Monday, April 25, 2005


I've had a rough week and a half, sorry to what are surely my millions of readers who have missed me. Easing back in with a note from the UK's Daily Telegraph, it turns out that the media across the pond are not that different than they are here:

"The BBC was last night plunged into a damaging general election row after it admitted equipping three hecklers with microphones and sending them into a campaign meeting addressed by Michael Howard, the Conservative leader."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

All the Dissent that's Fit to Crush

Anybody who is even moderately politically aware knows that the New York Times is essentially a wing of the Democrat Party (much as the Washington Times is WRT the Republicans). And that, thusly, they consistently turn Democrat talking points into crusades on both the news and editorial pages.

That said, they are still purportedly a vehicle for news and news analysis, as opposed to being a pure opinion journal like The Nation or National Review, which makes the interview I heard last night on one of the talking heads shows a bit unsettling. I hardly expect them to solicit any right of center viewpoints beyond the allowance of the token editorial page conservative, but if an individual is asked to write an opinion piece they should be given the courtesy of having their viewpoint make it to print, even if it’s not lockstep with the paper’s (read: Democrat Party) position.

But it turns out that dissent is not to be tolerated in the “paper of record,” as former congressman Bob Livingston (R, LA) found out the hard way. The Times approached his assistant asking, in so many words, if he would be willing to write an editorial attacking Tom DeLay and calling for his resignation. The Times was apparently looking for a Republican (beyond the usual RINO suspects) to join the dump DeLay attack machine, but it was not made clear why they thought that Livingston was their man. Presumably the two had a past.

The problem is that Livingston told them that he would be delighted to write an editorial, but that it was likely to overall be sympathetic to DeLay’s plight. At that point, in his words, he was told that was not exactly what they had in mind, don’t bother to call us and we won’t call you.

I know this is about as newsworthy as the sun rising in the east; the Times’ relentless anti-Republican bias is well documented and not even any longer controversial. What saddens me is that the nation’s flagship daily has deteriorated to the point that this kind of thing doesn’t even raise an eyebrow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Trash Talk

It's after midnight, so you can now be the first on your block to own Bleed Like Me, the 4th album from the greatness that is Garbage. If all the cool kids are laughing at you henceforth, don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Speaking of Comedy...

If there wasn't a Howard Dean, somebody would have had to create one. The new DNC leader who claims his favorite New Testament book is Job is at it again.

Senator Rick Santorum (R, PA) lives in Virginia while working. Speaking in Pennsylvania last week, Dean opined that the Senator should stay in Virginia, but did not stop there, adding "Santorum is too much of a right-winger for Virginia. How about Venezuela?"

Earth to Howie...Venezuela is run by thuggish Castro acolyte Hugo Chavez, if it turned any more left it would have its back facing the rest of the world. Ted Kennedy is too much of a right-winger for Venezuela. I know it's hard to keep up with the TiVo's of Sesame Street when you're out stumping, and there's always a mirror in your hotel room adding to the confusion, but you need to work on that whole left-right thing buddy.

No Mo' Sunday MoDo?!?

With the news that NYTimes columnist Maureen Dowd has been demoted from the Sunday editorial page coming on the heels of the news that Arrested Development will not be renewed, it’s going to be a lot harder to get your Sunday comedy fix.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Those Geniuses in MLB

So I'm watching the Orioles-Yankees game, and I see something that strikes me as very odd, almost like somebody hacked into the Yankee Stadium advertising system as a joke. Right there in the most prominent placement for a promo board, right behind home plate and thus in the picture the majority of the television time, is multiple panels of an advertisement for...a weightlifting supplement.

To be precise,, whose main product page says that among the key benefits of their product line are:

  • Energizes, While Combating Fatigue
  • Helps Maintain Focus During Workouts
  • Increases Fat Burning with Exercise
  • Encourages Muscle Recovery & Repair

Oh yeah, this is really the kind of sponser MLB needs to be courting right now. Can BALCO sponsoring the All Star Game Home Run Contest be far behind?

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

The "Living" Constitution

Quote du jour, courtesy of The Federalist Patriot:

"Many law professors, and others who hold contempt for our Constitution, preach that the Constitution is a living document. Saying that the Constitution is a living document is the same as saying we don't have a Constitution. For rules to mean anything, they must be fixed. How many people would like to play me poker and have the rules be 'living'? Depending on 'evolving standards,' maybe my two pair could beat your flush." --Walter Williams

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Not to Rain on their Parade, but…

The NCAA basketball tournament is still great theater, terrific competition and drama. In fact, probably even more so these days, with the really dominant college-aged players already in the NBA pushing the top teams even closer to parity than they already had become with the explosion of TV money.

And I am very happy that North Carolina won it, my heartiest congratulations go out to their players, coaches and fans. They are my favorite college team, given that my Aggies have only just begun to discover the concept of the large round ball. And the whole thing certainly worked out well for me financially this year.

But more than ever I find myself disenchanted with the game itself. Not basketball, which is a beautiful game, the ultimate example of incredible individual athletes interacting as a unit. The problem is fundamental to the college game itself.

And the problem is a simple one – you should not get three points for a midrange shot. It cheapens the game and makes it much less pleasing aesthetically. The three pointer, as a concept, is fine – giving a premium for a very long shot. It is a fine example of the kind of high-risk, high-reward strategy that can allow a weaker team to have a fighting chance to overcome a superior opponent in any sport. But when the high reward comes with very little risk, the whole structure of the game is distorted.

Let’s move the line back to the current NBA distance (and perhaps move the NBA distance back a foot or so too while we’re at it) and turn the college game back into basketball instead of a modified version of h-o-r-s-e.

And, once again, congrats to the Heels!

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Monday, April 04, 2005

John Paul II, RIP

I am not Catholic, but would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the passing of the Pope. And I can’t possibly do it any better than Charles Krauthammer in today’s Washington Post:

"History will remember many of the achievements of John Paul II, particularly his zealous guarding of the church's traditional belief in the sanctity of life, not permitting it to be unmoored by the fashionable currents of thought about abortion, euthanasia and 'quality of life.' But above all, he will be remembered for having sparked, tended and fanned the flames of freedom in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe, leading ultimately and astonishingly to the total collapse of the Soviet empire. [...] Precisely at the moment the West most desperately needed it, we were sent a champion. It is hard to remember now how dark those days were. The 15 months following the pope's elevation marked the high tide of Soviet communism and the nadir of the free world's post-Vietnam collapse. It was a time of one defeat after another. Vietnam invaded Cambodia, consolidating Soviet hegemony over all of Indochina. The Khomeni revolution swept away America's strategic anchor in the Middle East. Nicaragua fell to the Sandinistas, the first Soviet-allied regime on the mainland of the Western Hemisphere. Then finally, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. And yet precisely at the time of this free-world retreat and disarray, a miracle happens. The Catholic Church, breaking nearly 500 years of tradition, puts itself in the hands of an obscure non-Italian -- a Pole who, deeply understanding the East European predicament, rose to become, along with Roosevelt, Churchill and Reagan, one of the great liberators of the 20th Century. [...] We mourn him for restoring strength to the Western idea of the free human spirit at a moment of deepest doubt and despair. And for seeing us through to today's great moment of possibility for both faith and freedom."


Root Causes?

One of the great canards of the hate-America left is that Islamic terrorists are motivated by poverty, lack of education and oppression, mostly caused, of course, by the policies of the evil US in particular and the West in general. Once again, this silly notion has been shot down, this time by a new study by Dr Marc Sagemon of the University of Pennsylvania.

His analysis of 400 Al Qaeda members shows that the typical recruit is much more affluent, much better educated, much more likely to have studied at secular and/or Western institutions, and much more likely to be employed in a professional or otherwise skilled position than the general population. Many of them (including, famously, Osama bin Laden) turn their backs on lives of luxury in order to go chase the windmills of the West. In short, the exact opposite of the cliché is true.

Specifically, almost 1/5 of the sample were upper class and almost 3/4 were middle class or above. Well over 80% were educated at least at the high school level, and more than 70% had at least some college education. More than 90% had a secular education. 3/4 were professionally employed or in otherwise skilled positions. Almost 3/4 were married and most of those had children. Only 1% had any emotional or mental issues (ignoring the whole jihad thing for a moment). Most come from a small number of wealthy Arab countries, or from immigrant communities in the West or Southeast Asia. Very few came from poor countries like Afghanistan. Around 70% joined the jihad while away from their native country. They tended to be, in Sagemon’s words, the “elite of their country” sent abroad to study in superior schools. How much the dominant anti-American worldview of the Western academy contributed is anybody’s guess, but you can bet it was of some significance.

Not that any of this will keep the elite company line from continuing to be fed to us by the usual suspects, but it is nice to have some recent and very much concrete data to throw back in their faces.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

The Elephant in the Room

Fashionably late to the party as always, I have finally decided to join a few million of my closest friends in the blogosphere. I have no idea how often I will end up posting or on what range of topics, but the time has come to have a repository of my thoughts on issues as they happen.

And in picking this time to start, I am pretty much forced to address THE issue of the day/week/month, even though it has completely beaten me down by this point, that being the end of life saga of Terri Schiavo.

This appears to be a case of the correct application of a very bad, and arguably immoral, law.

I believe that the Florida courts acted properly given with what they had to work. Congress injecting itself into the situation by passing legislation specific to the outcome of a single case offends my senses of federalism and limited government. I cede that there might have been a Constitutional due process argument to be made in the federal courts, but Congress attempting to bully those courts is as reprehensible to me as is the current practice of the judiciary circumventing the will of the people by legislating from the bench.

That it was the legal thing to do did not make it the right thing to do. The will of the woman herself should have been the deciding factor if discernable, but in this case anybody who says her wishes were respected is engaging in base speculation (and the spread of misinformation) and nothing more. Hearsay evidence from somebody with significant conflicts of interest is hardly proof that this is what she would have wanted, and that is really all we had here. It is certainly possible that they had these types of discussions at some point, but even if so did they move from the somewhat common discussion of being kept alive on life support (which has nothing to do with this case, another commonly repeated bit of misinformation) to the realm of being hydrated and nourished if the individual is incapacitated?

Given that her wishes were unknown, who should make such a monumental decision? The easy answer is the legal guardian, but that is problematic at best in this case given that said guardian had a vested interest in deciding in his own best interests and not in hers. He had certainly been consistent in making decisions against her best interests in the past, from denying her medical treatment and testing to denying her therapy, any or all of which might have improved her condition. He certainly had financial incentives to hasten her death from very early in the process. I discount the incentive of moving on to his new family, as he was offered and refused an easy divorce, so that was clearly not driving his actions. Not to be ignored is the nontrivial possibility that he contributed to her falling into this condition in the first place and wanted any evidence to go away. While ascribing her condition to him is irresponsible, the physical evidence that he had serially abused her, including evidence of multiple broken bones in the past and of strangulation at some point, makes it impossible to dismiss outright either.

What is clear is that he aggressively wanted her to die from very early in the process, at least by the time he gained the medical malpractice verdict, and that he made every effort to block evaluations and treatment of her condition in life and, ultimately, in death as he also tried to block a potential autopsy. He wanted to paint her as a hopeless cause and sought to deny the possibility of any evidence to the contrary being brought to the table. Why is open to discussion, but the central pattern of his actions is not.

Should medical professionals or the courts be able to step in when a guardian acts against the interests of a patient without personal instructions? Should there be mechanism for appointing a new guardian in cases of clear conflict of interest? Should end of life decisions be made without consideration of the entire immediate family? There are no easy answers. It is sad that a woman had to die to bring to light these holes in existing statutory law.

I will look at political aspects of this case in a future post.

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