Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Afternoon Nerd-dulgence

If you are (or ever were) a Star Trek fan and also closely follow international affairs, you'll get a kick out of this: National Review's editorial from the twenty-fourth century.

The other 99.9% of the population should just move on to happy hour.

What "Free Speech" Isn't

Jonah Goldberg's the sort of guy who makes you laugh just as hard as he makes you think (Mark Steyn's one of his few rivals). Today at NRO Jonah patiently explains the concept of "freedom of speech" and how it -- a misconstruction of the concept, not the right itself -- has come to be so abused in recent times. An excerpt:
Somehow, when former Harvard President Larry Summers, one of America’s most esteemed economists, told a group of academics that the distribution of high-level cognitive abilities may not be evenly spread out among men and women, activist feminist professors got the vapors and claimed, from the comfort of their fainting couches, that their hysteria could only be cured by Summers’ head on a platter. But Ward Churchill, a penny-ante buffoon who seems to have downloaded his Ph.D. from cheapdegrees.com, compares the victims of 9/11 to Holocaust planner Adolf Eichmann, and suddenly academic freedom demands Churchill keep his tenured job forever, at taxpayers’ expense.
Read it all.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Frivolity of Evil

Suzanne Fields has a piece on RealClearPolitics today that lends a slightly different perspective to the casual treatment Ajmadinejad gets from the "peace" crowd. I reflexively distrust comparisons of contemporary figures to Nazis (largely because they're so frequently invoked by "liberals" to describe our president), but Fields has a thoughtful angle that ranges from an unsettling new exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to William Randolph Hearst's 1934 apologies on behalf of Adolph Hitler. Fields concludes:

When I hear Hitler evoked in contemporary arguments, I return to my dog-eared copy of "Mein Kampf" to reacquaint myself with what that "petty and cruel dictator" had to say in the years before he assumed the power to wreak ruin on so much of the world. He, like Ahmadinejad, was pleased to be vilified. "Any man who is not attacked in the Jewish newspapers, not slandered and
vilified, is no decent German and no true National Socialist," he wrote. "The best yardstick for the value of his attitude, for the sincerity of his conviction, and the force of his will is the hostility he receives from the moral enemy of our people."

Ahmadinejad understands how to update such an attitude for the 21st century. We may think he was humiliated by the hostility he confronted at Columbia, but maybe he, like Hitler, understands how to play it out to his advantage against the gullible, the feckless and the frightened.

And Hitler never got his hands on nuclear weapons.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Real Men of Genius: Michael Vick


Because it takes a level of stupidity heretofore unheard of to make your brother look like he inherited all the smarts in the family.

Legal Ethics 101

Meet Lynne Stewart, a far-left-wing (self-described radical) lawyer whose professional career as an "activist" has ranged from supporting the legacies of Stalin, Mao, and Castro to defending Weather Underground bomber Kathy Boudin, Black Panther Willie Holder, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, "cop killers, murderers, attempted murderers, so-called political prisoners and leftwing extremists of every stripe."

Most recently, Stewart has aligned herself with Islamic terrorists, turning material support for jihadists into a cottage industry.
Stewart's in the news this week because she's been invited to teach at a Hofstra Law School legal ethics conference. This is regarded as controversial by some legal observers (myself included), largely because Stewart was disbarred last year after having been convicted of secretly assisting one of her terrorist clients in communicating with his terrorist co-conspirators on the outside. Her client -- Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman -- was sentenced to life in prison for plotting to assassinate Egypt's president and to blow up five New York landmarks. And Stewart got caught using her access as Rahman's attorney to smuggle his violent directives to his jihadist buddies both here and abroad, which they promptly carried out. She was flat-out caught on tape.
Contrary to popular belief, the American legal system is filled with many thousands of ethical lawyers. It's filled with hundreds of experts on legal ethics who have never been convicted of a crime. But some faculty member or panel of faculty members at Hofstra decided to invite Stewart to hold forth on how lawyers should govern their professional conduct. Baffling, isn't it? Not really, to those who have studied the intellectual history of the political left. Stewart's crimes don't make her a pariah among the zealots that populate academia. They make her a hero.
David Horowitz has catalogued why this is so in a series of books that include his eye-opening political biography, Radical Son. On the whole, I find Horowitz to be a bit polemical for my taste, but as a radical-communist-turned-conservative he offers a unique, rare inside perspective on the long and twisted sequence of events that entrenched the political left in our universities and propelled it into a de facto alliance with Islamic terrorists.

Guns don't kill people....

Foreigners and blind guys from North Dakota who obtain concealed-carry licenses in Utah kill people.

Full disclosure: my feelings about the availability of guns have evolved over the last few years, and I'm still kind of squishy about where exactly I come down on the whole thing. But I like this article anyway. Obviously, it's a good, common sense step in the right direction; it's ridiculous that non-citizens living in the U.S. could get a license for concealed carry without any kind of background check. But even more, I like this little piece because I suspect it's giving some raging anti-gun-nut-slash-open-borders-activist somewhere a fit:

"Hey, you can't do that! Undocumented aliens and people whose backgrounds can't be checked have just as much right to guns as the rest of us --er, which is to say, no right at all."

[pause]

[pause]

[pause]

*head explodes*

Terry Tate Office Linebacker

Last weekend, while scouring NFL injury reports for my fantasy football team and watching three NFL pregame shows at the same time, I had a weird football-commercial flashback: Terry Tate, Office Linebacker. Terry was featured in a series of Reebok commercials about 8 years ago. Apparently, there were some longer videos -- 3-5 minutes long -- that are even better than the commercials. If you're a football fan, I dare you not to laugh out loud at these:

You Sycophantic Flunkey!

Michael Rubin at National Review's The Corner directs us to the North Korean random insult generator, which is apparently composed entirely of colorful phrases gleaned from the pages of Pyongyang's official news service.

Check it out. And the next time somebody cuts in front of you in line at the grocery store, you just hit 'em with, "You wicked philistine, we will thwart your frantic attempts to stifle us!"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Do We Even Want To Win This War?

Mark Levin is angry (audio). Me too.

(h/t K-Lo @ The Corner)

The Israel Lobby (Read: Bogeyman)

I don't have enough time today to do a long post that covers the whole "Israel Lobby" issue. In a nutshell, a Harvard prof and a University of Chicago prof wrote an article last year essentially asserting that the most powerful lobby in America is the one that represents Israel's interests and that our government's foreign policy has been subverted accordingly. It's trash, and it's also now a book. The esteemed gentlemen at Power Line (my first read every morning) have background here if you're interested.

I'm reminded of the issue by an AP article today entitled "Congress Denounces Iran's Ahmadinejad." The upshot of the article is that a bitterly divided, partisan Congress managed to pull itself together for once to approve some tougher sanctions against Iran. Okay, makes sense. Nutjob, holocaust-denying, nuclear-crazy president over there helping to kill our troops. Let's get together and do something. Nice that we can all get behind this one. Feelgood political story of the month for everyone.

But wait -- here's how AP reporter Anne Flaherty explains Congress' move:
The swift rebuke was a rare display of bipartisan cooperation in a Congress bitterly divided on the Iraq war. It reflected lawmakers' long-standing nervousness about Tehran's intentions in the region, particularly toward Israel—a sentiment fueled by the pro-Israeli lobby whose influence reaches across party lines in Congress.
[Emphases mine.]

Huh. So let's get this straight. Ahmadinejad is trying to get nukes. He may already have them. His government is supporting, equipping, and training the shia terrorists who are killing sunnis and American soldiers in Iraq. Iran is a theocracy run by Islamist mullahs who desire a worldwide caliphate. Ahmadinejad himself believes the coming of the twelfth imam (a messiah of sorts) is imminent. If he nukes Israel, the U.S. will have no choice but to respond, and the war with Iran that most of us would rather avoid would be unavoidable.

But Congress imposes sanctions to try and keep Ahmadinejad's arsenal nuke-free, and there can be only one explanation. Those filthy Jews have their dirty fingers all over it. Sneaky bastards.

Is the "Israel Lobby" the only explanation for the long-standing desire of American policymakers to not see Israel perish? Might it have something to do with the fact that Israel is a reliable ally, a rational actor, and a thriving, pluralistic democracy? No. It's not because those Jews are trusted allies. It's because they're playing Congress like the London Symphony Orchestra.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Your mainstream media leans hard to the left. And the left is where today's western anti-semitism makes its home. The right-wing anti-semites (think KKK) have been wholly marginalized. On the left, however, there's real power -- in universities, media conglomerates, and more recently in politics. And, still, American Jews keep voting for Democrats, who are increasingly beholden to . . . the far left. I'll say it: Like sheep.

"Everybody was kung fu fighting..."

Life is definitely more interesting with ninjas around. Also, if you're going to knock over a liquor store, seems like being a ninja is the way to go. These ninjas have yet to be caught. (Query: can you catch a ninja?)

Update: Photo ID Requirements for Voting

It's not news around here that I believe all U.S. citizens should be required to show photo ID to vote, and that I think this would do away with huge swaths of voter fraud that is committed largely by people voting for Democrats. Individual states actually control the procedures that govern voting by their citizens, so there's unlikely to be any uniform solution anytime soon.

But here's one to keep your eye on. The U.S. Supreme Court is going to hear a case challenging an Indiana state law, passed in 2005, that requires voters to show a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot. The ACLU challenged the law (of course), and a federal court of appeals upheld it.

Reuters highlights the fact that this requirement is more likely to reduce vote counts for Democrats. Opponents of laws such as this one argue that photo ID requirements "intimidate" minority voters and therefore deter them from going to the polls. As though it were 1930 and we all lived in Mississippi.

The fact is, photo ID requirements deter the following people from voting: poeple who aren't registered to vote; people who have already voted earlier in the day; dead people; illegal immigrants; and wanted felons. All of which, I suppose, shows I actually agree with Reuters' assessment -- the categories of people described above are more likely to vote for Democrats than for Republicans.

Fawning Over Dictators, Take 417

Hey Puck -- I know how this stuff rattles your cage, as it does mine. Kevin Spacey had a private dinner with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. The article notes that Chavez's other recent guests have included Danny Glover and Sean Penn.
This is the crowd that whines about what a "fascist" George Bush is (and it's consistently amazing how loudly, publicly and widely they're able to complain about the utter death of their freedom of speech).
But Chavez? Heck, what's he ever done wrong -- aside from maybe shutting down television stations that broadcast dissenting voices, murdering political activists, and unilaterally revising the constitution to entrench himself in power indefinitely. That silly guy!
Hollywood seemingly can't contain its relief that -- when Castro finally dies -- there will still be a homicidal third-world dictator who's impoverished his people and crushed their spirits to suck up to. Hooray!
Viva El Presidente!
Silver Lining: The article notes that Venezuela's trying to get a nascent film industry off the ground. Any chance we could kick start it by donating some of Hollywood's finest? It would be such a romantic, exotic adventure for Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon!! Oh how they could revel in their own courageous embrace of foreign culture! And their sense of nuance!
At least until Hugo started swooning under the spell of Susan's smouldering post-cougar eroticism and -- quite coincidentally -- Timmy suddenly found himself whisked away to play the Jodie Foster character in the San Fernande de Apuro Military Police Barracks' production of The Accused.

Hellooooo, Children!


And thank you, Benedick, for that most generous introduction. As His Truly indicated, I'm a full-time litigator (not to mention a mom), so it's been a while since I've written anything creative. (It's also been a while since I've had more than one beer in a single 24-hour period, not to mention a good night's sleep, but that's really off the point, isn’t it?) Anyway, I hope those of you reading this will be patient while I shake off the rust. I'm looking forward to flexing my writing muscles on issues other than those I deal with every day at the office. It should be a lot of fun.

Oh yes! The Puck thing. A friend once compared me to Robin Goodfellow, a/k/a “Puck,” the mischief-making sprite from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It’s been well over a decade since I’ve read that play, and I can’t say I completely agree with the comparison, but as nicknames go, I like it a lot better than “Nellie” (are you listening, Benedick?). And “Princess Leia” seemed a little immature.

So, that’s that, then. Let’s have some fun.

And Now For Something Completely Different

For the first time since this project's inception over a year ago, someone other than Yours Truly will soon begin posting. She is a good friend and former colleague, and she's self-applied the monicker "Puck" for reasons that I'll let her explain once she gets around to introducing herself. Suffice to say, I wouldn't invite just anyone to post here. Puck is my rhetorical better, and I look forward to having her bless this blog with the wit I've grown accustomed to enjoying via email for many years.

For the small number of readers who don't know me personally (and I know you're out there because I have access to your IPs) -- I come at this material from the perspective of a litigator. Puck shares this background. Feel free to hate us on that basis alone.

Welcome, Puck. I'm sure you'll be a breath of fresh air to those who tire of my dry self-righteousness.

Auto Industry Blues

Every so often, I catch a pundit furrowing his brow and wondering, What is wrong with the American auto industry? There's more than one correct answer to this query, but the most significant one is: Labor (read: United Auto Workers).

For decades, the UAW has gotten away with imposing its will on management, securing terms in collective bargaining agreements that make economic efficiency at the institutional level an abject impossibility. Well, here we go again.

The UAW is on strike. 73,000 workers are putting down their tools and taking to the streets to protest the injustice of management's hesitance to pay them many times more per hour than the market says they're worth. I'm not reflexively anti-union (well, maybe a little), but the behavior of the UAW is consistently unreasonable. Consider this: According to the AP, U.S. auto makers pay their workers an average of $25 per hour more than their Japanese counterparts. Japan isn't exactly a third-world sprawl of sweatshops. It's about the closest thing in the world to an analog for our economy. And our auto makers are paying our workers more by a factor of nearly five times the federal minimum wage. And still the UAW is throwing an absolute temper tantrum over the unfairness of it all.

Management is partly to blame, to be sure. It has agreed time after time to overpay and otherwise coddle its spoiled workers. Take for example the expiring CBA, under which 12,000 auto workers were paid to show up every day and do crossword puzzles. But such is the absurd power of unions. They pay their workers to strike, and the companies that overpaid them in the first place suffer greatly if they decline to further overpay them.

The irony here is that unions scream the loudest about the "evils" of outsourcing and globalization. Guess what, folks. When you pout and picket because U.S. companies don't want to pay you five times what you're worth, companies will increasingly find others to do the same work -- even overseas. Indeed, outsourcing may well be the best medicine for the disease of union overreach.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tragedy and Inspiration


That's about all I can write after watching beloved CMU Professor Randy Pausch deliver his "Last Lecture." Professor Pausch, a 46-year old virtual-reality pioneer and father of three, will soon lose a battle with pancreatic cancer. Last week he gave a dynamic tour of childhood dreams, lessons learned, and things that really matter. The video is about an hour-and-a-half long. It is a profound exit and well worth your time. It is not fair that this man has to leave us so early.

AhmaDreamyjad

Allow me to introduce you to Sally Kohn, a liberal, Jewish lesbian who confesses she's got a crush on Ahmadinejad. Yes, that's right. In spite of Mad Mahmoud's systematic murder of gays, abhorrent treatment of women, intent to wipe Israel off the map, and nuclear ambitions, Sally thinks maybe -- just maybe -- Mahmoud's the man to turn her straight.

Why, you ask? Well, because he stands up to that horrible meanie, George Bush:

I want to be very clear. There are certainly many things about Ahmadinejad that I abhor — locking up dissidents, executing of gay folks, denying the fact of the Holocaust, potentially adding another dangerous nuclear power to the world and, in general, stifling democracy. Even still, I can’t help but be turned on by his frank rhetoric calling out the horrors of the Bush Administration and, for that matter, generations of US foreign policy preceding.

(Emphasis mine.) Got that? This constitutes evidence that what I wrote in the post below this one is not bonkers. This is your American Left, ladies and gentlemen. Talk a long, hard look. And this isn't a lone whacko. Check out the supportive comments that follow her little ode. This constituency has become the mitochondria of the Democratic Party. The site where Kohn writes -- The Daily Kos -- hosts an annual convention that was attended this year by all of the Democratic presidental candidates except Biden. That's right. The most leftwing lunatics in America had a party, and Clinton, Obama, Edwards, etc. showed up to grovel.

Does this, perhaps, cast Columbia's invitation to Ahmadinejad in a new light? Does this:

I’m not saying he’s a good guy at all. I’m only saying it’s hard to know the full story when the Bush Administration seems so invested in smearing Ahmadinejad --- and the media, as we’ve already learned with Iraq, is happy to choose its facts in convenient accordance. Maybe we shouldn't buy into the Bush team's characterization of Ahmadinejad as part of their drumbeat escalating toward potential war.
Yes, it's yet another Chimpy McHalliburton conspiracy. In sum, the enemy (Ahmadinejad) of my enemy (Bush) is my dreamy, muppetlike ticket to heterosexuality.

Ahmadinejad Arrives

Today Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will address the United Nations. Afterward, he will journey uptown to Columbia University, where he will lie, dissemble, and charm a roomful of left-leaning academics and students who are willing to believe that President Bush is a more serious threat to the world than a nuclear-armed terrorist who denies the holocaust and -- daily -- threatens to eradicate Israel first, and then the West at large.

Make no mistake -- Ahmadinejad is a terrorist, and not just in the sense that his government runs Hezbollah and murders Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Ahmadinejad is, in fact, one of the "students" who seized the U.S. diplomatic mission in Tehran and held more than 50 Americans hostage for 444 days in 1979-1981.

The obvious irony is that -- despite his historical disdain for diplomatic niceties -- the United States government is honoring its diplomatic obligation to permit him entry.

Meanwhile, debate understandably rages over the invitation from Columbia. The administrators who think this is a keen idea cite the importance of free expression of ideas -- even controversial ones -- on a university campus.

I call shenanigans on them for two reasons: First, liberal academics have an appalling record of actually protecting free speech. When Harvard President Larry Summers had the temerity to suggest that there are biological differences between men and women (*gasp!*), he was drummed out of office. Just last week lefty profs at Stanford went ballistic over the news that no less a monster than former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld had been appointed a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution (a Stanford-based think thank). All this, of course, on top of liberal academia's assorted persecution of lapses in political correctness.

Second, free speech is irrelevant here. Nobody's suppressing the poor Iranian president who has only Al Jazeera, CNN, 60 Minutes, and the rest of the international media to help him get his voice heard. We may acknowledge Ahmadinejad's right to say whatever he wants to say while on our soil, but we need not invite him into our living rooms to do so. This is about values. Columbia can choose to provide a forum for any number of important speakers and issues. What makes Ahmadinejad worthy of selection? If he speaks candidly (as he does at home), he'll deny the holocaust ever occurred and he will promise to nuke Israel. If -- as is much more likely -- he decides to tailor his message to his audience, he'll duck, dodge, and obfuscate. He'll deftly engage in a form of rhetorical judo at which he excels: laying the blame for all of the world's ills at the feet of the U.S. and Israel.

Which is really why the academes are psyched he's here, folks. At the end of the day, the lefties will be praising Ahmadinejad's nuance, thumbs-upping his suggestion that 9-11 was our own fault, scorning the administration for missing an "opportunity" to make peaceful chitchat with him during his stay, and proving again what ridiculous, untethered dupes they all are. Write it down.

Back In the Saddle

Well, I squandered whatever meager readership I'd managed to assemble last year by utterly disappearing in December. Work obligations caused the initial pause in posting, and inertia took care of the rest. Now, some nine months later -- and under new working conditions -- I'm taking another run at it.

This resumption in blogging is attributable to a friend of mine who confessed the other day that he relied in Primary Reason for the sort of policy/political information the MSM notoriously omits. There are certainly other right-of-center blogs that get this job done, but my friend apparently enjoys the cache of knowing the blogger. So there you go.

And here we go.