Wednesday, April 30, 2003


For all of my friends who take the time to read through my rantings on this page, I offer the following quiz for fun. It determines how liberal or how conservative you are. It was originally written in 1994, which makes question 14 particularly interesting.
14. U.S. interests are more seriously at stake in Haiti than they are in Korea.

Agree Disagree

Is there any doubt now as what was a bigger threat?

The quiz is a bit flawed like most of these short surveys. For instance, I don't trust business executives or union leaders all that much. I just feel that business executives contribute more. And baseball team owners and players are both without heroism. I hate the players when they strike and I hate the owners for giving the players gigantic salaries and then locking them out.

Other things are more problematic. I don't mind subsidies of the arts, but it should be better regulated. Rather than support new artists, I would rather see that money go to providing access to the arts that have stood the test of time. The govt. could help theatre companies that produce the classics. It could help museums buy classic art. The problem with art is that it’s mostly self-indulgent and uninteresting to the majority of people. Newer art that is popular will be supported by consumers. If we only supported art that was at least 50 years old, then we'd be sure we supporting something that had a greater opportunity to be of value. The idea that young artists are stifled without govt. money is nonsense. An artist will create because they have a driving vision. Van Gogh sold but one painting in his life and it didn’t hurt his output.

PBS has interesting programs, but most everything they do is duplicated somewhere on cable. Other things like British shows can opera can be rented on DVD. This wasn't true 20 years ago. National Public Radio can claim that they are one of a kind, but I would rather see them support themselves with advertising like everyone else. I think their reporting suffers from a big government bent, because they benefit from higher taxes.

Anyway, I scored a 33. And I don’t think Bob Dole is more conservative than me.

You can leave your score in the comments section, if you don't mind giving away your leanings.

Democrat says 'regime change' comment intended as a campaign quip (SF Gat, April 29, 2003)
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Tuesday that his controversial wartime comment saying the United States, like Iraq, needs a regime change was intended as a lighthearted remark.

"It was not about the president, and it was not about the war. It was about the election," Kerry said during a campaign stop in Alabama.

Earlier this month, Kerry came under fire from top congressional Republicans when, during a speech in New Hampshire, the Massachusetts senator said President Bush had so alienated allies prior to the U.S.-led war against Iraq that only a new president could rebuild damaged relationships with other nations.

"When I fought in Vietnam and fought for my country, I didn't give up my right to make quips and to participate in the debate," the lawmaker said.

It was cute that he got that Vietnam part in again. When questioned soon after the statement, Kerry sounded serious and stuck to his words. I guess a slam in Mass. plays better as a quip in Alabama. It turned out that a lot of people were joking after that heal Bush won the war. She was joking, remember.

If we were bogged down in the desert with no sign of an end, would it have been a joke?

Mr. T Sues Best Buy Over 'Foolish' Ads (Reuters, April 30, 2003)

Tough-guy actor Mr. T is famed for his scowl and now he is glaring at a discount retail chain that the former "A Team" star says stole his likeness and made him look like a fool in their ads.

The lawsuit accuses Best Buy, one of the nation's largest appliance retail chains, of running a November 2002 ad campaign featuring a boxing scene from "Rocky III," in which Mr. T and Sylvester Stallone fight.

The chain allegedly altered the "noble and serious" boxing sequence by digitally removing Stallone and making it appear that Mr. T was boxing with a "middle aged, balding, out-of-shape" Best Buy salesman.

"At no time did Mr. T consent to Best Buy's use of his likeness, photograph and voice ... to promote Best Buy," the lawsuit said. "Best Buy's portrayal of Mr. T as a fool thus has the likelihood of injuring Mr. T's business reputation and of diluting the distinct quality of Mr. T's professional persona."

Two questions arise.
1) Does Mr. T or the producers of the film Rocky 3, own the rights to his image in that film?
2) When technology can construct films or TV shows with a famous likeness, who will own those likeness?

What says Junto Boys preferred legal expert, Cathy Landry?

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Rachel Lucas gets to the bottom of the Dixie Chicks claim that their property was trashed.
Benching Bork: How to end the war over judges (National Review, April 29, 2003)

ith their unprecedented filibuster of Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owen, and others, Senate Democrats have once again raised the ante in the war over the present and future of the judiciary. The New York Times is opposing yet another Bush appointee, Carolyn Kuhl. The Washington Post has come out against yet another, Bill Pryor. And the list goes on.

The one real power Republicans have over the Democrats in this fight is the recess-appointment power. . . Recess appointments have an impeccable historical pedigree; beginning with George Washington, presidents have made recess appointments to Article III courts. Since the Founding there have been more than 300 recess appointments of judges. President Eisenhower and Kennedy made 53 such appointments between them.

The main problem with a recess strategy is that it makes the GOP's best nominees temporary second-class judges. Not only would this fail to realign the judiciary, but it would deter the most promising judicial candidates from accepting. For this reason, recess appointments, as currently conceived, are not a credible threat. Well, until you add a twist.

President Bush could threaten to line judicial openings with committed conservative and libertarian recess appointees, people who are too old, too young, too smart, too conservative, or too burned by previous failed nominations to ever be considered for ordinary judicial appointments.

At worst, the American people will finally find out if the world is a better or worse place if the judiciary is dominated by libertarians and conservatives. If the results are not as catastrophic as the Democrats always warn — the way they do about private Social Security accounts and school vouchers — maybe some of these recess judges might even get confirmed in the end. Then the judiciary will be revolutionized, in less time than the normal confirmation process would ever allow. Can the Senate Democrats and their activist cohorts afford to take that chance?

This is a great idea. The Democrats have decided that the Republicans need a supermajority to conform their judges, so why not give the Democrats a reason to allow a vote?

Monday, April 28, 2003

Van Gogh, Picasso paintings found (CNN, April 28, 2003)

Acting on an anonymous tip, police said they found the watercolors behind a public toilet near Whitworth Art Gallery, where they were stolen during the weekend.

The retrieved pieces were Vincent van Gogh's "The Fortification of Paris" (1878), Pablo Picasso's "Poverty" (1903) and Paul Gauguin's "Tahitian Landscape" (1891-93).

But Andrew Graham-Dixon, presenter of the BBC series "Renaissance," says they could have been taken by "naive thieves" hoping to sell the paintings.

You hear about this kind of thing every once in a while. You can't resell stolen paintings, so what's the use of taking them? I suppose you could ransom them, but that seems to risky. If you have to make contact to get the money, you'll surely be caught.

Wheat Farmers Beef About Atkins Diet (CBS News April 28, 2003)

Producers and milling companies believe the Atkins approach is the culprit.

"Flour consumption has been on a decline the last couple of years, and it seems to be predominantly because of an assault on carbohydrates," said Dave Green, director of quality control for ADM Milling in Overland Park, Kan.

"To me, it becomes anecdotal. I can't imagine you don't know anybody who hasn't lost weight on a high-protein diet," said Green, who also heads the U.S. Wheat Quality Council Board of Trustees.

The average person ate less than 139 pounds of flour last year, the first time in nine years that figure fell below 140 pounds, the Agriculture Department says.

Judi Adams, a registered dietitian who heads the Wheat Foods Council, said perceptions are disturbing. Adams pointed out obesity rates are lower in Italy, Germany and China, which consume more pasta, bread or rice than Americans do.

"When you look at it from a commonsense approach, you cannot blame it on carbohydrates," she said. "We're eating too many calories."

"It is important that we increase our consumption of whole grains," she said. "But there have not been any studies that show refined carbs are harmful. That's absolutely not the truth, that refined carbs are bad for you."

Instead of complaining they just feed the carbs to the cattle.
Report: Anthrax in Suitcase Kills Egyptian Heading to Canada (FoxNews, April 28, 2003)

An autopsy of the man, identified as Ibrahim Saved Soliman Ibrahim, revealed that he died in his hotel room April 11 after experiencing vomiting, multiple organ failure and internal bleeding, which were believed to have been caused by the deadly bacteria, according to Reuters.

"He was the victim of anthrax," said Brazilian federal police spokesman Fernando Sergio Castro, adding that officials were 90 percent certain that anthrax was the culprit.

Ibrahim, a crewman aboard an Egyptian merchant ship called the Wabi Alaras (search), was transporting the suitcase to Canada, although authorities do not believe he knew what was in the bag, according to Reuters.

"He opened it because he was curious," Castro told Reuters. "We imagine that this is about bioterrorism and Brazil was just used as a point of transfer."

And the anthrax incident after 911 is still unsolved. I hope we can trace this back to a country and stop it cold.
Detective: Malvo Laughed About Shootings (FoxNews, April 28, 2003)

Describing the Oct. 14 shooting of Franklin, Boyle testified that Malvo "was laughing. I asked where he shot her. He laughed and pointed at his head." Malvo is charged with capital murder in Franklin's death.

Malvo also chortled about a shot aimed at a boy that missed its mark, saying it was so close "it might have even parted his hair," Boyle said. And he laughed about the shooting of a man mowing grass because afterward, "the lawn mower just kept going down the street."

Malvo's lawyers argue that he made clear to police that he did not want to talk about the shootings without lawyers present.

What kind of defense can you possibly construct for this human debris? Let's put a hole in him.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

The proof that Saddam worked with bin Laden (London Telegraph, April 26, 2003)

Iraqi intelligence documents discovered in Baghdad by The Telegraph have provided the first evidence of a direct link between Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terrorist network and Saddam Hussein's regime.

Papers found yesterday in the bombed headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, reveal that an al-Qa'eda envoy was invited clandestinely to Baghdad in March 1998.

The documents show that the purpose of the meeting was to establish a relationship between Baghdad and al-Qa'eda based on their mutual hatred of America and Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps aware of the sensitivities of the subject matter, Iraqi agents at some point clumsily attempted to mask out all references to bin Laden, using white correcting fluid. The dried fluid was removed to reveal the clearly legible name three times in the documents.

I suppose this would mean that the President understands foreign policy better than that guy who plays the President on the West Wing.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Nampa Student Told Never To Wear T-shirt Again (CH 2 Idaho News, April 25, 2003)

Park Ridge elementary school officials told 11-year-old Ethan Jansen to stop wearing his military themed T-shirt to school.

The T-shirt depicts a monument at the Fort Lewis military base in Washington state. It shows "Iron mike" hoisting a rifle with a star in the background.

School officials say pictures showing gangs or guns are not allowed in school.

But Ethan's parents call the T-shirt an expression of patriotism.

The Park Ridge elementary administrator Phil Cano also declined an on camera interview. But released a statement which says, "The district dress code prohibits any clothing that may be construed as being violence related," and adds, "we are proud of this student and in fact we support the patriotic theme of the T-shirt but we need to be consistent in providing a safe learning environment for all."

Ethan feels a special connection to the military. "It meant a lot to me because my dad fought at home from Fort Lewis because he's in the army and my family is real patriotic and my uncle and stuff is in the army too."

When Hobbes said that foolish consistency was the hobgoblin of littlel minds, this is to what he referred. All policy must have context. The fact that this school cannot distinguish between gun violence and the military is a reminder of the moral relativism that is everywhere in our society.

NRA Honors Charlton Heston as He Steps Down as Leader (April 25, 2003)

NRA officials unveiled a 10-foot-high statue of Heston modeled after the character he played in the 1968 movie, "Will Penny." The statue, which will be permanently displayed in the NRA's headquarters in suburban Washington, shows Heston with a pistol in his right hand and rope in his left hand.

Heston wiped tears from his eyes with a handkerchief.

Heston, 78, who was diagnosed last year with symptoms of the dementia-inducing neurological Alzheimer's disease, appeared to have trouble walking on the stage. He didn't talk during the tribute and gripped the hand of his wife, Lydia.

I have been an NRA member on and off for the last few years. It was Heston's leadership that convinced me to join in the first place. I let it lapse in the last year or so ago, and now I am missing the tribute in my own hometown. There was really no reason for me to join outside of solidarity for second amendment rights. I don't read the hunting magazine they send. But membership did have one benefit I didn't consider when I signed up. Anytime someone would deride gun ownership at work, and plenty did, I would just take my NRA card out of the wallet and flash it. That led to a few interesting conversations. Some people were just against guns because they go, "POW." But others offered a good rebuttal and it was always fun to debate the issue.

With the Dixie Chicks and Tim Robbins complaining about their ideas and speeches having consequences, let’s not forget that Charlton Heston probably cost himself some prime roles by refusing to be politically correct. He never went on Diane Sawyer to cry about it either.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Galloway's a crook - how convenient (Scott Ritter, London Guardian, April 25, 2003)

Yeah, that Scott Ritter.

I was shocked to read about the allegations, ostensibly based upon documents discovered in Iraq, that George Galloway was somehow compensated financially by the Iraqi government for championing its cause. I was shocked because, if these allegations prove to be true, then the integrity and credibility of a man for whom I have great respect would be dramatically undermined.

But I was also shocked because of the timing of these allegations. Having been on the receiving end of smear campaigns designed to assassinate the character of someone in opposition to the powers that be, I have grown highly suspicious of dramatic revelations conveniently timed to silence a vocal voice of dissent.

Ritter talks of smear campaigns, but when asked about the truth to whether he molested minors, he said that those files were sealed. Not exactly the mark of an innocent man. The fact that the incident in question coincided with his flip flop in Iraq policy, would lead one to believe that he was blackmailed into the switch. Somehow pointing out that a policy change happened after a serious indictment was sealed is a smear.

But I do know a few things about George Galloway and the cause he championed with regards to Iraq. I know that he helped found the Mariam Appeal, a humanitarian organisation established in 1998 initially to raise funds on behalf of an Iraqi girl who suffered from leukaemia and who, because of economic sanctions, was unable to receive adequate medical care.

The idea that sanctions caused the poverty was defeated when we found half a billion dollars in cash that Saddam was keeping instead of improving the lives of his people.

I know that Galloway was a leading, and highly vocal, critic of the war with Iraq. He challenged Tony Blair's policies and statements about the justification for the war, namely the allegations made by Britain and the US concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programmes and its failure to comply with its security council-mandated obligations to disarm. I know because I share Galloway's views about the unsustained nature of the British-American case against Iraq.

I'm sure Galloway was a great Orator, Ritter, why else would someone pay him 10,000,000 Quid to say those things?

To allow George Galloway to be silenced now, when his criticisms of British policy over Iraq have been shown to be fundamentally sound, would be a travesty of democracy. Rather than casting him aside, the British people should reconsider his statements in the light of the emerging reality that it is Blair and not Galloway who has been saying things worthy of investigation.

If the anti--war position has to be funded by a foreign government, then how fundamentally sound are they? And what travesty of democracy? His constituents were hardly electing him to be a paid representative of Iraq.

Ritter is a pathetic figure. He flip-flopped his position about Iraq to stay out of jail and the best he gives us is the Clinton Defense. How dare there be any people out there watching my actions and reporting the evidence, as if the truth were conspiracy to hide the lies. No innocent man has ever reached for that defense.

The fact that Ritter would choose Galloway to side with underscores where he sees himself. Ritter is defending a man who is motivated by something other than principle. Who else might that remind Ritter of?

Newly found Iraqi files raise heat on British MP (Christian Science Monitor, April 25, 2003)

A fresh set of documents uncovered in a Baghdad house used by Saddam Hussein's son Qusay to hide top-secret files detail multimillion dollar payments to an outspoken British member of parliament, George Galloway.

The most recent - and possibly most revealing - documents were obtained earlier this week by the Monitor. The papers include direct orders from the Hussein regime to issue Mr. Galloway six individual payments, starting in July 1992 and ending in January 2003.

The three most recent payment authorizations, beginning on April 4, 2000, and ending on January 14, 2003 are for $3 million each. All three authorizations include statements that show the Iraqi leadership's strong political motivation in paying Galloway for his vociferous opposition to US and British plans to invade Iraq.

Between France's oil contracts, Russian and Chinese arms deals and dirty British MPs, it looks like you make more money opposing wars than fighting them.

Can we finally retire that cliché about the United States doing it for money when the opposition had their hands out long before we fired the first shot?


I’m surprised that the Dixie Chicks continue to give interviews only to reiterate the same slogans. The Chicks / Diane Sawyer interview last night provided a Teddy Roosevelt quote fed to them by some publicist. It was obviously from the days that Taft was President and TR was angry that he had left office to hunt big game. The gist of the quote is that it is very American to criticize the President. Was that supposed to win us over?

Free speech is designed to let ideas compete in the marketplace. Their ideas lost among their audience and they see it as repression. Have they been jailed for their ideas? Have they lost their property? No! But better the Iraqis go to jail for their own ideas than George Bush show any resolve.

Instead of being repressed, the Chicks got a lesson about who listens to their music. It’s pretty obvious that have little in common with their audience. Instead of stepping back an examining that, they cried for an hour on TV last night about how they are misunderstood. But when Diane Sawyer played Michael Moore’s words at the Oscars referencing them, they glowed with pride and then offered some weak comment about how it didn’t do them any good.

After lecturing their audience about free speech they complained about people protesting them. Of course, the death threats they received were out of line, but they were perplexed as to why all isn’t forgotten. They were upset that people were smashing their Cds. Are they so vapid that they don’t recognize others rights to free speech?

No, like many simpletons, they want their ideas embraced because their heart was in the right place. I just don’t –sniff – sniff – tear – tear – want anyone to be hurt said Maines. We just wanted a peaceful solution to the conflict. But the Chicks didn’t offer a peaceful solution in their criticism; they just blamed Bush that he couldn’t invent one.

Bush was supposed employ plan B when the Dixie Chicks were angered. That plan where we send Saddam to his room without supper if he interferes with the weapons inspectors one more time. That really works with the Chicks’ kids. They haven’t raised a totalitarian despot yet. And of course, Natatlie Maines will still be available to sneak Saddam a plate after everyone else has gone to bed.

Of course it is everybody’s right to criticize the president. If you have education and substance behind your criticism it leads to a better discussion, but saying that you are ashamed that Bush is from Texas is just a personal attack to be popular in front of a foreign audience. They’ve argued the same opposition talking points about a rush-to-war, and everything else you’d expect from a Berkeley Grad Student or NPR reporter. The difference is that at least a Berkeley Grad Student and NPR reporter understands enough about politics to lend some history and knowledge to the subject.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

France will pay for war stance, Powell says (London Guardian, April 24, 2003)

The White House clearly remains angry that France's threat to use its security council veto prevented it getting a further resolution authorising military action.

Asked on a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) talk show whether France would suffer consequences for trying to frustrate war plans, Mr Powell answered yes.

"We have to look at all aspects of our relationship in the light of this," he said.

"We didn't believe that France was playing a helpful role [at the UN], there is no secret about that."

Mr Powell is known to feel personally let down by his French counterpart, Dominique de Villepin, who insisted in January on attending a UN session on counter-terrorism and then, without warning Mr Powell, staged a press conference vowing to oppose military action in Iraq.

As noted earlier, Powell has a tough job working for an institution that has to rely on the words of others. He's right to punish France. Otherwise the world will learn that standing in our way has no consequences. I’ve heard a lot of commentators say that it is petty to make France pay for their disloyalty. They say that attitude is simplistic and harmful to world relations.

Friendships in the world are based on trust and mutual understanding. France didn’t just oppose us, but tried to line up other countries to vote against us. It may be principled to disagree, but hardly friendly to line up opposition. If actions aren't followed by consequences, we'll soon have no one left to count on.

Slowly, Loot Is Being Returned to Museum (WaPo April 24, 2003)
The blue Kia minivan rolled through the guarded gates of the National Museum of Antiquities early this afternoon, loaded with a precious cargo of metals and minerals: a bronze relief from the 4th century B.C. swathed in yellow foam padding, antique farm implements, an elaborately engraved marble slab wrapped in plastic, a decapitated statue of an Assyrian king.

Also inside the van was Namir Ibrahim Jamil, a 33-year-old Iraqi pianist who said that 11 days ago he watched in horror as looters ransacked the museum, hauling away as much of Iraq's tangible legacy as they could carry. He said he decided to do the same -- not to seek a fortune on the black market, but to hide the antiquities in his house until it was safe to return them.

Suicide Bomb Hits Israeli Station Amid Peace Moves (REUTERS, April 24, 2003)

A suspected Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at an Israeli train station on Thursday, killing one other person and injuring 13, police and medics said.

It was the first such attack inside Israel in nearly a month and came after an agreement was reached on Wednesday on the formation of a new Palestinian cabinet, paving the way for the publication of a U.S.-led plan for Middle East peace moves.

When we found a stash of suicide vests in Iraq, it hardly got a mention compared to the looting of the museum. Which looks like a bigger story now?
Utah Sect Leader Criticizes Santorum (Wasington Post April 24, 2003)

The leader of one of Utah's largest polygamist sects has objected to Sen. Rick Santorum's comment lumping plural marriage with other practices the Pennsylvania Republican considers to be antifamily.

Santorum has been under fire for comparing homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery.

But Allred said Santorum's inclusion of polygamy in his list tarnishes a religious tradition whose roots are traced to biblical figures such as Abraham, Jacob and Moses - defiling them as "immoral and dirty."

In an interview with The Associated Press published over the weekend, Santorum criticized homosexuality while discussing a pending Supreme Court case over a Texas sodomy law.

Am I allowed the pun "politics makes strange bedfellows"?

This is such a great example of how someone is always willing to stand up and be offended by any comment uttered. Every fringe position in the world has a spokesman of some sort that WaPo or the NYTimes will quote.

The media trains people to couch their language in politically correct mumbo jumbo by dredging up these kinds of opponents. If you step out of the bounds of political correctness, especially on a slow news day, you’ll be singled out and sometimes forced to step down from your job, because someone is always standing by to denounce you. Then occasionally someone like John McCain or Pat Moynihan will come forward and refuse to use that language and they are paradoxically rewarded for “straight talk.”

But you’ll notice that they are only rewarded if they adhere to general media prejudices. McCain liked campaign finance reform and that was an issue that the media loved, so therefore, McCain could be off the cuff on other issues. Moynihan could complain about the welfare state as long as he didn’t stop voting for its increase. These guys were given profiles as colorful and thoughtful men, but only because they supported an overall structure the media believes in.

Santorum’s comments were foolish in a politically correct age. Although, I thought his legal reasoning was theoretically valid, he didn’t reinforce the media’s prejudices on the subject. There will be no reward for Santorum’s straight talk, but a litany of opponents to ready to denounce him.

Under Fire, Powell Receives Support From White House (New York Times, STEVEN R. WEISMAN)

Mr. Powell has been the object of conservative criticism in several past policy battles, but the barrage was renewed with particular bitterness in recent days. Aides to Mr. Powell said they regarded some of the recent attacks as both puzzling and misguided, noting that the secretary had been extremely careful not to undertake any initiatives without explicit approval from the president.

A senior White House official, asserted today that Mr. Gingrich's criticism "was seen at the White House as an attack on the president, not an attack on Powell." There was widespread anger at the White House, the official said, but he declined to characterize the reaction of Mr. Bush himself.

However, the president is said by Republican politicians to have little love for Mr. Gingrich, going back to Mr. Gingrich's savage attack against Mr. Bush's father for raising taxes, a step that ignited the wrath of conservatives generally.

The real issue here is between the mechanisms of the Defense Department and the State Department. The State department has a presence all over the world and is a natural place for compromise and consensus. The Defense Department is a place for action. Gingrich wasn't criticizing anyone as much as pointing out that the Defense Department gets the job done, while the State Department goes on goodwill missions.

That’s not a knock on Powell, but a reflection of how Gingrich likes to see the government work. You’ll remember that Newt didn’t care what anyone thought when he was speaker, either. That’s why he was so easy to oust.

Bush has a natural loyalty to his father, but even he would agree that the 1990 tax hike was a mistake and cost his father re-election. He may dislike Gingrich for reminding everyone, but he too trusts the Defense Department better than the State Department. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have readied for war during the U.N. inspections. This isn’t a knock on Powell either but a realization that other nations love to talk, but only the stick gets the job done.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Death-Defying Dog Recovering From Wounds (FoxNews April 23, 2003)
Officer Bob MacDonald shot Dosha, apparently to put her out of her pain, after being run over. She was then placed in an animal control freezer for two hours before someone realized she was still alive.

Veterinarians immediately snapped into action to save Dosha and warm her up after her ordeal.

The cute caramel-colored pup is now being treated with antibiotics for her injuries, and her doctors say she is expected to fully recover.

Bob Chalk, the police chief in Clearlake, Calif., is defending officer MacDonald saying he did nothing wrong when he shot Dosha because the four-legged friend was in pain after her accident.

Dosha's owner, Louetta Mallard, may be cited by police for allowing her dog to run free.

Do you think that owner would have been cited if the officer hadn't shot the dog?

Human livestock (Thomas Sowell, April 21, 2003)

For my money, Thomas Sowell is the best political writer in America.

Overcoming adversity is one of our great desires and one of our great sources of pride. But it is something that our anointed deep thinkers strive to eliminate from our lives, through everything from grade inflation to the welfare state.

The anointed want to eliminate stress, challenge, striving, and competition. They want the necessities of life to be supplied as "rights" -- which is to say, at the taxpayers expense, without anyone's being forced to work for those necessities, except of course the taxpayers.

Nothing is to be earned. "Self-esteem" is to be dispensed to the children as largess from the teacher. Adults are to have their medical care and other necessities dispensed as largess from the government. People are to be mixed and matched by race and sex and whatever else the anointed want to take into account, in order to present whatever kind of picture the anointed think should be presented.

This is a vision of human beings as livestock to be fed by the government and herded and tended by the anointed. All the things that make us human beings are to be removed from our lives and we are to live as denatured creatures controlled and directed by our betters.

Those things that help human beings be independent and self-reliant -- whether automobiles, guns, the free market, or vouchers -- provoke instant hostility from the anointed.

Sowell understands the psychology of those people who "only want to help" better than anyone. This is my favorite line of the column:
Guns are completely inappropriate for the kind of sheep-like people the anointed envision or the orderly, prepackaged world in which they are to live. When you are in mortal danger, you are supposed to dial 911, so that the police can arrive on the scene some time later, identify your body, and file reports in triplicate.

That's a great line that mixes humor with the deadly serious.

One of the most dangerous things about the welfare state is that it breaks the connection between what people have produced and what they consume, at least in many people's minds. For the society as a whole, that connection remains as fixed as ever, but the welfare state makes it possible for individuals to think of money or goods as just arbitrary dispensations.

Thus those who have less can feel a grievance against "society" and are less inhibited about stealing or vandalizing. And the very concept of gratitude or obligation disappears -- even the obligation of common decency out of respect for other people.

The next time you see a bum leaving drug needles in a park where children play or urinating in the street, you are seeing your tax dollars at work and the end result of the vision of the anointed.

We work and pay taxes, and those who benefit from our work are mostly angry that they aren't given more. Whether you are jobless, poor or a pork barrel politician, you are being supported by our good deeds, not your own. But when we complain, we’re called greedy. But I would argue that anyone who gets something for nothing and isn’t eternally thankful, is really the greedy one.

Paid to be a traitor (The London Sun, April 23, 2003)

Click on the link just to see the photo of Galloway with Saddam.
There have long been questions over the way a nonentity backbencher like Galloway could afford his lavish lifestyle of fast cars and fast women.

His constant travel, always first class, could never be funded by an MP’s pay or from proceeds of his litigious pursuit of so-called defamation claims.

Galloway is a silver-tongued bully who has always been surrounded by a cloud of suspicion over his shifty activities, his manipulation of other people’s cash and his readiness to punch anyone he could not sue.

Once, while quizzed too closely for comfort on his dodgy dealings, he amazed journalists by admitting extra-marital “carnal” relations to put them off the money trail.

A congenital liar, his favourite defence trick was total denial. If that failed, he would claim he had been misquoted.

So when he was overheard publicly praising Saddam Hussein’s leadership in standing up to the West, he claimed he was talking about the Iraqi people.

Tony Blair will be delighted that there is now hard evidence that Galloway was complicit with Saddam’s regime.

Asked about the troublemaker’s call for Arabs to rise up against British troops, the PM told The Sun last week: “His comments were wrong and disgraceful.”

The Prime Minister insisted he would not be party to any move which made Galloway a martyr.

But he made it clear he expected the Labour Party’s national executive committee to take action to expel him.

With the evidence now available, surely it must be time to call in the police.

I think pathological liars lie so well, because they convince themselves that anything that leaves their mouths' is by definition the "truth."

In response to the comments from my Santorum post down below:

Tricia has tackled the political question quite well and Cathy gets to the heart of the legal question. Using both of their ideas, I think consensual homosexual sex is less harmful than adultery, bigamy and incest. But it can still be argued as dangerous on some grounds.

Those who argue against the legality of drugs and even cigarettes say it’s a public health question, and the same could be said for homosexuality because of STDs. This is one of the dangers of allowing the government to “take care of us.” Second-hand smoke and pediatric aids all have origins in someone else’s freedom.

Living in a country that wants to “protect” us, we are inching toward a healthcare system that rations treatment. I can foresee a government healthcare system that punishes homosexuals for their personally “dangerous” lifestyle, dangerous because the lifestyle has a promiscuous reputation.

Almost any freedom, when you get down to it, can be argued as dangerous. Some aren’t tackled because of political constituencies, but others are easy targets. The moment we get up in the morning and get out of bed, we are risking danger of some kind. Do we want politicians to decide which freedoms are sanctioned? They will do so by how many constituents they have.

What country do we want to live in? The country that regulates who we want to be, or one that allows some people to make personal mistakes?
Hans Blix vs the US: 'I was undermined'
(London Independent, April 23, 2003)
Mr Blix, 74, derided by Washington for his failure to find the "smoking gun" that would have convinced the UN to give legal backing to the war, also accused Washington and Britain of deliberately undermining his efforts before the war.

"I think it's been one of the disturbing elements that so much of the intelligence on which the capitals built their case seemed to have been shaky," he said, hinting that Britain the US might have allowed the information to surface to undermine inspections.

Maybe Blix didn't read resolution 1441. It didn't say that a smoking gun needed to be found, but that Iraq had to cooperate. Colin Powell demonstrated two instances before the Security Counsel in which Iraq tried to thwart the inspectors. Saddam undermined the inspections by not cooperating. Blix seems to be angry that Bush and company didn't endorse the sham that Hussein was putting on.

The day that did it for me was when the Iraqi defector begged the Inspectors for asylum and they turned him over to the government instead. Has anyone seen this guy since? The inspectors were there to stall the United States as much as Saddam was, and now they are trying to regain their reputations. Too Bad.

White House Says Won't Back Delay in Tax Rate Cuts
Bush said accelerating the rate cuts, as he proposed, would provide a "direct influx of capital" to the small business sector critical to job growth, according to excerpts from a roundtable interview released by public television's Nightly Business Report.

Bush has little choice but to compromise after the Republican-led Congress scaled back the $726 billion tax cut package he proposed in January. The House of Representatives set a $550 billion cap, while the Senate backed a $350 billion limit on new tax cuts.

I'm happy to see him stick to his guns on this one. It will take leadership to pass this through a body that wants to spend as much money as they can.

Democrats blame Bush's tax cuts for turning budget surpluses into record deficits and for costing the private sector more than 2.6 million jobs.

How come Democrats never blame the deficit on too much spending?

Labour is to investigate a newspaper report that MP George Galloway received money from Saddam Hussein's regime.

The inquiry was announced by Labour Party chairman Ian Hunt, who said the allegations were "extremely serious".

Mr Galloway's solicitors tonight said: "Mr Galloway has never, directly or indirectly, been granted, nor has he sought, oil or any other commercial contracts with Iraq, nor has he received any money from Saddam Hussein's regime."

The Telegraph said it had found Iraqi intelligence documents which suggested Mr Galloway took a slice of Iraq's oil-for-food programme worth at least £375,000 a year.

According to the newspaper, the suggestion was made in a confidential memo to Saddam from Iraq's intelligence chief, who is not named. It was written in January 2000.

He dismissed the Telegraph report as "the latest in a long line of smears to try to stop the work George has been doing".

I was ready to believe he could be innocent until this last line. A long line of smears? What work can his critics stop now that the war is over? Innocent men sometimes blame their accusers and point to their motivations, but guilty men always do. The Telegraph has more to lose by running the story than Galloway has by making excuses for his enemies’ actions. The odds are in favor of Galloway's guilt. A simple, not guilty would have been a fine statement for an innocent man.

Galloway threatens to sue Telegraph
However, Mr Galloway strenuously denied the claims and said the evidence was fabricated as part of a smear campaign against him.

"I will be suing for libel, without any equivocation. The Daily Telegraph produces no evidence for the serious allegations that they make other than a document, which they say popped into their hands in a search through a cruise missile and smoke blackened building," Mr Galloway told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

However, (Telegraph reporter David) Blair told Today he was convinced the document implicating Mr Galloway was genuine.

"Nobody steered me in that direction at all. We just went and purely by chance we stumbled across this room which had these files in it, and again purely by chance we came across these files which carried the label Britain. And it was two days before we had actually gone through the contents and found this document.

"I find it very hard to believe that this document is not authentic. I think it would require an enormous amount of imagination to believe that someone went to the trouble of composing a forged document in Arabic and then planting it in a file of patently authentic documents and burying it in a darkened room on the off-chance that a British journalist might happen upon it and might bother to translate it. That strikes me as so wildly improbable as to be virtually inconceivable."

Is Galloway going to claim that the Telegraph forged the document?

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Gingrich blasts 'diplomatic failure' at State Department (CNN April 22, 2003)

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich blasted the State Department Tuesday for a series of what he described as diplomatic failures leading up to the war with Iraq and said that pattern was poised to repeat itself.

"The last seven months have involved six months of diplomatic failure and one month of military success," said Gingrich, who sits on a Pentagon advisory committee. "The first days after military victory indicate the pattern of diplomatic failure is beginning once again and threatens to undo the effects of military victory."

The concept of the American secretary of state going to Damascus to meet with a terrorist-supporting, secret-police-wielding dictator is ludicrous," said Gingrich

"I think Secretary Powell is an extraordinary figure and I think he's a very effective advocate, but I think he is currently presiding over an institution that's broken," Gingrich said.

To me, Newt Gingrich is one of the few adults in politics. He's a guy who just tells you the way things are. Most politicians and especially ones that run for President, tell you what you want to hear. Gingrich just lays it out front of you.

He was a political idol of mine in 1994 when the Republicans took control of Congress. I loved the government shutdown of 1995, unlike most everyone else. Back then, I thought we would get meaningful tax reform, and a smaller government. Ten years later, I realize that I was just young and the Republicans could offer anything since they were out of power. Their refusal to raise taxes certainly was responsible for the stock market boom in the 1990s, but their failure to make Clinton veto a tax cut, irked me no little. Of the two choices, the Republicans certainly slowed the growth of government, but they’ve done much less than I would have hoped.

Having said that, Newt Gingrich has more to say than any other politician in America, and I still enjoy listening. If he ran, he’d have my primary vote before he went down in defeat.

Dems Call for Santorum to Quit Leadership (Washington Post April 22, 2003)
The Senate Democrats' political organization on Tuesday called for Republican Sen. Rick Santorum to resign his leadership position after the lawmaker compared homosexuality to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery.

One day after gay-rights groups urged GOP senators to consider removing Santorum from his leadership post, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said the two-term Pennsylvania senator should step down as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the No. 3 job in the party leadership.

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything," Santorum said in the interview, published Monday.

The DSCC called Santorum's remarks "divisive, hurtful and reckless" and said they "are completely out of bounds for someone who is supposed to be a leader in the United States Senate."

When the hue and cry ends, Santorum brings up an interesting legal question. All of the things he mentions are lifestyle choices, but some are more controversial than others. What's the rationale for making some of the things he mentions legal and others illegal? Are we better off or worse off living under a government that legislates lifestyle choices? Please leave comments on this one.

I Said That? (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, New York Times April 22, 2003)

Last September, a gloom-and-doom columnist warned about Iraq: "If we're going to invade, we need to prepare for a worst-case scenario involving street-to-street fighting."

Ahem. Yes, well, that was my body double while I was on vacation.

Since I complained vigorously about this war before it started, it's only fair for me to look back and acknowledge that many of the things that I — along with other doves — worried about didn't happen. So let's look back, examine the record and offer some preliminary accountability.

Despite my Cassandra columns, Iraq never carried out terrorist attacks in the U.S. or abroad, it didn't use chemical or biological weapons, and it didn't launch missiles against Israel in hopes of triggering a broader war. Turkey has not invaded northern Iraq to attack the Kurds.

So let me start by tipping my hat to administration planners whose work reduced those risks. For example, one reason Iraq did not attack Israel may have been the Special Operations forces in the western desert of Iraq, where the launches would have come from. And belated pressure from Washington has kept Turkey out of the war so far.

A good honest evaluation in the aftermath of war.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Alameda County jury finds Costa Mesa gun maker partially liable in shooting

A jury found a Costa Mesa gun maker partially liable Monday for a 1994 accidental shooting that paralyzed a 7-year-old boy.

The Alameda County trial against Bryco Arms and others will continue Tuesday, when jurors begin weighing whether to award damages to Brandon Maxfield, who was accidentally shot in the jaw with a .38-caliber handgun that a family friend was trying to unload.

The jury found Bryco 10 percent liable after concluding the company manufactured a defective firearm.

The jury said that one-third of blame for the shooting falls on Maxfield's parents for leaving a loaded weapon in their Willits house. Jurors also found the shooter, family friend William Moreford, 20 percent liable.

The gun's distributors were found 30 percent liable.

Can you imagine the fun we'd have if we assigned proportional blame to a lousy thanksgiving dinner. 30% to the cook, 20% to the grocery store, 30% to the farmer, 10% to the relatives that arrived late, and 10% to the person who kept complaining about it.

A man was unloading a gun and pointing it in the wrong direction. No amount of laws or standards is going to make that guy point the gun in a safe direction. Why do you think that neighbor was unloading the gun anyway? Probably because he was scared to death of loaded guns by what he saw on TV. Had he left it alone, no injury would have occurred.
Who cares if Saddam was only all shook up? Even if Iraq's very own Elvis did survive, he's off the stage for ever. (London Times April 21, 2003)

Is Saddam Hussein the new Elvis Presley? This is the issue disturbing sections of the Bush Administration. Will they ever be able to prove that he definitely died when four 2,000lb bombs were dropped on his favoured restaurant a fortnight ago, or will his whereabouts always be a mystery?

Can the military campaign be considered a complete success while these questions remain unanswered? Will there be constant rumours of sightings, occasional cryptic messages, or a chat show on Abu Dhabi television?

I think a lot of people in the media get caught up in whether Saddam is alive because he is a media celebrity. It can't be forgotten that no American ever saw Hitler dead. The Russians said that they found his burnt body. We put so much on the personality, but it's really the system they create that's dangerous. Hitler didn't go around killing people with his own two hands. When we crush the systems, we crush the danger.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

German spies offered help to Saddam in run-up to war (London Telegraph, April 21, 2003)
During the meeting, on January 29, 2002, Lt Gen Haboosh says that the Iraqis are keen to have a relationship with Germany's intelligence agency "under diplomatic cover", adding that he hopes to develop that relationship through Mr Hoffner.

The German replies: "My organisation wants to develop its relationship with your organisation."

In return, the Iraqis offered to give lucrative contracts to German companies if the Berlin government helped prevent an American invasion of the country.

The Germans are either at your throat or at your feet.

'Russian spies told Saddam how Bush would justify war' (London Telegraph, April 20, 2003)

They show that, only months before war began, the Russian Federal Security Bureau briefed Saddam that the White House was pinning its hopes on Iraq obstructing the weapons inspection teams.

The information, which appears to draw on intelligence from Russian agents and diplomats around the world, is likely to have helped Saddam formulate his strategy of "hide and seek" with weapons inspectors, rather than obstruct them openly as he had done during previous inspections.

But the Russians are our friends now!

Antiwar Movement Tries to Find a Meaningful Message (New York Times, April 20, 2003)

On Tuesday, the leaders of the antiwar coalition Win Without War will gather for a two-day retreat outside New York City to discuss their group's future now that the war has ended. One of the items on the agenda: Should it change its name to Win Without Wars?

The question of whether to go plural reflects how the antiwar movement is trying to move forward now that the conflict it so passionately wanted to avert — and for a time, thought it might avert — has ended.

This has been such fun, people. I can't imagine disbanding and going back to our jobs and families. Why don't we start opposing wars before they start? Why do we need to factor in the reasons and justifications, we already know that we'll oppose it if Bush is President? We can pre-build our signs with blank spaces for witty slogans later, like when the administration goes to war with a country that doesn't have any oil.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Speaking their peace For some celebrities, backing peace has its rewards (San Francisco Chronicle)

With the booing of Michael Moore's anti-war Oscar speech still echoing in Hollywood, the filmmaker announced on his Web site last week that "Bowling for Columbine" has surged at the box office, suggesting that anti-war activism isn't a death knell for artists.

Grosses for "Bowling for Columbine" jumped 73 percent the weekend after the awards -- gaining more than any other movie that won an Academy Award, except "The Pianist," which improved by 138 percent. Two weeks later, the film is still drawing more viewers than it did before the filmmaker's comments.

Moore's soap boxing at the Oscars probably won't hurt him in the long term, just as it probably won't affect anti-war actors such as San Francisco native Danny Glover either. Since the 1940s and 1950s, when many artists were blacklisted, actors and filmmakers have rarely seen their careers destroyed because of their political views.

I've always considered Moore a guilty pleasure, much like the liberals that listen to Rush Limbaugh. I think Moore's aggressive style is funny to watch even though I think his premises are wrong. Back in 1996, when Moore was answering questions in an AOL chatroom, I asked him why he hated Pat Buchanan when they had the same ideas about labor. He totally skirted the question, knocking Buchanan personally instead of acknowledging the common ground. It made me realize he was less interested in discussing the specific issues and more interested in being the celebrity face for the neo-left. It would be easy to dismiss him, but his schtick is funny.

His show the Awful Truth had some great comic moments. In one episode, Moore was playing Rage against the Machine music and had a bunch of rowdy kids form a mosh pit. He vowed to endorse the first Presidential candidate that would jump into the mosh pit.

They traveled the country with the kids in the back of an open cargo truck with the music blaring and offering the endorsement to many candidates. Gary Bauer was totally without humor. Orrin Hatch seemed to smile, but wouldn’t do it. Bill Bradley declined respectfully. Moore couldn’t get close enough to Al Gore to ask him. He did get into a George Bush press conference, and when he asked Bush, Bush said something like, “Oh, Michael, get a real job.” They waited for Alan Keyes outside a rally and asked him when he came out. I don’t think Keyes knew who Moore was, and seemed ambivalent to the idea. He asked his daughter what she thought, and she said go ahead so he did.

Keyes was later derided for doing this. It even came up at the next Republican debate, with Gary Bauer crying that they were playing Rage against the Machine music (read: devil music). I laughed all the way through the segment. But it gave me a lot of respect for Keyes, because he really came off as a regular guy. He believed in his own ideas and spoke well, but he didn’t take himself seriously.

That is what is missing from most of our politicians. They take themselves deathly serious. Here Moore inadvertently revealed a lot about political personalities in a way that few commentators would have. So even with all of Moore’s socialist rhetoric, his style and brashness are funny and revealing. He’s not always honest as this web site attests, and I’m glad they booed him at the Oscars, because half the fun of Moore is watching doors slammed in his face when he’s confrontational. But Moore’s job as the funny liberal is watchable anyway. When I see Bowling for Columbine, I will no doubt hate the inaccuracies but belly laugh a half dozen times anyway.

U.S. settling scores, but at what cost?(Jim Dalgleish, Herald Palladium)

Given the time of its creation, the 1972 film "The Godfather" can be seen as a parable about America and the Vietnam War.

In it, we watch the young Michael Corleone go from decorated soldier to ruthless mob boss. By 1972, America's New Frontier had given way to My Lai.

But a major part of the classic film seems to speak eerily to our time, to today's war.

For the stated cause of defending the nation (the family), U.S. troops have been dispatched to Iraq. But can the family be safe, proud and prosperous by taking down one chronic enemy and leave the others standing?

Is it, "Today Iraq, tomorrow Iran and Syria"? Both have been long been identified as state sponsors of terrorism - and are now alleged to be assisting Iraq.

For Michael Corleone, the score-settling ultimately delivered little peace. The film's two sequels have Michael fending off enemies beyond and within.

In the process of destroying enemies, will America anger more friends, create new enemies, further energize the "death to America" crowd and force the alienated into potent alliances?

At the end of "The Godfather, Part III," Michael dies of natural causes - a miraculous passage given his enemies. He was rich and powerful, but he wasn't happy. And he wasn't secure.

I love movie analogies, but Dalgleish fails the main point. The Godfather films were about what people will do to hold onto power. To say that Michael Corleone lives to an old age and dies of natural causes unhappy is supposed to mean what? That Bush will spend the rest of his years regretting his youthful wars? No, Dalgleish makes the mistake that most moral relativists make. They look at the action and see it as good or bad, when they should look at the context.

Bush's war was to protect others. He left himself nothing to feel guilty about. Michael’s regrets came as he killed his own family to hold onto power. Shooting your brother to save your power is different than shooting a rogue who is raping a woman. But in Dalgleish's view all shooting is the same.

Micahael Corleone was more like Saddam Hussein who sacrificed his own family and his own people for the throne. To miss that analogy and compare Corleone to Bush is certainly reaching, if not irresponsible.

Arrest in dog rescue outrages pet lovers (The Tennessean)

Jarrod Martin was repeatedly told to back away from a roaring fire in his apartment building, but the sight of his dog jumping up and down against a glass door in a room filled with smoke was too much, he said.

The other side of the building was engulfed in flames and the fire was moving toward Bishop, his year-old pit bull.

''He was pressed up against the glass as it was,'' Martin said last night. ''The fire was coming right toward him.''

He said he had waited 30 minutes for firefighters to rescue his dog and decided he must either get the pet himself or Bishop would never make it out of the apartment alive.

Martin put firefighters in danger by entering the building, diverting their attention from the blaze, and he could have caused a ''backdraft,'' a flash fire caused by a sudden rush of oxygen, said Assistant Chief Kim Lawson, spokeswoman for the Nashville Fire Department. Martin, noting that the other half of the building was on fire, disagreed.

Asked whether fire department policy dictates when to go in to rescue a person as opposed to an animal, Lawson said, ''We don't really have a point. We will always do a primary search for any life at all. Obviously, you've got to have some of the flames knocked down.'' Lawson added: ''We always go in and make a primary search on any area for any life at all. It's common to see pets taken out and given oxygen by our firefighters. We do the best we can.''

The charge of disorderly conduct carries a maximum sentence of up to 30 days in jail and a $50 fine. Reckless endangerment is punishable by up to 11 months, 29 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500, according to state law.

I would go back in to save my dog. It sounds shaky that he was endangering anyone but himself and he should hardly be arrested for that. It seems like a situation in which the police got angry that they were ignored. The disconnection that police have in official matters probably helps them to do their jobs better. A certain detachment would certainly help keep an officer from being depressed about the horrors that they might see on the job. But in this case, the police forgot the normal human reaction. I’m sure one of the cops that arrested him would have done the same thing in similar circumstances.

Friday, April 18, 2003

The Late Michael Kelly's May story for the Atlantic Monthly

The original phony peace was at least, so to speak, real. France and England had desperately sound reasons for appeasing Hitler and avoiding war with Hitler's Reich: if there was a war, France and England would need to fight it. And having seen a generation of their men, and their national power, destroyed in the Great War, and having in consequence all but disarmed themselves, they were in no position to fight. Neville Chamberlain is derided for his "peace for our time"; indeed, his Blixian selfdelusion is cringe-making still: "In spite of the hardness and ruthlessness I thought I saw in his face," he wrote after meeting Hitler, "I got the impression that here was a man who could be relied upon ..." Today we remember Chamberlain as the consummate fool, and it seems obvious to us what seemed obvious to Chamberlain's political opponent and successor. Britain had faced a choice "between shame and war," Winston Churchill wrote. "We have chosen shame, and we will get war." But it wasn't obvious to many until forced and forced and forced again on them, and it was Chamberlain, not Churchill, who was cheered in the streets when he brought back the peace that the people so badly wanted.

The main thrust of the article is that everyone wants peace, therefore advocates for a phony peace turn up everywhere. They could be seen in the United Nations or as Human Sheilds this time around.

'Bar Code' Web Site Closes Under Pressure

A Web site that urged visitors to lower prices for grocery items by substituting bar codes shut itself down after pressure from Wal-Mart Inc. contained a database of bar codes with instructions on how to print them on stickers. It suggested visitors "chose their own prices" by, for instance, sticking a bar code for generic cereal on a name-brand box in the store.

Technology enables a system run without much thinking. The upside is that you can hire irresponsible people in jobs where you once needed go-getters. This saves a lot of money. The downside is that your cheap labor is an easy con. Since the youngest people always know the technology the best, and love pranks the most, web sites will always be susceptible to hacking and corporations will always be susceptible to scams that involve technology.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Robber sues clerk who shot him during holdup
Willie Brown, 44, claimed the clerk acted "maliciously and sadistically" in firing five shots as Brown ran out of Zipps Deli with money from the store's cash register.

Two bullets struck Brown's back and side, and he was arrested in a nearby home a few minutes after the holdup on March 15, 2002. Brown pleaded guilty to robbery in February and was sentenced last week to four years in prison.

Brown, who seeks unspecified damages, said the shooting had "prevented him from transacting his business" and that he continued to "suffer nightmares as the result of this assault upon his life."

Does "preventing him from transacting his business" mean that he is suing, because the robbery wasn't completed? My favorite part is that the "he" has nightmares.

A Deck of Bad Guys (ABC NEWS)

Check out the link. I've been looking for a picture of these cards since I saw them flashed on TV last week. I wonder what a deck of these cards would go for on EBAY? Between my love of poker and history, I would be tempted to get one.

UPDATE: Iraqi 'Most-Wanted' Deck of Playing Cards BUY THEM HERE.

Museum most likely hit by well-executed theft

Museum officials have determined that most of the looting that did take place at the home to more than 170,000 artifacts of human civilization was focused on office machines and furniture, as at other government buildings, and that only selected antiquities were taken.

The people who came in here knew what they wanted. These were not random looters," Donny George, director general of Iraq's state board of antiquities, said Wednesday in front of the museum as he held up four glass cutters -- red-handled with inch-long silver blades -- that he found on the floor of the looted museum.

He pointed out that replica items -- museum pieces that would have looked every bit as real to an angry mob as authentic items -- were left untouched. The museum's extensive Egyptian collection, which is valuable, but not unique to the world, also was left alone.

"The administration building, the library, they are a mess. In the museum, there is broken glass and papers on the floor, but a lot of the collection was pulled before the war. And not as much is missing as first thought."

In fact, in the main collection, it now appears that few items are missing, and very little seems to have been the victim of mob violence.

It makes sense they were pros. Everyone knew the war was coming and a good thief would know that museum security would be non-existent. Maybe the Iraqi David Mamet will write a good movie about it.
GOP poll finds Daschle in trouble (Wasington Times - April 17, 2003)
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, would lose in an election to a prominent state Republican, according to a poll conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Former Rep. John Thune was picked by 46 percent of South Dakota voters over Mr. Daschle's 44 percent, according to the survey conducted last month by McLaughlin & Associates.

Mr. Thune served three terms as South Dakota's lone House member before stepping down in 2002 to challenge Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson and losing by just 524 votes.
The Bush administration had recruited Mr. Thune for the Johnson race and is expected to back him in the 2004 Republican primary, if he decides to run again, for Mr. Daschle's seat.

Thune probably won the last election if you took the time to toss the questionable votes, but instead of complaining and demanding an investigation, he handled it with class. A big part of the campaign to re-elect Johnson rested on the idea that South Dakota would be better served if homeboy Daschel remained Senate Majority Leader. Since Johnson’s Democratic seat was important to that, a popular John Thune was cast off. Johnson won, but it didn’t make a difference. The deciding factor will probably be Daschel's thoughts of the presidency, which made him drop off his moderate cloak. He's since dropped those plans, but his opposition to a popular president that his state elected Bush in 2000 means trouble for him. He's been moving leftward as Bush defeats terrorist nations.

Convention backs Blair's plan for EU presidency (London Times, April 17, 2003)

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former French President who chairs the convention on Europe’s future, supported the EU’s biggest member states who argue that the Union needs a president if it is to punch its weight on the international stage.

However, well-organised opposition from the EU’s small states, which have joined forces with the ten new entrants from Central and Eastern Europe, means that weeks of horsetrading lie ahead.

The smaller countries want to stick with the system under which each member state has six months as EU president.

But M Giscard made his views clear after protracted talks with leaders gathered in Athens to sign the treaty ushering in the ten new members. Asked how many countries opposed the idea of a president, he said: “When you assess these positions, one thing to take into account is the number of states. But we also have to take into account their populations, because we operate in a democratic way here. And the majority of the population is in favour of a somewhat more stable president.”

With all of the cultural strife that happens within a country, I don't see how a lasting union can be created among 20 different nations.

These smaller countries are going to soon feel like pawns instead of participating members. Once a country has given up their currency for the Euro, it will be harder for them to leave the union, but it won't stop them. All it takes is one country that feels like they are doing worse in the union and one populist politician to get elected to get them out. I wonder what will happen when a country decides to leave.

By 1860, we were still pretty homogenous and we had to fight a civil war to decide who we would be. Quebec is still debating independence from Canada two hundred years later. How can a central government of so many different cultures ever succeed as a unified whole? The last test of that had France abnd England on opposite sides of the war in Iraq.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Actor Robbins Says US Now Viewed as 'Rogue State'
"In the 19 months since 9/11, we have seen our democracy compromised by fear and hatred," he claimed. "Basic inalienable rights, due process, the sanctity of the home have been quickly compromised in a climate of fear.

"A unified American public has grown bitterly divided," Robbins continued, "and a world population that had profound sympathy and support for us has grown contemptuous and distrustful, viewing us as we once viewed the Soviet Union, as a rogue state."

"Our ability to disagree and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are," Robbins argued. "To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat."

Robbins called on those who agree or disagree with his anti-war stance to rise up against what he deems false patriotism.

"In this time when a citizenry applauds the liberation of a country as it lives in fear of its own freedom...when people all over the country fear reprisal if they use their right to free speech, it is time to get angry. It is time to get fierce," he continued. "Any instance of intimidation to free speech should be battled against. Any acquiescence to intimidation at this point will only lead to more intimidation."

What they call totalitarianism is the defeat of totalitarianism.

Robbins is really a good film director. His Bob Roberts and Cradle will Rock are very interesting stories of political corruptibility. But he is about the most boring actor in movies. He underplays everything to a mumble in drama and a mumble and half-smile in comedy. I saw about 30 seconds of this delivered on TV, and from an acting standpoint he got it all wrong. He was dis-invited by the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he'd have you believe he just left the dungeon.

No one is keeping these people from speaking, but they don’t like the lesson that words mean things. They are free to hate Bush and the war, but are surprised that someone might hate them for it. They want to live in the world where they are showered with praise for comparing Bush to the Soviet Premiere.

Robbins was joined by the head of the anti-war group, called WIN WITHOUT WAR. Utopianism! I'm waiting for: COOK WITHOUT FOOD, BREATHE WITHOUT AIR and WALK WITHOUT FEET.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

The end of the beginning: Syria and Iran are preparing to launch a terrorist campaign against coalition forces, says Michael Ledeen. The only answer is regime change in both countries (Michael Leeden, The Spectator, April 15, 2003)

Today, both Iran and Syria are engaged in a desperate terrorist campaign against coalition forces in Iraq. The only surprise here is that so many diplomats and deep thinkers are surprised, for neither country has been reluctant to announce its intentions. Just over a week ago, for example, the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad incautiously told an interviewer that just because Iraq was conquered did not mean that the coalition had won. He said that the enemies of Britain and the United States would have to be patient, just as they were in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s, driving the United States and Israel out of the country by means of terrorist attacks. And Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, announced publicly that the presence of US forces in Iraq would be even worse than Saddam Hussein, arguably the man most hated by Iranians.

The joint strategy seems counter-intuitive to those who believe it is next to impossible for Sunnis and Shiites to co-operate, and that Iran could never co-operate with the regime of Saddam Hussein. But both Syria and Iran have good reason to contest the coalition victory. Assad and Khamenei have both heard Bush’s reference to the ‘Axis of Evil’, and they have studied the many White House statements over the past year and a half. They have concluded that once the coalition victory is consolidated, they are next on the list. They believe they will have to fight for survival sooner or later, both against America’s military and economic power, and against their own people, who they fear would be inspired by the spectacle of a free and independent Iraq to attempt a similar enterprise in their own countries.

They do not think they have any good soft option. The Americans are coming, and the Syrians and the Iranians are going to fight now, in Iraq. To be sure, they are not going to send their armies against us (quite aside from certain defeat, they no doubt fear massive defections), but rather a swarm of terrorists, from Hezbollah to Islamic Jihad, Hamas, al-Qa’eda, Ansar al-Islam, and the rest of the jihadist mafia. They have convinced themselves that this is a potentially winning strategy, both because of the Lebanon precedent and because of what they view as the increasing success of a similar campaign in Afghanistan.

Michael Ledeen has a point. Patton said similar things. The enemy never goes away. You can choose to fight him now when you are in position to defeat him or you can pretend the danger doesn't exist. The country loves victory but they love a return to normalcy. Will Bush continue this war into the countries that cause us danger?

Rodney King recovering after slamming his vehicle into house (Associated Press, April 15, 2003)
Rodney King, whose videotaped beating led to the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, remains in a hospital after he lost control of his car and crashed into a house over the weekend, police said.

King, 39, of Rialto was spotted Sunday by a Rialto police officer, who said King was weaving through traffic in his 2003 Ford Expedition and traveling about 100 mph when he slammed into a utility pole, a chain-link fence and then the home, police said. No one in the home was injured.

Police said they suspect that King was intoxicated at the time of the accident, and a blood sample was drawn to determine his blood-alcohol level. Test results have not yet been released.

King was not arrested, but a report detailing the crash circumstances will be submitted to the district attorney's office, Rialto police Lt. Kathy Thompson said.

King later received a $3.8 million settlement from the city of Los Angeles in 1994.

He was convicted of spouse abuse in 1999 in San Bernardino County and received 90 days in jail and four years on probation. Claremont police arrested King for being under the influence of PCP in August 2001, and a month later, Pomona police arrested him for being under the influence of PCP and indecent exposure after visitors at Ganesha Park complained about a man jumping on an ice chest.

King pleaded no contest to three counts of being under the influence of PCP and a count of indecent exposure in October 2001. A judge gave King a year in a drug treatment center even though a prosecutor argued King should spend a year in county jail.

It seems like his $3 million lottery win has been spent on bigger cars and more drugs. It's the will of God that Rodney King hasn't killed someone with his irresponsibility and reckless behavior. I have no doubt that police all over the country have misused their power and have even brutalized innocent people at times. We’ve all seen cops on a power trip. But the videotaped segment of King getting beat overshadowed what a menace he really is.

Mayor: Up to 10,000 More Layoffs Possible (New York Newsday April 15, 2003)

A "doomsday" contingency budget calls for up to $1 billion in cuts, including the additional layoffs of up to 10,000 city employees and the closing of 30 to 40 more firehouses, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.

But Bloomberg said he remained hopeful the city would get financial aid from state lawmakers in Albany and concessions from labor leaders that would prevent the "devastating" cuts contained in the contingency plan from taking place.

You always know when a local politician is making a play for state or federal money because they talk loudly about closing crucial services. Since 911, firehouses and firemen have taken on a kind of mythical status, and rightly so. If you're a politician that wants some handouts then you dangle the heroes. I have no doubt that Michael Bloomberg can balance the budget by cutting other things that most wouldn't miss. I can imagine that social spending in New York is off the meter, but he chooses to cut firehouses, because a bigger budget is more power, and why else would a billionaire want to be mayor, but the power.

Palestinian Abu Abbas in US Custody in Iraq

Palestinian guerrilla leader Abu Abbas who masterminded the hijacking of an Italian cruise ship in 1985 was captured by U.S. forces and is in U.S. custody in Baghdad, CNN reported on Tuesday.

Abbas, also known as Mohammed Abbas, is the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Front, which hijacked the Achille Lauro in the eastern Mediterranean, resulting in the death of a disabled elderly American man.

This guy is the reason you can never eradicate the death penalty. What was this guy doing in Iraq? He must have missed the bus to Syria. Isn't it nice that these people that terrorize Americans have one less nation to hide in?

UPDATE: Palestinian Authority Demands U.S. Free Abu Abbas

"We demand the United States release Abu Abbas. It has no right to imprison him," Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat told Reuters.

"The Palestinian-Israeli interim agreement signed on September 28, 1995 stated that members of the Palestine Liberation Organization must not be detained or tried for matters they committed before the Oslo peace accord of September 13, 1993," he said.

That says a lot of about these kinds of agreements. Instead of fostering peace, they've become a "get out of jail free" card. Since that agreement, the suicide bombers have increased, and terrorism hasn't waned. That paper was never meant to be more than a photo op for the 1996 Presidential election. If it were a treaty, then the President would have sent it to the Senate for ratification.

It's a record low for Davis in poll (Sacramento Bee, April 15, 2003)

As the campaign to recall Gov. Gray Davis enters its fourth week, a statewide survey shows the governor facing his lowest approval ratings since he took office in 1999, and nearly half of voters inclined to remove him from the job to which they re-elected him last November.
With California's budget crisis deepening, 24 percent of registered California voters approve of the second-term Democrat's job performance, while 65 percent disapprove, according to a Field Poll released Monday.

The fact that this guy got re-elected shows that California is no longer Reagan Country.
France's Chirac, Bush Speak by Telephone

French President Jacques Chirac and President Bush spoke by telephone for the first time in more than two months Tuesday, in a possible sign of warming ties after their bitter dispute over war in Iraq.

Jacques: Anything new, Mr. Bush?

Fortuyn gunman spared life term The man who killed Dutch anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn has been jailed for 18 years. (BBC, April 15, 2003)
Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence for 33-year-old Volkert van der Graaf, who shot Fortuyn as he left a radio studio last year.

But the court in Amsterdam ruled that Van der Graaf should receive the lighter 18-year sentence to give him the chance of rehabilitation. He could be freed by 2014.

Van der Graaf said he killed Fortuyn - the then leader of the Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) - to protect Muslim immigrants and other "vulnerable" members of society.

"All considered, a sentence of life imprisonment would not be appropriate in this case," said presiding judge Frans Bauduin. "Therefore we are giving a fixed term of imprisonment."

Van der Graaf gunned down Fortuyn as he left the radio studio in Hilversum, after lying in wait for him in bushes nearby.

The prosecution said Van der Graaf had shown little remorse and had carried out the killing in a "cold and calculating" manner.

A psychiatrists' report presented to the court concluded that Van der Graaf was sane.

He told the court that he regretted the killing, but said Fortuyn's rise in popularity could be compared to that of Hitler.

Fortuyn wasn't taking the country by coup. He had legitimate concerns about a large number of immigrants who weren't adopting Dutch standards and were instead practicing an extreme version of Islam. The guy who killed him wasn't even Muslim, but some whacked out green peace sort of person. Now that this "sane" punk gets parole in 10 years, why should anyone with controversial ideas run for anything in Holland? Unless you want to tow the politically correct line, you'll be killed and government won't care.

EJ. Dionne's column below makes the point that big government is our savior, but this is a good example of how the government would rather expand the welfare state than protect citizens and their rights. This guy should have been executed. Instead he'll get rehabilitation. Fortuyn was murdered for speaking harshly about Muslims. He would have gotten off lighter had he killed one.
The Price of Liberty (EJ Dionne, Washington Post, April 15, 2003)

If you think government is useless, evil and unnecessary, ponder those pictures of looters in Iraq ransacking homes, hotels, even hospitals. Feel for that sobbing official of the National Museum of Antiquities, aghast at the destruction of irreplaceable historical artifacts by an angry mob.

This lesson is timely. On and about April 15, anti-government and anti-tax groups annually devote much energy to trying to convince Americans that we live under a rapacious, money-grabbing, rights-destroying regime. The anti-taxers always throw numbers about how many days and months you'll be "working for the government." It's their way of describing how much of your income is taken in taxes.

Yes, and how is that incorrect?

What these groups never talk about, because it would wreck their story line, is the extent to which our personal and collective prosperity as a property-owning, enterprising people depends on strong and effective government. No government, no property. No government, no security from looting, theft or violence. No government, no national defense. No government, no social stability. No government, no securities law. No government, no food inspections, no consumer and environmental protection, no safeguards for workplace rights, no social insurance.

These are liberal assumptions. I would love to know what "social insurance" is. Enterprising people don't need much government at all. My father spent more time trying to figure out a way to please an overbearing government than ordering products. Enterprising people need enough police presence to keep a crime area down, and decent roads for commerce, but Dad was hardly helped when the city decided to spend $30,000 on a sculpture to put in front of the courthouse. When he began a smaller business after retirement, the country inspector made him buy a new toilet bowl, because the one present wasn't big enough according to the government. You couldn't tell a difference by looking at the two, but if he didn't spend the $100 on a new toilet, he wasn't going to be allowed to open. And then when it was decided that he needed wheel chair ramps, he wondered if the reason he was going into business was to make money or to provide a government service to strangers. So Dad not only got taxed, he still had to provide the service himself. How is that helping enterprising people?

"Property rights are meaningful only if public authorities use coercion to exclude nonowners, who, in the abuses of law, might well trespass on property that owners wish to maintain as an inviolable sanctuary," Holmes and Sunstein write. Markets themselves could not function outside the law; "they function well only with reliable legislative and judicial assistance."

A lot of the things Dionne lists above are legitimate functions of government, but it shouldn't cost people half their income to get these things. A minimum amount of taxes should provide most of what we need. People can't always rely on the police and government. We have the right and responsibility to protect our property from looting and violence, ourselves. We forged this nation without a large central government. Pioneers didn't sit in Boston and complain that they couldn't go west until the police presence had reached those areas. The government is here at our disposal, not the other way around. It's too big and a tax cut and reduction in spending isn't going to cause looting and anarchy. God only asks for 10%, why should the government require any more than that?
Americans See Clear Victory in Iraq, Poll Finds (New York Times, April 15, 2003)
Americans overwhelmingly consider the war in Iraq a success, and a majority say the victory will stand even if Saddam Hussein remains at large or if the United States fails to unearth chemical or nuclear weapons, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

At home, the fall of Baghdad has fortified President Bush's political standing. The poll found that 73 percent of Americans approve of his job performance — up from 59 percent the week before the war — and that his approval rating among Democrats was 61 percent.

61% among Democrats won't last, but it may spell danger among Democrats like Howard Dean and Bob Graham that were against the action. John Kerry and other candidates that were harsh in their criticism may get off a little better. This has to make Joe Lieberman the front-runner. If the election were this year, Lieberman would be hard to beat for the nomination. Unfortunately for Lieberman, the war probably won't be much of an issue next year. The economy should be back in full swing and that won't help any of them.

Monday, April 14, 2003

War News From the Mother of All Web Loggers (New York Newsday April 14, 2003)

"She rules; I don't know how she does it, but the success of The Command Post just illustrates the self-organizing nature of the blogosphere," says's Glenn Reynolds, the "blogfather" of the Web log phenomenon. "She saw a demand, and she met it." Reynolds, who occasionally appears on CNN, says his contacts at the cable outlet routinely monitor The Command Post for breaking news.

In just two weeks, Catalano's site has gone from nowhere to 100,000 users a day - with a million page views. She and her partner, Alan (like many bloggers, he can't use his last name because of his day job), organized about 100 bloggers worldwide to contribute to their effort, beginning on the first day of the war with Iraq. This kind of collective effort, where a group of people publish their views and links to a common home page, is increasingly common in the once-individualistic blogging scene.

Ten years ago she would have been a nice person to meet at a dinner party. Today, CNN is using her as a resource. The web allows so many talented people the opportunity to be noticed.

Democracy in the Arab world

This is an interesting article that describes the type of government each of the Arab countries already have and what, if any, overtures they have made toward democracy.
Troops take Tikrit, too Saddam's hometown falls with little resistance (New York Daily News, April 14, 2003)
There was no last stand for Saddam Hussein and his vaunted Republican Guard. U.S. troops faced skirmishes but no organized resistance as they rolled into Saddam's hometown of Tikrit yesterday.

The city is the last frontier in the conquest of Iraq - and U.S. forces were bracing for Saddam and as many as 2,500 of Saddam's elite troops and fanatical Fedayeen militia to stage a bloody battle there.

But it wasn't to be.

The press sold this big battle like a pay per view event, but the Iraqis had no stomach for it.
About 3,000 Marines traveled about 100 miles north from Baghdad overnight supported by Cobra attack helicopters and F-18 war planes — a show of force designed to overwhelm any resistance.

They destroyed an Iraqi tank column outside the city and cut down a platoon that dared to take them on.

"They came out of their holes to fight the Marines," Matthew Fisher, a Canadian reporter, told CNN. "About 15 Iraqis died in that exchange, no Americans."

A reporter for Radio France Internationale told today's Washington Post that local people said most of the Iraqi military assigned to defend the city fled before the Marines even advanced, leaving behind tanks, trucks and artillery pieces.

The world is on notice. The support of terrorism will end badly for the supporter.