Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

In memoriam

Here is a list of people who died in 2004 who I especially enjoyed, admired or respected at some point in my life.

Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan), Mary McGrory, Pat Tillman, Tony Randall, Archibald Cox, Ronald Reagan, Ray Charles, Marlon Brando, Julia Child, Rodney Dangerfield, Christopher Reeve, Paul Nitze, Jerry Orbach and, finally,

Norman Peterson (my uncle).

People of the year

ABC News - People of the Year: Bloggers

I previously discussed this here.

Radical Islam

Here it is.
The radical Ansar al-Sunnah Army and two other insurgent groups issued a statement today warning that democracy was un-Islamic. Democracy could lead to passing un-Islamic laws, such as permitting homosexual marriage, if the majority or people agreed to it, the statement said.

"Democracy is a Greek word meaning the rule of the people, which means that the people do what they see fit," the statement said. "This concept is considered apostasy and defies the belief in one God — Muslims' doctrine."

They then threaten to kill anyone who participates in the Iraqi elections. Now I'm not expert on Islam, but that seems a wee bit un-Islamic to me.

Oh, and you have got to love the reference to gay marriage.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Target: L.A. Times

I am not really into "liberal media bias" complaints. I note, however, that Patterico has published part one of his year-end list of complaints about coverage by the L.A. Times. I suspect that there is a reasonably popular blogger (or two, or ten) who is now monitoring the coverage of every major paper in the United States and, unlike the olden days where the only option was a letter to the editor, those bloggers now have an outlet to express directly their unfiltered reactions to a large audience.

My point is this: I would hate to be in the newspaper business right now. Ambitious bloggers don't develop a large following by delivering a consistent "congratulations on a job well done" type of message.

Dubious assumptions

Marc Cooper.
Somebody’s gonna have to explain this one to me. At staggering cost in blood and treasure, really mortgaging our economic future, we are engaged in what the President calls a Global War on Terrorism. . .

Yet, when an historic catastrophe, one of truly biblical proportions, strikes the biggest Islamic nation on earth (Indonesia), the leader of the richest and most powerful country has nothing substantial to say for 72 hours?
Cooper says more (including a reference to "hearts and minds") but this provides the gist of it.

My take is that even if Bush didn't handle this in the best way (an assertion I won't argue with), I find dubious the assumptions that (1) people in Indonesia (who are trying to deal with an extraordinary disaster) are at the same time anxiously waiting to hear from the President of the United States, (2) that despite the fact that they have more important things on their minds right now, a significant percentage of Indonesians would even know it if he had made an earlier statement, or (3) that anything Bush would have to say would win over any hearts and minds.

UPDATE: Colin Powell and Jeb Bush are going to Indonesia. (Via Joe Gandelman)


Andrew Sullivan has up his most indefensible quotes of the year. Here is just one.
"My mental state these past few days: 1. The Abu Ghraib "scandal": Good. Kick one for me. But bad discipline in the military (taking the pictures, I mean). Let's have a couple of courts martial for appearance's sake. Maximum sentence: 30 days CB." - John Derbyshire, May 9, rejoicing in the torturing and murder of Iraqi prisoners.
What is so telling about this quote is that Derbyshire admits that these thoughts had been gelling for a few days before he published them to the world. And has far as I know, he never expressed any regret.

Northworst Airlines

SEATTLE (AP) — Some of the 300 passengers stuck on an international flight that was delayed 18 hours by fog, regulations and mechanical glitches said the passengers were almost ready to riot as the wait dragged on.

It costs how much?

I'm fairly confident that I will never eat here.
It now stands at $350 a person before tax, tip and sip of sake or bottled water. Masa, which reopens Jan. 11 after a holiday break, is arguably the most expensive restaurant in New York. Lunch or dinner for two can easily exceed $1,000.


There is no doubt in my mind that, if the situation after the 2000 election had been reversed, Bush would have litigated and claimed that the election was stolen and Gore folks would have fought mightily to stop any recounts.

Today, lefty Markos, blogger extraordinaire, proves himself a partisan hypocrite.

December 4, 2004: He wrote "Bush v. Gore . . . [was] a brazen grab of the Presidency."

December 30, 2004: When a Democrat wins an election by 129 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast, he wrote that the "GOP will simply have to get over it. No one likes a sore loser."

Poker champ

I occasionally played golf with a fellow student at law school who was, to say the least, eccentric. Eventually, I could not take him any more and I stopped accepting invitations to join his golf group.

Last spring, he won the World Series of Poker and $5 million.

Last week, in Las Vegas, he was attacked by guys with guns and fought them off.

UPDATE: My point (to the extent that one is required) is that if I had known that he would become a millionaire superhero, I might have been more accepting. A millionaire superhero seems like a good friend to have.


These posters bring back very bad memories.

Playing with fire

Wow. Even the Boston Globe recognizes that Bashar Assad, president of Syria, must change course or face consequences.

The hereditary president of Syria, Bashar Assad, has earned a reputation for reckless behavior, the antithesis of his father Hafez Assad's careful, calculating statecraft. By his bungling, Bashar has begun to undo all the patient work his paternal predecessor did to colonize neighboring Lebanon. The son has also misplayed the delicate game his father had mastered of balancing Syria's intertwined relations with Israel, disparate Palestinian factions, and Washington.

But recent disclosures by officials of Iraq's interim government suggest that Bashar's most flagrant and dangerous blunder is to tolerate, or perhaps even collude with, exiled former officials from Saddam Hussein's regime who have been financing and guiding a Ba'athist counterrevolution in Iraq from sanctuaries in Syria.

Beyond comprehension

Forty-eight hours ago CNN put the death toll at 33,000. Now CNN puts it at 116,000 and there is no reason to believe that this is anywhere close to a final number. And epidemics are expected to break out that will likely kill thousands more. Give if you can.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Food fight with Carla!

My position: Saddam is guilty, but let's make sure we handle the process right.

Carla's position: How do we know Saddam is guilty of anything?

The full debate can be found here.

UPDATE: The debate fizzled much sooner than I expected.


Okay, I admit it. I'm ignorant about weather stuff. So today I went to to get a better understanding of the precise meanings of the following terms. I share them because I can.

A very large ocean wave caused by an underwater earthquake or volcanic eruption.

tidal wave
1. The swell or crest of surface ocean water created by the tides.
2. (a) An unusual, often destructive rise of water along the seashore, as from a storm or a combination of wind and high tide.
(b) A tsunami.

1. A severe tropical cyclone originating in the equatorial regions of the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea or eastern regions of the Pacific Ocean, traveling north, northwest, or northeast from its point of origin, and usually involving heavy rains.
2. A wind with a speed greater than 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour, according to the Beaufort scale.

A tropical cyclone occurring in the western Pacific or Indian oceans.

1. An atmospheric system characterized by the rapid inward circulation of air masses about a low-pressure center, usually accompanied by stormy, often destructive weather. Cyclones circulate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
2. A violent tropical storm, especially one originating in the southwestern Pacific Ocean or Indian Ocean.

Picking a fight

I'm not a big fan of the Powerline guys because of their hard-core conservative positions on fiscal, environmental and social issues, but I will say that Nick Coleman made a big mistake when he picked a fight with them in his column today.

He is now getting the proverbial sh*t kicked out of him. See here, here, here, and here.

Want to donate to the relief efforts?

Tully has made it easy.

Tsunami warning system


"The last time a tsunami was detected along the Indian coast was in the 1940s. When you have such a rare phenomenon, how do you design a prediction warning system?" said Satish R. Shetye, director of India's National Institute of Oceanography in Goa.

Answer here?

Wednesday's stupid criminal

A Christmas morning burglar was caught after he left a trail of footprints through the first snow to hit Brownsville in 109 years. . .

Inside a mobile home, police say they found [the burglar] intoxicated on gold spray paint . . .

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


A small part of my law practice involves the obscure area of unclaimed property law. For that reason (plus the fact that I have always thought that Jesse Ventura was a practical joke that the voters of the State of Minnesota inflicted upon the State), I got a special chuckle out of this story.

Maybe Jesse Ventura should have heeded his own advice.

The former Minnesota governor, who five years ago was instrumental in alerting people to their unclaimed property, apparently has about $2,150 in checks waiting for him.

In 1999, Ventura's picture appeared next to wads of cash on a Department of Commerce brochure detailing millions of dollars in abandoned money, stocks or safe-deposit boxes. "Governor Ventura wants to make sure you get what's coming to you," the brochures said. At the time, officials credited the Ventura brochure for a spike in people filing claims.

There is reason for hope in Iraq

Fred Hiatt authored a column yesterday that anyone who is serious about maintaining an objective view of the situation in Iraq should read in full. Here is a taste.

Returning to Washington from Baghdad this month for home leave gave A. Heather Coyne a shock, and not just thanks to the cold. In Iraq, as chief representative of the U.S. Institute of Peace, Coyne spends her days working with that country's emerging civil society. Back home, she finds Americans astonished to hear that there is an emerging civil society -- that Iraqis remain involved with rebuilding their country despite all the explosions and killings.

No, this is not a "good news" story. . .

The insurgents . . . are succeeding, not only in killing and wounding Iraqis and Americans but in impeding Iraqis' ability to rebuild their country and to interact with each other and with foreigners. They are blocking precisely the kinds of interaction a society needs to begin recovering from decades of dictatorship. . .

What is remarkable, though, is that despite the mistakes of the U.S. occupation, and despite the ruthlessness and brutality of the terrorists, so many Iraqis continue to stand up on the other side.

Top Ten

Here are "the top ten events that ricocheted through the Blogosphere in 2004," courtesy of Ed Driscoll.

Blogging a disaster

The importance of blogs as an information source continues to grow. From today's New York Times comes this story.

For vivid reporting from the enormous zone of tsunami disaster, it was hard to beat the blogs.

The so-called blogosphere, with its personal journals published on the Web, has become best known as a forum for bruising political discussion and media criticism. But the technology proved a ready medium for instant news of the tsunami disaster and for collaboration over ways to help. . .

That makes blogs compelling - and now essential - reading, said Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan, an assistant professor of culture and communication at New York
University and a blogger. Once he heard about the disaster, "Right after BBC, I went to blogs," he said.

In theory, it could be difficult to find the blogs that are covering a particular event, but all one has to do is visit the more popular blogs and you will usually find that someone is providing appropriate links. In this case, Instapundit and the Moderate Voice, among others, are acting as traffic cops to get the wider blogosphere directed to the bloggers on site. It is truly fascinating to witness.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers. (Thanks for the link Glenn.)


Death toll: far from a final number

CNN is currently putting the number at 33,000. MSNBC is currently putting the number at 44,000. I fear that when all is said and done, it may be closer to 100,000.

Here is a list of the worst natural disasters ever. This one is going to be fairly high up on the list.

What's wrong with this picture?

Fannie Mae ousted CEO Franklin Raines and finance chief Timothy Howard after regulators found accounting problems at the giant mortgage company.

The mortgage finance company disclosed yesterday that ousted Chief Executive Franklin Raines is owed a pension of $1.3 million per year for life and deferred compensation of $8.7 million.
I hope he can get by.

Monday, December 27, 2004

So, so sad

UNICEF estimates at least a third of dead were children

Tough love works

A man who drank himself into a coma and lay near death in a hospital bed suddenly woke up after hearing that his boss had commanded, "Get your ass back to work!"

Bill DiPasquale's miracle recovery stunned his family and friends, who were positive he was a goner. . .

DiPasquale's friend Ralph Nash figured there was nothing to lose, and decided to deliver the message, whispering into his pal's ear, "Charlie says to get out of bed and get your ass back to work."

Five minutes later, DiPasquale suddenly awoke and uttered, "I've got to get to work." And he began a quick recovery.

"It Seemed Like a Scene From the Bible"

A first-hand account from a Washington Post reporter is here.

Jonah Goldberg: "The earthquake moved the island of Sumatra 100 feet. I looked it up. Sumatra is 182,859 square miles. It has a mountain chain. California is 162,707 square miles. It moved 100 feet."

It is official

The guy who cuts off heads on camera and slaughters Iraqi civilians is now officially the deputy of the guy who caused planes to be flown into buildings.
In an audiotape broadcast Monday by Arabic-language Al-Jazeera satellite television, a man purported to be Osama bin Laden endorsed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq and called for a boycott of next month's elections there.
It is always so nice to hear from OBL.

Shockwaves in Africa

The tidal waves reached Africa and killed people there. The magnitude of this disaster is really hard to believe.

Way to go, Dave!

Letterman is in Iraq.

War is hell

Anthony Cordesman speaks the unwelcome truth.

[Last week's] attack [in Mosul] rouses the instinct to make force protection the immediate priority for United States forces in Iraq. No American wants Americans soldiers to be vulnerable.

These instincts, however, are wrong. The United States can win in Iraq only through offensive action. It cannot afford to make every American base a fortress, or to disperse scarce manpower and other military resources in force-protection missions. United States forces have to be mobile and able to redeploy where the threat is - even though such redeployments often mean moving forces to vulnerable areas. If the Pentagon concentrates on protecting troops in the short run, the war will last longer and total casualties will be greater. Worse, the United States will simply never win. . .

War is not about eliminating risks; it is about managing them. America should do everything it can to manage its risks in Iraq, and the military is constantly learning and adapting. So, however, are America's enemies - and they understand they can only win politically, not militarily. This in part explains the attacks earlier this month on Shiites in Karbala and Najaf, which killed 68 Iraqis and wounded about 175. It also helps explains last week's attack in Mosul; the insurgents knew the bombing would receive extensive news coverage in the United States, and they no doubt are aware of the results of recent polls that show rising opposition to the war among Americans. Why not try to divide Americans and Iraqis the way they are trying to divide Sunnis and Shiites?

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Ukrainian election

Jeff Goldblum has a line in Jurassic Park that has always stuck with me.

B. D. Wong (Henry Wu): You are saying that a group of animals, entirely composed of females, will breed?

Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm): No, I am merely stating that uhh... life finds a way.

I don't believe that democracy is inevitable in the same way that evolution is inevitable, but I do believe that, whenever possible, democracy will eventually find a way. The reality is that since 1974 the number of democracies in the world has tripled, from 40 to about 120.

Culminating in today's events, democracy is finding a way in Ukraine. Yushchenko appears to be headed to a landslide victory in the "do-over" election. Congratulations to the people of Ukraine; you are an inspiration for democratic forces everywhere.

(For cross-post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here).

The BBC as nanny

Believe it or not, the BBC issued memos to staff advising them how to walk through a door and how to boil water. I'm not kidding.


Nearly 10,000 die as tidal waves sweep Asia.

Uff-da. I don't know what else to say other than this is likely to be the greatest natural disaster of my lifetime.

The year in review

From Dave Barry.

Travel papers

[U]nder legislation signed by President Bush last week, . . . state-issued [driver's] licenses will have to meet uniform national standards to be accepted as proof of identity for boarding airplanes, applying for federal benefits and other official U.S. government purposes. . . .

The law mandates that licenses have digital photographs; be resistant to tampering or counterfeiting; contain personal information like age, gender, home address and date of birth; and have that information encoded on magnetic strips that can be read by machines, similar to credit cards.
This all sounds very wise me. Not everyone agrees.
But civil libertarians worry the common driver's license is being transformed into a kind of national ID card that may allow authorities to follow movements and invade the privacy of innocent Americans.

"We are opposed to a national identification card because it creates a system where Americans must show their papers in order to travel," said Marv Johnson, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "This is something characteristic of dictatorships."
I like a lot of the work that the ACLU does, particularly in the area of free speech, but this is absolutely ridiculous. We already have to show our travel papers when we fly (our boarding pass and identification). This legislation simply tries to reduce the risk of forged identifications.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas

Blogging off until Sunday.


Vikings 28, Packers 24.

Rationale: I'm a biased optimist. That said, I ain't pinning my Christmas enjoyment on the outcome of this game.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Credit where credit is due

One can question whether there was a "save my job" reason behind Rumsfeld's visit to Iraq on Christmas Eve, but I guess I don't really care. If I were a soldier spending Christmas in Iraq, I think that I would get some degree of reassurance from having the boss drop in. For that reason alone, I will stop bashing Rumsfeld for at least a few days.

Home Run

Thomas Friedman, commenting on the same photos I talked about here, explains today what they should tell us.

Do not be fooled into thinking that the Iraqi gunmen in this picture are really defending their country and have no alternative. The Sunni-Baathist minority that ruled Iraq for so many years has been invited, indeed begged, to join in this election and to share in the design and wealth of post-Saddam Iraq.

As the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum so rightly pointed out to me, "These so-called insurgents in Iraq are the real fascists, the real colonialists, the real imperialists of our age." They are a tiny minority who want to rule Iraq by force and rip off its oil wealth for themselves. It's time we called them by their real names.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Stupidest Drudge banner headline ever


(The font size is huge on his site). Drudge has a strange fixation on weather. The alleged "bracing" involves people in Chicago possibly having to put on another layer of clothing.

By the way, it is colder here- why doesn't Drudge care about us?

Wednesday's stupid criminal

This sounds like a story from the Onion.
PARIS (Reuters) - Police suspect a French prosecutor of paying a prostitute with a stolen credit card just hours after addressing a conference on ethics, a Justice Ministry source says.

What am I missing?

Link. (Sorry - I realize it is tough to read. )

Toles is one of the cleverest political cartoonists around, but I don't really understand this one. The period of mourning for Arafat just ended, Sharon has been busy negotiating a deal to bring the Labor Party into his government, the Palestinian Authority elections are set for January 9, and it has been only 10 days since Abbas learned that he would not be opposed in the election.

Is the idea that Sharon should have been able to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a month with a guy who hasn't even been elected yet?

Nicholas Kristof

The more I read from Nicholas Kristof, the more I like him. Today's column addresses the possibilities for cooperation between conservatives and liberals on human rights issues.

(For cross-post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here).


Wrong John Kerry Gets NY Electoral Votes

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Perpetual anger

To be a hard-core leftist must really suck right now. I am no GWB apologist, so I say that with some degree of pity, not glee. kos (who has by far the most readers of any blog anywhere), for one, has just lost it. Here is an excerpt from a post today (a post that at this point has a staggering 748 comments).
But what makes me angry was Kerry and his gang's inability to take advantage of the situation. I may regret saying this later, but f*ck it -- they should be lined up and shot. There's no reason they should've lost to this joker. "I voted for the $87 billion, then I voted against it." That wasn't nuance. That was idiocy.
UPDATE: Many of the comments to the kos post opine that the Democrats nominated the wrong guy. I disagree with that, for the reasons stated here. Kerry was the best option the Democracts had, and he came within 125,000 votes in Ohio of winning.

Drunk driving

LINCOLN, Neb. - A Nebraska appeals court upheld with “great trepidation” Tuesday a probation sentence given to a man with 11 drunken driving convictions. . . .

A deputy sheriff said that Rice, 67, was so drunk he could hardly stand when he was pulled over in August 2003. His blood-alcohol level was .307 percent — nearly four times the legal limit.

District Judge Maurice Redmond waived a jail sentence of six months and instead fined Rice $1,000, revoked his license for 15 years, and ordered him to not drink, perform 200 hours of community service and complete alcohol treatment.

Yeah, like it will work to "order" a guy with 11 drunk driving convictions (1) not to drive, (2) not to drink, and (3) to go to AA. People like this are a menace to the safety of everyone on the road, and should be locked up for a long, long time.

Tom DeLay is a putz

McCain, Hagel, Coleman, Lott, Collins, Kristol, etc. are traitors and appeasers according to DeLay.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, blasting congressional and media critics of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, said yesterday that the constant drumbeat of attacks on the Pentagon chief was undermining the war effort.

"What worries me is that we are aiding and abetting the enemy," DeLay told Lt. Col. Oliver North, who was filling in on Sean Hannity's ABC Radio network broadcast. . .

DeLay complained that "most of those who are criticizing [Rumsfeld], starting with the national media, never wanted us in the war to begin with. And then you have a lot of these Democrats who voted against the war. They're the appeasers. They want to go back to the days of Clinton when we appeased these terrorists."

Tuesday's stupid criminal

Here. Police detective: "People don't think things through. It helps out a little."

Russia: demoted to "not free"

Freedom House, a Washington-based group that monitors civil and political rights around the world, downgraded Russia to "not free," from "partly free," in its latest survey of global freedom. It was the only country to register a negative category change in 2004, and the new rating puts it in the company of countries like Cuba, China and North Korea.
The whole report is here. Meanwhile, Bush said yesterday that "Vladimir Putin and I have got a good personal relationship. I intend to keep it that way. "

This is going to be tricky. I certainly hope that Condoleezza Rice's background as a Russia expert will help her find answers to the difficult Russia-related questions that will face her in new job as Secretary of State.

Optimism in the Middle East

David Brooks sums up the reasons why, in my judgment, a hawkish foreign policy is the best foreign policy. Don't forget that the policies of the last "war-mongerer" (Reagan) led to the end of the Cold War.

The Holocaust: beyond comparison

I am so tired of world events being compared to the Holocaust. Just in the last two days I have seen this and this.

The Holocaust involved the intentional murder of approximately 6 million Jewish people, plus maybe 5 million non-Jewish people. Nothing is comparable. Nothing.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Soda vs. pop

When I went to college in Washington, D.C., I would get laughed at when I said "pop." Eventually, I started saying "soda" to avoid the hassles. It turns out that I could have been a bit more assertive about defending "pop." Check out this map.


Caption from AP: "In the middle of morning traffic in Baghdad, gunmen surrounded two Iraqi election employees -- one lying on the ground, the other kneeling -- and killed them."
Do enough people in the United States appreciate that the "insurgents" represent a fascist minority that is seeking to advance its goals by slaughtering Iraqis?

UPDATE: David Adesnik at Oxblog: "I guess the United States doesn't really have to promote democracy in Iraq -- the insurgents are already doing that for us."

Blog of the Year

Powerline is blog of the year according to Time magazine. That's interesting, perhaps I should read the story. Oops. Turns out I am not allowed access to the story unless I fork over some cash.

Beyond the irony that a story about Blog of the Year cannot be accessed in the blogosphere except by those people willing to take out their credit cards, it seems financially counterproductive to deny free access. About a million blogs would link to the story if it were available, traffic at Time's site would be heavy, and Time could charge its advertisers quite a bit for space on that particular page. But heck, what do I know.

Rumsfeld in a drawer

When I was a judicial clerk, we used a stamp of the judge's signature on certain routine orders. We called it "judge in a drawer."

It turns out, the Defense Department has been sending out condolence letters to the families of dead soldiers using a "Rumsfeld in a drawer."

Now, this isn't a substantive reason to fire the guy, but it is additional evidence to me that he is not the best friend of the guys on the frontlines.


Quote: "This issue of a secretary of Defense not personally signing these letters is just astounding to me and it does reflect how out of touch they are and how dismissive they are."-- Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE).


Never, never agree to meet someone from an Internet chat room.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

A good day

The Vikings have been in several very close games this season and, in most cases, something has gone horribly wrong at the end. Today, finally, something went right at the end. The Detroit Lions (because they are, after all, the Detroit Lions) could not convert the game tying extra point with 10 seconds left in the game.

I then flipped over to watch the Packers manage to lose for only the second time in Brett Favre's career at Lambeau when the temperature was below 34 degrees at kickoff.

The stage is set for Christmas Eve: Vikings (8-6) vs. Packers (8-6) at the Metrodome.

Oh, Santa. I have one last request.

Sunday's stupid criminal

Breaks into house, opens Christmas presents, and starts cooking meth.

Person of the Year

The story is here.
For sticking to his guns (literally and figuratively), for reshaping the rules of politics to fit his ten-gallon-hat leadership style and for persuading a majority of voters that he deserved to be in the White House for another four years, George W. Bush is TIME's 2004 Person of the Year.
Although this is no surprise, I did think that there was a chance that it would be me.

UPDATE: That was a joke. I'm an infant blogger with only a handful of readers. Certain widely-read blogs, however, became a real force for change this year. Also, the speed with which information now spreads because of blogs is amazing.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Sick story

Not like you haven't heard:
MARYVILLE, Mo. - A woman charged with killing an expectant mother and cutting the baby from her womb was showing the child off to people at a cafe and to her pastor hours before she was arrested, residents said Saturday.
I post this only for the purpose of offering this thought; this has to be the sickest murder story since Jeffrey Dahmer was exposed.

Dave Barry mediates the red-blue rift

Below are a few teases. The whole thing is damn funny.
I thought that in today's column I would heal the nation. The nation suffered a wound during the recent presidential election as a result of the rift between the red states - defined as "states where 'foreign cuisine' pretty much means Pizza Hut" - and the blue states, defined as "states that believe they are smarter than the red states, despite the fact it takes the average blue-state resident 15 minutes to order a single cup of coffee."

* * *

Must we stereotype those who disagree with us? Do we truly believe that ALL red-state residents are ignorant racist fascist knuckle-dragging NASCAR-obsessed cousin-marrying road-kill-eating tobacco-juice-dribbling gun-fondling religious fanatic rednecks; or that ALL blue-state residents are godless unpatriotic pierced-nose Volvo-driving France-loving left-wing Communist latte-sucking tofu-chomping holistic-wacko neurotic vegan weenie perverts?

Tribute to the troops

Here is a moving photo/musical tribute to the guys and gals doing the heavy-lifting in Iraq. (It takes a minute or two to load even with a high-speed connection, but it is worth the wait.)

California real estate

I spent some time in court this week telling a judge that nobody wants to live on particular 100 acre parcel of land in the middle of California for which bonds had been issued to fund the construction of streets and sewers. Thus, there is no money available to pay the bonds. Part of the problem is that this 100 acre parcel is across the road from a maximum security prison.

Today, I open the paper to find a story about whether it makes sense to renovate a 150 year old prison on some of the most valuable, waterfront land in California for the purpose of housing death row inmates.

I think you can figure out my point.

Saturday's lucky criminal

By definition to me, anyone who goes into a bank to steal a few hundred bucks in plain view and while he or she knows that pictures are being taken is a stupid criminal. But some are apparently better at this high-risk, low-reward crime than others. Locally, the "Fishing Hat Bandit" hit again yesterday for the 23rd time in the last 18 months.

Saturday's stupid criminal

Bank robber writes hold-up note on his probation papers.

Friday, December 17, 2004


President George W. Bush (news - web sites) and Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua Bolton (C) talk to conferees, above a misspelled sign, at the White House Conference on the Economy in Washington, December 16, 2004. The White House went all out to showcase the advantages of U.S. President George W. Bush's ambitious financial agenda this week, but in the end the 'challenges' proved too much. The word 'challenges' -- a main theme of a two-day White House economic conference that ended on Thursday -- was misspelled on a large television monitor that stood in front of Bush during a panel discussion.

Don't blame the media for this one

Just a few days ago I approvingly offered a Cox & Forkum cartoon. But this is silly. The reason for the increased reporting regarding Rumsfeld's job securty is that Republican Senators (McCain, Hagel, Lott, Coleman, Collins) have been speaking out against Rumsfeld. Conservative pundits have also been jumping on the bandwagon.

The "liberal media" whine doesn't work here.

Things you probably didn't know

Here a few things that I learned from a recent interview with Moammar Gadhafi and that I feel compelled to pass along.
  • Gadhafi was 50% responsible for Bush's reelection.
  • "Isratine" is the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
  • Libya is "a model of moderate Islam" and, if that model was emulated throughout the Middle East, terrorism would be defeated.
  • Gadhafi has no power in Libya. All power is now in the hands of the Libyan people.
As long as I have taken it upon myself to cure ignorance, here are a few other things you should know.
  • My blog endorsement of Bush was the other 50% responsible for his reelection.
  • "Winnesota" is the solution to the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry.
  • I have more raw athletic ability than Tiger Woods, but I prefer intellectual pursuits.
  • I'm not full of sh*t.


I am not a religious person, and in general I don't like a mixing of church and state, but some efforts in the other direction just go too far.

From one of my favorite Jews, I bring you Just Leave Christmas Alone.

Battle of the Bulge

Tully reminds us that 60 years ago yesterday, the Battle of the Bulge began.

Here is the story of one small group of men who may have changed history that day.

Today's stupid criminal

Foiled by a 90 year old lady .

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Brock v. O'Reilly

Two O'Reilly posts in a row could get me suspended from the blogosphere, but here goes anyway.

I have a visceral dislike of Bill O'Reilly because of his bullying interview style. I also agree with David Brock on just about nothing. Thus, I declare myself qualified as a neutral arbitrator in the case of Brock v. O'Reilly.

I find that Brock has knocked O'Reilly's block off.

Chevy Chase and Bill O'Reilly

Chevy Chase said stupid things at an awards ceremony put on by People for the American Way, and Drudge has been promoting it for at least 24 hours as some big story. My first thought was "Why should I spend one minute caring about what Chevy Chase said?"

Tonight, I made the mistake of checking in with Fox News and O'Reilly was trying to pour gas on this non- story. Gosh, this must be a real slow news day.


Castro's granddaughter just became a U.S. citizen.

More criticism of Rumsfeld from the right

1. Trent Lott.
2. Bill Kristol.

Unfortunately, I'm sure Bush is not listening and, even if he were, he would simply dig in his heels further.

UPDATE: 3. Susan Collins.

Please explain, Mr. President

(via Joe Gandelman).

Lieberman declines

I think that this was the right thing to do.

(CNN) -- Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman has twice in recent days said "no" when approached about the possibility of a major job in the second Bush administration, CNN has learned.

The Cabinet vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security was the subject of the latest overture, according to congressional and other government sources. Those sources said the earlier overture was to see whether Lieberman might be interested in becoming the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

I'm in favor of some moderate Democrats in the Cabinet. But if Lieberman took a post, a Republican governor in Connecticut would appoint a Republican to take his spot in the Senate, and, in my judgment, the powers of government are unbalanced enough already. The Senate and, in particular, the filibuster are the only things that really stand in the way of any Republican efforts at cramdown legislation.

Good news/bad news

Good news.

Federal regulators have voted to begin allowing airline passengers to have high-speed wireless Internet access on their laptop computers on domestic flights.

Officials say Internet access might be found on the flights by 2006, once plans are completed and planes are outfitted with the equipment.

As a side note, my wife said she saw a story on the news last night in which the theme was the potential problems with people viewing Internet pornography on airplanes. What a joke. Have you ever seen a person bring a Penthouse or Hustler magazine on an airplane? How about a porn DVD to watch on a laptop? My gosh.

Bad news.
The Federal Communication Commission is considering whether to let passengers use cell phones on airplanes.
I would take a crying baby next to me over someone talking on his or her cell phone for an entire flight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

No domestic mandate

I voted for Bush, but he won re-election by the smallest percentage of any sitting president in a long time (sorry, too tired to research). And he based his re-election campaign on national security issues.

If this election had been run based primarily on domestic issues, it is clear to me that Kerry would have won easily. So, although I agree with some and disagree with others of the items on Bush's domestic policy agenda, I think that it is BS for anyone to argue that he has a "mandate" for any of his domestic initiatives.

End of rant.

Reluctant link

I have sworn off visiting Atrios' blog many times, but I always seem to return at some point because of the entertainment value. He is so articulate, yet so extreme. But today I can link to him approvingly, so I will do so.
Bernard Kerik is one scandal away from winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

I don't offer this as a piling-on of Tenet, although I am not going to try to defend his performance either. It is just kind of funny, and I always welcome any humorous distraction from the serious events of the day.

Chemical Ali

This trial is going to interest me far, far more than the Scott Peterson trial.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Ali Hassan al-Majid, one of Saddam Hussein's most feared deputies, better known as "Chemical Ali," will be the first leader of the former regime to be tried for war crimes, Iraq's defense minister said on Wednesday.

The trial could begin as early as next week, Defense Minister Hazim al-Shaalan told reporters through an interpreter, and would certainly start by the middle of January -- days before Iraq is due to hold its first post-Saddam election.

"In the next few days we will have the trial of Ali Hassan al-Majid, one of the close followers of Saddam Hussein," Shaalan announced. "He will be the first to be tried."

Majid, who is accused of some of the worst crimes committed during Saddam's decades in power, including the gassing of up to 5,000 Kurds in northern Iraq in the late 1980s, is the only one of Saddam's deputies so far set for trial, Shaalan said.

This evil SOB also served as governor of Kuwait during Iraq's occupation in 1990-1991. I think that it is a great idea to start the trials with Ali before the elections to reassure the Iraqi people as much as possible that the Baathists are never going to be allowed to return to power.

Orange poisoning?

I'm a bit slow, but I haven't seen anyone else make this connection either. Orange is the color of Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party, and the protests since the disputed election have been dubbed "the Orange Revolution." Interestingly, "dioxin refers to a group of contaminants that are the byproducts of herbicides such as Agent Orange . . ."

A coincidence, or a form of "riddle me this, riddle me that"?

More stupid criminals

I don't know why, but I get such a kick out of this type of story.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Voter identification

I am not a Democrat, but I am not a Republican either. This year, after months of deliberation and with no enthusiasm, I eventually decided to vote for Bush (and explained why here).

With those caveats, I think that the proud conservatives at Powerline may be right about this.
A poll released by Gallup today suggests that maybe it's starting to happen: by a stunning 37% to 32% margin, more respondents describe themselves as Republicans than Democrats. This represents a significant shift even compared to pre-election numbers. Do you suppose the Democrats' non-stop insults toward the electorate since Nov. 2, threats to secede, etc., might have been counterproductive?
Although I have not heard or read "non-stop insults," I have heard enough. I have also complained about suggestions that anyone who voted for Bush must be a homophobic, war-mongering idiot (see here and here). I have suspected that this rhetoric would have a cumulative (and negative) effect, and this poll reinforces my suspicion.

(To view similar, but not identical, post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here.)

Ring, ring

Mink, Louisiana is located here. The town's residents are still waiting for land-line telephone service to be established. It is going to cost BellSouth $46,000 per resident to establish service.

City data

If you want to know every statistic possible about your city or town, you will find them at this site. Here are the results for where I live.

Quote of the Day

"Democracy is the future. We have to be ahead of the world in our region, the Middle East, and not to be lagging behind, because the whole world is heading toward democracy."

Seif el-Islam el-Qaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Now his idea of democracy may be different from my idea of democracy, and his political power is questionable, but I still think that this is an extraordinary statement for him to make.

UPDATE: Roger, thanks for the link!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Salt in the wound

Not nice.

One of Minnesota's 10 presidential electors broke from the pack and cast a vote Monday for John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential running mate for John Kerry. The other nine Minnesota members of the Electoral College voted for Kerry, who won the state's popular vote in November.

After the state's Electoral College ceremony concluded, no one stepped foward as the Edwards voter. Most electors chalked the vote up as a mistake rather than a purposeful political statement.

I seriously doubt that it was a mistake. This was not a butterfly ballot. I think that it was a message that this particular person thought that nominating Kerry was a mistake.

UPDATE: Upon reflection, I didn't make clear that I disapprove of this. I don't want electors to the Electoral College to even think that they have any legitimate basis upon which to modify (even insignificantly) the election results.

Political cartoons

I really enjoy political cartoons. I expect to post many over time, and for each one to fit in one of three categories: (1) clever and I agree with the point; (2) clever but I disagree with the point; or (3) stupid and should be subjected to ridicule. If it isn't obvious, this fits into (1). (Here is a link.)

"How Daschle Got Blogged"

This is the title of interesting article by John Fund today. It suggests that Thune would not have won but for the impact certain South Dakota blogs had on news coverage.

(For cross-post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here.)

McCain: reverting to form

There he goes again.
PHOENIX - U.S. Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) said Monday that he has "no confidence" in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq (news - web sites) and the failure to send more troops.

When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, I expressed the view that Rumsfeld should go. I have never expressed an opinion on troop levels because I don't feel qualified to do so, but I have always suspected that McCain is right.

It is too bad that with all of the new Cabinet members, there won't be one at the Defense Department.

Gay divorce

I don't care if gay people get married, yet I respect people who, based on religious beliefs, oppose the idea. But it is hard for me to understand how anyone would not see the silliness of this particular argument about the significance of the first gay divorces.
Opponents of gay marriage said the divorces, occurring so soon after the weddings, confirm that gay couples are not equipped for marriage.
Britney Spears was married for 55 hours. What does that tell us about heterosexual marriages? Nothing. The truth is that certain individuals (not groups of people) "are not equipped for marriage," at least to the particular person who they had chosen for a spouse.

Professor: "I want the beheaders to win"

You are kidding, right? You don't really want people who blow up or cut of the heads of anyone who wants to vote to gain control of Iraq, do you?

By Robert Jensen

The United States has lost the war in Iraq, and that's a good thing.

I don't mean that the loss of American and Iraqi lives is to be celebrated. The death and destruction are numbingly tragic, and the suffering in Iraq is hard for most of us in the United States to comprehend. The tragedy is compounded because these deaths haven't protected Americans or brought freedom to Iraqis - they have come in the quest to extend the American empire in this so-called "new American century."

So, as a U.S. citizen, I welcome the U.S. defeat, for a simple reason: It isn't the defeat of the United States - its people or their ideals - but of that empire. And it's essential the American empire be defeated and dismantled. . .

Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of "Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity." He can be reached

(Via Andrew Sullivan).

Sunday, December 12, 2004


Ed Cone:
Newsday says Kerik's flameout hurts Giuliani's chances for the White House. What chances? Could somebody explain to me, real slow and in small words, how an acerbic, pro-choice, pro-gay-rights pol who went through a messy public divorce is going to get the GOP nomination anyway?
My best answer is from a Giuliani critic based on a meeting he had with the most conservative of the base:
By a show of hands, I gave the ladies--and a handful of men who were their guests--four choices: Senator John McCain, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator Bill Frist, and "other." The results astonished me. . . .

Giuliani swept more than three-quarters of the votes . . .

Saddam's hunger strike

Someone needs attention.

Ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and 11 top leaders of his regime awaiting trial for crimes against humanity have gone on hunger strike in their US detention centre, one of their lawyers says.

"We have reliable information that Saddam Hussein and 11 other prisoners began a hunger strike on Friday to protest ill-treatment," Badiaa Aref Ezzat, the Iraqi lawyer of former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz, said.

This reminds me of the great scene in Blazing Saddles when Bart (Cleavon Little) rides into town as the new sheriff and he talks his way out of trouble (4th .wav file on list).

KGB plot?

If the KGB was behind the poisoning of Yushchenko, the relationship between Bush and Putin is going to change dramatically.

Trudeau is a snob

Message: Anyone who votes for a Republican is a hostile fundamentalist with no taste buds and no culture. Ah, yes, the most effective way to win potential voters over is with insults.

UPDATE: Sorry, I thought that this would be readable. Here is a link to the strip.

Does not compute

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame is close to hiring New England Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as its new coach, a university source said Saturday night, but the deal is not complete and still could fall apart. . .

Weis, 48, started as a high school coach and has long wanted to become a head coach. He went as far as undergoing gastric bypass surgery to help improve his chances of getting a job.

Today's prediction

Early in the year there was a lot of buzz about Seattle, and the conventional wisdom was that it was one of the top two or three teams in the NFC. Now at 6-6, the year has been disappointing so far. But Seattle is dangerous, and I am a bit surprised that the Vikes are favored by 6 1/2. I am going to go with the Vikes, but not to cover the spread.

Prediction: Vikings 31, Seattle 28.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

"Honey, I'm going out" . . .

. . . to drink and smoke pot with your students.

The wife of the La Veta superintendent of schools faces up to 18 years in prison when she is sentenced this week for supplying alcohol and marijuana to minors. . . He testified at his wife's trial that he questioned the character of the teens who allegedly shared drugs or drank with her.

Well said

I agree 100% with this from Roger L. Simon.
If there's one thing I have learned in the last few years it's that allegiance to any political party should be transitory. I don't care what the party thinks. I care what I think. The minute it is the other way round, I have lost freedom of thought. The same thing is true of "isms" for me. So unlike Peter Beinart, I am not worried about resurrecting "liberalism" (or applauding "conservatism" for that matter). What interests me is getting more citizens of this country to support our militant position in the war on terror and to support our intervention in Iraq. The spread of democracy is extraordinarily difficult, but it is by far our most serious work. Democracy should be what we are most concerned about. At the moment, it's the only label that interests me.

Iraqi bloggers in the Oval Office


The Ugly Ukrainian

It is official.
VIENNA, Austria -- Dioxin poisoning caused the disfiguring illness afflicting Ukraine opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, doctors at an Austrian hospital have said.

Doctors told a news conference Saturday they suspect a "third party" administered the poison, possibly by putting it in Yushchenko's soup.
This is one of the oddest stories I ever remember. Did they think that people would not vote for him if he was ugly? If you are going to poison him, why not with something that will kill him?

UPDATE: Was Arafat poisoned too?

Dump Explorer?

A public university with an enrollment of over 80,000 put the kibosh this week on Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and urged its students to switch to alternative browsers such as Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, or Safari.

Penn State University on Wednesday issued an alert to students and staff recommending that they dump IE and use a different browser.

I have been experimenting with Firefox and, for me, it is just as easy to use as Explorer. Given the security issues, it will probably become my default browser before long.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Biden v. McCain

This was the matchup I dreamed of this year. Maybe we will get it in 2008.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., on Wednesday became the first to declare his 2008 intentions, if not his candidacy, in what may well turn into a stampede of hopefuls in both parties.

"Are you going to run this time?" Don Imus asked him on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning.

"Well, I'm going to proceed as if I'm going to run," Biden said. He said he would make a "hard" decision in two years, based on whether he thinks the country is ready for him and his ideas. "I don't want to do this for the exercise," he said.

At least three other senators are proceeding as if they're going to run: this year's Democratic ticket, John Kerry and John Edwards, and Republican John McCain of Arizona. All are making or planning trips to Iowa or New Hampshire, states with early contests.

(For cross-post at Centerfield and commments posted there, click here.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Hero I Never Met

My uncle (who died 20 years before I was born) was president and valedictorian of his class at Dartmouth, as well as captain of the football team and basketball team (including a basketball team that lost in the NCAA Championship game in 1942). He then joined the Navy.

Here is what I know about his valedictorian speech:

Charles 'Stubbie' Pearson '42, served as his class's valedictorian, and later as a Navy dive-bomber pilot in the Pacific. In his valedictory address, he said 'this is a war for the future. Man must replace the importance of material gain. We must humanize ourselves. Man is man and that is all that is important...Do not feel sorry for us. We are not sorry for ourselves. Today we are happy. We have a duty to perform and we are proud to perform it.'

My uncle never returned from the Pacific, and his body was never found. Tom Brokaw later did a lengthy piece on my uncle and he interviewed my Dad extensively as part of his "Greatest Generation" series on NBC Nightly News. Boy, that was emotional to watch.

I inherited neither the intelllectual gifts nor the athletic ability of my uncle. But 60 years later, I want to pay my respects to him on Pearl Harbor Day.

(For cross-post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here.)

I'm so proud

Gallup Poll:
Please tell me how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields -- very high, high, average, low, or very low? First, ... Next, ...[RANDOM ORDER]

% Saying
"Very High/High"





















* * * * *









I would like to complain, but my experience in the last month has reinforced for me why the collective opinion of lawyers is so low. In my book, as a lawyer your most important professional asset is your reputation. Given that, it amazes me how many lawyers (albeit still a distinct minority, in my experience) are willing to be intentionally dishonest and who (1) can sleep at night and, conscience aside, (2) also assume that such dishonesty will never catch up with them. And they give us all a bad name in the process.

Fake Canadians

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) -- An American T-shirt company has a solution for their fellow citizens who want to vacation in Europe without having to answer questions about U.S. politics -- pose as Canadians.
I hope that this enterprise is a spectacular failure.

Name change

Anyone who has visited this blog with any regularity has probably noted that I have tinkered with the name several times, but until now always included the words "Common Sense" somewhere. However, a recent search at The Truth Laid Bear turned up 15 blogs that include "Common Sense" somewhere in the title and I would like something a bit unique. So I am going to adopt "Pearson's Perspective" and I am not going to change it again. (Unless I change my mind.)

UPDATE: I hope changing the name doesn't violate the Bloggers' Code of Ethics.

FDR's Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation


Iraqi elections

This is a story from yesterday, but I still think that it is worthy of comment.

BAGHDAD -- Militants surrounded a bus full of unarmed Iraqi contractors as they rode to work Sunday morning, gunned down and killed 17 of them. . .

He said the attack began at 8:30 a.m., when a sedan overtook the bus and cut it off just before it stopped to let the contractors off. Several attackers leapt out of the sedan, another group in a second car drove alongside, and both groups opened fire on the bus with AK-47 rifles until they ran out of ammunition, Coppernoll said. They then got back into their cars and fled.

By any definition, this is terrorism. To what end?

The ambush was part of an intensified insurgent campaign aimed at terrorizing Iraq's fledgling security forces and fomenting sectarian divisions that could undermine the elections or perhaps force a delay.
So what should we do? Sunni political parties say give the terrorists what they want, and postpone the elections.

But the political leaders who gathered in Baghdad on Sunday, mostly Sunni Arabs representing about 40 political parties and individuals, said that the insurgents' campaign of violence and intimidation made credible elections impossible for the moment, and that conducting them in January would achieve an illegitimate result that could provoke further civil conflict.
Provoke further civil conflict? I haven't noticed much restraint from these bastards to this point.

The situation in Iraq is obviously tenuous, and success is far from assured, but postponing the elections because terrorists are murdering civilians with the goal of causing a postponement of the elections sounds like a terrible idea to me.

Monday, December 06, 2004

It is always our fault

I strongly reject Ann Coulter's silly characterizations of "liberals" as a group as anti-American. However, there are at least some left-wingers who consistently gravitate towards the interpretation of any item of news that reflects most poorly on the United States or Americans.

Here is an example. The French make some chairs for the Queen Mary II, and the chairs keep breaking. The spin offered by our left-wing blogger is not that the French made defective chairs, but that Americans are fat and " Somehow this story sums up our culture so well…"

My first car was a Renault, so I know based on personal experience that the French are at least capable of making a shoddy product. I also know many overweight people, and I have never seen any of them break a chair. So my conclusion based on this story is that the French made crappy chairs.

P.S. When I see similarly stupid B.S. from right-wingers, I will complain just as loudly.

The truth about FCC complaints

In an appearance before Congress in February, when the controversy over Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl moment was at its height, Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell laid some startling statistics on U.S. senators.

The number of indecency complaints had soared dramatically to more than 240,000 in the previous year, Powell said. The figure was up from roughly 14,000 in 2002, and from fewer than 350 in each of the two previous years. There was, Powell said, “a dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes.”

What Powell did not reveal—apparently because he was unaware—was the source of the complaints. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003—99.8 percent—were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group.

The head of the Parents Television Council, Brent Bozell, is one of my least favorite right-wingers. Here is a link to the Council's website. -- it even gives a link to file an FCC complaint.

A story I don't want to believe

In a sworn affidavit (pdf file) Monday, a former programmer for a NASA contractor said that he developed a vote-rigging prototype at the request of a then-Florida state representative who is now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Great quote

From Taegan Goddard:

"I figure there's nowhere to go from here but down. So tonight, I'm announcing my retirement from the United States Senate."

-- Sen.-elect Barack Obama (D-IL), quoted by the Chicago Tribune, as he "lampooned his celebrity status and the speculation that he has a future run for the White House on his mind" with an appearance at the Gridiron Club.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Book of the Year Author: Jon Stewart

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Political satirist Jon Stewart's mock look at a political science college textbook "America (the Book), a Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction," was named on Sunday the book of the year by Publishers Weekly, the trade publication of the book industry. .
My wife read this book and loved it. It is now sitting on my book pile. I look forward to reading it, mostly because I enjoy anything that makes fun of politicians in a way that, well, actually makes me laugh.

Vikings v. Bears

The Bears are better than I thought, and the Vikings' defense is more dependent on Antoine Winfield than I thought. (He got hurt in the 1st quarter today. Winfield, a cornerback, is the team's leading tackler this season -- not a good sign). The Vikes will make the playoffs this year, but they will exit early.

Dumb school officials

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. -- An elementary school bus driver was fired after sharing a statistic she had read about embryonic stem cell research with students, then encouraging them to tell their parents about it.

Dumb criminals


CALLAWAY, Fla. -- Help, police, someone stole my pot!

A Panhandle couple is under arrest after notifying police Thursday that their quarter-pound stash of marijuana was stolen and that they needed the weed back, because they were going to later sell it.

Death Penalty: Judicial Review

My support for the death penalty has faded over the years, but I don't think that it should again be ruled unconstitutional. I also don't expect too many states will repeal their death penalty statutes anytime soon. So in the end, I have to be confident that death sentences will be subjected to the most rigorous judicial review. Stories like this one don't help my confidence.

(To view cross-post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here.)

Saturday, December 04, 2004


You can't make this up.
PARIS — Police at Paris' top airport lost track of a passenger's bag in which plastic explosives were placed to train bomb-sniffing dogs, police said Saturday. Warned that the bag may have gotten on any of nearly 90 flights from Charles de Gaulle, authorities searched planes upon arrival in Los Angeles and New York.

Too controversial?

This is just weird.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- An advertisement from a U.S. mainline Protestant denomination calling for the inclusion of gay men and lesbians in church life has been rejected by television networks CBS, ABC and NBC.

CBS and NBC said the spot violates their policies against running ads that take positions on matters of public controversy.
"Matters of public controversy?" I seem to recall seeing an advertisement or two recently that had something to do with who should be the next President of the United States. And why is inviting people to church controversial anyway?

Joe Gandelman

Thanks for the link, Joe.

If you haven't seen Joe's work before, check out his blog, the Moderate Voice, as well as Dean's World, where Joe guest blogs on weekends.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Do we need to give the bad guys ideas?

WASHINGTON - Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson resigned Friday, warning of a potential global outbreak of the flu and health-related terrorist attacks. “For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do,” he said.
I have had some "for the life of me" questions regarding the litigation tactics of my opponents, but I have kept them to myself. And we were fighting about money, not life and death.

Thompson's statement is bizarre.

The Ukraine

It was a good day for democracy.
KIEV, Ukraine (CNN) -- Ukraine's Supreme Court has nullified the results of the country's disputed presidential election and called for a repeat of the runoff in three weeks.

Friday's ruling was a big win for opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, who claimed that widespread fraud robbed him of victory in the November 21 vote.

Yanukovych tried to steal the election, and Putin tried to help him. People cried foul, and the Bush Administration properly supported them. In the end, democracy wins, authoritarianism loses, and Putin is pissed.

A New Foreign Policy for Democrats

Peter Beinart has an excellent article in the New Republic that is generating a lot of discussion in the blogosphere. Here is a taste:

Today, three years after September 11 brought the United States face-to-face with a new totalitarian threat, liberalism has still not "been fundamentally reshaped" by the experience. On the right, a "historical re-education" has indeed occurred--replacing the isolationism of the Gingrich Congress with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's near-theological faith in the transformative capacity of U.S. military might. But American liberalism, as defined by its activist organizations, remains largely what it was in the 1990s--a collection of domestic interests and concerns. On health care, gay rights, and the environment, there is a positive vision, articulated with passion. But there is little liberal passion to win the struggle against Al Qaeda--even though totalitarian Islam has killed thousands of Americans and aims to kill millions; and even though, if it gained power, its efforts to force every aspect of life into conformity with a barbaric interpretation of Islam would reign terror upon women, religious minorities, and anyone in the Muslim world with a thirst for modernity or freedom. . .

Islamist totalitarianism--like Soviet totalitarianism before it--threatens the United States and the aspirations of millions across the world. And, as long as that threat remains, defeating it must be liberalism's north star. Methods for defeating totalitarian Islam are a legitimate topic of internal liberal debate. But the centrality of the effort is not. The recognition that liberals face an external enemy more grave, and more illiberal, than George W. Bush should be the litmus test of a decent left.

Kevin Drum has a lengthy post analyzing Beinart's thesis.

In my judgment, to win Kerry needed to say convincingly and consistently that (1) totalitarian Islam is the enemy of the 21st century and the U.S. needs to confront it on every front, (2) the war in Iraq was not the next logical step in the battle against totalitarian Islam and, it was a mistake to invade, (3) but now that we are in Iraq, we must see it through and we must build a stable Iraq. He was pretty good about (3), but inconsistent about (2) and relatively silent about (1). As a result, just enough swing voters decided to go with the devil they knew.

(To view cross-post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here.)