My own personal musings, wonderings, thoughts, and results of personal studies. Also, occasional comments on world events.

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Saturday, June 28, 2003
OK, So I was wrong

Sitting around a clinic all day has worn me out a lot more than I expected. This is the first time I'v busted the computer out since I've been here. I was hoping I'd be able to leave this weekend, but it looks like I'll be heremost of next week.

More later.

Sunday, June 22, 2003
In case you care

As many of you know, I've suffered for severe headaches of indeterminate cause for nearly a year. In an effort to find some sort of treatment, I'll be spending the next two weeks at the Mayo clinic in Scottsdale.'

I don't expect blogging to be affected too much as I anticipate having lots of free time. However, if I drop off the map for a while, that will be while.

Just might be on the wrong track

I was reading Mark Steyn's newest column today. It starts out:

It's mullah time! The question now is whether Iran's ayatollahs and the original ''Islamic republic'' can survive the summer, or whether President Bush will mark the second anniversary of Sept. 11 with two-thirds of his axis of evil consigned to the trash can of history.

That would be a remarkable achievement, by any measure save that of Democratic presidential candidates such as John Kerry, who seems to be running as the French foreign minister (a niche market of limited appeal even among Dem primary voters, one would think).

When I finished reading, I found two links for "Related Advertising Links". The first was for the official John Kerry website. My first thought was, "Yeah, it's related to the article, but not in a good way.

The other link was for which is selling, I kid you not, "I miss Clinton" buttons. Now this might be a good primary strategy, but if any of the Democratic candidates think running as Clinton II is a good general election strategy in a post 9/11 world, I suspect they have seriously misjudged the electorate.

Blogger bug

For those of you using Blogger, you may find a problem with your Sunday archives. Your posts from Sunday may not be archiving correctly. If that is the case, try clicking on the "publishing" tab and then clicking "republish entire site." It worked for me anyway.

Fight the power
When you're up a 3 in the morning you can see on TV
... a biker bobbing for trout!


I hate insomnia!

Now this is ironic

With absolutely no sense of irony, as far as I can tell, Fidel Castro's son is lecturing America on freedom and self-determination.

Saturday, June 21, 2003
Now this could be interesting
India is considering deploying troops to Iraq.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was yesterday consulting his security cabinet and coalition allies on whether to send troops to Iraq as a report said New Delhi had identified the unit it would deploy for the US-led force.

Vajpayee was to meet his top security cabinet late yesterday followed by separate talks with the two dozen parties in his coalition, a government spokesman said.

However, no date has been set to announce a decision and Vajpayee leaves today on a six-day visit to China.


A report in The Hindu newspaper yesterday said the Indian army had already identified an infantry division attached to a strike corps as the best option for "peace enforcing" operations in Iraq.

This division of around 17,000 troops, led by a two-star general, includes armoured and artillery brigades, a mix considered suited for Iraq, the daily said.

This could be really good news. It's becoming obvious that more troops are needed in Iraq. Our people seem to have underestimated how badly screwed up Iraq was. It's beginning to look like the post-war situation is much worse than anticipated. As far as I can tell, Iraqi society was held together with fear and bailing wire. Now both are gone and the whole thing disintegrated overnight.

There are some signs that the Iraqis are starting to rebuild government from the bottom up. (Link via Instapundit.) Even so, it's beginning to look like we simply need more troops in the field to keep the peace.

Not only that, but some of our troops are combat weary. (And their families are getting restless too.) It's hard to keep people at combat stress levels indefinitely, especially in what is supposed to be peace time. A lot of our guys need rest. If it's handled properly, 17,000 Indian troops could go a long way towards providing relief.

The key phrase there is if it's handled right. If it's not, it could be a political and military disaster. Will it be handled right? I don't feel qualified to answer that question.

Update: Kofi Annan doesn't want India to deploy troops. Of course, he didn't want us to deploy troops either.

Note: I've made some spelling corrections.

Ever wanted to know how to get your protest on TV

Here's how.

Oh my

I'm speechless. Heh.

A good idea

Patrick Ruffini thinks that the internet will be increasingly important in politics. He's soliciting new ideas on how to make that happen.

By the way, my spell checker wanted me to replace "Ruffini" with "ruffian". Heh.

Another one

I laid down for another nap today. I had another one of those incredibly vivid dreams. This time I was at a restaurant. I had just been served the largest bowl of Ice Cream I have ever seen. It looked magnificent. I had just picked up my spoon to take the first bite and ... I woke up.


Me too

I'll second that.

Ho, Hum

Mike Tyson was arrested. Again. The reason this is considered news is what exactly?

I have a dream

Well, technically, it would be more correct to say I had a dream.

I took a nap yesterday and had an incredibly vivid dream. You know; the kind that seem so real that when you wake up you have trouble remembering if it was a dream or real life. Yeah, that kind of dream.

Anyway, in my dream my boss and I were on a business trip to Washington (D.C., that is). Why I don't know. There's no reason for me to be going on a business trip to Washington. Anyway, we had to stop at another city for a couple of days on the way. I can't remember which city or why we had to stop.

Anyway, through a bizarre set of circumstances, I met a girl. She was incredibly gorgeous and we spent the whole day running around the city doing incredibly fun things and talking a lot. In short, a really incredible all-day-long date. That evening she said she had to go. She leaned over and kissed me and started to walk away.

I said, "Wait, I don't have any way to reach you."

She turned around and answered, "My number is ..."

And then I woke up.


As I said, it was an incredibly vivid dream. When I woke up, I was really confused. Not to mention upset at not having got the phone number. It took me a second to realize what had happened.

I'm not sure if I felt better or worse when I realized it was all just a dream. Certainly if it had been real, I'd have been very angry at myself for some how not getting the number.

Oh well. Life goes on.

Sounds good to me

More proof that I'm right

Literary criticism should be banned. Don't believe me? Fine, but read this. (Link via J. Bowen)

People, it's a children's book! Get a grip!

Stephen Green is right

It looks like Krauthammer went around the bend. Maybe too many car fumes?

Friday, June 20, 2003

Sometimes Scott Ott really out does himself.

(2003-06-20) -- A Federal Court in Texas ruled today that it's too late to review the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

"This court reserves the right to choose which cases it will accept and which ones it will reject," Judge David Godbey wrote in the ruling. "The Federal District Court in Dallas is our judicial body, and we will make those choices ourselves."

The court, in choosing not to hear Norma McCorvey's request to overturn the abortion ruling, said "you can vacate a court decision in the early weeks or months, but after a certain point it takes on a life of its own and becomes established law."

The court refused, however, to weigh in on the question of exactly when a ruling becomes law. But many legal scholars agree that it's some time during the first trimester after the decision is conceived by the Supreme Court.

Isn't that something?

Can you say over reaction?

I knew you could.

This Harry Potter mania is officially out of hand.

I can't wait to hear the caterwalling

One of the things we've gained from the invasion of Iraq is that people now know how far we are willing to go to protect our interests. Now that they know, most of them probably won't make us do it. However, to take advantage of this situation, we have to let people know we are willing to do it again. Hence:

LONDON (AP) - Military action against Iran to stop it developing nuclear weapons is far from the thoughts of the U.S. government, but it has to remain an option, a senior American official said Friday.

John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, stressed that such action was a last resort, but insisted that Iran could not be allowed to develop a weapons capability that could destabilize the whole region.

Interviewed on British Broadcasting Corp. radio, Bolton was asked whether ultimately U.S. President George W.Bush's administration was reserving the right to take military action against Iran.

"The president has repeatedly said that all options are on the table. But that is not only not our preference, it is far, far from our minds," he replied.

Pressed on whether military action remained an option, he added: "It has to be an option. Nuclear weapons are incredibly dangerous and when you couple the Iranian nuclear program with their aggressive efforts to expand the range of their ballistic missiles, they are bringing more and more of our friends and allies within range.

This is exactly what American officials should be saying; we don't want to, but we will if we have to.

Of course to some people, this talk sounds mean and boorish. If we acted as some would have us, we'd "Declare Peace." That is, we'd promise every one else we'd never attack them.

At which point they'd decide they could do whatever they wanted. They'd continue to take what they wanted from us until we either cease to exist, or finally give up and go to war.

I'm not sure if TR was right about speaking softly, but he was certainly right about the big stick.

Bringing me down to earth

You know, every time Tony Blair's foreign policy starts making me feel good, I end up reading things like this. It cures me of any illusions I might be harboring about him.

Talk about chutzpah!

The district court has dismissed Norma McCorvey's request to reopen Roe:

A federal district court has dismissed a request by the former plaintiff known as "Jane Roe" to reconsider the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion 30 years ago.

Norma McCorvey, who joined the anti-abortion fight 10 years ago, filed the "motion for relief from judgment" Tuesday, asking the court to reopen Roe v. Wade and conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into scientific and anecdotal evidence she says shows abortion hurts women.

The court dismissed McCorvey's request late Thursday, saying it wasn't made within a "reasonable time" after the 1973 judgment.

I really have no way to judge the legal merits of her claim, but I just couldn't let one part of this story pass:

Sarah Weddington, the abortion rights activist and attorney who originally represented McCorvey, said she was delighted, but not surprised McCorvey's request was dismissed.

"It never should have been filed," Weddington said Friday morning. "Those who filed it got publicity but the publicity actually has been very helpful for those of us who believe the government should not be involved."(Emphasis added.)

You can describe abortion activists a lot of ways, but it takes real gall to frame their position as believing, "the government should not be involved." Excuse me! She's the one who took this thing to the Supreme Court! Once that happened, it was inevitable that the government would be involved from here on out.

I guess in strange sense I can see her point, but still, come on!

Different name, same game

Since the Soviet Union fell. we've moved on to other threats. America has a short attention span, so we tend to forget what's not constantly thrust in front of us by the media. That's why it's was so interesting to read William F. Buckley's article about the state of Russian vs. U.S. spying.

Thursday, June 19, 2003
This is troubling

Chris Regan has a post about troubling trends in Christian churches in regards to Harry Potter. It seems many churches are melding Potter and the Gospel.

Separation of Powers

It seems that Tom Daschle hasn't grasped the concept. I wrote about this a couple of days ago, but Jack Rich says it better:

It would seem that Senate Democrats are at least feigning ignorance of the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches, and also have yet to reconcile themselves to two salient facts.

First, your party lost the last presidential election, and there are no do-overs. As much as you tried. Second, your party lost control of the Senate in the 2002 elections. As in tanked it, in a mid-term election that should have gone your way, but, darn it, those red-state voters were racist pigs and just wouldn't let Democratic voters into the polling places, and Bull Connor was there, and Gov. Faubus stood in the door, and, oh my...

Let us take this really slowly, so all of those special ed dems can move their lips along with imagined music: you. must. win. the presidency. in. order. to. select. supreme. court. nominees.

Those dems able to read, look it up in the old, but still quite servicable [sic]document, which may be found here in the medium invented by your last failed presidential nominee.


A good question

Martin Roth is looking for information about Iranian Christians. He's got a list of some of the resources he's already found.

Seeing both sides

Christopher Johnson points out a story about how many Congressmen are attempting to pass legislation which would restrict the ability of the district and appellate courts to rule on the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance. Johnson also comments on those who are trying to argue that such a move would, itself, be unconstitutional.

In effect, Professor Cole thinks that it would "unconstitutional" for Congress to exercise the powers the Constitution clearly gives it. If Professor Cole's view is any indication of the views of other law professors or the US judiciary, one hopes that new judicial robes will come with nice crowns.

I agree that Congress has the constitutional authority to pass this law. To me, the question is rather, "Is this a good idea?" The answer, I believe, is "No!" While Congress certainly has the ability to pass such a law, thereby forcing all issues regarding the constitutionality of the Pledge to be heard by the Supreme Court, it seems a bad precedent. The current lower court system has been long established and served us quite well. If Congress begins to selectively rip power from the lower courts every time the courts yield an answer they don't like, the system could become horribly mangled over time.

To me this is a case that proves," Just because you have the right, that doesn't mean it is right.

If you've got to ask the question
... you probably really know the answer.

Orrin Kerr posts an ethical conundrum he's having. The gist of the matter is that the cashier at a store refused to charge him for all of his merchandise.

The question is, what to do? I would rather have just paid for the third item than have left the store knowing that I was leaving with something I didn't buy. Indeed, I made efforts twice to get the cashier to charge me for the item. At the same time, for an item that only costs $2.50 it's arguably not worth anyone's time to worry about it. In my case, it would probably take me a half an hour to go over to the store and ask to speak to the manager about it, or to just put $2.50 in the mail to at least feel that I'm not benefiting from the acts of a lazy or dishonest cashier. I don't think I'm ethically obligated to take such relatively-time-consuming steps in response to such a low-level event.

On the other hand, it would be good to tip off the store manager about the employee if this is happening a lot, and I only saw a piece of what happened. Consider the cashier's incentive for doing what he did. It's possible that he just didn't see the third item at first, and then was just too lazy to worry much about it when I pointed it out. In that case, it's probably not worth talking to the manager about it. On the other hand, perhaps the cashier doesn't like his job and wants to hurt his employer, $2.50 at a time. In that case the store manager probably wants to know about it and would appreciate my contacting him. (I don't see what else the cashier might have been up to: it's not like he rang up two items and charged me for three, and then pocketed the difference.) And of course, contacting the manager would make me feel better.

Hmm. Puzzling.

I have no idea why Kerr specifically chose to post this question, but I don't personally find it puzzling at all. He clearly knows what he thinks he ought to do. He says, "contacting the manager would make [him] feel better,' which seems a clear indication that he thinks he ought to do so.

The only reason he suggests he shouldn't is that for such a trifling dollar amount, it hardly seems worthwhile. However, the act of posting his puzzle online in what appears to be a request for input has probably already taken more time than it would take to call the store and speak to the manager.

So why doesn't he just do so? I have no idea in this particular case what Kerr's motivations are; but in my experience, when people ask an ethical question and, while asking, tell you what they think they ought to do, they're really hoping that someone else will tell them they don't have to do what they know they ought to do. (Sorry about that last sentence, but I couldn't think of less cumbersome way to phrase it.)

Update - I've decided that I may have not made it clear enough that I wasn't making any type of specific statement about Kerr's motivations. I was just trying to make a general observation.

In any event, I emailed Orrin and I thought I'd post his reply:

Interesting post-- although in this case your guess is wrong. I wrote about this because I think it's an interesting thing that happens to all of
us from time to time, and yet most people would probably just walk out of the store and forget about it. I fully plan to call the manager.

And he's right. Most people probably wouldn't have given a second thought. I think that's rather sad, but true nonetheless.

This is getting out of hand

Maybe it's just me, but requiring securities dealers to save their employees' IMs for 3 years seems over the top.

What sex are the angels?

Who cares? People are trying to kill us!

Walid Phares points out that our Congressmen are arguing about the wrong things.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Riddle me this Batman

... What was this dude doing in the field in the first place?

FORT KNOX, Ky., June 18 — Within the combat engineers, Sgt. Hasan K. Akbar was known as "scatterbrained," "incompetent," "a headache" and even "crouching tiger," because of his habit of sleep walking while doing karate chops.

When it came time for war, there were so many concerns about Sergeant Akbar's behavior that several soldiers said they did not want him to go, but they said their superiors would not listen.

"I did not want him to deploy, and if there was a job back at Fort Campbell, that's where I wanted him to be," said Sgt. First Class Daniel Kumm, Sergeant Akbar's platoon sergeant.

I tried to rant about this, but I guess I'm too tired. Insert your own comments here.

Che, and hippies, and smelly guys, Oh My!

The Lone Dissenter has a post beyond description. Just read and laugh.

Paging ILM!

I really got a kick out of this part of John Hawkin's review of Bruce Almighty:

Also, in my entire life, I have never seen a movie that caught the boom mike on camera as many times as Bruce Almighty. I counted AT LEAST 8 times that the boom mike dipped into shots. Can't they edit that out? I mean we live in an age where they can make realistic looking giant lizards with radioactive breath and yet they can get rid of a boom mike? It just doesn't make any sense.

He's got a point. In one of the big love scenes in Star Wars Episode II, the editors lifted the actors out of entirely different takes and placed them together on the screen. Surely somebody could have gotten rid of a boom mic.


Christopher Johnson wants to know if "mainline" Christian groups like the National Council of Churches and the Episcopal church will apologize for having helped spread Iraqi propaganda that is now provably false.

Unfortunately, the answer is probably no.


Just saw this on Drudge:

White House chief of staff Andrew Card yesterday said 'it is too early' to rule out the use of U.S. troops as peacekeepers in Israel and a future Palestinian state, the Manchester Union Leader reported on Wednesday.

Card was in New Hampshire yesterday to speak to Republican activists and to receive a distinguished citizens award from the Daniel Webster Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Card's remarks come as Israeli and Palestinian leaders try to rescue President Bush's road map to peace from a deadly week last week. On Sunday, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said American participation in a peacekeeping force is possible.

'I don't want to prejudge as to what kind of a solution will be best,' Card said when asked about Lugar's remarks. The administration, he said, is committed to the peace process. 'It's too early to say,' he said when pressed if the administration has ruled out U.S. troops as peacekeepers. 'You have to let the process work, you have to get to a situation where there's a climate of security without attack so the partners can truly negotiate.'

Unless "peacekeeping" is defined as "smashing Hamas" there's no justification for sending U.S. troops to Israel. And if someone gets the bright idea of sending them as unarmed peacekeepers, I'm going to be seriously pissed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Orrin Hatch has lost his mind!

I was just flabbergasted when I saw this:

During a discussion on methods to frustrate computer users who illegally exchange music and movie files over the Internet, Hatch asked technology executives about ways to damage computers involved in such file trading. Legal experts have said any such attack would violate federal anti-hacking laws.

"No one is interested in destroying anyone's computer," replied Randy Saaf of MediaDefender Inc., a secretive Los Angeles company that builds technology to disrupt music downloads. One technique deliberately downloads pirated material very slowly so other users can't.

"I'm interested," Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone's computer "may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights."(Emphasis added.)

The senator acknowledged Congress would have to enact an exemption for copyright owners from liability for damaging computers. He endorsed technology that would twice warn a computer user about illegal online behavior, "then destroy their computer."

"If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we'd be interested in hearing about that," Hatch said. "If that's the only way, then I'm all for destroying their machines. If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize" the seriousness of their actions, he said.

"There's no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws," Hatch said.

Look, I understand that online copyright violation is a big problem. Especially so because, for some reason, normally law abiding people have no problem downloading music and movies for which they have not paid. I fully agree with the Senator that this is without excuse.

However, the Senator's suggestion is also without excuse. He seems to completely ignore the concept of due process here. In a free society, people should not be denied their right to property without trial. (That principle also calls into question some of the methods used in the war on drugs, but that's a separate issue.) He's also ignoring minor little details like the fact that many of the people who might engage in this behavior live in other countries, which puts them outside of Congress's jurisdiction. Not to mention the fact that there are actually legitimate reasons to download copyrighted material. You cannot tell from a remote location whether any of those exceptions might apply. Not to mention the fact that a lot of these illegal downloads are being done by minors using computers that aren't theirs.

All in all, this is a seriously bad idea.

I'll second that

Jeff Brokaw has posted a well deserved tribute to David Robinson. (And it has nothing to do with the NBA playoffs.)

Yeah, that too

Yes Bene, the toonies were a little difficult too.

One thing I forgot to mention: When an American has dinner with four Canadians, it is definitely possible to suffer from "Eh" overload.

I must have missed that part of the Constitution

Tom Daschle has be come the latest Democratic Senator to insist that the President avoid "divisiveness" by pre-screening any Supreme Court nominees with them.

Funny, the way I read Article II, Section 2 the President has sole authority to appoint nominees. The Senate votes them up or down, but they don't get to pre-screen.

The other thing that bothers me is that the Democrats seem to basically be saying, "Don't make us fight you!" If their real concern was not having a big fight, that could be solved easily. Just don't fight him. But "divisiveness" isn't what they're really worried about. Getting Supreme Court justice's who actually read the Constitution, now that's what bothers them.

I must admit to being confused

I personally think Mel Gibson's insistence on making his film about the death of Christ entirely in Aramaic and Latin with no subtitles to be a little misguided. Regardless, I find some of the reactions to the film a little odd.

For instance, this story has Gibson responding to charges of anti-semitism and anti-Catholicism in the film. I find that rather odd because I have yet to see any evidence that any of the people criticizing the content of the film have actually seen it.

Gibson has clearly struck some kind of nerve with people, but I still can't figure out what it is.

Jerry! Jerry!

Well, I'm not sure what to make of this
'Roe' Seeks to Overturn Historic Abortion Ruling

The "Roe" of the landmark Roe v. Wade (search) Supreme Court decision is asking the nation's highest court to overturn its 1973 ruling that made abortion legal throughout the United States.

On the 33rd anniversary of her initial lawsuit, which resulted in the high court's historic ruling three years later, Norma McCorvey (search) announced Tuesday she will petition the court to reopen the original case, based on changes in law and technology over the last 30 years.

This could certainly make things interesting.

Update - Eugene Volokh says he doesn't think it will make any difference, legally speaking.

This means WAR!

I'm sure he left a few things out, but Juan Gato reminds us of some of the things the North Koreans are mad about. It seems about right.

Monday, June 16, 2003
Don't believe the lies

That's Ben Domenech's advice to graduates listening to graduation speeches. I'd quote some of it, but it really needs to be read in its entirety.

Which is why we have an army ...
... was my first thought upon seeing this article.

Poll suggests world hostile to US

Somehow, I doubt that's the response they were going for. Anyway, any nascent sympathy I might have for those polled was crushed by this paragraph:

Over half the sample felt that the US was wrong to invade Iraq - this included 81% of Russian respondents, and 63% of the French response.

Yeah, I don't have a lot of respect for people who can read about a political prison for children and still believe that the U.S. was wrong to put an end to these atrocities.

[Post updated to correct grammar.]

Second verse, same as the first

Haven't we sung this song before?

The European Union has expressed concern over Tehran's nuclear activities, and urged it to allow more comprehensive inspections of its nuclear facilities. In a statement, the ministers said serious concern remains over Iran's nuclear activities, and Tehran should cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The ministers also called for Iran to implement an additional protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that would allow inspections of suspected sites. Diplomats say the European Union wants Iran to accept more intrusive and short-notice inspections of its nuclear program.

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, whose country holds the EU presidency, says the message to Iran is plain

"The best way to clear this up is to have full transparency as soon as possible," said Mr. Papandreou. "That would be the best way to allay suspicions and restore confidence. And I think this is a message, which should be heeded."

What are the chances that the mad mullahs will be any more cooperative than Saddam?

What is "Black" anyway?

Jack Rich has an interesting post about race relations in Brazil. It's well worth the read.

Seems to work

While I was gone, they finally installed the new BloggerPro interface. So far, it seems to work better than the old one.

I'm back!

Ok, I'm back from Winnipeg. Actually, I've been back sense Thursday night, but I've been alternating between horrible headaches and going to a wedding. I'm not feeling al that great at the moment either, but I'm going to try to get back to the posting groove.

I had a great time in Winnipeg and got to spend some a lot of time with a friend of mine, so my trip would have to be categorized as a success. I'd never been to Canada, so I was particularly struck by some of the differences, most of them small.

1. Despite the fact that I knew, intellectually, that this would be the case, it was very weird to be someplace where the days are so much longer than I was used to.

2. No one dollar bills was kinda hard to get used to.

3. I'd never watched a CFL game all the way through before. Some of the rule differences were a big shock.

4. Bene Diction recently posted A Tribute to Winnipeg. I can now vouch for items 2-6, 9,11,12, and 16.

5. Seeing gasoline signs that say, "64.5/lt" was more disturbing than I had anticipated.

6. Overall, Winnipeg was one of the nicest cities I've ever been to. (Roughly 1,000 times better, and cleaner, than say, New Orleans to which I hope I never have to return.)

Normal blogging will return just as soon as I figure out exactly what normal is.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Just so you know, I'll be leaving town this afternoon and the country tomorrow. I'll be in Winnipeg until the 12th. Posting will probably be light and sporadic at best.

OK, This Is Over the Top

What would any self-respecting person, regardless of guilt or innocence, do if the were very publicly accused of committing a crime? What was that? Proclaim their innocence?

Yeah, that's what I thought too. Only when Martha Stewart does it, prosecutors call it a crime. They're accusing her of trying to manipulate the market by proclaiming her innocence.

Excuse me? Look, I haven't paid much attention to the whole Martha Stewart mess and I neither know, nor care whether or not she's guilty. Nevertheless, let me say that this is absurd. Yes, theoretically, when the CEO is accused of a crime and then proclaims, "I'm innocent!" the stock may recover some of its lost value, but that's only a tangential thing. Notice also that I said recover value. The stock will have already taken a hit when said CEO is accused of the crime in the first place. Should the people who brought the charges in the first place be accused of market manipulation? What about the prosecutors who indicted her? Their actions surely affected the stock in her company as well.

I'm going to stop now before I'm tempted to use stronger language.



I'm speechless.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

I haven't even read this story, but the headline is a gas.

Top U.N. weapon cautions on conclusions

The UN has weapons? Weapons that talk? Wow!


Mark Byron thinks that Condaleeza Rice would have much better chances running for President than Hillary would. I don't know about that, but it's an interesting thought.


In Star Trek IV, the Klingon Ambassador to the Federation, while demanding the Federation extradite Captain Kirk, proclaimed, "There can be no peace as long as Kirk lives." In fact, he was wrong. In Star Trek VI, the Federation and the Klingon Empire signed a peace treaty. Not only was Kirk still alive, he was instrumental in the process.

Such will not be the case with Yasser Arafat. WordNetDaily is reporting that Arafat was furious to be left out of the latest summit. Meanwhile, numerous outlets are reporting that Arafat is proclaiming that nothing substantive happened at the summit. It is my belief that Arafat will never allow any peace that does not include the destruction of Israel. He will actively sabotage any other plan.

There can be no peace as long as Arafat lives. It may seem harsh, but there it is.


In light of the recent behavior of the "government" in Myanmar, Senators McConnell and Feinstein want to ban all imports from that country. I'm really not sure offhand if this is a good idea. However, some of the specifics seem a little off to me:

The legislation introduced by Senators. McConnell and Feinstein would:

-- Impose a complete ban on all imports from Myanmar until the president determines and certifies to Congress that the country has made substantial and measurable progress on a number of democracy and human rights issues;

-- Allow the president to waive the import ban should he determine and notify Congress that it is in the national security interests of the United States to do so;

-- Allow the president to waive any provision of the bill found to be in violation of any international obligations of the U.S. pursuant to World Trade Organization dispute settlement procedures;

One of my pet peeves is when Congress delegates legislative power to the Executive branch. I believe it is irresponsible and it also blurs the line between those branches of government, thus damaging the separation of powers doctrine. All these provisions that allow the President to waive any part of the law that he wants to seem suspiciously lazy to me. Rather than just drafting a good law in the first place, they want to give the President the authority to clean up the mess they've made.

While I'm on the subject, there was also this gem:

Authorize the president to use all available resources to assist democracy activists in Myanmar.

Does "all available resources" include the 101st Airborne? Just asking.


I think that at this point it is far too soon to draw any conclusions about WMDs in Iraq. Nevertheless, I think Josh Claybourn makes some important points. I think he overstates the case, but the issue is certainly not without merit.

I do want to highlight this comment:

Ann Coulter toes the line with "It wasn't about WMD" while flinging around such descriptive words as "liberals." She writes, "Rather, [the reason for war] was that there were lots of reasons to get rid of Saddam Hussein and none to keep him." Well then why stop with Iraq? On to Palestine, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, China, and France!

You've got to be careful what you say. Lest we forget, Ann Coulter actually wrote a column advocating attacking France in December of 2001. (And considering Coulter's belligerence, I'm not entirely certain she was kidding.)

More seriously, while I see Josh's point, I am gradually coming to the conclusion that fighting wars to overthrow tyrants. As I've explained elsewhere, I'm gradually coming to the conclusion, although I'm not there yet, that America has the responsibility to use it's might to improve the plight of those in other countries. In the movie First Knight, Sean Connery as King Arthur says, "Where is it written, 'Beyond Camelot lie lesser men. Let them die.'" America may be as close as the real world comes to Camelot; should we really refrain from using that position to better the lives of those who live without freedom under tyrannical regimes? Should we really treat lines drawn on maps as insuperable barriers to doing the right thing? I think not.

Josh asks why not do in Syria, Lebanon, etc. what we did in Iraq. While wars with China and North Korea would be extremely dangerous and could end up doing more harm than good, hence requiring a great deal of caution. I'm not sure I would have any moral or political problems doing exactly what Josh asks in, what I assume, was jest. (Well, OK, not France.)

Josh adds:

But the fact remains Bush based his justification squarely on the shoulders of WMD. So we deserve to know, where are they? I'll wait and see, but I won't forget the issue.

I wouldn't want you too Josh.


David Frum has a great post about the major problem when it comes to Middle East peace.


Dick Morris says that Hillary is almost certainly being less then truthful when she denies knowing that Bill was lying to her.


Here's the best farewell to Raines pun I've seen.

End Soccer Now!

... or something like that.




I've got to ditto Martin Devon's take on the Sosa affair.


Mark Steyn has a great article about politics in Jordan and Iraq. It's all good, but I think this part is important:

Meanwhile, there are what we in the West would recognise as parties — some 31 or so. But pretty much the only ones that are going concerns are all bad news. There’s the Islamic Action Front, which won 25 per cent of the vote in 1989, and there’s the Baath party, which figures just because Saddamism flopped out in Iraq there’s no reason not to give it a whirl in Jordan. That may be why, after postponing a trip to the polls for two years, King Abdullah finally called the election about ten minutes after Saddam’s statue came tumbling down. The thinking seems to be that both Islamism and Baathism are unlikely to be at a lower ebb than they are right now.

And that’s it. That’s the choice. There are no arguments about tax rates or education expenditure or foreign policy. Impatient with the multiplicity of one-man vanity cults masquerading as parties, the King is said to favour a consolidation into a handful of larger groupings representing the main points on the political spectrum. But, assuming that’s not just spin, it’s still easier said than done. After 80 years under the same more or less benign family, the least worst of all Arab societies has evolved to the point where electoral politics boils down to tribal glad-handers and village porkmeisters on the one hand, or toxic theocrats and an obsolescent Arab variant on mid-20th-century polytechnic Marxism on the other.

I thought of Jordan a lot in the next few days as I was mooching around Iraq. If Saddam’s prison state were to wind up like its Hashemite neighbour, we’d all be very happy. But the fact is, whatever its other merits, Jordan, in terms of its electoral politics, is stunted and deformed. If Iraq held an election tomorrow, it would be much the same. The only part of the country with any kind of working multiparty system — the Kurdish north — would have its political development set back if not irreparably damaged by having its voice diluted within a much less advanced polity.

edom is more than a free vote. Britain is defined not by the one day in five years that it goes to the polls but by the broader framework of which that vote is an expression. Canada, the subject of some pretty feeble maple-boosterism in these pages last week, would be a poor country if judged strictly by its national politics: at the federal level it’s a one-party state. But Canadians still live, just about, in liberty. If you look at healthy nations, competitive electoral politics is often the final stage of their journey: property rights, the rule of law, enforceable contracts and many other things come first. Fareed Zakaria has just published an interesting book on this theme, The Future of Freedom, in which he notes one of the trends of this post-Cold War era: the thug nations from Africa to Central Asia are developing the knack of holding elections while remaining, in all other respects, tyrannies. Zakaria is a little too partial to elite rule and light authoritarianism for my tastes — though it’s entirely reasonable to prefer Singapore to Nigeria — but his basic diagnosis is very relevant to the future of Iraq. There’s no point doing a Zimbabwe — holding one ‘free and fair’ election that delivers up the state to its President-for-Life.

Read it all.


It looks like China is using SARS as an excuse to persecute the Falun Gong. Not like the need and excuse; persecuting people is one of the things the Chinese governments do best.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

David Carr thinks Tony Blair has some serious PR problems. You've got to love this line though:

The problem is serious but he has the advantage that all of his opponents are ugly, unelectable, incompetent or a melancholy combination of all three.



Jack Rich has reposted his thoughts on the "Roadmap". Since I didn't catch it the first time, I'm linking it now. It really is excellent.


Perhaps Chris Regan is overreaching in this post (mostly) about Al Franken. I don't know personally; it's just so odd.

Calling All Cars

Jason Steffens wants to know if anyone can help him track down information about the United Way and whether or not any local chapters support abortion.


Orrin Judd says recent actions by the Tories in the British House of Commons are disgraceful. He's right.


That would do it.


Probably not.


Meanwhile, Terence Jeffrey reminds us that we have already found to mobile bio-weapons labs.


David Limbaugh, quite rightly, points out that the burden was never on the U.S. to prove Saddam had WMDs, but on Saddam to prove he'd disposed of them. This was something that Saddam repeatedly failed to do. Not only did he not produce the demanded evidence, but he continued to act guilty. Which is to say that he repeatedly lied, obfuscated, and otherwise distorted the truth. It would be quite accurate to say that the war was entirely accurate to say that Saddam's failure to abide by Resolution 1441 was all the justification for war that was needed.

However, we cannot dismiss the fact that the U.S. and British governments did more than say that Saddam hadn't satisfied 1441. They said that they were certain he in fact had WMDs. If this was not the truth, then we would certainly have a major credibility issue. If they lied, then critics would be quite right to bring this issue up. However, I have not heard any of these people produce any credible evidence that either government lied. Instead, they are mostly arguing that the failure to, as yet, produce incontrovertible evidence that Iraq had WMDs proves conclusively that both governments were in fact lying.

Unfortunately for them, that logic just doesn't track. The critics appear to be overextending themselves to get in on a feeding frenzy. (Said frenzy is, much to their dismay, not developing as fast as they would like.) They may well regret this in the end.

Of course, time alone will tell the tale.


I got a Google hit from someone looking for "Dominique de Villepin Fan Sites". Someone was seriously disappointed.


Sheesh, the malaise is really setting in. I was looking at Google News and say at least 5 stupid stories. I couldn't be bothered to read any of them, much less analyze, dissect, or gripe about them. Maybe it's the headache and maybe it's just that I don't care at the moment.

One thing that I do want to comment on is a thought that occurred to me yesterday. Bush and Blair's critics are really going strong. They insist that the people were lied to; they claim not only that Iraq had no WMDs, but that Bush and Blair knew this in advance and lied about it. Some of them seem to be absolutely salivating.

This got me thinking; this whole thing actually looks familiar. Many times during his presidency, Bush's opponents have started circling like sharks ready to tear into him. Then one day, suddenly he yanks out the shark repellant and they're left wondering what happened, again. The reason I bring this up, is that a few days ago, Tony Blair said he had "absolutely no doubt" that evidence of WMDs would be found. That's a pretty stunning level of confidence, especially when you combine it with his statement that he welcomes an investigation by Parliament.

Now it's true that this could all just be bluster, or perhaps he just doesn't think he'll get caught. However, I doubt this. There is another explanation that the critics don't seem to have thought of; perhaps Bush and Blair know something that their critics don't know. Perhaps they've already found some pretty convincing evidence that hasn't been released yet.

Now, if this is true, there's several possible explanations for why they might be waiting to release it. Perhaps they are simply trying to verify the evidence and prevent more of what happened early during the war; a string of early announcements that they appeared to have found weapons dumps, only to discover later that they only had a false positive from initial tests. Perhaps what they've found is going to take time to secure and they've decided it will be easier to set up security if nobody knows what's going on. It could also be that they've found enough evidence to prove themselves right and they're just making sure that their political opponents set out enough rope to hang themselves.

Now if that last one is true, it's arguable whether this isn't rather cynical and not really appropriate under the circumstances. It would, however, be good politics.

I have no idea whether any of this is true, but it's certainly possible. Blair's extremely high level of confidence in recent remarks makes it seem, if not a probability, at least an extremely high possibility. Of course, time will tell, but I think it's something worth thinking about.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003
Sorry about the lack of posting. I spent most of the day in bed with a horrible headache. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Monday, June 02, 2003

David Frum, in defense of Fareed Zakaria, makes some great points about the difference between democracy and freedom.


Forbes is carrying a Reuters piece on the "anti-globalization" protests. Unsurprisingly, it's mostly a puff piece. For instance, we're told that all the damage is done by, "a violent anarchist fringe that piggybacks on the peacefully protesting majority." They may not all be doing damage and they may not all be anarchists, but they are all "fringe" as far as I'm concerned.

None of that is why I bring this story up. The story closes with this quote:

"You can't have a movement like in Italy every year," said Florian, who said he came from Stuttgart, Germany. "Still, 150,000 is quite a lot against globalisation, which is quite abstract."

That's the thing that really gets me. We have all these people routinely protesting against "globalization". But what on earth is "globalization"? It really is very abstract. What exactly are these people against? This has been going on for a few years now, and other than the idea that some cultures may be "contaminated" by other cultures I really don't know what these people are upset about. I don't get it. I just don't get it at all.


Jack Rich has a very thoughtful piece about politics in America. Specifically, he looks at all the different axes of political confrontation in our country today.


David Adnesnik has some interesting comments about how things are going in Iraq.


Kathleen Parker has some thoughts on Iraq's WMDs:

The fact that the weapons were never used against our troops may suggest that Saddam hoped that by destroying the bulk of his WMD stocks and dispersing or concealing his WMD production capacity, he could prevent indictment by U.N. inspectors.

Then he could reliably count on France, Germany and Russia to forestall war because of a lack of credible evidence of the existence of WMD. Once the pesky inspectors left, all he needed to do was obtain the necessary chemicals and materiel for production of WMD.

That’s the theory of Peter Brookes, senior fellow for National Security Affairs and Director of the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. It makes as much sense as anything else, though admittedly it’s difficult to read the mind of a maniac. Saddam’s, that is.

Whatever the case, we might have been wiser never to entertain hopes of a smoking gun. We entered Iraq with Oz-like expectations, wide-eyed in search of a yellow-brick road lined with happy Iraqis pointing to the brightly colored arrows: “Weapons of Mass Destruction Here!” The WMD weren’t likely to be neatly stacked and labeled in warehouses along Frontage Road.

Nevertheless, we still need closure and an answer to the question: Where are they? The fact of their absence in Iraq could predict a scarier scenario still. If they weren’t destroyed, they’re somewhere else potentially far more dangerous to us now.

Personally, I never had any preconceived notions about how long it would take to find Saddam's weapons. I've got to admit that I'm a little bit surprised by how little evidence has been presented to us lately, but I'm not terribly worried by it. At least not in the, "Oh no, we were wrong. What have we done!" way. I believed Hussein needed to be taken out for a variety of reasons. What does worry me is Parker's last point; if we can't find them, does that mean they were given to someone else? If so, what are the chances of that someone else using them?

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Josh Chafetz has been keeping track of the plight of a political prisoner. Steve Den Beste is keeping track of a pseudo-political prisoner.


I just saw John Kerry on C-Span. I desperately hope he doesn't win the Democratic Party nomination. I don't think I could stand listening to that man. He just seems so condescending it makes me ill. Just thought I'd share.


Christopher Johnson says he's learned that America does not have a love affair with cars; it has a stalker.


Okay, I found something. Here's an AP report talking about how several senators are urging President Bush to stay "engaged" (whatever that means) in the Middle East. They are merely repeating received wisdom; that it is the United States President's absolute responsibility to bring peace to the Middle East.

Why should this be? Why is it our responsibility to bring peace to this area? For that matter, why is it our responsibility to bring peace to any area that doesn't directly impact our national security?

Now don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to help work for peace worldwide. I'm certainly not arguing for isolationism. I just want to know why so many people worldwide simply assume that it's our responsibility to fix all the world's problems?

That brings me to my next question; why do so many of those same people, once we do try to fix things in other parts of the world; then accuse of hegemonism and cultural imperialism?


Arghhh! I can't find anything to post on!