Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Real American Heroes

Paul Smith, Jason Dunham, and Michael Murphy. If you get your news from the mainstream media, you've probably never heard of them. Oliver North would like to remedy this. And rightly so.


I affect a neat pirate costume this time of year, but did you know piracy is alive and well in the 21st century? I wonder whether they wear eye patches and cool hats.

No Justice

Where's a white Al Sharpton when you need one?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I'm Speechless

Identical twins separated at birth. As an experiment by a Yale psychologist. And these sisters lost 35 years.

I usually don't find reasons to be angry on a Sunday, but there is a special place in Hell for the "scientist" who committed this crime. And for everyone who abetted it.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

All The Rage

Over at NRO, Mona Charen aptly sums up a disgusting new fashion accessory available at Bloomingdales: Anti-war dog tags.

Lincoln and the Jews

Abraham Lincoln took some extreme (and even unconstitutional) actions during the Civil War. History remembers him kindly for this, for the central reasons that (1) he did so not to augment his own power but literally to prevent the country's self-destruction, and (2) when the crisis was over, he restored every right and civil liberty he had suspended (and created a few new ones, to boot).

I've read a great deal about Lincoln, but I'd never heard this particular anecdote: What happened when General Ulysses S. Grant issued an order expelling Jews from those portions of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi in which his forces were operating? Taking note, first, that Grant's motives weren't as insidious as one might at first blush think, Lincoln's response -- particularly considered in the context of his willingness to suspend, e.g., habeus corpus -- is something to be remembered.

Learn about it here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week

This week, conservative students on campuses across the country are enraging their faculties and fellow students by organizing events calculated to draw attention to mysogeny, repression, and murder that attend societies governed by radical Islam and that comprise the expansionist goals of that ideology.

Canadian columnist David Warren draws attention to the effort here.

Predictably, these efforts are being opposed by the campus mainstream. And they are doing so with characteristic peace, love, and tolerance:
"I left the Middle East because there was no freedom of speech and now I am here and there is fascism," Nonie Darwish shouted at the organized demonstrators trying to drown her out at Berkeley on Monday.

Protected by a bodyguard, and with the help of campus police, who removed (but did not arrest) the most aggressive hecklers, she was nevertheless able to continue, against the background noise of the campus fascisti beating on the doors and walls outside the lecture hall.

Imagine that scene. Ms. Darwish -- a Muslim woman who is attempting to give a speech describing and deploring the systemic repression of women, homosexuals and Jews -- is so vilified by American university students that they form a mob, surround the building in which she speaks, and literally pound the walls as they scream their denunciations. She requires armed protection from this mob, so odious is her message to disciples of modern campus orthodoxy.

Wasn't there a time when the political left championed the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities? In fact, domestically at least, doesn't it still? So why the complete -- and violent -- about-face when the same issues arise within the context of Islam?

For one thing, leftist orthodoxy since the 1960s has held that the United States and the socially traditional and capitalist institutions that comprise it are inherently evil. The United States is the enemy of radical Islam. And for these juvenile modern leftists -- many of whom are not, technically speaking, "juveniles" -- the enemy of their enemy is their friend. Muslim women bedamned.

As for the fact that, if given political power in America, the Islamists would shutter the universities, genitally mutilate the women's studies professors, slaughter the memberships of the gay-lesbian alliances, forcefully replace Che Guevara t-shirts with robes and burkas, and punish belovedly post-modern atheism with imprisonment and torture?

Bah. Details, details.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Unsolicited Confession No. 3

Sometimes when I think about all of the strife in the Middle East -- and strictly without crediting the occupation- and colonization-fantacist arguments of leftist anti-semites and jihadist apocalypticians, and without disregarding the dangers they would pose in any event -- I muse how serene it all might be (however temporarily) if, instead of reclaiming the biblical Holy Land, the Jews had successfully petitioned to form a sovereign state in, say, Arizona. Arizona being arid and all, which seems to be a draw. Or Montana -- can we really not afford to carve off an Israel-sized sliver of Montana?

Then I remember that whenever a dangerous Arab regime obtains nukes, we rely on our ever-scapegoated, kashrut pals in the fertile crescent to put their kibbutz-farming on hold for a few hours, launch the F-16s, and eviscerate the baddies. Which, without fail, they do.

So instead of engaging in geographical masturbation, perhaps I should just say toda rabah, and go about my business.

We Want Your Comments

Okay, so Puck and I know we're not running Power Line or NRO. But -- thanks to our sneaky web statistical-gathering techniques -- we know we have a growing readership that has included thousands of unique visitors and dozens of at-least-weekly denizens.

And knowing you're there fuels us. Believe me.

But, folks, you're on the Information Super-Highway now. It's an interactive medium. You have something to say. I know you do. Post a comment. Start an argument. Send us an email (via the contact info available in the right-hand sidebar). Threaten us with damnation. Whatever you like.

This is, to a large degree, an exercise in self-congratulation (yes, we realize that), but we want folks to be interested in this page. If you hate us, tell us! If you disagree with a post, tell the world. If we're missing something that interests you, give us a research assignment.

Let's have some fun. The InterWeb is yours as much as it is ours.

Glass Half-Empty II

Last week, in Glass Half-Empty, I noted how the AP had managed to turn the sharp reduction in violence in Iraq into bad news.

Well, today there's even more "bad news" from Iraq. In September 2006, there were 1,400 violence-related Iraqi deaths. In September 2007, that number plummeted to 250. The morgues are not nearly as busy as they once were.

So what's it all mean?
Taxi driver Ahmed Khalil Baqir used to station himself outside Baghdad's main morgue, waiting for grieving families who went there to claim their relatives’ dead bodies.

"I was totally dependent on them for my living," Baqir, a 44-year-old father of four, said." I never thought about picking up people in the street as I was being hired five to eight times a day by these families. But now it is a waste of time to wait there and these days I wait only for about three hours in the morning and I continue my work picking up passengers in the street.”
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "Damn you, Bush!"

(h/t OpinionJournal)

Diversity Candidate

Who will be the first non-white President of the United States? It won't be Obama. He doesn't have a prayer. Which means it won't happen in 2008.

But what about 2012? 2016? Who might be that first minority President? If you're running through a mental list of black and hispanic Democrats, hold that thought.

What if I told you it could be an Indian-American (not an American Indian -- but an American whose parents emigrated from India)? And what if I told you it could be an Indian-American from Louisiana? And how about if I piled onto this thought experiment by suggesting that the Indian-American from Louisiana in question is a Republican? Did I blow your mind?

Meet Bobby Jindal, who this week was elected Governor of Louisiana at the tender age of 36. "At Brown University, the only grade he ever got was an 'A.' He turned down both the medical and law schools at Yale and Harvard, to accept a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford. " He then went on to turn Louisiana's health care system around as a 24-year-old Secretary of Health and Hospitals. He later served as president of Louisiana's state university system.

Jindal's parents immigrated to Louisiana from India when his mother was four months pregnant with him. He remains a defender of legal, but not illegal, immigration. "(W)e already know that drugs and hundreds of thousands of illegal
immigrants come across our borders now every year, and that is simply not acceptable," he told the publication India Abroad. "(O)ur nation cannot be serious about protecting our country from the threat of terrorism without securing our borders and preventing illegal immigration."

Conservatives may someday look back and see a providential hand in the Jindal family's timely arrival in Louisiana. Had Bobby Jindal been born in India, not Baton Rouge, he could never have satisfied the constitutional mandate that "no person except a natural born citizen" can serve in this nation's highest office.

Another Rate Cut On The Way?

Larry Kudlow thinks it could happen next week.

Some folks worry that another cut will heighten inflation risks, but given the relatively strong performance of the equity markets over the last few years (and heeding persistent housing-market and credit concerns), another substantial cut could boost prospects for long-term growth and even, as Kudlow suggests, have the no-less-salutary effect of boosting the flagging dollar.

Because right now, our dollar is getting beat by Canada, for the love of Pete. And that's like losing on the exchange rate to Chuck E. Cheese.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Don't Try This At Home

W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a retired U.S. Marine and a correspondent for National Review, where he posts on NRO's military blog, The Tank. Smith has spent the last couple of weeks in Lebanon, doing some very risky reporting on the very tenuous political situation there.

He's also, it appears, completely @#$%ing nuts.

Light Posting

Posting is likely to be pretty light this week -- at least over the next day or so. Puck and I have busy weeks at our respective places of business, and I'm feeling a bit under the weather to boot. I'll try at least to get some links up to some of the more interesting things being written around the web.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Michael Yon

His latest is here. He's despondent about falsehoods and manufactured negativity. Who can blame him?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Give Her This: She's Old-School!

According to the L.A. Times, Hillary Clinton is enjoying a fundraising bonanza from a most unlikely source: dishwashers in Chinatown.

It seems the denizens of one of New York City's most dilapidated neighborhoods are suddenly forking over $1000 and $2000 donations to the junior senator. How does one explain this phenomenon? The Times article proffers a peculiar mix of apologetics and reality:
Clinton has enlisted the aid of Chinese neighborhood associations, especially those representing recent immigrants from Fujian province. The organizations, at least one of which is a descendant of Chinatown criminal enterprises that engaged in gambling and human trafficking, exert enormous influence over immigrants. The associations help them with everything from protection against crime to obtaining green cards.

Many of Clinton's Chinatown donors said they had contributed because leaders in neighborhood associations told them to. In some cases, donors said they felt pressure to give.

The other piece of the strategy involves holding out hope that, if Clinton becomes president, she will move quickly to reunite families and help illegal residents move toward citizenship. As New York's junior senator, Clinton has expressed support for immigrants and greater family reunification. She is also benefiting from Chinese donors' naive notions of what she could do in the White House.
(Emphases mine.)

First of all, could the Times have possibly contorted itself any more strenuously in its quest not to call the Chinese mob the Chinese mob? I mean, "Chinese criminal enterprises that engaged in human trafficking [and] exert enormous influence over immigrants"? "Protection against crime"? I could save the Times a great deal of space. Here's how the same paragraph could be written:

"The Chinese mob is shaking down poor immigrant workers to make political donations they cannot afford."

See? Easy. Of course, that would be way too close to, you know, suggesting that the Clintons have unseemly ties to Chinese criminals. Which, of course, they do.

The real laugher is that the Times follows up its euphemistic reference to the Chinese mobsters' community activists' exertion of "pressure" by suggesting with a straight face that, anyway, these poor immigrant workers are really motivated to donate by their boundless hope that Good Senator Clinton, if elected, will ease their burdens and lift them up.

As for that whole menacing-you-with-brass-knuckles and threatening-to-break-your-children's-legs thing? Purely incidental. Don't be so sensitive.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

From the You've-Got-to-Be-Kidding-Me File: The Game of Oppression

Via Phi Beta Cons at NRO:

A board game called The Game of Oppression has been created specifically for use by "student affairs professionals." (Side note: I'm pretty sure these were the people that made me sit through two days' worth of lectures and group activities on dealing with "diverse students" before allowing me to become a Resident Assistant. I also recall that the entire two days' worth of bloviating could have been summed up with a brief recitation of The Golden Rule, but then I'm no "student affairs professional" so what do I know?) In any event, The Game of Oppression:

is designed to encourage and challenge individuals from different backgrounds and experiences to engage in authentic dialogue..... The program equips diversity educators with strategies to encourage students to take full advantage of the diversity on their respective campuses and in their communities. The game provides a "safe space" for authentic dialogue around the issues of oppression.

But how does it work?

The Game of Oppression is designed to be played by 10 to 20 players at a time, with half playing as active participants and the other half as observers. The optimum amount of time allotted to play is four hours to ensure proper facilitation and personal engagement, but the game can be played in a minimum of three hours. The goal is to achieve "enlightment." To do this, the active participants move their pawns around the game board and respond to statements on the playing cards. After a set period of time, the two groups switch roles. At the end of the game, all players participate in a reflection and group discussion period to synthesize the game experience for each participant.

Emphases mine.

The website also advises that this is "not a game of amusement."

Well, no. Not intentionally, anyway. I found myself laughing about it anyway...just after I finished weeping for our future.

Glass Half-Empty

From the "What Liberal Bias In The Media?" Department . . .

If you're a newspaper reporter who opposes the Iraq War, and who believes it's his solemn duty to undermine the war effort and to destroy morale and erode public support at every turn, how do you cope with plunging casualties and widespread reports of progress?

You get creative.

It looks like a parody -- something from The Onion, perhaps -- but it's not. This is an actual news headline: "As violence falls in Iraq, cemetary workers feel the pinch."

Damn you, Bush!!!

Those Evil Israelis

Israel is the most demonized country on the planet. It has been threatened and attacked by its neighbors and unfairly singled out for scorn and abuse by the United Nations over and over again. During the first gulf war, Israeli citizens were driven into bomb shelters as Saddam's scud missiles rained down.

Yet the Israelis remain steadfastly generous and magnanimous, and Iraqis are the current beneficiaries. Earlier this week Israeli doctors screened 40 Iraqi children for heart disease in Jordan. As a result of those screenings, 2 children were found to have serious, life-threatening heart conditions. So what did the Israelis do? They flew the children to Tel Aviv and performed emergency heart surgery.

Indeed, since January Israeli doctors -- working in a program called Save A Child's Heart -- have operated on 18 Iraqi children.

This makes it ostensibly the more puzzling that -- also this year -- 135 British physicians called for a World Medical Association boycott of the Israeli Medical Association. It's not actually puzzling to those of us who are paying attention, of course. This is just the latest divestiture effort (often originating in Britain) targeting Israel. It amazes me that Israel continues its good works, undaunted, despite the unjust treatment meted out by most of the rest of humanity.

We live in Crazy World.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Schadenfreude of the Day

Morgan Stanley has dumped its holdings of New York Times stock. This was no small portfolio adjustment either. Morgan held 7.3% of all outstanding shares. The stock immediately dropped about 3% in value. By the way, the stock, which now hovers around $18.40/share, was worth more than $50/share just four years ago.

The entire print-media industry has suffered to some degree during the advent of the internet-news era. But one can't help but wonder whether the multi-year plunge suggests that NYT's shrill, left-slanted journalism has alienated mainstream consumers. I sure hope so.

Crisis Averted?

Yesterday, I posted a lengthy discussion of the Democrats' insidious attempt to subvert the Iraq war by so offending our Turkish allies with a lame-brained resolution that Turkey would cut off our logistical supply route.

It now appears some of the Democrats who previously signed on to Pelosi's treacherous scheme have decided they really don't want to be infamous for intentionally depriving our soldiers of armor and ammo after all. So they're abandoning the gambit, and not a moment too soon.

But it's not over yet. There are still some stalwarts who can be counted on never to give up in the fight to weaken America:
Backers of the resolution, which has the fervent backing of the Armenian-American community, described the loss of support as slight and attributed it to the intense lobbying by the Turkish government, the Bush administration and their allies. They said they would try to change the minds of some of those who were wavering.
“This is what happens when you are up against a very sophisticated multimillion-dollar campaign,” said Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, who chided the Turkish government. “Since when it has become fashionable for friends to threaten friends.”

You mean like when you threaten our military with paralysis, Rep. Sherman?

$!*#ing Great News!!! (and Timely Too!)

Cursing at work is good for the company.

So you see, Benedick, my use of the verboten last night was merely an attempt to boost your morale. I'll say it: I swear because ... I care.

I love science.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Have An Important Announcement.

I think I'm changing my position on ABBA.

I'm not sure about this yet, I admit. I've spent my adolescent and adult life mocking those who would scream and flail their arms wildly at the first heavily synthesized notes of Dancing Queen, Waterloo and similar, shaking their hips in a sadly unrhythmic fashion. It's a little disconcerting to realize that I secretly wish to join them.

But as I was driving home tonight, I happened upon Take a Chance on Me. And you know what? That [bleep!] is FUN.

BENEDICK ADDS: (1) Your picture link is a mess; (2) LANGUAGE [Eli may be a pirate, but he doesn't like potty-mouths]; and (3) if I get Free Bird, you can have ABBA. As Helen Slater said in The Legend of Billy Jean, "Fair is Fair!"

Dems Finally Find A Way To Lose The War?

They failed to stop the surge. They failed to block military appropriations. They failed in their smear campaign against General Petraeus. But the Democrats have finally found a creative way to threaten the war effort in Iraq, and just as the good news has started to dominate the bad.

Bear with me for a moment; a brief history lesson is both relevant and important to understanding what's going on.

Back in 1915, during the final breaths of its centuries-old sultanate in Eastern Europe, the Ottoman Empire (Turks) engaged in a wholesale slaughter of its Christian Armenian population. By any measure, this was a campaign of ethnic cleansing that merits mention among the great crimes of the twentieth century.

In 1923, the Turks abolished the 623-year-old sultanate and formed the Republic of Turkey, a new, secular society. In the decades that followed, Turkey became a key ally to western nations. It became a charter member of the United Nations in 1945. It assisted UN forces in the Korean War. It joined NATO in 1952 and became THE bulwark in the region against Soviet Cold War expansion.

Today, Turkey is a parliamentary, representative democracy. It is a secular nation and embraces significant Christian and Jewish populations in addition to its majority Muslim community. It refuses to give safe harbor to jihadists. It possesses a stable military and is a staunch ally to the United States in both the War on Terror generally and the Iraq War specifically. It even has close diplomatic relations with Israel.

Just how important is Turkey to our efforts in Iraq? Turkey is our supply line. 70% of all air cargo shipped to support our military in Iraq travels through Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey. This includes 33% of all fuel used by the troops in Iraq and 95% of the new, highly armored vehicles that have dramatically improved our soldiers' survival in IED (improvised explosive device) attacks. This is a vital -- critical -- supply point.

Where am I going with this? Let's return to the slaughter of the Armenians nearly a century ago. This historical crime is a very, very sentitive point for Turks. There's a lot of collective guilt coupled with shame. They don't like to talk about it. This is well known among diplomatic and foreign-policy types.

All of which makes it highly suspect (to say the least) that the Democrat-controlled Congress has chosen this moment in history -- 92 years after the fact -- to pass a resolution condemning the Turks for committing "genocide" against the Armenians. This is a carefully timed slap in the face to our Turkish allies, calculated to incense them and push a most sensitive button, provoking them to withdraw their support for our war effort. When Pelosi's gang first proposed the resolution, the Turks made it quite clear what the consequences of such an insult would be: the denial of Turkish airspace.

To put it more succinctly, the Democrats are attempting to cut off logistical support to our troops by abusing the one key ally that enables our military to ship fuel, munitions, and armor to soldiers in the field.

There is no question but that the Ottoman murder of Armenians was a horrible crime. And it should not be buried or ignored. But what possible practical purpose can passing this incendiary resolution, at this time, have? None. What it can do is get U.S. soldiers killed and cripple a war effort that by all accounts is now succeeding.

Now that the resolution has passed, the Bush administration, the military, the Iraqis, and all citizens who want our military to succeed in Iraq, hold our collective breath to see whether Turkey will do what the Democrats want it to do.

This is absolutely shameful.

UPDATE: If this issue interests you (and it should), NRO links to several timely, related articles here.

PUCK ADDS: I am cruising through the Congressional Record trying to find out exactly who is responsible for this mess, and I came across this fabulous little find, from Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas). Money quote:

But who really bears the brunt is the United States soldier. And, Mr. Speaker, this is not just a theoretical concern. October 2000, same bill, conflicts are a little bit different. Northern watch, keeping the Iraqis from attacking the Kurds. Those planes in northern Iraq to enforce the no-fly zone and keep Saddam from attacking the Kurds, those F-16s flew out of Turkey and they kept watch every day of every week during what we now know as Northern Watch. They kept the Iraqi Republican Guard in a box and kept them from attacking Kurds.

Mr. Speaker, I was not in Congress in October of 2000. But I will tell you that a young man who is now a constituent, actually stationed in Clovis, New Mexico, but was moved to Incurlik, Turkey, and was on duty then, he talked to me back in October of 2000. He said, we were away from home in a place that really was awfully strange for a 21-year-old. And then we picked up our newspapers one morning and there's a big hole in the side of a United States ship, the USS Cole which was bombed in October of 2000. The tension was mounting daily. Other attacks were a possibility. And then all hell broke loose outside the base. There was protests, there was shouting, there were people yelling at us at the gate. None of us were allowed off the base. And why? Because the House of Representatives was going to take up the Armenian genocide resolution.

Mr. Speaker, this constituent was my son. He asked me then, Dad, why is Congress making things tougher for us over here? I didn't have an answer for him now and I don't have an answer for him now. President Clinton did not support this bill in 2000. Majority Leader Armey refused to allow it to come to the floor. Don't make life tougher for our soldiers. We're a country at war. Let's act like it for once.


PUCK HAS STILL MORE! Look who else has urged Madam Pelosi not to bring this before the full House for a vote: Former Secretaries of State Alexander Haig, George Shultz, Lawrence Eagleburger, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Warren Christopher, and Colin Powell. Not exactly a rogue's gallery of Darth Bush's minions. Former Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen and others are getting into the act too.

How The Left Supports Our Troops

Code Pink -- a cadre of far-left anti-war types -- has made a name for itself during the course of the Iraq War. Its members are prone to burning American flags and accusing our troops of atrocities. Recently, Code Pink has taken to protesting in front of military recruiting centers.

The pictures speak volumes.

What's heartening is the response published by the Marine officer in charge of this Berkeley recruiting center, Captain Richard Lund. An excerpt:

The fact is this: any independent nation must maintain a military (or be allied with those who do) to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. Regardless of what your opinions are of the current administration or the current conflict in Iraq, the U.S. military will be needed again in the future. If your counter-recruitment efforts are ultimately successful, who will defend us if we are directly attacked again as we were at Pearl Harbor? Who would respond if a future terrorist attack targets the Golden Gate Bridge, the BART system, or the UC Berkeley clock tower? And, to address the most hypocritical stance that your organization takes on its website, where would the peace keeping force come from that you advocate sending to Darfur?
Captain Lund's entire essay is worth reading. Also notable is the quotation by John Stuart Mill that Captain Lund hung in front of his station:

You tell 'em.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Unsolicited Confession No. 2

I have, on more than one occasion, killed time by wondering silently to myself how, if I were able to command the animal kingdom, I would choose to deploy my forces. And as I contemplate to what use I would put such creatures as lions and jackals, I invariably find myself confronted with the immutable truth that, as a matter of nature, some of my fauna minions would be at odds with one another -- what with being accustomed to killing and eating each other for survival. And then I wonder whether possessing this spectacular power really would be worth the constant bickering.

Democrats Fear Redneck Cooties

This has to be one of the most bizarre, politically tone-deaf things I've ever heard. Before attending a NASCAR race over the weekend, Democratic Congressional staffers were urged to get innoculations for Hepatitis A and B, influenza, tetanus, and diphtheria.

Where does one begin in cataloguing the idiocy on display here? Presumably with the fact that there isn't any reason to suspect that a NASCAR event is any more likely a place to contract a disease than any other public event. Like diphtheria, which doesn't even exist in the United States anymore.

The NASCAR demographic is huge and politically important. Nothing says "savvy" like implicitly accusing millions of race fans of being walking germ farms.

Hilarious, that the party of diversity and tolerance should act on such raging and unfounded prejudice.

More hilarious: Hepatitis is a sexually transmitted disease. What, exactly, did the Democrat who urged this preventative medicine believe his or her colleagues would be doing at the NASCAR track? And with rednecks, no less. Kinky.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Iraq Sees Dramatically Low Death Toll"

When even the AP is forced to acknowledge it, you know it's significant.

Democrats, would you please stop insisting that this is a quagmire or a defeat?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Capitalism Rocks!

It's all about the competition, baby.

Coke vs. Pepsi.

Why hasn't anyone capitalized on this idea yet? Why don't Coke and Pepsi sponsor no-holds-barred fighters and sell pay-per-view licenses? Why am I not getting paid to come up with these ideas?

Wisdom From My 3-Year-Old Nephew, Eli

Me: I'm going to have to make a decision soon. When rates were really low back in '03 I refinanced my mortgage to a 5-year arm. I stand by that decision at 4.75% -- particularly since it's my first condo and I know I won't be there forever. But the term's up next summer and unless I want to start paying prime plus 3% -- which would put me well in excess of what even 30-year loans are going for these days -- I'm simply going to have to refinance again or move. Moving would bring the prospect of shortening my commute, and it is a buyer's market. On the other hand, I bought my place for a song (even controlling for market change) and -- for what it is -- I could take a 15-year and continue to live in a bargain pretty much indefinitely, then reap the benefit of my patience when I sell a few years down the road in a much-improved market. But the rub is, I don't know if that savings offsets the net win of buying a more objectively expensive place now, which would ostenibly increase in value with a market uptick to a greater degree than my current place. A lot of factors in play here, is what I'm saying.

Eli: I'm a pirate!

Nobel Doesn't Matter Anymore

They gave it to Gore, Puck. I'm not surprised. This kind of idiocy is too rampant among "liberals" and globalists for me to pound my desk every time something like this happens.

Meanwhile, Damien Thompson at the London Telegraph asks, appropriately: What has Al Gore done for world peace?

There's Hope For Me Yet

Researcher: Humans will wed robots.

(Aside: Did this guy really get a doctorate degree for what boils down to a nerd fantasy? If so, I totally qualify for a Ph.D, what with that recurring dream I have about partying elf-style with Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchette in The Lord of the Rings.)

PUCK WANTS TO KNOW: Are your feet furry in that dream, Benedick?

BENEDICK RESPONDS: I'm more of an Aragorn than a Frodo, thank you very much.

More Optimism in Iraq

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff attended a dinner last night at which a talk was given by Fouad Ajami, a professor of Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies. Professor Ajami recently returned from a trip to Iraq, during which he met with top Iraqi government officials from all three of the main factions: Sunni, Shiites, and Kurds. Mirengoff summarizes the professor's optimistic talk. An excerpt:

Based on what he has seen, Ajami concludes that the tide has turned in Iraq and that the country is basically "working." The Kurds, he says, have what they want -- autonomy. They don't really want independence because, despite their oil reserves, they rely on oil revenue from the south. Moreover, they do not want to have to deal with Turkey and Iran alone. Finally, they hold their share (or more) of the key government positions.

The Shiites also have what they want -- the upper hand. They decisively and irreversibly won the Battle of Baghdad, and it's now their government. Naturally, therefore, they are heavily invested in the success of the state. In addition, as a matter of pride, they want to prove that they -- the much maligned and ridiculed Shia Arabs -- can govern. They realize that this means some accommodation for the Sunnis, and they are increasingly willing to accommodate them now that they know they (the Shia) have won. Thus, according to Ajami, Moqtada al Sadr's influence is down, and the Shia center appears to be holding.

For their part, the Sunnis bet on al Qaeda and the powerful Sunni Arab states, and lost. As a result, they now are switching horses, working increasingly with the U.S. to defeat al Qaeda and with the Iraqi government upon which they rely for revenue.
Professor Ajami believes Iraq is functioning better than can be measured by the benchmarks set out by Congress. Read the whole thing here.

UPDATE: Prospect Magazine has a similarly rosey -- and far more detailed -- assessment in "Mission Accomplished." Indeed, you can learn a lot about Iraq's status and how it got there from this piece. In a nutshell:
The argument of this article—that with nothing more to resolve from political violence, Iraqis can now settle down to gorge themselves at the oil trough—is based on two premises: Sunni acknowledgement of the failure of their insurgency and the need to reach an accommodation with the new Iraq, and a conjunction of interests between the coalition on one hand and the Kurds and Shias on the other.
Don't tell the Democrats -- they don't like bad news.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Oh, Ann.

I'm not one to defend Ann Coulter under normal circumstances. Yet I agree with some of what she says, and I recognize that she has intentionally created, in herself, a caricature that sells books. Her hyperbole is (to a Republican) typically pretty amusing because I know better than to take it literally or seriously.

But, today . . . oh, Ann. Jeez.

Iraq Video

Michael Totten (whose dispatches I've linked to from time to time) has posted a brief 18-minute video of his recent walking tour of Ramadi, Iraq -- which has been successfully cleared of al qaeda and "insurgents."

It's rare that we get to see extended video of what's going on in Iraq, and this is a fascinating glimpse. No explosions, no gunfire, no helicopters. Rather, we see reconstruction, children playing, and locals interacting comfortably with our troops, who prove themselves able ambassadors and guardians.

Don't miss this opportunity.

I Take It Back....

I will be pissed off -- very pissed off -- if Al Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize.


Because this marvelous woman is his competition.

BENEDICK ADDS: Wow. What a remarkable woman. I'm surprised I've never heard of her. In any event, Puck, prepare to be very pissed off. These days you're more likely to get a peace prize for killing Jews than for saving them.

Another Green Alert!

It does my heart good to see that Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, has been recognized by a British High Court judge as "alarmist," "one-sided," and "exaggerated." The Court has ordered that the film -- the viewing of which the British government has made mandatory at English secondary schools -- be accompanied with notes providing guidance to balance the former VP's "partisan" views.

Specifically, the Court found that Mr. Gore's film incorporated nine scientific errors. Read the article to find out what they are.

Of course, this won't change the fact that Al Gore has been nominated for a Nobel Peace prize. And it looks as though he'll win that prize no matter no matter how many inaccuracies his Chicken Little schpiel is found to include. But maybe, just maybe, the High Court's ruling will encourage people to think twice before taking Gore's word as gospel and even (perish the thought!) start considering the opinions of the well-informed folks on the other side of the argument. Like, for example, this guy.

Anyway, if guys like Arafat and Jimmy Carter can win the Nobel Peace Prize, then the prize has lost any meaning it might once have had. As far as I'm concerned, Al Gore is welcome to it. Meh.

Green Alert

If you live in New York City, this might make you uneasy.

This Friday through Sunday, the Empire State Building will be lit up with green lights in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan. Apparently, the landmark is typically lit each year in celebration of Christmas and Hannukah as well.

Is it inappropriate for me to point out that Christians and Jews are dramatically less likely to use the festive holiday lights as a targeting system?

There's a really dark irony at play here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pot and Kettle

Soaring interest rates. Rampant inflation. Lines at the gas station.

The Sandinistas. Khomeini. The Iranian hostage crisis.

according to one James Earl Carter, compared to the harm done to America by current vice president Dick Cheney.

I can't even respond coherently to this. I think I'll just sit here and bang my head against my desk. Maybe I'll feel better afterward.

BENEDICK ADDS: Is it too much to hope for that Jimm-uh might have a sudden "crisis of confidence" and shut the hell up for, like, the rest of his life? Or can we maybe trade him in and get Reagan back?

The Burglar Returns! Part II

A few days ago, in The Burglar Returns! Puck wrote about Hillary Clinton's perplexing (revealing?) decision to use the execrable, criminal Sandy Berger as an advisor to her campaign.

Today's NRO editorial picks up the ball and runs with it:
There are two kinds of crooks. The first cuts a deal. He tells the government what he knows and forever after is ostracized and hunted by his old partners in crime. The second is “stand-up.” He keeps his mouth shut. After serving his time, he is welcomed back into the fold. He might even get a “bump up” in rank from his grateful bosses.
Read the rest.

Happy Dead Che Day

Today marks the 40th Anniversary of Che Guevara's death -- a reason to celebrate if ever there was one. You know Che -- the guy left-wingers love to celebrate as a champion of freedom and progressivism. You've seen the t-shirts everywhere.

Jay Ambrose takes the opportunity to remind us why Guevara should be loathed, not loved, and what it tells us about the ignorance or insidiousness (or both) of the political left that extolls his glory.
An excerpt:

Perhaps they don't know that, after the Soviets took their nuclear missiles out of Cuba in 1962, he told a reporter he had hoped to “use them against the very heart of America, including New York City,” very likely killing some of those who would later put on those T-shirts, and otherwise making this particular fad less likely.

Perhaps the people who make Che-adoring movies — Robert Redford did it — or write adulatory pieces about Fidel Castro's henchman are ignorant of how Che recklessly exterminated people who had been proven guilty of absolutely nothing, sometimes shooting them in the back of the neck himself.

Following the Castro takeover of Cuba in 1959, Che ran a Havana prison in which he killed, killed and then killed some more, and later helped start the labor camp system in which homosexuals and others considered undesirable were to be confined as nothing more than slaves.

The next time you see a child wearing a Che t-shirt, smack him.

Obligatory GOP Debate Mention

Since this blog is so heavily political (and tilts to the right ever so slightly), it's worth mentioning that the GOP presidential candidates held their latest debate in Michigan yesterday. If you're interested in a thorough summary of what happened, Byron York has a good one that focuses largely on the fact that it was "newcomer" Fred Thompson's first debate (the rest of the candidates have been debating every few weeks since mid-summer).

I don't really blog about the GOP primary race because I find primary season to be tedious. It's way too long, horribly redundant, and most analysis of it is unimportant. The differences among the candidates are generally faint and ultimately far less important than the single variable of electability in 2008. So daily reporting on which candidate said what about the line-item veto seems a waste of time.

It's not that I don't care -- I care a great deal about which Republican is going to be our answer to Hillary in the general election. But I don't pore over the debate just transcripts yet. Let's wait until the primary elections actually start.

For the record, I don't really have a strong preference in this field. I happen to really like Giuliani, and I also happen to really like Romney. I think McCain missed his window. I think Thompson's superficially appealing -- but superficially only. I think Ron Paul is insane, and Brownback and the rest simply don't have a prayer.

At the end of the day, I hope Rudy gets the nomination. I think he stands the best chance of beating Hillary, and that's far and away the most important quality in a GOP contender this time around. I just hope the socially conservative Republicans who are presently whining about how Rudy and Mitt aren't conservative enough will keep their eyes on the prize and keep the coalition together.

Reconciliation in Anbar

If you were paying attention to coverage of General Petraeus' briefing to Congress last month, you already know that the greatest cause for optimism in Iraq is the complete turnaround in Anbar province. A year ago, it was considered lost to al qaeda. Since then, the local tribes have risen up and helped U.S. forces drive the jihadis out completely.

In the latest of a series of reports from Anbar, London Daily Telegraph reporter Damien McElroy describes a previously unthinkable reconciliation effort. Locals who had joined al qaeda are now being permitted to return to their tribes.

This is both astonishing and heartening.

It's astonishing when you consider how Anbar was won. Al qaeda's early success in Anbar was fueled by rousing local sentiment against the foreign (U.S.) occupiers. Locals were initially very easily recruited to the "insurgency." But these locals were being used. They were sold a battle against foreign occupiers, but they were being duped into fighting for a radical brand of Islam that they do not practice. They discovered this eventually. Yet having gotten its foot in the door, al qaeda -- its ranks swelled by impressionable local young men -- had already set about rebuilding the community in its own image. It banned alcohol, smoking, and music. It ruled through fear, torturing and murdering residents for a host of offenses, real or perceived. And it might have managed to retain its grip on the populace. But it got cocky.

Al qaeda's key mistake was insisting that sheiks marry their daughters to foreign al qaeda leaders in order to cement political power.

This would not stand. Iraqi tribal sheiks do not marry their daughters to foreigners. Period. Full stop. The first sheik to refuse was murdered. According to local custom and tradition, this required revenge by his family. The violence escalated. Eventually, all of the Anbar sheiks banded together and decided enough was enough, swearing their commitment to destroy al qaeda. They also issued joint pronouncements declaring that anyone assisting al qaeda was disowned from his tribe and under a death sentence. U.S. military commanders deftly seized the opportunity, and a coalition was formed. During the first half of 2007, this new coalition completely drove al qaeda -- foreign and local -- from Anbar. This history makes the sheiks' willingness to repatriate men who formerly stood with the enemy remarkable.

And it's a wonderful development. As a practical matter, the returning sons will bring first-hand intelligence regarding the current whereabouts of al qaeda remnants scattered in the provincial outskirts and about methods and tactics. Moreover, it sets an important precedent for reconciliation, which is really the key variable in putting Iraq back together.

As the guys at Power Line (where I came across this piece) muse, one shouldn't be surprised that U.S. newspapers aren't going near stories like this.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Stupid Criminals: Part 1

Today we roll out the first in what will be an ongoing (if occasional) series of posts celebrating feats of extraordinary stupidity during the commission of a crime.

Today, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I give you This Guy, who walked into a supermarket and attempted to pay for his groceries with a $1 million dollar bill. Of course, such things don't exist, and the clerk immediately confiscated the bill.

Now, that's certainly sufficiently noteworthy as stupid goes to kick off the Stupid Criminals series. But it's not my favorite part . . . wait for it . . .
But when the Giant Eagle employee refused and a manager confiscated the bogus bill, the man flew into a rage, police said. The man slammed an electronic funds-transfer machine into the counter and reached for a scanner gun, police said.
Yes, having been foiled in his attempt to circulate nonexistent currency, our hero (who has refused to give his name to police) grabbed the nearest weapon at hand . . . a laser scanner, the only offensive capability of which is to read the price on a jar of Cheez-Whiz. Shockingly, police -- not being made out of UPC symbols -- were unfazed.

We salute you!

Missile Defense: A Reality

Defying critics who have long claimed it's impossible to "hit a bullet with a bullet," the U.S. Military has completed yet another successful test of its burgeoning missile-defense system. This makes us -- and our allies (including our "allies"*) -- safer from threats originating in Iran, North Korea, and (looking ahead) Russia and China.

Who would oppose such a thing? The same people who screamed for unilateral disarmament during the height of the Cold War. Fortunately, Ronald Reagan persisted in his alternative strategy of arms-racing the Soviet Union into economic ruin (reminder: it worked).

* How much longer must we continue to confer "ally" status on European nations that openly scorn the U.S. and eschew any gratitude for the fact that we provided a comprehensive blanket of military protection from the U.S.S.R. so that they could spend money they otherwise would have had to invest in their own defense, on loopy, socialist domestic programs?

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Best Police Force in Iraq

Michael Totten is an independent journalist who has spent most of the last few years traveling in Iraq on his own dime, embedding with U.S. forces, interacting with Iraqi military and police forces, and publishing reports of his experiences and observations online in occasional dispatches.

In his latest dispatch, Totten recounts a recent visit to a police station near much-improved (read: terrorist-free) Ramadi, during which he interviewed the police colonel in charge and attempted to interview suspected al qaeda members being held in detention.

Totten's reporting offers a depth of insight into day-to-day life in Iraq that MSM reports -- filed from the safe, obscured boundaries of the Green Zone -- cannot. Totten's work is rivaled only by Michael Yon, who also publishes from Iraq (and sometime from Afghanistan) with online donations from his readers as his only funding.


About 100 Iranian students protested a speech by Ahmadinejad earlier today. I've got a bad feeling they're not going to get the chance to finish their degrees. It's heartening to see that the largely stifled, reform-minded Iranians still have an occasional voice, but it's going to take more than 100 marchers to make much of a difference.

The Burglar Returns!

And here I thought Senator Obama had cornered the market on bad judgment. Seems his colleague from New York -- blonde lady, running for President, you may have heard of her -- is now taking the advice of one Sandy Berger. When last we saw Sandy, a National Security Adviser during President Clinton's administration, he was losing his license to practice law for stealing and destroying classified documents from the National Archives shortly before his testimony to the 9/11 Commission. Those documents, many have speculated (see here and here, for example), might have said some pretty unflattering things about former President Clinton's response to the growing Al Qaeda threat.

Even more interesting, as the first linked article demonstrates, Bill Clinton was quick to jump to Berger's defense, even though the latter ultimately pleaded guilty to stuffing highly sensitive documents down his socks and pants, liberating them from the Archives, and feeding them to the closest shredder he could locate. And now, Berger has landed gainful employment once again with his pals from Arkansas. Good soldiers who fall on their swords to cover up Clintonian wrongdoing are like cats. They always seem to land on their feet.

CORRECTION: Whoops! That employment isn't "gainful" - Berger's position with Team Hillary is unpaid and voluntary. Hmph. Still, if I were the one running for president, I don't think I would be too keen to align myself with people like Mr. Berger. (Even John Kerry wanted nothing to do with Sandy, and Kerry is about as politically astute as the smoking pile my puppy once left on a cousin's carpet.)

Maybe Hillary's just confident that nobody in the mainstream media will bother to ask her about it. It's always those "plants" from the vast right-wing conspiracy that cause trouble. Meanies!

BENEDICK ADDS: This guy is a classic example of media imbalance. Quick thought experiment: Suppose Donald Rumsfeld went to the national archives to do some "research" and was subsequently caught stealing and destroying original documents pertaining to pre-Iraq War intelligence. How do you think the mainstream media would have reacted? They would have gone ballistic, of course, demanding answers about what he took, what he shredded, and what it all means about Bush's evil crime-thuggery. It would have dominated every second of every news broadcast and cable talking-head show. It would have filled the front pages of print newspapers across the country for months, if not years. It would have been a huge, huge deal. But Sandy Berger, Clintonista? Meh. Shrug. Yawn.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A Pause

For all the polemics scribbled and published and posted about whether to fight the war or not, or about how it should be fought, some writing about the war doesn't invite any facile reaction, save the need to take a quiet moment.

Christopher Hitchens incites such a moment here. If you honor heroes or families, please read it all.

Mr. Hitchens concludes:

But the thing I saw in your face
No power can disinherit:
No bomb that ever burst
Shatters the crystal spirit.

May it be so, then, and may death be not proud to have taken Mark Daily, whom I never knew but whom you now know, and—I hope—miss.

Reality TV Contestants . . .

. . . deserve everything that happens to them.

More Good News

Nearly 1 in 5 Democrats thinks the world would be better off if the U.S. lost in Iraq.


(via K-Lo at NRO)

How Dare I . . .

. . . suggest that the best friends of Islamic terror in America are Democrats? (I get that question all the time.)

I've posted evidence before. Here's today's update: Watch a retired Democrat senator give an interview for Iranian television explaining how Israel terrorizes Palestinians and how Jews manipulate the U.S. government. Oh, and how Zionists perpetrated 9-11 (almost left that part out).

Reader challenge: Find me a Republican senator who spews this garbage. Go ahead. Exactly.

Yet Jews keep voting for Democrats. Like. Sheep.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Truly Inspirational Stories

Courtesy of Michael Ledeen at The Corner.

Someone's Going to Have to Explain This to Me

A federal district court in California (a jurisdiction famous for not paying a whole lot of attention to the law) has just approved a class action lawsuit by blind internet users against Target (the chain department store) for not making its website sufficiently accessible to the visually impaired.



If anyone out there can explain to me how to implement a system of raised dots in a medium that's visually displayed on a flat screen -- I'd be fascinated to learn about it.

Unsolicited Confession No. 1

It's not that I'd ever request it or select it, and I'm not ever willing to sit through the entire unholy, anachronistic, signature king of mullet ballads -- particularly that long, meandering preamble -- but when I'm flipping through radio stations, if the guitar solo from Free Bird is on, I'm rockin' out in my car for a few minutes.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Some of the folks who read Primary Reason come here for links to articles and opinion pieces that they otherwise wouldn't have stumbled across. We're happy to provide a gateway to some of the best commentary available on the web.

You can use PR as a portal to some terrific sites by looking at the "Links" section on the right-hand side of this page. Right now, we're linked to the following:

-- NRO: The Corner: This is a blog populated by some of the finest writers and commentators at National Review, such as Jonah Goldberg, John Derbyshire, Rich Lowry, Mark Steyn, Victor Davis Hanson, and others. There is constantly new content, and while you can find some fascinating policy discussion and debate among the contributors, they're also good for more than a few laughs.

-- Power Line: Three lawyers -- John Hinderaker, Scott Johnson, and Paul Mirengoff -- bring their legal acumen to bear on issues of the day. They're all conservatives (though to different degrees on different issues), and their sober approach is a refreshing change from most blogging-as-a-second-job types. Plus, if you have an interest in music, international soccer, baseball or beauty pageants, you'll find that at least one of these guys shares your interest and posts the occasional related tidbit.

-- Protein Wisdom: Jeff Goldberg is a 30-something former English professor who is now a stay-at-home-dad/blogger. He's one of many converted liberals who saw modern academia for what it is and changed jerseys late in the game. He's got a sharp mind and a sharper wit. He can also be downright frivolously entertaining; his mind goes places mine never could (in a good way). See, for example, his running series entitled "Talking Back to 80s Music."

-- Atlas Shrugs is a site run by Pamela Geller, a Jewish mom in New York who is passionate about protecting America and Israel from Islamism. She's fearless, too. Honestly, it's kind of a wonder she hasn't been marked for death. Pamela travels to Israel often, crashes Lefty anti-Israel rallies, and generally pisses off the sorts of people I consider to be enemies. And she's hot.

-- Mixeye is a mixed bag and, in truth, will probably disappear from the links once I get around to updating them. I added it because early in the life of this blog, Mixeye's proprietor asked me if he could post one of my pieces there (which was a traffic boon for me). Since then, however, I haven't found much of interest there.

-- City Journal is a quarterly print magazine that makes a portion of its content available online. It offers longer pieces on a wide range of "urban issues" by its own collection of first-rate contributors, and it's worth clicking at least four times each year.

Look for additional links as I add them. I hope these gateways lead you to new writers and new arguments you otherwise wouldn't have discovered.

Another Big Lie

Over the last couple of days, prominent members of Congress have taken to the floor to denounce Rush Limbaugh. On his show recently, Limbaugh referred to "phony soldiers" -- that is -- people who misrepresent themselves as active-duty or veteran members of the armed forces in order to gain attention and gravitas for their anti-war views. There have been more than a few examples of such frauds:

Jesse MacBeth (whom Limbaugh was specifically discussing in the remarks now at issue) falsely claimed to be an Army Ranger and told a giddy press about all of the war crimes he and his unit committed in Iraq. But MacBeth had never made it out of basic training, let alone to Iraq. And he's now up on charges for falsifying his military record.

Then there's Amorita Randall, the subject of a fawning NYTimes Magazine piece, who claimed to have been raped twice while serving in Iraq. Turns out she never served in Iraq either.

Need more examples? How about Micah Wright, who wrote a book called "You Back the Attack! We'll Bomb Who We Want!" In the book, Wright describes himself as a former Army Ranger who turned peace-activist after witnessing the horrors perpetrated by the U.S. military. After real Rangers started looking into his service record, Wright was forced to admit that he'd been lying all along and had never served in the military.

Ever since John Kerry catapulted into politics as the "Winter Soldier" who exposed so-called atrocities (that it turns out he never witnessed but, hey, no big deal), the Left has loved nobody so much as a military veteran who is willing to tell tales that cast America and its armed forces as vicious, cruel, imperialist thugs. Indeed, it doesn't seem to matter much to the hate-America left whether these stories are true. So it's no surprise that so many obscure nobodies are willing to lie to garner the attendant accolades from like-minded wingbats. (It's also amazing that they think they'll get away with it in the information age.)

It is these frauds -- not actual soldiers who oppose the war -- whom Limbaugh was discussing when he referred to "phony soldiers."

But all of a sudden an organization called Media Matters picked it up and screamed from the mountain tops that Limbaugh had tarred all soldiers who oppose the war as "phony soldiers." This is a patently obvious lie. The transcript of Limbaugh's show makes it clear that he was discussing faux "soldiers" who weren't actually soldiers, not soldiers who disagree with him. So what's this "Media Matters," anyway?

Ah. This kind of explains a lot. And suddenly, the Democrats were off to the races, making speeches on the Senate floor, taking out ads, organizing activists . . . all to perpetuate an absolute misrepresentation of what Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh, in fact, is a champion of the military. And those who have listened to him know that he frequently takes calls on his show from veterans who disagree with him. And he is unfailingly courteous and respectful during those exchanges.

These Democrats should be ashamed of trying to paint Limbaugh as hostile to any troops (which he is not), particularly when their own leaders have spent the last four years accusing innocent marines of being war criminals, calling U.S. soldiers "terrorists," and falsely claiming our military is carpet-bombing Afghan villages.

Michelle Malkin collects much of the current bloviating here, and points out what's really behind this complete overplay of a nonexistent hand by the Democrats: They are seizing an opportunity to tee up their "Fairness Doctrine," under which the government would control the political content of broadcast media. Let me say that again. The Democrats seek to impose something they call the "Fairness Doctrine," under which the government would control the political content of broadcast media.

I'll write more on that sometime soon, but it's worth mentioning here as an important side-note to the Rush-related hysteria since the commercial and popular success of Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and other conservative talk-show hosts is such a thorn in the Democrats' side. Once again we see how truly committed to "free speech" the so-called "liberals" are. They can't compete with the Limbaughs in the talk-radio marketplace of ideas (recall Air America), so they seek to impose government restrictions on conservative speech and to mandate the dissemination of "liberal" speech . . . ratings, profitability, and station owners bedamned.

Which is why they're now hopping around and gleefully flinging poo like coprophiliacs in an elephant cage. This lie, like so many others, will gain traction among their base in spite of its transparent falsity -- and they can turn it into a springboard for yet another "liberal" policy to stifle nonconforming ideas and tilt the balance of power in favor of the nanny-government and against individuals.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Academic Freedom, Redux

You'll like this one, Benedick. Mark Steyn at NRO throws a knockdown punch of an article at the excessively self-congratulory beast that is elite academia in general (and Columbia U. President Lee Bollinger in particular). Read the whole thing, but let me sum it up for you in a couple sentences: The Left is busy patting itself on the back for bravely standing up to criticism from the fascist warmongering Rethuglicons and allowing Mahmoud Ahmedinijad in for a question-and-answer session in the name of ACADEMIC FREEDOM!!!! A few on the right have tried to pass it off as an ugly affair but No Big Deal in the grand scheme of things. Meanwhile, Mad Mahmoud is back in his "homosexual-free," nuclear-weapons-developing, Holocaust-denying Iran, and based on what he saw at Columbia, he thinks nobody's going to do a damn thing to stop him.

And based on what he saw at Columbia, he's probably right. Somebody might ultimately stop him - and hopefully will, before he keeps his promise to wipe Israel off the map -- but that somebody is not going to be among the academic namby-pambys who were so busy celebrating their open-mindedness that they failed utterly to recognize that the Hitler of our times is not living in our White House but in fact was right in front of them.

TV Time-In

I have a television addiction. At long last, after a summer filled with reality shows and reruns, the new season has finally begun. There are a host of great returning shows and some quality new ones. After a solid week of vetting everything on television so you don't have to, allow me to strongly recommend a new NBC drama called Life.

Life stars Damian Lewis as detective Charlie Crews, who served 12 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, won his release (with the help of his gorgeous lawyer, played by Brooke Langton) and a multi-million dollar settlement, and returned to the force for reasons that aren't entirely clear . . . at first.

You know Damian Lewis as the heroic Dick Winters in Band of Brothers. The fantastic ensemble cast also includes Sarah Shahi as Crews' reluctant, substance-addled partner Dani Reese, Alan Arkin as a financial guru (and now trusted friend) whose life Crews saved during their time together in prison, and even Ace Ventura: Pet Detective cult favorite Robin "Finkle is Einhorn" Weigert as a lieutenant who may know a little too much about the circumstances of Crews' wrongful conviction.

It's a smart police procedural with intriguing characters and a terrific running mystery to underpin the episodic weekly crime investigations. Lewis is brilliant. The writing is brilliant. This is the best new show on television. Check it out Wednesday at 10 on NBC.


Puck's a rabid Phillies fan. I heard a rumor that the Phillies have finally made it back to the post-season. So congrats, Puck! Good luck in the playoffs.

Now I'll return to not caring a lick about baseball.

Justice Thomas Speaks

Last night, in an extended segment, Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes interviewed Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. You can see the interview here (part 1) and here (part 2). It's unusual for a Justice to give a national interview, and it obviously coincided with the release of Justice Thomas' autobiography.

Justice Thomas is, sadly, best known for the Anita Hill debacle during his confirmation hearings -- allegations by a former employee that he sexually harrassed her. Thomas vigorously denied the allegations. They remain unproven. Anita Hill slipped back into obscurity after her fifteen minutes. Of course, nobody can know whether there was any truth to her claims, and I certainly can't rule out that Thomas may have said or done something that would fail the political-correctness test. But Hill's attack on Thomas was obviously an attempt by Democrats to destroy his viability as a nominee for the Court. That attempt, fortunately, failed.

Why do Democrats hate Thomas so much? The answer is that they perceive him as a traitor to his race. He opposes affirmative action. He opposes attempts to read nonexistent "rights" into the constitution. He stresses self-determination. He is the anti-Sharpton.

It particularly galls "liberals" that Thomas occupies the seat formerly held by Thurgood Marshall.

Thomas is, I was fascinated to learn, a former self-described "radical" who found the Democratic party too apathetic about racial equality in the 1960s. It was Ronald Reagan who ultimately inspired Thomas to become a Republican, as Reagan's message of self-reliance and personal responsibility resonated with the Thomas, who'd been raised by his grandfather with the same mantra.

Thomas has been a bogeyman for "liberals" ever since. But at 59, Thomas will hopefully be able to give them fits for many years to come.