Thursday, September 30, 2004

These Boots Are Gonna Walk All Over You

Usually when I read a news story, I read the first few paragraphs and move on. Generally, that's enough from which to glean all of the important details.

But sometimes that approach is a big mistake. As my friend Bud in Dallas points out to me, today is one of those times.

You may have seen the headline about Cleveland Indians pitcher Kyle Denney, who was shot in the calf last night by a bullet fired into the team bus. Fortunately, the wound was minor, and he's scheduled to rejoin the team tonight in Minneapolis.

But even more disturbing than random gunfire on our nation's highways was this bit, buried deep in the AP story on the incident:
[Team spokesman Bart] Swain said all of Cleveland's rookies were dressed in cheerleader outfits as part of an annual ritual -- Denney's choice was Southern California -- and the mood on the bus was jovial until Denney was shot.

...Swain said the team's trainers thought the high white boots Denney was wearing as part of his cheerleader outfit may have prevented a more serious injury. The bullet didn't lodge very far into Denney's leg, and trainers were able to remove it before he went to the hospital.
I'm glad his cheerleader boots spared him further injury, but all in all, I think I'd have rather been killed...

The Medium Is The Message

Those who have complained that tonight’s presidential debate will be lacking in substance (because of the myriad rules agreed upon by each campaign) are missing the point.

Sure, they’re correct about the debates lacking substance. But what they don’t seem to understand is that televised debates are not meant to be about “substance.” They are meant to be about image.

As the lateNeil Postman points out in his paradigm-shifting book Amusing Ourselves to Death (and as the late James Montgomery Boice echoes in a tape series I was listening to the car other day), our society no longer processes information rationally and linearly through our minds. Instead, our “information” comes to us in image after disconnected image, bypassing our rationality and appealing to our gut. Thus, the image left after the debate is all-important—and has little to do with the content of the debate itself.

This is not new. It goes all the way back to the Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960. Surely they talked about substantive issues there, but what does everyone remember about it? That Kennedy looked tan, fit, and handsome, and that Nixon looked pale and haggared. And so the myth of Camelot was born.

The pattern has continued on ever since. Think about all the recent debates you can remember. The entire effect of each one can be summed up in a sentence or two.

  • Ford-Carter: “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration.” Ford is dense and clueless.
  • Carter-Reagan: “There you go again.” Reagan is a polished charmer, Carter is a dull dishrag.
  • Reagan-Mondale: “I will not exploit my opponent’s youth and inexperience for political gain.” Reagan is self-effacing and witty, Mondale gets hoisted by his own petard.
  • Bush-Dukakis: Dukakis’ blasé reaction to a hypothetical scenario involving the rape and murder of his wife. He’s a passionless robot.
  • Clinton-Bush: Bush checks his watch. He’s bored and disconnected.
  • Clinton-Dole: Did they even debate? It was already such a blowout nobody paid any attention.
  • Bush-Gore: Gore sighs (and sighs and sighs), gets up and looms over Bush. He’s creepy and calculated and robotic.
In none of these debates can anyone recall what policy positions were advocated by any of the candidates. Policy positions are beside the point. That’s how television works.

In the 1800’s, people would gather in the town square (standing!) to hear debates, such as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, which lasted six or seven hours at a time. They weighed the positions of each candidate, which were expounded at length, and judged the candidates based on a rational appraisal of their words.

In the 21st century, people watch 20-second soundbites on the television news and see who has the better skin and which guy launched the better one-liner. They decide who makes the better “impression” and which candidate has more “star quality.” The medium is the message, and the message is image.

I’ll be watching, because I love politics and I enjoy the duel. But you won’t hear me complaining about the lack of substance, because it’s nothing new. It’s the inevitable culmination of the television age.

(Amy Ridenhour has some worthy thoughts in a similar vein on her National Center Blog.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A Tribe Called Plagiarist

Say of them what you will, but the Weekly Standard deserves the thanks of a grateful nation for sparing us an eventual Laurence Tribe Supreme Court appointment by catching him red-handed in the act of plagiarism.

Tribe, a Harvard professor who is currently the most cited (and probably most influential) constitutional law expert in the country, is a rabid judicial activist who sees the role of the court as refashioning the "living Constitution" to suit today's needs--a blueprint for the judicial tyranny we're now living under. This is the approach that takes the original meaning of the text as written, crumples it up, sets it on fire, and throws it in a waste basket. It's the approach that has brought us to the current situation, where courts will interpret a phrase like "Congress shall make no law..." to mean "Congress shall make all sorts of laws..."

Tribe was also the architect of the "borking" strategy of personal attack that derailed the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork back in the late 1980's, and he's the mastermind behind the Democrats' current filibuster being used in the Senate to deny hearings for well-qualified conservative judicial nominees.

He's now been caught ripping off the work of historian Henry J. Abraham and passing it off as his own, a charge to which he now confesses. Though Tribe will continue to destroy the foundations of American constitutional law from his Harvard classroom and through his many writings, this incident will hopefully at least keep him off the highest court in the land--a court that hardly needs any more hardened judicial legislators.

Like I Don't Have My Own Problems

Sometimes, out of the blue, I suddenly find myself worrying about Don Pardo. He's got to be really old by now, and I'm afraid he might die soon.

Is that weird?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Reaching Out To Ethnic Voters?

Wow, I guess John Kerry is really serious about wanting to win those "red states."

If he were a sports team, his own party would be protesting him right now...

There You Go Again

I see that our "greatest ex-president" Jimmy Carter is at it again.

Now, the sanctimonious, double-digit inflation-bringing, dictator-coddling, terrorist-appeasing, North Korea-nuke-equipping former commander-in chief, last seen sitting next to Michael Moore at the Democratic National Convention, says that the election next month in Florida is doomed to be an unfair, unscrupulous sham.

Says Carter, in a Washington Post op-ed:
The disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely, even as many other nations are conducting elections that are internationally certified to be transparent, honest and fair.
Not that Carter would know a "transparent, honest, and fair" election if he saw one. This from the man who "certified" the recent re-election of murderous, anti-American leftist strongman Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

In that election, Chavez supposedly won (with results "certified" by Carter) the referrendum 58% to 41%, despite the fact that exit polling showed Chavez losing the election by almost exactly the same margin--a difference of nearly 40 points between Carter's "certified" results and the results of the independent exit polling.

The bottom line: Carter has a long and indisputable history of conveniently seeing what he wants to see and ignoring what he wants to ignore in the service of electing anti-American leftists at home and around the world.

(Here is a must-read article detailing the myriad abuses Carter overlooked--as he nearly always does in regards to leftist dictatorial regimes--in the Venezuelan elections.)

Monday, September 27, 2004

We'll Sleep When We're Dead

To quote Bobby Lewis, "I Didn't Sleep at All Last Night."

With the adrenaline of the approaching hurricane, the preparations, the late-night vigil as it made landfall, etc., my internal clock is a complete mess. I could hardly keep my eyes open half the day yesterday, but when it came time to go to bed, I found myself staring at the ceiling all night.

I mean, I literally didn't get a minute of sleep. Nothing. Nada. I finally gave up and came into work early.

And right about now, I feel like Edward Norton in "Fight Club." It could get interesting later in the day as I become less and less coherent. I'm hoping it will be like the old days when the Jerry Lewis Telethon was still in Vegas and the clock would hit 4am--things could get pretty volatile. Who knows? I might get into a fist fight with Chad Everett.

Thanks For Your Prayers (Again)

There were some stong gusts, but we here in Broward County made it through Jeanne largely unscathed. Most of the stuff liable to be knocked over in a 60 mph wind evidently was already taken down by Frances earlier this month.

I didn't even lose my electricity this time, which is a minor miracle--our electricity usually goes out for at least a few seconds in even an average thunderstorm here.

Unfortunately, our neighbors to the north didn't fare as well. Incredibly, Jeanne made landfall at exactly the same coordinates (to a tenth of a degree) as Frances, but came ashore as a category 3 storm (as opposed to Frances' 2). There are a lot of folks up there just about at the end of their ropes.

As always, if you're interested in helping, I'd recommend donating to the Salvation Army, Samaritan's Purse, or the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Friday, September 24, 2004

A Good First Step

In a largely unnoticed story yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Pledge Protection Act," which would remove from the federal courts the authority to rule on the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Though I think the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling barring the Pledge a couple of years ago was asinine, I also can't get too excited about whatever amorphous "deity" is supposedly being promoted in that Pledge. The fact that so many people support it tells me that it's probably not saying much about the God of Christianity.

But in a way the Pledge issue itself is secondary. This is hugely significant legislation, because for the first time in memory, Congress has finally begun to exercise its constitutional duty to reign in the runaway federal judiciary.

Under Article III, section 2 of the Constitution, Congress has the authority to determine the appelate jurisdiction of the federal judiciary. But they have been woefully lax in acting to protecting their constitutional role of lawmaking, and have instead ceded that power largely to the courts for the last 40 years. Finally, they've taken a step towards reversing that trend--a small step (and one that still would have to be approved by the Senate), but a step nonetheless.

This idiotic commentary by a Princeton Seminary scholar (that should be your first warning alarm) shows that they're on the right track:
This is a remarkable violation of the separation of powers and the Establishment Clause. If the Act were to become law -- and if it were, itself, to be upheld as constitutional -- only state courts would be able to hear constitutional challenges to the pledge.
That's the second time in 24 hours where "separation of powers" has been ironically invoked in support of an unchecked judicial oligarcy.

But aside from that, let's put her "logic" to the test in light of the facts:

1). The federal courts rule on federal laws.

2). The First Amendment explicitly states that Congress can make no federal laws regarding the free excercise of religion.


3). Marci Hamilton hysterically informs us that this act will mean that only state courts will be able to rule on issues of free exercise of religion.

And the problem is?

Here We Go Again

As incomprehensible as it is to me, we in South Florida have yet another hurricane headed straight for us.

Though Jeanne's been out there for quite some time (killing over a thousand in Haiti alone), the forecast track put us in the center of the crosshairs only yesterday. She's expected to make landfall on Sunday already.

The town will begin shutting down in a few hours (at my own office it's expected that everyone will be sent home after the 11am advisory) and we'll go through the whole drill yet again. I'm concerned, however, because people here have been so wrung out by these storms that this one is meeting with little more than a shrug of the shoulders. Yet, with Jeanne expected to reach Category 3 status, the direct threat is everything that Frances was only a little more. The worst threat, as with Frances, is to those a little to the north of Palm Beach County, but even people as far south as Miami-Dade experienced damage from the weaker Frances.

If you have any prayers left for us down here, they'd be appreciated.

(**Just a note for the enviro-nuts who are screaming that the sudden "increase in hurricanes is due to global warming": We're up to the "J's" in this year's hurricane season. A quick look through the archives shows me that in 1971 (a year picked at random), "Janice" was a storm from September 21-24. Last year, Hurricane Juan lasted from September 24-29. In other words, the hurricanes are coming at about the same rate they usually come. In 1995, we were already up to Hurricane Marilyn by this date--that year's "J" storm occured in August.

Sure, it's been a busy year for hurricanes. But if this is the sudden result of some sort of recent phenomenon, how do you explain the following, from the National Hurricane Center?:
The most hurricanes to strike in one year were six in 1916 and 1985. There were five in 1933, and four in 1906, 1909, and 1964. Three hurricanes struck the U.S. in one year a total of sixteen times. Ten of these sixteen times occurred during the sixteen years from 1944 to 1959!
As any hurricane expert can tell you, it's a cyclical thing. There are busy decades and quiet ones. This is a busy one. And it's pretty much right on time.)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

"Nobody's Gonna Separate Our Powers..."

The Florida Supreme Court, previously best known for completely disregarding Florida's election laws and making up their own during the 2000 presidential election (for which they received a rich and deserved slapping-down by the U.S. Supreme Court), has now decided Terri Schiavo's life is not worth living and sentenced her to death.

If you're not familiar with the story, Terri Schiavo suffered a stroke in the early '90's, and her husband (who now has two children by another woman and who stands to collect the remainder of a large insurance settlement if Terri dies) has been crusading to have her starved to death ever since, despite the fact that her parents are willing to take responsibility for her full care and rehabilitation.

Medical experts have testified that Terri (who has never been given one day of rehab--it's been denied to her by her husband) is not in a persistent vegetative state, not in a coma, and shows response to audio and visual stimulus. She laughs, she cries, she answers questions, and she's going to be starved to death by judicial decree.

The people of the state of Florida, outraged by her case, passed a law in late 2003 protecting her from her court-ordered execution. But the Florida Supreme Court, which has often exhibited great disdain for the duly passed laws of the people of Florida, exhibited it again today by overturning the law on the grounds that it violated "the separation of powers."

If there's one thing murderous, activist judges won't stand for, it's to have their power divided by anyone. In a turn of irony worthy of Orwell's 1984, they used the notion of "separation of powers" to assert their unfettered ability to order an innocent woman to die despite the legislative will of the people. Under the rubric of "separation of powers," the Florida courts (much like most of our federal courts) have merely assumed unto themselves the power of God Almighty Himself.

At the same time you hear Terri's final, strangled breaths as she starves to death, you'll also be hearing the death-rattle of constitutional, republican government, replaced forever more by the judicial oligarchy--an oligarchy that's in the process of destroying it's few remaining enemies.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Oprah Creates Conservatives

Undoubtedly you heard last week about the Oprah show where she gave all 276 people in her audience brand new, fully-loaded Pontiacs. The news was saturated with video clips of their wild celebrations at their newfound good fortune.

But according to the Chicago Sun Times, an unpleasant reality is beginning to set in for these Oprahphiles:
It turns out that free car wasn't so free.

That's because while Pontiac agreed to pay for most of the local charges -- things like state sales tax and licensing fees -- the recipients have to report the cars as income once tax time comes.

By adding $28,500 to someone's income, it can push them into a higher tax bracket -- which means they will have to pay about 25 percent or more of the car's value in taxes. And for a nearly $30,000 car, that probably means, for most of the recipients, shelling out $7,125 for the "free car."
Fortunately, however, they'll have some time to try to scrape together the money to pay off Uncle Sam's cut of their "gift":
Some recipients are going to wait a few months before actually picking up their cars so they can figure out how to pay for the taxes.

"We have to pick the car up between Oct. 1, 2004, and Feb. 28, 2005," said Nelson. "We've decided that we are going to wait until the first of the year so we can have all of 2005 and the first four months of 2006 to figure out how to pay for this."
But it's worth it for those soccer moms, I'm sure. I mean, what's the hardship in scrounging together seven grand next to the failed, one-semester education it will buy for some lucky Washington D.C. public school student or the six months of Social Security checks it'll provide for the old guy parking his Cadillac over at the country club?

A Hooker With A Heart of (Fein)Gold

I know I'm not the first to voice this sentiment, but I'm sick of John McCain.

The media, of course, has anointed him Arbiter of All That is Right and Good and Virtuous. He's the favorite Republican of most liberals because he's a "thoughtful conservative." "Finally!" the gist goes, "A Republican who's not a stupid caveman!"

What this actually means is that McCain holds a scant handful of positions that could be considered moderately conservative (which makes him "conservative"), and a whole bunch of positions that are nothing more than warmed-over liberalism (which makes him "thoughtful" and "not a stupid caveman"). In their view, McCain is not a hunchbacked Neanderthal insofar as he's not actually conservative.

Because he relentlessly courts them and because they are oblivious to their own narcissism, the media have been snookered into portraying McCain as a "straight-shooter" and "the kind of politician we need more of" simply because he's willing to talk with them day or night and tell them what they agree with.

In reality, McCain is is the biggest media whore to come out of either party in a generation. Just watch an interview with him--any interview.
NEWS DITZ: Senator, why can't more politicians be like you?

MCCAIN (beaming with self-satisfaction): Well, I think, unfortunately, too many people put politics ahead of the good of the country, which you--as the best reporter in America--know I would never do. (Chest broadening)

NEWS DITZ (eyes closed, breathing heavily): Oh, yeah. Say that again....only slower...
Oddly, it was never referred to as "straight talk" when Spiro Agnew would call them a bunch of idiots or Jesse Helms would give his unvarnished view of alternative lifestyles. But McCain, by giving them his phone number and saying "Call me whenever you need a Republican to badmouth conservatism," has become the poster boy for "straight talk."

Anyone see them calling Zell Miller's rebel-against-his-party speech at the Republican Convention "straight talk?"

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

They Just Keep Digging

The Kerry side of the ledger seems to insist on turning the Rather story into the Perfect Storm that will swallow their candidate at sea.

Terry McAuliff, the DNC chairman, is now pushing the line that yes, the memos are forged, but...they were planted by Republican operatives. Which, of course, makes perfect sense: manufacture documents that are damaging to your own candidate, then hand them to the media and cause a damaging media storm for your guy--in hopes that bloggers will eventually recognize the inconsistent superscripting. The Bush campaign decided to roll the dice and hinge their entire presidency on the investigative abilities of Little Green Footballs.

It's like O.J.'s proferred "Columbian drug kingpins" defense, except in this version Nicole hires her own killers in order to cost O.J. the next "Naked Gun" sequel.

Where's The Pink Slip, Kenneth?

Gosh, I hate to kick a guy when he's down (well, okay, I don't hate it that much...), but if I were the president of CBS News, I'd have no choice but to fire Dan Rather and his producer now, even in light of their too-late apology.

Leaving aside the devastating implications for the Kerry campaign, this story in today's USA Today is a political earthquake for CBS News. USA Today says that CBS passed the memos story on to the Kerry campaign before it even ran on 60 Minutes II.

According to the story:
[Joe] Lockhart, the former press secretary to President Clinton [and current Kerry campaign aide], said a producer talked to him about the 60 Minutes program a few days before it aired on Sept. 8. She gave Lockhart a telephone number and asked him to call Bill Burkett, a former Texas National Guard officer who gave CBS the documents.
CBS News not only rushed to get a poorly-sourced, falsified story damaging to President Bush on the air, but they also leaked it to the Kerry campaign beforehand. The political motivation is clear. As little as I respect the Kerry campaign, it's not their fault CBS called them. But for CBS, this news is absolutely cataclysmic.

I do not believe at this point that Dan Rather can survive until the election. The only way CBS can possibly restore their reputation (mediocre as it may have been) is to clean house of everyone involved in this story immediately. It's very possible that they will--at least once reality sets in, which recent events have shown is a slow process at Black Rock.

Monday, September 20, 2004

You Forgot Something

CBS has finally retracted it's Bush/National Guard story, saying "CBS Regrets Bush Memos Story."

Dan Rather has also issued a statement, saying (according to Drudge):
I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where—if I knew then what I know now—I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.
Okay....but where's the part where you retract the statements where you dismissed concerns about the authenticity of the memos as merely being the work of "partisan political operatives"? And where's the part about ignoring the 260-plus living Swift Boat Veterans for weeks and then breatlessly rushing the memo story onto the air without, as it turns out, any credible proof?

Oh well, it's a start, I suppose.

P.S. On the other hand, thanks for waiting just long enough to ensure that the story will be the main headline for at least another week! Years of charges notwithstanding, it makes me wonder if you're not actually an undercover operative for the GOP...

"No He Isn't, He's Just Sleeping..."

After more than a week and a half denying the obvious fact that the memos were forged (an episode in which Dan Rather has increasingly looked like the proprietor of the pet store in that Monty Python sketch: "This bird isn't dead...he's pining for the fjords...."), the New York Times says CBS News may announce as early as today that they were "misled" on the documents.

If they had done this 10 days ago, it might not have had to have been the effective end of Dan Rather's journalistic career.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Father Knows Best?

It sounds like a lot of folks are hot and bothered about this photo from a John Edwards campaign event where Democrat thugs tore up the George W. Bush sign of a 3-year old girl:

Some snippets from the story in the Washington Times:
"They just pounced on us," said Phil Parlock, who took his 11-year-old son, Alex, and 3-year-old daughter, Sophia, to the Democratic rally at Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W.Va.

..."She was crying; they were pushing and shoving her," said Mr. Parlock, a Huntington real estate agent. "She was scared."

...The Parlocks went to Mr. Edwards' airport rally yesterday "to support the president," Mr. Parlock said, and brought nine Bush-Cheney signs with them.
Obviously, anyone who would threaten a little kid or tear up her sign is a vile reprobate. But I have to ask: what kind of jackass shows up at a Democrat campaign event and sticks Bush signs in his kids' hands? What kind of parent puts his kid in this position?

As long as we're venting outrage, let's save some for this utter moron of a father. You've gotta wonder about a putz like that a little bit.

I Guess It’s Good To Have A Style

Last night, someone did a Google search on “Elton John” + “shut his pie hole” and got sent to my blog.

But regrettably, I was only the second site that turned up on the search.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

...And May The Good News Be Yours

Ann Coulter today on Dan Rather: "Rather is TV's real-life Ted Baxter without Baxter's quiet dignity."

When Relativists Try To Moralize

Slate's Michael Crowley, in a piece taking Kitty Kelley to task for her always-suspect reportage, can't ultimately escape his own relativism.

After pointing to example after example of Kelley's questionable accuracy (saying, at one point, "After close to 30 years and five breathless tell-alls, it's clear that Kelley is no meticulous historian who nails down her facts with airtight precision"), Crowley finally gives in to the Dan Rather defense: it doesn't matter if the "facts" are true, per se. False facts help us discover the spirit of the truth.

Says Crowley
...[I]t may be that Kelley has something valuable to offer, despite her unsavory means. The news media have largely given George W. Bush a pass on "character" issues and allowed him to rope off his first four decades as "young and irresponsible years." Particularly now that Bush's allies are savaging the young John Kerry's character, it seems only fair that Bush's should be subjected to a painful colonoscopy. The view might show Bush's integrity as not quite what the White House makes it out to be, and the public will be able to look it over with due skepticism.
In other words, it doesn't matter if the anecdotes in Kitty Kelley's books are outright lies, what matters are the questions they raise.

Crowley's argument makes little sense. First of all, it's prima facie ridiculous to claim that the media has "given Bush a pass" on character issues. But even if we accept his premise, there's a fundamental distinction between Bush and Kerry on this that Crowley and his political soulmates are too addled to recognize: George W. Bush admits that he was something of an idiot until he stopped drinking at 40, and claims that he has since been profoundly changed. John Kerry still points to the character of the "young John Kerry" as the reason we should elect him.

If John Kerry had come out and simply said "Hey, when I was young, I did some things I now regret. If I had it to do over again, I'd have kept my medals pinned on and my mouth shut a little more," he'd be leading by 10 points right now, and his service record would be a minor issue at best.

But Kerry's youth is relevant for exactly the same reason Bush's is irrelevant: because of the relative weight each candidate places on his youth as evidence of his worthiness to serve as president. Bush's youth is irrelevant (except as a "before" picture for comparison purposes) because he claims he's no longer the same guy. Kerry's youth is relevant because he claims he's exactly the same guy.

But aside from the political issue, it's profoundly disturbing that we now live in a society where many journalists believe that false facts and forged documents do us a service by supposedly leading us to some sort of deeper truth. This worldview is what has led us to Dan Rather's absurd "Let's not concentrate on the fact that the documents are fake; let's concentrate on what those fake documents say!" defense.

On wonders what other "deeper truths" they are feeding us by way of false facts.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I'll Bet She'd Be A Fun Date

Here's a perfect example of the mindset of your average, humorless, liberal apparatchik.

A gal from one of these "alternative" weeklies in LA (side note: if they're all so "alternative," how come every city has one and they all look and sound exactly alike?) interviews Jay Leno and hammers him for not bringing enough affirmative action into his nightly comedy monologue. She thinks he's been handling those dirty Republicans with kid gloves.

Here are a few of her questions:
  • "The White House strategy is to ridicule Kerry every single day of the campaign. And obviously The Tonight Show will be the first to pick up on that. How do you decide if you're being used to further some political party's ends?"
  • "Here's my problem with the monologue. You can tell that something's featured on The Drudge Report, the writers have seen it, and the monologue is playing off that. But there's a lot of other news that gets ignored. How come there's no humor made of the fact that Cheney is making people take loyalty oaths before anyone is allowed at his rallies?"
  • "The media seems to only present the Republican spin and to not present the other side of what's going on."
  • "It was totally inappropriate for you to push Schwarzenneger's candidacy and then emcee his victory party. It hurt your objectivity."
  • I'm not the only journalist who has perceived for a while that you seem to be bashing Clinton as if it were back in the Clinton administration instead of bashing Bush.
Fun, no?

But that's the liberal mind. Even comedy is only "acceptable" when it's used in service of the approved viewpoint. It doesn't matter if it's funny, it only matters whether or not it serves The Party. She must be driven nuts by all those conservative comedians out there like Dennis Miller and....well, there could be another one somewhere...

The only thing sadder in this interview is the gymnastic routine Leno does to try to make the interviewer like him. You see, at one point she had written a column criticizing Leno for being too right-wing in his monologue. Like a puppy dog, he put his tail between his legs and called her up to "correct the record."

In his pitiable striving to gain her approval, at one point he even says to her "I believe the media is in the pocket of the government, and they don't do their job. They have people like Michael Moore who do it for them." At another point he answers her question about how weird it is that talk radio leans so far to the right by saying "No, it's not weird. Because liberal people don't need to hear their view expressed over and over again. I think some people on the right need to hear this constant reinforcement, whereas I don't find that necessary."

That's the reason Leno has always been a pygmy next to Letterman's giant. Leno has an pathetic desperation to be liked that rivals that of Robin Williams--which is no small accomplishment. Can you even begin to imagine David Letterman calling up some ditz reporter from Supermarket Weekly to plead with her to change her opinion of him?

Hunting Red Herrings

The assault weapons ban issue is difficult to deal with for several reasons:

First, from just a knee-jerk perspective, the ban seems like a good thing. Most people don't own assault weapons and can't instantly think of why anyone would need to. From a simple reaction/consensus standpoint, it's like asking most people if child abuse should be outlawed.

Secondly, sloppy argumentation has gained the status of axiomatic truth.

Put these things together, and one standing on the other side faces formidable resistance. But truth and logic have to count for something.

In the last few days, John Kerry has made an argument that I would just dismiss as irrelevant--if the argument hadn't already gained the status of axiomatic truth and been parroted by liberals and conservatives alike all over the broadcasting spectrum in recent days.

This is the argument in a nutshell: "Nobody needs an AK-47 to go hunting with."

As a statement it's true enough, but it has nothing to do with the actual question at hand, which is whether or not such weapons should be banned.

As even John Kerry admits, there is a constitutional issue involved here regarding the Second Amendment and gun ownership. He fully acknowledges that there is an important connection between the two, and he cites the Bill of Rights in defense of his own gun ownership. In Kerry's own words on Monday, "Let me be very clear. I support the Second Amendment. I've been a hunter all my life."

The thing that Kerry and those parroting the same line don't seem to understand is that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. One does not need to prove that a weapon is suitable for hunting in order to claim constitutional protection for it, as even a cursory reading of the amendment itself shows.

Why did the Founders include the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights? (Hint: It wasn't because they were avid duck hunters.) The reason the amendment was included was because America had just freed herself from an oppressive government, and the Founders recognized that an armed citizenry was a major protection against tyranny.

Let me put it more bluntly (though you won't hear it put this way on any of the chat shows; merely uttering the truth on this would marginalize you in this day and age): the purposes of the Second Amendment are:

1). for people to be able to defend themselves and

2). to be able to overthrow the government by violence if the government should become tyrannical.

The Second Amendment says: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Some have argued that this means only regulated militias (like state National Guards) should have weapons under the Constitution. You can't get that from the text as it's written, but even if we were to accept that dubious premise (and it's worth pointing out that Kerry does not; he cites the Constitution in his personal ownership of hunting rifles), note that the Second Amendment says nothing about hunting.

It's simply undeniable that, regardless of whom may bear the arms, when the Second Amendment talks about arms, it's talking about arms used for security--for killing attackers in self-defense. Weapons for killing other people. The framers of the Constitution were not talking about defending our security against bears or ducks, they were talking about defending ourselves against human enemies--and an examination of their writings and history shows that they believed these enemies could be foreign or domestic.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "...[W]hat country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms..." Though Jefferson did not take part in the formulation of the Bill of Rights, his statement reflects the view of the times. Anyone can disagree with him, but what they can't do is claim that the Second Amendment only (or even primarily) protects the right to bear hunting weapons. It doesn't. Any recourse to "usefulness for hunting" in this debate is simply a red herring to be discarded.

If John Kerry accepts that the Second Amendment protects personal, individual gun ownership, he has no grounds on which to argue (or even imply) that it only applies to hunting weapons.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Deja Vu All Over Again

Thomas Sowell has written the price-gouging column I wrote last month.

It's only fair, though, since most of what was in my original post was stuff I've learned directly from him.


I'm a bit ambivalent about the expiration of the assault weapons ban. As a believer in the Constitution, I tend to see it as the correct thing. But there's also a part of me which recognizes that, like obscene speech that hides behind the First Amendment, it's probably possible to have weapons that go beyond what most reasonable people would prefer to accept.

Of course, the media are not ambivalent at all; they are absolutely galvanized in their unanimous view that the ban was the highest good in Western civilization and that the expiration is its most heinous evil.

Driving home from work last night, I heard the anchor on our local news radio station read a story about a Miami-Dade police officer who was shot by a criminal using an assault rifle on Sunday. "The gun," the anchor dramatically informed me, "is one of the weapons that had been covered under the assault weapon ban."

The implication was clear: the lifting of the assault weapons ban nearly killed this police officer.

Now, the shooting is a terrible thing, obviously, and I greatly respect the police officers who are out there doing the world's toughest job every day. But in the hurry to make a political point, the radio anchor (and she is not alone) seems to be missing a rather crucial point: when the officer was shot with an assault weapon, the ban was still in effect. To put it another way: the ban failed to do for this police officer precisely the thing it was supposedly designed to do. It didn't work. This is not an example that proves the assault weapons ban was a good thing; it's an example that proves it didn't work. It proves that criminals, by definition, don't obey laws.

According to the Miami Herald article, John Kerry's campaign seized on the shooting yesterday by issuing a statement from former Attorney General (and current Miami resident) Janet Reno saying, "That officer experienced firsthand why the ban on military-style assault weapons needs to be renewed."

No, that officer experienced firsthand why the ban on military-style assault weapons didn't work. The ban was in effect when she was shot, and it didn't do a thing to protect her.

Is this an isolated example, this failure of the Left to understand that criminals don't tend to obey laws? Unfortunately, it is not.

Take a look at this ad from a group called Stop the NRA:

The ad says that Osama Bin Laden can't wait until September 13, when the assault weapons ban is lifted. As if Osama Bin Laden were waiting for legal permission to commit terrorism. By this logic, we only needed Congress to pass a ban on smashing airliners into tall American buildings to thwart 9/11. Why didn't we think of that?

Gosh, don't you wish the assault weapons ban were back in place so that Osama and the criminal who shot the Miami-Dade cop wouldn't be dangerous anymore?

Saturday, September 11, 2004

If You Still Entertain a Shadow of a Doubt

If somehow you're still not absolutely convinced that the Bush/National Guard memos are nothing more than poorly done forgeries, you must...must...check out the animated comparison done by Little Green Footballs between the forged documents and a default Microsoft Word version. It proves the forgery beyond any sliver of a doubt.

If you still hold out hope that the documents are authentic, you are the type who also believes O.J. was actually innocent.

Oh yes, and by the way, it has also been discovered that the colonel purportedly exerting pressure on Bush's behalf actually retired from the Guard a year and a half before the memo was supposedly written.

CBS continues to stand by its story, not unlike the former Iraqi Information Minister standing before cameras with smoke in the background insisting that there was no war.

Forgery Proof: Your Own Easy Experiment

It seemed that some of the news coverage tonight on the forged National Guard documents was a bit confused.

I give the major networks kudos for checking out the story (though I'm sure their competitiveness gives them extra incentive for wanting to bring down CBS). But many of the discussions are making this far too complicated. These documents are poor, obvious forgeries. There is no way--no way--these papers were typed in the early 70's.

If you haven't looked at them yet, open some of the documents. Ask yourself if you've ever seen typewritten documents of any kind that look like this. Ever.

Then do a simple test:

Open up a Microsoft Word document on your computer. Don't do anything to it, just leave the simple default Word settings as they are. Then start at the beginning of a paragraph and start typing sentences from either of these "memos." You'll notice something amazing. The automatic line breaks on your Word document will perfectly match the line breaks in the "memos."

Do you have any idea what the odds are that someone over 30 years ago, using a typewriter, would happen to break every line at the exact same place as the MS Word default setting does it? That the typist would never use an apostrophe and never once break a line at a different place? Do you have any idea what the odds against that are?

Mathematically, it would be conclusive even without all the other evidences of forgery (such as the centered headings, the perfect lines of text, the superscripting, the Times New Roman fonts, etc.)

The silly liberal objections are beside the point, as even the mainstream media seems to understand tonight. Demonstrating that somewhere Times New Roman fonts existed, and that somewhere else there was a rare typewriter that did superscripts, is meaningless. Show us a typewriter that did both in 1972 and that would have conceivably been available to a Texas Air National Guardsman. Show us one machine somewhere that did both--and did automatic line breaks just like Word--and maybe you'll get somewhere.

Because I've got an MS Word processer that does all that by default right now, while all CBS has got is a long-dead guardsman whose family is adamant he didn't write the memos.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Worked Into A Rather

This "60 Minutes"/National Guard memos story is absolutely fascinating. It's possible that we might be witnessing the public dissolution of an entire television network.

Not that anyone had any illusions about the leanings of CBS News (particularly after Bernard Goldberg's devastating book Bias), but I'm just amazed by the brazenness of it all.

260-plus living Vietnam veterans come forward to dispute John Kerry's version of events in that war, and CBS ignores it for weeks and weeks. But somebody cranks out a couple of ridiculous fake memos on Microsoft Word--purporting to be written about George Bush in the early 70's by one dead guy--and the network can't even wait until the ink toner is dry before breathlessly rushing it onto the air.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Michael Cannon in today's National Review Online points out that if Bill Clinton's health care plan had been implemented ten years ago, he'd likely still be waiting in a long, long line for his heart surgery, with every moment perilously ticking away:
According to Nadeem Esmail and Michael Walker of Canada's Fraser Institute, the median wait for an appointment with a cardiologist in Canada's single-payer health-care system was 3.4 weeks in 2003. The wait for urgent bypass surgery was another 2.1 weeks on top of that, while the wait for elective bypass surgery was an additional 10.7 weeks. Canadian doctors reported that a "reasonable" wait would be 0.9 and 6.1 weeks, respectively. Great Britain and New Zealand have even longer waiting times for bypass surgery.

Esmail and Walker cite studies confirming that longer waits for heart surgery result in a higher risk of heart attack and death.

In fact, they report that American hospitals act as a "safety valve" for Canadian patients who face life-threatening shortages: "The government of British Columbia contracted Washington State hospitals to perform some 200 operations in 1989 following public dismay over the 6-month waiting list for cardiac bypass surgery in the province. ... A California heart-surgery centre has even advertised its services in a Vancouver newspaper."
According to Clinton's doctors, he was only weeks away from a major heart attack. Would he have made it under the knife in time?

Fortunately he never had to wait to find out, since his health care plan (much like the one currently advocated by John Kerry) was snuffed out by a Republican Congress.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Better Stick to the TelePrompTer

I know there's nothing particularly funny about asphyxiation death via diesel-powered generator. But I had to laugh at the following exchange I heard on TV during last weekend's Hurricane Hysteria here in South Florida:
CONCERNED REPORTER: ...and please keep in mind that carbon monoxide fumes are completely odorless.

ANCHOR (Nodding knowingly): Yes, that's why they call it the "Silent Killer."
Right. They call it the "Silent Killer" because it's so....odorless.

Okay, I'm Starting to Get Sick of This

A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for the Florida Keys, and the latest forecast track for Hurricane Ivan is putting him right up the southern end of the state.

Ivan's sustained winds right now are 160 mph, with gusts up to 195.

Why do I live here, again? Over the past week, I seem to have forgotten.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

These Go To Eleven

Years ago, I recall reading an article about when the up-and-coming Van Halen were opening for Ted Nugent on a late 70’s concert tour. Eddie Van Halen was tearing up the fret board night after night, spellbinding the crowd with his new rapid-fire, melodic, classically-influenced style. Nugent was more than a little jealous of the new wunderkind, and snuck into the arena early one day before the soundcheck with his guitar, asking to plug into Eddie’s equipment.

The sound technicians hooked Nugent up to Eddie’s stuff, and Nuge started wailing away. He let fly with everything in his arsenal. According to those who were there, asked how Nugent sounded through Eddie’s equipment: “Still sounded just like Ted.”

That anecdote keeps popping into my mind as John Kerry desperately hires more and more old Clinton hands to staff his campaign. He can plug into Clinton’s equipment, but when all is said and done, he still sounds just like Kerry.
The best reason yet to vote for President Bush this fall.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season...

...As Jimmy Buffett once said.

It's been a strange few days, but thankfully we're fine here in my part of South Florida. To the north of us in Palm Beach County there's a good deal of damage, but most of Broward County has come through relatively unscathed.

As for us, we have a toppled fence in our back yard to show for Frances' visit, and we lost our electricity for about 20 hours. Other than that, we suffered nothing worse than a little anxiety and a lot of splinters from cutting and hanging plywood.

For those who don't live in a hurricane area, it's hard to understand how completely a state can shut down when one of these things is zeroing in on you. All the local governments and businesses close at least a day in advance of it (this week, much of the county shut down on Wednesday evening), and all the television and radio stations switch to 24-hour coverage of the hurricane. The whole atmosphere is eerie and single-minded.

And afterwards, strangely, after the all-clear, there is a bit of an adrenalene let-down. At a certain point yesterday, it suddenly all ended. The TV and radio stations went back to normal, the stores all opened up, and it was over. But after three or four days of relentless focus on impending doom, it's odd to suddenly pick back up with work, meetings, baseball games, school, and leisure.

Hopefully we won't have to do it all again later this week with Ivan moving in.

Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers for us over the past few days. Frances was approaching as a devastating category 4 hurricane, and suddenly downshifted to a 2. Your prayers were a part of that.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

There Sure Are A Lot Of Hijackers On This Religion

The Religion of Peace® is at it again.

You won't know that, though, by reading the CNN story. There, they're only referred to as mysterious "armed attackers." Anyone think maybe it's Quakers?

And In His Likeness He Created Them

From a newspaper account of a Bill Clinton book signing in my old stomping grounds of Crestwood, Missouri:
Adults skipped work for this. People camped out overnight. Kids were pulled out of school. Anna Moreno's 10-year-old son was reported sick so he could come along.

"I made my husband call, so I wasn't the one who lied," Moreno said.
What could be more perfectly fitting for a Bill Clinton appearance?