nation – which has been developing nuclear capabilities – was testing its ability to fire a long-range missile.

The response so far seems a bit underwhelming.

"The United States believes that this action is best dealt with, the most appropriate response, would be a United Nations Security Council resolution," said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., during an interview on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. Ms. Rice said she would attend an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting being convened on Sunday afternoon to discuss an international response to the North Korea launch.

I can just imagine the Norks quaking in their jackboots at the prospect of another Security Council resolution. I suppose a sternly-worded letter would just be considered to be "piling on."

Perhaps Obama can issue another apology, or offer to bow down and kiss Kim Jong-Il's butt?

Given the response so far, and the responses we're likely to see in future, I'm beginning to believe it's a good thing I already speak Korean. It'll give me extra time to work on learning Farsi.

And by the way...

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I'm not outraged by the AIG bonuses. The bailout itself, yes, I'm a bit unhappy about. But with AIG remaining solvent thanks to you and me and future generations of taxpayers, I'm of the opinion that they should operate the way a business — not a government agency — should operate. Attracting and retaining talented individuals is part of the equation.

I saw some of the Congressional committee grilling of current AIG CEO Edward Liddy today, and it was clear to me that the only person in the room who knew the first thing about running a business was Liddy. Certainly none of the congressmen I saw had a clue how business works.

In fact, after seeing the verbal abuse he took today from Barney Frank & Co., if I were Liddy, I would tell Congress to get stuffed, and pay more bonuses to those AIG employees still on the payroll who are doing their jobs up to standard.

Outraged congresscritters' heads would likely proceed to do fair imitations of a MOAB.

The thought of which makes me smile.

Let me get this straight. AIG has (or had) some employees with whom it has (or had) contracts, in which was stipulated there would be a bonus payment of some kind.

AIG, still solvent thanks to the US taxpayer, complies with its contractual obligations and pays out the bonuses, some of them alleged to be enormous.

Outrage ensues.

Now, I can see how some people — the ones who don't understand the concept of "contractual obligation" — might be upset, but the hyperbole I'm seeing in the news is beyond rationality. Senator Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) suggestion that hara-kiri might be appropriate was stupid beyond belief.

But more to the point, the remedies some are proposing strike me as being plainly and patently unconstitutional.

The response from Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) struck me as most egregious. From CNN:

"My colleagues and I are sending a letter to [AIG CEO Edward] Liddy informing him that he can go right ahead and tell the employees that are scheduled to get bonuses that they should voluntarily return them," Sen. Charles Schumer said on the Senate floor. "Because if they don't, we plan to tax virtually all of [the money] ... so it is returned to its rightful owners, the taxpayers."

If Chuckie were so concerned about the taxpayers, he'd have opposed all of the recent spending. He's not really concerned about the taxpayers — he's concerned about his image. He doesn't want to be known as one of the passel of legislators who let this one get past them.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but legislation written now to tax bonuses already paid sounds a lot like an ex post facto law to me.

Legislation aimed specifically at the AIG employees who received bonuses sounds a lot to me like a bill of attainder.

What the Constitution has to say about both is quite plain, and (to this non-lawyer) quite beyond debate. Article I, Section 9 says, in part:

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

Not, of course that that will stop The One and all his congressional Obam-automotons from enacting such legislation. Because of the outrage, you see.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer. I can only read the pretty plain English in which our Constitution was written. So perhaps I should turn to the thoughts of one of the men who actually wrote the Constitution, James Madison, in Federalist Number 44:

Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation.

I'd say the intent is pretty clear.

If politicians are so worked up about the results of the bailout laws they've passed, perhaps it would behoove them to actually read the bills they propose and vote on before passing them. Making laws plainly contrary to the black-letter words of the Constitution is a dangerous thing to do.

Interesting, via Instapundit: Amid AIG Furor, Dodd Tries to Undo Bonus Protections in the 'Dodd Amendment' Rules


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Ever wonder what a trillion dollars would look like?

Have a gander at this.

And that's using $100 bills, too. Imagine if it were singles.

California über unter alles

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At Hot Air: California grinds to a halt.

This was, of course, entirely predictable. Inevitable, even — if not this year, then next, or the next. And under normal circumstances, I'd say fine, let them sink.

The downside, though, is that my entire family and many of my friends are still there. As are several million other normal productive Americans.

For years, I've cajoled my family members to get out while the getting is good. I can understand their reluctance, though. My mom has a lifetime's worth of friends there. My brother's business is there. I'm not entirely sure why my sister stays.... And of course we're natives — unlike the vast majority of those who have done their utmost to entirely screw up the state.

It used to be such a great place. I loved growing up there. No longer. It is as if God had lifted the country up at the East Coast and all the human detritus rolled down and stopped in California.

If only the debris had gone another couple of hundred miles... out into the Pacific. That'd be one way of making sure the hippies had a bath.

As things stand now, though, I expect some very bad things will be happening in California. Confiscatory taxes on producers, property taxes on assets other than real estate, confiscation of personal assets on departure from the state (either by taxing real estate sales, or the death tax, or both) and so on, starting with the (for now) failed attempt by legislators to increase the tax burden by $14.4 billion — most of it going to feed the ravenous entitlements beast... and, it should be mentioned, the state's overgenerous underfunded employee pension funds, as Instapundit points out from time to time.

Add into the mix unchecked illegal immigration and voter fraud on a level that would make the late Richard Daley green with envy, and I have a bad feeling we're going to be seeing California turning into North Venezuela... or worse, West Zimbabwe.

Not too long ago, Victor Davis Hanson noted:

California is now a valuable touchstone to the country, a warning of what not to do. Rarely has a single generation inherited so much natural wealth and bounty from the investment and hard work of those more noble now resting in our cemeteries — and squandered that gift within a generation.

Sad, but as true as anything ever was.

Things are going to get ugly in California. The only question is, how ugly?


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How do you honor a man for his remarkable actions in a moment of crisis?

The President should recall him to active duty for the purpose of awarding him the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Best. Villain. Ever.

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At least, in the Star Trek universe.

Ricardo Montalban, 1920-2009.

Best... villain... ever.

Instapundit cites a New York Times article on a serious allegation against congresscritter Charlie Rangel.

I note that Rangel's party affiliation isn't directly mentioned in the NYT article, though there's a passing reference to "fellow Democrats" in the sixth paragraph.

Sure, sure, those of us "in the know," politically, are well aware of Rangel's party affiliation, but when a majority or those polled after the November election believed, contrary to fact, that Republicans controlled Congress, I think it's reasonable to believe that a similar majority isn't going to know upon which side of the aisle Rangel sits.

Reflections on a scandal

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A few things about the Blagojevich matter crossed my mind while I was doing my household chores this afternoon.

Does this face say anything to you other than "mobbed-up scumbag"?

I say that, of course, with no intention of insulting actual bags full of scum*, what with them working hard every day serving the useful purpose to society of containing scum for easy disposal.

Which, incidentally, is an apt description of the place where Blagojevich will be spending the next 20-years-to-life.

The soon-to-be-ex-Governor was in the news yesterday, trying to strong-arm Bank of America (which today gave in, somewhat.) This seems to me to be a small example of what got the economy into the mess it's in: Big Government mandating to businesses that they behave in ways that do not make good business sense, pretty much forcing the business to lose (or give away) money.

See also: CRA.

This is the political culture into which Barack Obama deliberately insinuated himself.

This is not a good thing to happen to a President-elect.

At least with Bill Clinton, we waited a few years before any of his cronies were imprisoned.

Illinois, Illinois, Illinois... we're going to have to revoke your statehood if you can't come up with anything better than this.

I think the last truly Great And Good Thing to happen in Illinois was the Great Hippie Beat-Down of 1968...

... although, Mayor Jane Byrne was somewhat entertaining, for those of us who lived near Chicago in the early '80s. Cabrini Green!

... and I did date a wonderful girl while I was in college there.

OK, that wasn't so good for the country as a whole. But it was pretty good for me, while it lasted.


* Yes, I know. Dennis Miller. I don't think he'd mind me borrowing that turn of phrase.

With whom I happen to share a birthday.

This is news... how?

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A corrupt politician? In Illinois?


Say it isn't so.

I think I need a "Snark" category.

Close shave

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The first thing I did when I woke up today was listen to a voicemail left by an old roommate from college and early career days, who was concerned about the fire in Santa Barbara, and was asking about my mom.

I called my mom for an update on the fire situation. Apparently, the winds took the fire away from her house; it didn't get within a mile.

My brother's home was a bit closer. As I understand it, the fire was within a few hundred yards, but my sister-in-law drove by the house this morning, and there's no damage there. I heard on the radio last night that the fire department had staged a bunch of equipment on their street.

My sister-in-law (with my niece and nephew) relocated to her mother's house; my brother is in Michigan on a business trip. He must be freaking out.

If you see a story on the news about the fire, you will hear references to celebrities and "multi-million dollar homes." Sure, there are some of those, but I don't quite think my brother's place would count. There are plenty of folks of more modest circumstance who are losing their homes in this catastrophe.

The important thing, though, is that (as far as I know) no one has been killed, and very few people have been hurt.


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Just found out there's a fire in Santa Barbara that is forcing my Mom, sister, and brother all to evacuate their homes. I just called my sister — she couldn't talk, they're busy packing what they can as fast as they can.

Westmont College, roughly midway between my Mom's and my brother's houses, has been evacuated, as well.

Winds up to 70 MPH have been reported.

This bodes not well. Prayer, if you're so inclined, would be most welcome.

0500 EST update: 1500+ acres, 70+ homes destroyed. My brother's house is near one of the hot spots.

I've been listening live via the net to radio station KTYD. Better coverage than TV has provided so far.

Quote of the Day

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A "Joe" moment at a McCain rally:

"I was born in Colombia, but I was made in the U.S.A."

McCain-supporting construction worker Tito Munoz, as reported by Byron York at National Review Online. Great article — read the whole thing.

Stop the presses

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CNN clearly isn't keeping a tight enough leash on all its staff. I'm not sure how they let this slip through the cracks and onto the airwaves:


Any bets on if/when CNN willl try to have it yanked?

Via Flopping Aces.

Today's reading assignments

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We already know the media are in the tank for Obama. Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit:

A READER AT A MAJOR NEWSROOM EMAILS: "Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working." I asked permission to reprint without attribution and it was granted.

The abrogation of their responsibilities by the fourth estate does more than shock the sensibilities, it shatters any pretense they may have towards objectivity or even credibility.

Think back with me a few years. On the eve of the 2000 election, Fox News — the allegedly right-wing Fox News — broke the story of candidate Bush's 1976 DUI.

Would CNN or any of the broadcast networks do the same if Obama's transgressions were the story?

The answer is obviously a resounding "no."

On the plus side, that obviousness does lead those who are interested enough in the political news process to apply the appropriate skepticism. I stopped trusting most journalism a long time ago.

On the down side, most people aren't interested enough, and swallow whatever they're fed, even poison, if it comes with a spoonful of sugar.

(Via the Anchoress.)

The title of this post comes from a Tom Clancy novel, I think it was Clear and Present Danger. (I wish I knew where my copy was — I have all the Jack Ryan novels in hardback... somewhere.) The son of a spec-ops sergeant has an unwanted encounter with a journalist, and pointedly refuses to believe that said reporter will do what he promises he will do. That has stuck with me like very few passages from novels have.

I just wish I was sure which book it was. I guess now I have to re-read them all.

How we got to where we are

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I'm not an idiot, but neither am I an economist. So I talked with my brother (the finance executive) today and we chatted about the current news from Wall Street and Washington.

I still don't understand it all, but I have a better idea about what's going on.

I sent him the link to this video:

(Video via Ace.)

It makes sense to me, but I'm more interested in what my brother the banker has to say about it.

Who needs the kamikaze media anymore? I mean, other than those on the Left who enjoy hitting the talk show and cocktail circuit, being fawned over, sucked up to, and adored.

The new media of the Internet seems to be doing a pretty good job of reportage and analysis — one need only recall this to be reminded of the power of the web.

The latest effort from one of my favorite sites, The Jawa Report, is the kind of reporting that the media can no longer be relied upon to perform — especially when Democrats are involved.

To wit: Hope, Change, & Lies: Orchestrated "Grassroots" Smear Campaigns & the People that Run Them.


The above, which explores a smear of Sarah Palin — likely orchestrated by players in the Obama campaign — is a long, thoughtful, tech-savvy and well-researched investigative piece the likes of which you won't find in the press. Even when the target is a conservative, the press doesn't do things this thoroughly.

Kudos to Rusty Shackleford for his fine work. Maybe someone will sit up and take notice. Someone like, perhaps, the FEC.

FLAMING SKULL UPDATE [with the obligatory language alert] : Devastating, indeed. Ace notes that the videos in question have already been pulled from YouTube, minutes after Rusty's post. Good thing copies were made.

I see that the main YouTube account in question has been closed, too. The guilty flee....

Modern Nomenclature, part 2

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I think we can stop using the terms "mainstream media" or "legacy media."

Faced with a loss of market share and influence, and the increasing influence of new online media, members of the Obama Press Corps are flinging themselves suicidally against Sarah Palin in an effort to sink the GOP campaign, and ruining the one thing that ought to be most precious to anyone in journalism: their own credibility.

They are now the kamikaze media.

For numerous examples, see the Anchoress' Running Sarah Palin Thread of Hate & Doooom, and see one type of backlash, from Michelle Malkin.

Congresswoman dies

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It is being reported that congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-OH, passed away today after suffering an aneurysm. I was no fan of her politics, but I can't think of any scandal associated with her name.

Young or old, rich or poor, famous or anonymous, ready or not: any one can go at any time. Be ready.

Condolences to the congresswoman's family and friends.

Update: doctors now say that she is still on life support, in critical condition.

Update 2: just (7:55pm) heard she's gone. Dunno why the reportorial confusion.

One ring to rule them all

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I know, it's late, but I finished work late, just had dinner, and now I've got the itch.

Via Instapundit, a bit on the U.S.News & World Report website:

One Nation, Under a New Obama Salute

o hai!

George Bush had his three-fingered W salute that supporters flashed when greeting him at presidential campaign events in 2000. And now, if a Los Angeles creative agency gets its way, Sen. Barack Obama will see fans meet him with his own salute like the one above.

Because the Obamessiah veneration wasn't already creepy enough.
"Our goal is to see a crowd of 75,000 people at Obama's nomination speech holding their hands above their heads, fingers laced together in support of a new direction for this country, a renewed hope, and acceptance of responsibility for our future," says Rick Husong, owner of The Loyalty Inc.
A new direction? What, in a circle?

I can tell you one thing that goes in a circle, millions of times daily. Accompanied by a flushing sound.

On the plus side, as long as people are making that symbol, you know their fingers aren't in your wallet.

Husong tells me that he got the idea after seeing the famous Obama-Progress poster by artist Shepherd Fairey.
Yeah, you know which poster — the one that looks like it came from a socialist agit-prop specialist.

OK, OK, the one that did come from a socialist agit-prop specialist.

I swear, the more I see of Obama the more I think he should have bypassed Berlin, saved a few steps and a lot of time, and given that "citizen of the world" speech at Nuremberg.

Coming soon: natty little armbands with the Obama logo.

Update: Michelle has more ideas for appropriate symbolism. And she beat me to the story, too. Dang.


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Another Sunday, another lunatic shooting up a church.

OK, it's not that common an occurrence... but nevertheless awful for those affected, particularly the family of the man who died.

I can't help but think that the derogation of religion by influential people in the realms of media and entertainment has contributed to this. You never used to see this sort of thing happening, but given the disdain and disparagement shown towards those of a religious bent (Christians, specifically — mysticism and Eastern religions are "cool," and few dare to speak ill of Islam) it is unsurprising to me that a few folks with loose screws might be convinced that a church is the appropriate target for their hatred.

7/28 update: it looks like his motives were either that he hated Christians or that he hated liberals. There's stronger evidence — a letter he wrote — for the latter.

However, I am not at all sure, contra Professor Reynolds, how that "makes more sense."

Not to knock those in the midst of their tragedy, but I have a question: in what meaningful sense is this place a church?

If, when I was a kid, our church youth had put on a production of "Annie" on a Sunday morning, my parents would both have had strokes on the spot — and we would have been looking for a new church before the paramedics arrived.

I guess Bible stories in Sunday School are pretty passé these days, at least among Universalist Unitarians, when Broadway show tunes are available to study.

Tony Snow dies

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Damn. Just damn.

Among his other accomplishments, he was a terrific writer, one of the best. My favorite Snow-ism, from a commencement address he gave:

Wherever you are and whatever you do, never forget at this moment, and every moment forward, you have a precious blessing. You've got the breath of life. No matter how lousy things may seem, you've got the breath of life. And while God doesn't promise tomorrow, he does promise eternity.


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The big news, on most channels at some point or another today: Supreme Court affirms 2nd Amendment protects an individual right.

Not going to make the news: four US Supreme Court justices are functionally illiterate.

Tim Russert dead

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Tim Russert dies of heart attack

That sucks.

On the whole, I'm no fan of journalists, but I liked Tim Russert. He seemed like a really decent and serious guy.

Much more here.

Also sucking: this leaves poltroons like Keith Olbermann as leaders in the (MS)NBC stable.

Small world, no?

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I heard on the news today that Senator Kennedy had gone under the knife for the recently diagnosed tumor. Best of luck to him with that. I don't like his politics at all, but in this I can do naught but wish him well.

Of course, he's not going to need too much luck. He had the best neurosurgeon in the world.

I should know. He was my neurosurgeon, too.

Proof of life

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Via Instapundit: Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter Captures Images of Phoenix Lander's Descent. Follow the link, and check out that photo.

Way, way cool.

But as I was looking at the full-sized photo, I noticed something else the MRO had caught in the frame. If you look very closely at about the two o'clock position near the center of the crater, you'll be as stunned as I was. You should be able to just make out my startling discovery below the fold.

More brains

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Ted Kennedy Diagnosed With Brain Tumor.

As much as I oppose pretty much every thing he stands for, I can't help but wish him and his family well in this time of trouble. This goes way beyond politics.

I know it entirely too well from my own recent experience: brain problems purely suck.

Another one from Hot Air (the headlines, this time):

Six-Year-Old to Have Half Her Brain Removed Next Month Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A 6-year-old girl suffering from a rare disorder will have half her brain removed next month at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.

. . .

She suffers from Rasmussen's encephalitis, a rare illness that eats away at the brain and plagues its sufferers with seizures and reduced mobility.

Having been in the reduced-mobility camp, I can sympathize. In my own case I was prepared, a year ago, for any number of possible diagnoses, but I never imagined anything as horrible as this.

In most cases, he said, the healthy side of the brain will take over the tasks of the missing side of the brain. Some paralysis and other side effects are expected, but the seizures will stop, the Web site reported. Johns Hopkins does about a dozen of these surgeries a year. [Emphasis mine.]

I guess now we know why we only use that often-cited 15% of our brain. "Fearfully and wonderfully made," indeed.

Not surprising

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It is California, after all.

In other decisions released today, the California Supreme Court has ruled that π (pi) is equal to exactly 3.00, and that God (a.k.a. "Jehovah") can be sued by European Americans for damages suffered by their ancestors during the Black Death plague of the 14th century.

Go Fight Win

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While covering the news last night on FNC's Red Eye (you are DVRing it nightly, are you not?) Fox Business Network reporter Tracy Byrnes defended cheerleading as a "sport."

Utter nonsense.

Cheerleading, Ice Dancing, and Synchronized Swimming may all be competitive endeavours requiring athletic ability, but they aren't sports.

Here are two simple rules of thumb by which you can tell if the activity in which you are engaged is a sport, when victory is determined by your score:

  • If a score is awarded based on judges' arbitrary opinion of the quality of your performance, it's not a sport.
  • If the score is determined solely by the completion of a specific task, it is a sport.


History Lesson

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Next time someone here in the U.S. says an election was "stolen" (and you know there are people who will never give up on that belief) you can point them to this example of what a stolen election really looks like.

Film legend and past NRA president Charlton Heston has died.

Though he was best known for his iconic roles in such films as Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments and Planet of the Apes, the lesser-known El Cid, in which he plays the part of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar during the Reconquista, has always vied for the honor of being my favorite Heston film.

I can't imagine Hollywood these days making an epic-scale movie about a hero fighting the Muslims. Pity. If you haven't seen El Cid, rent it. Heston is great, and Sophia Loren provides some tasty eye-candy.

One day back in the early '80s, while I was home on a break from college, our family got dressed up "spiffy casual" and drove down to L.A. to see a show. We'd done so many times previously, and this particular time we were off to see "Nicholas Nickleby."

I remember nothing about the play itself... but I remember that the Hestons were sitting in front of us, and I remember that Mr. Heston was very gracious to those few people who dared to approach him.

He was a legend, while pretty much all we have these days are over-hyped "stars." They don't make many like Heston any more.

Real American Hero

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Herb Peterson, McDonald's franchisee and inventor of the Egg McMuffin, passed away Tuesday at his home in Santa Barbara. He was 89.

Take a moment to reflect on what he did for the average commuter. He basically invented the fast-food breakfast, giving people on their way to work the opportunity to have something more than a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

I'm just young enough to not know if anyone did fast-food grab-and-go breakfasts before McDonald's did, but surely they all do it now.

I intend to have a McMuffin in his honor... even (because of my hours) if I have to make it from scratch myself.

[Heavily updated to correct errors. So sue me.]

Hello, ladies

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Prime marriage fodder, I am.

Women, Want a Healthy Marriage? Marry Man Uglier Than You, Study Says

Monday, March 24, 2008

The best marriages are those where women marry men who are less attractive than themselves, research has found.

Psychologists who studied newlyweds found men who were better-looking than their wives were more likely to be unhappy and have negative feelings about their marriage.

In couples where the wife is more attractive, both partners tended to be very content.

This goes a long way towards explaining my brother's almost twenty years of marital bliss.

And for the record: I am available.

Don't Drink the Water, Either

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I had a bad burrito once, but it was not like this.

Almost, but not quite.

Paging Tammy Wynette

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Eliot Spitzer announced his resignation today, his wife by his side. Surprise, surprise.

What is it about politicians' wives that compels them to stand by their men, regardless of their betrayals? We see it over and over. Remember Jim McGreevy (D-NJ), who famously resigned his governorship after a gay affair was discovered? Even his wife stood by his side while he announced that he was a "Gay-American" and had carried on with a male employee. Now, of course, the McGreeveys are separated and on their way to a divorce.

More to my liking is the mental image conjured up by something Dick Armey (R-TX) said during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal:

If I were in the President's place I would not have gotten a chance to resign. I would be lying in a pool of my own blood, hearing Mrs. Armey standing over me saying, "How do I reload this damn thing?"

If only more politicians' wives were like that — there would undoubtedly be less misbehavior.

Update: Heh.

Career Terminated

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Governor Eliot Spitzer (D-NY), who was lauded by the press as a Robin Hood sort of guy for his actions as New York's Attorney General, is in a huge dang load of trouble.

I always thought he seemed pretty slimy. His pursuits as AG seemed to me to be geared expressly to get him into the Governor's office, and as a springboard to national office.

Turns out he was a different sort of Robin Hood — taking from the rich and giving to the whores.

(Via Hot Air... again. They have all the good stuff.)

Update: Let's play Guess The Party!

The current version (at 3:45pm) of the New York Times' online story doesn't mention Spitzer's party affiliation until the 15th paragraph. If he'd been a Republican, they'd have mentioned the GOP in the headline, in the lede, and in every subsequent paragraph.

My niece has lately taken to regaling me with her favorite Chuck Norris facts. (My favorite: There is no chin under Chuck Norris' Beard. There is only another fist.)

Now here's one for her: Chuck Norris the only WMD in Iraq.

Currently in Iraq, I'm sure they meant to say.

(Via Hot Air.)

Class Act

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Senator Joseph Lieberman (Ind-CT) on the Senate floor, on the passing of Buckley.

"A Singularly Remarkable Life" *

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William F. Buckley Jr., R.I.P.

More, with must-see video, at Hot Air.

History Sort Of Repeats

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I don't like John McCain a whole lot, but an unverified and unsourced NYT smear-job might just get me to support him. If they don't like him, there must be something worthwhile about his candidacy — the enemy of my enemy, etc., etc. I'm only surprised they didn't figure out how to hold the story until the Friday before the general election.

Just wondering... has anyone seen Dan Rather or Mary Mapes recently?

Banner Headline

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Right now on Fox:

Breaking News >> Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro Retires From Presidency

I can't wait to see what Val and the rest of the crew at Babalu have to say.

Before I forget to say it: good riddance.

This is a step in the right direction for Cuba. Only one step — Raul Castro will probably move in where Fidel leaves off — but the longest journey, as they say, begins with that one step.

Update 3:01am: headline now reads "Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro Steps Down As President And Commander." No article online yet.

3:08am: CNN has a story up — Castro resigns as president, state-run paper reports

3:11: Ah, Fox does have the story, linked off the headline on the front page (rather than listed with their other stories.)

3:15: CNN — "Fidel Castro captured the world's attention and imagination at 32 when the bearded revolutionary led a band of guerillas that overthrew a corrupt dictatorship -- and then became an irritating thorn in Washington's paw by embracing communism and cozying up to the Soviet Union."

I guess that's about as worshipful as they were prepared to be at this hour of the morning. No doubt the lauds will come later.

[Later...] As predictable as a sunset... CNN: Be kind to castro

I guess there's an upside to working nights... I get to see all the stories that break in the wee hours of the morning. This would be maybe the second such in three years.

Seven Deadly Sins

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Envy — Whoever gets to kick Ted Rall's ass for this, I envy.

Lust — Someone really really likes fire... in an entirely inappropriate way. Pity we don't use firing squads to deal with such.

Gluttony — They always want more, and they won't rest until they get it.

Greed — Illegals demand: "Gimme gimme gimme!"

Sloth — Too lazy to do due diligence in their reporting, TNR gets pwned by Bob Owens.

WrathCode Pink is mad... mad, as in "insane."

Pride — "I'm a reporter! Respect me!" Um... no. That syllogism just doesn't work.

Fresh Squeezed O.J.

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Michelle Malkin has the details.

As for me, I'll just say this: I was fresh out of the Army and going to school in LA when the OJ murder trial took place. I had (and to some degree still have to this day) the mindset that said "facts are facts and any reasonable person can put aside their prejudices and judge a case purely on the facts."

Mheh. I guess they didn't bother to try to find 12 reasonable people for the jury last time OJ was on trial.

On a personal level what disturbed me most about that entire episode was that several of my classmates readily admitted that on the facts OJ was guilty as sin, but they were still glad he got off because he was a "brutha."

Ya, right. OJ had as much in common with my classmates as I do a native tribesman in the Amazon. But because of his skin color, they were literally willing to let him get away with murder. Indeed, they vocally rejoiced when he was acquitted.

An odd thing happened a month or so after the acquittal. I went to work after class each day, and it was one of my duties to take the daily deposits down the block to the bank. One of the other bank customers I saw most days was from the local Jaguar dealership. One day, he showed me one of the checks he was depositing — a check for over $70,000, written by Johnnie Cochran. Two people dead, OJ acquitted, and Cochran driving a brand-new Jaguar out of the deal.

And people wonder why I hate trial lawyers.

Opposites Detract

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What does it say about you if someone "brave, honorable, and true" is a problem for you?

Six Years

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(Graphic via the now-defunct A Small Victory)

In order to keep my Real Man bona fides current — disability being no excuse — yesterday I crutched my way out to the garage and used a power tool (Porter Cable circular saw) to destroy something.

[Insert grunting noises here.]

Now disposed of: the crate in which my lathe was delivered, and which has been needlessly hanging about in the garage, in a manner not unlike Larry Craig in an airport men's room stall, but entirely without the wide stance.

'Nuff Said

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About the Vick dog-fighting/cruelty case: almost everything I might have to say, I said three years ago, with one addendum.

This is as clear an example as one might wish of what can happen when people are coddled and unceasingly told "you can do no wrong" simply because they have athletic ability.

In most cases, it merely leads to an inflated ego.

Sometimes, though, it creates a sociopath.

A modicum of sanity in Oregon, where charges of felonious butt-swatting against two 13-year-old boys have been dropped. I don't care who you are, butt-swatting when a 13-year-old should in no way mark you as a sex offender for life. Indeed, I can't think of too many things a 13-year-old can do that ought to label them for life. Are you the same person now that you were when you were 13?

Steve H. prognosticates. He may be on to something there. Me, I think we're looking at a major redefinition of the term "boob-tube."

No, Gary, it's not just you.

Garofalo to join cast of "24." Fonzie to jump shark.

Louisiana Democrats attack Bobby Jindal's religion. (Isn't Louisiana a heavily Catholic state?) They once tried a whisper campaign about his ethnicity, so this really comes as no surprise. That they have to take his words out of context is not only unsurprising, it's pretty much the standard modus operandi for Democrats these days.

John Edwards: not so bright. Less bright: the people who ever voted for him for anything.

Breaking and entering? Illegal. Squatting? Not so much.

LOL, cat.

A Lesson Learned Too Late

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Dan Riehl points out what ought to be — what once used to be — blindingly obvious:

I've no desire to insult the victim or her family and no one should. But the sad reality is that Jessie Davis was either the victim of poor self, or impulse control and poor decision-making, perhaps both, long before she became a murder victim. And to suggest that one isn't in any way related to another only endorses the notion that values don't matter. They do. And while Ms. Davis certainly isn't in any way directly responsible for her own death, had she been a bit more responsible with her life, it likely wouldn't have ended in such a tragic crime. [Emphasis mine.]

[Link via Misha, who adds his own particular flavor of invective — the language is not for the sensitive, but the sentiment is dead-on.]

It should come as no surprise that a man who cheats on his wife — twice, three times, maybe more — might not be the ideal man on whom to pin your hopes for future happiness, or to be your baby's daddy.

Jessie Davis had to learn the hard way, and too late, that poor choices and irresponsible behavior can indeed have horrible consequences. Yet, if someone somewhere along the line had gotten through to her with the message that adulterous affairs are a bad idea, she might be alive today.

Similarly, Bobby Cutts might have learned at some point that cheating on your wife is wrong, and that murder is not only as wrong as can be, but certainly isn't going to make things any easier.

Simple things, one would think.

I hope that somewhere, someone sees the 24-hour news cycle coverage of what happened in Ohio and avoids making a tragic mistake in his or her own life.


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If you need a DNA test to determine who your baby's father is, you're a whore.

[Rape victims excepted, of course.]

I Got Nothin'

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Still no word on the MRI results. The longer I wait, the more nervous I get.

Nonetheless, I am constantly reminded that whatever my problems are, they are as a hill of beans when compared to some other peoples' problems.

Like Tony Snow, for instance.

Man, that just plain sucks. Good luck, Tony.

Medical Miracles: May They Never Cease

From the BBC:

Viagra used to save baby's life

Viagra has been used by doctors on Tyneside as a last resort to save the life of a premature baby.

Lewis Goodfellow was born at 24 weeks weighing just 1lb 8oz. One of his lungs had failed and not enough oxygen was able to get into his bloodstream.

Doctors at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary then tried Sildenafil, also known under the trade name of Viagra, and Lewis is now home with his parents.

The drug opened up tiny blood vessels in the baby's lungs.

Plus, all the girl babies followed him home from the maternity ward.

I'm glad to see that an other-than-expected beneficial use was found for Viagra. It gives me hope to think that perhaps, maybe someday, a miraculous medical use might be found for single malt scotch whisky.


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I never thought Anna Nicole Smith was terribly attractive. Some people might find silicone-filled Hefty bags appealing. Not I... but I'm inclined to think it matters more to whom they are connected.

Smith reminded me of a piranha — toothy, opportunistic and predatory. Add to the mix the bovine physique and... well, piranhas and cows don't mix well, as every travelogue ever made about the Amazon River was sure to point out.

Had she lived to a ripe old age, she might have become known as the most successful prostitute since the Byzantine Empress Theodora. Now, though, she'll be remembered — if at all — as a self-destructive gold-digger who thought she was Marilyn Monroe.

I do feel sorry for the baby, though. That kid has no chance whatsoever of having a normal life.

Durham in Wonderland

Despite the fact that it's less than 20 miles up the road from me and could be considered "local news," I haven't written anything about the Duke lacrosse rape case, primarily because I have nothing to add to the public discussion.

However, for those who hear about the case only from the 30-second evening news blurbs, there's a source of information not to be missed. Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center professor K. C. Johnson, a Duke alum, has been following the case almost from the outset at his remarkably thorough site Durham in Wonderland.

Short version: the good professor is no fan of Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.

The Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz, who did stellar (i.e., Pulitzer-winning) work on the unjust prosecutions of daycare providers for wholly imaginary sexual assaults (based on false memories planted in very young childrens' minds by investigators with agendas) offers up her take on the matter today. Well worth reading.

Theme Song

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In honor of the final event of Saddam's life, I'd like to offer this song.

[Lyrics here.]

I should have worn a necktie to work today. Dang it.

11pm update: good riddance to bad rubbish.

Other commentary:
Outside the Beltway
Confederate Yankee
Captain's Quarters
Hot Air

Don't Look At Me Like That

Back in my days in the Silicon Valley, when I was an officer of the LUG out there, I used to have a passing acquaintance with a brilliant software developer named Hans. . .

. . .who I just learned was arrested a week or so ago on suspicion of murdering his wife.

Police: Books, Bloody Sleeping Bag Led To Reiser Arrest
Hans Reiser Charged With Murder

POSTED: 6:57 am PDT October 12, 2006

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Alameda County District Attorney's Office charged Hans Reiser with one count of murder Thursday, NBC11 News reported.

Reiser was handcuffed and wore a red jail jumpsuit during his 2 p.m. Thursday court appearance in Oakland. Well-known defense attorney Daniel Horowitz appeared with Reiser as did attorney Bill Dubois.


It was half a dozen years ago, and I didn't actually know the guy at all except to say "hi" to — on the geek continuum, he was as far above me as I am above my cat — but I'm still pretty sure I could have gone rather a long time without needing to hear news like this.

I don't know anything about the case other than what's been published in the papers, but for some reason, the notion of an Alpha Geek (which Hans unquestionably was and is) committing a violent crime against a spouse just doesn't seem real. I'm not saying he did or didn't do it — "don't know" means don't know — just that it's counter to every geek stereotype you care to name.

Just to get you started: how many übergeeks have wives?

Deja Vu

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Oh, no. Not again:

Explosion Reported At Apex EQ Plant
No Plans To Close Area Schools

APEX, N.C. -- Apex authorities have received multiple reports of an explosion at the site of the Environmental Quality Industrial Services, which caught fire nearly two weeks ago.

A white plume of smoke could be seen above the remains of the facility. There were also reports of a pungent odor in the air.

Apex Police Capt. Ann Stephens told WRAL that the explosion was a small fire in a 55-gallon barrel that cleanup crews were working with, but that the fire had been contained.

"All indications are that it will be localized to that one drum of material," Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly said.

OK, looks like no big deal.

Civic Pride

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Most people like to see a big to-do made about their home towns.

But, not like this:

Apex Plant Fire, Explosions Lead To Evacuations

POSTED: 10:47 pm EDT October 5, 2006
UPDATED: 1:20 am EDT October 6, 2006

APEX, N.C. -- Town officials declared a state of emergency early Friday and evacuated about half of the town after a cloud containing chlorine gas spewed from a volatile industrial fire.

Apex Town Manager Bruce Radford said a leak at the EQ North Carolina plant on Investment Boulevard sent several large plumes of chlorine gas into the air around 9 p.m. A large fire broke out at the plant afterward, with multiple explosions heard nearby.

"This is the worst possible hazardous materials incident you could have," Radford said.

Swell. Just damn superb.

I heard about this while driving home from work in a brief snippet on the radio, before the station returned to the NC State "Wolfpack" football post-game coverage. Great programming decision, guys.

I called my brother in California, and asked him to go to Google News. While I drove, he read the news to me over the phone, and I realized that — whew — my home is as far from the incident as it can be while still within the town of Apex. The prevailing winds work in my favor.

I see now on the local news that there's an evacuation center at an elementary school that's a mile closer to the site of the incident than I am. If there was any hazard here, that school wouldn't be used as a shelter.

But I have friends who live in the area affected by the evacuation order. I hope they're OK. I hope they know they can knock on my door if they need to do so.

I still don't know who won the State game.

Update, 4:30am: Yeah, pride. I've had the local news on most of the time. People are behaving well, there's a minimum of complaining, many evacuees are bringing their own supplies... people are acting like adults.

Best of all, I haven't heard of any injuries. Let's hope it stays that way.



I'm normally a heavy sleeper. Minor things — light, noise, and so on — can keep me awake, but once I'm asleep, a grenade under the bed wouldn't be enough to wake me up.

Certainly, a house exploding half a mile away didn't wake me.

When I was sick last week, one of the reasons I felt like complete crap was a lack of sleep. I'd woken up in the predawn hours last week Thursday to stagger to the little sergeant's room, but was unable to get back to sleep due to the noise of a number of helicopters which were flying around the neighborhood.

I thought it was the Marines, who often fly through the area, though I'd never noted them to do so at such hours. Usually, though, they just fly past on their way to or from Cherry Point, but these birds were loitering in the area.

I finally managed to fall asleep again an hour or so later; the sun was coming up. [I have blackout shades, so the sunlight wasn't a problem.] I don't remember, but I presume the choppers had left. When I finally awoke later in the day, I felt like warmed-over dog crap, so I called in sick and went back to bed for the day.

I gave no more thought to the helicopters which had kept me awake. This weekend, though, a co-worker and I started chatting. He lives just down the road from me, and asked me what I thought about the explosion.


Yes, explosion.

I never heard it, but it explained why the helicopters were pestering me.

Some Of Us Don't Need A Soapbox To Stand On


"Don't believe everything you read." We've all heard that.

OK, so don't believe everything... but maybe you can believe this, from a few weeks ago:

Taller people are smarter: study

Aug 25, 2006 — NEW YORK (Reuters) - While researchers have long shown that tall people earn more than their shorter counterparts, it's not only social discrimination that accounts for this inequality — tall people are just smarter than their height-challenged peers, a new study finds.

I think it absolutely imperative that people pay attention to these researchers.

That I say so has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I'm 6'8" tall. Nothing at all.

And how tall are the researchers?

They are both 5 feet 8 inches tall, well above the average height of 5 feet 4 inches for American women.

No, nothing at all.

Update: Not at all related. Not a bit.

Lethal Vegetables


Guess what I was going to have for dinner last night?

Yep — a big spinach salad.

I settled for coldcuts and cheese.

Five Years


[This is a re-post, modified, from 9/11/2004]

One morning while working from home I turned on the TV in time to see one of the World Trade Towers burning. As I watched, an airliner slammed into the second tower; in that second, the world changed.

No, that's not right. The world didn't change — we all woke up.

As events unfolded, I could only think of the people trapped by the fire, and I wondered how the authorities would evacuate so many people. Helicopters on the roof, I figured.

Then the towers fell. A plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and everyone expected there would be more attacks.

Our "vacation from history" was over, and we were at war. Against whom didn't quite matter at that moment.

Remember the preliminary casualty estimates? Numbers upwards of 30,000 were cited that morning. The shock I felt could only have been the merest shade of the horror and despair felt by the families of the victims watching on TV, wondering if their loved ones had escaped... or wondering if the body falling from the tower was their family member.

Five years later, we count ourselves fortunate that "only" 3,000 died on 9/11.

From that day and in the years since, we have learned of acts of incredible courage and steadfastness, starting with Todd Beemer and his fellow passengers on Flight 93, continued by the people who stopped Richard Reid's potentially deadly shoe-bomb plot, carried on by men leaping into the darkness over Afghanistan, with leaders like GEN Tommy Franks, and continuing today with all our armed forces.

We are also fortunate that the man in the White House is a man of moral courage and intestinal fortitude, who knows that doing the right thing should not be subject to an opinion poll.

Since 9/11, the war on terrorists and terrorist states has gone very well overall, with few mistakes and a blessedly low casualty rate for our soldiers. We have also been lucky enough — and good enough — not to have suffered another attack approaching the magnitude of 9/11.

The lesson I take from all this is that we can never again allow ourselves to nap through history; it has a way of catching up with us, and when it does, it will take all our skill, intelligence and courage to face it down. The bad guys, present and future, may get lucky again some day, but real Americans are made of stern stuff. No matter the setbacks we may face in the future, we will ultimately win.

Burned Out, Not Faded Away


You've heard about the death of Australian zoologist Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin by now, no doubt.

When those who willingly engage in inherently risky activities die, one often hears sentiments along the line of, "he went out the way he wanted to, doing what he loved." I suppose that might apply here, too, though I doubt Mr. Irwin meant it to happen while he was quite so young, with two young children.

Perhaps he ought to have placed the welfare of his family ahead of his own desire to get close to nature and to educate. No doubt his children will be well provided for... but I bet they would rather have a Dad.

Related: Jack M., guest-posting at Ace of Spades, has additional thoughts worth reading.

It's Worth a Try

I find myself liking Steve's idea for speeding up airport screening.


Captain Ed explores the "knife/gunfight" paradigm.

Marcus Cole might put it differently:

It's like I've always said: You can get more with a kind word and a two-by-four than you can with just a kind word.

There's a time for diplomacy, yes, but sometimes you have to kick the other guy in the teeth to get his attention.

Shocking... Or Not.

My dad used to enjoy telling us how, when he played football for San Francisco State back in the '50s, one of the approved-for-athletes courses he took was — I kid you not — Square-Dance Calling.

So, I just don't see how this story could really come as much of a surprise to anyone who's ever been exposed to college athletics.

The bigger question, I suppose, is: with all those former football player college-educated square-dance callers out in the job market, why is it that the guys you see doing it are always scrawny septugenarians?

Should Have Used The Parking Brake

Bad dog. Bad, bad dog.

Still, Ranger has a long way to go before Toonces will need to worry about the competition.


Following columnist Robert Novak's revelation earlier this week that the source for the "outing" of Valerie Plame was not in fact Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, or any of the usual people lefties wish to see in handcuffs and shackles, Plame and her husband "Lying Joe" Wilson have filed a civil suit against those same people.

It seems that the very people who are not being prosecuted by the government for leaking are being sued for the damage their not-leaking may have done.

Suing people for damaging your reputation would be a legitimate thing to do, but in Joe Wilson's case, perhaps it might be best to disappear off the radar of publicity. The idea of such a suit is to gain back your reputation, but this case will almost certainly destroy Wilson's. If this suit ever goes to trial, old Joe is going to have his ass handed to him. There will undoubtedly be uncomfortable questions a-plenty.

Personally, I'd rather like to hear his explanation of how he could report one set of Niger facts to congress, and then publicly use a contradictory set of facts (read: "lie") in the NY Times in an attempt to damage the President. Now that is something that ought to be lawsuit-worthy....

Joe Wilson seems determined to go down in history as the man who put the "ass" in "ambassador."

al-Qaeda/Iraq - What's Next

With the head having been cut off of al Qaeda in Iraq, how long will that chicken continue to run around before it dies? Or will it instead sprout a new head?

Many lower life forms are capable of regrowing damaged organs... and there aren't too many life forms lower than the jihadists.

Zarqawi Killed

Michelle Malkin has all the links.

Good News on the Legal Front

Almost three years ago, I suggested that the Racketeering, Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statutes be used against the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, who line their pockets at our expense, for very little actual return.

Today at Captain's Quarters, Ed has some related news.

The New McCarthyism

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"McCarthyism" has a new definition today:

McCarthyism: efforts by members of a political opposition to subvert the policies of an elected government through the selective illegal release of classified or sensitive government information with the intent of affecting policy, swaying public opinion, damaging an administration, or creating scandal where none exists.*

New definition created in "honor" of Mary O. McCarthy, Democrat appointee at the CIA, fired for leaking classified information to the media.

Rope. Tree. Traitor. Some assembly required.

Coverage at:
Michelle Malkin
Protein Wisdom
Ace of Spades (with more here, here, and here)
Captain's Quarters
Flopping Aces
And of course Emperor Misha I

* Yes, there's some redundancy in there. It's late, I'm tired, and the definition might undergo modification when I've had some sleep.

A Note to the Paris Riot Police


About those water cannon you're using: add some soap.

Seriously. Those are French students you're hosing down.

Employez le savon. Ils sentent terribles.

Profs Supremely Wrong


The Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment, which requires educational institutions which take certain types of federal funding to allow military recruiters the same access that any other recruiters are granted.

Those suing to have the law stricken down were the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, a group of law school professors and administrators opposed to the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy, who wished to block recruiters' access [allegedly] on First Amendment grounds (though to be honest, I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb to suspect that they would grasp at any reason at all to oppose the military.)

Unanimously, the Supreme Court ruled against FAIR and in favor of the US government's position.

All of which begs the question: if the members of FAIR were so incredibly wrong — unanimously SCOTUS-ly wrong — on the meaning of the law and the applicability of the First Amendment, then what are they doing teaching Law in the first place?

These are the people producing bumper crops of lawyers every year. What else might they be wrong about? With what are they filling law students' heads?

And, is "SCOTUS-ly" a word?

Discussion and linkapalooza at Protein Wisdom.

Objects at Rest

"Long after we are gone ... our voices will linger in these walls for as long as this place remains." — G'Kar

Actor Andreas Katsulas passed away February 13th. For Babylon 5 fans, his unforgettable voice lingers.

Stand, Men of the West - II

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Michelle Malkin notices certain people who won't stand — stand up for free speech, stand up against intimidation.

Of course, they aren't really Men in any meaningful sense, nor are they really of the West.

Stand, Men of the West

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[Updates below.]

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.

A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day. This day we fight!

By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you Stand, men of the West!

It is not a small matter to make oneself a potential target of the rage of a death-worshipping ideology bent on conquest. Any rational person might feel fear at the thought of being targeted by such a concentration of evil. We already know how the followers of evil react when their behavior is exposed.

Some people, perhaps many, will surrender to fear and threats. They do not realize we are all already targets.

But many more will not let their courage fail them. They know we are all already targets.

We are in the midst of an ongoing struggle, culture against culture, and there is no guarantee of victory. But fight we must, in big ways and small. Some of us can don a uniform; many of us have done so in the past. Most do other things, making their own individual stands right where they are, not surrendering to the ideologies of fear or tolerance of evil, but by living the lives of free men and women and exercising dearly held freedoms.

Including the freedom of speech.

In this, I don't care how you vote, nor does it matter what church you attend, or not. I don't care whether you're red state or blue, pink or green. If you value your freedom to make choices, to live your life as you see fit, respecting the rights of others, even though you disagree on some or many things... if you will not surrender your fundamental liberties merely to save your own skin, and will not submit to dhimmitude, then stand.

And to those of you who would tolerate the intolerable, who fear to give offense rather than speak the truth, who would strike a bargain with evil to save your miserable skins: begone. We have no use for you.

Updates, 4Jan06

1. Don't miss Jeff Goldstein's post, Identity Politics, Free Speech, and the Future of worldwide Liberalism, 2: a follow-up.

[If, as Lileks once said, Bill Whittle is the Kirk and Steven Den Beste the Spock of the blogosphere, then surely Jeff is the Scotty. His ability to dig into the nuts and bolts of issues, to get to the fundamentals, and then to deliver superbly-written analysis is top notch.]

2. The quote of the day is from Tim Blair, on the Danes vs. Muslims "clash of civilizations":

No; that would require two civilisations.

Update, 5Jan06

Wind Rider points out what is not meant by "stand."

Saddam's Trial (reposted)

Back in December of 2003, within a week of Saddam Hussein's capture, I wrote a little post about his eventual trial.

The trial has begun, so I thought it might be appropriate to repost the bulk of my thoughts on the matter.

The European chattering classes, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, want Saddam put on trial in some nice neutral place, where the worst that will happen is that he be locked away for life in the latest equivalent of Spandau. I'm sure *spit* Jacques Chirac *spit* would no doubt like to see Saddam held in comfortable house arrest somewhere on the French Riviera, where perhaps they might sometime get together to reminisce about their arms deals and their hatred of Israel. Our Friends The Saudis, who had no qualms about setting up housekeeping for Idi Amin, might even be persuaded to take him in as a retired refugee.

Anything to spare the former dictator from that tres gauche oh-so-American punishment, the death penalty.


Deliberately or otherwise, the EU-UN-weenies miss the point.

Understand this: the purpose of Saddam's trial is not to prove innocence or guilt. Saddam is manifestly guilty. Rather, the purpose will be to lay out the extent of his crimes for all the world to see, to count and put names to the victims, and to show despots the world over what can (and, G-d willing, will) happen to them, too.

Only then will he be hanged, or shot, or beheaded, or stoned, or be thrown off a roof, or whatever other manner of execution might be gleaned from the records kept of his tyranny.

Seriously, does anyone think there is the slightest chance he'd get off on a technicality?

Saddam's guilt is not in question, and frankly, a trial is a courtesy we offer only because we are in fact better than he is. But the result cannot be in doubt, because it is no trial. It is merely the sentencing hearing, with the only thing in question being whether Saddam spends a lifetime in Spandau, or his own personal eternity dangling at the end of a rope.

[Or perhaps *spit* Chirac *spit* would rather he'd had a "Ceaucescu" done on him? That would at least have had the benefit, from the French perspective, of shutting Saddam's mouth.]

The Hague will never have to deign to endure the touch of Saddam's shoes, nor will the ground of Geneva be soiled thereby. The free people of Iraq deserve the privilege of dealing with the monster that ruled over them so bloodily for so long. And they will.

And now, almost two years later, they are.

Ace has more.

Red Menace

Looks like the Yugo has some competition.


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Did you see that news report of American Christians dancing in the streets, handing out candy, celebrating the destruction caused by the earthquake in Pakistan?

Did you hear Jerry Falwell saying that this disaster was "clearly God's hand smiting the heathen" during "their barbaric Ramadan" holidays?

Did you see the talking heads all pointing out with barely restrained glee that the Muslim nation "had it coming?"


Neither did I.

Direct Action

In the aftermath of Katrina, one man decided to do something to help. He didn't just write a check. He loaded up a deuce-and-a-half truck and drove to Louisiana.

Read his incredible story.

(via Kim du Toit)

Four Years

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(Graphic via A Small Victory)

More Nets Down


As the days add up since Katrina's passage through the Gulf Coast, more of my customers are able to check on their stores. More of them are discovering nothing but a concrete slab, a pile of rubble, a flooded-out ruin.

And I end up with more disconnects to handle.

I can't help but think of the hundred or more jobs lost at each one of those sites... and so far, I've cleared five this afternoon and evening.

Recovering the economy of the Gulf Coast will likely be a far bigger task than cleaning up the physical wreckage.

Net Down

The company at which I work provides network management services to a variety of companies here in the US and around the world. Our system here periodically checks the routers and switches that we manage. We can tell that a network interface has flapped, we can spot a T1 problem, we can tell that a router has crashed – usually before our customer knows about it. The system alerts us, we let the customer know about it, and then we fix it.

Sometimes, we get a special kind of alert due to a "disconnect." It's not an operational problem, it's just a case of the customer permanently shutting down a piece of equipment, usually to replace it with something bigger and better. We then have to remove said equipment from our monitoring system. Doing so is a fairly specialized piece of database jiggery-pokery, so it's bumped upstairs to my level, where we senior-ish folks handle it.

Usually, it's a good idea to verify that the equipment we're about to stop monitoring is really no longer in service — it'd be a bad idea to stop keeping an eye on hardware that's still in operation. So we look in the customer log file to verify that a Service Request to turn off our connection has been properly filed.

Since Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, it's been a bit difficult to verify some disconnects. In far too many cases, there have been no Service Requests at all; rather, there will be brief notes in the logs:

"Customer evacuated."

"Store flooded; will be permanently closed."

"Site no longer exists."

No longer exists. I've seen too many of those in the last week.

They're just routers, just networks... but every one of them represents jobs, aspirations, and lives ruined or destroyed.

Tomorrow's Headlines Today

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I can see it now...

Bush Administration Ignoring Clean Air Standards

Scientists Predict Spike in Air Pollution Levels

The destructive power of hurricane Katrina was seemingly diminished by comparison today when EPA Administrator and Bush crony Stephen L. Johnson unleashed his full fury on the environment.

Using the pretense of weather-induced shortages of oil and gas, Johnson – known to be in the pocket of Big Oil – today suspended critical life-saving standards for sulphur and volatility in diesel fuel and gasoline. The suspension is allegedly scheduled to last through the 15th of September, though trusted sources say the "temporary" suspension is an obvious prelude to the permanent dismantling of clean air standards.

In a response, the Center for Science in the Public Interest announced their prediction that air pollution levels would skyrocket, soaring by an estimated 0.0004 percent.

"The none-too-subtle machinations of the Halliburton-Enron-Cheney axis are finally bearing their poisoned fruit," said one scientist, who explained the tie-dyed ski-mask he wore by suggesting he might otherwise meet with an untimely accident. "This hurricane is clearly the biggest put-up job in all of recorded history."

"Come the revolution," noted another scientist, boldly clad in an coordinated ensemble of "No Nukes" apparel, "the clean air standards will be returned to their pre-Bush levels, then we will continue to extend them. CO2 must be reduced, and if millions, or perhaps billions of people have to stop breathing in order to meet our clean air goals, well, that's a small price to pay for saving Mother Gaia."

"What about Kyoto?" added a third scientist, delicately emphasizing the point by pounding one of her Birkenstocks on the table. "We must end the national and global obsession with this 'liquid crack,' and if we have to force people to do without, it's only because we know best."

Bush administration officials declined to comment.

In related news, the sky is falling.

Not a Good Sign

Q: How do you know that an impending disaster is going to be really enormously catastrophically huge?

A: When you hear the phrase "when the dead begin to float" spoken as though it was the least of the survivors' worries.

Katrina is going to be a tough one. Good luck to the folks stuck in the Big Easy.

Class Act

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Pro athletes aren't always jerks:

Players rally around child after grandfather collapses

CINCINNATI - Cincinnati Reds players rallied around a 6-year-old boy after his grandfather collapsed in the stands.

"We just tried to make a bad situation a little better," said outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.

While paramedics were working on the grandfather, security officer Bill Summee took the boy to the Reds bullpen. The Reds did not release the name of the grandfather, who died Wednesday night of an apparent heart attack.

The boy, identified as Antonio Perez of Hamilton, sat with players for the last two innings of the game, and Griffey went and got him when the game ended. The boy participated in the Reds' high-fives celebrating their 8-5 victory over Atlanta, and he then joined the players in the clubhouse.

Clubhouse manager Rick Stowe said the Reds showered the boy with bats, wristbands, and autographed baseballs. Shortstop Felipe Lopez gave him the batting helmet, autographed, that Lopez wore in this year's All-Star game.

The players kept the boy distracted until his parents arrived.

A tough day for the kid, perhaps made a bit better by the kindness of strangers.

"We play a game," Griffey said. "What he was going through doesn't compare. It was important that the little guy not be by himself."

That is perspective. I'm glad to see it hasn't disappeared.

(via Fark)

Flight 358

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A big jet airliner, 309 souls aboard, crashes on landing and there at no fatalities? None? Not one?

Thankfully, even the plane crashes in Canada are boring.

James Doohan, 1920-2005

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A major inspiration for a generation of engineers – yours truly included – has passed.

Scotty of 'Star Trek' Dead at 85

James Doohan, the burly chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise in the original "Star Trek" TV series and motion pictures who responded to the command "Beam me up, Scotty," died early Wednesday. He was 85.

On the anniversary of the first Moon landing... it's fitting, somehow.

Less well known about Mr. Doohan is that he was a WW2 veteran:

At 19, James escaped the turmoil at home by joining the Canadian army, becoming a lieutenant in artillery. He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."

The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on the screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. Fortunately the chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case.


My favorite Scotty-ism: "Keyboard. How quaint."

So long, Scotty.

Liar, Liar

Democratic strategist Bob Beckel made an appearance on Fox News Live this morning to discuss Karl Rove and l'affair du Plame. Beckel seems to have divorced himself from reality.

Gregg Jarrett: Bob, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committe said Joe Wilson embellished his role, invented some of his claims, and gave a version of events that were inaccurate, unsubstantiated and misleading. Isn't it a bit hypocritical of Wilson to be ranting about ethics?

Bob Beckel: Well, first of all you've got to assume the description is accurate. [It is unclear from the context exactly what Beckel is referring to here, but I'm pretty sure he isn't talking about Wilson.] The fact of the matter is that what George Bush said in that State of the Union statement about the British intelligence on Niger and Saddam Hussein going after nuclear yellowcake was not true. Bottom line, not true. No matter whether Wilson reported that one way or another.

Jarrett: The British still stand by it. The British still stand by it.

Beckel: No wait, excuse me, the British do not stand by it. They've taken fifteen steps back and punted.

In Washington D.C., that is what passes for reasoned discourse. In the rest of the country we call Beckel's performance lying. Nothing he said there is true; I even doubt the veracity of his use of "and" and "the."

Just to make clear:

• Joe Wilson may have been an ambassador at some point in the past, but he is a liar now.

• Bush did not refer to Niger in his State of the Union speech, he referred to Africa as a whole. "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Those sixteen famous words were true.

• Per the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Wilson's own report makes clear that the government of Niger believed that Saddam was seeking uranium ore, as opposed to Niger's other main exports: livestock, cowpeas, and onions.

• Last I heard, the British do still stand by their intelligence.

In an effort to make Karl Rove (and of course, the President) look bad, the Democrats are either willing to openly lie about the facts, or are so blinded by Bush-hatred that they refuse to see the facts for what they are.

One expects partisans of either side to look at facts, and to forcefully present and argue for their opinions about those facts. But no one, not even Bob Beckel, is entitled to his own set of facts.

SCOTUS, Minus One

Breaking News:

Justice O'Connor Retires From Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justrice Sandra Day O'Connor submitted her retirement notice to President Bush on Friday, setting the stage for a contentious battle over her replacement.

I would once again like to make mention of my availability and suitability for a seat on the Supreme Court.

I haven't received any calls from the White House yet. I'm somewhat disappointed.

Poetic Justice

If you look up "irony" in any dictionary available today, you'll find a definition something like this:

3 a (1) : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result

If you look it up in dictionaries of the future, there will be an addendum:

Press Release

For Release Monday, June 27 to New Hampshire media
For Release Tuesday, June 28 to all other media

Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Justice doesn't have to actually rhyme to be poetic.

(Via the Llama Butchers.)
(And a whole host of others. )

Private, Schmivate

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Our rulers in robes, the Supreme Court of the United States, having just effectively destroyed the right to private property, must be overruled.

The President should get out in public — now — and propose legislation to protect property owners from legalized theft eminent domain seizures designed to benefit private parties. This is a Federal civil rights issue at least as important as the right to free speech.

This assumes, of course, that the Legislative and Executive branches are actually co-equal to the Judicial branch, in practice as well as in theory.

Mighty big assumption, that.

I wonder now how long it will be until the Tree of Liberty gets the watering that it apparently needs? I think that sad day has come more than just a little bit closer.

Update: via a commenter at Wizbang!, a reminder of this quote from the Hildebeast:

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
— Hillary Clinton addressing a San Francisco Democratic Fund Raiser on June 28th, 2004.

Doesn't seem so far-fetched now, does it?

Update, 3:42pm: Shep Smith on FoxNews just now, at the end of a story on this abominable ruling, closed the item with the line "Molly Henneburg, reporting live from Havana... I mean, uh, Washington." Make of it what you will.


It's a start, I suppose:

AP: Nearly 200 Illegal Immigrants Arrested


BOSTON (AP) - Nearly 200 illegal immigrants who were ordered deported for committing crimes were arrested during a six-day undercover sweep across New England, federal authorities said.

Dozens of federal, state and local law-enforcement officers began a search Friday for the roughly 200 people targeted in the sweep; by Wednesday afternoon, they had arrested at least 187 illegal immigrants.

If they want to really impress me, they'll have to do it again — 100,000 times.

(Via Drudge)

Update: More analysis (a fisking, really) at Wizbang.

Kerry "Releases" His Records

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So John Kerry has released his military records to the Boston Globe. The Globe, being the upstanding paradigm of journalism that it is (see here, for an example of their journalistic credibility), will undoubtedly give the world the straight story on the contents of those records.

Yes. And someday I might don a cape and tights and fly under my own power.*

Globe reporter Michael Kranish tells us there is a "lack of any substantive new material about Kerry's military career" in the files.

I'm wagering that what we have just witnessed is a completely new usage of the word "substantive." Someone should let the folks at Merriam-Webster know about this.

Kranish — who, as Michelle Malkin notes, co-authored the Kerry campaign suck-up book John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography By The Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best (a title as wordy as the former candidate himself) — would appear to be Kerry's "go-to" guy in the print media.

Kerry thus gets the benefit of being able to claim full disclosure, without the slightest potential of a critical word being said by the news staff at his media outlet-of-choice.

As a sop to the critics, however, details of Kerry's academic career were published, including a photo of the undergraduate Kerry.

Guess which one is the young Brahmin:

bad Kerry photoStar Trek: salt vampire

OK, that was just cruel. Deliciously cruel. But it's no wonder he didn't want those records released. The camera just isn't friendly to him at all.

* I might someday fly under my own power, but I will never wear tights and a cape. Which, all things considered, would be for the best. Trust me on this.

Update: looks like some other folks are having fun with the yearbook picture. And no, I don't have my own yearbook picture handy, like some folks do. This will have to do:

Update 2: Matt scores some commentary from Swift Boat Vet kahuna John O'Neill.

They Hurt Buddy!


I have been completely and deliberately ignorant of the news coverage of the Michael Jackson trial. I simply don't care about the day-to-day coverage of the trial. I figure if he isn't found guilty, he's still screwy enough to be institutionalized. The word "whacko" might well have been created specifically to be applied to him.

What has irked me about the little coverage I have been unable to avoid is the constant presence of shrilly screaming fans every time Jackson makes a court appearance. Do any of them understand the seriousness of what Jackson is on trial for? He [allegedly] molested little boys.

Do these people have nothing better to do than to wait outside the building, behind a cordon, at a considerable distance from where the principal players in this melodrama make their transition from limo to courthouse door, hoping for a fleeting glimpse of the pervert they idolize?

I guess that question pretty much answers itself, no?

What exactly is this mob of latter-day teeny-boppers going to do if/when Jackson is found guilty? Riot?

Now there's a thought that gives me chills. Rampaging mobs of tearful teenage girls, wailing, pulling out their hair, pounding their little fists ineffectually against whatever solid object is nearest to hand. I do not envision overturned and burning police cars. Rather, the mental image I get is more on the order of the brawling dancers towards the end of Blazing Saddles....

Throw out your hands
Stick out your tush
Hands on your hips
Give 'em a push
You'll be surprised
You're doing the French Mistake!

Followed shortly thereafter by "They hurt Buddy! Let's get 'em, girls!"

I figure a pack of Cub Scouts could handle the Jackson-fan riot-control duties... though it might be exceptionally unwise to have a pack of Cub Scouts anywhere within several miles of Michael Jackson, if you know what I mean.

Stupid fans.

[Update, 13 Jun 05: Yo, OTB. OK, OK, so this isn't a new post, but it's on topic for today.]

Oui, Non... Peut-Être

"The will of the people" be damned:

Turmoil as Chirac plots to disregard 'non' vote

By Philip Webster and Charles Bremner

PRESIDENT CHIRAC of France is preparing to throw Europe into confusion and put Britain on the spot by backing moves to keep the European constitution alive if it is rejected in Sunday’s referendum.

Remarkable. A French leader who refuses to surrender.

[Yo, Wizbang!]

Cuba Nostalgia

Val Prieto of BabaluBlog is blogging at the Cuba Nostalgia Convention this weekend, today through Sunday, 11am to 11pm. He has already put up a number of posts; my favorite so far is this picture.

Val noted in an email earlier this week:

I will have 8 computers set up for folks to come and read not just my blog, but to read every single blog on my blogroll and then on the blogrolls of those blogs and so on and so on. I want them to read read read and experience first hand just how powerful this freedom to speak your heart and mind is when coupled the power of blogs and the internet.

Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, someone is trying to hack those computers.

I wonder how many of those hack attempts are coming from Cuba, and how many are coming from Castro-loving moonbats right here at home?


I've not mentioned the Newsweek fiasco — plenty of other people have done pretty well covering it.

I will note, however, that they have retracted the story. (Link via Michelle Malkin.)

Which brings to mind a question:

Did CBS ever actually retract the Bush/AWOL story which was based on forged memos? I know they apologized for the story, but did they ever actually retract it?

Benedict XVI

I tuned in to the news today just in time to see the reports of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. Confusion reigned among the reporters and news anchors — John Paul II had said there were supposed to be bells, right?

And then the bells began to ring, first the big deep bell, then the smaller higher-pitched bells, and to me they sounded as if they were final words from John Paul II, saying "here is my successor."

And then the new Pope made his appearance, and the crowd went absolutely wild with glee.

Heck, I'm not even Catholic and I found it to be quite moving.


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I have written nothing on the case of Terry Schiavo, nor will I, except to say that the entire incident can only be a nightmare for everyone involved. I'm having a very hard time seeing what good — if any — can come out of it.

Unless, that is, people take to heart good ideas such as those which Bill Hobbs offers.

It's time I made an appointment to see my lawyer.

Pouring Gasoline on the Embers

Just when you thought CBS's woes might vanish into the memory hole, screened by the smoldering remains of Eason Jordan's CNN career....

When the CBS/Memogate/Thornburgh report was released, one producer was fired outright and three executives were asked for their resignations. I wondered at the time [I wish I'd written it down...] if in fact those three individuals would go quietly.

Apparently at least one is not. reports that 60 Minutes Wednesday executive producer Josh Howard (who has yet to actually tender his resignation, Thornburgh's report notwithstanding) is threatening to sue for wrongful termination — a move which, given the power of the subpoena, would open the CBS editorial process to public scrutiny far more than the Memogate report managed to do. Their biases would be laid out for the world to see.

Were I in Mr. Howard's position — to wit, that of scapegoat — I think I might be inclined to do the same thing.

Secret internal documents and e-mails often tend to be damning, of course — that's why they're kept secret. If the suspicions and beliefs of half the blogosphere [and perhaps the fears of the other half] are correct, it would be hard to imagine a more damaging blow to CBS's credibility than the publication of such documents and e-mails.

Though I am not exactly tap-dancing with joy at the prospect of CBS taking such a body-blow, neither am I upset... especially given the MSM's undisguised glee when publishing other organizations' "secret" memos.

[Via Powerline.]

They're Number One!

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The people of Iraq have earned a thumbs-up today... but I hope they'll settle for this:


(Inspiration and a collection of other pictures at

Scope and Scale

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The scope of the loss of life in the recent natural disaster in the Indian Ocean has become harder and harder for me to wrap my brain around. From initial reports of 15,000 dead we're now hearing over 120,000 dead, and some are saying it could go much much higher. We'll never know with certainty the final toll, either in lives lost or in lives otherwise shattered.

What seems odd to me is that I was more effected by 9/11 than I am by this. Am I alone in this? Is that heartless?

Perhaps it's because we expect natural disasters from time to time — though admittedly not on this scale. Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, volcanos and floods have always happened and always will — there's nothing you, I or anyone can do to stop them. Despite (or perhaps because of) the lives lost every year, we get used to the notion, and we move on.

People who were not personally affected by this disaster will barely remember it twenty or thirty years from now. Think I'm kidding? Folks over 35 or 40 years old may remember this:

The highest earthquake death toll in modern times was caused by one that hit Tangshan, China, on July 28, 1976. The official figure of 655,237 deaths was first adjusted to 750,000 and then to 242,000.

But I'll bet most of you didn't remember it. Those of you who are under 35 or 40 have probably never even heard of it.

We come to accept such losses, as bad as they are, as part of living on Earth. But the Earth is just ball of rock spinning through space, covered with a paper-thin veneer of biosphere. There is no "Gaia" plotting some kind of vengeance on mankind (protests from the tinfoil hat crowd notwithstanding.)

But there are people who would cheerfully cut your throat, and mine, and that of every person you know and every person we have ever met during our lives, given the chance. History notwithstanding, we never really expect that some people would deliberately inflict death on a massive scale, committing acts designed to take as many innocent lives as possible. But there they are, nevertheless.

The genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia, the Soviet Union, China, and of course the Holocaust all took more lives than this recent earthquake/tsunami. Not as suddenly, indeed, but just as certainly, and with evil intent.

[And before some idiot suggests it: no, I don't include Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the firebombings of Tokyo — those were done as part of a harsh wartime calculus designed, ultimately, to save lives.]

The murder of nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11, done right before our eyes, might naturally resonate more than a disaster of virtually any scale occurring out of sight, on the far side of the world. But it's not, to me, a question of magnitude or visibility, but rather of deliberation, of intent, and of hate.

If that doesn't have an effect on you, I can't think of what would.

Blog of the Year

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Powerline — which, while not solely responsible for the Rathergate smackdown, nonetheless played the major role — has been named Time Magazine's Blog of the Year.

Big Trunk, Hindrocket, Deacon: this photoshop was meant for you (and Charles, and Bill, etc., etc.) Pity it couldn't come sooner.

In other news, some hick Texas politician was named Man Person of the Year, apparently for his efforts to resurrect the draft, to shred the Constitution and to steal your grandmother's Social Security checks.

If Only

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Being a balding coffee junkie, this was bound to catch my eye:

Coffee to cure baldness

It's from Pravda — so you know it has to be true!

German medics arrived at the conclusion that consumption of large caffeine doses prevents baldness.

Massive doses of coffee every day didn't help me. Why didn't this study come along ten years ago when it might have done me some good?

Male's hormone testosterone is responsible for baldness in men, meaning that the more testosterone a man as, the more prone he is to losing his hair.

Oh. Well, that explains it.

Head of the research team Professor Peter Elsner states that hormonal boldness could in fact be prevented by means of caffeine.

As a result of their extensive research studies, German scientists arrived at a fascinating conclusion! Apparently, claim the scientists, it is possible to prevent baldness at an early age by means of treating hair with products containing caffeine (for instance by rubbing a special solution into the scalp).

What, I'm supposed to have dunked my head in the coffee urn? That would, y'know, hurt... plus, it might slop coffee on the floor, which would be a catastrophe.

However, the scientific team advises coffee lovers against consuming their favorite beverage in excess to fight baldness.

Oh, now they tell me. I guess all that coffee every day hasn't done me any good... not for baldness, at least.

According to an expert-cosmetologist Adolf Klenka, "one would need to consume 60-80 cups of coffee per day for the caffeine to reach hair follicles."

OK — if I have to cut down, I have to cut down.

Professor Elsner in turn notes that "even though a person would be willing to do just that for beauty"s sake, our research did not cover the way caffeine intake influences one"s scalp. We did prove however that caffeine should be used as an external substance that should be applied directly onto the scalp."

External substance... feh! Humbug! Caffeine is made to be ingested, period.

According to him, those men who are genetically predisposed to baldness, should consider such "caffeine therapy" while they are still relatively young.

Whoops. Too late for me.

German medics consider that rubbing coffee ground into the scalp is the most effective way to prevent baldness.

And the least effective way to get caffeine into the bloodstream, where it belongs. I'll keep my hot cup o' java and my shiny scalp, thanks very much.


Fox News: Vice President Cheney Headed to Hospital With Shortness of Breath

No specific link yet.

Link here. [He's OK.]

This does bring up [again] the question — if Cheney were to resign for health reasons, who would be his replacement?

I like Condoleeza Rice.


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There appears to be a verdict in the Peterson murder trial. They're announcing the verdict in less than an hour.

In the words of Kyle Broflavski, "Don't care, don't care, don't care."

I wonder what's on the History Channel?

Update: "Battlefield Detectives: Agincourt's Dark Secrets" — if there's anything that'll suck my attention away from what I'm supposed to be doing, that's it.

And Claymore Whisky, too.


Via one of the mailing lists I'm on, What Next? Uzi Bourbon?

The creator of one of the world's most famous guns, the AK-47 assault rifle, launched another weapon in Britain Monday -- Kalashnikov vodka.

Yep, it's a real booze. Here's their website.

A couple comments from my shooting friends:

I wonder if Feinstein, Schumer and Kennedy will try to ban this too??
I think Kennedy may try to get these bottles off the streets by drinking them all...

And the winners:

You can have it, you just can't buy it in high-capacity containers.
... and you're only allowed one shot at a time...

We're such a fun group of guys.

[And yes, there really is a Claymore Whisky. Blended... ugh.]

Update/addendum: The mailing list to which I belong, in a contextually amusing conflation of guns and booze, is called "shooters." Hard to go wrong with that.



I dislike Bill Clinton. Intensely dislike Bill Clinton and virtually everything he stands for. But I don't hate the guy.

I was a few years younger than Chelsea is now when my own father had his first heart attack. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

So, best wishes for a speedy recovery, Mr. Clinton.

Stunning Medical Breakthrough!


From l'Agence France-Presse, via Yahoo:

Cup of urine a day keeps ailments at bay

Thanks anyway — I'll take my chances without it.



Sometimes, wanting to write just isn't good enough.

Sometimes, you just want to read what other people are saying. Given the news, and given the weather hereabouts (heavy rain, which always puts me in a mood for a nap) today is one of those days.

So I've been reading rather than writing today. Here are some good reads today:

Michele has a reminder.

The other Michelle (the Malkin one) is hot on the trail of Homeland Insecurity.

Doc Russia sees through Kerry's "warrior" act.

Serenity appears to have learned a few things from her move to Dallas.

Spoons notes two "September 10" (a.k.a. "head-in-the-sand") thinkers of the day.

Steve (my new favorite author) notes that in defending ourselves, we can choose between racial profiling, or letting ourselves get killed in the name of Political Correctness.

The Homeland Security business is certainly big today. Jeff at protein wisdom is on the case, too.

And of course, the news of the day: a narrowly-tailored Orange Alert.

Update: Duane notes in the comments here and on his site that there's still a missing tanker truck.

Update 2: Mamamontezz has kind words to the troops wondering about Michael Moore's latest pack of lies.

You want it, you got it

It was only a matter of time, I suppose:

     Hackers unleash mobile phones virus

I see no fundamental difference between this behavior, and that of terrorists who blow up oil pipelines.

There's a great deal of irony in the fact that the people who take the most delight in technological vandalism and destruction are themselves most dependent on the various technologies they attack. [Can you picture those losers earning a living by the sweat of their brows? No, neither can I.]

It's as if they are engaging in endless nihilistic bouts of "suicide by proxy."

Let's remove that "by proxy" from the equation. "Shoot on sight" would seem to be the most reasonable policy for dealing with these vermin. It seems to be what they want.

Ronald W. Reagan, 1911-2004

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I grew up in California; Ronald Reagan was the first governor I remember.

Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence. (January 7, 1970)
Heaven help us if government ever gets into the business of protecting us from ourselves. (April 12, 1973)
All who have led California since are but pale shadows of his greatness.

My formative years were years when America seemed to be on the decline. While I was in elementary school, the Vietnam War raged. As I began junior high school, a president was forced from office, and his successor had to deal with crisis after crisis. During my high school years, Carter was in the White House, the economy was in shambles, the military was falling apart, and there seemed to be no hope of improvement. The Soviet empire was expanding unchecked.

There was little good news about anything, from anywhere.

Then came Ronald Reagan, and all that changed. All of it.

I caught my first hint of optimism as a freshman at Wheaton College. The campaign leading up to the 1980 presidential election, the first in which I was eligible to vote, had caught my attention because of my former governor's candidacy.

Then he made a campaign stop and speech at my small midwestern college.

What is it that Americans truly want, for themselves and for their country? . . . All we want is to live in freedom and in peace, to see to it that our nation's legitimate interests are protected and promoted. We want to see our children have at least the opportunities we had for advancement or maybe even better.

We want to worship God in our own way, lead our own lives, take care of our families and live in our own style, in our own community, without hurting anyone or anyone hurting us. We want the kind of personal security human beings can reasonably expect in a system of economic freedom and democratic self-government. And, yes, we want to bring the blessings of peace and progress and freedom to others. (October 8, 1980)

I was hooked.

On the occasion of his birthday this year, I recalled my encounter with Mr. Reagan on that day he came to our college. I deeply regret that I have no photo of that moment. My parents met him a decade later, and did get a photo.

I recall Mr. Reagan's election and inauguration as a time of ever increasing optimism. We had a man in the White House who was clearly determined to shake off the malaise of the previous years and to stiffen the spine of American resolve in the face of the greatest threat we had ever faced.

We cannot escape our destiny nor should we try to do so. The leadership of the free world was thrust upon us two centuries ago in that little hall of Philadelphia. (Jan 25, 1974)
No weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. (First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981)
The other day, someone told me the difference between a democracy and a people's democracy. It is the same difference between a jacket and a straight-jacket. (December 10, 1986)
Our cause is still, as it was then, the cause of human freedom. (Jan 30, 1986)
Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! (June, 1987)

It wasn't only in matters of defense and foreign relations that Ronald Reagan encouraged Americans. When he took office, the economy was in tatters. I well remember working part time in a bank when I was in high school, and seeing interest rates in the teens and even low twenties. Unemployment was in the double-digits. Gold was selling for over $800 an ounce.

Reagan took office and, with the help of a rightward-shifted congress that followed on his coattails, began his program of economic reforms.

The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing. (October 27, 1964)
Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation? Today in our country the tax collector's share is 37 cents of every dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp. (October 27, 1964)
We believe that liberty can be measured by how much freedom Americans have to make their own decisions - even their own mistakes. (Feb 7, 1977)
The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much. (Frequent saying.)
For many years now we have preached 'the gospel,' in opposition to the philosophy of so-called liberalism which was, in truth, a call to collectivism. (March 1, 1975)
Every dollar spent by government is a dollar earned by individuals. Government must always ask: Are your dollars being wisely spent? Can we afford it? Is it not better for the country to leave your dollars in your pocket? (Feb 7, 1977)

Always, always, always his theme -- and his dream -- was Freedom.

We should never forget that, and always try to live up to his ideal of an America that stands as "a shining city on a hill," a beacon of freedom to people around the world.

When the Lord calls me home, whenever that day may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.
We have every right to dream heroic dreams.

Farewell, Ronald Reagan



North Korea is one of the most evil regimes on the planet, but as is often the case with dictatorships, the ordinary people there are just pawns. 3,000 dead in this manner is a tragedy, no matter the country in which they live.

Do not forget, though, that in North Korea 3,000 is a small number of dead, compared to the number of people who die of starvation or in the gulags every year.

Via Fox News:

Up to 3,000 people were killed or injured Thursday in a horrific train collision and explosion at a station near the Chinese border, according to South Korean news media, just hours after North Korean President Kim Jong Il had passed through the same spot.
Pity the death toll wasn't just one person. You know which one I mean. Ya, the one with (allegedly) the world's largest pornography collection and (undoubtedly) the world's worst haircut.
Almost immediately following the crash of two trains carrying oil and liquefied petroleum, rumors spread that it might have been a deliberate attempt on Kim’s life.
An extraordinarily poor attempt, if that's the case. But I doubt it. "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." (Or incompetence, or laziness, or....)
But senior Defense Department officials told Fox News there wasn't any information to substantiate such theories and the collision was more likely a tragic accident.
Indeed. It's very sad for the people who died, and for those left behind. I suspect, however, that the suffering is only beginning.
North Korean authorities placed a total news blackout on information about the crash, according to Chinese news reports, taking such drastic measures as cutting international phone lines in and around the town of Ryongchon, where the collision happened.
I didn't know North Korea allowed any international phone lines. That's actually a bit of a surprise to me -- but I'm not surprised that they've been shut down.
North Korea declared a state of emergency after the crash.
I'd wager that ROK and US forces in Korea have upped their readiness levels as well. When I was stationed in Korea, we'd be put on alert if a North Korean Peoples' Army colonel sneezed too loudly.
"The area around Ryongchon station has turned into ruins as if it were bombarded," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted witnesses as saying. "Debris from the explosion soared high into the sky and drifted to Sinuju," a North Korean town on the border with China, the agency said.
Maybe they were testing a low-yield nuke.

(No, I don't actually believe that.)
(But I wouldn't put it past the Norks to test weapons on their own peasants.)

About nine hours before the blast, Kim had reportedly passed through the station where the collision happened as he returned from a secret trip to China, South Korea's all-news cable channel, YTN, reported. Kim met with the country's leaders and discussed the standoff over the North's nuclear weapons program.
Secret trip? Secret? I'm pretty sure it was in the news several times in the past few days.
North Korea's state-run news agency on Thursday confirmed that Kim had made a secretive trip to China on Monday through Wednesday, but carried no comments on the reported explosion.
Oooohhhh... secret from the North Korean people, they mean. Well, that'd be no surprise. Bear in mind that all Nork media is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the state. The people don't hear, see, or read anything their rulers don't want them to know about.

When I was over there in the late '80s and early '90s, the story was that televisions made in North Korea had no channel tuning knob -- they were pre-tuned to receive only the one state-run channel. I've seen examples of Nork TV from that era; it was the most noxious propaganda I've ever seen -- worse even than WW2 Nazi-produced propaganda.

A substantial number of Chinese citizens were believed to be among the presumed 3,000 victims, sources in China said.

Many of the survivors were transferred back to China to receive treatment, which seemed to be how news of the catastrophe spread despite the North Korea-imposed news blackout.

The Yonhap report of the state-of-emergency declaration gave no details. It said officials of the secretive North Korean government had put in place a "type of state of emergency" around the town of Ryongchon.

A "type of state of emergency"?

That might as well read "The execution rounding-up of the usual suspects has begun."

In a sign of the accident's magnitude, the government cut international phone lines to prevent news of the crash from leaking across its borders, Yonhap said, citing no sources.
"Cut international phone lines...." What, both of them? How will Kim order up his weekly supply of hookers?
James Lilley, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and to China, said he saw a possibility that anti-Kim forces could have tried to carry out an assassination attempt like this.

"They realize the system depends so much on him and the system is so bad and punitive that some people could have just taken the situation into their own hands," he told Fox News.

I'm of two minds on that. I don't think this was any sort of assassination attempt.

I don't recall having explicitly mentioned it here previously, but just in case I haven't: my Army career was in Military Intelligence, wherein I was a Korean linguist as well as an Electronic Warfare operator. It was a major element of my job, and that of my fellow MI troopers, to be as clueful as possible about the Norks. We studied the language, of course, but also the culture, history and the current events of the day.

Even given what I know of North Korea, I still haven't decided whether Kim Jong Il really is the power in North Korea, or if he is a mere figurehead, a puppet of the generals of the NKPA.

During his lifetime, there was a fanatical cult of personality built up around the late unlamented Kim Il Sung; in the latter decades of his life, a similar cult was built around his son Kim Jong Il. This is, of course, extremely unusual in a communist country, but it was done very effectively, and to ensure that there would be a smooth transition of power in the event of the death or disability of the father. [While I cannot say for certain, I'd wager it is a crime (or at least, would warrant a beating) for a North Korean citizen to refer to Kim without the proper honorific terms prepended and/or appended to his name.]

Given such a cult of personality, it would have been insane for the generals to dispose of the younger Kim after his father's death. As a figurehead, he would be extraordinarily valuable domestically.

What I can't figure out is whether Kim Jong Il is the puppet, or the puppet master.

Do I think he has actual leadership skills? No. I think he's barking-at-the-moon crazy. And possibly crazy like a fox.

I do think that he benefits from having a couple generations of North Koreans raised and indoctrinated to believe that he is the nearest thing to God on Earth (official atheism notwithstanding.) But whether the inner circle of people closest to him control him or are controlled by him remains to be seen. We may never find out -- not soon, at any rate.

Kim apparently had a soft spot for Ryongchon, which is about 35 miles from the Chinese border. He often visited the town and its machine-tool factory.
Hitler and Stalin no doubt had their own favorite towns, too.
"If it was an assassination attempt, it was a poor one," John Wolfsthal of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Fox News. He said it was doubtful because of the nine-hour difference between when Kim passed through and when the collision and explosion occurred.

But Wolfsthal added that the brutal dictatorial Kim regime would likely use the crash to its advantage.

"The leadership may use this as an opportunity to clamp down on whatever dissent or instability there might be," he told Fox. "We will be watching closely to see how Kim Jong Il responds."

Can you say "Reichstag fire"?

Dictatorships are typically not reluctant to use any excuse to eliminate their enemies, but they also usually have to be a bit careful how they go about it. I think this accident is big enough to give the Norks a pretense to seriously crack down. The losers will be the North Korean people.


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The press conference.... The reporters in their usual role, attempting to make Mr. Bush look bad. The President not letting them succeed.

Yes, I'd be happier if President Bush were a better public speaker. Yes, I wish he'd directly answered some of the questions rather than getting long-winded about some of them. It's clear he was never the Debate team captain. It's also clear that his speaking gets better when he's more passionate about the subject.

I wish he'd tackled some of those questions head-on. Comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam should have been easily and decisively thrashed. The question about the number of contractors vs. Coalition/allied troops could have been answered simply by explaining the roles of contractors.

Complaints aside, I still think it was a decent presser, as such things go.

They tried -- oh, how they tried -- to get a soundbite from him in which he admitted any degree of culpability, responsibility or failure over the attacks of 9/11. His response, the right response, the only possible response:

The person responsible is Osama bin Laden.

So you tell me what's better:

     a) a president tripping over his own tongue while telling the truth, or
     b) a president glibly delivering finely polished, well-rehearsed lies?

I'll take honesty every time.

When Life Gives You Lemons...

... make sure you're armed:

Victim with gun forces thief to mow his lawn.

This is an example of the thousands upon thousands of defensive gun uses that occur every year -- but you never hear about them. We'd never have heard about this one were it not for the fact that it's pretty amusing.

Now if I could just arrange for the same to happen during the 100° heat this coming August.

Take care, Chief

On a more serious note, Chief Wiggles has also had a close call.

I've thought for a while that the media exposure of his "real-life identity" might make him a specific target of the die-hard Iraqi terrorists. I hope he's well protected.

(via the Puppy Blender)

Good News

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Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,"
which translated means, "GOD WITH US." And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.


John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.

And he was preaching, and saying, "After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."


Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Thomas Friedman is not an idiot

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In examining my referrer logs from time to time, I have found that I am the #1 Google hit for a particular expression which I will not repeat (lest it generate more Googling) but which you can see in this image:

Thomas Friedman query

I hereby withdraw that comment. Thomas Friedman is a liberal, and may say some pretty dumb things (including those which I criticized in my earlier post) but he does get some things quite right, such as in his New York Times column today [Link requires registration]:

The primary focus of U.S. forces in Iraq today is erecting a decent, legitimate, tolerant, pluralistic representative government from the ground up. I don't know if we can pull this off. We got off to an unnecessarily bad start. But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad and it is a moral and strategic imperative that we give it our best shot.
Correct. Kudos to Mr. Friedman for getting right what so many on the Left fail to understand.

Perhaps hearing it from him, some of the farther-out elements of the Left might reconsider their "Damn the Iraqis, US out of Iraq!" position.

One can always hope... but I won't be holding my breath.

[Link via Best of the Web]

Slogans Wanted


There has to be a way the Donks can blame this on Bush:

Woman Knocked Unconscious By Wal-Mart Shoppers
Witnesses: Shoppers Stepped Over Woman Having Seizure

ORANGE CITY, Fla. -- A 41-year-old woman was knocked unconscious and then trampled by a mob of shoppers who continued to step over her as she suffered a seizure during a Friday sale at Wal-Mart in Orange City, Fla., according to Local 6 News.

Well, obviously this never would have happened if the President hadn't cut taxes. If people would just let the government have more of their paychecks, they wouldn't have as much to spend for the holidays, and we'd never have to see this sort of tragedy again.

Now that the Bush tax cuts are setting the economy back on track after the recent slump (which I might remind you, gentle reader, began before he took office), and now that the general public recognizes that things are getting better, and now that people are actually going out to spend their own money, we can undoubtedly see more such frenzied shopping-induded tramplings, right? Right?

The part of my brain responsible for rhyming can't come up with any catchy slogan for the moonbats to shriek about this....

"Bush cut tax rates -- people in dire straits!"

Wow, that's incredibly -- even amazingly -- weak.

I'm open to suggestions. In the meantime, I'm going to go have more coffee.

(link via James at VRWC)

Why Was He There?


This business about Howard Dean's late brother has me wondering.

Active duty soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are upset over being forced take part in a military repatriation ceremony today for remains believed to be those of the non-military brother of presidential candidate Howard Dean, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

"His brother will receive full military honors...flag over the coffin and all!" fumes one soldier, who asked not to be named.

Governor Dean is set to visit to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the repatriation of his brother to Hickam AFB, Hawaii.

The brother's remains were recovered in Laos by a JPAC recovery team this past month. JPAC's mission is to search, recover, and identify remains of US service members who were killed in previous wars.

During the Vietnam War, Dean's brother and an Australian friend treked into Laos as civilians -- and were captured by the Vietcong and killed.

JPAC was pressured to not only recover his brother's remains, but to bump Dean's recovery over numerous other MIA's who actually died fighting for their country, a well-placed military source tells the DRUDGE REPORT.

(Via the Drudge archives)

OK, I can understand the troops being unhappy about this. I'm none too thrilled by it myself. Military honors should be reserved for military personnel (or high-ranking government officials). But I have a question:

     What were those two guys doing over there?

I can think of only three types of civilians (other than the press) who might have gone to Laos in 1974:

  • aid workers, akin to the Red Cross or CARE,
  • sympathizers/supporters of the North Vietnam (read: communist) regime, akin to "Hanoi Jane" Fonda
  • drug traffickers.
Am I missing something here? Someone please clue me in.

UPDATE, 3Dec03: I have since been clued in. Apparently, he was there as a "adventure tourist." Which leads to the question, why would anyone think tourism in what was (for all intents and purposes) a war zone would be a good idea?

Entertainment or News

Jack at Random Fate suggests that media bias is money-driven. Maybe.

Once upon a time, the News divisions of the TV networks were semi-autonomous departments that could operate in such a way as to actually try to tell important stories.

These old-style newsrooms consistently lost money. They were considered a "loss leader," I guess you could say. And then one day, some bright boy (no doubt with a newly-minted MBA) figured out that the News ought to be a money-maker.

Actual journalists of the caliber of Chet Huntley, David Brinkley or Walter Cronkite were phased out in favor of the pretty-boys (and girls) who could read copy on-air but who couldn't report their respective ways out of paper bags. It became more important that the on-air staff be "multicultural" than that they be effective reporters.

Is there a single TV station left in the country that doesn't have a female asian reporter? OK, OK, there are some, I know....

Now, of course, in order to rake in even bigger bucks, the News plays to the audience. Stories of real import are often sidelined in favor of whatever will bring in the ratings. The case of Scott & Laci Peterson would seem to be a case in point [though frankly I don't understand what compels people to be so interested in the day-to-day goings-on as to warrant hours of coverage every day. I just don't get it.]

I disagree with Jack, though, in that I think the slant of most news networks and the manner in which the stories are delivered is still mainly driven by left-leaning political bias. The evidence is undeniable... and the remarkable success of the Fox News Channel seems to me to indicate that consumers are choosing their news fare based on both the entertainment value and the perceived slant.

(Hat tip: Donnie of Ain't Done It)

Oooo, what a lucky man

I was going to say that, with the breaking news of Michael Jackson's legal troubles, that the "lucky" man would be Scott Peterson, whose notoriety is somewhat out of proportion to his alleged crime. The 24-hour-news-cycle can focus on someone else for a while.

Let's face it - your "average wife-killer suspect" [as if there were such a thing] does not get the kind of media scrutiny Scott Peterson has received.

I was going to say that Peterson would benefit from having the spotlight taken off him. Turns out that his lawyer, Mark Geragos, is also M. Jackson's lawyer.

So either there is an odd synchronicity at work here... or Mark Geragos is a dangerous man to hire as your lawyer.

I Need More Power Tools


My garage is full of power tools, but they're all woodworking tools.

I have to get my hands on some metal-machining tools now, of course. Because now I can make one of these:

M-60 Machine Gun

It seems that, in a rare moment of lucidity, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the "commerce clause" of the Constitution means what it says -- that activities not considered to be interstate commerce cannot be outlawed by Congress.

Like, for instance, owning a homemade machine gun. (Article here, PDF of the court's decision here.)

[Yes, yes, I know -- decisions of the Ninth Circuit don't apply to North Carolina. Just this once, though, I wish they did. And man, oh man, I loved my M-60 -- the best firearm Uncle Sam ever issued to me.]

Via Instapundit.

Peace Creeps

The anti-American peace creeps are at it again.

They call themselves "anti-war." Nothing could be further from the truth.

It cannot be said loudly enough or often enough:

     they are not against the war - they are on the other side.

Go see the commentary from:

Thirst for Knowledge...

... or information overload?

I've always been a news junkie to one extent or another, but maybe this is carrying things too far:

     Fox News Ticker

I was really really hoping to get through my days without additional distractions.


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If Pearls Before Swine isn't already one of your regular reads, it should be.

(The above cartoon was published 7/16/2003)

Thought Experiment

An 11th-hour accusation of sexual impropriety has, for the time being, stalled the confirmation proceedings of an openly gay man to be the Episcopalian bishop of New Hampshire.

Some will call this a smear. Some are already calling this a smear.

I don't know... I suspect there's some legitimacy there - the accuser has nothing to gain. But let's look at it from a different angle:

How skeptical would you be if it were a Catholic priest being accused?
Can you say "double standard?" I knew you could.

Here's to you, Mr. President

Just in case you've been hiding in a cave for the last week:

USS Ronald Reagan, CVN-76, was commissioned today.

A Nimitz-class supercarrier is a fitting tribute to the best president of the 20th century, one of many that have been paid since he left office in 1988. But it's not enough of an honor for the man that led this country towards ultimate victory over the greatest threat to freedom the world has ever known.

Thanks, Mr. Reagan.

Remaining to do: a place on Mount Rushmore, and replacing FDR on the dime.

UPDATE: Susanna has more - lots more.

News Rants?


Dennis Miller to be a regular on Fox News?


Media Feeding Frenzy

Martha Stewart has been indicted.


Well, if there's an upside to this, it's that this has knocked the Peterson case out of the headlines for the next five minutes.


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