Friday, January 28, 2005

The kid who created
the Blaster worm is going to jail.
First,
it was the Missouri Klan, now it's Oregon Nazis. What's the conservation movement coming to?
This flap-doodle
over what Vice President Cheney wore at the Auschwitz memorial is silly. Childish, really. The best explanation I've seen for why he likely wore a parka and hat, instead of the more typical overcoat, etc, is that Cheney has a heart condition, and he was told to dress as warm as possible.

Are people going to attack the man because he has a health condition?
This is neat.
As one of my farmer friends used to say, "It's the smell of money."
Senator Kennedy
is telling the Bush Administration to create a detailed time-table for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. First, the realistic problem with such a thing: How can we set a time-table when our goal is something fairly intangible -- Iraqi security? It's not like we're there to build a new sports arena, or something. Says the Senator:
"There may well be violence as we disengage militarily from Iraq and Iraq disengages politically from us, but there will be much more violence if we continue our present dangerous and destabilizing course," said Kennedy. "It will not be easy to extricate ourselves from Iraq, but we must begin."
We must begin to extricate ourselves? Now? Elections are just getting underway globally. We have to stick this out. Bush is right: Democratic governments in the Middle East will lead to more peace and freedom, and more peace and freedom means less death and terroristic violence. Yeah, Iraq's a bad place now; it's hard work (as Bush was so famously lampooned by SNL). But the hard work and sacrifice now will have untold dividends in the future. Leaving Iraq to the insurgents, whether homegrown or imported from Iran or Syria, is cowardice.

Second, Kennedy's solution is asinine:
Kennedy said the first goal in the current situation should be for the United Nations — not the United States — to convene an international meeting to help the new government take shape and draft a constitution.
Yes, because the United Nations have been stalwarts in their support for the Iraqi people and the overthrow of the Saddam's Baathist regime.
David, also in line with
your recent postings on traffic cameras, Instapundit links to this story about the unintended consequences of their installation.
I overheard an exchange
yesterday where someone was remarking about a great new bumpersticker he had spied. It read, "Yee-hah isn't a foreign policy." My response: "Neither is BOHICA*."

* Bend over, here it comes again.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

After this debacle
I hope no one notices that my degree reads "Hurvurd".

I'm reminded of the old SNL skit where a college recruiter gets in front of a bunch of high schoolers, gets the teacher to leave the room, and then tells the students the truth about his college. That you aren't required to go to class. That, in fact, there are no classes. That it has no real buildings, just cardboard cut outs. That they don't care what you do or where you go for four years as long as you show up for Parents Day. And (now here's the important part), that if you reveal the school's secrets, or fail to show up for Parents Day, they will find you, and they will kill you.
Kim Jong Il: Entertainer.
Like something out of 1984.
I've posted before that I thought
Disney's not renewing their partnership with Pixar was a bad deal for Disney. Now, here's an interesting new caveat. Not only is Disney having diffculty finding people to direct and star in the anticipated "Toy Story 3," it seems the original terms of the deal add an unexpected problem for Disney:
Disney has the right to make sequels to all the Pixar movies it distributed, including "Toy Story," "The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo," etc. But there's a hitch — since Pixar developed all the animation materials to create the movies, it also gets to keep them.

In other words: Disney is now trying to hire another team of animators to recreate Buzz Lightyear, Woody and all the other "Toy Story" characters so that they look the same. It will have to start from scratch to reproduce Pixar's creative work.
Whoops.
The Diplomad
finds that the U.N. (see here and here) surpasses itself in taking credit for the work of others.
I've seen this issue raised
a number of places, that the murder of four Coptic Christians may have been motivated by religion, but today's article in the Weekly Standard raises an interesting point: These murders, if motivated by Muslim hatred, will be the U.S's Theo van Gogh.

The father of the slain family was a strident defender of the Coptics, and was known to frequent online discussions where he'd debate Muslims. He was also the recipient of death threats for his religious beliefs.

No matter the motive, the perpetrators need to be vigorously prosecuted. Further, though, in this case, its more evidence that we need to be on guard to the rise of militant Islam in this country. Europe has long reported problems with Islamic fundamentalists starting waves of violence at the behest of radical imams. Eurocrats usually sit helpless (see the recent closing of a play in England after a Sikh riot) or blame the victim (see the Oslo professor's suggestion that women raped by Muslim men should accept some of the responsibility). We cannot do the same.
Thomas Friedman's op-ed
in today's NYTimes is a piece of vacuous blather. The subject: President Bush should travel across Europe and say nothing, just listen. What might he hear? Bar owner Tim Kreutzfeldt:
"Bush took away our America. I mean we love America. We are very sad about America. We believe in America and American values, but not in Bush. And it makes us angry that he distorted our image of the country which is so important to us. It is not what America stands for - and this makes us angry and it should make every American angry, because America lost so much in its reputation worldwide." The Bush team, he added, is giving everyone in the world the impression that "somebody is coming to kill you."
Or from Stefan Elfenbein, a food critic (brackets and ellipses in original):
"I know many people who don't want to travel to America anymore. ... People are afraid to be hassled at the border. ... We all discuss it, when somebody goes to America [we now ask:] 'Are you sure?' We had hope that Kerry would win and would make a statement, 'America is back to what it was four years ago.' We hoped that he would be the symbol, the figure who would say, '[America] is the country that welcomes everybody again.' [But] now we have to wait four more years, hopefully for somebody to give us back the country we knew and liked."
Is it any wonder why Bush would choose not to listen to stuff life this? I hate to break to Tim Kreutzfeldt, but someone is coming to kill you. Germany, Kreutzfeldt's home, just arrested two suspected Al-Qaeda agents, as well as a couple of dozen others engaged in various terrorist plots.

And, to Ms Elfenbein, being the country that welcomes everybody is all well and good when everybody is nice and happy and wants to get along. But when a liberal open-borders policy allows terrorist elements to come strolling in, they need to be re-evaluated. Is fingerprinting every traveller an invasive intrusion into privacy? Maybe. But, unrestricted border crossings aren't too smart, either.

Does 9/11 mean anything to these people? I know that American citizens are supposed to be really narrow in focus and pedestrian, but you'd think the ultra-cosmopolitan whole-world-loving Europeans would know what happened on that day and what it means.
Cosmic alignment:
Constitutional Chaos picks on traffic cameras, and now the all-seeing InstaPundit has linked to a post on the same subject.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

City Journal's Heather MacDonald
takes Andrew Sullivan to task for his weird logic on prisoner abuse.

As someone who frequently reads Sullivan (yes, David, in spite of my occaisional protestations), I've marvelled at his apparent lack of perspective. His willingness to apply Geneva protections to everyone, for example, strains credulity. What's the use in having distinctions between legal and illegal combatants when, in Sullivan's view, they should receive the same protection anyway?
The guys who made
the Volkswagen Polo ad I linked to before are being sued by Volkswagen. Key quote:
After a week of prevarication, the car giant has decided to go ahead and sue the people behind the advert on the grounds that it was damaging its reputation around the world and falsely linked the VW with terrorism.
What? Did they actually watch the ad?
The train crash in California
was apparently caused by a suicidal man (or "deranged individual," as the Glendale Chief of Police put it) parking his car on the tracks. He's going to be charged with 10 counts of murder. More if more victims succumb to their injuries.
InstaPundit
has a bit about a man recently freed from Death Row that fits in nicely with our Constitutional Chaos discussion, for certainly this example would have ended up in the book.
Joe, I tend to agree
about being lied to by the police. I asked the same question to a colleague yesterday: do you have the right to be told the truth all the time? My answer would be along the lines of: yes and no.

I think there are lies the police shouldn't be able to tell. For example, if they tell a guy "if you say you did it, we won't prosecute", then they should honor that. If the guy confesses and they end up going prosecuting, well, I'd say that's wrong.

On the other hand, I have no problem with the police saying something like "we found your fingerprints at the crime scene so you might as well fess up", even if they really didn't find fingerprints.

The problem is there's a lot of ground between these examples and it's hard to know where to draw the line between them.
Did he think no one would notice?
I mean, he won $1 million on a high-profile television show. And while I understand why they've asked Richard Hatch to surrender his passport, why does he have to submit to drug and alcohol testing?
This
is almost painful.
SpongeBob is welcomed by the United Church of Christ.
Hat tip: The Corner.

This is the same church, I believe, that ran the commericals showing a bouncer keeping "undesirables" (minorities, the handicapped, homosexuals, etc.) from entering a church. This caused a small amount of controversy from other denominations who didn't like the implcation that their own church was discriminatory.

Love the picture, though.



Is lying to suspects coercion?
I would say no. I know of no right to being told the truth by law enforcement. Telling a suspect in a crime that his accomplices have all given statements against him, for example, is perfectly fine with me.

I suppose slippery-slopers will contend that allowing police to tell lies will open the door to either 1) threats of physical force or abuse, even if they have no intent on carrying them out, or 2) even more "dirty" behavior, such as actually striking or abusing the suspect. That's why guidelines should be drawn up, deliniating acceptable interrogation tactics, and contexts in which certain behaviors can be used.

Obviously, Abu Ghraib was obscene, and we don't want to turn jailhouses into that kind of chaos. However, I don't think the answer is to become Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition ("So you think you are strong because you can survive the soft cushions. Well, we shall see. Biggles! Put her in the Comfy Chair! Now -- you will stay in the Comfy Chair until lunch time, with only a cup of coffee at eleven."). There must be some kind of median point.

Lying, I think, doesn't quite cross that line.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Received two books yesterday,
the ones I discussed in a previous post: Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything and Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws.

I read a little bit of Chaos last night, only about 25 pages or so in, and so far it's been a depressing read. The author, Andrew Napolitano, lists example after example of the government abusing its authority. So far the examples have concentrated on dirty tricks some police officers (or FBI agents or whatever) have used to coerce confessions. This raises one issue I'd like to hear from Joe and Bart about: is it acceptable for police to lie to get a confession? Is it clever interrogation tactics, or coercion?

In fairness, so far the book has been completely anecdotal. It contains tons of specific examples of abuse, but so far no statistics or references to general studies and such. So maybe these abuses aren't as common as the book would lead you to believe, or maybe they are. Who knows? But I'm only 25 pages in, so perhaps I should be more patient.
Last night's episode of 24 seemed to go out of its way
to portray bad daddies on both sides, namely the Secretary of Defense James Heller and electronics store owner/international terrorist Navi Araz. I'd link directly to their profiles on the 24 website, but I can't see a way to do that with they way they've organized it. But you can start here and click on their names.

Anyway, Araz decided Behrooz, his teenage son, wasn't doing his part and so had another terrorist-type take the boy out of town to kill him. Thankfully Behrooz got away, but not before learning that his own father was trying to have him killed. Nice, but then I suppose we should expect that of the bad guys.

The SecDef was worse. Most of the show to this point has been about CTU's attempts to rescue Heller from the bad guys. CTU took Heller's son Richard in to interrogate, not because they thought he was directly involved in the kidnapping, but because they believe he might have innocently told the wrong people where his father would be. Richard has been denying that he has said anything to anyone, so CTU has been using a sensory deprivation technique to try to get him to talk. They tie him to a chair, put a blindfold over his eyes and play super-loud random noises in his ears. Not only is this, uh, disconcerting (Richard was screaming, in tears, to be let out), but Richard loses all track of time like this, thinking he was hooked up for hours when it had only been 30 minutes.

So Richard never breaks and Jack rescues Heller anyway and takes him back to CTU. Heller is reunited with his son, who tells the SecDef about the awful things CTU has been doing to him. Unfortunately for Richard, Heller decides that, indeed, Richard must be hiding something and says to his son something like, "I love you, son, but I have a duty to my country" and then gives CTU authorization to continue using whatever techniques they deem necessary to get Richard to talk. So they slap the blindfold and earphones back on him and crank up the volume.

Cold. So cold.

UPDATE: Just realized my writing stinks [you're just now realizing this? -ed.] and I seem to be implying that it's worse to have one's son interrogated, albeit rather harshly, than to have him killed. What I meant by saying the SecDef was worse was that my reaction to it was worse. I expected the bad guys to behave, well, badly - I wasn't expecting what the SecDef did. That's all.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Finally, Jack goes Terminator on the bad guys!
The first ten minutes of tonight's episode was a one-man rescue operation against dozens of baddies. I've been waiting for four seasons for this, and it was sweet.
I knew of only two
conservative professors when I was at Harvard: Harvey "C-minus" Mansfield and Ruth Wisse. Ms Wisse offers her take on the Lawrence Summers flap. Of note, her reaction to some faculty who organized against Summers:
The true character of the campaign against Mr. Summers was corroborated when the same Harvard women's group that is lobbying for more female professors reproached him for "speaking his mind as an individual" last week rather than toeing what they believe should be the university's party line. Lobbying for women in the name of greater diversity, they used the club of gender to silence diversity.
"Hitchcockian ultra-horror"
from Tim Blair. I'll add only one fantastically witty yet somewhat obscure comment. A-hem:
Um Imaad brought Imaad pills from the doctor to try to calm him. He looked at the yellow ones, then the red ones and refused to take them. “All these belong to Jewish people,” he said, pushing one set aside. “And these others are from bad or foreign people."
Too bad he couldn't take the blue pill. Ba-dum-dum pssssh!
Declaring war on democracy:
Power Line has the details.
There were a few times when I was a kid
that Joe and I would spend the night at our Aunt Mae and Uncle Roy's 'cause our parents would be off one place or another. They (Mae and Roy) were never very successful and getting us to bed at the appointed time, and I remember getting my first taste of Johnny Carson at their house and watching him whenever we'd sleep over after that. The whole experience was great: the laughter (I didn't get the jokes, but I understood the laughter), the monkeys and birds, Carnac, that multi-colored curtain (for some reason it impressed me then), and on and on.

When I got older and staying up past 10:30 was regularly allowed, all I wanted to see was Carson's open monologue and that first skit or extra bit before the guests came on. I could have cared less about the guests: I just wanted to see Carson. He was brilliant.

I would think tonight's Tonight Show would be worth watching. I can't imagine that Jay Leno would not do some kind of retrospective of Carson's career.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

A wonderful entertainer has passed.
Johnny Carson was a class act.