Thursday, July 31, 2008

Meanwhile, In Iraq

"Eleven US soldiers were killed in Iraq in July, the lowest monthly toll since the 2003 invasion, according Pentagon figures, highlighting what US commanders say is a marked drop in overall violence." (I just wasted 10 minutes trying to find the NY Times' angle on this story. I couldn't find it. Go figure.)

Mind-Numbing Stupidity . . . Again

Barack has solved America's energy problem! If only we would all properly inflate our tires, we could save as much gasoline as "all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling."

That's right. Check your tire pressure regularly, and Americans will save over a trillion barrels of oil.

Except, well, not. Not even close. Power Line dissects this idiocy. Is he really this jaw-droppingly stupid? Or does he know this is a bizarre fantasy, but he thinks his supporters are dumb enough to take it at face value, and so he has decided to let loose the lie with unashamed, feigned sincerity?

(Maybe he does, maybe they are, and maybe he has.)

About That "Recession"

Don't expect to see the stats get a lot of play -- the America's-in-a-recession meme being so helpful to the Anointed One's presidential aspirations -- but despite a temporary 2007 downturn, the U.S. economy is growing again.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that gross domestic product, or GDP, increased at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the April-to-June period. That marked an improvement over the feeble 0.9 percent growth logged in the first quarter of this year and an outright contraction in the economy during the final quarter of last year.

Sssssh.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obligatory Bar Exam Acknowledgement Post

It was exactly eight years ago this week that Puck and I sat down to take the Pennsylvania bar exam. We share post-traumatic stress as a result. (But we both passed, of course. Indeed, I scored higher than she -- evidence of nothing other than the fact that I spent my summer less efficiently than she did. Trust me, she's smarter.)

Anyway, every summer my thoughts turn to the thousands of recent law school grads who are preparing for, and taking, the bar exam across the country. I empathize. I chuckle knowingly. (I have fewer flashback nightmares with every passing year.)

The exam is stressful enough as it is, but just about every year brings news of some bizarre occurrence that drives aspiring lawyers to the brink of sanity. Like when the board of law examiners in New York lost a bunch of completed exams.

This year's bizarre occurrence came in California, courtesy of Mother Nature. EARTHQUAKE!
When the chandeliers began shaking, some test takers squealed / screamed. The announcer told everyone to remain calm and stay seated. Some people kept typing.
I was rebooting to leave anyway. Proctor then shouted: "Don't worry, this happens in California. If you're not from here: welcome. And there will be aftershocks."

Yikes. Now THAT will cause some PTSD.

The Quotable Obama

On Humility:

"I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."

Liberal Fascism Update

Sorry I've been MIA. I spent a couple of days in scenic Frankfort, KY on business. One thing I noticed about Frankfort -- that I've noticed about every other city I've ever visited -- is a variety of restaurants from which one can choose when one's stomach begins to rumble.

Of course, that may not be the case for long in parts of Los Angeles, where the Liberal Overlords KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU!!

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to place a moratorium on new fast food restaurants in an impoverished swath of the city with a proliferation of such eateries and above average rates of obesity.
Personally, I don't eat a lot of fast food. It's a decision rooted primarily in vanity (still competing for a mate, after all). I understand that fast food is popular among the poor, and for obvious reasons -- it's a cheap and convenient way to deliver a lot of tasty calories. It's not surprising that this can have negative health effects for those who choose to go that route on a regular basis.

A few questions, though. Nay, more than a few:

Who should decide what poor people eat? The people or the government? If some of those people are going to make unhealthy decisions, should the government have the power to revoke that freedom of choice? And isn't the government unfairly discriminating against the poor? The City Council didn't ban fast food restaurants in affluent areas -- just in "impoverished" areas. Aren't there fat middle-class and wealthy people? Why do they get to retain their freedom to cram quarter-pounders in their insatiable maws while the poor must submit to the control of social engineers?

All of which is to say nothing of the right of businesses to sell products to the public, the risks associated with which are well-known and limited in moderation. (I bet L.A.'s poor will still be able to buy cigarettes . . . even if they can't legally smoke them anywhere anymore.)

And where does it stop? Grocery stores (including those in poor areas) are filled with products that contain saturated fat, sodium, and all sorts of other unhealthy ingredients. Many of these products are inexpensive. By the Council's logic, shouldn't the sale of these products be banned as well? I ask this pejoratively, but New York City has already proven that even the mock-worthy hypothetical can become reality if the goverment is peopled by sufficiently self-righteous, meddling maternalists.

Where does the government's power end when it comes to deciding what we eat? And if there's no bridge too far, then what categories of behavior are off-limits to government control?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Modest Proposal Regarding Darfur

Full Disclosure: I know little about the situation in the Sudan generally, or Darfur in particular, except that it is very, very ugly indeed, and that the U.N. (typically) is incapable of doing anything to meaningfully address the horrors unfolding there.

So, William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal has a proposal: let Blackwater (yep, that Blackwater) train the men already in country to defend themselves:

Mr. Prince [the Chairman and CEO of Blackwater] says that the 9,000 or so African Union soldiers in Darfur, as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force, are a good start. But he says that to be effective they need better training, communications and equipment. That is more or less the same message from a report released yesterday by the Darfur Consortium, a coalition of 50 African-based and Africa-focused NGOs....

Mr. Prince has a remedy. He believes that with 250 or so professionals, Blackwater can transform about a thousand of the African Union soldiers into an elite and highly mobile force. This force would also be equipped with helicopters and the kind of small planes that missionaries use in this part of the world. It would be cheaper than the hundreds of millions we are spending to set up a larger AU/U.N. force. And he says he'd do it at cost.

Blackwater would not do the fighting. Its people would serve as advisers, mechanics and pilots. Aid workers and villagers would be equipped with satellite telephones that include Global Positioning Systems. When they call in, the troops would respond.

"I'm so sick of hearing that nothing can be done," he says. "The Janjaweed is a truly unfettered bully. No one has stood up to them. If they were met by a mobile quick reaction force of African Union soldiers, the Janjaweed would quickly learn their habits were not sustainable." And to ensure accountability, he says, the U.S. could send 25 military officers to observe how Blackwater is doing and serve as liaisons.


So ... it's cheaper than what is being done now, and unlike what is being done now, it might actually (gasp!) work. Why not give it a shot? Anyone? Bueller?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Man Shoots Lawnmower For Failing to Start

You probably need to be a homeowner -- with a yard and an ill-tempered mower -- to fully appreciate this. ("You also need to be the one whose job it is to mow the damn lawn," grumps Mr. Goodfellow.) But we all need a laugh on a Monday morning, and yours truly is here to fill that need.

In any event, the wistful look of satisfaction that settled on my husband's face when I read this news item aloud to him over the weekend (laughing to the point of tears), made me think of a line from an old Chris Rock comedy routine. To paraphrase:

"I'm not saying the lawnmower deserved it, but I understand!"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Right On, Senator McCain

The only bad thing about John McCain's fabulous distillation of the difference between himself and his opponent is that McCain gave this speech on a Friday afternoon, while Barack Obama was busy winding up his European Lovefest Tour and the media was busy documenting his every last double-air-kiss. (Trees falling in the forest with no one to hear them, and all that.) So, since you won't read this speech in any newspaper, see it here -- and pass it on to everyone you know who might be thinking of pulling the lever for Obama this November.

Senator Obama and I also faced a decision [about the future of the war in Iraq], which amounted to a real-time test for a future commander-in-chief. America passed that test. I believe my judgment passed that test. And I believe Senator Obama's failed.

We both knew the politically safe choice was to support some form of retreat. All the polls said the "surge" was unpopular. Many pundits, experts and policymakers opposed it and advocated withdrawing our troops and accepting the consequences. I chose to support the new counterinsurgency strategy backed by additional troops -- which I had advocated since 2003, after my first trip to Iraq. Many observers said my position would end my hopes of becoming president. I said I would rather lose a campaign than see America lose a war. My choice was not smart politics. It didn't test well in focus groups. It ignored all the polls. It also didn't matter. The country I love had one final chance to succeed in Iraq. The new strategy was it. So I supported it. Today, the effects of the new strategy are obvious. The surge has succeeded, and we are, at long last, finally winning this war.

Senator Obama made a different choice. He not only opposed the new strategy, but actually tried to prevent us from implementing it. He didn't just advocate defeat, he tried to legislate it. When his efforts failed, he continued to predict the failure of our troops. As our soldiers and Marines prepared to move into Baghdad neighborhoods and Anbari villages, Senator Obama predicted that their efforts would make the sectarian violence in Iraq worse, not better.

And as our troops took the fight to the enemy, Senator Obama tried to cut off funding for them. He was one of only 14 senators to vote against the emergency funding in May 2007 that supported our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. ...

Three weeks after Senator Obama voted to deny funding for our troops in the field, General Ray Odierno launched the first major combat operations of the surge. Senator Obama declared defeat one month later: "My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now." His assessment was popular at the time. But it couldn't have been more wrong.

By November 2007, the success of the surge was becoming apparent. Attacks on Coalition forces had dropped almost 60 percent from pre-surge levels. American casualties had fallen by more than half. Iraqi civilian deaths had fallen by more than two-thirds. But Senator Obama ignored the new and encouraging reality. "Not only have we not seen improvements," he said, "but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there."

If Senator Obama had prevailed, American forces would have had to retreat under fire. The Iraqi Army would have collapsed. Civilian casualties would have increased dramatically. Al Qaeda would have killed the Sunni sheikhs who had begun to cooperate with us, and the "Sunni Awakening" would have been strangled at birth. Al Qaeda fighters would have safe havens, from where they could train Iraqis and foreigners, and turn Iraq into a base for launching attacks on Americans elsewhere. Civil war, genocide and wider conflict would have been likely.

Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened. Our military, strained by years of sacrifice, would have suffered a demoralizing defeat. Our enemies around the globe would have been emboldened. ...

Senator Obama told the American people what he thought you wanted to hear. I told you the truth.

Fortunately, Senator Obama failed, not our military. We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right. Violence in Iraq fell to such low levels for such a long time that Senator Obama, detecting the success he never believed possible, falsely claimed that he had always predicted it. ... In Iraq, we are no longer on the doorstep of defeat, but on the road to victory.

Senator Obama said this week that even knowing what he knows today that he still would have opposed the surge. In retrospect, given the opportunity to choose between failure and success, he chooses failure. I cannot conceive of a Commander in Chief making that choice.

Via Powerline. Emphases mine. I ask you, please: pass it on.

BENEDICK: A terrific speech, and devastatingly factual. The Obamamedia had this to say about it:

Friday, July 25, 2008

An Honest Question Regarding McCain

In response to the "Rebuttal on Messiah Musings" post below, Viola and commenter Andrew state that Senator McCain has abandoned his "maverick" identity and instead has begun "pandering" to the "conservative right."

I ask this in good faith, as the claim truly puzzles me. In what way has McCain been pandering to the "conservative right?" I don't see it. In fact, I see the opposite. McCain has always been pro-life, so no change there. McCain was the one pushing for the surge long before George Bush came around to the idea, so it's not like he has suddenly jumped on that bandwagon. True, he has amended somewhat his stance on immigration, saying that enforcing the borders has to happen before any kind of amnesty, but that's not a "conservative right" position -- that's a position most of the country agrees with.

The only thing he's shifted on, that I can think of, is tapping the off-shore oil sources. But he hasn't shifted his position on keeping ANWR "pristine" (if you read stories about ANWR from people who've actually been there, you know the area where the oil is is not the butterflies and baby seal paradise that the no-drillers would have us believe). And again, none of this is extreme rightist thinking. Recent polls show a vast majority of the country wants to tap the off-shore oil sources, and more than 50% want to tap ANWR.

Perhaps I'm biased because I'm part of that "conservative right" that wishes John McCain would pay a little more attention to it, but I don't see the pandering of which Viola and Andrew speak. I do think it's ironic that McCain -- who was for so long the only Republican that the mainstream media treated respectfully -- is now being depicted by those same outlets as a stooge groveling for the votes of those red state Bible-thumping mouthbreathers, now that he's the guy with the (R) trying to win the White House.

BENEDICK ADDS: I was going to ask a similar question. The only really blatant pandering I've seen from McCain lately has been to hispanic groups.

PUCK AGREES: Yes, and that's been going on for years.

Godspeed, Randy Pausch

CMU professor Randy Pausch, whose life-affirming "last lecture" following his diagnosis with liver cancer grabbed the world's attention last year, has passed away.

We covered the last lecture here.

RIP.

Bush or Batman

Hilarious. Especially the cranky old moonbat holding the armful of what I can only assume are pamphlets about the Massive Government 9-11 Conspiracy.

007, Call Your Office

Somebody's been messing with the Iranians. Exploding weapons caches, faulty chemical warheads, and train derailments, oh my.

Who's behind these incidents? Us? The Brits? The Israelis?

Tensions have been running high in Tehran since Seymour Hersh, the respected American investigative journalist, revealed in the New Yorker magazine last month that President George W Bush had authorised up to $400 million to fund a major escalation in covert operations to destabilise the regime.

Having contended with Iran’s attempts to undermine the Iraqi government over the past five years, British and American military commanders are more than happy to
undertake covert operations in Iran, and there have been unconfirmed reports that special forces are operating undercover in the country.
Good.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"A Conservative Is A Liberal Who's Been Mugged."

Exhibit A.

An economic conservative, at any rate. I'm quite aware that Howard Stern approaches his social life from a rather libertarian point of view.

Summer Lovin'

Okay, probably not "love," exactly.

Law firm lore is replete with stories of summer associates drinking too much and doing or saying things they oughn't have. This summer's been pretty quiet. Until now.

Two female summer associates at the Minneapolis law firm of Lindquist and Vennum have been fired after making out with each other at a firm-sponsored cocktail party.

Oops!

Nothing like that ever happened when Puck and I were summer associates at a Pittsburgh law firm. Of course, I don't recall there being any ladies in our summer class Puck would have wanted to make out with.

PUCK RESPONDS: True dat, Benny. In fairness, after that one night I drank my weight in gin (and later, vomited it up again), I can't imagine there were many summer associates, male or female, who wanted to make out with me.

Obama -- Hope, Change, Unity....but truth? Er, not so much.

Via Powerline:

Quoth the Lightbringer yesterday, in an effort to prove his no-more-mister-nice-guy-with-Iran bona fides:

Now, in terms of knowing my commitments, you don't have to just look at my words, you can look at my deeds. Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran, as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon.


That would be super-duper -- except that Senator Obama is not a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

John at Powerline sums it up well:

Even a Senator as inattentive to his duties as Obama certainly knows what committees he serves on. For him to fabricate the claim, out of whole cloth, that the Senate Banking Committee is "[his] committee," strikes me as another sign of Obama's megalomania. That, plus more evidence that he is totally at sea without a teleprompter.


In other breaking news, the McCain campaign has rolled over and hit the snooze bar. Again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rebuttal on Messiah Musings

Maureen Dowd in her latest NYTimes column addresses the question of The Big O phenomenon (and no, I'm not referring to the classic Office Space reference). The column, musing over whether Obama is Cocky or Commander in Chiefy, does a fair job of glossing over some of the related issues (sorry Dowd, but get a research staff to support some substance).

Certainly the man is arrogant. But two parries:

1. Arrogance befits a great leader. Not condescension, but the clear communication that the person is capable of leading the masses. By default, this implies that he (or she, but when is it really ever a she?) thinks that he is, in some respect(s), better or more qualified than everyone else. Many people are offended by arrogance, and perhaps rightly so, as I believe that offense is a component of the official definition of the word. But the characteristic is not inappropriate for the position of President of the United States so long as it is not married with stupidity (a la Bush II). Rather than reacting to whether the man is arrogant, we would be better off analyzing how well justified that arrogance is - is he analytically capable? does he listen? is he too stubborn to re-assess decisions? is he effective with diplomacy? does he possess cultural sensitivity? is he tough enough to stand behind decisions he believes are correct and simultaneously tough enough to change his mind when new evidence emerges?

2. Our national culture has evolved in such a way that this arrogance is a prerequisite for achievement. We were better off when a failure many times over (Lincoln) or a cripple (FDR) could become President. We ended up with better quality leadership when employing an election process in which presentation did not preclude the prioritization of substance. No one could now become President (in our country) without having mastered the arts of flattery, poise and charm, much to our detriment. The fact that we bloggers and the media at large are holding candidates to constant performance in front of a microphone and then attacking for misquotes and mistakes requires them to focus on honing their performances rather than pitching their wares.

This is no more apparent than in the campaign norm -infuriating to me- of presenting oneself in context of "when I am" rather than "if I am." If the candidates do not speak as though they have already won, then we brand them as being weak and uncertain of their ability to prevail. We punish humility.

Shame on us for writing arrogance into the job description. At least this man is perceptive enough to accurately identify and somewhat successfully employ the traits that We the People have demanded be presented to us.

ps - Benedick - touche! I shall write something politic-y.

Veep Speculation

Rumors (whatever they're worth) abound that McCain will announce his running mate this week, possibly timed to steal attention away from Obama's Magical Mystery Tour. Whether it will happen this week or not, it's still anybody's guess whom McCain will choose.

The heavy favorite right now is Mitt Romney. He's a household name, and his economic bona fides are unmatched among potential GOP veeps. I've been betting on him being the choice. But he's got downside, too. Some folks are still just creeped out by the Mormon thing, and a lot of conservatives don't trust his conservatism -- a big problem when they don't trust the presidential candidate's conservatism either (and they don't). Plus, McCain and Romney really don't like each other. I mean they really don't like each other.

There's been some talk about Bobby Jindal, the upstart Governor of Louisiana (whom I've discussed before here, here, and here), and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (whom I've noted here). Plenty of other names are being tossed about, too, such as Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty and Florida's Charlie Crist.

Well, there's a new name getting some play this week. Scott Johnson over at Power Line rounds up the chatter about Representative (from Virginia) Eric Cantor. He's young (45), reliably conservative, and close friends with McCain. Oh, and -- not that it matters -- he's Jewish. Which could delightfully compound Obama's Israel problem and send a tremor through the lemming-liberal Jewish community.

Such a nice boy.

I like the idea of it, but I find it unlikely. It's one thing to pick a guy nobody's really heard of -- if it's a governor or a senator. Somehow plucking a fresh face out of the House of Representatives seems like a stretch. Of course, I don't think I've made an accurate prediction about politics in my life.

UPDATE: CNN appears to be putting its money on Pawlenty, Minnesota's governor. Two of the Power Line guys are Minnesotans, and they've given him a great deal of admiring coverage over the years. This is a good place to start if you'd like to learn a little bit about him.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Which of these greatest things is not like the other?

The excerpt below, from an art education web site, follows a discussion/ study of Picasso's method of deconstructing images and is intended to provide both summary and context for the lesson.

While it seems as though it must be presented in a 'which of these things is not like the other' light, it is actually intended to convey relevant factual information concerning Pablo Picasso.

Pablo Picasso Facts

  • Picasso was the greatest artist of the 20th century.
  • Picasso, along with Georges Braque, developed Cubism, the first abstract art form.
  • Bulls often appear in Picasso's work. He uses them as symbols to represent various ideas: the Spanish people, power, virility, facism, brutality, and his own self image.
  • Picasso's work spans many styles from realism to abstraction.
  • The series of lithographic prints above are a master class in how to develop an artwork from a realistic image to an abstract form.
BENEDICK TAKES ONE FOR THE TEAM: Okay, Viola . . . . What? Puck did inform you that this is a blog where we beat up hippies, yes?

VIOLA: Hmmm... so does this mean that you do NOT think that Picasso was the greatest artist of the 20th century? It's hard to find political fodder since I always think of things that I want to reference and then can't find the references/ sources that I want.... can't tell you how many draft entries I have that are just waiting for the research to be filled in...

BENEDICK: Jim Henson was the greatest artist of the 20th Century. And research is for suckers.


PUCK, A LITTLE LATE ON THE DRAW: I don't like Picasso much, but I've been watching lots of old school Sesame Street lately, and I have to agree with Benedick: Jim Henson was a genius (I read somewhere he used to invoke the voice of Sam the Eagle when carving the Thanksgiving turkey. How funny is that?). Oh, and whoever was the mastermind of the Looney Tunes has to be in the running as well.

The American Dream

One Baby-Mama for each of the "Two Americas."

Obama's VP list just got shorter by one.

PUCK SNARKS: Dude, how come when I sent this to you yesterday, you scoffed at me for citing the National Enquirer? You worm.

BENEDICK: I have no journalistic standards.

No Doubt About It

Western civilization's greatest leaders are recorded as having labored under tremendous doubt, even at their hours of greatest triumph. While, in hindsight, we marvel at their foresight, they had the humility to recognize that no outcome was certain and that they were simply human beings thrust into circumstances of enormous gravity -- that, no matter how justified or well-calculated their actions, forces far beyond their control would come to bear.

Abraham Lincoln:

I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
George Washington:

I have often though how much happier I should have been, if instead of accepting of a command under such circumstances, I had taken my musket upon my shoulders and entered the rank, or if I could have justified the measure of posterity, and my own conscience, had retired to the back country, and lived in a wigwam. If I shall be able to rise superior to these, and many other difficulties which might be enumerated, I shall most religiously believe that the finger of Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies; for surely if we get well through this month, it must be for want of their knowing the disadvantages we labor under. Could I have forseen the difficulties which have come upon is, could I have known that such a backwardness would have been discovered in the old soldiers to the service, all the genrerals upon earth should not have convinced me of the propriety of delaying an attack upon Boston till this time.
Winston Churchill:

The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events… incompetent or arrogant commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant fortune, ugly surprise, awful miscalculations. ... Always remember, however sure you are that you could easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance.
Barack Obama:

Do you ever have doubts? "Never."

UPDATE: If you loved that, you'll love this:
At a morning background briefing, reporters parried with senior advisers on the characterization of Obama’s speech Thursday in Berlin as a campaign rally. The outdoor speech at the Victory Column could draw thousands of people, similar to the size of Obama events in the United States.

“It is not going to be a political speech,” said a senior foreign policy adviser, who spoke to reporters on background. “When the president of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally.

“But he is not president of the United States,” a reporter reminded the adviser.
No, but it's his divine destiny and all, so why split hairs?

Winning Elections > Winning a War

Barack Obama is mainly a transparent opportunist, and a shallow one to boot. What's surprising is how guilelessly willing he is to admit it:
TERRY MORAN: The surge of U.S. troops, combined with ordinary Iraqis' rejection of both al Qaeda and Shiite extremists have transformed the country. Attacks are down more than 80% nationwide. U.S. combat casualties have plummeted, five this month so far, compared with 78 last July, and Baghdad has a pulse again. If you had to do it over again, knowing what you know now, would you — would you support the surge?

OBAMA: No, because — keep in mind that —

MORAN: You wouldn't?

OBAMA: Well, no, keep — these kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult. Hindsight is 20/20. I think what I am absolutely convinced of is that at that time, we had to change the political debate, because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with…"
The surge is now widely credited (even, begrudgingly, by Democrats and the media) as a dramatic success. It has saved the lives of U.S. servicemen and women. It has saved the lives of Iraqis -- civilian, military, and law-enforcement. It has stabilized the vast majority of the country, enabling millions of Iraqis to go about their lives without fear. It has enabled the Iraqi economy to blossom. It has enabled the Iraqi government to establish firm legitimacy and to get about the work that domestic governments do. It has turned what once seemed a pipe dream of a free, democratic Arab country into a strong likelihood, if not an immediate reality.

But even with the benefit this 20/20 hindsight, Obama would oppose it. For the sake of politics. Because Bush is Evil. And no price is too high -- even in our soldiers' blood -- to try and make Bush a failure.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What Liberal Media? Part LXIIIII-- Oh, I'm Too Outraged To Even Count Anymore

Last week, on the eve of his much-heralded world tour, Senator Barack Obama penned an op-ed that was published in the self-proclaimed "paper of record," the Gray Lady herself, The New York Times. In that op-ed, which you can read here, Senator Obama said that he always knew the surge would work (which is a lie), that his reasons for opposing it still held true (which is also a lie), and that he was going to withdraw the troops according to a particular plan regardless of the fact that military folks in Iraq think that plan is about as viable as solar power in Seattle.

This week, John McCain sent The New York Times a response to Senator Obama's piffle. This response, which you can read in full here, directly addresses the fallacies underlying Mr. Obama's plan, and the shortcomings of the plan itself:

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.


McCain makes some very good points -- you may agree with them or not, but they deserve to be heard. The problem is, the New York Times is refusing to publish McCain's piece. "It doesn't set forth McCain's plan," they explain. Except that it kind of does.

But even if it didn't: does anybody really think that this has anything to do with how McCain responded to Obama's piece, and not the fact that McCain calls Obama out on his falsehoods? Let me go out on a limb here. If Senator McCain penned an op-ed explaining, point-by-point, his plan for, say, capturing Osama bin Laden, do you think for a moment that Senator Obama would be denied however much column space he wanted to provide his response, in whatever vaingloriously vapid form it took?

Yeah, I don't think so either. Infuriating.

Okay, Now I'm SURE Obama Never Took Social Studies

From an interview about his whirlwind Europe/Middle East Tour:
The objective of this trip was to have substantive discussions with people like President Karzai or Prime Minister Maliki or President Sarkozy or others who I expect to be dealing with over the next eight to 10 years.
Eight to ten years? Funny, I don't think that's constitutional, exactly (see Article II, Section I and Amendment XXII).

And keep in mind, this guy taught constitutional law.

Had McCain (or Quayle or any other Republican) said this -- or this or this or this or this -- the media would be ululating with contemptuous glee.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Why Germany Lost The Big One






































Scissors beats paper.

What We Walk About When We Walk About Love*

I saw out my window two people walking down the sidewalk and was immediately touched by how in love they were. How did I know that they were in love? They were not holding hands. They were not gazing at, fondling or otherwise interacting with each other.

A couple in love –or in like– sometimes strolls with clasped hands swinging in casual rhythm. A sweaty palm extended is a sweet gesture of new affection, or a confident reaffirmation of a long-standing, long-extending commitment.

But the cohabitation of personal space is so much more telling than the simple bridge of hands and at-will exposure to fleshy collisions. As I expand the envelope of my intimate space, my personal forcefield against wheeling litter and unpleasant weather, I enfold your sway, your scent. I shift from being an innocent victim caught in the path of the curb-trip to being an appendage in the accident. Your jutting hip bones are my compass. Your averted eyes are my swelling shame or queasing avoidance. My 30 inch-discounted worldview is only a lazy shoelace away from being overthrown by conquerors seeking assimilation and peaceful treaties.

We are joined by the space between us, that shifting amoebic boundary. Even as it skirts our conscious recognition, it forges our intimacy. It is our agent booking us for the wild streets.


* nod to Raymond Carver

Burning Spies

There was a time not too long ago when liberals professed to be outraged over the "outing" of an American spy by members of the Bush administration. That spy was Valerie Plame. To this day, liberals who are either uninformed or dishonest continue to insist that Scooter Libby or Dick Cheney outed her. In fact, it was Richard Armitage, a liberal who was serving in the State Department and who is a detractor, not a supporter or ally, of the president.

Libby was prosecuted (successfully); Armitage was not. The false outrage of the Left endures.

But it is not principled outrage. For, when the New York Times commits a far more flagrant act of spy-outing than Libby was ever even accused of, the noble, "Protect Our Spies!" liberals are absolutely nowhere to be found. From The Corner:
In late June, The Times ran a story about a former Central Intelligence Agency interrogator who, in the words of its public editor, “used shrewd psychology, not rough stuff, to get Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to talk” (“Weighing the Risk,” Clark Hoyt, July 6, 2008). The Times published the interrogator’s name over the objections of his lawyers and the CIA, who fear for his safety.

In supporting this decision, The Times’ public editor invoked “the public’s right to know.” But this was a conclusion, not a premise. Unfortunately neither The Times nor its public editor has examined this asserted public interest with the same appetite they displayed for examining and discounting the interrogator’s interest in his own safety. So let’s correct the balance.

The public editor cited two reasons to publish the name. First, the reporter said that “using the name was necessary for credibility.” Really? Great stories are often told using pseudonyms, and The Times frequently withholds attributions from its stories. It generally does so for good reasons that its readers understand.

What The Times may have meant is that by using the man’s real name, the story would be a better read. I doubt it. But if so, The Times was weighing the man’s safety against a literary interest, not the public interest. The second asserted reason for publishing the man’s real name, tossed off in the last sentence of the public editor’s four-column piece, was to avoid hobbling news organizations “when trying to tell the public about some of the government’s most important and controversial actions.” This is nonsense. The Times was going to tell the public about these interrogations whether the interrogator’s name was used or not.

On the other side of the balance, the public editor cited the case of another interrogator who, when his name was made public, suffered more than a dozen death threats, had his house put under police guard, and was told to take his family out of the country till the affair blew over. In the public editor’s own words, he also “lost his job with a major accounting firm because executives expressed fear that Al Qaeda could attack its offices to get him ...”

These are substantial prices to pay for outing an identity. By publishing this interrogator’s real name, The Times put him at risk for similar treatment – and worse.

Journalists face difficult decisions every day about the prudence of publishing private information. But in this case the decision to out the individual had nothing to do with the media’s responsibility to inform the public about important government policies or actions.

The Times also trivialized the risk to the man by putting him to the impossible burden of showing with near certainty that he would be harmed. This was morally confused. This man and many others like him undertake difficult, dangerous, and lawful missions on behalf of their country, and they deserve better from The Times.
Where's Joe Wilson now?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Global Warming Update

Via Power Line:
The dam that global warming zealots have erected to keep out criticism of their theory is giving way. The American Physical Society, which represents around 50,000 physicists, has retreated from its past position that anthropogenic global warming is "incontrovertible" and has now acknowledged that "[t]here is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably ... primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution."

* * * *

Most people do not realize that the U.N.'s IPCC report was a political document, not a scientific one. As such, it explicitly refused to consider any of the recent scientific work on carbon dioxide and the earth's climate. That work seems to show rather definitively that human activity has little to do with climate change, which has occurred constantly for millions of years.

But, of course, anyone who doesn't swallow the anthropogenic global warming meme is simply evil.

The Israelis and Their Enemies: Spot the Difference

Earlier this week, the Israelis released a prisoner by the name of Samir Kuntar, in exchange for two of their own soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. David-Pryce Jones at NRO provides the details:

Samir Kuntar is the Lebanese who infiltrated Israel twenty-nine years ago in order to kill. Entering a family house, he murdered the father in front of that man's four-year-old daughter, and then beat the little girl's head in with his rifle butt. Meanwhile the mother, trying to hide with a two year old daughter, accidentally smothered her to death trying to stop her screaming. Israel does not have the death penalty ....

Many, perhaps most, countries would have found a way to take Kuntar's life, if only in a shoot-out during his capture following the murders. In Israel[,] there was never any question of that. In a court of law, Kuntar was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy now in the process of taking over Lebanon, has long hoped to have Kuntar released. To that end, Hezbollah two years ago once more infiltrated Israel, killed some soldiers and kidnapped two more, by name Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Hezbollah then refused to say in what condition these two were, did not allow Red Cross visits, ignoring every international convention about the treatment of prisoners.

For reasons of its own, which may be wise or unwise, moral or immoral, Israel agreed to exchange Kuntar for the corpses of its two soldiers. Those who opened their coffins have been too appalled to speak openly of the mutilations they observed. In contrast to the treatment Kuntar had received in his captivity, the two had evidently been tortured to death. And that is all anyone needs to know about Hezbollah.

***

There must be Arabs who feel the normal human revulsion at what Kuntar did, and there may well be some with the courage to speak out against his infamy (though none that I know of have done so). But the very opposite happened. A reception committee of the high and mighty of his native Lebanon greeted Kuntar on his release. Dressed in military fatigues, he boasted to the world that he would do his crimes all over again. On behalf of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas sent his blessings, and his spokesman could talk about the return of “the heroes and Martyrs headed by the great Samir Kuntar.” In a rare public speech in Beirut, Sheikh Nasrallah of Hezbollah had similar praise for Kuntar.

***

....The Nazi S.S. killed Jewish children with a brutality similar to Kuntar's, but they did not then appear on public platforms to boast to the world of what they had done; on the contrary they kept their crimes as secret as they could, thereby acknowledging the survival somewhere in them of a guilty conscience. But here are important and supposedly responsible men who find it in themselves to embrace, encourage, and hold up as a model a man as vile as any, as though there was no such thing as conscience, and never has been. By every human standard, this is degradation, this is depravity.


I can't say it any better. Samir Kuntar bashed in the head of an innocent four-year old girl, moments after making her watch her father's death. Our enemies welcome him home as a hero. These people are not like us. They cannot be reasoned with. They do not want peace.

That there are people who do not, or cannot, admit this -- and that one of them is running for president of the free world -- terrifies me.

Did Barack Go To High School?

First he claimed there are 57 states. Now he's waxing about "the bomb" that dropped on Pearl Harbor.

Can someone get this guy a G.E.D. review booklet?

I'll keep repeating it -- if Dan Quayle had said this stuff, it would have been Front. Page. News.

PUCK ADDS: You know, President Bush may have a penchant for getting tongue-tied, but I don't recall him ever not knowing how many states make up the U.S., or what prompted our nation to join WWII. And, unlike Senator Obama, I think President Bush knows that Afghanis don't speak Arabic.

But the media has decided that Hopey McChangey can do no wrong and George Bush can do no right. Facts, schmacts: there's a narrative to uphold here, kids.

Bah.

VIOLA: Maybe when he said "the bomb" he was referring to Pearl Harbor, the movie?

Puck's Messiah Musings, I

While I've previously posted some thoughts on the current-day Messiah -- known to us unbelievers as Barack Obama (remember, hatemongers: the middle name is off-limits!) -- I've decided to embark on this many-part series, because there's just too much to say about the man that needs to get said but isn't. At least, not on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, NPR, NY Times, or anywhere else most Americans get their news.

Today, I'm going to post about the man's arrogance. I watched his speech at the 2004Democratic Convention, and it was obvious then that this guy was one to watch. As it became clear that he was going to run for president, my thoughts were: seemingly a nice guy, way light on experience, far too liberal for my (and the country's) own good, but at least he's not a grievance-mongering charlatan of the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton variety.

Putting aside all the other stuff -- that's for other musings -- I think I was wrong on the "nice guy" part. This guy is just full of himself, in a way that makes the Bill and Hillary Clintons of the world look like blushing little wallflowers.

Remember when he (finally) threw his pastor of 20 years, the rabid America-hating, foul-mouthed Jeremiah Wright, under the bus? It wasn't because Wright had said "Goddamn America," or because Wright said 9/11 was America's comeuppance for its own record of terrorism, or because Wright declared that the virulently anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan was a swell guy. Wright had been saying those things for years, and that didn't stop the Obamas from having Wright marry them and baptize their girls, nor did it stop them from giving Wright's church tens of thousands of dollars. No -- Obama gave Wright the heave-ho because Wright had the audacity to suggest that Barack Obama was a typical politician: that he supported Wright when it was politically convenient to do so, and moved away from him when it became clear that Wright was too controversial for the American public. "That's ... a show of disrespect to me," said Obama, and "an insult to what we've been trying to do in this campaign."

Oh. Well, Heaven forbid YOU or your precious campaign be insulted, Mr. Obama. I was insulted at "Goddamn America," but I guess that's not important to you, is it?

Well, anyway. In today's Washington Post, the great Charles Krauthammer takes a further look at the awesome (and truly unmerited) vanity of Barack Obama:

Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted "present" nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.

It is a subject upon which he can dilate effortlessly. In his victory speech upon winning the nomination, Obama declared it a great turning point in history -- "generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment" -- when, among other wonders, "the rise of the oceans began to slow." As Hudson Institute economist Irwin Stelzer noted in his London Daily Telegraph column, "Moses made the waters recede, but he had help." Obama apparently works alone.


Read the whole thing.

Others are starting to notice this phenomenon as well: There was that whole presidential seal thing, which was very amusing, for the 24 hours we got to laugh at it before his advisers realized what a mistake it was. Congressional Democrats, also, now, are worried about getting the Messiah's attention. Even, shockingly, the AP thinks their man's got an arrogance problem.

Now, I think a healthy dose of self-confidence is a good thing -- and it surely is a necessary trait for the leader of the free world. But when you think that you're the guy who is going to end man-made global warming (which isn't happening anyway, but I digress), stop the seas from rising, end all wars, bring peace to all mankind, and make sure not a single American goes to bed hungry, thirsty, or without his favorite teddy bear, you're not self-confident. You're delusional.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trying Too Hard

Barack Obama works out. He wants you to know this because it strikes a virile contrast to Old Man McCain. Now, I'm all for a would-be president who breaks a sweat. Bush is an avid jogger and biker, after all. But he did it to stay in shape.

It appears Obama's motivation isn't health, exactly.
The presumptive nominee started his Tuesday with a short morning work out at the gym of his friend and longtime aide Mike Signator’s apartment building. After flying to Indiana for a campaign event, and doing a round of local TV interviews, the Senator returned to his home in Illinois where he spent the afternoon hitting two more local area gyms for the duration of the day. Obama first visited Signator’s gym again, returning home briefly and then going to East Bank Club, a downtown gym which Obama regularly plays basketball.

Senator Obama has been known for his strict work out regimen – rarely missing a day in the gym even with a busy campaign schedule. But for reporters following Senator Obama as he strolled in and out of gyms six times over the course of one day - his multiple visits raised a few eyebrows – with even a campaign aide cracking a smile as the third gym stop of the day was announced.
Geez. When even the fawning, leg-tingling media can't ignore this kind of puffery, you know Obama's pushing it.

To recap:

Look at me! I work out!
Look at me! I work out!
Look at me! I work out!
Look at me! I work out!
Look at me! I work out!
Look at me! I work out!

Jesse, This Is Your Petard

Now hoist!

Al Sharpton offers a less-than-bombastic rebuke. And he hasn't demanded that Jackson lose his job.

'Course, does Jesse Jackson even have a job?

PUCK IS CONFUSED: Hang on a minute! I thought that word was dead and buried, and that Jackson was one of the ones who cheered its demise.

Man, it's so hard to keep up these days.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Something for Everyone Here

Interesting Theory

Why has the stock market been taking a steady pounding over the last several weeks?

Jon Markman thinks he knows: The market is betting on an Obama presidency, and the market doesn't much like the notion.

Me? While I certainly agree with the market, I'm not sure I agree with Markman, at least not entirely. There are plenty of objective reasons for a market correction, including a widespread lack of liquidity fueled largely by the real estate crush (which is itself quietly improving, by the way).

I credit Markman with one important point, though, which is that a bad economy is good for Democrats this election year -- which is why Democrats have simultaneously overstated the problem and doggedly pursued policies calculated to make it worse.

AP: Terrorist Propaganda Machine

Some jihadi thugs decided to murder a couple of women. Seems they wanted the world to see the murders. So they invited an AP photographer to come watch, film, and disseminate. The AP dutifully complied.

Snuff happens.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Airport Security is Crap

And by declaring it to be "crap," I mean that I am appalled by the inability of the TSA to devise a better system for safety screening than one in which the net is cast sufficiently wide that my cardigan sweater, ballerina flats and 6.8 fl oz Kiehl's Superbly Restorative Body Lotion are subject to scrutiny and/ or confiscation.

C'mon, people - this sweater has no potential for harm, other than perhaps as an offending display of my under-developed fashion sense. I would venture to guess that the greater harm comes from the apparent lack of intellect (common sense? sheer attention?) in designing and implementing these systems. Normally unopposed to nudity, even of the radiation-inspired variety, I would gladly trade x-ray power for brain power at some level of the system.

BENEDICK IS THAT GUY: Welcome again, Viola. We haven't met (Viola is a friend of Puck's from long-long ago). But -- ballerina flats, body lotion, and nudity, all in one post? I suppose I would have chosen heels for imagery's sake, but I feel (now that I'm outnumbered) perhaps I'm being teased.

PUCK CLARIFIES: Benedick is this guy:

Giggity giggity goo!

I'll Miss This Guy, Too

This is the difference between a Republican (see President Bush) and a Democrat (see idiot Reporter) writ large. Everything President Bush insists Americans are capable of doing for themselves? Yeah, I'm betting Barry Obama disagrees. He knows better than you do.

The Tortured "Torture Narrative"

Testifying in front of a House subcommittee today, former Undersecretary of State Douglas Feith (author of War and Decision) assailed the fiction that President Bush and his administration nefariously and improperly disregarded the Geneva conventions when it came to treatment of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters.

The truth is, of course, much different from the Democrat/New York Times narrative.

Power Line reprints Feith's opening statement in full, here. Definitely worth reading if you crave a deeper understanding of the United States' prosecution of the War on Terror than simply, "Bush Lied, People Died."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Boy, I Miss This Guy

Nobody's ever done it better.

Common Sense on Energy

From Newt Gingrich, emailed to me by Puck's husband.

Godspeed, Tony Snow

Tony Snow lost his battle with cancer Saturday. A longtime journalist, commentator, and talk-show host, Snow famously replaced the risible Scott McClellan to serve as White House Press Secretary in May 2006 until his illness forced him to resign in September 2007.

Snow was a rare gem in American politics -- sincere, charming, and gracious by all accounts. He was the model of what a White House press secretary should be: informed, articulate, and unfailingly courteous, even when the odious mudslingers in the press corps couldn't similarly comport themselves.

Unsurprisingly, the Associated Press leveraged the occasion of Snow's death to slap him in the face. Commentators at the L.A. Times were even worse.

If you're only casually familiar with the type of man Tony Snow was, this is who the AP raced to slander on the day of his passing. He deserves better.

Snow was 53. He'll be sorely missed.

UPDATE: If you can stomach it, Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom shines a light on what commentators at the DailyKos -- the single most influential progressive website in America -- have contributed in the way of memoria. Example: "If only his cancer was contagious and the thugs he worked for caught it, it would have saved the suffering of actual innocent people. He was part of the mafia that took over this country and frankly, I’m glad he’s dead."

Shameful. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I can't let this go. I'm so disgusted. And before my (two) liberal readers cross their arms and insist this sort of atrocious behavior is bipartisan, allow me to preempt you. It isn't. For example, FreeRepublic.com is widely known to be the online home of some of the crazier rightwingers on the internet. The day it was reported that Ted Kennedy had cancer, here's how the Freepers reacted. Almost entirely well-wishes to the senator.

Quite a difference from the folks at DailyKos, which -- it must be remembered -- is far more mainstream among Democrats than FreeRepublic is among Republicans.

We are different. And the political culture of the Left is terrifying.

PUCK SAYS: Bless you for even having the intestinal fortitude to post on this, Benedick. I read Goldstein's blog over the weekend and was too sickened to try to write anything worthwhile on the matter.

Funny how the posters Goldstein quotes have no problem calling Tony Snow, George Bush, Dick Cheney, et al., "evil." But the terrorists -- they're just oppressed, misunderstood minutemen up to whom we haven't yet sucked up sufficiently. Calling them evil is ignorant, a demonstration of cultural narcissism, etc.

Yes. We are different. And I thank God I am different from them. Rest in peace, Tony Snow.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

MIA, OCD, BMW

This is Viola.

I have been putting entirely too much pressure on myself to create a masterpiece of an inaugural post. I have several ongoing drafts of blog posts on my computer, which I think is antithetical to the way in which blogging is intended to occur. Take note: you are witnessing the intersection of OCD and new media.

I've now decided to take a different tack and post the most inane thing to have recently caught my attention: a mockumentary outlining a German village's quest to *launch* a BMW from Germany to the US: BMW builds fake village, massive ramp to launch new car in the US

I hope that I can offer more substantial, or at least more interesting posts in the future, but sometimes the ice must be broken by blunt force.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Give It Up Already

The New York Times is STILL not willing to give up on the meme that McCain is ineligible for the presidency.

Let it go. Your Lightworker is simply going to have to win the old-fashioned way.

Culture of Grievance

"Black hole" is a racially offensive term. Who knew? Watch your mouths, White Americans. You might be racists and not even know it.

Also verboten: black box, blackout, black diamond, black bear, black eye, black market, blackmail, and black-tie.

And -- perish the thought -- should the pot ever have the temerity to call the kettle black, whoa. Look out. The pot can expect to be pilloried by our Liberal Overlords, denounced for perpetuating the chrome patriarchy of privileged cookware, and sentenced to mandatory sentivity training.

(Blacklisted even.)

UPDATE: A friend and former colleague sent me a link to the video, remarking, "Just as bad as you might imagine. Get ready for four years of this." Indeed.

U.S. Military to Obama: "What Are You, Nuts?!"

Seems our would-be Commander-in-Chief Obama has a *ahem* less than sophisticated grasp of military logistics:
While [Mj. General Charles] Anderson and his troops have a positive attitude, several commanders who looked at the Obama [withdrawal] plan told ABC News, on background, that there was "no way" it could work logistically.
Which, of course, pretty well sums up most Democrat policies -- long on grandiose promises and expenditures, short on common sense and know-how.

If I were a U.S. soldier, this guy would terrify me more than the most hawkish Republican.

Scandal . . . Guess Who!

Pennsylvania newspapers are focused today on criminal indictments that have been handed down by a grand jury against a dozen state government officials. Seems millions of dollars of taxpayers' money were used -- quite illegally -- for political activities, including paying "bonuses" to government employees for campaign work, as well as some other miscellaneous and salacious tomfoolery.

And you simply will not believe what these folks have in common:

• Michael L. Manzo, 39, former chief of staff to Democrat Majority Leader Bill DeWeese. Manzo is accused of conspiracy in connection with the bonus scandal, engineering ballot challenges using state workers and hiding a girlfriend on the state payroll in a phony state office above a cigar store on Pittsburgh's South Side.

• Jeff Foreman, 57, currently legal counsel to House Democrat Minority Whip Keith McCall. He is accused of participating in the bonus plot while chief of staff to Democrat Mike Veon and of directing an ongoing, partisan political operation from inside Veon's Capitol office.

• Rachel Hursh Manzo, 27, an aide to Democrat state Rep. Todd Eachus and wife of Michael Manzo (see above). She is accused of organizing House employees to work on legislative campaigns on state time and doing so herself during Veon's unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2006.

• Scott V. Brubaker, 43, former director of administration for the House Democrats. He is accused of playing a key role in arranging the illegal bonuses, directing state workers to perform political tasks and helping to orchestrate challenges to opponents' petitions for ballot spots.

• Jennifer Brubaker, 36, who is married to Scott Brubaker (see above) and who directs the House Democratic Office of Legislative Research, the scene of a search warrant execution last August. She is accused of directing legislative employees to do political work in her office, including opposition research.

• Brett W. Cott, 36, a top aide to Democrat Mike Veon (see above), who is accused of widespread corruption, including conspiracy in the bonus scandal and running an ongoing political operation out of Veon's state office. "Brett Cott's title on Veon's staff was policy analyst, but according to numerous witnesses he was hired because of his campaign skills and was one of the lead promoters of the culture of using taxpayer funds for campaign purposes," the grand jury said.

• Patrick J. Lavelle, 29, who the grand jury described as a full-time political operative in Democrat Mike Veon's Harrisburg office who had no other duties beyond fund raising.

• Annamarie Peretta-Rosepink, 45, director of Democrat Mike Veon's Beaver County district office. She is accused of directing state employees to work on an array of political campaigns, including those of Democrat state Rep. Thomas Tangretti and Democrat state Sen. Wayne Fontana, as well as for other Democratic candidates. She also is accused of roles in schemes to use taxpayer money to bump Ralph Nader and Carl Romanelli from PA ballots in 2004 and 2006, respectively.

• Stephen A.H. Keefer, 38, former director of information technology for the House Democrats. He is accused of directing state employees to work on political campaigns, using state equipment to design political materials and creating a special Leaders' Communications Office with public funds to transmit political messages.

• Earl J. Mosley, 53, former director of personnel for the House Democrats. Grand jurors said he helped arrange payment of the illegal bonuses, and obtained a bonus himself for campaign work.

The upshot? You guessed it. Idiot Pennsylvanians will keep right on electing Democrats.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

$500 Screwdrivers Revisited: A 21st Century Update

We've shared a variety of reasons to be skeptical of (okay, hostile to) the idea of mandatory, government-funded, government-run healthcare. Here's another, and it has a familiar ring: The government is inherently inefficient, and therefore it (read: you) overpays for everything.

This is particularly true where lobbyists rather than competitive bidding determine from whom and on what terms the government will purchase goods and services. An op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal provides a case study -- overpayment on the order of 1000% for basic medical equipment.

But -- don't forget -- the Democrats need to raise your taxes not because government bureaucracy is wasteful, but because you aren't paying your fair share.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fascinating

If you are interested in how the human brain works, here is a downright compelling bit of reading from (of all places) The New Yorker.

The article posits that while our brains certainly receive input through our nerves and sensory organs, a lot of what we "perceive" or "experience" is mostly cobbled-together guesswork incorporating memories, assumptions, and a complicated, subconscious logic. Which may not only be what causes phenomena such as "phantom limbs" in amputees and a variety of far worse, ill-explained maladies, but may also offer great hope for some surprisingly simple cures.

Reality Check on Taxes

Power Line has a critically important post up this morning on a topic that's near and dear to my heart -- it is one of the fundamental issues, in fact, that make me a Republican: Taxes. In the post, John Hinderaker summarizes some staggering data provided by Stephen Moore in the Wall Street Journal.

How often do we hear that "the rich" (whoever they are) don't pay their "fair share" (whatever that is) of taxes? Given the likelihood that Congress is going to be infected by an even greater Democrat majority after November and that we're poised to elect possibly the most left-wing president in the nation's history, this should constitute a sobering bit of perspective:
"[F]or the first time in decades, and perhaps ever, the richest 1% of tax filers will have paid more than 40% of the income tax burden. The top 50% will account for 97% of all federal income taxes, while the bottom 50% will have paid just 3%." Moore's preview does not include the companion income data. Given that poorer citizens always outnumber the rich, political philosophers worried that government based on majority rule could lead to organized theft from the wealthy by the democratic masses. "If the majority distributes among itself the things of a minority, it is evident that it will destroy the city," warns Aristotle.

The founders of the United States were deep students of politics and history, and they shared Aristotle's worry. Up through their time, history had shown all known democracies to be "incompatible with personal security or the rights of property." James Madison and others therefore made it the "first object of government" to protect personal property from unjust confiscation. Numerous provisions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were included to protect the property rights of citizens.
I'm with Aristotle and Madison. In this, I tend to think I'm in good company. Those who favor confiscatory income-redistribution schemes (such as those promised by Democrats) are -- whether they know it or admit it or not -- in the company of such luminaries as Marx and Castro.

Hoping for that kind of change? If you're one of the 50% of the population who are paying 97% of the taxes, change might be about all you can expect to have left in your paycheck after the next election -- God only knows what our confiscatory overlords will deem your "fair share."

PUCK ADDS: Reminds of that old P.J. O'Rourkeism:
"Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us."

Washington Post Whitewashes Terror Attack

Last week a Palestinian man went on a rampage through Jerusalem on a bulldozer, killing three and injuring dozens more. He cried, "Alluh Akbar!" as he did so.

But the Washington Post reporter who covered it characterized the terrorist as a pretty swell guy and dismisses any notion that in attacking and killing Jews, he had any motivation whatsoever to, you know, attack and kill Jews.

A blog called Snapshots dissects the piece here and notes that even the New York Times' coverage was more objective. Sheesh.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Obama on Iraq

Here's an effective new ad that illustrates both how wrong Obama has been about Iraq and how willing he is to flat-out reverse his position on a most critical foreign policy issue for the sake of political expediency.

"New Politics," indeed.

Mainstream Democrats Still Heart Communist Revolutionary Thugs

Puck wrote the other day about the fortunate rescue of 15 long-time hostages from FARC, a narco-terrorist group that haunts Colombia (and that has warm ties to Venezuelan Dictator-Presidente Hugo Chavez).

Seems the rescue effort yielded something more than the freedom of 15 people -- additional evidence of infuriating coziness between FARC and prominent Congressional Democrats. Karl over at Protein Wisdom summarizes:
That Pelosi was staking out “an alternative Democratic foreign policy” with respect to Syria and Iran was already known. These continuing revelations about the Dems’ contacts with FARC are news, but follow in the grand tradition of Congressional Dems cozying up to Communists to our south. Former Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA) and current Rep. Barabara Lee (D-CA) were friendly with the Marxist regime in Grenada. US Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT), John F. Kerry (D-MA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) all liked to conduct freelance diplomacy with Sandanista thug Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua — as did House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX), despite the fact that his predecessor Tip O’Neill (D-MA) was “embarrassed” when Ortega went off to the Soviet Union for aid after one such session. More recently, Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), William Delahunt (D-MA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) are among those wanting to get close to Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) has advocated beefing up Chavez’s military. Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) was among those sticking his nose into the Columbian hostage situation and cozying up to Chavez in the process.

In the meantime, Pelosi keeps the Colombian free trade deal off the House floor on the ground that President Álvaro Uribe has not done enough to quell political violence in this country, particularly against unionists — though since Uribe took office, the murder rate among all Colombians is down 40% while the murder rate among union members – whom Pelosi seems singularly worried about – is down 87%. Apparently, sucking up to the protectionist labor unions is so important that Congressional Democrats — from Pelosi on down — are willing to cozy up with Communist thugs and terrorists to advance their agenda.
Why aren't we hearing about any of this from the mainstream media?

UPDATE: If that's not bad enough, now we find out Chavez is funding Hezbollah. Anyone out there want to, maybe, question the judgment and/or motivation of the aforementioned Democrats? Anyone?

Me, I'm going to go out on a limb and -- that's right -- Question Their Patriotism.

Did You Know . . .

If you are a PR reader, you know the U.S. and Iraqi militaries have made great strides in clearing out Al Qaeda and improving security. But did you also know that, of the five additional combat brigades sent to Iraq last year as part of the surge, four have already left, and the fifth is preparing to leave this year? USA Today, which has done a pretty fair job of reporting good news from Iraq, has the details. The New York Times? Boston Globe? Chicago Tribune? L.A. Times? Not so much.

Also notable from the USA Today piece: "The average number of weekly attacks in Iraq has dropped to 200, an 80% reduction since June 2007, according to Multi-National Corps — Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi casualties have also dropped significantly. The State Department said in a recent report that Iraq has met 15 of 18 congressional benchmarks designed to measure progress in Iraq."

Now recall Sen. Harry Reid's assessment of three months ago: "The war is lost." Liberals have been congratulating themselves over the past six years for their cute "Chicken Hawk" smear of GOP war supporters. I wonder whether "Chicken Little" policy is preferable to a majority of Americans.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Honor Killing in Georgia

It's been all the rage in the UK and Canada. Now coming to an American community near you: a Muslim man honor-kills his daughter in Georgia:
Police said Rashad was so angered that his daughter, Sandela Kanwal, planned to divorce her arranged-marriage husband that he killed her after a heated argument at the family's home, FOX News affiliate MyFoxAtlanta reported. Rashad reportedly used a bungee cord in the attack.

Silver lining: I've lived in Georgia, and let's just say I expect the judiciary in Clayton County will be less inclined than courts in Britain and Canada to embrace sharia law.

Ever Heard of Anonymity?

College student places ad on Craigslist seeking kissing tutor; apparently doesn't realize that 99.9% of people who post ads on Craigslist do so anonymously . . . for good reason.

Thieves Against Terrorism

It was an ordinary (and successful) van theft -- until the thief noticed the van's contents.

Al Qaeda Routed In Iraq

According to this piece in the Times.

After being forced from its strongholds in the west and centre of Iraq in the past two years, Al-Qaeda’s dwindling band of fighters has made a defiant “last stand” in the northern city of Mosul. A huge operation to crush the 1,200 fighters who remained from a terrorist force once estimated at more than 12,000 began on May 10. Operation Lion’s Roar, in which the Iraqi army combined forces with the Americans’ 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, has already resulted in the death of Abu Khalaf, the Al-Qaeda leader, and the capture of more than 1,000 suspects. . . .Major-General Mark Hertling, American commander in the north, said: “I think we’re at the irreversible point.”
Of course, that's from the Times of London. The New York Times has no interest in such news. Doesn't fit the narrative, after all.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Dig It, Obama

FARCin' Great News!

How about a round of applause for the daring rescue of 15 hostages -- including three Americans -- from FARC ("Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia"), the Marxist, terrorist group that has long been making Colombia a rather scary place to be. Hooray for a strike against terrorism! Also, word has it that the Colombian commandoes convinced the FARCers that they were sympathetic comrades, by (among other things) wearing those kitschy Che Guevara t-shirts so favored by the Left and ignorami. So, hooray for capitalism too!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Latest from the Religion of Perpetual Outrage -- I Can't Make This Stuff Up

It's a picture of a puppy sitting athwart a policeman's hat. It's in a Scottish public service advertisement.



Naturally, Muslims are furious. Really.

When are they not?


PUCK CHORTLES: Ha ha ha. So the adorable pup is "ritually unclean," eh? They should get a load of Griswold, my 3-year old black lab/shepherd mix. 90 pounds, all black, dumber than a box of rocks and as ritually unclean as it gets. (Except for where his naughty bits used to be -- that part he insists on keeping very clean.) Maybe we should airlift The Grizz into particularly troublesome parts of the Islamic world. That'll show 'em!

A Global Warming Status Report

From the Wall Street Journal:
Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the mass hysteria phenomenon known as global warming. Much of the science has since been discredited. Now it's time for political scientists, theologians and psychiatrists to weigh in.
Provocative? Yes. Accurate? Read it and judge for yourself.

A Blow to Frivolity

A female receptionist was asked to bring some coffee to her manager. She refused, via a snippy e-mail that said, "I don't expect to serve and wait on you by making and serving you coffee every day." The manager fired her. So the receptionist did what any red-blooded American would do: She sued, alleging a hostile and discriminatory working environment.

The court has dismissed her case, noting that getting coffee is not a gender-specific act.

I have a few thoughts here. First, good job by the court.

Second, I've worked with secretaries and receptionists for about a decade now (almost exclusively female), and I've never asked any of them to bring me coffee. [It was customary, however, in my previous place of employment (which is Puck's current place of employment) for the receptionist to offer (and bring) beverages to visitors -- but that's slightly different.] I don't think it's polite or appropriate to ask one's secretary (er, administrative assistant) to fetch coffee, but it simply isn't actionable sexual discrimination. It is, rather, the sort of boorish behavior that should be corrected by cues from colleagues who know better.

Third, the plaintiff's attorney in this case is a guy I went up against in a case back in my law-firm days. He's a typical, penney-ante grievance monger who makes his living trying to manufacture hurt feelings and grind perceived slights into settlement checks. I'm glad he's not getting paid today.

The Wheels On The Bus . . .

Perhaps you've noticed, as I have, Senator Obama's penchant for throwing inconvenient friends, family members, supporters, clergy, et al, "under the bus."

Exurban League (no Iowa Hawk, but a solid center of snark) is having a little fun with it: Obama Unveils New Campaign Bus.