Monday, November 20, 2006

Lord Have Mercy: O.J. Simpson Book, TV Special Canceled

My faith in humanity may yet be restored.

The fact that such a book would be published -- and would sell very well -- and the fact that such an interview would be conducted -- and be widely viewed by millions -- showed how shallow we have become as a society. But this latest news offers some hope.

On a side note, when OJ was on trial in 1995, I actually made a concerted effort not to pay much attention. The trial was a circus, and I figured there's no way the truth could be found. As we know, nothing really was settled, except that OJ wasn't going to jail.

It also highlighted racial divisions. Blacks tended to think OJ was not guilty, or at least that the LAPD was more guilty. Whites tended to think OJ got away with murder. As a white guy, I just assumed OJ was guilty, but didn't think too much of it. I figured there's no way we'll ever know for sure. Until now.

The fact that OJ was even contemplating writing such a book, that to me proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he is a murderer.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Free Speech: In case anybody cares, I'll be voting a split ticket for the midterm Congressional elections.

First and foremost, as a Northern Virginia resident, I will be voting for Jim Webb for Senate. Mr. Webb is a former Republican recently turned Democrat who is running on a platform that the war in Iraq was a horrible mistake and that we should actively seek to withdraw quickly. And on that, I completely disagree with him.

I understand that the Iraq war has gone on much longer than initially conceived, and the death toll is mounting. I also understand that our presence there makes the situation worse as we take on the essential task of training the Iraqis to defend themselves. But I still believe that winning in Iraq is crucial to the War on Terrorism. Had we left Saddam Hussein in power with his terrorist ties and weapons of mass destruction (which everybody, even the French, thought he still possessed), nobody would take seriously our hard line against Al Qaeda and other terror organizations. While we continue our anti-terrorist operations throughout the world, the missions of spreading democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq help foster change in the Middle East to end the culture of terrorism in that region.

Iraq was supposed to be the whipping boy to set an example to other Middle Eastern regimes. That did not go as planned. While we toppled Saddam Hussein and his military in weeks (even as media talking heads were calling our tactics failures -- see this is why it's so easy to ignore persistent criticism), Baathist insurgents and Al Qaeda troops began flooding the country with terrorist attacks -- not just against our troops, but mostly against innocent Iraqis, their fellow Muslim brothers. No amount of troops could stop these murders. But now the U.S. appears to have lost control of what was supposed to be a simple step in the War on Terrorism.

Jim Webb disagrees with me, and I'm voting for him anyways. It has nothing to do with a disdain for Republicans. I hate both parties equally. And it sure as hell has nothing to do with the "macaca incident" with George Allen.

In fact, after seeing Sen. Allen go through all the crap the media has put him through, a part of me still hopes he wins. I still don't believe that he knew that "macaca" was some obscure racial slur from French Africa, or wherever, regardless of his mother's background. Speaking of which, how dare that reporter ask Sen. Allen to describe how much Jewishness he has in his family. That was a completely unacceptable question. Yet, somehow, George Allen got stuck with being anti-Semitic as well as racist. All this would be reason enough for me to vote for George Allen, except for one issue.

The flag-burning amendment. The Senate came within one vote of passing the first amendment to our Constitution that would prohibit certain types of free speech. It would outlaw any desecration of the American flag. This is a ridiculous amendment, and as a First Amendment nut, it scares me. The House overwhelmingly passed the amendment. More than enough states have signaled that they would pass the amendment. And Sen. Allen voted in favor of the amendment. Jim Webb opposes it and has pledged to vote against it.

Part of the problem with being a moderate is that it's nearly impossible to find a candidate whom you agree with nearly 100 percent. Candidates generally follow the same liberal/conservative patterns, and inevitably there are several issues that will severely piss me off with each candidate. As a result, I usually have to pick one issue that is most important to me in any given year, and vote accordingly.

The War on Terrorism and an aggressive fight against our enemies is still top priority. But even though Jim Webb and I disagree on that, I see him as a reasonable enough person that he will not immediately withdraw all troops from Iraq. While he wishes we weren't there, I believe he will vote to make measured troop reductions. And even if he did want all troops home tomorrow, as one senator he wouldn't have the authority to make that happen.

Just like when I made a rationalization that Republicans would never get the same-sex marriage amendment passed when I voted for Bush in 2004 (I was right), I can rationalize that the Democrats won't cut and run, despite what GOP ads would lead us to believe (I hope I'm right).

And because this Congress decided to make flag burning an election-year issue by nearly passing such an awful amendment that cuts to the very heart of our ability as Americans to openly criticize our nation and our government, I have to take their threats seriously. It's not even a Republican issue. Many Democrats voted for that amendment. I completely disagree with anyone who wants to burn the flag -- they're morons with nothing to offer. But I will fight to the death for their right to say stupid things. In fact, it helps more easily identify the morons by letting them be stupid legally.

That brings us to the House race. I'm voting for the Republican, who happens to be Tom O'Donoghue. It really wouldn't matter who the Republican is, honestly. I'm not doing this to establish any sort of moderate credentials by forcing myself to vote a split ticket. And I'm not worried about the Democrats taking over the House. I just can't stand Jim Moran.

Jim Moran is a corrupt politician who has gone on rants against the "Jewish community" for starting the Iraq war, been involved in shady finance deals as a member of Congress, and even has a penchant for physical violence.

But, I live in an overwhelmingly Democratic district, so Jim Moran will win re-election in a walk. My vote for his Republican opponent is a protest vote that really won't amount to anything. (The Senate race, however, is close, so that vote will mean much more.)

This is a depressing time in politics. The Republicans are not governing well, but the Democrats don't bring much promise either. Maybe that's why I'm not blogging much lately (that and because I'm busy as hell). Politics is a strange fascination of mine. The trick is to not take it too seriously.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bombed: North Korea defies the world and purportedly ignites its first nuclear bomb. How does the world react? I think this picture of South Korean lawmakers sums it up best.

I can't tell you what their signs say, or what they are chanting. But it's sad how all politicians project the same bland, stoic, uninspiring image the world over. I don't know what message world leaders are trying to send North Korea, but it's obviously having no effect.

Then there's this guy (first photo after the ad). Good to know we have crazy protesters in every culture.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Not So Stiff: Here's a good omen for Democrats. I was talking to a girl I know, who always seemed to be a Reagan-worshipping conservative in the past, about the current GOP travails. She responded with, "Hey! I'm not a starch Republican."

I guess they're losing support. And maybe I should change the name of my blog.

Back to work ...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Unsatisfactory: Mark Foley is a sick puppy, we all know that. Instead of just accepting this, Republicans feel they need to mount some sort of counterattack. So they complain about how this is a last-minute surprise before the upcoming midterm elections.

Something like this seems to happen every election year. It usually involves a legitimate scandal, such as this one with Foley and his sexual messages with teenage boys. The only defense the other side can muster is to say the accusers are using such-and-such as a political ploy.

Republicans have already tried this several times this year, and it's still early October. They accused Bob Woodward, whose reporting previously made President Bush look good, of being a partisan hack who unleashed his new book on Iraq just in time for the election. Now some conservatives are accusing Democrats and the media of withholding information about the Foley exchanges in time for the election -- as if the Democrats created this mess.

That's just pathetic. News breaks all during the year. When it does, politicians are expected to deal with it. We shouldn't hold all breaking news the weeks before an election. That's when it's most important.

And sometimes the media actually does wait. The New York Times investigated Bush's wiretap program for a year before going to print. The paper could have rushed it before the presidential election, but instead decided to get the facts right.

Democrats have made the same lame argument for "election year" votes in Congress. Republicans demand votes on immigration reform and funding for Iraq, and someone complains that it is an election-year game. Every other year is an election year. You can't expect Congress to do nothing for half the time (although that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

... and back down the drain: Now Rep. Rangel and other Democrats are promising to cut funding to the war in Iraq if Democrats gain control of the House. I know Rangel isn't the Democratic House leader, and I know this would never actually come to pass if the Dems got control. But it's still sad to see reasoned debate plop back into the toilet.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wow! The Drudge Report has clips of Rep. Charles Rangel and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lambasting Hugo Chavez. Two of the most shrill and outspoken critics of Bush have recognized that a foreign leader, or "thug" as Pelosi calls him, has crossed way over the line.

That is fantastic. That isn't even so much a defense of President Bush as just a call for common decency. Pelosi and Rangel are telling Chavez that if he wants to be taken seriously, he has to act like an adult.

Personally, I don't care that Socialist sociopaths like Hugo Chavez don't like Bush. That just makes me like Bush more. So Chavez's comments didn't bother me. He was an embarrassment to himself and his country -- sounding more like a freshman protester than the chief executive of a South American nation. Bush is Satan and he smells bad? I know junior-high school kids who are more clever.

We still have hateful hacks like Cindy Sheehan and, apparently, much of the United Nations who align themselves with Chavez. Those people have lost all credibility with me long ago. But kudos to Pelosi and Rangel for remembering to be an American first and a politician second.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Bubblin' Crude: Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi praised the Bush administration for using the power of the presidency to quickly bring down gas prices after they temporarily spiked over the summer. She realized that Bush and Cheney's connections and experience with the oil industry gave them an insider's perspective on how to cut the cost of crude.

We have two oilmen in the White House. ... There is no accident. It is a cause and effect ... A cause and effect.
Oh, wait. My bad. That's an old quote from Nancy at a press conference in April complaining about the high gas prices. Strange she's being so quiet lately. Maybe she took a course on supply and demand and realized that the president cannot control oil prices. Or maybe she read a newspaper and found out that the people who do set those prices for the most part are Middle Eastern despots.

Okay, back to work.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fighting Back: Pope notes the violent history of Islam. Muslims respond by killing a humanitarian nun and burning things.

One thing we generally agree about the Islamic terrorists is that they are usually PR savvy. They use global media to their advantage. If a Muslim child gets killed or a milk factory gets destroyed during the course of Western military activity, they exploit it -- even as the terrorists target children and civilian infrastructure. They exaggerate and tell lies about mistreatment and violence to generate sympathetic news coverage.

So why would Muslims respond to the Pope's condemnation of Islamic violence with more Islamic violence? Why murder and incite riots when this underscores exactly what the Pope is talking about?

Because they want people to believe it. They know that their only real weapon is fear. If they moderated their approach and appeared reasonable, they would be ignored by the world. But because any verbal or written criticism -- even one as innocuous as a cartoon -- will incite a violent reaction, they propagate that reputation in order to extend their influence.

While there are also some angry reactions from moderate Muslims, much of the violent protests are instigated by terrorist groups, and Islamic despots are fanning the flames of hatred. They can viciously criticize other groups, such as Jews and Christians, and never expect such a reprisal. But by overreacting to every criticism, Islamofascists actually increase their power as we react in fear.

This strategy seems to have obvious short-term gain but long-term failure. As such, we shouldn't be afraid to say what we think, lampoon what we want, and criticize those who deserve to be criticized.

This is a major front in the War on Terrorism. We haven't been asked to sacrifice much for this war, simply because of its complexity of the operations. That's too bad, because in this war, the terrorists are targeting ordinary American civilians in a clash of civilizations.

But we can fight back by defending freedom of speech at all costs. We should make movies, draw cartoons, and express ourselves without fear of violence. Then the terrorists lose their power and effectiveness.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I Will Survive: There's been a lot of talk about the new season of the Survivor reality show. This time the teams will be segregated racially. Of course, people have different reactions to the controversy. After all, it is just a TV show.

I'd assume, though, that many African Americans will root for the African American team, many Latinos will root for the Latino team, and many Asians will root for the Asian team. Nothing wrong with that, it only seems natural.

Any white people out there going to announce that they are openly rooting for the white team? Seems like the type of thing that could get you in trouble. That's kind of understandable, considering the history of white racism in this country. But it's also a double standard.

As for me, yeah, I'm white, but I never watch the show, so I really don't give a damn.

If you really want to get my attention, do religious Survivor. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Atheists.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

oops: Murder suspect accidently released from jail. Five days ago.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Base Five: Everybody is commemorating and remembering the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The media is showing a rerun. The president is giving a prime-time address to the nation. And the terrorists even released a video.

It still perplexes me what makes five a more anniverserial number than four or six, especially since we've been commemorating the attacks on September 11 every year since they happened. This version of instant nostalgia seems to be a new thing in an age of omnipresent media and ubiquitous communications.

The 9/11 attacks made me more angry than sad. What really depresses me now is the national split regarding the War on Terrorism. There is as much hate between the Right and Left as there is towards our enemy. The Left accuses the Right of exploiting the tragedy for unnecessary actions. The Right accuses the Left of appeasing the terrorists. Neither of which is true.

We were united in the moments after the 9/11 attacks. I still remember members of both parties of Congress on the steps of the Capitol singing an off-key rendition of "God Bless America" as a sign of unity. There was America in a nutshell -- imperfect but strong and proud.

In no way should the War on Terrorism mean that we put all debate aside and follow political leaders blindly. Republicans and Democrats have both generated controversy, and that should be addressed and discussed.

But the absolute hatred between Democrats and Republicans is completely counterproductive. When the next terrorist attack occurs in our country -- and it will happen, regardless of who is in charge -- I would like to believe that this country would unite once again to fight our enemy. Hopefully it doesn't take a repeat of 9/11 to do that.

Update: Along the same lines, our political "leaders" have seemed to accomplish little else except turning Americans against each other. After the attacks, few people blamed our government for failing to stop the terrorist attacks. Now almost half the country blames the Bush administration. About the same percentage blames the Clinton administration. This isn't even about crackpot conspiracy theories of a controlled demolition of the World Trade Center by our government or a ridiculous "docudrama" fictionalizing the events leading to 9/11. People on the Left are blaming Bush for 9/11, people on the Right are blaming Clinton. We should put the blame where it belongs, on Al Qaeda.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Whimper: Police have recovered stolen pieces of art by Edvard Munch, including his classic, "The Scream".

Is it just me or is "The Scream" a pretty pitiful painting? The guy doesn't even look like he's screaming. He could be yawning. The other two guys in the painting don't even turn around to look.

Take a look at a true piece of art. The cover art for Pink Floyd The Wall shows a true scream. There's agony in there.

It's pretty sad when a movie poster beats out what's considered a "masterpiece". I guess art snobs would say that, because it's commercial, it doesn't really count.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Blowing in the Wind: Lt. Gen. Russel "Stuck on Stupid" Honore gives a good synopsis (scroll down to the "Katrina Hero" video) of what's going on in New Orleans. His basic point -- when a big hurricane hits, there's only so much you can do. All the resources in the world cannot save everyone all at once. There were, of course, major problems with government help on the city, state, and federal level. And red tape seems to be the biggest hang-up even now. But the government cannot fix everything, especially in a major city that was so poor to begin with.

That doesn't change the fact that the city of New Orleans is still hurting, and will be for a while. So many people have moved out indefinitely, that the city remains a shell of what it was. Much of the infrastructure is still in tatters, and there's still a whole lot of mess to clean up all along the Gulf Coast. New Orleans needs money and business pumped back into its economy. Only then will jobs return and will people go back to bring life to, what I consider, the best city on Earth.

In other news, it looks like we're still on Hurricane Hype Alert. Despite all the gloom and doom, the major storms haven't amounted to much yet. Still the news media overreacts to each tropical depression like it could be the next Katrina.

However, I'm enjoying the names of the storms this year. So far we've had Alberto and Ernesto. These aren't hurricanes, they sound like Latin lovers.

Do not fear me. I am Ernesto, a tropical storm of passion. I am strong, yet gentle. As I get closer, I will make you moist.
Okay, I'll stop.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sicko: Ann Coulter. Ted Rall. And now, John Mark Karr.

Mr. Karr, the guy who lied and claimed he killed JonBenet Ramsey, joins the ranks of people who have nothing to offer except a vain attempt to seek publicity for themselves. He only wanted media attention. Now that we know this guy is a fraud, the best course of action is to never mention this guy's name in the media again. Ever.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dead Skunks: Here's one of those episodes where moderation actually pleases nobody. Scientists have discovered a way to harvest stem cells without destroying the embryo. By removing one of the cells early in development and then multiplying that cell, the embryo remains as viable as an embryo can be -- sitting in a freezer waiting for disposal.

Other scientists who favor the traditional means of extracting stem cells say this new method is unnecessarily expensive and inefficient. Conservatives still reject it because it's not what God wants.

In other news, the morning-after pill has been approved for purchase without a prescription. The pill helps prevent pregnancy soon after intercourse, but it does nothing to stop a pregnancy that has already occurred. It has been deemed safe, so the FDA approved it, for women over 18. Girls younger than that still need a doctor's permission, because apparently the last thing we'd want is to make it easier for a teenager to avoid getting pregnant.

Sometimes the only thing that can get done is that which makes nobody happy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More Hyperbole! I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan, so I'll usually join in on any trashing of the San Francisco 49ers. But I can't help but laugh at Kevan Barlow, a tailback that San Francisco traded to the Jets. Barlow said of Niner coach Mike Nolan:

He walks around with a chip on his shoulder like he's a dictator, like he's Hitler.
It's true then. In the future, everyone will be Hitler for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Musical Chairs: Well, I'll keep things light today after smacking the beehive with yesterday's post. It seems that Bob Dylan doesn't think too fondly of today's music, partly attributing its downslide to modern audio technology. It's no surprise that a 65 year old would be a curmudgeon about contemporary music. But I wonder, does anybody really like today's tunes?

I ask because this is the first time that I can remember when there doesn't appear to be a dominant rock band or musician on the pop charts. Ever since Elvis, really, there have been the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the Bee Gees, Madonna, Van Halen, Michael Jackson, Guns N Roses, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Brittany Spears. Love them or hate them, they attracted massive followings. Who rules the airwaves today? Nickelback?

I know I'm about to hit 30, so maybe I'm just blind to what today's kids are paying attention to. But we've gone through several seasons of American Idol without creating any actual idols to worship, which tells me that people are yearning for a pop star, but we can't seem to find one.

In the mean time, I'll stick to my old Metallica, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Robert Earl Keen albums.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Language of Hate: Somebody is going to have to explain to me this hatred of Sen. George Allen. I know the Virginia Republican is running for president, which makes him open to scrutiny, but rarely is anyone raked over the coals for such insignificant garbage.

The latest drama is his use of some possibly obscure racial slur, "macaca". Hardly anyone has ever heard of this word. And when you see the junior senator from Virginia use it, it's obvious he had never heard of it as an epithet either. If you have to pull out a book on obscure African translations to be offended by an insult, then frankly it doesn't count.

Senator Allen had the misfortune of making an entertaining gaffe during the month of August -- when absolutely nothing is going on. Sen. Biden said something much worse, politically at least, with his 7-Eleven comment, but nobody cared.

And the whole "Welcome to America" remark is just an old politician's trick to say, "Where you're from doesn't count as real America." Texans say it to Californians. Californians say it to Texans. Both are wrong, because both are part of America. Inside the Beltway and out, we're all Americans, so please leave the canned political insults out of the conversation.

But the hatred of Senator Allen runs deeper than that. He is constantly being accused of racism, and for no good reason. He has actually pushed a number of bills through Congress to help minorities, including legislation to provide funding for historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, and tribal colleges so those institutions can update their technology infrastructures. There's a digital divide between mainstream colleges and minority-serving institutions. He's been trying to help alleviate that.

Regardless of his legislative record, though, the evidence Allen-haters use to prove he's racist is pathetically scant.

George Allen is a rich boy from southern California who later in life adopted the southern ways of boots, dip, and honky tonk. That's kind of sad, really, and makes him a bit of a poser. But some people believe that because he emulates southern culture, he must be a racist deep in his heart.

To be a racist because you were raised in a racist family in the Deep South is one thing, racist by choice is a bit worse.
The only evidence this guy comes up with is that Allen wishes he could live the life found in country music videos. Others back up that sentiment here.

As a Texan myself, I find such overgeneralizations of the South offensive. It's also a bit ironic. Anybody who says that all southerners are prejudiced is making an extremely prejudiced statement.

The only other thing critics have pointed out is that years ago George Allen appeared with a Confederate flag. Yeah, well, so did Billy Idol. Once upon a time not so long ago, the Confederate flag was not considered racist. I still wish it weren't, but that's another matter.

Now that Allen is the new conservative target, he's often compared to George W. Bush. In fact, George Allen is being called "Bush without the brains," which I find hilarious. The Left is finally realizing that President Bush is an intelligent guy after all, now that it's too late. I certainly cannot agree with many of Bush's policy choices, but he has been underestimated his entire political career, and that just helps him succeed. Now Allen is getting the same treatment. Just as Bush was simultaneously accused of being an incompetent and an evil mastermind, Allen was supposedly dumb enough to use a racial slur with which only a sophisticated linguist would ever be familiar.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Pardon the Inconvenience: Remember that heat wave we just had? Remember how everyone attributed it to global warming? It's the middle of August in DC, and the high temperature has stayed in the 80s.

Remember a couple big hurricanes we had last year? Remember how everyone attributed them to global warming? So far this year the hurricane season is shaping up to be pretty mild.

I don't mean to play down environmental issues -- there's a lot we should be concerned about with air pollution, energy conservation, etc. But when you harp on one datum of information and scream that the world is coming to an end, nobody will take you seriously anymore.

Now I'm going to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Birth of a Nation: Al Qaeda is forming a political group in Iraq. Is this good or bad?

I'd like to think that politics could have a mellowing effect on their extremism. If they're forced to play the political game, they may at times choose pragmatism over plastic explosives.

But, unfortunately, Al Qaeda could conceivably win. Just look at Hamas. However, even that Palestinian terrorist group has considered recognizing Israel's right to exist after gaining political power. It's not much, but it qualifies as progress.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Everyone's a Winner! President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared victory over Hezbollah after the ceasefire went into effect. Meanwhile, thousands of Lebanese, along with Hezbollah terrorists, are dancing in the streets celebrating their victory over Israel.

So goes the War on Terrorism. Battlefield tactics have given way to PR games.

Neither side accomplished much. Hezbollah is still a threat, and Israel is still stable. Israel tried to lessen Hezbollah's ability to wage terror, to little success. Hezbollah tried to kill many innocent people and survive as a group, which they accomplished. That seems to give the edge to Hezbollah, if only because their standards are so much lower.

As silly as all this seems from afar, the ability to declare victory is important, especially in the culture of the Middle East. If you recall at the end of the first Gulf War, we never made Iraq sign a surrender or admit defeat. It was simply a ceasefire. As that was going on, Saddam Hussein was declaring victory over the U.S. and our allies -- after one of the most lopsided defeats in history.

At the time, that seemed like a moot point. We won, and the fighting was over. But the decade-plus of stonewalling by Saddam Hussein can be traced in part to allowing him to claim victory, leading to our need to finish the job with a full invasion of Iraq.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Alert Level: Life in Israel takes a different perspective on terrorist threats. Residents are constantly listening to a radio station that plays nothing but silence. The station breaks the silence only when there is an impending attack, such as a rocket incoming. Residents only have about a minute to get into a protective room in their house with reinforced concrete walls and metal doors -- something every house built after 1992 is required to have.

But, aw, we in the U.S. can't carry hairspray in our carry-on luggage on the airplane anymore.

Liquid Diet: So this is what Red Alert is like.

Twenty-one people and at least ten planes. The terrorists would probably be better off sticking to smaller attacks. It's just more difficult to keep something a secret when so many people are involved. But Al Qaeda likes the big splash, so that will help us catch them.

I have to pick up a friend from the airport today. I guess I can expect her flight to be delayed. Still, I dare somebody to try to get through airport security wearing one of these beer hats.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cliffhanger: It's a compelling story, one that many people don't want to see end. Now it looks like the political drama in Connecticut is ripe for a sequel.

Sen. Lieberman's loss in the Democratic primary yesterday is going to be analyzed many times over. And for good reason, because it does have national implications.

One of the most independent souls in the U.S. Senate is now running for re-election as an independent. His party got fed up with him and his conservative views on certain important issues, namely the war in Iraq, so they abandoned him for a true liberal.

Lieberman may or may not win in November. The question is whether an independent can win a major campaign and, if yes, whether an independent can serve effectively and influentially in the Senate.

The senator has his superstar status going for him. He's a respected politician who always appears honest and speaks his mind bluntly. I suspect many Democrats respect the man, but they can no longer ignore strong disagreements they have with him.

Nationally, though, Lieberman's primary loss helps solidify the Democratic Party as the anti-war party. Personally, I believe that's a shame. While my overall political views are moderate on balance, I am a hawk when it comes to foreign policy. I would rather both parties debate which one would kick more terrorist ass than one going all out and one seeking restraint.

But there have been so many problems in Iraq that it's understandable that the anti-war efforts have gained strength politically. Now in order to win a Democratic primary, it's understood that you cannot fully support the war in Iraq.

That's too bad. That gives Republicans an avenue to push their conservative agenda simply because it comes as part of the package deal with an aggressive fight against Islamic terrorism.

Honestly, I would have voted for Lieberman for president had he been the nominee against George W. Bush. At first I didn't see the need to replace one foreign-policy hawk with another. But when President Bush began campaigning strongly for a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, I was furious. I know Lieberman also doesn't support same-sex marriage, which is unfortunate. But he's far-sighted enough to know that an amendment injecting bigotry back in the Constitution is the worst way to go.

I hope Lieberman wins re-election in November. Not only do I like the guy, but I would love to see how he'd use his newfound freedom as an independent in the Senate. Unfortunately, he could end up a less effective senator. Congress relies on group support to get anything done. Senators don't trust colleagues who have no allegiance to one side or another. While I despise partisanship, there is something to be said for loyalty.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

An Army of Fun: The U.S. Army wants to build a military-themed amusement park in Northern Virginia.

"You can command the latest M-1 tank, feel the rush of a paratrooper freefall, fly a Cobra Gunship or defend your B-17 as a waist gunner," according to the proposal by Universal City Property Management III of Orlando.
One official in Fairfax County, where the proposed park would be built, was less than pleased about the idea, according to the Washington Post article.

Supervisor T. Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) was so upset after hearing about the Universal City proposal last year that he threw company representatives out of his office. He said he had no interest in turning a military history museum into "Disney on Rolling Road." After the meeting, he said, he thought the entertainment concept for the Army museum was dead.
It's not dead. I guess it was just a matter of time.

Just Go Away: I never thought I'd see the day when liberals were celebrating that Tom DeLay will remain on an election ballot.

It's a shame really. He doesn't want to run. Nobody wants to vote for him. Yet the kind folks in Sugarland are denied a true choice for their Congressional representative come November. Conservatives can try to run a write-in candidate. But that provides an unnecessary complication in what should be a simple matter.

I understand the need for election law to prevent bait and switches that political parties would like to play. But in this instance, when something occurred after the primary election that changes the dynamics of a race, a party should be able to replace that person on the ballot.

I would criticize the Democrats for gaming the system by suing to keep DeLay on the ballot, but Republicans would have done the exact same thing were the situation reversed. And the 5th Circuit, which is the most conservative federal appeals court, and Justice Scalia, one of the most conservative on the High Court, upheld the Democrats' claim.

This is simply bad law.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Attack of the Clones: I love it when bloggers expose wrongdoings by the mass media. LGF struck again by identifying a doctored photo run by Reuters showing smoke rising from buildings in Lebanon that were bombed by the Israeli military.

Quick question though: Why bother doctoring these photos? It appears the photographer is anti-Israel and wanted to exaggerate the damage to sway public opinion. But the undoctored photo shows just as much smoke.

See for yourself. This is the doctored photo.

Notice the repeating patterns in the smoke cloud. That ain't natural.

Here's the undoctored photo.

I don't understand why the photographer created something that looked obviously doctored but conveyed the same general message as the undoctored photo -- Buildings burn. Smoke big.

Now a run through the photographer's portfolio finds many questionable images. Oh well. Reuters just ends up with another well-deserved black eye.

Update: Powerline has more. That photographer puts Jayson Blair to shame.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Q: When have economic sanctions ever worked?

A: Almost never.

Any other suggestions for getting Iran to shape up?

Monday, July 31, 2006

More of the Same: Israel is taking public heat for bombing a building full of civilians. The U.N. expresses shock, other leaders are stunned, and even the U.S. is trying to finagle an appropriate response.

Barely a word is mentioned about where the blame truly belongs -- on the terrorists who hide their personnel and weaponry among civilians, using them as human shields. No one is shocked by this action, partly because we're so used to it as typical terrorist activity. But it's not even condemned. Instead, Israel reaps the blame.

That's part of the difficulty in combating terrorism. The terrorists aren't fighting a conventional battle. It's a PR campaign set through violence. When they attack, they target civilians to scare the general public. They then expect a reprisal, so they hide among civilians so when the counter-attack happens, they use the collateral damage to make propaganda images and videos. And it's impossible to tell how many terrorists are ever killed in a strike, because all the terrorists dress as civilians.

The terrorists seem to get a break because they are regarded as the underdog, outmuscled by the United States and Israel. But it's the terrorists that instigate the violence and put the civilians at risk. They do it because they want to create a fascist state of Islam extremism throughout the Middle East, and the rest of the world. Their goals are wrong, their tactics are wrong, and their message is wrong. That's where the U.N. and the rest of the world should focus their scorn.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Evacuate: I'm out for another week. Don't bring peace to the Middle East until I get back.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Second Front, Stabbed in the Back: While there has been much condemnation from the Arab Street about Israel's military response to Hezbollah and Hamas, many Muslims are critical of the terrorists who instigated the new bloodshed. And not just moderate Muslims. In addition to the editor-in-chief of the Arab Times, the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia have spoken against Hezbollah, going so far to issue a Fatwa against them. (Hat tip, Stubborn Facts)

Granted, this stems partly from the Sunni/Shiite rivalry. But I think Hezbollah miscalculated the reaction to their deeds. They probably only expected a "proportional response" from Israel, which Israel wisely avoided. And I'm sure they anticipated more support from their fellow Muslims.

We're in the process of tearing down Middle East politics so we can put it back together again. What this will look like in the end, no one knows. But we couldn't let things remain as they were.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Fighting Side of Me: Critics are mad at Bush for not doing enough to end the hostilities between Israel and her enemies. I say Bush is interfering too much. According to this article, Israel only gets one more week before the U.S. will pressure for a ceasefire. That's not enough time to cripple Hezbollah and other terrorists Israel is facing.

The war underway now is unfortunate. But Hezbollah and Hamas instigated it and have been antagonizing Israel for years. The carnage we're witnessing is nothing compared to the death and destruction Muslim terrorists cause in Israel day after day.

If we want to win the War on Terrorism, we need Israel's help. The Israelis have the tactical intelligence and experience to defeat our common enemies. Instead of holding Israelis back, we should unleash their military. We've tried diplomacy and concessions for too long. Now let Israel kick some ass.

Dig on the Big Dig: The Onion, funny again.

Listen, when the government spends $14 billion on anything, you are going to have to accept that an innocent person will die under a concrete slab.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Coat Hanger in the Congressional Womb: Well, everyone who criticized Bush for never vetoing a bill, I hope you're happy. He's about to kill a bill that would allow federal funding for stem-cell research.

This is where I join the chorus of other critics who are counting down the days until Bush leaves office. He'll only be in power for two more years. I predict that the next president will sign such a bill into law.

But I never understood the criticism against Bush for not vetoing legislation. He's a Republican president with a Republican Congress. If they were constantly vetoing and overriding vetoes, it would be a mess. They're supposed to be on the same side. If partisans can't get along, how can we even hope for bipartisanship.

The fact that Bush and Congress were able to come to agreement on legislative issues shows a great deal of leadership and compromise. Unfortunately, much of that leadership led to overspending and record deficits. But Bush has been proposing unnecessary expenditures, so I'd have no expectation for him to veto such spending. Now Republicans in Congress have softened their opposition to stem-cell research and decided it is a good place to spend taxpayer money. Too bad we'll have to wait before that can finally happen.

Monday, July 17, 2006

As If There Ain't Enough News Goin' On: Everybody seems shocked, shocked, that President Bush said the word "shit". He said it not in a public speech, but in a private conversation that happened to be picked up by a microphone.

Some people are praising him for his tough, nuance-free speech. Others criticize him for being unpresidential.

It really shouldn't matter. The problem is, by drawing so much attention to this, we're reinforcing the idea that politicians cannot speak like normal human beings. This is why every word they utter is poll tested, filtered, and canned. Plain-spokenness carries too high of a risk factor. So we end up with the same old regurgitated speeches time after time.

Case in point, Kevin Drum expresses shock, shock, that Bush said "I think" Condi is going to the Middle East. The Political Animal seems to believe this implies that Bush doesn't know. No, he does know, but some details are still in flux, so he is speaking tentatively. Don't you know, Kevin, that this was not a prepared speech and that you're wasting your time trying to analyze every little word that's spoken off the cuff?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Not Anti-War. Just For the Other Side: This tops the "Screw them" comment from before. Someone named 'qrswave' at Daily Kos waxes poetically in a post titled, Imagine a world without Israel.

Muslims, Jews, and Christians could live in peace without fear of mutual destruction.

There would be no more need for US AID or justification for Dimona.

We could bring down the Wall, send prisoners home, and families could be reunited.

We could dismantle checkpoints, open crossings, and pull down barbed wire fences.

The obvious retort is, "Imagine a world without Islam." Or more to the point, "Imagine a world without insane Muslim terrorists." The best response is from a commenter at LGF who says, "Imagine a world without Daily Kos."

I'm willing to accept that certain nutcases will remain apologists for the world's evil. But when blogs like Kos become influential political forces and have a say what's going on in one of our major parties, it scares me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

News Break: This was the Reuters headline today.

Israel calls Hizbollah capture of soldiers act of war

I'm sorry, but Israel, the Palestinians, terrorist groups -- the entire Middle East has been at war for years. This is just more of the same.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pourquoi? I broke down and decided to watch the World Cup championship game yesterday. I never felt more American than when I found myself bored to tears. Now I have respect for soccer players -- it's a grueling sport that takes a lifetime of practice and talent to excel -- but it ranks just above golf in terms of excitement as a spectator sport.

From what I observed yesterday and from snippets I've seen in other games, nothing really happens outside of penalty kicks and corner kicks. And the ridiculous rules only encourage this. If you brush up against a player in the "box", that results in a penalty kick, which is essentially a free goal. That's no biggie, except that a 1-0 match is a high-scoring game.

Nothing else is allowed to happen during regular play. If at any point a player gets the ball with a clear shot on the goal, he'll be called offsides. This has got to be the dumbest rule in sports. To prevent a player from scoring, all the defense has to do is stop running and let the player continue offsides.

And while I would never say this to any soccer player face-to-face, the constant diving, whining, and crying in attempts to draw fouls gets tiresome. I'll hand it to the players, though. They are better actors than those in the NBA. But they looked like a bunch of princesses out there. Be a man, for God's sake.

Hell, the coolest part of the game was when that French guy head-butted that Italian guy. Looks like instant replay is alive and well in soccer, despite what the official rules say. Oh well, at least the Italians won the game, although we could have saved two hours and just decided the game through penalty kicks.

But now what's really sad is I realize that we're in the summer doldrums when the only sport on TV is baseball, our national pastime, which I can't bother paying attention to until it gets close to the playoffs. The games just aren't meaningful this early in the season.

We have to wait a few months until we'll be able to watch real football again. There, head-butting is not only legal, it's necessary.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mail Bag: Someone e-mailed me asking me to explain my point of view on affirmative action. Since I have nothing else to blog about, I'll make a post out of it.

My belief is that race can be used as a factor in hiring and admissions decisions. This does not mean instituting any sort of quota or choosing someone with poor qualifications because of his or her race. Among the qualified applicants, if one of them is a member of a minority group that is underrepresented, employers should take that into consideration when making the final decision.

The argument against affirmative action generally is that the most qualified person should get the job. I absolutely agree with that. But rarely in any hiring decision is there only one good candidate. Employers use all sorts of subjective criteria to make hiring decisions (posture, speaking voice, handshake). That's the entire point of an interview, to get a feel for a job candidate and to help the employer make a gut decision on who to hire. Otherwise, all hiring could be done by scanning résumés and checking references.

You're always taking a risk when hiring someone. You don't know how that person will perform on the job until several months have passed. So to say there's always one best candidate is a fallacy.

Diversity generally helps in a workplace, no matter what the field. If everyone looks the same, chances are many of them are going to think the same. Getting people with different backgrounds also brings in people with different points of view and experiences. Granted, some professions need that more than others do, but it's no secret that hiring people of different races and ethnicities has a positive effect on society, and that's reason enough.

If you don't get any qualified minority applicants, go find them. They're out there. Groups, from the National Association of Black Journalists to the Houston Hispanic Architects & Engineers, make for an excellent starting point when looking for qualified professionals of color. Instead of fishing from the same pond all the time and catching the same fish, diversify your search.

A little bit of effort goes a long way. You don't need to set quotas or discriminate against qualified white people. Everyone you hire, no matter what color, should be qualified to do the job. You just have to make a small concerted effort, or an affirmative action, to find a diverse workforce.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Team America: Ah, another Fourth o' July. Fireworks, flags, and patriotism. After I got back from the beach trip, I went to the Independence Day celebration on the National Mall. There I got to hear country star Jo Dee Messina declare that the United States of America was "one of the best countries in the world".

Apparently she's missing part of the concept of patriotism. When honoring your country, go ahead and say we're the best, not just one of the best. Objectively, this is pretty well verifiable. But even if it weren't, nobody would fault you for loving your country.

Or so you would think. I can forgive Jo Dee for misspeaking, perhaps, but now people are questioning Germans for cheering on their World Cup team (before the team got eliminated). NPR mentioned it this morning, and The Washington Post ran a sports piece about the guilt associated with German nationalism.

Why, you ask? Because of the Nazis, of course. You see, Germans love their country. And Hitler loved his country. Plus, it was the same country. Germany. Understand? Very dangerous!

Not to downplay Nazi atrocities, but just because someone associated with your country did something bad doesn't mean you can't have a little pride in where you're from. You can root for your country to win, whether the game be soccer or war, and honestly it's not jingoistic.

And despite the dangers of an incoming flag epidemic you can show your patriotism more than one day a year.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Light 'Em Up! I'm off with some friends to spend Fourth of July weekend camping on the beach. Hope y'all have a safe and fun Independence Day.

See ya Wednesday.

Water Logged: The floods here in Washington, DC, seem to be receding. Thank goodness, too. I had to work Sunday (I'm a volunteer firefighter), and we got slammed all night. I'm amazed at how many drivers, when confronted with a large body of rapidly rising water, choose to drive through it rather than around. We also had to respond to a bunch of downed power lines and a couple house fires caused by lightning strikes.

A hellish night, indeed. But now whenever I hear people talk about the recent rainstorms, everybody has to mention global warming, as if we never had a heavy shower before the invention of the H2. I appreciate everyone's concern for the environment, but let's not start blaming every downpour on the Republicans.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

We've Suffered Enough: On the lighter side, here's a video about a group of guys circulating a petition to end women's suffrage. And students are signing away.

I don't care who you are. That's funny.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Duck and Cover: Americans have officially formed themselves into a circular firing squad over the War on Terrorism. Sure there were squabbles before about Iraq, Gitmo, and the like. But now we're going ballistic over the nitty gritty details of catching terrorists.

The New York Times (along with The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post) reported about a secret government program used to track the international financial transactions made by terrorists. It involved an organization nobody had ever heard of (Swift), was limited to international dealings that didn't concern most Americans, and it seemed to reside within the law. To top it all off, it was successful in nabbing terrorists.

Should journalists have exposed this program? Unlike the revelation of the NSA-wiretap program, this one doesn't seem to break any laws, require Congressional oversight, or even delve into the creepy world of invasion of privacy. That makes it hard to come up with a compelling reason to cover this program. But with the large controversy over the other secret terrorist-surveillance programs, how could a self-respecting newspaper sit on such a story?

Let's see what the different parties have to say.

For the conservatives, you've got Powerline once again calling for The New York Times to be thrown in jail. The program was classified, and publishing classified information is against the law. Case closed.

That's nice, except I don't think a dramatic lockup of journalists who report on the goings on in government will really quell the controversy about whether the Bush administration is trampling on the rights of ordinary Americans. In fact, it kind of plays into the liberal caricature of conservatives' ruling with an iron fist. Just because something is classified, doesn't mean it can't be exposed. The government classifies documents and programs to cover up embarrassing situations all the time. And while federal law does forbid exposing classified material, the U.S. Constitution forbids the government from restricting freedom of the press.

The media responds through Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times. I thought Howell Raines was the biggest asshole to grace the halls of the Gray Lady. Mr. Keller is quickly trying to overshadow him.

Some of the incoming mail quotes the angry words of conservative bloggers and TV or radio pundits who say that drawing attention to the government's anti-terror measures is unpatriotic and dangerous. (I could ask, if that's the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.)
This line has been ridiculed all over the blogosphere, best by Instapundit. The arrogance of Mr. Keller is overwhelming, asserting essentially that because he can do something, he will, while only playing lip service to the consequences. And nobody can stop him. While he's trying to accuse President Bush overusing his power, Mr. Keller has shown that the news media can't be trusted with its power. Somehow this debate has been completely turned around, taking the spotlight off the missteps of the government and on the corruption of the news media.

Mr. Keller continues to argue that the press shouldn't take its orders from the president. This is the most ludicrous straw man I have ever heard. Nobody is saying that the media should become a government pawn. We're just asking whether the newspapers even thought about what they were doing, or bothered to use a little common sense. Just goes to show how journalists make for lousy politicians.

The liberals. They are strangely quiet. Kevin Drum asked whether the revelation of this program will have some positive benefits because now that terrorists know that they can't use this method to finance attacks, they will have to come up with other ways that may be more difficult. Um, yeah, but it will also make it more difficult to catch them. And we want to catch as many of them as easily and as quickly as we can.

I thought The New York Times provided us with some top-notch journalism when it exposed the NSA-wiretap program. Even if the program is legitimate and hasn't been abused, it comes dangerously close to encroaching on civil liberties. The news coverage will help create safeguards to allow the program to continue but with necessary oversight.

The news coverage on the Swift program doesn't seem to do any such good. But worse than exposing a legitimate program, it exposed the depravity of the politics surrounding the War on Terrorism.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hyper Active: Today I'm mad at everyone. That's right, every single one of you. It's because all y'all always overuse hyperbole. Constantly.

Every time I read anything in the paper or hear something on the news, everyone is overexaggerating everything they say. Instapundit highlighted a good one today.

The world's least free place for making movies is the US, because it has a fixed model.
So sayeth Ang Lee. Yeah, that guy who just made a controversial multi-million dollar movie that won him an Academy Award. It seems The Man is holding him down.

We hear these exaggerations every single day. The United States is the biggest terrorist threat in the world. America is the least free place in the world. America is the least tolerant place in the world. Nobody believes any of this is true, but it's still offensive to hear.

Republicans are warmongers. Democrats hate America. Hyperbole is everywhere you look.

Apparently nobody can get their views publicized unless they say something so abhorrent that it strains conventional sanity let alone credibility. That's why both conservative Ann Coulter and liberal Ted Rall accused 9/11 widows of enjoying their husbands' deaths. No one would listen to them otherwise. But, in truth, nobody should listen to them because of such nonsense.

Tim Robbins complained of the "chill wind" of censorship that was sweeping the nation. He said it at a public press conference at the National Press Club.

Gitmo is the "Gulag of our time". And everyone is a Nazi, or Al Qaeda.

People are more likely to be quoted if they say something stupid than something rational. And the media savvy are well aware of this. It's time the news media ignored these efforts instead of rewarding them with publicity.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Together Again: It's worth pointing out that the United States and Europe are working closely together on confronting Iran. For the longest time, there was great concern that our rift on Iraq was going to create irreparable harm in our relationship. But as each big issue comes up, we will keep cooperating when it comes to protecting our own self-interests.

What comes of these talks with Iran is another matter. It's easy to see that the United States is taking a harder-line approach than Europe. But we recognize that we can accomplish more working together than separately.

And I like the U.S. and E.U. rebuke of the reporter who implied that the United States was a bigger threat to world peace than Iran or Al Qaeda. People express their frustration through polls. But few people mean that sort of thing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Empire Strikes Back: If North Korea goes through with testing its ICBM, we may try to shoot it down with our missile defense technology.

That sounds like a great plan, if it works. But if I recall, we have only had limited success "hitting a bullet with a bullet". We have done it before, but usually we miss. Striking Korea's missile would be a perfect response. But trying and missing would be rather embarrassing.

Korea's recent threats give some credence to President Bush's insistence that we need a missile-defense shield. I don't know whether that technology is worth the money or not. But I'm tired of critics who condemn the program on the fact that it doesn't work. That's the entire reason of experimenting with the program -- to make it work. I'm glad these people weren't in charge of the American space program early on. A couple failures, and they would have called it quits.

Even if we never need our missile-defense technology, national defense innovations often lead to amazing inventions for the average consumer. Just take a look at the Internet. The question now is how much we are willing to spend on this technology.

P.S. Fox News linked to the Washington Times article. I guess the conservative-leaning press is trying to band together against the liberal-leaning media.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Know What I'm Sayin'? Professor Volokh ruminates on the superfluous use of the word, "like".

I hate that word, yet I can't stop using it. I hear myself talk aloud, and it just keeps coming out of my mouth.

And I was like, "That can't be true." And he was like, "Oh, it's true."
I could easily replace each "was like" with the old staple, "said". But I would have to think ahead of time to actually accomplish that.

I guess we can blame that stupid 80s movie Valley Girl for ruining the English language. Thing is, "like" and "y'know" are so ingrained in the speech of just about everyone under the age of 40 that I don't think it will ever go away. Some day, 90-year-old men will be sitting on a porch complaining aloud.

And I was like, "Quit driving so fast around here, boy!" And he was like, "I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request." Damn smartass kids! Y'know? Whatever!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Inflammable Rhetoric: The Senate seems to be one vote away from passing a constitutional amendment banning the desecration of the American flag.

Apparently the Senate has no qualms about desecrating the U.S. Constitution and our liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

The Republicans must be scraping the bottom of the barrel to pull out this golden oldie. The amendment has failed repeatedly in the past, but recent GOP gains make passage more likely. If passed, it would represent the only time that the Congress amended the Constitution to restrict our freedoms, instead of expanding them, other than Prohibition. And we all know how well that turned out.

As I've said before, people who burn the American flag aren't very smart. And that's partly why we need to keep our First Amendment rights intact: It makes it easier to spot the stupid people. Anyone who lights a flag on fire (and, by extension, his hand and arm and clothes, and possibly his hair) doesn't have anything intelligent to say. We can safely ignore them.

But any government that needlessly tramples on our rights to free expression does more to dishonor our country than any pyromaniac protestors do. It's more patriotic to exercise your rights as an American than to brutally suppress them.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Dodging Bullets: President Bush makes a surprise visit to Baghdad. For five hours.

I look forward to the day when the President of the United States can make an announced visit to Baghdad, and spend the night in peace.

Monday, June 12, 2006

A is for AAAAAHHHH! Alberto is gliding through the Caribbean with whopping 50 mph winds. This isn't even a Category One hurricane yet, merely a tropical storm, yet it's getting round-the-clock media attention. Are we going to fall into panic mode for every storm this hurricane season?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

God is Great: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead. We finally got the bastard.

News reports are rightfully tempering the announcement by saying that this in no way ends the insurgency or terrorist attacks in Iraq. While he was the operational leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, his death is largely symbolic.

But symbols are important in this war. Al Qaeda picks its targets largely on their symbolic value, and replays the images of the deaths and beheadings over the Internet to amplify their effects. People in the Arab world respond to symbols. And they also respond to might.

This was a show of force on our part, a representation of dominance. And Muslims in the Arab world reacted with cheers and celebratory gunfire.

As well they should. Zarqawi didn't care about Iraqis, or even Muslims. He was a psychopath bent on turning Sunnis against Shiites to ignite a bloody civil war. He was a foreign presence in that country who wanted to bring down the democratically elected Iraqi government to create chaos in the Middle East, leaving Arabs desperate so Al Qaeda could prey on their weakness.

Now he's dead. Although previous news reports said that other Al Qaeda members were taking over the helm in Iraq, nobody had the media presence and the symbolic value of Zarqawi, and nobody will for some time. And although the terrorists will likely lash out and continue their deadly attacks, their operational infrastructure and financial resources have been weakened, making it harder to conduct the attacks in the long run.

This is a wonderful day for Iraqis and for all of Al Qaeda's enemies.

Now it's time to get Osama Bin Laden.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Empty Spaces: No posts for awhile. Sure I've been busy, but I really can't think of a damn thing to blog about. I was going to write about how Bush's renewed drive to (not) pass a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage was purely political to rally the base for the mid-terms, but I see that 100 other people have already said that. If this is so obvious to so many people, why isn't it obvious to Republicans?

Ann Coulter has a new book out. Okay, let's change the subject.

Yesterday was 6/6/06, or 06/06/2006, or something that gave marketing people hard-ons.

Muslim terrorists plotted to attack the Canadian parliament. Liberals are blaming American policies. Sigh.

Hell with it. Check out this video of a dancing model airplane!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Yay! Everyone came to agreement on the future of Iran's use of nuclear technology. The United States, China, Russia, France, the European Union -- they all signed on. Only one party was missing: Iran.

Hate to sound like such a cynic, but Iran is not going to go along with the agreement. It doesn't matter what incentives are there for Iran to cooperate, or disincentives to keep the country from building nuclear facilities, we will not be able to stop that government from developing nuclear technology.

Iran may even sign on. But as soon as the country gets the incentives, that government will restart its nuclear program. Actually, Iran will probably continue covertly the entire time. And when all this information surfaces, only then will we see whether the allies mentioned above have the fortitude to stick to the agreement. Wanna hear my prediction on that, too?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wrong Again: Lance Armstrong has been absolved of the latest doping allegations. Retire in peace, my friend. You are so much better than these people.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

No Bull's Eye: Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich has tried to take a moderate approach to gun control, and now he's getting hammered by both sides.

He's a Republican in a Blue state. So he's more pro-gun than most of his constituents, but the Republicans who do live in the state expected him to do more for gun rights.

But when you're in a position like that, you have to do what's politically feasible. Whether or not he'd like to enact Texas-style gun laws, there's no way he could make it happen in that state. He's best working within the system he's given. It's a political decision.

Then again, I chose not to live in Maryland partly because of the insane gun restrictions. Virginia is more suitable to my beliefs. And that's really the problem. On some issues there is no "moderate" position. And trying to find one just makes you more enemies than friends.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

American Idle: The Democrats hoped to capitalize on the Abramoff and DeLay scandals by highlighting the "culture of corruption" in the current GOP-led Congress. But then they lost their footing when several Democrats were caught in corruption scandals, culminating in the bribery of William Jefferson, who refuses to resign his seat.

How do the Republican leaders respond to this free gift from the Democrats? By criticizing the FBI for raiding Jefferson's office after he was caught in the bribery sting. House Speaker Dennis Hastert complained to President Bush that this violated the separation of powers by having the executive branch raid the legislative branch -- even though a third branch, the judiciary, approved the FBI search warrant ahead of time.

I guess nobody wants to win the mid-term elections this year.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Video Hits: has a powerful video on how Al Qaeda is using the Internet for propaganda purposes, showing videos of attacks on U.S. and other coalition military targets. Be warned, the video shows actual footage of troops being attacked by roadside bombs. These are the images the terrorists are broadcasting to other Muslims to glorify their successes.

It seems the video-element of each attack is as critical as the attack itself. Without promotion of the death and destruction, the attacks lose value to the terrorists, because few people would know about them. Replaying an attack continuously makes the event more powerful. It inflicts fear in others and, I suppose, helps recruit other terrorists.

This is what our enemy is doing. Yet when the United States engages in wartime propaganda, our media ridicules us.

The Washington Post had previously published an article claiming that the U.S. military had exaggerated Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's role in Iraq in order to drive a wedge between Iraqis and this foreign-born Al Qaeda terrorist. The lead paragraph states this is meant to somehow tie the invasion of Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, but nothing else in the story supports that statement.

In reality, there's nothing to exaggerate. Zarqawi has led a deadly terrorist assault on Americans, Iraqis, and other coalition forces. He works with Osama Bin Laden, often communicating directly with him (usually crying for help). And the U.S. military has put a $25-million price on his head. No amount of propaganda could make the man seem worse than he is in real life.

Not only that, but Powerline notes that many Iraqis have grown tired of Zarqawi's troublemaking and have attacked his terrorist group and have provided information on terrorist activities. Nurturing Iraqi anger against someone who wishes them harm makes perfect sense.

The propaganda is aimed at Iraqis and others in the Middle East, not Americans. Yet American publications treat our propaganda like it is some sort of a scandal. It's not. It is perfectly legitimate. It has worked throughout history, and it can work again. Our enemies know this, why don't we?

Let's show some more of that Zarqawi blooper reel.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ready or Not: I saw the movie United 93 before I went on vacation. I also saw the A&E made-for-TV movie Flight 93 and read the book Among the Heroes. The movies were good, but I wasn't too impressed with the book. The films, especially United 93, didn't overdramatize or glorify anything. They simply stuck to the facts as best as possible, and filled in some gaps on the parts that were unknowable.

Now Oliver Stone plans to release his movie World Trade Center in August, depicting the true story of the rescue of two police officers from the rubble at Ground Zero. Unlike the other movies, this one seems to include the swelling music and overbearing special effects you expect from Hollywood treatments. But I'll reserve judgment until it comes out.

The big controversy, though, is whether it's "too soon" to make these movies. Hell, most of the real accounts of 9/11 were documented that day with television cameras. It's not like we need any visual interpretation of the events. We all know them by heart.

That said, I don't think it's possible to do anything "too soon" anymore. The world just moves faster than it ever has. Everything is on-demand and microwaved. Our attention spans have shrunk. So it's no surprise that nostalgia comes 10 times quicker than it used to.

The people who are bothered by these images will never be ready to watch these movies, right until the day they die. The rest of us want to be reminded about what this fight is about.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Return of the Donkeys: Democratic leaders are promising that they don't intend to impeach President Bush if they regain control of Congress.

Thank God for a smidgen of rational thought in this year's political debate. Despite the continuous rant from the extreme Left to impeach Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Tony Snow, political leaders are trying to appear sane. Instead, the Democrats are promising to conduct investigations into what the president is doing. And because congressional Republicans have been MIA in their role in checking and balancing the executive branch, that might be a good idea.

If nothing else, the Democrats have at least learned from 10 years ago that rabid, strike-first-blood calls for impeachment don't impress the American voters. Republicans set the political bar extremely low by impeaching Clinton on nothing charges. Despite previous Democrats' ludicrous accusations that Bush knew about 9/11 ahead of time, manipulated WMD intelligence, and started a war for oil, the Democrats may finally learn that politically the best option is to take the high road.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Border's in Order: I have to admit that I really don't care about the big immigration debate. We're not going to be able to build a fence to keep everyone out. And all the manpower needed to protect the border will just cost too much to be worth anything.

Economically, the illegal immigrants do take jobs from Americans, pulling down some wages, especially for the poor. But they also drive down some costs, especially for items like food.

As for security, if any Al Qaeda member makes it to Mexico, there's no way we're going to keep him out. Let's just make sure we don't give any of them a student visa.

The situation between the U.S. and Mexico works fine the way it is. Lots of people will try to make it in looking for work. Some will succeed, some will have to succeed another day. But, overall, it doesn't concern me.

I just wonder how this became such a big issue. I'll give some credit to the Minutemen. Their cowboy antics brought a lot of media attention. Then politicians in Congress decided to make this an election issue. President Bush, whose guest-worker program is probably the best proposal on the table, got pulled into the vortex.

The only way to stem illegal immigration is to cut off the demand -- and that means cracking down on businesses that hire these workers. Since that will never happen under a Republican administration, nothing is going to happen, period. We'll just have to wait for the next big issue to take the place of this one.

Yellow Card: Iran's president, in a bold move, decided last month to allow women to watch soccer games in the upcoming World Cup tournament. The women would be segregated to a separate section, but they would be able to view the matches for the first time since 1979.

However, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, overruled the president's decision, claiming it is a violation of strict Islamic law to allow women to see men run around in short-shorts.

This is just depressing. Forget about educating women and providing them equal access under the law -- they can't even watch futbol. With all our hopes of liberalizing and democratizing the Middle East, we really have no idea how far we need to go.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

'Bout Time: The United Nations is sending peacekeepers to Dafur. Too bad there's no peace there to keep. Hopefully something can still be done. Show us how it's done, U.N.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Slacker: Man, I haven't blogged in a couple days. And now I'm going on vacation for a week. Oh well. Take care.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

White Jive: When I read this WSJ column yesterday, I was rolling my eyes after a couple paragraphs. Come this morning, I see that people are calling it brilliant.

In a nutshell, the column's main point is that we limit our use of military engagement against other countries because, well, we feel guilty about being white.

Now, conservatives aren't generally allowed to talk about race without someone calling them racist. So they tend to find creative ways to back into the conversation. However, this is one of the more perplexing ones.

The column notes that in World War II, we bombed the bejeezus out of Germany and Japan. Since then, we've been more tepid with our military might, choosing limited engagement. Vietnam and Iraq were third-world enemies, so we didn't feel the need to demolish them. But then we lost in Vietnam and spent much more time in Iraq than planned. So why the reluctance to smother them with smart bombs?

His answer is because liberals make us feel guilty for being white and powerful. That's quite a provocative and intriguing theory. Too bad it has nothing to do with reality. The truth is we're trying to limit civilian casualties.

World War II was the first war in history that combined superior air power with superior munitions. We turned Germany into rubble. But, because Germany was turning the rest of Europe into rubble, we had no choice.

After that came Korea and Vietnam. Not only did we want to avoid carpet-bombing civilians, we decided to limit our own casualties by sending fewer troops. Plus, these were third-world countries. So there really wasn't as much to bomb -- no industry to pulverize or neighborhoods to destroy to kill morale. Also with the advent of television coverage, people became less tolerant of what became known as collateral damage.

So while we could lay waste to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine if we wanted to -- even without nuclear weapons -- public opinion in and out of the United States would never stand for it. As a result, we're in for a long, hard slog.

That wasn't hard. However, such ideas are less provocative and would never get published in The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. Yesterday's column is noteworthy more for its creativity than its description of reality. The power of human imagination never ceases to amaze me. Unfortunately, reality is usually more boring than that. And the news business is more about publishing incisive commentary than the truth.

Monday, May 01, 2006

No Problemo: I figured today would be the one day that the cashier at Wendy's would be sure to speak English. No such luck.

I ate lunch there today as my own test to see how widespread this immigrant boycott is. Normally nearly everyone working at this particular Wendy's is Hispanic. Today, about half were. The other half were African American. Still not a single paleface behind the counter.

So, it's true that we depend on immigrants to do our work day after day. And if they weren't here to do it, other Americans would gladly take the jobs.

And more workers means lower wages. But there are two ways of looking at that. The influx of immigrants are driving down some wages. However, they are also driving down some costs, making certain items -- like food -- more affordable.

I read something else today that puts much of this in perspective. The reproduction rate of the native population has slowed dramatically. The only reason this country's population is continuing to grow so fast is from the influx of immigrants.

And a nation's population needs to increase for its economy to grow. With the economy performing so well now, the immigrants might just have something to do with helping with that.

P.S. Apparently Blogger employs many illegals to run its Web service. It took me all day to post this, but I kept getting error messages. This calls for a federal crackdown.

Friday, April 28, 2006

No Politics Today: This is on the list of things that never fail to crack me up. If you're at work, go to your nearest fire extinguisher. Pick it up, and look for a green warning sticker. There, in bold letters, you'll see that the contents of your fire extinguisher are Non-Flammable.

Gee, that's a relief.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Gasaholic: Gas prices are going up, so consumers are getting creative.

CNN has a story about how Los Angeles motorists are deliberately running out of gas on the freeway. The city has a service where trucks drive up and give provide free gas to those who go empty. So now more and more drivers are stalling and waiting for the rescue. (Hat tip: The Moderate Voice)

You can't do anything nice anymore without some jackass ripping off the system.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What's In a Naymme? Some parents like to give their kids typical names. Many of these are often from the Bible: John, Daniel, Peter, Mary, etc.

Other parents like to give their children less-common names. Nothing too exotic, but something that sets their kids apart: Alexis, Mason, Ashton, etc.

Then there are those parents who give their kids typical names, but with some bastardized spelling. Instead of Amy, it's Aimee. I just talked to a woman who told me her name was Melissa. Then when she e-mailed me, her name was spelled Myllisa.

These poor souls. They get the worst of both worlds -- boring names that nobody will know how to spell. They have common names, but they will never be able to find one of those license-plate key chains with the right spelling on it.

Leap of Faith: Fox News Anchor Tony Snow has taken some criticism for considering a job as White House press secretary for President Bush. That doesn't bother me, though. Snow was a speechwriter for the former President Bush and now bloviates the Republican agenda on his opinionated talk show. Unlike the general news portion of Fox, Snow doesn't even try to be fair and balanced. He is already up front about his opinions, and joining the White House now won't make much of a difference.

What bothers me is when political hacks go back and forth from politics to journalism as supposedly objective news reporters. Many partisans have made the Fosbury Flop over the line between politics and news. George Stephanopoulos went from senior advisor and press secretary for President Clinton to ABC newsman. Tim Russert, of NBC's Meet the Press, was chief of staff for Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

If someone spends a good part of his professional career shilling for a political party, I'd rather see that person enter the news business as an opinion columnist of some sort, not as an objective news reporter.

Granted, all of us journalists have opinions on many of the issues that we cover. There's no denying that. But when a reporter's opinions are well known, that person loses credibility. Even if the ex partisan is presenting the news objectively, people will doubt the reporter's sincerity.

I'm surprised news organizations hire these former politicos as anything but pundits. If journalists routinely jump between politics and news, then there is no reason for any of us to withhold our opinions to begin with. But we need a group of people to report facts as objectively as possible. Granted, there's always going to be some opinion injected in any news report. But I'd rather my readers have to guess about my true beliefs than to undercut my own creditability with everyone knowing ahead of time.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Evil Doers: Osama Bin Laden wants to expand his jihad to include Sudan, asking for Muslims to attack U.N. troops -- if, of course, U.N. troops ever show up to do something about the genocide in Darfur.

Bin Laden argues that the U.S. and the U.N. are in a war against Islam. But the U.N. is only proposing to send troops to Sudan to protect black Muslims from Arab Muslims, who are slaughtering their Muslim brothers. Bin Laden, of course, wants the slaughter to continue.

Possibly hundreds of thousands of people have died in Darfur. If that's not humanitarian enough reason to intervene, try this. Osama Bin Laden used to have his headquarters in Sudan. Al Qaeda still has a strong presence there. If the current situation is allowed to deteriorate, we'll be there fighting Al Qaeda again after we find out that they are coordinating global terrorist attacks from that location, as they did after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.

The United States military can't be everywhere at once. But if there is a time for the United Nations to step up in the War on Terrorism as well as fulfill its humanitarian mission, this is it. The U.N. shouldn't back down just because the enemy promises to fight back. There's a war going on, and we need to fight it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What Are You Smoking? Stupid people have decided to file a $5-billion class-action lawsuit against DuPont for the dangers that Teflon pans create.

Nobody has gotten sick or died because of Teflon. But the potential is there, say the stupid people, and DuPont should have warned everybody.

The evidence the stupid people present includes a study from the 1950s that says if you put Teflon particles in a cigarette and smoke it, then you could get sick. Also, if you heat up a Teflon pan without putting any food in it, it will begin to smoke and the handle will melt. After all that happens, toxic fumes could be released that may make you sick or kill your pet bird.

This has not actually happen yet, but it could, say the stupid people. NPR dutifully reported this, giving me a reason to more forcefully hit the snooze button this morning.

Perhaps it's the nature of 24-hour news cycles, but the antics and concerns of the inane seem to get more and more press coverage. It reminds me of that dumb guy who filmed the movie Super Size Me, showing what happens if you eat nothing but McDonald's three meals a day for 30 days. Lo and behold, you can get sick.

Sorry, but that has nothing to do with people who normally eat at McDonald's. If you eat nothing but cucumbers and carrot juice three times a day for 30 days, bad things are going to happen to your body. That's not an indictment against cucumbers, but it does say an awful lot about the person who engages in such activities.

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