June 30, 2004

Offshoring as Tort Reform

Virginia Postrel links to an article in The Scientist:

The Serum Institute of India (SII) this week signed an agreement with the international Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) to develop a new conjugate meningitis A vaccine at a cost of 40 cents per dose for the African meningitis belt, which stretches from Ethiopia to Senegal.

I wonder if we can start using Indian and Chinese companies to produce the products that Americans need but which American companies are too afraid of litigation to manufacture.

This is a random, blog-thought, not developed at all> Perhaps there are still plenty of ways for Senator Edwards’s donors to promote childhood diseases, but this seems like a possible bulwark.

Posted by jk at 01:42 PM | What do you think? [0]

Iraq Liberation - Success or Failure?

WSJ senior editorial page writer Robert Pollock calls the Iraq glass "Half-Full," but someone who lives there, Iraq's interim president Ghazi Yawer, says it is "90% good" and "10% bad."--"we got rid of the most vicious regime."

This short lead editorial I've linked tells the story that Lee Iacocca doesn't get from Reuters, The Guardian or the NY Times. Pollock was there himself, immediately after liberation and again two weeks ago. Despite the stories of strife we've been bombarded with over the last year, Pollock returned home after the latest trip more optimistic than ever.

"Why? Because if the past year couldn't drive Iraq into chaos--and despite what you see on the event-driven nightly news reports, it hasn't come close--probably nothing will."

Pollock also quotes Paul Wolfowitz, from the plane ride home: "I've stopped pretending that I come out to raise their [the troops'] morale because inevitably they raise mine." Apparently the only place morale is low is on the home front, where our buddy Lee Iacocca is forming his opinions about "the direction we're going."

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:18 AM | What do you think? [3]

Say it ain't so, Lee!

From J F'n Kerry's website: Lee Iacocca Endorses Kerry for President. "Having backed George W. Bush in 2000, Iacocca is switching his support in 2004 after over three years of jobs failure by the Bush administration."

In his own words Lee said, "All of my best friends are Republicans, and they ask me, “Are you crazy or something? Why are you doing this?” Well, it’s simple. I tell them the world is changing. Our country is changing. And we need a leader who understands that change that’s taking place. And most important, we need a leader who will level with us about how we can adapt to that change and make things change for the better." OK, that's completely vague. Later he adds, "John Kerry would make a great commander-in-chief, I have no doubt about that. He would also make one hell of a CEO. That’s what a President is." And... "He knows how to surround himself with good people, and he knows how to set priorities. He’s a doer. And he does know how to make a tough decision now and then, believe me." And... "And there’s another thing that John Kerry’s done that’s really impressed me, as a CEO of many years. In my 50 years in the auto business, I’ve always kept in front of me a hotlist – a hotlist of 10 priorities to move the company forward. I would address those personally almost on a daily basis, and guess what? John Kerry’s done that for the country, drawing up his own 10 national priority list."

So other than Iacocca's good name, his plea to "believe me," and the fact that they both use a David Letterman "Top 10 List" management style, not much of substance here. Iacocca's message seems to boil down to, "That’s really why I’m here. We’re going in the wrong direction." Look's like Uncle Lee's been getting too much of his "news" from Reuters, The Guardian and the NY Times.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:56 AM | What do you think? [1]

A Moore-a-thon

Matt Labash is one of my favorite scribblers at probably my favorite magazine. If you go to the Weekly Standard's online Daily Standard site today, you get your choice of three Labash "kneecap job[s]" (his words) on Michael Moore. One from 1998 (Michael Moore, One-Trick Phony), one from 2002 (Jackass, The Documentary) and a new one (Un-Moored from Reality.) Read them all!

While most Moore critics stop at ridiculing him, since he is, both figuratively and literally, a fat target, I talked to his co-workers, acquaintances, and former employees, nearly all of whom made my editorial pronouncements look like a good-natured game of Slapjack. They called him "paranoid," "mercurial," "demanding," and a "fork-tongued manipulator." Though Moore's entire shtick is predicated on fighting the jackboot of corporate oppression, they detailed everything from his temper tantrums to his threatening to fire an assistant who sent a yellow cab instead of a limo to fetch him at the airport. They compared working conditions under Moore to "a sweatshop," "indentured servitude," and "a concentration camp." One of his former producers said it was like "working for Idi Amin--without the laughs." Another staffer simply said, "My parents want him dead."

I have some very reasonable, highly intelligent European friends who think that he is 100% accurate. Of course, I have many loony lefty relatives who believe the same. But that doesn't scare me half as much.

I don't want him dead, but I do want him discredited. He should be a Ann Coulterish figure (he should HAVE her figure!) on the left. Ms. Coulter is considered beyond the pale and her facts are greeted skeptically. The mainstream media will not say the truth: that Moore lies.

Posted by jk at 10:04 AM | What do you think? [3]

June 29, 2004

William F Buckley, Jr.

I have enjoyed my National Review subscription for many many years. My enjoyment has declined pari-passu (to use a WFB word) with the founder's declining involvement.

Now, the very sad news that he is "relinquishing his [controlling] shares."

He says he will still write. I hope he will pen many more pieces like Free Weeds

Legal practices should be informed by realities. These are enlightening, in the matter of marijuana. There are approximately 700,000 marijuana-related arrests made very year. Most of these — 87 percent — involve nothing more than mere possession of small amounts of marijuana. This exercise in scrupulosity costs us $10-15 billion per year in direct expenditures alone. Most transgressors caught using marijuana aren't packed away to jail, but some are, and in Alabama, if you are convicted three times of marijuana possession, they'll lock you up for 15 years to life. Professor Ethan Nadelmann, of the Drug Policy Alliance, writing in National Review, estimates at 100,000 the number of Americans currently behind bars for one or another marijuana offense.

[...] A Boston commentator observed years ago that it is easier for an 18-year old to get marijuana in Cambridge than to get beer. Vendors who sell beer to minors can forfeit their valuable licenses. It requires less effort for the college student to find marijuana than for a sailor to find a brothel. [...]

We're not going to find someone running for president who advocates reform of those laws. What is required is a genuine republican groundswell. It is happening, but ever so gradually. Two of every five Americans, according to a 2003 Zogby poll cited by Dr. Nadelmann, believe "the government should treat marijuana more or less the same way it treats alcohol: It should regulate it, control it, tax it, and make it illegal only for children."

I fear this brilliant, Burkean libertarian will never be replaced.

Posted by jk at 02:44 PM | What do you think? [2]

Quote of the Day

Senator Clinton, speaking at a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer (I'll pause to allow the conservatives to regroup from the image) as reported in SignOnSanDiego.com:

"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

You just wish that Lileks's Kerry Canvasser could've been there to appreciate it...

Hat-tip: WSJ Best of the Web

Posted by jk at 01:42 PM | What do you think? [6]

Theresa Will Help With Homework?

Senator Kerry is promising One Million More Graduates

CHICAGO - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry says if he's elected president, 1 million more students will graduate from college during his first five years in office and he will bring a special focus to boosting opportunities for low-income and minority students.

He admits that he'll get half this from demographic shifts and is a wee bit vague on the other 500,000:
...he'll achieve the other half by bringing down the cost of education and creating other incentives to bring students to college and keep them there.

Will we ever discuss the concept of limited government in this country again? I'm sure this wowed 'em at the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition. The Bush campaign says that these are "empty promises" and I am sure they're right.

But the Berkeley Square Blog will stand up and say "the two biggest impediments to more graduates is constant Federal meddling and over-regulation in the education sector and the miserable performance of government run primary and secondary schools." Get out of the way! Get out of the way!

ONE MORE THING: "First five years:" is that hubris or bad math?

Posted by jk at 10:22 AM | What do you think? [0]

June 28, 2004

Nothing You Didn't Know

A littlle French bashing from the New Statesman? Oui:

The Elysee Palace's routine disregard of its clients' human rights records makes President Jacques Chirac's new status as hero of the left and guardian of Europe's conscience on Iraq all the more ironic. This is the same Jacques Chirac who, as French premier in the 1970s, sold Saddam Hussein two nuclear power plants ("This deal with France is the very first concrete step towards production of the Arab atomic bomb," gushed Saddam). Chirac later declared himself "truly fascinated by Saddam Hussein since 1974". France went on to sell the Ba'athist regime $1.5bn of weapons.

In the 1990s, the French oil giant TotalFinaElf spent six years developing the Majnoon and Bin Umar oilfields, representing 25 per cent of Iraq's oil reserves. Alcatel won contracts worth $75m, its main task being to upgrade Baghdad's phone system; Renault sold Iraq $75m worth of farming equipment; and, once the trade embargo was partially lifted, France controlled 25 per cent of Iraq's imports. It is estimated that, in 2001 alone, 60 French firms did $1.5bn in trade under the now-suspect oil-for-food programme. In December 2003, when the US announced it was barring opponents of the Iraq war from bidding for US-financed projects worth $18bn, France professed astonishment. The then French foreign minister, Dominic de Villepin, said Iraq's sovereignty should be resolved before reconstruction could begin.

So, we have to wait for thier permission to liberate a country from tyranny?

Hat-tip: Instapundit (whom I beat by four hours on a Lileks post today -- woohoo!)

Posted by jk at 02:38 PM | What do you think? [0]

Whose Money?

Awesome close to Lileks's Bleat today. He explains to a Kerry canvasser that the tax cut was good because he spent it on home remodeling which provided jobs, bought fixtures and increased his property value. Not to be outdone, the clever young lady had comebacks:

"Well, what did you do?" she snapped.

"What do you mean?"

"Why should the government have given you the money in the first place?"

"They didn't give it to me. They just took less of my money."

That was the last straw. Now she was angry. And the truth came out:

"Well, why is it your money? I think it should be their money"

Then she left.

And walked down the stairs. I let her go without charging a toll. It's the philanthropist in me.

Very very very very afraid...

Posted by jk at 12:19 PM | What do you think? [1]

Be Very Afraid, Part II

Hugo Restall, of the Wall Street Journal Ed Page, shares my concern with Senator Kerry's newfound moderation on fiscal policy. And he even steals my line. Since I populate this entire blog basically on the back of Dow Jones's content I don't think I'll sue.

But there is cause to question Senator Kerry's moderation:

WSJ.com - Giving Kerry the Business (Paid site only, sorry)

If manufacturers create jobs above their 12-month average, he would refund the payroll taxes of the new employees for two years. Small businesses would be eligible to defer up to $250,000 of federal taxes if they are reinvested in the business. And he has plans to offer incentives, subsidies and venture capital to help develop new products.

The CEOs getting the goodies will cheer. But this is not what it means to be pro-business. The state's role is to create the environment so that entrepreneurs can take advantage of new opportunities, not to subsidize existing businesses.

If that's not convincing, consider that such favors come with a price tag. Politicians who think they can legislate new jobs also presume that government can raise living standards. And that's exactly what Sen. Kerry wants to attempt, for instance by raising the minimum wage.

His solutions to the "middle-class squeeze" all enlarge the government. Poor quality primary education and costly tuition for college? A Kerry administration would budget an extra $200 billion in government money. High gas prices? Stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Rising health care costs? Here's an additional $653 billion and bureaucrats will provide catastrophic-care insurance.

In one area, Mr. Kerry wants to cut back: government borrowing. Egged on by former Clinton advisers like Robert Rubin and Gene Sperling, he claims that taxes must be raised by $609 billion over 10 years in order to cut the deficit. But the booming economy means that government revenues are already recovering. The tax increase will go for Sen. Kerry's proposed new spending of $277 billion per year.

Rolling back the Bush tax cuts wouldn't just affect those making more than $200,000 a year, as we are led to believe. Restoring the top two brackets to their Clinton-era levels would start hitting single filers making $143,500 and married filers making $174,700 with higher marginal rates. Lower incentives for professionals, middle managers and small business owners will hurt economic growth.

Has John Kerry found a moderate message? Some observers think so. But giving something to everyone is not the same as being middle-of-the-road. Americans might want to consider what a President Kerry would do to their 401(k)s before they entrust him with the economy. "Fear not"? More like be very, very afraid.

Posted by jk at 12:03 PM | What do you think? [0]

Incipit Vita Nova

What a great day! My niece starts a new life with her husband, whom she married Saturday and Iraq's inchoate government takes its first baby steps.

U.S. Hands Power to Iraqis Two Days Early

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S.-led coalition transferred sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government two days early Monday in a surprise move that apparently caught insurgents off guard, averting a feared campaign of attacks to sabotage the historic step toward self-rule.

Legal documents transferring sovereignty were handed over by U.S. governor L. Paul Bremer to chief justice Midhat al-Mahmood in a small ceremony in the heavily guarded Green Zone. Bremer took charge in Iraq (news - web sites) about a year ago.

"This is a historical day ... a day that all Iraqis have been looking forward to," said Iraqi President Ghazi Al-Yawer. "This is a day we are going to take our country back into the international forum."

The "occupation" is over. The story isn't finished but this is a successful and complete liberation.

I heard NPR's enumeration of all the troubles Iraq faces -- and I don't mean to make light of the substantive obstacles. But the nation has a chance today it didn't have before the Coalition troops rolled into Baghdad.

And the US is safer without Saddam's financing and harboring of terrorists.

Good luck!

UPDATE: WSJ Best of the Web points out something I missed:

You've gotta love that bit about the press feeling "duped": He said the handover would be June 30, not June 28! BUSH LIED!!!!

Posted by jk at 08:58 AM | What do you think? [2]

June 27, 2004

Liberty Vital for Healthy Families

Last week JK used the occasion of the reunification of a Cuban baseball star with his family - in THIS country - to reprise the story of young Elian Gonzales, who was forceably reunited by the Clinton-Reno Department of "Justice" with his father - in communist Cuba. Discussion of 'Shouldn't Kids be with Dad' included a statement by Sugarchuck that "the family is the primary and most fundamental unit of society" which will "survive the snares of communism and the pressures of capitalism if it is allowed to remain intact." I'd like to espouse on that idea.

There are a couple ways to look at this. In one, the family is a crucial 'miniature collective,' sometimes going as far as to obligate every member to share his productive effort and wealth with every other member who needs or demands it. Surely this is not Sugarchuck's motive in elevating the integrity of the family unit above liberty itself.

But another way to view the family is selfishly. A spouse is "mine." Any children we procreate or legally adopt are "ours." Every aspect of our children's lives is our responsibility and none other's. This is probably consistent with his view of the family, though he probably doesn't think of it as "selfish."

Now the difference between these two visions of a family comes when the children transition into young adults, often called the "teen years." If they have been adequately educated in the principles of responsibility and common sense they may evolve into self-determinate individuals without severely disrupting the harmony of the family unit. If not - if their education is a haphazard concoction of accidental ideas inconsistent with each other and with reality (which you call the "pressures" of capitalism) - then their self-determination is almost certain to produce conflict. This generally leads the parents to impose the totalitarian authority that is endemic to the mini-collective family described above.

In conclusion, the same principles that "require" Elian be "reunited with his father" produce forces destructive to the healthy functioning of the family unit we all hold dear. Even within a family, even when the children are minors, liberty is a necessity for happy, healthy, harmonious life - for individuals and for a society of individuals.

If Patrick Henry had quipped, "Give me a family or give me death" his words would be long forgotten.

Posted by JohnGalt at 08:22 AM | What do you think? [10]

June 24, 2004

John Stossel

I have to give nano-kudos to ABC News, an organization for which I have very little respect. They do give John Stossel some airtime, which provides libertarian principles a voice they don't find on any of the other broadcast nets.

I don't agree with him on everything but he brings an economist's eye to events, whistleblows against his own industry, and has written an excellent book.

I get his email letter every week. This week's had a disappointment. I replied and thought I would share my snarky comments on the blog:

“This week Barbara and I are off. Instead, Peter Jennings anchors a special edition of 20/20 on the controversial prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

Or, “any chances of seeing a few minutes of objective, rational reporting on ABC News this week have just been removed. John Stossel has the week off. Instead, Peter Jennings will berate the President for a Special Hour for his failure to not provide new air-conditioned Cadillac SUVs to terrorists who mean to kill us until we allow their religion to be imposed on the survivors.”

Thanks for the warning!

Posted by jk at 02:28 PM | What do you think? [0]

Free Michael Moore

J "Voltaire" K may disagree with Michael Moore but I will defend his right to publish and advertise his filthy lies in the public square.

The FEC is not so sure. See, Farenheit 911 doesn't really jibe with the intricacies of McCain Feingold. John Fund in the OpinionJournal's Political Diary sez:

Six members of the Federal Election Commission will meet in Washington today to decide whether it's legal for Michael Moore to advertise his Bush-bashing "Fahrenheit 9/11" film on TV or radio without breaking federal law.

According to an opinion by the FEC's legal counsel, the movie's producer, Lions Gate Films, should be prohibited from running ads for "Fahrenheit" after July 30 because the McCain-Feingold campaign law prohibits any corporation (with a narrow exception for the news media) from running ads that even identify a candidate for president or Congress within 30 days of a primary election and within 60 days of a general election. Because Mr. Moore has publicly said the film is designed to defeat George W. Bush, there's no way it could be construed as other than a political effort.

Congressional members who voted for McCain-Feingold's restrictions on the First Amendment were no doubt assured that broad exemptions would exist for political speech. They were wrong. The FEC counsel's opinion is quite pointed in noting that the 2003 Supreme Court opinion upholding McCain-Feingold made clear that "the media exemption was 'narrow' and drew a distinction between 'corporations that are part of the media industry' as opposed to 'other corporations that are not involved in the regular business of imparting news to the public.'" Print and broadcast companies with news divisions meet the exemption standard; documentary film companies do not.

No one knows how the FEC will deal with this hot potato at its meeting today but the fact that the proposed muzzling of Michael Moore is on the agenda at all should be cause for concern. David Broder, the Washington Post columnist who championed the McCain-Feingold campaign reform law for years, has finally admitted it is unworkable. What the legal opinion of the FEC's general counsel proves is that it's also potentially dangerous to our freedoms.

McCain-Feingold delenda est!

Posted by jk at 11:54 AM | What do you think? [5]

Shouldn't Kids Be With Dad?

Sorry gang, a lot of conservatives signed on with Janet Reno to send Elian Gonzales back to Cuba, because "he should be with his Dad." El Jefe played that to the hilt.

Yet when one of his prisoners (what else do you call a citizen who cannot leave?) escapes, where is the rush to reconnect the paternal bond?

A happy ending to a sad story in the WSJ Editorial WSJ.com - A Triple From Cuba

When Cuban pitching sensation José Contreras defected in Mexico in 2002, the risks were so great that he didn't even warn his wife, Miriam, in advance. Not long after he had signed on as a New York Yankee, though, he began working to try to bring her and their two young daughters to America.

This week Mr. Contreras realized his dream. But not in the safe, legal manner that he had pursued. That path was blocked by Fidel Castro, who refused to grant the three exit visas so that the family could be reunited. After rejecting their application, Castro told them to try again in five years.

With no other options, the three boarded a smuggler's speedboat for a journey through the night that, according to a press report, included a three-hour chase by the U.S. Coast Guard. Authorities seized the group of 21 after the boat had run aground at Big Pine Key about 5:15 a.m. Having reached land, the refugees qualified for asylum and have already been released from Miami's Krome Detention Center.

Welcome to America I pray to NED that more Cubans feel freedom soon.

Posted by jk at 09:41 AM | What do you think? [6]

Be Afraid. Be Very Afriad

The most liberal Senator from Massachusetts likes to portray himself as a moderate. Andrew Sullivan sees the next election as a choice between Senator Kerry's "fiscal conservatism" and President Bush's courageous stance on the war.

Wonder no more, good people. Senator Kerry is calling for a raise in the minimum wage. As the WSJ Ed page sez: (free site)

The minimum wage gambit sends a bad signal about the direction of Mr. Kerry's economic policy. It is one of the mustier items in the liberal playbook and suggests a candidate who dances to the tune of unions rather than thinks creatively about how to reduce poverty. If Mr. Kerry really wants to raise take-home pay, he could help raise American skills by challenging the catastrophe of inner-city public education. But that's politically hard; it's so much easier to pose as the champion of the poor and worry about the consequences later.

The shining economic hope of a Kerry Administration is that it will bring back "Rubinomics," possibly even as a VP if some get their wish.

So, the best hope is that they will bring on a man who believes that raising taxes brings prosperity. Be very, very afraid.

Posted by jk at 08:17 AM | What do you think? [0]

June 23, 2004

We Won?

I'm sure Dan Rather will lead with this story tonight: Army unit claims victory over sheik. The Washington Times reports an American military victory ov Al-Sadr:

The Army's powerful 1st Armored Division is proclaiming victory over Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr's marauding militia that just a month ago seemed on the verge of conquering southern Iraq.

The Germany-based division defeated the militia with a mix of American firepower and money paid to informants. Officers today say "Operation Iron Saber" will go down in military history books as one of the most important battles in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

"I've got to think this was a watershed operation in terms of how to do things as part of a counterinsurgency," said Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling, a West Point graduate and one of two 1st Armored assistant division commanders, in an interview last week as he moved around southern Iraq. "We happened to design a campaign that did very well against this militia."


Posted by jk at 10:15 AM | What do you think? [6]


Chris Muir rocks! Day by Day is available every day on the Berkeley Square Blogroll...

Posted by jk at 09:21 AM | What do you think? [0]

It's Like The 90s Again

President Clinton is on the TV every night, and Reuters reports a dot-com IPO!

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares of software company Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM - news) surged as much as 39 percent in their debut on the New York stock Exchange on Wednesday, rising to $15.30 from an initial public offering price of $11.

I'm gonna go home and put on my Spin Doctors CD.

Posted by jk at 08:51 AM | What do you think? [3]

June 22, 2004

Hitch on Moore

I am not gonna blog anything else today. You HAVE TO read Unfairenheit 9/11 - The lies of Michael Moore. By Christopher Hitchens in Slate. Start to finish.

Hitch is so great that European lefties now hate him. I was reading his "Blood, Class, and Empire" re-release last time I was in the UK, and a dinner companion asked "What has gone wrong with Christopher Hitchens?" Yes, the man suddenly thinks religious fascists are almost as dangerous as Henry Kissinger! What's up with that?

Anyway, enjoy his take on Michael Moore today -- I know I did:

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.

And then it gets better, and better...

Posted by jk at 09:48 AM | What do you think? [2]

June 21, 2004

How Iraq Really IS Like Vietnam

Ayn Rand wrote in 1975 that the Vietnam war was, "a modern monstrosity called a "no-win" war, in which the American forces were not permitted to act, but only to react: they were to "contain" the enemy, but not to beat him." (This essay is contained in her book 'The Voice of Reason.') Were she alive today she would be writing much the same thing about the Iraq war.

Robert Tracinski discusses the parallels between the two wars in the May issue of The Intellectual Activist. Since the article is only in the print edition I'll refer you to the Cox and Forkum blog describing it.

In addition to the analysis of wartime similarities, Alan Forkum writes, "In my opinion, there's no indication that presidential candidate Senator John Kerry would ever adopt such a pro-American, self-interested, military-oriented policy. So I will continue to voice criticisms of the Bush Administration and hope that President Bush, if re-elected, will do better."

While liberals like Teddy Cocktail complain that Bush and Co. are warmongers who concocted their ideological Iraqi war in Crawford prior to 9/11, they have no idea just how far off the mark they are.

Posted by JohnGalt at 05:46 PM | What do you think? [3]

Shoulder to Shoulder

All the big bloggers have hit this. But, since you're never going to see it in the mainstream press, I want to post it as well. A Senior BBC correspondent admits that the BBC stands shoulder-to-shoulder with terrorists against democratic states.

LONDON -- A senior BBC correspondent in the Gaza Strip is reported to have told a Hamas gathering that journalists and media organizations are "waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people."

The alleged remarks, by BBC Arabic Service correspondent Faid Abu Shimalla, were reported on the Hamas Web site, which said they were made at "an impressive and well-attended ceremony earlier this month to honor some 140 Palestinian, Arab, Islamic, and international journalists and attended by Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin."

A BBC spokesman last night confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that Shimalla has been the Gaza Strip correspondent of the BBC Arabic Service for the past five years, but he said the BBC was unable to locate the Web site and could not comment further.

He noted, however, that Shimalla is a senior and experienced journalist who knows the requirements for impartiality.

I think we all know the BBC standards for impartiality...

Posted by jk at 03:03 PM | What do you think? [0]

Kerry Songs

Mark Steyn's got several potential sets of John Kerry parody lyrics on his website. A bunch of them are funny, but picking one to blog, I liked this one (to the tune of "The Rubber Band Man"):

The Other Hand Man

Hand me down my chardonnay,
Hand me down my brie,
Hurry now and don't be late
He'll be on the slopes by three
You and me were goin' out
To catch the latest sound
Guranteed to blow your mind
So high you won't come down

Hey, y'all prepare yourself
For the Other Hand man
You never heard a sound
Like the Other Hand man
You're bound to lose control
When he starts to say, "on the Other Hand,"
Oh, Lord, this dude is outta sight
Everything he says
Comes out both left and right
Once I went to hear him speak
On a Sunday talk showdown
I was so surprised, I was hypnotized
By how this cat flip-flops around
When I saw this long-faced guy
Stretch a sound bite 'till it broke
Hey, I laughed so hard
As he got bogged down
Steerin' clear of yes or no



Posted by jk at 02:18 PM | What do you think? [0]

Terrorism and Islam

Let's raise the tone a little bit around here. Les Freeman (I think he is associated with The Federalist, but I am not certain) has sent us a copy of an original research paper he has written. Thank you. Click on "Continure Reading..." to read the entire paper.

Greetings, It has been a while since I sent you anything because I have been working on a research paper on how terrorism has hijacked the religion of Islam. I am pasting a copy of my research to this document. Did I get it right? You are free to post if you feel it is appropriate

Terrorism Has Hijacked The Religion Of Islam.

Fourteen centuries ago, the religion of Islam was founded on the revelation brought to humanity by the prophet Muhammad. Muslims view it as the latest chapter in the ongoing religion of God, which began with Jesus, then Moses, and Abraham, contrary to popular biblical accounts. Muslims consider all three as God’s prophets and refer to them as Muslims. Islam accepts Christianity and Judaism as true religions, but believes that their truths are superceded by the word of God as revealed to Mohammed by God in the Quran, and the Sunna.

During the reign of the Ottoman Empire (1326 to 1924), a new strain of Islamic extremism founded by Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab began to materialize in Islam. This new strain of Islam was both harsher and more stripped down than the religion that the Prophet Muhammad had founded. Al-Wahhab forbade many practices and traditions that were an established part of Muslim culture, and proclaimed that all who did not accept this form of Islamic religion were infidels, not Muslims at all and were to be exterminated.

The House of Sa'ud (the ruling family in Saudi Arabia) has made this Wahhabism the religion of the regime. There was nothing in the Quran and Sunna that would support this radical form of Islam and in fact the Quran forbade this so the Hadith (story) and Sunna (action) was adopted and sold to the population by the clerics as the Quran and Sunna. The terrorists have used the Wahhabism Ideology to justify their acts and cloak them in the guise of religious martyrdom, thereby, hijacking the religion of Islam and corrupting Muslim society to support their philosophy of hate and terror.
Islam and the Origins of Terror

In order to understand how terrorism has hijacked Islam, it is necessary to understand how and where the Islamic Civilization began. In 1326, after the Mongol invasions, and their subsequent defeat by the Turks, the Ottoman Empire was created, and by the late 1600’s, it stretched from the Persian Gulf to Spain, virtually ruling the entire known world except for the island of Britain. Stockman says, “The Ottomans were very flexible rulers, who did not attempt to impose cultural or even administrative uniformity on their huge empire. They allowed local customs to flourish as long as tax revenues continued to be remitted to the Sultan”.

By the mid 1700’s, a new strain of Muslim extremism began to flourish. Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab founded what was known as Wahhabism. In an interview with Stephen Schwartz, Bacon says, “As Schwartz describes it, ‘Shi'as, Sufis, and other Muslims he [Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab] judged unorthodox were to be exterminated, and all other faiths were to be humiliated’. Later in the interview Schwartz further stated that, “Al-Wahhab soon established a political-religious alliance with a local bandit, Muhammad ibn Sa'ud. The House of Sa'ud—which rules Saudi Arabia—is directly descended from that alliance, and Wahhabism is the religion of the regime”. The hijacking of Islam by the perpetrators of terror and Islamic purists did not begin in the 1970’s, as most believe, it began over 200 years ago with the installation of Wahhabism as the state religion of Saudi Arabia.

In addition to the implementation of the Wahhabism Ideology in Saudi Arabia, there has also been on ongoing movement in Muslim society to silence dissenting scholars by imprisoning or killing them outright amid charges of being everything from child molesters to murders and infidels. Rosen and Ahmed say, “What was once an occasional event -- silencing scholars -- increasingly has become a way of life in most Muslim countries. From South Asia to North Africa, an entire generation of Muslim intellectuals is at this moment under threat: Many have already been killed, silenced, or forced into exile." The philosophy of terror, violence, and intolerance promoted by the Ideology of Wahhabism has clearly not only corrupted the religion of Islam but also its people.

The Creed of Terrorism
Once the Creed of Terror had been implanted within Muslim society, it would be necessary to nourish this idea by convincing the people that this was really the teaching of Muhammad. This took over 200 years, and did not begin bearing results until the 1970’s, when the terrorists began exporting their terrorism. According to the U.S. Department of State “Significant Terrorist Incidents, 1961-2003: A Brief Chronology”,
“Grand Mosque Seizure, November 20, 1979: 250 people were killed and 600 wounded. World Trade Center Bombing, February 26, 1993: 6 people dead and 1,000 injured. Tokyo Subway Station Attack, March 20, 1995 twelve persons were killed and 5,700 were injured. Khobar Towers Bombing, June 25, 1996: 19 U.S. military personnel killed and 515 wounded. U.S. Embassy Bombings in East Africa, August 7, 1998: 291 killed and over 5,000 injured. Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Homeland, September 11, 2001: 3,025 U.S. citizens and other nationals killed”.
When the terrorists found that their actions could not be dealt with by the free world, and was accepted by the Islamic world, they knew that their indoctrination of the Muslim world into Wahhabism was complete and that they could eventually dominate the world as they once had.

To understand how the metamorphosis from the teachings of Muhammad through the Quran and Sunna to the acceptance of Hadith and Sunna took place, one must first understand how Hadiths (oral stories) are created and verified as true by the Islamic scholars. According to MSA-USC “The Science of Hadith”,

“Allah (SWT) preserved the Sunnah by enabling the companions and those after them to memorize, write down and pass on the statements of the Prophet (PBUH), and the descriptions of his way, as well as to continue the blessings of practicing the Sunnah … A hadith is composed of three parts, matn (text), isnad (chain of reporters), and taraf (the part, or the beginning sentence, of the text which refers to the sayings, actions or characteristics of the Prophet (PBUH), or his concurrence with others action). The authenticity of the hadith depends on the reliability of its reporters, and the linkage among them”.
Upon searching the Quran and Sunna to justify their actions and philosophy of terror, the Wahhabist clerics could not find any, so they began searching the more than 700,000 Hadiths written over the last 14 centuries for justification and found them. According to Submission (Islam), “The Quran informs us that some enemies of the Prophet, described as ‘human and jinn devils,’ will fabricate lies and attribute them to the Prophet (6:112, 25:31). This is precisely what happened after the prophet Muhammad's death; Hadith (oral) and Sunna (actions) were invented and attributed to the Prophet”. The Wahhabist clerics took what they found in the Hadiths and created the Hadith and Sunna, then they began teaching this as the Quran and Sunna. Additionally, Locke says,

“It is a moral duty and a moral virtue to kill ‘infidels’— those who do not accept Islam. The Koran [terrorist version] is replete with such commandments as: fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them . . . those who reject our signs we shall soon cast into the fire . . . those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads . . . as to the deviators, they are the fuel of hell".

Without having access to the Quran and Sunna of Muhammad, the Muslim population was left with only the terrorist Hadith and Sunna as the word of God, and thus, has believed it completely. They could have done little else without being branded infidels.

In 1998 the teachings of the Wahhabism Ideology got their first real test of how many Muslims were actually accepting their philosophy of hate and destruction. At that time, Osama Bin-laden (OBL), together with other religious leaders and terrorist groups issued a religious FATWA (ruling or order) to the people of Islam. OBL said,

“We issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, "and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together," and "fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah”.
Muslim scholars in the free world rejected this fatwa, but those living under Islamic law, remained silent as the suicide bombing increased and the innocent deaths grew.

The Quran on Jihad and War
It is understood and accepted by virtually all religions, that all of their teachings came from the same source, which is the one God of man. He is known by many names, Jehovah, God, Allah, and his prophets are also known, Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Muhammad, Buddha, etc. All of his teachings are the same, love, peace, tolerance, and adherence to his laws set down by the various prophets through his words. All except Hadith and Sunna, which have been teaching hatred, intolerance, and violence. According to Submission (Islam),

“Terrorists, using hijacked planes, have attacked New York City and Washington DC on September 11, 2001 killing thousands of innocent people. As in many other attacks in the past, the terrorists abuse the name of Islam to commit crimes that are abhorred and strongly condemned by God in the Quran ... we decreed for the Children of Israel that anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people. ... [Quran 5:32]”.

The Quran of Allah presented to man through Muhammad is not the Quran of terror.
In addition, the Quran and Sunna lay out specific guidelines for conduct with other races and religions. According to Submission (Islam),

“The religion of Islam condemns the killing or even the persecution of people merely because they embrace a different religion … There shall be no compulsion in religion ... [Quran 2:256] ... The Quran mandates the absolute freedom of religion in a society ... GOD does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. GOD loves the equitable. [Quran 60:8] ... It does not allow Muslims to fight except for self-defense and to enforce peace ... If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in GOD. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient. [Quran 8:61] … It does not allow restrictions on those who disagree on religious matters. It urges the Muslims to treat such people kindly and equitably: ... Therefore, if they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then GOD gives you no excuse to fight them. [Quran 4:90]”.

Unless the words of the true God reach the Muslim population they will never hear these words.
When it comes to war, the Quran is very clear as to how it must be fought and does not allow for innocents to be harmed in any way. According to Submission (Islam),

“Aggression is Forbidden. Fighting is permitted only in self-defence. The Quranic verses on this are very clear. … You may fight in the cause of GOD against those who attack you, but do not aggress. GOD does not love the aggressors. [2:190]

… You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers. [2:191] … If they refrain, then GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful. [2:192] …

You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship GOD freely. If they refrain, you shall not aggress; aggression is permitted only against the aggressors. [2:193]”.

The Hadith and Sunna used by terrorists as the Quran and Sunna is not only corrupted, it also goes directly against the word, and law of Allah.
Final Reflections

It should be remembered that the version of the Quran known by the Islamic world, is one that has been in the process of being corrupted for over 200 years. It will take a major effort by free Islamic Scholars, or possibly, even divine intervention to reverse the process. The Muslim population has been convinced that it is the word of God, and their ignorance will prevent them from seeing the truth.
Christianity went through much the same process during the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials during their Dark Ages, when all it took was an accusation by someone, and a period of torture, to get a confession from the accused, so they could be burned at the stake, or beheaded in the name of God. The terrorism of today is no different than this, or the Nazism of the last century, that sparked a World War in which millions died before the holocaust could be ended. David Forte had this to say about the War on Terror, “We are not in a war between two civilizations. We are fighting an enemy of two civilizations". Indeed, if the Muslim world does not face up to what is happening to their civilization, the prophecies of Armageddon will no longer be a prophecy, but a reality in the near future.

Works Cited
Ahmed, Akbar and Rosen, Lawrence. “Islam and Freedom of Thought.”.
The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2 November 2001.
Bin-Ladin, Shaykh Usamah Bin-Muhammad, et al.
World Islamic Front Statement. 23 February 1998.
Forte, David. “Radical Islam vs. Islam.” Editorial. Ashbrook Center. Ashland University.
September 2001.
Khalifa, Rashad. Ph.D. Quran The Final Testament. Islamic Productions 2003.
Submission (Islam), Appendix 19.

Locke, Edwin. “Radical Islam's Assault on Human Life.” Editorial. Ayn Rand Institute.
4 October 2001.
Schwartz, Stephen. Interview. The Atlantic Online. 20 March 2003.

The Science of Hadith. MSA-USC.
15 June 2004
Stockman, Robert. “Notes on Islam from a Baha'i Perspective”. Baha'I Library Online.
15 June 2004.
Submission (Islam). “Jihad and Striving vs. Terrorism; The Quran on Wars and Aggression”.
United States, Department of State. Significant Terrorist Incidents, 1961-2003: A Brief Chronology. March 2004.

Posted by jk at 11:43 AM | What do you think? [1]

Federalism Concerns

Like Jonah Goldberg, I see Federalism as the solution to many of our problems. Why not let South Carolina outlaw abortion and Massachusetts allow Gay Marriage and California mandate tofu consumption?

I think Ramesh Ponnuru was looking straight at me when he penned his cover story to National Review a fortnight ago. (Gotta buy it, not online -- sorry). In short, he said "you guys who love Federalism so much, look at NYAG Eliot Spitzer. Wouldn't you guys like to see some Federals slap him down?" (I am paraphrasing.)

The WSJ Ed Page picks up the theme of overreach today as well:

WSJ.com - Paxil Man

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has sued so many people based on so little legal authority that it's almost hard to get worked up about it anymore. But it's worth making an exception for his recent lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline, because it threatens to damage good science and public health.


The reality is that Mr. Spitzer has gate-crashed one of most regulated industries in the world. Though it may come as a surprise to the New York Attorney General, Congress has for better or worse given no little thought to drug regulation. It has amended the insanely detailed Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act some 100 times. Through it all one principle has remained intact: The only entity authorized to enforce federal drug law is the FDA.

And regardless of what state statute Mr. Spitzer pulls out if his magic hat, it is federal law that governs what drug information gets disclosed, to whom, and at what point in time. And for good reason. This country decided long ago that it was better to have a single agency distributing uniform drug info than to have 50 state attorneys general (and their tort-law retinue) with varied political agendas sending out conflicting safety messages.


All in all, there's something dangerous about a prosecutor making health-policy decisions for which he can't be held responsible. Whatever one thinks of the FDA, it is answerable both to the executive branch and Congress. Mr. Spitzer has to face the voters every four years, but will he take the blame for depressed kids who suffer because their doctors are scared out of prescribing Paxil?

AG Spitzer wants to:

-- set mutual fund fees (and likely dictate returns);

-- approve/reject drug approvals;

-- dictate the salary of the CEO of the New York Stock Exchange;

-- then he wants to be Governor of NY.Why? It will be a big step down in power when he doesn't have the Martin Act.

I am soul searching this week. The WSJ case is strong for a strong Federal presence in many legal purviews.

Posted by jk at 09:40 AM | What do you think? [3]

Religion & Reagan's Funeral

I have to ask Johngalt something. I know you to be a fan of our 40th President, and I am, of course, familiar with you views on religion in the public square.

I wondered throughout the many moving speeches and ceremonies if the references to God bothered you.

I was blown away, musically and emotionally, by the version of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at the National Cathedral. Dan Henninger writes:

It is the music of choice when one's goal is to match the grandeur of the nation to a public life. But it goes without saying that should any school district in America establish, if one may use that word, the singing of Ms. Howe's hymn each Friday afternoon at a week-ending convocation, the Supreme Court would banish it.

Julia Howe's "Battle Hymn," written at a Union Army camp on the Potomac, is way, waaay over the Court's quota of capitalized "h" words--He is trampling, His sword, His day, the Hero born of woman, and His truth.

But still--even the most devout atheist can't tamp down the tearful wellings of national pride that erupt in most of us when a strong chorus sings "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord . . . His truth is marching on."
The long historical truth is that God, whether He exists or not, is good for summoning national pride, communal bonds and the martial spirit--the qualities most necessary to ensuring the survival of the United States at its current level of pre-eminence.

I find it odd that I, a non-church-goin' man, am cast as the holy roller of this blog but so be it. That version of Battle Hymn, like the slurred note on JFK's "Taps" will live forever in history. The religious references seemed to speak to Reagan's humanity and I enjoyed them.

But I did keep wondering "if this is not driving Johngalt crazy..."

Posted by jk at 08:40 AM | What do you think? [5]

June 19, 2004


Friend of this blog, AlexC from pstupidonymous, warns me not to misunderestimate a Kerry-Edwards ticket. I ain't. My sanguine-and-hubris-generator is turned off until December. This will be a tough election whomever Senator Kerry picks (well, maybe not if he actually picked Osama bin Laden, but that would get the Democrat base fired up...)

Here is an interesting anti-Edwards thought from Holman Jenkins in OpinionJournal's Political Diary:

One more thought on trial lawyers: Among those Democrats crowing for John Edwards to be John Kerry's veep at a New York event this week was strike-suit plutocrat Mel Weiss, founder of the Milberg Weiss law firm. Yes, that's the firm that accounts for nearly two-thirds of all class-action lawsuits alleging fraud against companies when their stock price falls. Mr. Edwards was effusively introduced by Mr. Weiss, who said of the North Carolina trial lawyer and one-term senator: "He deserves to be up there in national office with Senator Kerry and I hope he will be second on that ticket because he's remarkable."

Mr. Edwards has managed to keep the trial lawyer issue from rising up and biting him so far in his fervent campaign for the vice presidential nod. But the Weiss encomium is a potent reminder to business-oriented voters that, with Mr. Edwards in the White House, the lawsuit lobby would be sitting pretty. Mr. Edwards, as every news report mentions, is increasingly the "favorite" of Democratic Senators too. That's no accident: Fred Baron, the asbestos lawyer who was a key Edwards' donor and is now a chief Kerry fundraiser, has been known to joke about how Senate Democrats are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the trial bar.

Mr. Baron and other Edwards supporters have opened their wallets to Mr. Kerry since he nailed down the nomination to the tune of $7 million. Meanwhile, George Bush's support has wavered among Fortune 500 types who haven't been keen on his rock-the-boat foreign policy. But nothing would be better calculated to drive business back into the Bush camp than the opposition putting a representative of the trial bar on the Democratic ticket. In all the boomlet fuss over Mr. Edwards the last few days, there's been zero discussion of this downside. Maybe nobody cares anymore about brazen abuse of the tort system -- or maybe it's the sleeping dog that would get up and start yapping loudly if Mr. Edwards is named as John Kerry's No. 2.

He fills the charisma gap, but I don't know that a couple of big-hair white-ass Senators is what the party wants to project. I'd advise him to grab a gov -- Where was Locke (D Wash) Born?

Posted by jk at 04:48 PM | What do you think? [2]

June 18, 2004

Media got me down

AlexC at pstupidonymous wonders "if anyone is going to call [Paul Johnson's murders] terrorists." And says that "CNN can now get back to 24/7 Abu Ghraib coverage."

Alex is direct, Lileks is flowery:

The clock has reset to 9:10

Next story: Rumsfeld comments about the Secret Prisoner who was moved without notifying the International Red Cross, the Hague, the EU Cheese-Accrediting Bureau, and the Columbia Record House. The anchorperson helpfully informs us that this violates the Geneva Accords. Next story: an American shown blindfolded, held hostage; photos from the internet with his captors in hoods holding guns.

The anchorperson neglects to opine on whether this violates international law.

And why should she?

That's relevant, how?

I'm a little grouchy, I am going to say it. These media fools are losing the war to advance their political agenda. Saddam's torture footage isn't shown, Nick Berg's murder is cleaned up, 9/11 footage would hurt us too much, Abu Ghraib gets more air time than Seinfeld reruns.

At some level kids, this is pretty close to treason. Harsh words for some very harsh deeds.

Posted by jk at 07:40 PM | What do you think? [2]

'Straight-Talk Express' Rolls Into Bushville

9/11 changed a lot of Americans. Dennis Miller, Geraldo Rivera, Pat Tilman, George W. Bush and many others. We can now add John McCain to that list.

The Arizona senator endorsed President Bush this morning in a joint appearance at Washington State's Fort Lewis army base, addressing the gathered troops. The AP story is a bit weak so I transcribed the best from my recording of the live video. Mr. 'Straight Talk' left little doubt how he feels about the war in Iraq and the commander-in-chief:

"It's a big thing, this war - a fight between two ideologies completely opposed to each other. It's a fight between a just regard for human dignity and a malevolent force that defiles an honorable religion by disputing God's love for each and every soul on earth. It's a fight between right and wrong, good and evil. It's no more ambiguous than that.

It's a fight, and should the enemy acquire for their arsenal the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek, this war will become an even bigger thing. It will become a fight for survival.


But there is no avoiding this war. America is under attack from a depraved, malevolent force that opposes our every interest and hates every value we hold dear. We have already suffered terrible blows that no American alive today will forget. But we will survive. Our enemies must not.

This war will have many components, but American military power is the most important part. Victory is impossible without it. And anyone who wishes this country harm should not be allowed a doubt about what America can accomplish by force when we exercise it with firm determination to achieve its just ends. The professionalism and power of our armed forces, stronger by many magnitudes than any other nation on earth, is something only a fool would underestimate. When it is brought to bear in great and terrible measure it is a thing to strike terror in the hearts of all who oppose it. No mountain is high enough, no cave deep enough, to hide forever from the fury of American military power when we are committed to unconditional victory. And the victory is to vanquish international terrorism. Not reduce it, not change its operations, not temporarily subdue it, but to vanquish it. It is a difficult task that might at times temporarily affect other interests unfavorably. That cannot always be helped, for we cannot make victory on the battlefield more difficult to achieve so that our diplomacy is easier to conduct. While intelligence, law enforcement and diplomacy are all important components of our strategy, none is more important than the honorable and dangerous work that is yours.

The man I introduce you today understands this, and understands it very, very well. He heard the call to action on that terrible morning in September and summoned the rest of us to this long and difficult task. He has led this country with moral clarity about the stakes involved, and with firm resolve to achieve unconditional victory. There have been ups and downs as there are in any war, but like you he has not wavered in his determination to protect this country and to make the world a better, safer, freer place. You will not yield, nor will he.

McCain's delivery was forceful, yet stilted and perhaps reflecting unfamiliarity with the text. I had the impression on second viewing that his speech may have been written by White House staffers rather than his own, but the message was clear: "I'm staying put right here on my own team - the president's team - the winning team."

Perhaps this will finally be enough to end Democrat fantasies of a genuine war hero on their presidential ticket, but somehow I doubt it.

Posted by JohnGalt at 01:25 PM | What do you think? [3]

'Bush lied' and the lying liars who perpetuate it

The Jonah Goldberg column I'm linking to isn't new, but then neither is the "Bush is a liar" canard. The presumptive yet reluctant Democrat nominee for the 2004 Presidential race laments the "failure of this president to show that he can lead our country with the truth." Sadly, Mr. Kerry wouldn't know truth if Bill Clinton told it to him.

Opposition to the war in Iraq started with the trivial yet disproportionately reported protests of fringe anti-war wackos, having grown from the protests by an insignificant number of ultra-fringe wackos over action in Afghanistan. The ahistorical coverage of the war elevated the hand-wringing of anti-liberty ideologues into a major plank in the Dem platform. Now that JFK's Great Depression analogy has been obviated by economic vitality, anti-American defeatism is all he has left. Given this, the 'Bush is evil' forces have no alternative than to claim victory in Iraq equals defeat, and that fiction equals fact.

This isn't much of a stretch for post-modern liberals trained in the art of relativism and multiple realities. Speaking of Kenneth Pollack, liberal author of "The Threatening Storm" which made the case for war in Iraq, fellow liberal George Packer said "What he got wrong he got wrong because the intelligence was mistaken. What the administration got wrong it got wrong because it didn't care about the intelligence." Speaking of the unanimity of belief before the war that Iraq had WMD, including the likes of Gephardt, Daschle, Wes Clark, both Clintons, Gore, Kerry, Putin, Chirac and Schroeder, liberal talking-head Bill Press recently singled out Bush as a liar because, unlike these pillars of reasoned judgment, he "took us to war based on those beliefs."

But as Goldberg so obviously points out, "For Bush to have lied, he had to have known that there were no WMDs, right? It's not a lie unless you know the truth. If you say something you think is true that later turns out to be false, we don't call that a "lie," we call that a "mistake." You could look it up."

Goldberg surmises: "Packer says Pollack's mistake was based on the best intelligence available; however, Bush & Co are a bunch of bloodthirsty ideologues or greedy liars or both." "This encapsulates pretty much everything that's wrong with even the White House's most respected critics: a nearly total inability to consider the possibility that this administration operated in good faith."

Bill Press also rolls out another nouveau liberal explanation, namely, "I do not hate George W. Bush." Instead, he merely despises everything the president thinks, does, or stands for. Yeah, and he supports the troops too, but not their mission. Yet Press and those like him are the very people who expect to be taken at face value when they call other people liars.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:57 AM | What do you think? [0]

June 17, 2004

Conservatives and Rod Stewart Agree

OpinionJournal's Political Diary says:

Another celebrity has decided to come out of Hollywood's conservative closet. Rachel Hunter, the actress and ex-wife of rock star Rod Stewart, is a staunch Republican sympathizer and has little good to say about Bill Clinton on the eve of his memoir being published. "Clinton had a lot of tea parties with celebrities, but (right after) his term, somebody flew two planes into the Twin Towers. What do you want -- somebody who keeps your children safe or somebody who throws nice tea parties?" she told World Entertainment News Network.

The New Zealand citizen (whose most famous film is "The Thorn Birds) is much more comfortable with President Bush. "If I could, I would vote for Bush," said the former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. "He has done what needed to be done because if Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden had their way, none of us would be around in 10 years." 

This is news, people. It is not an exuse to put a picture of Rachel Hunter up on Berkeley Square Blog. Fair and balanced...
Posted by jk at 11:39 AM | What do you think? [0]

One More Letter to Andrew

I know, you think I am crazy to keep trying. But I sent this today after he asked “Why are Fiscal Conservatives still supporting [George W, Bush]?”

I consider myself a fiscal conservative, Andrew, I’ll take that one.

In a Republican primary against Jack Kemp or Phil Gramm, I might waver a little. I would kick the tires on the small government conservative, see if another would be tough enough on the war, be a good campaigner and be a leader that I could follow. And, yes, he’d have to have a chance at winning.

In a struggle with the most liberal Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, my fiscally conservative heart still supports President Bush. Yesterday, I read an AP Story titled “Kerry Wants Federal Afterschool Program” I thought it was a joke but it is just a little Conservative bias in the headline. Senator Kerry plans to keep public schools open late, with Federal dollars, which he will pay for by (repeat after me, kids) “rolling back the Bush tax cuts on those making over $200,000."

Just one of many examples. Senator Kerry is not in any way more fiscally conservative than President Bush. It is a legitimate position to vote for gridlock as an impediment to Federal growth, but I don’t like that bet. If a Kerry Administration picked up the Senate, we would see something that would make Mr. Sullivan dream on the 43rd President.

In the meantime, we’ll have a UN-run Iraq, a feckless deterrent to fanatics who want to impose their religion on us, and less growth and investment in the economy as higher taxes force those evil rich to shelter their income instead of investing it.

On another note, I would like to comment on the letters you posted today from a poster at the lucianne.com site. Again, you are taking an element of the Conservative movement and inflating their importance. For the record, I am a pro-gay-marriage conservative who hates the idea of the FMA on multiple grounds. Yet you are losing me as well. Wobbly support for the war (it was good to defend ourselves from Fascists when the news was good?), a willingness to throw away the GOP over the stand of some, and the relentless attacks on President Bush in an election year have alienated me. I will continue reading and paying for a while, but you have lost an enthusiastic supporter.

Take care,

I really respect the guy. I know a few readers have "given up" but I'm not. A guy that smart will see what is important.

Nor has the Senator come out with a clear, strong position (stop laughing!) on gay rights or marriage. I suspect he will not support the FMA, but as I've said, I don't think that is serious legislation -- that is never going anywhere.

Posted by jk at 11:08 AM | What do you think? [1]

June 16, 2004

New theory on collapse of airport terminal

Last month I postulated that incompetence, incubated by France's socialist system, was the ultimate cause of structural failure in Paris' new airport terminal. I cited the square windows in an arched concrete structure, and the use of structural concrete in a building requiring light and visibility. I blamed these unadvisable choices on the political dominance of a powerful but vain designer over the professional engineers charged with ensuring the safety of the building.

Public speculation at the time focused on cracks in supporting pillars during construction. Now there's a new theory:

Detailed photographs taken shortly after the partial collapse of a passenger terminal at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport last month appear to offer an alternative to initial theories that cracks in the concrete pillars supporting the structure were to blame for the deadly accident.

Instead of the pillars, a section of the terminal's curved wall may have been the location at fault.


in what he described as "today's best hypothesis," Bardsley said that the location of the structure's initial failure might have been elsewhere: in a section of the terminal's curved wall.
"It appears that there was a bending failure at an insufficiently studied opening in the shell at about mid-height in the flank," where the tubular concourse connected with three pedestrian gangways, he said.
Bardsley posited that the building's arched concrete roof suffered an "asymmetric," two-stage collapse that began on the north side of the building - an area that was not photographed by the news media on the day of the accident.
Several of the new images depict the building's deflated blue-gray shell and the three glazed walkways, which appear to have dropped by about 1 meter from their original placement, which was level with the upper floor of the terminal's concourse.
Ringlike sections of prefabricated concrete are also visible, and Bardsley identified a number of areas where "radial" steel ribs meant to stiffen the structure along an exterior wall had either twisted or had slipped out of their sockets. One image also clearly shows an external steel support boom that is bent by about 90 degrees.
Bardsley posited that the high "load," or weight, of the walkways, as well as a flaw in the joints that connected the ribs to the concrete shell, caused a "lateral buckling failure" near the walkways.
Once the wall of the north side failed, Bardsley said, the force of its collapse could have nudged the south side of the arch off its concrete pillars, sending that edge of the span crashing to the ground.

"Insufficiently studied opening?!" Translation of this phrase into plain language constitutes quite a condemnation of the professional civil engineers who were responsible for the "studying." Perhaps they feared for their jobs if they didn't go along? Or maybe they were merely incompetent.

And the explanation that an external steel frame was needed to hold up the "concrete goose," and that implementing the scheme proved problematic, supports my anti-concrete bias for this particular design.

Still no mention of square windows in the curved concrete walls but the fact they could buckle without their steel supports definitely raises the profile of these controversial (at least on these pages) elements.

For his part, the building's high-profile architect Paul Andreu is now witholding any public comment on the advice of his lawyer.

Posted by JohnGalt at 06:02 PM | What do you think? [0]


Wow! Never mind the effete politics of her nephew, George. Ms. Clooney has an awesome web page at www.rosemaryclooney.com. My favorite is a lyrics page with the words to all of the 34,722 songs she recorded.

My dog is named after this Johnny Mercer/Hoagie Carmichael tune:


Have you anything to say to me?
Won't you tell me where my love can be?
Is there a meadow in the mist,
Where someone's waiting to be kissed?
Have you seen a valley green with Spring
Where my heart can go a-journeying,
Over the shadows and the rain
To a blossom covered lane?
And in your lonely flight,
Haven't you heard the music in the night,
Wonderful music,
Faint as a will-o-the-wisp,
Crazy as a loon,
Sad as a gypsy serenading the moon (Oh)
I don't know if you can find these things,
But my heart is riding on your wings,
So if you see them anywhere,
Won't you lead me there?

Posted by jk at 04:58 PM | What do you think? [0]

Partisanship Aside...

Our Thoughts are with Senator Clinton after the accident:

The Associated Press reports that New York junior Senator Hillary Clinton
narrowly escaped injury in the aircraft that she was piloting when she was
forced to make an emergency landing in Southern Texas because of bad
weather. National Transportation Safety Board officials have issued a
preliminary determination that pilot error contributed to the accident, and
that the senator was flying in IFR conditions while only having obtained a
VFR, single engine land rating. The absence of a post-crash fire was likely
due to insufficient fuel on board.

Click "Continue Reading...." to see pictures taken at the scene that show the
extent of damage to Senator Clinton's aircraft.


Posted by jk at 09:04 AM | What do you think? [8]

June 15, 2004


I don't want to make light of faith. Please accept my new bumper-stcker in good humor, but it seems a pertinent question.ytjgits.jpg
You Think Jesus Gets Into These Situations?

Posted by jk at 12:49 PM | What do you think? [3]

Do they have the DH?

Yessir, when Iraqi kids learn to take an 0-3 pitch, master the double-switch and the intricacy that is the infield fly rule, representative democracy will be a snap.

I'm being flippant but still believe every word. A group of Marines in Iraq have a new project, IRAQI BASEBALL. They are collecting money and used baseball equipment for a noble cause:

Marines Work with the Kids

Marine volunteers in Iraq give their spare time to work with Iraqi kids (boys and girls), offering youngsters an opportunity to play games that kids in the U.S. enjoy.

Kids are much the same the world over. For those of you who have served in the military in foreign lands, you'll remember. Kids follow you. They strike up conversations. They emulate you. At mealtime, they flock in droves. According to my friend Bryan in Iraq, the same it true today.

Batter up! My check is on the way, Corporal Post.

By the way -- why does everybody take on 0-3, man I could never understand that!

Posted by jk at 11:55 AM | What do you think? [4]

Great News -- Rich Getting Richer

Get out your "The Nation" crying towel, progressives. Fire up the Bob Schrum wing of the DNC. It seems that wealthy people had a very good 2003.

The Wall Street Journal sez: World's Wealthiest People Flocked to Stocks Last Year

The secret of wealth in 2003? Stocks, stocks and more stocks.

According to the latest World Wealth Report, a study conducted by consulting firm Capgemini Group and brokerage house Merrill Lynch & Co. and scheduled for release today, the wealthy last year poured a large portion of their more conservative cash and bond holdings into riskier assets, such as stocks, increasing their fortunes/

In addition to stocks, the world's wealthy also put money into hedge funds, private-equity funds, and collectibles such as art and wine. Real-estate holdings edged up to 17% from 15% in 2003.

The population of people with financial assets of more than $1 million surged by 14% in the U.S. last year and more than 7% globally, according to the report. World-wide, the report found 70,000 "ultra high net worth" individuals -- those with more than $30 million in financial assets.

Larry Kudlow, during the Kudlow & Cramer two-hour tribute to President Reagan, said an interesting thing. In the days of 70% tax rates, the wealthy all had their capital tied up in tax shelters. When the rates were cut, that capital came into the equities markets and created the (repeat after me kids) "Clinton Boom"

Katrina Vanden Heuval notwithstanding, this is great news for everybody.

p.s. Fairness compels me to add that President Clinton’s free trade policies and Chairman Greenspan’s monetary policy did much to perpetuate the Clinton Boom.

Posted by jk at 08:47 AM | What do you think? [0]

Abu Ghraib

First the silly: "Approved the torture at Abu Ghraib? Hell, our President can't even pronounce Abu Ghraib!"

Then the serious: Today’s WaPo has an article about prisoners being freed from the infamous big house:

For Freed Iraqis, Mixed Emotions (washingtonpost.com)

ABU GHRAIB, Iraq, June 14 -- Just after sunrise, the detainees began lining up inside the trash-strewn compound where they had spent the night -- their last night -- at this infamous prison west of Baghdad.

Many clutched elaborately woven bags made of the plastic packages of ready-to-eat meals. Some called out farewells to relatives and friends who would remain behind. Military police officers joked with the detainees and shook their hands. One MP gently warned, "I don't want to see you again, brother."

Finally, they walked out of the barbed wire enclosure, dumping weathered blankets and orange-and-rose-colored prison jumpsuits in separate piles and accepting $25 in cash intended to help them get back on their feet. Then they waited for the buses that would take them away from a prison that has become a dark shadow over the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

For the 12,653rd time, the abuse was unconscionable. But Senator Kennedy's assertion that "the prison open up under new management" when the CPA took over Saddam's torture chambers is beneath contempt. I somehow don't think that scenes like this were too prevalent at Abu Ghraib a couple of years ago.

Posted by jk at 08:30 AM | What do you think? [0]

June 14, 2004

Happy Flag Day

The Federalist gives us this gem from "Silent Cal:"

"I want the people of all the earth to see in the American flag the symbol of a Government which intends no oppression at home and no aggression abroad, which in the spirit of a common brotherhood provides assistance in time of distress." --Calvin Coolidge

Posted by jk at 04:14 PM | What do you think? [1]

Georgia Flag

Here's a suggestion for a new Georgia Flag -- no Stars & Bars, just the seal and Brother Ray:

Ray Charles has already been declared a national treasure. Why not use him as Georgia's official symbol? He was born and raised here. He has "seen" the state transformed from the cradle of Jim Crow to a Mecca for all races, religions, and ethnicities. His music (true R&B) has its roots in the South. Charles's personal story is one of individual brilliance shining through in spite of adversity. Although the design is fun, it utilizes the official seal, cropped so that the state motto "Wisdom, Justice and Moderation" is made prominent.

I'll take it. Hat-tip: Virginia Postrel

Posted by jk at 12:20 PM | What do you think? [0]

June 12, 2004

Bye President Reagan

Thanks President Reagan. I'm a republican because of Mr. President Reagan. I was in college and I lost faith in the political system. President Carter was telling me that I was living too high on the hog. Yes, owning two pairs of jeans was a bit excessive. I guess I could have lived without the one dress I owned. I did own two pairs of brown pants that I bought when I worked at Arby's. I lived too high on the hog. I worked the grease pits of hell to put myself through college. I am a short order cook, a fry chef, a pusher of potato cakes. I worked as many hours as they could give me. I opened. I closed. I smelled like roast beef and grease. I was on financial aid but I paid every loan back. I did workstudy. I was a janitor. I was a parking lot attendant. The parking office took pity on me and I ended up processing the tickets.

My senior year they cut my financial aid. Yup, living too high on the hog. Food isn't really a necessity. I lived on mac and chess, anything that was 10 for a dollar. I was paid on the first of the month. After I paid the rent, I bought silly things like food and soap. I did have my standards and one of them was being clean. I could survive being hungry but being dirty was not an option.

For some reason, people think that Republicans are rich and have no idea how real people live.

I lost hope in the system we call the government. We had hostages. We had a President that kept telling me that I was living too high on the hog.

I didn't want the government to take care of me. I wanted it to leave me alone. I kept my end of the bargain up for financial aid. I kept my grades up, I took 18 hours of classes and I did workstudy. My senior year looked like this. Work, classes, study, work, study, and pass out. Sometimes I did manage to work in go crazy.

I did this to better myself. Yup. I could have decided to have two kids, different fathers. With my last name, it's expected of me.

I graduated. I find my first full-time job and a go-for then a photocopy clerk at a law firm. The biggest shock of my lifetime was I gave one third of my check to taxes and I was two standard deviations above the poverty level. People have had the nerve to tell me that I don't care for the poor. I was the poor but I had a bank account. My mama taught me well. If you don't want to feel poor open up a bank account even if you can only deposit 5 dollars a week.

At first I thought President Reagan was just another crackpot: lower my taxes, end the cold war, and make America a nice and safe place to live. I liked what he had to say but why should I believe him? He's a cowboy, actor, and he just reads lines.

I stared dating jk. He was a political junkie even then. He wasn't a Republican. We started listening to President Reagan and we liked what he had to say. jk painted houses for a living. He started hanging wallpaper also. Rich Republicans, that's jk and Riza. Living too high on the hog. Pinch those pennies. Tighten that belt. Pay your share of the taxes. Don't you care about the poor?

Climbing up the economic ladder was thanks to President Reagan. We thought they were pep rallies. I can do it, you can do it. You don't have to give all your hard earned money to taxes (the people one standard deviation below us). You don't have to do without. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

We enjoyed the fruits of our labor. We sold them on Amazon.

Thank you, President Reagan. Here's one for the Gipper. Thanks for showing us the way.

Posted by Riza Rivera at 04:31 PM | What do you think? [1]

June 10, 2004

I Need a Time Machine

I want to go back and show this editorial to the TNR editors of the 1980s.

Here is your obituary/editorial, I will tell them -- and it's one of the more tepid ones the country is reading:

In the aftermath of Ronald Reagan's death, there is much glib obituary chatter about his contribution to the end of the cold war, but it all makes the cold war seem so distant and its end so inevitable. In truth, the cold war was a terrifying and titanic conflict between world powers and world principles, and it conferred upon those who lived it, not least because of the sickening thermonuclear power of the states coldly at war, a tense experience of history's contingency that they will never forget. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and its empire? It was impossible, even irresponsible, to imagine it.

And so the first thing that must be said in grateful memory of Ronald Reagan is that he imagined it, that he grasped the essentials, that he was not afraid. The quality of his mind aside, he never lost his head. What was most important to him was in fact what was most important to the future of the world. Was his anti-communism an obsession? Then it was a proper obsession, a noble obsession. No, Reagan did not bring down communism; communism fell of its own moral and political and social and economic failures. But he defied it into its final collapse. With his irrefutable demonstration of the philosophical and technological superiority of America, Reagan embarrassed his enemy into oblivion. With this one accomplishment, he won greatness.

I shouldn't rub it in. It is a nice editorial, claiming of course that today's conservatives are joyless haters, not like our 40th. But you must admit -- it would be funny until some 1983 security guard with a big mullet threw me out of the office...

Posted by jk at 05:21 PM | What do you think? [0]

June 09, 2004

Politics' Ugly Head

I'm a self-confessed political animal. I was going to keep my macabre thoughts to myself, but Dan Biaz at WaPo is talking about it.

The death of former president Ronald Reagan has put Sen. John F. Kerry on the political sidelines, elevated President Bush to center stage and touched off a debate tinged by partisanship about the possible impact of Reagan's legacy on the November election.

Unencumbered by taste, I will go further. This is a huge boost for President Bush's reelection bid. Maybe he's no Reagan, but he cut taxes to get the economy moving, committed American resources to promote freedom abroad and concomitant safety at home.

And, gosh darn if it didn't work out pretty well. We weren't sure about this Western cowboy at the time but his hard road was the right road. Many will recoil at the profligate 43rd pres’s laying any claim to the legacy of #40. But I predict this: no good Reagan vibes are going to rub off on Senator Kerry. Take that one to the bank.

Posted by jk at 11:53 AM | What do you think? [2]

The Nader Effect on Man In The Moon Marigolds

It's more than schadenfreude though I'll confess to laughter at Democrat electoral problems. But it is more, because the Ds have built a constituency around the hard-left. I think they need the Bush=Hitler, "No Blood For Oil" crowd. Senator Kerry has the unenviable task of keeping the Deniacs and courting the Liebermaniacs (I hoped I might have coined that term -- no, 87 Yahoo hits, including "The Nation").

Of course, hate will find a way (18 hits, but Silence quoting me is number 9) and he can count on all the anti-Bush vote, right? Wrong. As I've said, Boulder is known for a high concentration of lefties and though the Kerry stickers are starting to bloom around here, it's clear Mr. Nader will get a good percentage of this county with his "end corporate rule, reclaim our democracy" pitch.

Kim Strassel at the WSJ Political Diary claims this is not going unnoticed in DCC land:

The anti-Ralph-Nader movement continues to grow, both in size and apoplexy. A group called the Nader Factor (a brainchild of former campaign aides to Howard Dean, Richard Gephardt and Wesley Clark) kicked off TV ads in Wisconsin and New Mexico a few weeks back, advising voters to give Mr. Nader the heave-ho. Organizations such a StopNader.com and United Progressives for Victory are organizing Internet campaigns and grassroots meetings to stymie the former Green candidate. And at least one group of Democratic lawyers is assembling election experts to pick through Mr. Nader's attempts to get on state ballots.

As for the apoplexy, you could all but feel the panic roll over these committed saboteurs last week when news broke that some polls had Mr. Nader at 7% of the vote nationally (in 2000 he got less than 3%).

Can anyone say forest and trees? That Mr. Nader was the "spoiler" who cost the Democrats the last election has always been a fancy myth to swallow. What lost 2000 for Al Gore was his own limp candidacy and Bill Clinton's impeachment legacy. Maybe Mr. Gore would have won if Mr. Nader hadn't run in Florida (or maybe not). But Mr. Gore would certainly have won if he'd managed to persuade even his home state of Tennessee to go his way. Nor can it be a bullish sign for Mr. Kerry that his supporters seem to believe that convincing voters not to support Mr. Nader is a better use of their time than trying to persuade them to admire Mr. Kerry.

As of today, Ralph Nader is on exactly zero state ballots. He bombed out in Oregon and Texas. He seems unlikely to collect the necessary 100,000-plus signatures in North Carolina. His May 13 endorsement by the Reform Party reportedly would get him on the ballot in seven states, though the number may be closer to three. Meanwhile, Mr. Nader said he won't accept the Green nomination, even though that would get him on as many as 23 state ballots. Unable to find anyone else who rocks their boat, the Greens may endorse Mr. Nader anyway at their convention in Milwaukee later this month. If so, will Mr. Nader turn them down? The answer probably depends on whether his own faltering ballot campaign has picked up steam by then. If not, expect anti-Nader hit squads to ramp up a major effort to keep the Greens out of the Nader fold.

I gave a couple hundred to W yesterday (full disclosure is the rule here) but I really wonder if a Nader contribution wouldn't've been a netter buy.

Posted by jk at 11:38 AM | What do you think? [0]

The Power of Free Trade

WSJ.com - Tiananmen Square Now Draws Protesters With Housing Issues

BEIJING -- After paying $60,000 for her new apartment, plus another $12,000 for furniture, kitchen appliances and television sets, Liu Jing looked out the window and decided she had to take a stand.

Another skyscraper was rising that would block her view. Parking was impossible. Shops and a promised swimming pool and clubhouse for residents were nowhere in sight.

So along with several hundred of her middle-class neighbors, Liu Jing took to the streets last spring and summer. They blockaded construction sites and unfurled large banners denouncing the developer and demanding a halt to further construction.

Defying government restrictions on demonstrations, the new homeowners then piled into their cars and drove noisily through Tiananmen Square to confront Chinese government officials.

"I'd never done anything like that before," says Ms. Liu. "Owning an apartment changed me. I bought it. I must protect it."

I do not boycott China as some friends of mine both on the left and right do. Yet I basically support the Cuban embargo. I cannot explain this and if I need to become consistent, I will change my tone on Cuba.

These few paragraphs in the Wall Street Journal, perhaps anecdotal, bolster my belief that freedoms are indivisible. Once given a taste of ownership and participation in the capital markets, Chinese people would not long stand still for other repressions -- especially of the Orwellian goofishness offered by Beijing.

Actually, I'm a bit cold on the embargo anyway. Our freedom loving allies in Europe (cough, cough!) trade at will with Castro's thugs. (I'm in Dublin in a couple weeks, who needs cigars?) This pretty much cooks any efficacy of an embargo and just positions the US as a cause for the country's economic failure. (Yes, collectivism has had such a great record everywhere else!)

I have been conflicted but Liu Jing has given me hope.

Posted by jk at 08:23 AM | What do you think? [0]

June 08, 2004

Who Likes Playboy Magazine?

I really liked Playboy magazine when I was 11 or 12. My friend David's brother had about a decade's worth of 'em. We would all go over and spend many a day in the basement with the back issues. I don't know that I've ever met anyone who didn't have a David and a David's brother growing up. It was a right of passage. We bought a new issue at Target once, that was the crime of the century to me.

Fond boyhood memories aside, I'm not a big fan. It's left-wing, cheap and de-humanizing to me. I borrowed the Jesse Ventura interview issue a few years ago from some subscribing friends, laughed at a couple of the cartoons, had to admit the centerfold was pretty cute (some female boxer as I recall). All and all, though, it was a magazine and organization I could live without.

Didn't think about it 'till this month. My favorite actress (Charisma Carpenter from "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and the spinoff, "Angel") graces the cover (and presumably much of the inside). I have a certain highly-prurient interest. Then, last night I saw Dennis Miller interview Hugh Hefner with a deference he's shown no other guest -- ever! Hef was pretty charming, telling a brave story of his climbing out of his repressive, midwestern, Methodist upbringing.

Comment, please. Am I whacked? I don't want to give a dime to this misogynist outfit and I am saddened that Ms. Carpenter succumbed to its filthy lucre. Am I the last of the decent folk or some over-repressed, stuffy prig? Vote early, vote often

Posted by jk at 01:03 PM | What do you think? [9]

Virginia Postrel on the Gipper

There were some great tributes to our 40th President in the blogosphere, but I hope nobody missed Virginia Postrel's Dynamist Blog: IN MEMORIAM: RONALD REAGAN

A funny thing happened during the Reagan era. Young people became Republicans. Not all of them, of course, but a plurality. It was strange. After all, everyone knows you're supposed to be liberal and idealistic when you're young. You're supposed to vote for people like Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale.

This one is not about how kind or optimistic or courageous he was. She writes about what the 70s were like and how Reagan's polity improved everything.
The policies Nixon and Ford tried didn't work, and Carter told us that was just the way the world was. We should get over our selfishness, our materialism, and make do with less. The problems of the world were our fault, a sign of our fallen nature, as individuals and a nation. Oh yes, and while we were addressing our crisis of meaning, we needed oil import quotas and a SynFuels Corporation.

No wonder Reagan attracted the young.

Posted by jk at 09:59 AM | What do you think? [0]

The News Cycle

I was thinking that Iraq disappeared from the planet for a day or two when President Reagan died. LILEKS notes a more severe anomaly in the news cycle:

All the D-Day doo-dah is done, so we can pack the vets in straw for another year, right? Pat the Greatest Gen on the head, chuck the duffers under the chin, and get on with hammering this new war as a miserable failure.

Sad but true.

Posted by jk at 09:35 AM | What do you think? [0]

Profound Gratitude and Appreciation

Here is today's WSJ "middle editorial," Iraqi Gratitude, in full (with my apologies to Dow Jones for the theft):

A myth has developed that Iraqis aren't grateful for their liberation from Saddam. So it's worth noting that the leaders of Iraq's new interim government have been explicit and gracious in their thanks, not that you've heard this from the U.S. media.

First in Arabic and then in English, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said in his inaugural address to the Iraqi people last Tuesday that "I would like to record our profound gratitude and appreciation to the U.S.-led international coalition, which has made great sacrifices for the liberation of Iraq." In his own remarks, President Ghazi al-Yawer said: "Before I end my speech, I would like us to remember our martyrs who fell in defense of freedom and honor, as well as our friends who fell in the battle for the liberation of Iraq."

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the U.N. Security Council much the same thing last Thursday: "We Iraqis are grateful to the coalition who helped liberate us from the persecution of Saddam Hussein's regime. We thank President Bush and Prime Minister Blair for their dedication and commitment."

We thought our readers might like to know.

Well, yes. I'd like to know.

UPDATE: I didn't have to steal -- it's on the free site, here.

Posted by jk at 08:07 AM | What do you think? [2]

June 05, 2004

He Stopped Loving Her Today

(A.P. Photo)

The great love story that was Ron and Nancy comes to a close today. I was thinking of an old George Jones song that Sugarchuck said was the saddest song ever. As the hearse rolled up to pick up the remains of our 40th President, it seemed fitting.

Everybody else has eulogized more eloquently that I ever will. But a liberal friend asked me last month if some event had caused me to "turn conservative" (I'm sure so she could avoid it). I stammered a little and said something about Ayn Rand and F. A. Hayek. But the real answer was reading "Atlas Shrugged" and watching President Reagan give his "New Federalism" speech in 1982. Both made me think "this is what I believe, but I've never heard anybody say it.”

Over time I have found many meaningful Conservative mentors: Hayek, Bastiat, Milton Friedman, Mises, Burke &c. But President Reagan meant more than philosophy. He showed that ideas matter and proved that following your ideas could improve this planet.

Giants have walked this Earth. Requiescat in Pace, Mr. President.

Posted by jk at 07:47 PM | What do you think? [1]

June 04, 2004

Real Recovery

Ignited and sustained by supply-side incentives of reduced tax on investment and innovation, the
recovery is in full swing

Mixed metaphors aside, let's look where we are:

Yahoo! News - U.S. Employers Add 248,000 Jobs in May

WASHINGTON - U.S. employers added almost a quarter million workers in May, extending a nine-month hiring spree and accommodating enough new jobseekers to hold the unemployment rate steady at 5.6 percent.

Payrolls swelled by almost 1 million in the last three months alone, the Labor Department said Friday. Employment figures for March and April were revised up to reflect the addition of 353,000 and 346,000 jobs respectively.

Senator Kerry says he's going to cut taxes for 98% of Americans, and roll back the Bush tax cuts on the top 2%. Accepting the math that asserts that 100% of Americans pay taxes, there are many flaws:

1. "Again Bullwinkle? That trick never works!" If this is indeed policy and not just campaign rhetoric (we always give Senator K the benefit of the doubt on Berkeley Square Blog), his team will find that the numbers don't add up. More progressive taxation sounds good (to some) on paper but the numbers really don't work. In the end, it will be the top 5,10 or 15% that sees the Kerry tax hike.

2. I think the tax system is too progressive already. Middle income people have little or no stake in reducing taxes or government influences already. If George Soros and Bill Gates are footing the bill, why not vote for more services?

3. I suspect that those top-N-percent are the ones adding a million jobs over the last three months, and innovating, and solving problems and filling needs -- why impede them?

UPDATE: Taranto at WSJ Best-of-the-web points out an interesting angle:

On his campaign Web site, John Kerry promises to create 10 million new jobs during his four-year term as president. That's a rate of 625,000 every three months, or only 66% of the past three months' performance under President Bush. Can we really afford to elect someone who sets his sights so low?

Posted by jk at 09:25 AM | What do you think? [4]

June 03, 2004

de Toqueville Lives!

JK is a big fan of Peggy Noonan's work, and I agree that she writes in a descriptively eloquent style that is unmistakable. I enjoy most of her columns as well but part ways whenever she makes one of her habitual turns into theism. Today's column is an excellent example of how an otherwise right-thinking individual can be blind to reality.

Addressing the wrangling over whether or not the EU's new constitution will be "secular" (the scare quotes are hers, not mine) as France's foreign minister Michel Barnier insists, or "include a reference to the Continent's Christian heritage" Noonan writes, "It seems to me the question is not, "Will the architects of the new Europe bow to the reality of God and include him in the central founding document of their vast new union?" The question is, "Will a group of atheist and agnostic European bureaucrats be forced to mention a deity in whom they do not believe in order to appease lesser and ignorant people who unfortunately have a lot of votes?" Europe is a post-Christian society on a continent devoted to the material except when it is considering astrology, witchcraft and worshiping rocks."

The only thing "real" about God is that a plurality of humans have a belief in the non-existent deity (NED). This belief is reflected in our own Constitution, though it doesn't subject America to the rule of "God's law" as Alabama judges (and others) repeatedly insist. Noonan's equation of "secularism" with astrology, witchcraft and rock worship is the same false association that Bill O'Reilly makes between secularists and post-modern collectivists. Those "mystics of muscle" denounce the "mystics of faith," to be sure, but they do not present the only alternative to theism. (In fact, they aren't alternatives at all, merely different flavors of mysticism with correspondingly different authority figures. In one, the state, and in the other, NED.) O'Reilly and Noonan's answer to the anti-mind primitivism of the Michael Moore crowd is to jump back to the future with their anti-mind morality commandments.

The truth is not "somewhere in between" but rather standing off to the side in plain sight: a secular moral code based on individual rights and a purely capitalistic world economy. As Dagny explained, and Silence reiterated, (7th and 8th comments respectively) we can have morality without God (or even NED) but we can't have liberty, in the end, with Him. Perhaps the haplessly socialistic and post-modern French will once again make a contribution to the advancement of humanity on par with de Toqueville.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:01 AM | What do you think? [5]

Home School

Yesterday, Instapundit linked to this AP story on the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Most spellers attend traditional public schools (179). The rest attend home schools (35), private schools (27), parochial (20) or charter schools (four).

Glad it wasn’t a Numeracy Bee. Yes Public Schools are a majority, but at 68%, I would think they are well under-represented. It's okay, though, because the New Jersey legislature has got a fix. Not improve the public schools, but overregulate the home schools, that'll stop the little cretins from over-achieving! According to the Wall St Journal Ed Page:
As for the evidence that New Jersey needs such regulation, she cites a single newspaper article about an unstructured type of home-schooling and what she says has been her experience in finding kids that weren't going to school and nobody even knew they existed.

The statistical evidence about home-schooling is much disputed by critics who say the studies lack the proper control. But as Education Week reports online, to the degree we have data it tends to show overachievement: One study of 20,000 home-schoolers found that students' median scores on standardized tests were well above the national average, and that a quarter of these students were enrolled a grade above their public and private school peers. That doesn't include the disproportionate home-school successes at state and national spelling bees, science contests, and so on.

Posted by jk at 08:15 AM | What do you think? [0]

Wonkette on Kerry

Saying (no, I won't use "tongue-in-cheek" when talking about Wonkette) about Senator Kerry: Talk About Being Soft on Terrorism

John Kerry introduces his proposal for a new Pastel Terror Alert System, noting that recent events may raise the threat level from "Butter" to "Mango."

Posted by jk at 08:05 AM | What do you think? [0]

June 02, 2004

Robert Johnson

Mark Polizzotti reviews two Robert Johnson biographies in this week's TNR: The New Republic Online: Love in Vain (I told you you should subscribe.)

Johnson was a mythical figure to me (and Sugarchuck) for the style, skill, and authenticity of his playing. The legend was, of course, that little Bobby had sold his soul to devil to play that well. I never quite bought that, but I did always approach him and his music mythically.

These two books, and Polizzotti, examine more pedestrian causes for his success -- and even the heterodoxical question whether it was deserved:

Wald [author of "Escaping the Delta"] prefaces these remarks by describing a class that he once taught, in which he played for his students a number of the great Delta figures who had preceded Johnson, and finally Johnson himself as the epitome of country blues. But instead of being duly impressed, the class "looked at me blankly. What was so special about this? ... My students' reaction, far from being stupid or illinformed, was closer to the reaction of most 1930s blues fans than mine was.... Which is to say [they] were in the rare position of approaching Johnson by way of the records that preceded and surrounded him, rather than coming to him by traveling backward from the Rolling Stones via Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters--the path taken by virtually all modern listeners." These sentences contain the kernel of Wald's thesis, which is that Johnson, while indisputably "a unique and extraordinary artist," is heard these days through so many filters--musical, mythical, promotional--that we have all but lost sight of his true artistry.

Guilty. I throw myself on the mercy of the court. About the Faustian/Mel Bay bargain, Polizzotti wonders:
In Johnson's case, however, it has become such common coin that even those not normally given to such fancy have been caught defending it. Guralnick, for instance, as paraphrased by Pearson and McCulloch, absurdly claims that "the soul-selling legend is the highest tribute that could possibly be paid to Johnson." Isn't it more of a tribute to recognize that the man had talent, and that he was able to convey that talent despite all the stones that poverty, hardship, and self-destructive behavior set in his passway?

Posted by jk at 03:37 PM | What do you think? [2]

A Screwed Pooper!

Wow! Ray Bradbury: "Michael Moore is an a-hole" The great author is not too pleased at the use of his title in the large prevaricator's latest polem--er, "documentary."

Michael Moore stole the title to his fictuous documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" from author Ray Bradbury, who in 1953 wrote his dystopic scifi classic "Fahrenheit 451." So what does Ray Bradbury, now 84 years old, think about Moore using his book title for his Bush-bashing movie project?

The answer is, as journalists in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter found out when they called the author, that he is mighty pissed off. Here's my translation of the juicier bits of the interview.

"Michael Moore is a (screwed pooper), that is what I think about that case. He stole my title and changed the numbers without ever asking me for permission.

Posted by jk at 02:43 PM | What do you think? [0]


Why do I read Andrew Sullivan every day? He thinks Senator Kerry is a fiscal conservative, he thinks everybody in my party is a troglodytic religious nut, and his harping on Gay marriage bores this supporter to no end.

If you doubt, tune in today.

First a brutal yet intelligent fisking of Howell Raines's column in The Guardian:

...Not all Bush-haters are as dumb or as crude as Raines. But it's useful to see how decadent the left-liberal mind can be in one of its more prominent exemplars. The American people are stupid, craven greed-hounds; lying is good if you can get away with it; American capitalism is a rotten, hollow promise; and even the Democrats refuse to take the advice of the few enlightened people who can help them, like Howell Raines. Well, that makes one thing to be grateful about.

Andrew is no supply-sider, but the tax cut gets some kind words in the next post:
Whatever Bush's intentions, the effect of the tax cut was obviously the right thing at the right time, and may have prevented a global economic disaster.

Then, an Onion joke, a gay marriage post, and some opposing letters to this awesome post from yesterday:
JUST A QUESTION: If someone had said in February 2003, that by June 2004, Saddam Hussein would have been removed from power and captured; that a diverse new government, including Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, would be installed; that elections would be scheduled for January 2005; and that the liberation of a devastated country of 25 million in which everyone owns an AK-47 had been accomplished with an army of around 140,000 with a total casualty rate (including accidents and friendly fire) of around 800; that no oil fields had been set aflame; no WMDs had been used; no mass refugee crises had emerged; and no civil war had broken out... well, I think you would come to the conclusion that the war had been an extraordinary success. And you'd be right. Yes, there are enormous challenges; and yes, so much more could have been achieved without incompetence, infighting and occasional inhumanity. But it's worth acknowledging that, with a little perspective, our current gloom is over-blown. Stocks in Iraq have been way over-sold. I even regret some minor sells myself. Now watch the media do all it can to accentuate the negative.

That's the apogee of blogging, friends and neighbors, from one of the innovators/creators of the genre.

Posted by jk at 10:52 AM | What do you think? [0]

June 01, 2004

Al Gore Joke

I couldn't decide whether to post an joke I got. I ended up emailing it to a few friends.

AlexC at pstupidonymous posted it. So, I link. Wierd? No, not really.

Posted by jk at 06:56 PM | What do you think? [0]

My Favorite from The Nixon Administration

Ben Stein writes an upbeat and settling piece in the The American Spectator. He travels this country and meets cheerful, optimistic, kind people -- whom he thinks will support President Bush in November.

The exceptions are the coffee drinkers (MR STEIN, NO!!!) and the media mavens in the urban enclaves:

The mass media outlets are usually based in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., all major centers of pessimism and anger. For reasons better understood by a psychiatrist than an actor and commentator, the people in the media in these places often -- but not always -- loathe and fear their own country in many ways. This shows in their endless "Hate America" pieces on the air, showing every kind of vice and crime and sorrow, and only rarely anything good. The news stories on the nightly news in America might just as well come from Al-Jazeera as from America, that is how filled with bitterness at their own country they are. America is torturing Arabs, repressing Black people, stealing the savings of the elderly, oppressing women, denying the elderly medical care. This in a nutshell is the news from the major networks and newspapers in America.

You fix the media, Ben, and I'll bring the latte set into the fold.

Posted by jk at 04:34 PM | What do you think? [0]

Electoral Map

This is cool! A Javascript goodie on the OpinionJournal.com site that let you pick the Red and Blue states. Then it totals the electoral votes.

This year we're taking advantage of the technology in a new way. Political cartography buffs have long been fascinated by those Electoral College projection maps, which show the states in which the two party nominees are leading. But what if your local paper publishes a map and you think it has a state or two wrong?

Posted by jk at 12:31 PM | What do you think? [4]

Jay Nordlinger

-- was a superb "Varsity Panel" guest on The Dennis Miller show no fewer than two times last week, by the way.

Today, his "Impromptus" column is great, as usual, and he closes with a letter that I love:

"Dear Jay: This is what Al Gore said in his [MoveOn.org] speech: 'Luckily, there was a high level of competence on the part of our soldiers, even though they were denied the tools and the numbers they needed for their mission. What a disgrace that their families have to hold bake sales to buy discarded Kevlar vests to stuff into the floorboards of the Humvees! Bake sales for body armor!' The funny part is that I thought it was the Left's dream to have the military resort to bake sales to raise funds for their equipment. Remember those bumper stickers? 'It will be a great day when the schools have all the money they need and the Pentagon has to hold a bake sale.'"

I love it. I love it. I love it!

Posted by jk at 11:42 AM | What do you think? [0]

The Green Mountain State

I love Federalism. It encourages me to no end that New Hampshire and Vermont are in the same Union. Separated by a geographic river and an ideological ocean.
The Wall Street Journal's middle Editorial today points out that:

The state famous for Howard Dean, ski bums and Ben & Jerry's has just added some more crunch to its granola. The National Trust for Historic Preservation last week named the entire Green Mountain State to its list of 11 most endangered historic places.

This dubious honor is the direct result of Wal-Mart's plan to open seven new stores in the state. Vermont's "magic" is threatened, the Trust said, by big-box stores that result in an "erosion of the sense of community." The fact that the retailer already has four stores in the state suggests that it is welcomed by at least some Vermonters. But the Trust nonetheless says the Wal-Mart invasion could "destroy much of what makes Vermont Vermont."

What exactly is Vermont, we wonder? Judging by the Trust's priorities, the answer doesn't include being an affordable home for Vermonters. Under the Trust's vision, the state would become a kind of Disney World for the Birkenstock set, on splendid display for weekenders driving up in their Volvos from Boston and New York. Vermont would be frozen in time -- rather like the French countryside (but minus the nuclear reactors).

I know some people are not too fond of Sens. Schumer and Clinton from NY, but I would have to say that Vermont sends the worst two in Mr. Jeffords and Mr. Leahy.

In an unrelated and snarky note, I bought some Ben & Jerry's low-carb ice cream. It really wasn't any better than any of the cheaper brands.

Posted by jk at 08:21 AM | What do you think? [0]
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