Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Liberals "Tolerate" Free Speech

Benedick showed you yesterday how tolerant anti-war liberals in the United States were of John McCain's speech. Other liberal tolerance for free speech has been demonstrated by the use of throwing pies at the faces of conservative speakers.

In England, the Universities and Colleges Union is discussing today a neat little motion which would require Jewish or Israeli professors to clearly explain -- before being hired -- their political beliefs. As Melanie Phillips writes in the Spectator, the motion

not only raises the spectre yet again of an academic boycott of Israel but demands of Jewish and Israeli academics that they explain their politics as a pre-condition to normal academic contact. The motion asks colleagues

"to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating... the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions... Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure."

The implication is that, if they don’t condemn Israel for the ‘occupation’, or practising ‘apartheid’, ‘genocide’ or any of the other manufactured crimes laid at Israel’s door by the Palestinian/Islamist/neonazi/leftwing axis, they won’t be able to work. Their continued employment will depend on their holding views which are permitted. The views they are being bludgeoned into expressing as a condition of their employment are based on lies, distortion, propaganda, gross historical ignorance, blood libels and prejudice. And this in the universities, supposedly the custodians of free thought and inquiry in the service of dispassionate scholarship.


A little closer to home, Canada's York University student union is calling for a ban on all student groups that are anti-abortion. Explains the vice-president of the student union:

student clubs will be free to discuss abortion in student space, as long as they do it "within a pro-choice realm," and that all clubs will be investigated to ensure compliance.

"You have to recognize that a woman has a choice over her own body," Ms. Massa said. "We think that these pro-life, these anti-choice groups, they're sexist in nature ... The way that they speak about women who decide to have abortions is demoralizing. They call them murderers, all of them do ... Is this an issue of free speech? No, this is an issue of women's rights."

Note: this is a college-educated person. "Is this an issue of free speech? No, this is an issue of women's rights." What about a woman's right to say, "Um, I think abortion is wrong"?

Thankfully, York's administration has "condemned" the decision. Let's hope they maintain that position when some pro-choice weenie files a complaint with Canada's human rights kangaroo court. Cause of action: "That group claims that abortion is murder, and I support a woman's right to choose, and now that group is making me FEEL BAD ABOUT MYSELF!"

I also note that the student union waited until most of the students had left for summer break before enacting this policy. What courage!

Via Protein Wisdom.

Crazy Like a Fox

It's the network liberals love to hate. Faux News, they call it. Or Fix News. Or even F**ks News. (You know, because of The Great Liberal Tolerance we see every day.)

Well, call it what you will, but Fox News has now been the highest-rated cable news network for 77 straight months.

How can this be? How can a network that is so reviled for having a right-wing editorial slant garner massive viewership at a time when the Republican president has painfully low approval ratings and the GOP is poised to lose even more seats in Congress this year?

My theory? Over the last, oh, 77 months or so, the most significant issue in American politics has been the War in Iraq. And, while the war may be unpopular among a broad segment of Americans, most Americans -- even those who oppose the war -- want to see us win it. If Fox has a bias, it's pro-American and pro-military.

Contrast CNN, MSNBC, and the rest. Their talking heads may not "hate America," but, like good little liberal polemical soldiers, they push the narrative of defeat in the hopes of tamping down public resolve for the military effort (thus scoring a few political points in the short term) and -- pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease -- producing actual defeat via premature withdrawal once the Obamessiah gets coronated (hence, scoring many more political points in the long term).

And, guess what. Americans (most Americans -- i.e., the ones who aren't wearing keffiyahs to protests or teaching Deconstructive Critical Gender Theory in college classrooms) really don't enjoy watching other Americans root against our troops. And so they turn to Fox News where, although every setback and every insurgent attack is covered, successes and optimism get at least equal time. Which is at it should be.

And so treating our soldiers like heroes who are valiently achieving their objectives proves a better formula in the ratings war than treating them like (depending on the day) incompetent rubes, bloodthirsty stormtroopers, or pawns in a nefarious right-wing plot to steal oil.

Go figure.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rock-Solid Marriage

This is the strangest thing I've read in at least several days.

Rachel Ray: Terrorist Sympathizer?

Add Rachel Ray to the loooong list of celebrities who, intentionally or otherwise, have chosen to don the Arafat keffiyeh. In a few cases, it appears those who've put them on did so without understanding their significance. Ray is not such an example, it would seem, having gone so far as to sell the Yassir-rags on her web site.

Hip retail chain "Urban Outfitters" seems to have a problem with the whole Existence of Jews thing, too.

But Where Did She Put It?


McCain: SCARY TEMPER! (Or, "Another Example of Liberal Courtesy")

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oops. Is It Tuesday Already?

I spent most of this holiday weekend -- the first in months where it was not cold and raining where I live -- taking care of a sick and cranky toddler and trying to get my sick and cranky self some much-needed downtime too. But, it was not to be.

So, what's up?

Well, Hillary is getting pilloried for suggesting that, since RFK was shot in June, she ought not drop out of the just yet. Personally, I'm not as bothered by this as the hyperventilating media seem to be, but perhaps it's because I'm simply enjoying the continuing Obama vs. Clinton identity politics-infused, grievance-mongering, he's-not-the-bigger-victim-I-am extravaganza.

Barack Obama, whom the media would have you believe walks on water and speaks with the tongue of angels, makes yet another speechifying gaffe. And another. And another. La la la. Yet, the hopeychangeyunitey narrative continues.(Via Malkin.)

Via NRO, the great Mark Steyn summarizes the Congressional hearings on the oil industry. And oh, by the way....did you hear Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D - CA[Where else?]) suggest that the U.S. government should, nationali-, no, um, just, well, take over and run the entire U.S. oil industry? The mind boggles.

I'm no fan of philosophy or politics by anecdote, but if you have any misgivings about what modern-day feminism has wrought, you should read this.

And last, but certainly not least: a tremendous, heartfelt, albeit belated, thank you to the brave soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sharia Law Wins the Day on College Campuses

You know what gives me the willies? Knowing that on American college campuses, administrators are bending over backwards to guarantee the First Amendment rights of terrorist sympathizers to preach hatred of our country, Israel, and the Jews -- but really don't give a rat's patoot about the rights of others to report what is being done and said at these appalling rallies.

I'm talking right now about the University of California at Irvine, whose Muslim Student Union sponsors a number of yearly events. The most recent explored the so-called Palestinian "Holocaust." Those who tried to videotape the event in its entirety were approached not just by the MSU students themselves, but by campus administrators:

The featured speaker last Thursday, May 15, was Amir Abdel Malik-Ali, a radical imam from Oakland who is all too familiar to UCI students. Malik-Ali frequently engages in anti-Western rhetoric and is a vocal supporter of terrorist groups. Not only has he praised Hamas, Hezbollah, and the mujahadeen in Afghanistan as “Islamic resistance” movements struggling against Western “oppressors,” he has called any scrutiny of these terror groups mere “propaganda.” Following Ali’s speeches to UCI’s MSU, the audiences of keffiyah-wearing Muslim students always repetitively recite the battle cry “Takbir! Allahu Akbar!” This year’s audience was no different.

While his rhetoric is lurid and apocalyptic, Malik-Ali’s speech is protected under the First Amendment. What’s alarming is the administration’s willingness to enforce the MSU’s prerogatives on other students who attend their events — hence the application of Sharia law where the Bill of Rights is applicable. For example, while videotaping Malik-Ali’s speech, we were confronted by a school administrator. Dean of Student Services Sally Peterson told us that, on behalf of the male students, we would have to stop filming the female activists, or as she called them “the sisters.” Aware of our rights, we refused her orders and continued covering the event.

A male individual, who was filming the hateful procession, had at least three Muslim males charge at him for daring to film as the females from the group walked past. One of the males, a student named Yasser Ahmed who purportedly threw a cinderblock at an FBI vehicle last year, said to the cameraman: “You wanna get jacked! We can go get jacked right now! C’mon Emanuel, we’ve learned a lot about you let’s go! Lets go get jacked, Lets go get jacked!”

Also terrifying is the fact that campus police are apparently unwilling to lift a finger to protect students who are harrassed by these hateful loons:

Another case of MSU’s vigilantism occurred when a young Jewish female was followed back to her car and surrounded by six members of the MSU. A community member who witnessed the harassment also had her civil rights violated when the Muslim students noticed her. As UC Irvine police offers stood idly by, the Muslim students proceeded to situate themselves on the hood of her car in order to photograph her face, her vehicle identification number, and her license plate. When she later called the police department for answers, they justified the criminal behavior as the culmination of a tit for tat ethnic squabble. Put simply, they justified the need for Muslim students to “vent,” as they were just getting back at the Jews.

Now, imagine if a group of white college males followed a black girl to her car, jumped on the hood, took pictures of her, her license plate, and her VIN number. Do you honestly think the cops wouldn't haul those guys in? There is a legal term for this: it's called assault. Why are these people allowed to break the law?

One brave soul (from UC-Berkeley, of all places) spoke out against the virulent anti-Semetism that has been running rampant on college campuses. Unfortunately, the folks at UCI refused to sign it:

Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl of UC Berkeley signed a letter, published in the New York Times, warning against anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish activity on campus. UC Irvine’s then-chancellor, Ralph Cicerone, refused to sign this letter. The current chancellor at UCI has called hate speech “repugnant,” but has refused to specify which group was responsible for hate speech and has been unable to ensure a safe environment during the hateful events hosted by the MSU.

Read the whole scary thing, and try not to shake your head and wonder what the hell this country is coming to.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Leaving (for) Las Vegas

I'm off to Las Vegas, my home away from home, this evening, so blogging from me will be nonexistent until Monday. Puck has the page to herself. 'Ere I depart, however, a few links to those of you looking for something interesting to read (or view) over the next few days:

How insane have racial politics on college campuses become? Really, really insane.

How far will American liberals go to appease Islamists? How about a publicly funded Madrassah in Minnesota -- with a headmaster who physically assaults curious journalists.

Pallywood: The theatrics continue.

McCain has apparently chosen three finalists for his vice-presidential nominee.

Global Warming "Consensus" -- not so fast.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sad News

Over the weekend, Senator Edward Kennedy suffered a seizure and was hospitalized. Reports today indicate that the cause of the seizure was a malignant brain tumor.

I am no fan of Senator Kennedy's. I don't like his policies, and I think he's done a lot of horrible things - in his public and private lives.

But, I lost a parent to this same kind of cancer, and knowing what may lie in store for this man, I am truly sorry for him and his family. There is no other way to say it: it sucks. For Kennedy's sake, and the sake of his loved ones, I hope this takes him fast. There is nothing so demoralizing as watching a loved one suffer through this disease -- except, perhaps, living through it one's self.

BENEDICK ADDS: Sad news, indeed. Out of respect, I'll leave off the snarky jibes about how fortunate it is that Senator Kennedy lives in a country in which he has the freedom to put his financial resources to use obtaining the highest-quality treatments available.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Whining From Senator Obama

Last week, President Bush gave a wonderful speech to the Israeli Knesset on the country's 60-year anniversary, in which (among other things) he rejected the notion of talking with terrorists and rightly compared that notion to the appeasement of Hitler that led to World War II. Barack Obama interpreted this as an attack on him and had himself a right little hissy-fit, which we told you about here.

Seems he wasn't done.

In Tennessee, the state GOP created a video in response to several statements made on the campaign trail by Mrs. Obama, in which the First Lady of Hope and Change pronounced that her husband's good political fortunes caused her to be "proud of [her] country" for "the first time in her adult life." The video -- which you can see here -- is about as incendiary as a wet washcloth, and is comprised of snippets of normal Tennesseans talking about why they're proud of their country.

Senator Obama whined on Good Morning America that this was "low class" and "unacceptable."

No. Sorry pal, but no, it isn't. It's a perfectly acceptable response to a remarkable statement for the wife of a presidential candidate to make -- particularly when it's made on the campaign trail in an effort to persuade more people to vote for her husband. Mrs. Obama has put herself out there, and she has presumably chosen her own words. If she doesn't want those words to be made an issue, she can keep her kvetching little trap shut.

And speaking of kvetching, how about Senator Obama, going all nancy-boy every time he gets an uncomfortable question from an otherwise fawning media? I'll take a president with thicker skin, thanks.

Dear "Scott": You Asked, I Answer

In a comment to one of the posts below, a reader named "Scott" questioned my assertion that Hamas had openly stated its desire to see Senator Barack Obama in the White House. At first, I thought Scott had to be joking. How could he not have heard about Hamas's endorsement of Barack Obama?

In the course of doing a little searching to find the above article, it became apparent to me that the actual quote from Ahmed Yousuf, the terrorist organization's top political advisor in Gaza -- "We like Senator Obama, and we hope he will win the elections" -- is nowhere to be found in the mainstream media.

Indeed, when Time magazine did a little snippet on this dustup - cutely named "Hamas Hysteria," suggesting that if you actually think this is a big deal, you're the equivalent of a hormonally imbalanced woman -- it did not even mention Hamas's actual statement. Instead, it wrote that:

John McCain allowed his campaign to spread the word that Barack Obama had been "endorsed" by a leader of Hamas.

Note the scare quotes, suggesting that the McCain campaign made it up. Note the lack of context.

The media has decided that the actual quotes from Hamas are too potentially incendiary to share with The Great Unwashed. It has thrown its support behind Barack Obama, and it will do whatever it can to protect its hero from attack -- merited or not.

BENEDICK ADDS: Stop with the facts!

PUCK CHUCKLES: "Half-formed innuendo," my backside. Pah.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Shocking" Revelation

Obama cozies up with yet another anti-Semitic zealot -- this one a radical Imam and tool of the Iranian government.

For those keeping score at home: Samantha Power, Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Rashid Khalidi, Ali Abunimah, Robert Malley, Hatem El Hady, Tony Rezko, FARC . . . . At what point will Obama supporters who are not anti-Israel or anti-America (or both) stop bleating about "coincidences," drop their willful ignorance, and acknowledge that their chosen candidate is far out of line with mainstream American values?

(via Power Line)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Coming Soon To A Loved One Near You

As Democrats continue promising to put government bureaucrats in charge of your health care, it bears keeping an eye on how similar experiments are faring in other countries.

Take Britain's national health-care system, for example. So your dad has kidney cancer? And he wants to take a potentially life-saving cancer drug? Tough. The government thinks it's too expensive.

Want to pay for it yourself? Then the government will punish you by cutting you off from all health-care funding.

It was nice knowing you, Pop. Cheers, mate.

Change You Can Believe In!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Justice for Megan Meier?

Puck and I have written previously about the tragic case of Megan Meier, a Missouri teenager who committed suicide after being taunted and ridiculed via a fake MySpace page by one Lori Drew, the mother of one of Megan's classmates.

Seems Ms. Drew's uppance may be coming:
A federal indictment accuses Lori Drew, 49, of O'Fallon, Missouri, of using the social networking Web site to pose as a 16-year-old boy and feign romantic interest in the girl.

The girl, Megan Meier, committed suicide after her online love interest spurned her, according to prosecutors, telling her the world would be a better place without her.

Drew faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of conspiracy and accessing protected computers to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.

The indictment, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, accuses Drew and others of registering on MySpace as "Josh Evans" and using the account to lure Meier into an an online romance.

We'll stay on top of this one.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Shall We Talk Some More? Part Deux

Pulling no punches, President George W. Bush appeared before the Knesset yesterday and affirmed the United States' friendship with, and support for, Israel. You can read the entire speech here -- and really, you should. It's lovely. Some of my favorite excerpts:

We believe in the matchless value of every man, woman, and child. So we insist that the people of Israel have the right to a decent, normal, and peaceful life, just like the citizens of every other nation. (Applause.)

We believe that democracy is the only way to ensure human rights. So we consider it a source of shame that the United Nations routinely passes more human rights resolutions against the freest democracy in the Middle East than any other nation in the world. (Applause.)

We believe that religious liberty is fundamental to a civilized society. So we condemn anti-Semitism in all forms -- whether by those who openly question Israel's right to exist, or by others who quietly excuse them.

Let me stop right here and say a few things. First, I don't think anyone fully appreciates how lucky we are -- and how rare it is -- to have a president who is willing to call out the anti-Semites of the world, and their snickering fellow-traveler apologists. Would that more of our leaders demonstrated this kind of courage. Need an example? As Benedick noted yesterday, more than a dozen Israeli civilians were wounded - some severely - when a missile from Gaza hit its target: a shopping mall. Have you heard anyone from the U.N. condemning that attack? In fact, have you heard about any condemnation by any other nation?

Me neither. But that's kind of off my point. Back to the speech. President Bush continued:

We believe that free people should strive and sacrifice for peace. So we applaud the courageous choices Israeli's leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction. (Applause.)

That's right. There are those who think that Israel needs to sit down with Hamas - to "hug it out," if you will. Only problem is -- whatever Jimmy Carter says to the contrary -- Hamas's first, and foremost, principle is driving the Jews of Israel into the sea. Not much room to negotiate there.

But our president wasn't done:

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history. (Applause.)


I am telling you: we are going to miss this man when he is gone. More than we know.

(via NRO's Media Blog)

P.S. The response from the Left has been predictable in its shrill and righteous indignation. Senator Obama (tellingly?) interpreted this remark as a slight against his own foreign policy plans, whined that it was a "false political attack," and proclaimed that he has no interest in talking with terrorists. (But talking with Iran - which arms and funds terrorists? OK by him!)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who played footsie with Syria's monstrous Bashir Assad a few months back, called this statement "beneath the dignity of the office of the president". Meanwhile, Senator Joe Biden called it "bullshit," John Kerry said it was "disgusting and dangerous," and Hillary Clinton called it "outrageous and offensive."

I think that's what William Shakespeare referred to as "protest[ing] too much." Truth hurts, doesn't it, Democrats?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shall We Talk Some More?

Behold! The product of Jimmy Carter's "talks" with Hamas (and the sort of "talks" Obama pledges to conduct with Islamist terrorists):
At least 14 people were wounded Wednesday evening, including a mother and her three-year-old daughter, when a Grad rocket fired from Gaza hit the Hutzot Shopping Center in Ashkelon.

The rocket ripped through the roof of the mall, causing a large chunk of the roof to collapse in a huge pile of rubble and twisted metal. Four windows were blown out of the side of the building. The top floor of the building, which bore the brunt of the attack, is where offices and clinics are located.

A hospital official said a woman and her young daughter were seriously wounded, along with another child. Another woman was seriously wounded, and several other people were lightly wounded, said the official, Leah Malul of Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.

MDA said 14 people were wounded - three seriously, two moderately and nine slightly, adding that all the casualties had been evacuated from the site of the attack, including four people who were briefly trapped under the rubble.
I guess that three-year-old girl's chickens have come home to roost; right, Senator Obama?

With Friends Like These

Al Jazeera either isn't as compliant as the fawning U.S. media or didn't get the memo that discussing support for Obama among Israel-hating Arabs is verboten. In any case, check out Team Obama: Gaza Division.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Voter ID Update

Bolstered by a recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion upholding the constitutionality of an Indiana law that requires voters to show photo ID to cast a ballot, a Pennsylvania Republican has introduced a similar bill in the PA General Assembly.

Democrats, naturally, are outraged by this looming obstacle to election fraud.


Regular PR readers know that Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant, two leading Canadian journalists, have been put through the ringer by provincial Canadian kangaroo courts called "Human Rights Commissions" for the sins of free speech -- in each case criticizing Islam.

Steyn appeared on a popular Canadian talk show the other night, and so did the complainants in one such "human rights" case against McLean's (though not the case against Steyn).

The video is collected in segments here.

The bulk of Part I of the video is a discussion of Steyn's book, "America Alone." The second clip is more Steyn, patiently trying to explain simple concepts to an apparently skeptical host. The last minute or so of each of these first two clips is hilarious, as Steyn repeatedly tries to goad the complainants into having a discussion with him (which makes the host deliciously uncomfortable). The complainants had apparently refused to agree to a direct debate. The subsequent clips show the complainants appearing and making no sense whatsoever, followed by a welcome return of Steyn to engage in a debate (of sorts) with the overmatched grievants.

By the way, the most stunning aspect of the complainants' presentation is that they are all law school grads and demonstrate the preparedness and rhetorical accumen of stewed carrots. They excel at making legalistic arguments that have no substantive significance, while declining to address Steyn's central theses.

Take an hour when you'd otherwise be watching mindless reality TV, and watch every single clip. These complainants embody Islam's misuse of government institutions that have been crafted by the Left to control thought and speech.

What's happening in Canada right now matters.

Legislative Idiocy, or, Everything You Need To Know About Liberal Problem-Solving

A New York state senator is pushing for a law that will require guns carried by police to be equipped with miniature video cameras in order to gather evidence to use against said police officers in the event they happen to shoot a member of a racial minority.

Said legislator is -- wait for it -- a Democrat.

This asininity, of course, scampers at the heels of the OUTRAGE in New York city, wherein several undercover cops were exonerated after shooting a black suspect named Sean Bell, who -- wait for it -- was in the act of trying to run over one of the good guys with his car. [Aside: Most mainstream media accounts emphasize that Bell was shot on his "wedding day." While perhaps technically correct, such accounts omit that the incident took place at 4:00 a.m. on his wedding day, in the parking lot of a bar that features girls who nakedly grind themselves on gentlemen's laps and that is also a notorious center of drug-trafficking and gang activity. Hence the presence of a team of armed, undercover narcotics detectives. But I digress.]

If you hadn't heard about this one, the usual Al Sharpton shenanigans followed. Cries of institutional racism (despite that several of the undercover cops were black or hispanic). Threats of strikes and riots (remember that form of "citizen justice"?). Attempts to "shut down" New York City. Etc.

But I digress. The guns-with-video-cameras idea is pure, unadulterated, 100% Grade-A crap. It's prohibitively expensive and unnecessary. It's also classic misdirection -- exactly the sort of sleight-of-hand liberals engage in to obfuscate (and therefore perpetuate) a real and serious problem by substituting "the man" or "the system" as the straw-man problem.

Think fast -- who kills more black men in America: white cops or other black men? It ain't even close. But try and find Al Sharpton marching through a black neighborhood, demanding justice for the victims of black-on-black violence through a megapohone. (And call me if you ever encounter such an unlikely spectacle.)

Cops do not set out to murder blacks. As Heather MacDonald has extensively documented in the City Journal (additional examples of MacDonald's excellent coverage of related law-enforcement issues here, here, here, and here), cases of cops shooting black suspects are not only more rare than liberals would have you believe, they're also typically justified; and the predominance of blacks among the recipients of law-enforcement ordnance is a direct consequence of the pervasiveness of violent crime in black neighborhoods (where else would you expect the cops to focus their manpower?).

But liberals are genetically incapable of holding individuals accountable for the consequences of their actions, so long as said individuals are members of identity groups that can be pandered to as historically aggrieved. And so, rather than common-sense efforts to build families, educate children, and reduce crime, we get guns with frickin' video cameras strapped to their barrels.

Cops become the criminals, and the criminals become the victims.

All Together Now: Up is down; left is right; 2+2=5 . . . .

Justification for the Existence of Plaintiffs' Lawyers

As soon as I saw the headline, "Man Sues JetBlue After Being Forced To Sit In Bathroom," I figured some jackass had misbehaved on a flight and was trying to pry free money out of the airline in retribution for some reasonable action taken by the flight crew. The typical sort of frivolous lawsuit that contributes to the decline of western civilization.

Not so much.

I fly fairly frequently, both for work and for leisure, and if a pilot ever pulled this with me I'd probably sue, too. If only to send a message.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Exhibitionists Take Note

I have mixed feelings about this: A man in Florida was ticketed over the weekend for wearing a speedo-style bathing suit. The libertarian in me thinks the sheriff's office should find some real police work to do. But the beachgoer in me is quietly pleased that somebody's finally doing something to protect my sensibilities from the sight of out-of-shape men in skimpy swimwear.

Because shame alone doesn't seem to be getting the job done.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Political Correctness vs. Common Sense

An Indiana University employee gets put through the sensitivity-police ringer -- and "convicted" of "racial harassment" by over-paid apparatchiks for the sin of reading . . . an anti-Klan book???

Now, why are conservatives always railing against the insanity of the modern American university again?

Frivolous Lawsuits, Ctd.

My child stepped in dog poop and it's your fault.

According to this story, a mom drives her kid to the aquarium. While walking out of the parking garage, the kid steps in a large pile of dog-doo. Mom cleans kid up, walks him through the aquarium, and after they get done pointing at all the fish-fish, she discarded the shoes and the clothes he was wearing. She's seeking $100, which includes the cost of new shoes ($54), the aquarium admission price and parking fees.

Let's see here.

First of all, I grew up with dogs and stepped in their droppings many a time. Never once were my shoes thrown away as a result. You get a stick, you scrape off what you can, you hose them down, you leave them outside to dry. This is a no-brainer.

Second, if you can afford $54 for a pair of replacement shoes, you're doing okay. You really don't need the $100.

Third, why did she discard the kid's clothes? Did he pick the poo off his shoes and smush it into his jeans and sweater? Whaaa?

Finally, the kid enjoyed the aquarium. For what reason is she entitled to get that money back?

Via Overlawyered.

Oh, Snap!

I think that's what the kids are saying these days.

Let me explain. As Hillary Clinton has learned to her disgruntlement, the Obama-4-Prez camp has developed a rather dubious -- though ingenious in its knack for deflection -- method of "debate." It goes something like this:

Obama: "I endorse Idea X"

Opponent: "I think Idea X is a bad idea."

Obama: "Racist!"

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Senator John McCain hasn't done too much challenging of Senator Obama, or his ideas, since sewing up the Republican nomination. And, to be fair, he hasn't had to. It made perfect sense to let the two Democrat nominees bloody each other. But now that the writing's on the wall for the former first lady, it's time for McCain to start taking some swings.

Well yesterday, he did. And oh man, did he ever connect. Hamas, as you may have heard, thinks very highly of Senator Obama, and they definitely would like him to win the next election over Senator McCain. This is probably in no small part due to Obama's promise to sit down and have tea with our enemies.

John McCain's camp said that the Hamas endorsement suggests that perhaps Senator Obama's intention of talking to the bad guys is, well, a bad idea. Team Obama decried this as a personal attack. McCain was having none of it. Via NRO:

First, let us be clear about the nature of Senator Obama's attack today: He used the words 'losing his bearings' intentionally, a not particularly clever way of raising John McCain's age as an issue. This is typical of the Obama style of campaigning.

We have all become familiar with Senator Obama's new brand of politics. First, you demand civility from your opponent, then you attack him, distort his record and send out surrogates to question his integrity. It is called hypocrisy, and it is the oldest kind of politics there is.

Precisely. It's about time somebody challenged this method of "debate." But it's beyond hypocritical -- it's cowardly. Stating an idea and then refusing to debate it while calling your opponent a bad name is not only disingenuous, it is the height of wimpdom. If this man can't stand up for his own ideas, how is he going to stand up for our nation?

It is important to focus on what Senator Obama is attempting to do here: He is trying desperately to delegitimize the discussion of issues that raise legitimate questions about his judgment and preparedness to be President of the United States.

Through their actions and words, Senator Obama and his supporters have made clear that ANY criticism on ANY issue — from his desire to raise taxes on millions of small investors to his radical plans to sit down face-to-face with Iranian President Ahmadinejad – constitute negative, personal attacks.

Yup! Obama = good, therefore Obama's idea = good idea, therefore if you disagree with Obama's idea, it must be because you = bad. And you're probably bad because you = racist. But I digress...

Senator Obama is hopeful that the media will continue to form a protective barrier around him, declaring serious limits to the questions, discussion and debate in this race.

Senator Obama has good reason to think this plan will succeed, as serious journalists have written of the need for 'de-tox' to cure 'swooning' over Senator Obama, and others have admitted to losing their objectivity while with him on the campaign trail.

Calling out the media for their drooling over the Obamessiah! Oh, this is fabulous. (Though I guarantee you, there will be retaliation.)

Today, Senator Obama is complaining about comments John McCain made about a senior Hamas advisor stating that Hamas would welcome Senator Obama's election as president. Indeed, on April 13th, senior Hamas political advisor Ahmed Yousef said, 'We don't mind – actually we like Mr. Obama. We hope he will (win) the election and I do believe he is like John Kennedy, great man with great principle, and he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community but not with domination and arrogance.'

The McCain campaign has never suggested that Senator Obama supports Hamas' agenda, but it is more than fair to raise this quote about Senator Obama because it speaks to the policy implications of his judgment.

Just today, the president of Iran, whom Senator Obama wants to meet with unconditionally, called the state of Israel a 'stinking corpse.' Iran is the paymaster and state sponsor of Hamas.

In his victory speech this week, Senator Obama stated that 'wisdom' is meeting with our enemies, including Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, North Korea's Kim Jong Il, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Raul Castro. John McCain couldn't disagree more. Rather than giving tyrants and dictators the prestige of meeting with an American president, John McCain will instead meet with the champions of human freedom around the world and opposition leaders fighting for liberty .

We understand why Senator Obama doesn't want to engage in a debate over leadership and judgment with John McCain, but the American people demand that debate take place.

These are serious times that call for a serious debate on the profound issues facing our future. John McCain is ready for that debate and we hope Senator Obama will one day get serious and join it.

Emphases mine.

I'm happily surprised at the quick and forceful response from Team McCain on this issue. It's about damn time. Bravo, Maverick. More of this, please.

BENDICK ADDS: This is the handiwork of McCain's longtime speech-writer, Mark Salter. The man can craft some prose. I'm looking forward to seeing more of his handiwork at the GOP Convention.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

President Obama Would Talk With This Man

As Israel marks another year of improbable existence, former hostage-taker and current Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has this to say:

"Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken," the official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as having said.

"Today the reason for the Zionist regime's existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation."

Emphases mine.

May I remind you, this is a regime that is currently undermining U.S. efforts in Iraq by arming the so-called insurgents (I like to call them "terrorists," but hey, po-tay-to, po-tah-toe), and which is hell-bent on developing its own supply of nuclear weapons. Yes, by all means, let's talk with this man, Senator Obama. Clearly, he means no harm.


At least one Democrat Super-Delegate -- To Ybarra, a Sacramento, CA lawyer -- is willing to announce publicly how Super-Delegates determine which candidate they'll vote for in the Democratic primary. Sound policy? Experience? Electability? Character? Hopey-changiness?

Nah. All it takes is $20 million.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Happy Hockey, Benedick!

I am not a hockey fan. Baseball is much more my speed. For my money, there are few things in life more enjoyable than sneaking out of work for an afternoon, grabbing a dog and a beer, and relaxing in the bleachers with the summer sun on your face.

But I digress. Our host is a diehard Penguins fan. So, to Benedick, I say: congrats and good luck!

And I do mean that sincerely. Though my ancestral home is not far from Philly, and though I grew up a fan of the Phils, Eagles, and Sixers, I was never into hockey and never developed any affinity for the Flyers. So, I have no dog in this fight and am not attempting the reverse jinx by wishing the best to your team.

Of course, if I were attempting the reverse jinx by these means, I'd hardly be admitting it to you.

BENEDICK ADDS: The Penguins are a special team this year. No NHL squad has boasted this much sheer talent since, arguably, the Edmonton Oilers of the mid 1980s. The Pens and Flyers face off in the best-of-seven Conference Finals starting Friday (the prelude to the Stanley Cup Finals, for your non-hockey fans), and it should be an incredible series. The teams hate one another another as much as their fanbases do.

It bears mentioning here that the entire Flyers organization is a cabal of ignorant, no-class jackanapes who don't deserve to mingle in civilized society. Their fans are committed sociopaths who eat children and who also are -- every one of them -- very, very ugly. And they reek of the refuse and debris that are swept along by hot, musky winds like empustuled tumbleweeds through the streets of the soul-less wasteland they call a city.

I hope the Penguins humiliate them, I hope the experience causes them (further) permanent psychological damage, and I hope the City of Brotherly Love is swallowed in a biblical overflowing-cum-permanent-confluence of the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers.

Go Pens.

PUCK RESPONDS: Hey! That wasn't very nice. I still have family in Philly, you know. *sniff*

BENEDICK REJOINS: Hockey ain't about nice.

Monica Conyers Debates Schoolchildren

This is the third most powerful politician in Detroit.

Everything You Know About Iraq War Planning Is Wrong

Power Line today publishes in full the Wall Street Journal's review of Douglas Feith's new book, War and Decision. Feith served as the Undersecretary of Defense Policy from July 2001 until August 2005. He was intimately involved in post 9-11 planning. He thinks you ought to know that the conventional wisdom, about a bungling administration that failed to plan for or anticipate any of the consequences of invading Iraq, is simply garbage.

The review neatly summarizes the force of Feith's contribution to the recorded history of this decade. Here it is in full:

In October 2002, a memorandum outlining the worst-case scenarios for postwar Iraq was circulated among the top members of the Bush administration. Among its 30 or so warnings were the following:

• "US could fail to find WMD on the ground."

• "Post-Saddam stabilization and reconstruction efforts by the United States could take not two to four years, but eight to ten years."

• "The United States could become so absorbed in its Iraq effort that we pay inadequate attention to other serious problems -- including other proliferation and terrorism problems."

• "Syria and Iran could help our enemies in Iraq. . . . Iraq could experience ethnic strife among Kurds, Sunnis, and Shia."

The provenance of this remarkable memo? If you guessed the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency or anyone else who today might claim to have been unhappy with the administration's drift toward war, you guessed wrong. Rather, the memo was the handiwork of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who drafted it with the assistance of his key military and civilian advisers. One of them, former Undersecretary for Policy Douglas J. Feith, has now given us "War and Decision," the best account to date of how the administration debated, decided, organized and executed its military responses to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Much of what makes "War and Decision" so compelling is that it is, in effect, a revisionist history, never mind that Mr. Feith was at or near the center of the decade's most important foreign-policy decisions. So far, most of the books written on the subject -- from Bob Woodward's "State of Denial" to Tom Ricks's "Fiasco" -- have painted a picture of an incompetent and paranoid administration fixated on all the wrong enemies for all the wrong reasons. These books, in turn, have sometimes relied heavily on a series of self-serving leaks, distortions and outright fabrications, many of them emanating from the administration's internal opponents, particularly at the State Department and the CIA.

Mr. Feith's book does not lack for criticism of how the administration handled itself or even, at times, of how he handled himself. But as the memo cited above illustrates, most of the received wisdom about the dynamics of the first Bush term -- pitting "warmongering neocons" and democracy fantasists such as Mr. Feith against more sober-minded realists such as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage -- is bunk, and demonstrably so.

Consider the notion that Mr. Rumsfeld was the author of the administration's policies on terrorist detainees. On the contrary, writes Mr. Feith, the secretary warned against turning the U.S. military into "the world's jailer," deliberately limited the holding capacity of prison facilities at Guantanamo, defended the application of the Geneva Convention for Taliban detainees and argued that the U.S. "should not be holding anyone we did not absolutely need to hold."

Or take the idea that administration neocons dismissed the work of the "Future of Iraq" project and the advice it allegedly offered for rebuilding Iraq. In fact, the head of that project, exiled Iraqi scholar Kanan Makiya, was himself something of a neocon favorite, and the project consisted mainly of conceptual discussions of everything from democratization to judicial reform -- everything, that is, except a meaningful blueprint for what to do on the proverbial Day After. By contrast, Mr. Feith and his staff did devise a plan for transitioning to a new Iraqi-led government, but the plan was swiftly set aside by U.S. proconsul L. Paul Bremer.

Equally bogus is the idea that the neocons pushed the case for war as part of a utopian scheme to "impose democracy." In fact, a White House memo from October 2002 shows that democracy ranked last on an eight-point list of U.S. goals for Iraq, and even there the modest objective was to "[encourage] the building of democratic institutions." By contrast, the primary goals were, first, an Iraq that "does not threaten its neighbors" and, second, one that "renounces support for, and sponsorship of, international terrorism." The WMD issue ranked fourth.

Finally, there is the myth that administration officials such as Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz cherry-picked and "politicized" intelligence to build their case for war -- a myth that persists despite two bipartisan commissions concluding that nothing of the sort happened.

What is true is that intelligence was often politicized internally, mainly by CIA bureaucrats with their own policy axes to grind. One such policy ax, widely shared at the State Department, was that exiled Iraqi leaders (known as "externals") had no credibility with the "internals" -- Iraqis on the inside. This notion, which seems to have been motivated mainly by an institutional loathing of exiled Iraqi leader Ahmed Chalabi, was finally debunked when Iraqis elected a government that consisted mainly of so-called externals, including Mr. Chalabi.

Before then, however, the mostly phony external/internal dichotomy persuaded the State Department to drag its heels on organizing Saddam's external opponents into a coherent political force that could quickly assume responsibility for Iraq once it was liberated. It also persuaded Mr. Armitage that a U.S. occupation lasting several years would be necessary to cultivate suitable "internal" leaders with the right democratic credentials. Mr. Feith, by contrast, thinks that "maintaining an occupation government for over a year" was the administration's "chief mistake" in Iraq -- an odd remark if you believe Mr. Feith and his ilk were hell-bent on imposing American-style democracy on the recalcitrant natives.

"War and Decision" offers many more such examples where perceptions of the administration's conduct collide with the reality of it. Much to Mr. Feith's credit, however, his book is no apologia, even for those he obviously admires. Of Mr. Rumsfeld, he notes that "his style of leadership did not always serve his own purposes: He bruised people and made personal enemies." As for President Bush, Mr. Feith argues -- rightly, in my view -- that his problem was not that he "discouraged challenges" but rather that he showed "an excessive tolerance of indiscipline, even of disloyalty, from his own officials."

Would the U.S. have been better off never undertaking to remove Saddam from power? Certainly not, though one is left with the impression that the forces of bureaucratic inertia and ideological resistance within the U.S. government posed nearly as great an obstacle to the administration's planning as Saddam himself. More important, Mr. Feith understands that "policy making often involves choosing to accept one set of likely problems over another." That's not an insight that will sway public opinion about the war, but it is indispensable to understanding both the choices already made and those that lie ahead, for this administration as well as the next.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Good News Across the Pond

Puck's the resident Anglophile around here, but I'm heartened to note today that the conservatives in the U.K are sweeping dramatically into power, with the liberal Labor Party suffering a catastrophic loss of seats in Parliament. It's a swing of hundreds of seats. Coverage here.

Allow me to point something out here. Democrats have been whining for nearly eight years that Republicans are alienating the rest of the world. Yet since Bush was re-elected, Germany and France have both elected strongly pro-American prime executives (Merkl and Sarkozy). Ditto Canada. Our Asian alliances (South Korea, Japan, Taiwan) are stronger than ever. Australia remains a staunch supporter. Eastern European countries are lining up to join our alliances and to do business with us.

And now the U.K. shifts strongly to a pro-Western political class, while Red Ken Livingstone and the rest will have to make do with anti-globalization marching and informal Israel-hatred.

So what's all this about alienating the rest of the world? There's something to the charge, I'll admit. We've alienated Leftists around the world. We've alienated Jihadists around the world. We've alienated naive appeasers of dictators around the world. We've alienated the sort of people who could never be counted on to be a friend to us, so it shouldn't be disheartening if they don't consider us a friend to them.

The Democrats who insist we've alienated the rest of the world of the sort of folks who express shock that any Republican ever gets elected, "because I don't know anyone who voted for him!" One part myopia, one part naivete, two parts arrogance. Stir.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Obama's Appeal Explained

I know, I know. I'm going to Hell. Puck probably won't talk to me for weeks. Neither will Mom. But this is not (entirely) a callous pot-shot.

Fact is, this is about the most cogent explanation anyone has given me for supporting Obama.

Moral Dilemma

Ordinarily I'm opposed to frivolous lawsuits. But today I may have to make an exception.

More Liberal Fascism

If this measure passes, New Jersey's going to tax fast food.

I'm sure the money will be put to good use. The government is famous for prudently spending the money it coerces from the grasp of its citizens.

The Thing About Secrets

They're supposed to be, well, secret.

Sorry, China:

"Chinese build secret nuclear submarine base."

Damn you, Google Earth!