Saturday, February 12, 2005

Eason Jordan,
the man who accused U.S. troops of specifically targeting journalists, has stepped down from his post at CNN.
It's official:
Howard Dean is the new DNC Chairman. Yeaaaaaargh!
Iraq's Sunnis figure it out:
If you don't vote, you don't get representation. This quote, though, is a little silly:
In many respects, the voting is an accurate reflection of the Sunni Arabs' descent in just two years from a clan defined by the exercise of power to a broken and disenfranchised people with little stake in the system.
The Sunnis aren't disenfranchised. To be disenfranchised, you actually have to be denied your right to vote. Women in Saudi Arabia, for example, are disenfranchised. The Sunnis just chose, for whatever reason, not to vote.

The Sunnis controlled Iraq for decades under the Baathist regime; now they have to share power with the ethnic groups they oppressed for years. Isn't that just too bad?
A pregnant woman
successfully defended herself from someone trying to steal her baby. The attacker had been telling people for months that she was pregnant. She wasn't. When police later searched her home, they found a fully furnished nursery.

The article doesn't say how the victim killed her attacker.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The U.S. has
rebuffed North Korea's attempts to supplant multi-lateral talks with bilateral talks.

Good.
"Why Democracy?"
V.D.H.:
Democracy [in the Middle East] in some sense is the last chance. It alone offers constitutional guarantees of free speech, minority rights, and an independent judiciary — a framework, a system, a paradigm in which naturally savage humans, prone to all sorts of awful things, as the 20th county attests, can somehow get along. Given the savagery of the modern Middle East that would say quite a lot.
I have to hand to
the NYTimes today. Seriously. Instead of pointing to discrimination as the motive for Carly Fiorina's ouster at HP, they actually point to her bad business decisions. You've come a long way, baby.
I agree with you,
David, that it would seem Napolitano is a bit short-sighted if he thinks that. As you say, how would he expect to roll-up organized crime if we couldn't go after the bosses?

Here's an odd unintended consequence: War crimes would become impossible to pin on national leaders. Under this logic, Hermann Goering didn't personally kill anyone, so he shouldn't have faced the court at Nuremburg.
Here's another
free speech puzzler. And, for the sake of argument, let's assume that Mr. Krien didn't know that one of the participants planned on killing her children, as well.

Does engaging others in a suicide pact fall under protected free speech, or are you encroaching on some kind of self-murder? It'd be like the concept of entrapment -- you never would have intended to do it, yourself, but you were put under such intense pressure by others that you finally relent and do it.
The anti-low-rise pants
measure in Virginia has been dropped. Lawmakers were embarrassed by the media exposure, so they killed the bill in committee. Good. Lawmakers should be embarrassed when they propose stupid bills.
The Swedish pastor
that had been tried for formenting anti-gay prejudice by preaching against homosexuality has been acquitted by a Swedish court.

Maybe now, Fred Phelps will leave Lindsborg the hell alone.
As expected,
North Korea is demanding that the U.S. resume bilateral talks. It would be a grave mistake for the Bush administration to heed North Korea's demands. NK hates the multi-lateral talks because they don't having direct diplomatic pressure from China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia in addition to ours. The want the U.S. one-on-one so they can engage in the same stalling tactics they used during the cease-fire negotiations during the Korean War.

We need to wait out NK's tantrum and get the others in the multi-lateral talks to put pressure on NK to come back to the table.
Forgive me for posting about stuff of which I'm not certain,
but I believe Constitutional Chaos took the position that Lynne Stewart was just helping her client exercise his constitutionally protected right to free speech. Essentially, giving orders is just speech, it's the carrying out of the act that's a crime. That's how I remember it, but I'd have to take another look to be certain. I don't have the book with me at the moment.

I disagree. If this were true, we'd be able to nab all of the underlings, but every mob boss or gang leader would be untouchable. Doesn't make sense. That's why I'm doubting myself. I can't believe Napolitano would take such a position, so I must be remembering it wrong.
I caught the teaser for
next week's episode of E.R. last night. It's being told from the perspective of a patient -- what we see is what the patient sees. The teaser called the episode "groundbreaking." I hate to break it to the good folks at NBC, but M*A*S*H had an entire episode shot from the view of a wounded soldier 20 years ago in an episode called Point of View.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I can't remember if I posted on this or not,
but it seems that the story involving the unemployed German woman being told she has to accept work at a brothel or find her unemployment benefits cut is a hoax. Snopes has the scoop.
Hey, David. With your
recent posts about the permissibility of lying and other tricks in law enforcement, this case seems apropos, though on the reverse side of the legal process. Was Lynne Stewart providing legal services to her clients, or was she engaged in terrorist activity? At what point does an attorney become an accomplice?
Yet another reason
why I dislike pot pies.
North Korea
has announced that it has nuclear weapons. Am I the only person left unsurprised by this admission? Hopefully, this will not cause the State Department or the President to scuttle multilateral talks, or re-introduce bi-lateral talks, with North Korea. The only way we're going to get these guys in line is if we make the major players in the Asia-Pacific theater put pressure on them. I have to think that China is probably more paranoid about a nuclear North Korea than we are. It's not like Kim Jong Il is playing with a full deck, you know.

What's great about North Korea as a venue for entertainment is how they'll pull really crazy stuff, deliberately provoking their neighbors, and then accuse everyone else of trying to isolate them or escalate tensions. For example:
Japanese anger with North Korea rose sharply last month after Pyongyang delivered to visiting Japanese diplomats two boxes of half-cremated remains, said to be of a Japanese woman kidnapped from Japan by North Korean agents in the 1970s. DNA analysis showed that the remains were not of the missing Japanese woman, but of two unidentified people.
What's also interesting about this case is the next sentence in the above paragraph:
It is unclear if North Korea, which tightly controls information from the outside world, was aware of DNA technology.
Unaware of DNA technology? Oh, my.
Okay,
this bill is stupid. The government really shouldn't be fining people for wearing low-rise pants. What's fun, though, is the primary opponent of the bill used the race card:
On Tuesday, [Delegate Lionell Spruill, Sr.] said the measure was an unconstitutional attack on young blacks that would force parents to take off work to accompany their children to court just for making a fashion statement.
Oh, please.
This must be the
Crying Game of athletics. And, this has to be one of the best cases of malpractice ever:
A tribal healer, known in the West as a witchdoctor, gave him "female status" but the spell didn't work properly because his family didn't pay the healer's full fee, Sithole said.
Again,
what's up with the recent teacher sex scandals? This guy appears to have some really bizarre tape fetish.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

More drama
in the case of the cookie-delivering kids (see my previous post here). Apparently, the father of one of the girls had to take out a restraining order against Wanita Young's husband, Herb, because he keeps making harrassing phone calls.

Also of note, Mrs. Young has been the target of harrassing calls, herself:
Wanita Young said, "This has turned into quite a fiasco. It's something that never should have happened and it's just devastating. My phone hasn't stopped ringing. My life has been threatened and I'll probably have to move out of town."
It would seem, David, that some of the angrier commentors got their wish.

Hat tip: Best of the Web.
Jonah is putting money on the line.
Whoa:
I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there's another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I'm all ears. Money where your mouth is, doc.
But Juan Cole wouldn't agree, having been "immobilized by disgust and grief". Jonah has declared victory.

UPDATE: Here's a synopsis of the whole situation.
The 25 Most Inappropriate Things An Objectivist Can Say During Sex
is hilarious, but I must warn you that it's sexually explicit. I won't quote my favorite examples because they're just too dirty, but I liked this one:
You feel warm and fuzzy? Check your premises.
Hat tip to InstaPundit.
Here at work, we just had a safety review
for the Halon system that's used in the IT department's server room. My office happens to be directly connected to this room. It's nice to know that we have a fire prevention system that will kill us in the process. At least there's a 60-second delay between when the alarm sounds and the oxygen is sucked from the room, and my office is right next to the exit.

UPDATE: I have now planned my escape route (with apologies to George Carlin):
I locate my nearest emergency exit, and then I plan my route. You have to plan your route. It's not always a straight line, is it? Sometimes there's a really big fat f--- sitting right in front of you [actually, I'm the really big fat, er, guy, but oh well]. Well, you know you'll never get over him. I look around for women and children, midgets and dwarves, cripples, war widows, paralyzed veterans, people with broken legs, anybody who looks like they can't move too well; the emotionally disturbed come in VERY handy at a time like this. You might have to go out of your way to find these people, but you'll get out of the [server room] a lot God damn quicker, believe me. I say, "Let's see... I'll go around the fat f---... step on the widow's head... push those children out of the way... knock down the paralyzed midget, and get out of the [server room] where I can help others". I can be of no help to anyone if I'm lying unconscious in the [hallway] with some big [expletive deleted] standing on my head. I must get out of the [server room], go to a nearby farmhouse, have a Dr. Pepper [oh, sweet Dr. Pepper], and call the police.
Over at the Corner,
Jonah links to the Flash Mind Reader. I thought it was pretty good. Took me a second to figure out what he's doing.

What scares me, though, are the people out there who don't understand the mathematical trick being pulled -- and really believe this thing is reading their mind. You know they're out there.
David Hogberg questions Daily Kos' literacy
over at Social Security Choice. He also notes a bit of bias at MSNBC/Newsweek:
At a hastily staged press conference last week, the president studiously avoided using the word "crisis" to talk about the issue—after Congress sounded unconvinced about the Chicken Little tactics—preferring instead the less alarming "“problem."
Says Hogberg, "I particularly like the gratuitous shot 'Chicken Little Tactics.' Liberal bias? What liberal bias?" Indeed.
Does it seem odd to anyone else
that the Mexican government is publishing a guide on how to sneak across the border into the U.S? More from the Arizona Republic:
"This guide is intended to give you some practical advice that could be of use if you have made the difficult decision to seek new work opportunities outside your country," the book says.

But immigration-control groups questioned some of the guide's advice.

"This is more than just a wink and a nod," said Rick Oltman, Western field director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "This is so transparent, this is the Mexican government trying to protect its most valuable export, which is illegal migrants."
From the Washington Post:
Some U.S. lawmakers are furious about the booklet, saying it is tantamount to the Mexican government printing a "how-to" guide to illegally entering the United States.

"The Mexican government is aiding and abetting the illegal invasion" of Mexicans into the United States, said Rep. J. D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), who called for an immediate halt to distribution of the guide. "Can you imagine if our State Department . . . put out a publication saying, 'We don't recommend stealing, but if you are going to be involved in stealing in Mexico anyway, here are some helpful hints on how to jimmy the door?'"
Harry Reid is throwing a hissy fit.
He's discovered that Republicans have been passing naughty notes about him in class. Reid needs to grow up. He's the Senate Minority Leader. Did he honestly expect that Republicans weren't going to publish strategy papaers about him?

In any case, Democrats still don't get it. Take this line from the story:
Democratic sources said Reid is fighting back to avoid being "Daschle-ized," a reference to the smear campaign that marginalized the former Democratic leader.
The concern that Republicans have is that Reid is going to continue Tom Daschle's campaign to obstruct federal court confirmations. If Reid thinks that fighting back means continuing with Daschle's strategies, then he's delusional. Look at what Daschle's obstructionism did for Daschle.
Carly Fiorina
is stepping down as CEO of HP. Insiders are, in part, blaming Fiorina's decision to buy Compaq, an acquisition that hasn't been that successful.
Google has gotten into maps
and it's pretty cool. Note how you can click and drag within a map and it'll seamlessly pan around. Neat.
What's the deal with the
teacher sex scandals these days? It seems like there have been more and more coming. Is there really an increase in these kinds of arrests, or is the press just taking notice of it more?
The concern over Brian De Palma's
casting for "The Black Dahlia" is a little silly. De Palma has asked casting agencies for a young woman, 18 or older, who looks even younger and is willing to be in an R-rated lesbian nude scene. He is not asking for an actual 13 year old for said scene.

Is this really that controversial? If so, what did they do when they were casting for "Lolita" and "The Tin Drum?"

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I just heard someone say
that, according to physics, bumblebees can't fly. That sounded rather odd to me, and it was. Don't panic.
"Tonight on 'American Idol' – everyone dies!"
James Lileks fisks a critical, uh, critique of everyone's favorite show.
You get the feeling some people watch Star Trek and get irritated because they can’t figure out who the Borg are really supposed to be?
Did you see the article
on NRO, David, that discussed Family Guy? The author mentions American Dad, describing it as "a kind of anti-Incredibles about a bungling midlevel CIA-operative — the comedy sinks under the weight of MacFarlane's political agenda."
The halftime show from a couple of years ago
that featured U2 was great, one of my favorites of all time. Yeah, it had some additional impact because they ran a memorial for the victims of 9/11 while U2 was performing, but still, it was good.

The problem with Paul McCartney is he's, well, old. I'm sure a huge segment of the younger audience had no idea who he was, as sad as that is. All of the songs he played were at least, what, 30 years old? I'm all for a wholesome show, but you'd think there's at least one current star that could provide one.

How ironic that Fox, the station that has pushed the envelope on taste since the beginning, provided the most tame Super Bowl in some time.

By the way, though I'm an old Simpsons fan, I didn't think the post-Super Bowl episode was very funny. And I didn't last 10 minutes with "American Dad" or whatever it was called. Crap.
I guess the Super Bowl half-time show
wasn't too popular. I'm not sure why -- I enjoyed it. A far cry better than those huge celebrity montages where they bring out all the flash-in-the-pan stars to sing songs no one likes or will remember in two years.

I must admit, though, that I probably annoyed my wife when I said things like, "They're bringing up the piano. Must be time for 'Live and Let Die,'" and, "Time for the last song. It'll be 'Hey Jude.'"
Today's NYTimes
has an article dealing with France's learning to cope with four more years of President Bush.

There's an odd mix of emotions floating through it, but I think the biggest factor is some form of delusion of grandeur. The pervading sense is that France still thinks it's the power that it was under Napoleon, Louis XIV or Cardinal Richelieu:
In a meeting a week ago at Élysée Palace with five American senators, for instance, Mr. Chirac repeated his conviction that a "multipolar world" with multiple centers of power is not a desire or an aspiration but "a fact," three participants said.
On what planet does Chirac live? France is a world power? Please.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Howard Dean's only other
opponent for DNC chairman has dropped out of the race. If Dean does, indeed, become chairman, it should make for an entertaining Democratic Party. Will Dean's energy and verve revitalize the Democratic base, or will his near-maniacal zeal and propensity for hyperbole alienate everybody but the Moore-ites?

Given that HRM is the current Democratic front-runner for the 2008 Democratic Presidental nomination, I wonder what the Clintons are thinking about this. Dean is not a Clinton-style New Democrat.
This is big news.
It would seem Arafat was an obsticle, not a partner, for peace afterall.
David, you had asked
me in conversation to comment on your post about free speech. Sorry I haven't done so until now.

I agree with you that something like the Alien and Sedition Acts is a bad idea. If the First Amendment provisions for freedom of speech were meant to protect anything, it was the right of the American people to criticize government, even in time of war.

However, the issue gets more murky when we begin to think about calls for violence and insurrection. For example, if a group of people are plotting the murder of some random person, can they be arrested for conspiracy? I mean, they were only exercising their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. But, under a hard-and-fast interpretation of freedom of speech, law enforcement officials would not be able to do anything until they actually attempt to do it.

This leads to the question: Does the First Amendment protect speech used to plot criminal enterprise? If so, then as above, you have to wait until the act is being committed to do anything. This may be okay for undercover drug and vice operations, where police wait for the money to change hands before they arrest everybody, but I don't know if this is acceptable for threats of armed insurrection.

As the cliche goes, the Constitution is not a suicide pact. The Supreme Court over the years has curtailed free speech in various forms. Holmes's dictum about shouting fire in a crowded theater comes from a decision (Schenck v. U.S.) that hinged on whether it was constitutionally-protected speech for anti-war protestors to actively encourage WWI draftees to avoid service. The Court unanimously agreed that it isn't.

Now, that isn't to say that I agree with the Court's every decision. The fact that they upheld McCain-Feingold (a serious slap to free speech if there was one), for example, shows that the Court is quite capable of buffoonery.

However, I would also add that saying free speech is inviolate, irrespective of context, isn't right, either. Is it okay for people to publish the locations of U.S. troops in war? Is it okay for people to give out the names and addresses of jurors and witnesses in a big mob case? Is it okay for people to yell "Fire" in a crowded theater? The unifying principle in these three cases is that the exercise of free speech can be directly linked to someone's getting killed or injured.

While I have some issues with the concept of "balance" ("We must balance freedom of association with the people's interest in disrupting gang activity"), I also believe that there has to be more subtlety to the First Amendment than "anything goes."
Best of the Web notes the cookie caper
that Joe posted on last week.

BOTW also agrees with me that the cat and knife commercial was hilarious. I thought PETA would have something about this on their site, but I couldn't find anything. They didn't like the chimpanzee commercials, though. So, PETA's position is: upwardly mobile, successful business-leading apes - BAD, cat torture - GOOD. Interesting.
One of the best Super Bowl ads.
The most meaningful, for sure. Nice.
Heavens to Mergatroid.
Who wouldn've figured that the first mini-firestorm created on this blog would be over some lady suing because she was scared by neighborhood cookie makers? I think the most comments we've ever had on a post before this was two.
Spam watch:
My junk mail folder, which used to be bursting with offers for mortgages, is now full of ads for diet pills. Are they trying to tell me something?
It was a ho-hum Super Bowl.
I'm a fan of offense: big plays, quick scores, lots of points, like the Chiefs or the Colts when everything is going their way. So 7-7 ties at halftime and 14-14 ties at the start of the fourth quarter don't make me very excited.

I'm happy for the Patriots, though. They're officially a dynasty now, so we'll get to see the comparisons to them, the Cowboys, 49ers and the Steelers when the Chiefs establish their dynasty later this decade.

As for the commercials: I liked the ones for the Mustang convertible in the frozen tundra and the Diet Pepsi trucks at first, but they aged quickly. The one that produced the most laughs from everyone in the room was the one where it looked like the guy was, um, angry at his cat. But this one may have been a victim of its own cleverness, because we were all laughing too much to notice who the commercial was for. Oh, well.

UPDATE: Bill Clinton was unwilling to predict a winner. I totally missed that. Must have been out back grilling burgers at the time.

UPDATE: Roger Hedgecock is subbing for Rush today, and he agrees that the cat ad was the best one. Turns out it was an ad for Ameriquest and you can watch it by going here and viewing the "Surprise Dinner" video. The "Mini Mart" ad was pretty good, too. Oh, and if you look at the website they seem to be making a big deal out of everyone in these commercials being short. What's up with that? Yes, I consider anyone under 6 feet tall as being short.