Thursday, March 31, 2005


Some random thoughts:

Remember Brian Nichols -- the guy who shot and killed all those people in Atlanta? I was just remembering how one member of the chattering class said that this tragedy was just all the more reason to outlaw handguns. But the handgun that Nichols used was lifted from a police officer. Do those who want to outlaw handguns suggesting that police should not have handguns either?

Here's some info from a lobby for the consumption tax. I think I'm for it, though this site is admittedly one-sided. Economic wonks (I'm thinking right now of Bruce Bartlet) say that these kind of value added/consumption taxes adversely effect the economy less than our income tax does. This is one instance where Europe may actually have something to teach us Americans.

Should we give parents a financial incentive to become better parents? I thought this post was interesting.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Constitutional Loop Hole

I know I titled a post "last thoughts on Shiavo," and I really did intend to end on that note. There are, however, side issues that are raised by the Shiavo case the I want to comment on.

One of those issues is that of a runaway judiciary. Judges are using there unchecked power to flout the written laws and inject their own personal politics. This really shouldn't be a partisan issue, though it seems its turning out that way.

This politicization of the judiciary is really a fairly new development. Antonin Scalia has pointed out that even though he was known to be a fairly conservative guy, he was approved for the supreme court unanimously. That has all changed, as the current filibuster on judiciary nominations shows. Why has it changed? Because the people have figured out that judges are not disspationate arbiters of the law, but lifetime appointed politicians.

Normally I'm upset with the the liberals on these counts. Substantive due process and the right to privacy are judge-fabricated rights/procedures not found in the constitution. Today, though, I'm upset with conservative judges like Judge Greer (for some reason today is a day of introspection).

Greer as well as other (reportedly conservative) judges have flouted the law passed to give Terri Shiavo standing in federal court and de novo review. The law was clearly constructed to give Terri a new hearing in federal court with a complete review of the evidence. Perhaps the results would have been the same, and this step would merely prolong Terri's life a few more months. Nevertheless, this is what Congress stipulated in the bill, and this is what should have happened.

Essentially, if judges continue on this path, the constitution and rule of law will be destroyed. Finding provisions in the constitution where there are none, and disregarding laws contrary to a judges personal predilections will eventually make laws void. If laws are subject to the whims of judges, then, in effect, there are no laws.

Marketing Social Security

The Bush administration has made a mistake in the marketing of Social Security reform. Early on in the debate, the administration said that personal retirement accounts would not fix the solvency problem. Assuming that these accounts had the same returns as Social Security, that would be true; but everyone knows (based on the Thrifts Savings Plan, and past market performance) personal accounts would actually have a much higher rate of return than Social Security.

In the almost inevitable case that personal accounts have higher returns than Social Security -- the benefits cut due to Social Securities solvency problem (unless we want to drastically raise taxes) would be more than offset by these personal accounts higher returns. Thus the president should say, "we have two options to save Social Security. My plan: personal accounts, which would help fix solvency; or the only other alternative -- a combination of higher taxes and lower benefits." Faced with a choice between taxes hikes/benefit cuts on the one hand, or personal accounts on the other, I believe the electorate will easily choose the latter.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

In Good Shape

Remember how Iraq was supposed to be Bush's Vietnam? Remember how Islam was incompatible with Democracy? Remember how these fundamentalist Islamo-facist insurgents were suposed to be superhuman, everyone of them fighting to the death, and remember how the American military was not going to be able to beat them?

Well, I'm not sure what's going on concidering all of the above, but it appears we the Iraqi insurgency is losing its steam. How is this posible?

Iraqi resistance begins to crack after elections

Jason Burke, chief reporter
Sunday March 27, 2005
The Observer

The Iraqi resistance has peaked and is 'turning in on itself', according to recent intelligence reports from Baghdad received by Middle Eastern intelligence agencies.
The reports are the most optimistic for several months and reflect
analysts' sense that recent elections in Iraq marked a 'quantum shift'. They will boost the government in the run-up to the expected general election in May

Monday, March 28, 2005

Is Congress Overstepping Its Bounds?

Much has been said about congress "overstepping its bounds" in the Shiavo case. I'm not persuaded. Perhaps, as some have argued, it's a bad idea to make laws from specific cases. But as far as overstepping ones bounds, isn't congress supposed to write laws? Isn't this completely within their bounds?

Some have argued that Republicans believe congress should stay out of the American peoples' personal lives, and that in the Shiavo case Republicans are being hypocritical. But that's really more of a Libertarian principle. Republicans have always sided with life; As the President says lets "err on the side of life." (I actually prefer he say "if we are to err, we should err on the side of life." Since I don't think we're erring at all, I think Republicans have it right in this case. I hope that's not too pedantic of me). Still what laws do we have that don't affect our personal lives? Inevitably, laws affect the personal lives of some people. How far those laws go, and what areas of our lives they affect are all questions to be debated. The "stay out of our personal lives" mantra, however, is a meaningless argument.

Others say Republicans have betrayed their federalist principles -- that is, by taking a case that was in state jurisdiction, and giving it standing in federal court they've slighted states' rights. This argument has more merit, though I don't find it particularly persuasive. "Protecting life" is higher than federalism in the conservative principle hierarchy. Certainly the due process (specifically on the federal level) that's afforded a convicted murder should also be afforded an innocent helpless woman.

Probably the most insulting argument is that we conservatives, who supposedly believe in the "sanctity of marriage," are now undermining ourselves as we come out against Michael Shiavo's right to choose for his incapacitated wife. If preventing your wife from getting proper diagnosis, and starving her to death is part of the "sanctity of marriage" (which I don't think it is) then, no I don't believe in it. Is beating your wife ok because of the sanctity of marriage?

Fake Documents, Round Two

Rathergate, it seems, was not embarrassing enough to left leaning media, since it appears they learned nothing from it. Now in the crosshairs of media watchdogs (like Powerline) is ABC news. ABC published the highly suspect "GOP talking points" memo. The problem; no one knows the source of the memo. Here is John Hinderaker's (of Powerline) write-up:

To sum up, then: (1) The memo itself conveys no information about its source. (2) It is very poorly done, containing a number of typographical errors, failing to get the number of the Senate bill correct, and using points cribbed word-for-word from an advocacy group's website. (3) The politically controversial statements are out of place in a talking points memo, and seem, on the contrary, ideally framed to create talking points for the Democrats. (4) Somewhat bizarrely, after the contents of the memo had been reported, someone corrected those typographical errors--but only those errors that had been pointed out by ABC. (5) No one has reported seeing any Republican distributing the suspect memo; the only people confirmed to have passed out the memo were Democratic staffers.

Final Thoughts on Shiavo

I've had a few thoughts on Terri Shiavo since I last posted about her. They're not entirely original, but still worth your time.

For instance, "who benefits from Terri's death?" Her husband says that Terri did not want to be a burden on others, presumably in connection to just such a circumstance, and he says she did not want to be kept alive by machines. Ok, maybe she said that (although Michael Shiavo's interests seem to be at odds with Terri's).

But assuming Terri didn't want to be "a burden." still, as people we don't get that choice. If a quadriplegic man, decided he was a burden (lets face it, in some respect he probably would be) still, we would try and prevent him from committing suicide. What about being kept alive by machines? Some quadriplegics have to have machines to keep them living and breathing. Would we be ok with such a person choosing to turn off his breathing machine if he so desires? I think not.

What seems to be the sticking point for most is this PVS (persistent vegetative state) business. In other words, even though she looks like she's aware of what going on, in fact she isn't. Well of course this diagnosis is, at the very least, questionable.

But lets work from this premise. If Terri has no cognition, then she also has no idea whether of not her wishes are being carried out. Thus it's no inconvenience to Terri that she's being kept alive against her will, particularly because she currently has no will.

The remaining players are Michael Schiavo and The Shindler family (Terri's parents). Terri's family has a deep attachment to Terri and wants her to live. Michael has only expressed that Terri's death is synonymous with Terri's will. But as we just established Terri has no will. Thus there is no objection to allowing Terri to live.

That is unless there is another reason. Michael also has a perceived interest in Terri's death for the sake of his own closure. He's moved on to a new woman, and by her, has two children. But why is he so insistent upon Terri's death? Can't divorce give Michael Shiavo the closure he needs, turning custody to Terri's parents? It seems as thought that would be the best solution. Both Michael's and Terri's parents' needs would be met.

If Terri does have a will, and wants to die, then of course, she shouldn't be allowed to because existence of a will and this PVS sticking point are mutually exclusive.

Friday, March 25, 2005

What Kind of Dog are You?

I'm a Bracco Italiano, -- Italian Setter that is. go here, and click on the "What kind of Dog Are You" link at the right.

Religion and Democrats

Democrats seem to be struggling with religion these days. On one hand, intervention with cases such as Terri Shiavo's, is seen by some leftist as "theocratic." One the other hand Democrats, such as Howard Dean, think they need to reconnect with religious voters, and thus, have started incorporating religion into their rhetoric. The outcome is something awful, forced, and seemingly disingenuous.

But probably most troublesome is that Dems seem insistent in claiming God is on there side. This is ridiculous and insulting -- and I hope it continues. Any sensible voter will soon be offended by the Democrats' pomp and presumptuousness. Consider this quote, reported by Rich Lowry:

Democrats oddly tend to go too far, overadjusting, when they do God talk. In his desperation to invoke religion toward the end of the 2004 campaign, John Kerry compared George Bush to a "false prophet" from the Bible, a harsh charge given that false prophets could be stoned or crucified. Howard Dean said in February, "When you think of the New Testament, [Republicans] get about two of the values, and we get about 27." Dean's bottom line: Democrats are better Christians than Republicans. While it's possible to imagine some televangelist on the conservative side making the opposite claim, no responsible figure in the GOP would ever say such a thing.

and another by author of the book God's Politics.

Wallis reminds us that Jesus wasn't "pro-rich," and extrapolates from that that Christians must support higher taxes. Now, the New Testament obviously enjoins us to care for the poor. But what mix of policies is best suited to do that is a practical question. Conservatives happen to think everyone is best served by a low-tax, high-growth economy and by social policies -- e.g., welfare reform -- that encourage the inner-city poor to work and marry.
Notice a pattern? God is on the Democrats side. But the analysis is very problematic, as Lowry points out. Yes, Jesus said we should care about/take care of the poor. No, He didn't say that we had to do it by raising taxes or with big entitlement giveaways. Thus, Democrats mistakenly think that they are the only ones who care about the ends. In reality both Democrats and Republicans care about the poor -- we just disagree on how to go about helping them (the means, that is).

And that brings me to a more personal note. A few weeks ago someone left some comments, one of which was along these lines, on my blog. One was an accurate observation -- sort of -- though not on the topic were talking about. I feel though, if I'm going to address the weaker of the comments in a second, in fairness I should mention the stronger.

I made an observation on a post that homosexuality, if genetic, would be self-eliminating, under the assumption that homosexuals practiced only homosexuality, and thus never passed on their genes. I then attacked that very assumption that homosexuals only practice homosexuality, showing the argument to be a weak one. My critic noted that if the gene were recessive that the homosexuality would be much more resistant to extinction (at least that's what she implied). Fair enough, I guess I hadn't though of that. However I never offered the statement "homosexuality is not genetic" up as some great axiom. I merely suggested that homosexuality -- as far as survival -- is very disadvantageous, and offered this up as a worthy line of thought. My punishment was to be told that I should : "read up on the subject instead of spouting ignorance."

Let me return the favor. Her other post criticizes a small section of an article I quoted advocating that the Ten Commandment not be taken down -- as the Supreme Court may order to be done in connection with a few of their cases. Her post reads thusly: "You're forgetting the parts that talk about loving the Lord, the only God, with all your heart. That rule has no place in government hallways."

First of all I didn't forget anything -- I quoted a paragraph from an article that had analysis of the Ten Commandments. I was not intended to be exhaustive. Second, the Ten Commandments doesn't say you should " Love the Lord, the only God, with all your heart." What she's probably referring to is what Jesus answered to the lawyer's question on how to inherit eternal life: "And he answering said, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind..."(Luke 10:27) But this is nowhere near Exodus 20, where the Ten commandments are found, which don't really say anything like that. The closest statement in Exodus is "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) The funny thing is, this is exactly the part in the Commandment that Larry Kudlow is referring to when he's says, "Is it so bad...To think about a power greater than oneself, about God or some higher deity?" So nor I, nor Mr. Kudlow ignored anything.

I suppose she could still make a reasonable argument that this "no other Gods before me" statement is in violation of the establishment clause (Maybe this is what is meant when she writes, "That rule [referring to the quote she thought was one of the Ten Commandments] has no place in government hallways." I'm not sure what so important about the hallways. Does that mean it's ok in the government rooms? This must be some euphemism I've never heard used before. Whatever it is it doesn't work here). That's not the point though. The point here is that this girl -- who claims that I should "read a book" so that I know what I'm talking about -- in only two posts, has managed to show she doesn't know what she's talking about.

But the irony, hypocrisy and ignorance don't end there. Her own blog, Jesus was not a Republican, tries to claim that Jesus is some sort of left wing Liberal type.

Well of course Jesus was not a Republican, the Republican party she talks about didn't exist 2000 years ago. But that doesn't mean he didn't support the republican/conservative side on many issues. It's pretty clear Jesus was against homosexuality. I don't think Jesus was/would be for abortion (although I suppose this point is debatable). Jesus certainly was against divorce (I guess that Democrats probably wouldn't say they're for divorce, although no fault divorce of the 70's -- which Dems made possible -- clearly make divorce more prevalent). He certainly wasn't for sexual promiscuity, the liberal cause during the sexual revolution.

You think the founding fathers were conservative 200 plus years ago? -- try going back 2000 years. Even the most liberal of liberals from yesteryear would be conservative by today's standards.

But I'm not going to say that Jesus would be a Republican, because, frankly, I don't know. I don't know if Jesus would be for federalism or not. I'm not sure what Jesus's take would be on national defense, or the size of government. I'm not going to put words in his mouth for heavens sake! Jesus was the savior of the world to us Christians! How can anyone reduce him to some political tool. Especial people like Howard Dean -- who didn't know the Book of Job was not in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament -- or people like my critic who claim Jesus was not a Republican -- but can't recognize his own words as they cross her lips (or at least, when she quotes his words, she's off by a few thousand pages). To them I say: stop being arrogant, stop politicizing something that should never be politicized, and "read up on the subject instead of spouting ignorance."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

More Good News


I may have to change my opinion about the French if they continue to do things like this:

Soros French Insider Trading Conviction Upheld (Update3)

Sour Grapes

This from the Wall Street Journal Online.

Jim Jeffords, Republican turned Democrat turned Independent speaks out about Iraq and Bush, and it's not positive. Luckily it's also not intelligent or persuasive:

Jeffords: I think [the war in Iraq] was all done to get--all that's the end result is going to be some oil agreement and the loss of life that we had. And the cost of it, to many was just a re-election move and they're going to try to live off it and probably start another war. Wouldn't be surprised next year, probably in Iran.

The author of the article, James Taranto, then opines:

So let's see if we have this straight: According to Jeffords, the president went to war in Iraq to "control the country's oil supply" and to help his own re-election chances. This doesn't quite jibe with what happened, which is that Bush was re-elected even though Iraq's oil industry, which America doesn't control at any rate, is operating at far from full capacity and U.S. gasoline prices are quite high compared with recent years.

Chink in the Armor

Iraqi war critics just aren't as critical as they used to be -- but that's probably a good thing. The Beltway Buzz has the story:

Democrats See Good News In Iraq

Harry Reid yesterday led a bipartisan delegation of senators to Iraq. Democrats on the trip had asurprisingly positive response to what they saw and heard on the ground.

Harry Reid “all but ensured” passage of the $81 billion funding requests for Iraq/Afghanistan funds, stating, “Everyone understands that reconstruction is an important part of the U.S. mission here.”

Even Barbara Boxer added, “We got a very, very upbeat report,” from U.S. commanders on the ground.

Longtime war critic Dick Durbin said, “One of the people we met with today called Iraq 'an infant democracy,' and we can't leave this infant alone. I believe what we are seeing here is good.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hearts and Minds

We've all heard the blather (well, not complete blather) about how winning the war on terror is really about winning the hearts and minds of the the people. Of course the biggest critics of Iraq have insisted that our presence there has only inspired more America hating. I've tried to link to stories that show the "hearts and minds" battle is is going our way. Here is an inspiring story, though it contains the proper leftist caveats:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Shopkeepers and residents on one of Baghdad's main streets pulled out their own guns Tuesday and killed three insurgents when hooded men began shooting at passers-by, giving a rare victory to civilians increasingly frustrated by the violence bleeding Iraq.

Slippery Slope

I've long thought that one of the most compelling arguments against same-sex marriage is the "slippery slope argument." Same sex marriage advocates say limiting marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman draws a random "line in the sand", or ever worse, is discriminatory. But at the same time, they claim that redrawing this random "line" so that two people of indiscriminate sex constitute marriage, isn't the least bit random or discriminatory. Why the current "line" that defining marriage is discriminatory, but the new "line" same-sex marriage advocates propose isn't random is a question yet to be answered.

What about polygamy? What about polyamory? Doesn't this new definition of marriage as "two people" "discriminate" against these lifestyles, just as the man-woman definition of marriage "discriminates" against homosexuality?

Yes it does. Thus the argument to redraw that line for homosexuality is either quite disingenuous (That is defining marriage as a man-woman relationship isn't discriminatory) -- or it will lead to the state-sponsorship of almost any kind of relationship you can imagine. Don't believe me? Look at Stanley Kurtz's new article about the movement to mainstream polyamory:

Clearly, Emens [a University of Chicago Law School professor advocating polyamory] is taking her cues from the movement for gay marriage. She suggests "that we view this historical moment, when same-sex couples begin to enter the institution of marriage, as a unique opportunity to question the mandate of compulsory monogamy."

More deeply, Emens lays out a sophisticated case for treating polyamory not just as a practice, but as a disposition, broadly analogous to the disposition toward homosexuality. That, in turn, allows her to call a whole raft of laws into question — from marriage laws to partnership laws, to zoning laws, to custody laws. All these laws, says Emens, place unfair burdens on those with a "poly" disposition

Polyamorists have long treated their inclination toward multi-partner sex as analogous to homosexuality. Polyamorists intentionally use phrases like "in the closet" and "coming out" to link their cause with the fight for gay marriage. What's new here is that a scholar has built this analogy to homosexuality into a systematic and sophisticated case.

Closeted Polyamorists

Up to now, gay-marriage advocates like Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan Rauch have dismissed the analogy between homosexuality and polyamory by arguing that homosexuality is a far more deeply rooted impulse than the superficial, even frivolous, desire for sex with more than one partner. By contrast, Emens offers a "continuum model" inspired by the radical lesbian thinker Adrienne Rich. In
her famous essay, "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" (which Emens's title deliberately echoes), Rich argues that all women, whether they identify themselves as lesbian or not, are in some respects lesbians. If women can just find the lesbian within, then, even for women who remain heterosexually identified, the prejudice against homosexuality will fall away. That, in turn, will make it possible for many more women to freely choose lesbianism.

Following Rich, Emens argues that everyone has a bit of "poly" inside. If we can just discover, nurture, and accept our inner polyamorist, then even for those who choose to remain monogamous, the prejudice against polyamory will disappear. This will allow everyone to make an unconstrained choice between monogamy and polyamory. So it's possible to see both homosexuality and polyamory as part of a complex continuum of human sexuality, says Emens. And when we begin to look at things this way, we can finally take down the legal, social, and cultural barriers to both homosexuality and polyamory.

But aren't at least some people at one end of the sexual continuum intensely homosexual? Yes, says Emens, but the very same thing is true of polyamory. According to Emens, whether for biological or cultural reasons, some folks simply cannot live happily unless they are allowed multiple, simultaneous sexual partners. And for these people, our current system of marriage and family laws is every bit as unjust as it is for homosexuals. A person with an intensely polyamorous disposition simply cannot be happy, says Emens, outside of a polyamorous family setting. For these people, argues Emens, our social hostility to polyamory imposes a vast range of unjust legal burdens.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

From Iraq

I was just randomly looking through blogs, as i sometimes do, and I came across this one, written by a soldier currently in Iraq. I thought it was worthy of linking to.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Safe for Now?

Congress has intervened on Terri Shiavo's behalf -- well sort of. What they have done is to give Terri's case standing in a Federal Court. The feeding tube has not, however, been reinserted-- its been about 3 days since she's had food or water.

I suppose there are some legal implications for this case, some of which may be bad, i.e. separation of powers issues. I won't pretend to know much about the legal ramifications of the bill the house passed, and President Bush signed yesterday.

I do, however have an opinion on Shiavo's case itself, and it seems clear she should live.

Terri is constantly described as being in a persistent vegetative state. Although this may be accurate, it is far from proven, and at least to most people, misleading. First of all Terri is not in a coma as a layman would infer from the description of her condition. She has suffered brain damage and she will not be returning to the Terri she was before she suffered this damage. But that's not to say her life has no meaning. She is awake and moves around. Her family also says she smiles and responds to stimuli. Apparently some of these responses may be reflexive, but they certainly give indication that Terri may still have cognitive abilities.

What has not been done, but should, is an MRI scan. It is often misreported that an MRI has been done, but what has actually been done is a CT scan. I'm no expert but from what I've read, the CT scan is like a blurry picture, containing much less information an clarity, where as an MRI is like clear picture. Many experts, in this case 30 plus experts, agree that more should be done to make sure there is no cognition, and a full MRI scan would help in this regard.

Why has one not been done? Because Terri Shiavo's husband has fought it every step of the way. It seems that the relatives of a loved one in a predicament such as Terri's, would want to explore every avenue to make sure Terri has no cognitive ability, and that there is no hope of even partial recovery. In this respect Michael Shiavo, Terri's husband, has shown a suspicious lack of curiosity/concern. In fact it has been Michael who at every turn objects to any action that would show Terri can improve, or that would attempt to help here recover.

In addition, Michael has, what appears on the surface, a conflict of interests. Despite the fact that he is still married to Terri, Michael lives with another woman, with whom he has fathered two children. Is it two sinister of me to infer that Michael's coincidental fighting of the good fight for Terri's 'right to die,' coinciding with Michael's own perceived interests for closure etc., is not actually coincidental at all?

At the moment it appears Michael will get what he, and what he represents as Terri's desire -- that is, Terri's death. But lets not deceive ourselves. Terri' "life support" is a feeding tube, in other words, the same thing that supports both your and my life -- food and water. No she can't eat by herself, but neither can any baby. The point being, life support typically is thought of as a machine that helps you breath, or that pumps your blood, something that, without, you die in a few minutes.

Terri's death will not be that quick, for this "mercy killing" will take place over approximately 12 days as Terri slowly starves to death. Just as any normal person would suffer if denied food or water, so too will Terri. Her tongue and lips will crack and her nose will bleed from dehydration. In fact shooting Terri would be much more merciful than what it looks as though Terri will have to go through.

Terri's life may not be worth living, but lets not kid ourselves about what is going on here, someone is being starved to death. If I am ever in a similar situation, please spare me from this kind of "mercy."

More Deanomania

Originally uploaded by RHarris.

I posted on this yesterday, but here is some more context from powerline:

It's deja vu time; the Toronto Star reports that Howard Dean, in Toronto for the semi-annual "Democrats Abroad" conference, explained that the Dems have problems because they are just too smart. The Republicans, Dean, explained, are "brain dead." One might normally expect this to give the Democrats an advantage. But no: the Dems failed in 2004 because they have a "tendency to explain every issue in half an hour of detail." From now on, the Democrats under Dean will learn from their mistakes and "keep it simple."

Howard, I think you're on to something. Please keep promoting this insight wherever you go: Americans are really dumb, and the Democrats' only problem is that they are so extraordinarily brilliant. If the Dems can just pretend to be "brain dead," like the Republicans, they will sweep to victory. That is a great strategy, Howard. Please pursue it. Please.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A Corner Post

This is a post from The Corner:

[Cliff May]
In Canada, Dr. Howard Dean calls Republicans “brain dead.”

Friday, March 18, 2005

Patti Davis..

At her best here at powerline. Both funny, irreverent, embarrassing, and slightly sad -- if not for Patti, then at least for Regan's legacy.

Broken Boarders

Many have postulated that --seeing as how illegal immigrants can so easily hop across the Mexican-American boarder-- a determined terrorist could just as easily do the same thing. They thus conclude that boarder security is of the utmost importance for national security. If you go here, it looks as though something very close to this theoretical situation has just happened. True, we don't know for sure that these Syrians are terrorists, but there's a good enough chance that we should be alarmed. And even if they're not terrorist, how long will it be till terrorist catch on to one of America's biggest vulnerabilities?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Revenge of the Cat Lovers

If you read Jonah Goldbergs article advocating cat hunting to save song birds (and you defintely should have read it, if only for the humor) then you know that the article was bound to ruffle a few feathers. Jonah has posted a few of the letters he received here. The 14th was the most compelling argument of them all:

re column: kill the cats..
cats are predators that kill off the weakest and sickest of the birds, contributing to the survival of the fittest and evolution of the species. Without cats birds would soon devolve back into dinosaurs that would pick off old women standing in line at the piggly wiggly. We owe it to our elderly citizens that this not be allowed to happen. Only cats can save the lives of millions of medicare recipients.

You May Have Missed...

The following if you only watch the MSM (main stream media that is). These are all from a blog post by Rich Lowry at NRO's The Corner. It originally was written by a leader of the first calvary division, just back from Iraq:

3. He showed a graph of attacks in Sadr City by month. Last Aug-Sep they were getting up to 160 attacks per week. During the last three months, the graph had flatlined at below 5 to zero per week.

6. Said that not tending to a dead body in the Muslim culture never
happens. On election day, after suicide bombers blew themselves up trying to take out polling places, voters would step up to the body lying there, spit on it, and move up in the line to vote.

8. Said bin Laden and Zarqawi made a HUGE mistake when bin laden went public with naming Zarqawi the "prince" of al Qaeda in Iraq. Said that what the Iraqis saw and heard was a Saudi telling a Jordanian that his job was to kill Iraqis. HUGE mistake. It was one of the biggest factors in getting Iraqis who were on the "fence" to jump off on the side of the coalition and the new gov't.

9. Said the MSM was making a big, and wrong, deal out of the religious sects. Said Iraqis are incredibly nationalistic. They are Iraqis first and then say they are Muslim but the Shi'a - Sunni thing is just not that big a deal to them.

Faster Please

Michael Ledeen has a great article at NRO right now. He points out that Bush has inspired these protests in the middle east, and that now we need to keep the ball of freedom/democracy rolling:

In fact, according to Iranians with whom I have spoken, there were monster demonstrations in eleven provinces and 37 cities, and many thousands one source said more than 30,000 people were arrested, some only briefly, others shipped off to the infamous prisons and torture chambers of the regime. The most dramatic events took place in Shiraz, where the demonstrators directed a chant toward Washington: "Bush, you told us to rise up, and so we have. Why don't you act?"
I personally would have been satisfied if only Iraq and Afghanistan turned out to be fairly successful democracies. What were seeing now appears to be a complete sea-change in the middle east. As Ledeen points out this in no time to balk.

The fires of freedom are burning all over Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. Don't stand back and admire the flames. Push the dictators in, and then cheer as free societies emerge.

Faster, confound it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Less Moore is More

Originally uploaded by RHarris.

Note: I started writing this post a few weeks ago, and have just now finished it.

The problem with Moore is he addresses serious issues and problems in a very unserious way. That's not to say he thinks it's all a joke. To the contrary, it seems he takes what he does seriously, and he certainly is addressing serious issues. But the commentary and the arguments aren't serious ones-- that is, the evidence is anecdotal, the assumptions unquestioned, and the implied thesis self-contradicting.

I'm not saying Moore has no talent. The production quality of his movies is always good, and the movies themselves are generally entertaining. Moore tells his story well, and cues the music at all the right times -- the result of which can be a very powerful movie. But there powerful in a way that any well done fictitious is -- and therein lies the problem. Instead of thinking rationally Moore tempts us to react emotionally.

Consider Bowling for Columbine, (which I not long ago saw). The basic thesis of the movie is that Americans are violent, live in fear, and are so in love with guns, that things like the tragedy at columbine are bound to happen. The implied solution is to get rid of guns. Then the would-be victims of gun violence will live and we'll all be much happier.

But the evidence is so underwhelming as to be risible. For instance one segment of the film show as series of countries and how many deaths are caused yearly by guns. America of course leads the pack with 11,000. The others are in the hundreds or in a few occasions under one hundred. However Moore never points out that guns in many of these counties are illegal, such as the UK. And what difference does it matter how people are dying because of gun violence? Do we feel better if people are murdered by knives or bombs? Shouldn't the real question be how many people are being murder and what to do about that? Yes it should, but Moore doesn't bother asking that question. And by the way, doesn't the US have a much larger population than Canada the UK and Australia? Shouldn't the real question be, do we have more murders relative to our population size? Moore doesn't bother with this question either. Actually with our .04 murders per 1000 people. Were about in the middle of the pack. Were still slightly higher than France and Canada with .01 murders per 1000 people, but well under the leaders like Columbia, Russia and South Africa with .63, .19 and .51 respectively.

But there is still a good question. Why is it that America has (albeit slightly) higher homicide rate than these other countries? But Moore can't seem to answer that question without contradicting himself. One moment he says its the guns, that's why. But then there are 7 million guns in Canada and they don't have as many homicides. In that case its the media. But Canadians watch all our same violent movies (here he goes of on this weird tangent implicating the overdone news coverage of violent crimes. as if most fellons even watch the news. As if someone reporting on the tragedy of gun violence encourages the behavior more than a violent movie glorifying and reviling in violence). Then it must be fear. Canadians aren't afraid but Americans are paranoid. He ends on that note but then continues to K-Mart to pressure them into dropping there handgun and assault riffle bullets (so it is the guns after all?).

It doesn't make sense, but then it's not supposed to. Its supposed to tug at your heart strings, so you think "Gosh this just doesn't seem right." And in some cases it may not be. But the tactic is to make you think because in a few cases a crazy guy shouldn't have a gun, then guns have no use and should be ban all together, and that's nonsense.

And if we don't need guns to protect us (Moore pokes fun at the people who claim they need guns to protect themselves, and claims Americans live in an atmosphere of fear) then why was a gun without proper licensing found on one of Moore's body guard in New York City?

P.S. I write about Bowling For Columbine because that is the Moore movie I've seen most recently. For a deconstruction of Fahrenheit 9/11, read Christopher Hitchen's Unfairenheit 9/11 -- there is none better (at least that I've found).

Cats Are Evil

Originally uploaded by RHarris.
Its a wonderful thing to read an article that makes you laugh out loud. This is one of those rare articles, I highly recommend reading. Here's a taste:

Wisconsin is considering allowing the hunting of cats. Not cougars or mountain lions or tigers on the loose but putty-tats: Sylvester the cat. Morris the cat. Garfield. The aim is to prevent the mass killing of birds by cats, mostly of the feral — i.e., wild — variety. In other words, some people want to give granny a shotgun so she can kill Sylvester before he gets Tweety Bird.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Strict Constuctionist

The words above are used to describe Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, though he doesn't like it much. Nevertheless his speech on C-Span which I watch Monday was very interesting. Let me try and do a decent recap.

First Justice Scalia notes that an evolution has taken place in the way we view the constitution. It used to be that everyone was an originalist -- that is they looked at what the constitution meant when it was written for guidance on how to apply it in specific cases. For example "free speech" as protected under the first amendment didn't include all or any speech, what it did mean was primarily political speech. Liable and public decency laws were still on the books way back then, when the amendment was written. But that doesn't stop Justices today from making the first amendment mean anything and everything that it never was intended to mean, allowing flag burning and simulated internet child pornography but regulating campaign finances.

This is made possible because today most people view the constitution as a "living document." But that wasn't always the case. In fact it used to be that when the justices wanted to "legislate" they would try and convolute the original meaning of the constitution, or as Scalia put it "they did it the old fashioned way, they lied." Today, those justices who legislate from the bench don't even bother. They simply justify their decision based on whatever they think the constitutions meaning has evolved to. Coincidentally that meaning is usually in agreement with the justices own personal politics. Scalia makes the point thusly: "I put this question to the faculty all the time, or incite the students to ask their living constitutional professors. 'OK professor, you are not an originality, what is your criterion?' There is none other."

The "living Constitution" theory, Scalia argues, is really the death of the constitution. Justices no longer judge cases based on the law but based upon their own senses of justice. But if a lawyer isn't going to look at the legal history, and original meaning of the law what good is he? Certainly, Scalia contends, his values (and implicitly anyone else's values on the Supreme Court) are no great bellwether for the values of the population at large. For an interpretation of the values of the people we should turn to the legislators, that is what they are elected to do.

When I began writing this, I though no one had noticed the speech, but it turns out Powerline did, and you can read the full text of Scalia's speech here.

Wait One Second...

Originally uploaded by RHarris.

There's an interesting New York Times piece here about another al Qaaqaa-like raid on a weapons instillation: "looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein's most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms [my italics]."

Wait one second. I though Bush was a liar for saying that Iraq was a potential nuclear threat? But now Bush is in trouble for both lying about Iraq being a nuclear threat, and yes, for not securing the nonexistant nuclear program after the fall of Sadam. Christopher Hitchens, a liberal, (and lately one of the few making any sense) notices this discrepancy as well:

My first question is this: How can it be that, on every page of every other edition for months now, the New York Times has been stating categorically that Iraq harbored no weapons of mass destruction? And there can hardly be a comedy-club third-rater or activist in the entire country who hasn't stated with sarcastic certainty that the whole WMD fuss was a way of lying the American people into war. So now what? Maybe we should have taken Saddam's propaganda seriously, when his newspaper proudly described Iraq's physicists as "our nuclear mujahideen."


Before the war began, several of the administration's critics argued that an intervention would be too dangerous, either because Saddam Hussein would actually unleash his arsenal of WMD, or because he would divert it to third parties. That case at least had the merit of being serious (though I would want to argue that a regime capable of doing either thing was a regime that urgently needed to be removed). Since then, however, the scene has dissolved into one long taunt and jeer: "There were no WMD in Iraq. Liar, liar, pants on fire."


Even in the worst interpretation, it seems unlikely that the material is more dangerous now than it was two years ago. Some of the elements—centrifuges, for example, and chemical mixtures—require stable and controlled conditions for effectiveness. They can't simply be transferred to some kitchen or tent. They are less risky than they were in early 2003, in other words. If they went to a neighboring state, though … Some chemical vats have apparently turned up on a scrap heap in Jordan, even if this does argue more for a panicky concealment than a plan of transfer. But anyway, this only returns us to the main point: If Saddam's people could have made such a transfer after his fall, then they could have made it much more easily during his reign. (We know, for example, that the Baathists were discussing the acquisition of long-range missiles from North Korea as late as March 2003, and at that time, the nuclear Wal-Mart of the A.Q. Khan network was still in business. Iraq would have had plenty to trade in this WMD underworld.)

These are my favorite parts, but really the rest of the article is mandatory reading as well, so go to it here.

More Silver Lining...

From Byron York in his piece on the progress of Social Security reform. It seems that news organizations like the Washington Post and The New York Times are cherry picking their statistics, as well as using leading questions in their poles in order to make the case that Social Security reform is on the ropes.

Monday, March 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by RHarris.

Been following the Estrich-Kinsley debate? Since you've probably never heard of either of them, let me fill you in. Former campaign manager of the disastrous Dukakis campaign, and current law professor, Susan Estrich, has accused Michael Kinsley-- editor of the op-ed pages of the L.A. Times -- of sexism. Apparently the L.A. Times runs far more men then women writers on its op-ed pages.

But I'm not so interested in the substance of the debate (Though I hear there's very little) as I am in the tone. Estrich, apparently not satisfied with simple arguing the facts, has turned to the most sordid of personal attacks involving Kinsley's health condition. Read Kathy Seipp's commentary on the situation:

The apex, of course, came when Estrich accused her old law school classmate of refusing to recognize that his Parkinson's Disease may have affected his judgment. At that point, even much of the left wrote her off as a deranged cow. I decided that Estrich is a bad woman as well as a stupid one, and I use both those terms advisedly. Her flinging Kinsley's illness in his face crossed any lines of decency, and the notion that the Hollywood wives on her mass email list have the power to affect policy at the L.A. Times is strategically idiotic. Obviously, the ex-Mrs. Bud Yorkin, et al., have no constituency. If each one cancels her subscription, big deal -- that's what, 50 subscriptions? They can't organize pickets or boycotts. None of them are Maxine Waters.


Originally uploaded by RHarris.
Here's a pictoral illustration of what my last post is all about. The upper picture illustrates what Social Security will turn into if left as it is. The lower picture illustrates Social Security with, I believe, 4 %private accounts, and benefits indexed to inflation. Looking at the graph, the choice isn't to hard is it. Read more here.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Social Security

Things don't look so good for Social Security reform, and thats a shame. It's a shame because Social Security is broken, and needs fixing. And it's a shame because President Bush may be the last president we have for a while whose actually willing to risk the status quo for real solutions and progress.

Before we talk about Social Security we must set out a few realities--the facts as they are, from which to work. First, there is no 'trust fund' so to speak. Social Security as it stands is just part of the fiscal budget, and not a separate entity. It also has no money. All incoming money is promptly spent on current Social Security beneficiaries. That means that the money each of us pay every paycheck makes a quick u-turn and goes into some retiree's pocket.

And what about these treasury bills we've heard about that are in the fictional trust fund. The Japanese value them. Are they not real money? Well no. They are in effect IOUs. Now the government has a good track record of making good on, and paying for its IOUs, but they do not represent any real asset, at least of the US. Yes I think we will continue to pay out on our IOUs but where does that money come from. It comes from taxes, from you and me. So to the Japanese t-bills are assets, but to Americans as a whole, a t-bill is not an asset but a liability.

Think of it like this (I got this from David Frum). If I write an IOU to John, then John has an asset that he can collect at some future date. If I write and IOU to myself, I have nothing of any value. This is what we have done with Social Security. We have written ourselves a bunch of IOUs, which, to make good on, we will have to fund ourselves, through higher taxes. The only other thing we can do is lower the Value of the IOU, fudging on our initial promise to ourselves.

Another reality is that Social Security payouts are growing in real terms. This is because Social Security benefits are indexed to wages, and real wages continue to grow higher and higher. Initially Social Security was not indexed to anything, and every couple years congress would vote to increase the payments, but this was a problem because benefits were growing much faster than inflation. The solution was to index benefits to inflation. The formula that was initially used however, didn't work and cause huge undue increases in benefits. Finally, for some consistency, benefits were indexed to wages. This, however, means that we will be unable to grow our way out of our Social Security problem, because as the economy grows, wages grow, and Social Security benefits grow as well.

In addition or population pyramid has changed. At one time there were as many as 16 workers supporting one retiree. A decade of two ago 5 workers supported one retiree. Now its 3.3 workers and in the near future it will be less than 3. Fewer workers per retiree + continuously increasing wages (in real terms)= fiscal crisis.

What can be done to fix this mess? If we are to continue as we have with a pay as you go government run system only two things-- raising taxes and/or cutting benefits. Raising taxes not only taxes the worker, who earns and can use the money, it also is a tax on growth. The Social Security tax in general is know contribute to unemployment. Cutting benefits would mean in 2040, cutting as much as 30% of benefits. It would also mean also mean, if you look at Social Security as an investment of money now for future security, those paying in now will be receiving significant negative returns, getting much less out than what they paid in. Undoubtedly some combination of the two will have to be done to make the system solvent.

But there is a third element that would both help (though not fix entirely) solvency, and switch from a pay as you go system to a real system of saving and building wealth: Personal Social Security Accounts.

Much has been made of the transition cost for these accounts, but the transition cost are not new cost that would otherwise not exist, they are benefits we have promised ourselves that will otherwise not be paid unless we get our fiscal house in order. The two trillion dollar transition cost today will compensate for what is 12 trillion dollar promise we've made ourselves for future benefit payouts. It is a very good deal to go from owing 12 trillion dollars to owning 2 trillion dollars.

And yes, these accounts help the solvency of the system. I know that even the Bush administration has said they do not (a huge mistake in my estimation). But this is based on the assumption that personal accounts will get the same returns that a treasury bond gets (about 3 percent a year). But if you stock broker of financial advisor tells you you're only going to get a 3 percent return (really more like 1.5 percent after inflation) you should promptly fire him. Bonds, which are a virtually risk free investment when properly diversified, return 4 or 5 percent. And the stock market averages about 9 percent per year. Its a safe bet that personal account will beat the return that Social Security promises.

If you need an example look at the Thrift Savings Plan, enacted by congress as part of the last Social Security fix in the early '80s. This plan gives government employees the opportunity to invest there Social Security payments in bonds, stocks, treasury bills or any combination of the three they choose. A Thrift Savings Plan participant have to pick the diversified index funds, meaning a person using the plan can't put all his money in one company. Rather he chooses to put his money into thousands of companies, or thousands of bonds, thus ensuring proper diversification. The result is a program that returns an average of 5.9 percent for its participants annually.

These higher returns made possible by investing a portion of Social Security taxes in individual accounts will then compensate for the diminishing returns that will inevitably happen in the government controlled portion of Social Security. In fact if personal accounts are enacted future retirees can look forward to getting more money from Social Security that today's retirees.

In short personal accounts both help fix solvency and the underlying cause of current insolvency, the 'pay as you go' system.


Originally uploaded by RHarris.

Read the latest Ann Coulter collumn here. The whole think is funny and irreverant, but this is probably my favorite passage:

The only people liberals can find to put up a fight these days are ex-Klanners and other assorted nuts.

There's former KKK "Kleagle" and Democratic Sen. Bob Byrd, who compared the Republicans to Hitler last week. Byrd having been a charter member of a fascist organization himself, no one was sure if this was intended as a critique or a compliment.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005


I like this story.
Brian Duprey, a Republican State Senator in Maine (traditionally liberal) has introduced legislation that would make it illegal to abort a baby based on its sexual preference (the legislation looks forward to the possibility that in the near future a gene may be found that controls sexual preference).
What Duprey has done here is brilliantly cleaver in my opinion: setting liberal interests against themselves. In opposing this legislation abortion advocates will leave themselves open to attacks of "gay bashing" or "being homophobic."
But if the legislation passes, one has to wonder why its not ok to abort a child based on sexual preference, but ok to abort on, say the sex, potential physical, etc. of a baby? Its a whole new can of worms, so to speak, when it comes to abortion.

Parting is Such Sweet...

I have to get in all my digs on Rather before he fades from our memories into obscurity. Here's a compilation of Rathers bias over the years. Its quite compelling.

The Clinton Conundrum

Originally uploaded by RHarris.

If you can remember back to my post about the 2008 presidential race, you will recall that I though the problem that would sink Hillary's bid would be here inability to convince us that she could keep us safe. Low and behold, Dick Moris has about the same analysis in his column today:

Interestingly, our polling — which we conducted for Hillary in the early '90s — showed that men and women, sexist or not, all had the same gender-based
stereotypes. Women were perceived as better on issues involving children, education, integrity, health care and the environment; men were seen as better on defense, foreign policy, holding down taxes and cutting spending.


Originally uploaded by RHarris.

The big news these days is the shooting by American soldiers which killed an Italian Intelligence officer, and wounded an Italian Communist journalist, Giulana Sgrena. It defintely was a tragedy and has resulted in much discussion and finger pointing. The Soldiers involved in the shooting say that the car was speeding towards a check point. Sgrena says there was no obvious check point.

There's more to it than that. It the Italians did not tell us that they had reporters and agents in the area because they had gone to pay a bribe to release a kidnapped reporter. Americans are very reluctant to pay bribes, knowing that paying one only encourages more kidnappings. Nevertheless, if we had know what was going on, the event that tragedy that resulted would have been much less likely

But calling this event a tragic mistake is not enough for Sgrena, who insists that American troops are targeting journalists. No evidence has been offered up as to why this is so, except a guess at secret desires/motives. Also, as Jonah Goldberg points out, there isn' much in the way of reasoning to support that conspiracy theory either.

About this Italian reporter. The best proof, by far, that the US was not targeting her as a matter of policy or by mistake is that she is still alive. If the mens rea was there the Americans would have A) put a lot more holes in that car (though still probably not the "rain of fire" she complained about) and B) they would have finished the job, if for no other reason than the best way to have your policy of executing journalists exposed is let a big-mouthed one whosympathizes with the enemy -- i.e. her kidnappers -- get away wounded.


As we say goodbye to our friend, Dan Rather, I thought It appropriate to reflect on a touching moment from Dan's Career. Here's a Dan moment from 87:

Originally uploaded by RHarris.

This rumor was given an enormous jolt of credibility when Dan Rather bumbled into a matchlessly goofy fiasco. On the evening of September 13, Rather was anchoring CBS's Sunday newscast. The sports division had been covering the U.S. Open all afternoon. A match between Lori McNeil and Steffi Graf was running long, and ratings-conscious network bigwigs warned Rather that the overtime would have to come out of his 6:30 broadcast. Infuriated by this edict, Rather stormed out of the studio right at 6:30. The match ended at 6:32. The entire
Columbia Broadcasting System thereupon went black for seven minutes.

Most people would doubtless have taken this little peccadillo in their stride: So the network went black. Big deal. That's what test patterns are for. Besides, Rather hotfooted it back to the studio and got on the air as soon as he realized that his childish tantrum had left CBS eyeless. But what did he do next? He issued a statement. "I would never, nor would anyone at CBS News ever think of deliberately allowing the network to go to black,' Rather told a breathless America. "I do believe that the CBS Evening News is a public trust and will continue to do anything and everything to meet the responsibilities of that trust.' Meanwhile, Larry Tisch played it cool. He called the blackout "unfortunate' but said he wouldn't "condemn' anyone. For building confidence, this ranks right up there with a friendly peck on the cheek from Don Corleone.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Teresa Heinz Kerry: Ever the Loose Cannon

Originally uploaded by RHarris.

I suppose I pick on Democrats a lot. But really all I ever do is quote them when they accidentally reveal themselves. And, yes, I do realize that there are some republican nuts as well. But Alan Keys is on the fringe of the party not in the mainsteam.

When I quote Dems, I'm not making an argument about Democrats based on some obscure congressman from Vermont. Thus far I've only quoted the nonsense of Howard Dean, the newly elected leader of the Democratic Party; Robert Byrd, the most senior senator in the senate (I believe); and now Teresa Heinz Kerry, the Democratic almost-first lady. One would hope these very prominent Democratic figures are somewhat reflective of the party as a whole.

So here is the latest wisdom from THK:

COUNTING THE VOTES: Heinz Kerry is openly skeptical about results from
November's election, particularly in sections of the country where optical
scanners were used to record votes.

"Two brothers own 80 percent of the machines used in the United States," Heinz Kerry said. She identified both as "hard-right" Republicans. She argued that it is "very easy to hack into the mother machines."

"We in the United States are not a banana republic," added Heinz Kerry. She argued that Democrats should insist on "accountability and transparency" in how votes are tabulated.

"I fear for '06," she said. "I don't trust it the way it is right now."

The Ten Again

More on The Ten Commandments, this time from Larry Kudlow. Here's my favorite passage:

I have a few direct questions for you: Is it such a bad thing to think about not killing, not stealing, not lying, and not committing adultery? Is it so bad to talk about honoring one’s parents? Or to think about a power greater than oneself — about God or some higher deity? Or to set aside just one day a week as a spiritual day, separate from the material strivings of the other six days?

Monday, March 7, 2005


I was recently told I was obsessed with gays! Hmm. Well anyway I have this thought. If homosexuality is genetic, wouldn't the gay gene eliminate itself from the gene pool pretty fast? This argument is of course fairly susceptible to the argument, that, yes, homosexuality is genetic, but because for such a long time gays where shuned/socialized into living pseudo-heterosexual lives, the gene spread etc. etc. Anyway, its far from a full proof argument that homosexuality is not genetic, but its something to think about.

More on Romney

The current Republican Governor of Massachusetts published an article yesterday in The Boston Globe about stem cell research, to which I linked. Today in The Daily Standard, read about the Globes odd, and possibly underhanded references to Romney's religion (Mormonism, that is).

Chimps Ahoy

The guys at NRO are blogging about chimps (primarily because of that chimp who attacked a man and chewed on his face!) Anyway, for some reason I found this awkwardly written post very funny. Probably because the source of the authors expertise are The Planet of the Apes movies.

Sunday, March 6, 2005


I don't want to seem like I'm picking on Dean all the time (or do I?) But really he deserves it. Look at what Tucker observed:

Libby (Cedar Rapids, IA):
Very sorry that Harold Ickes did not call you on your throwaway comment that Dean has a "demonstrated lack of [self] control" - or similar verbiage. Please, please go back to the damned Dean Scream: look at it unfiltered, as it were. The man is pumped, he is elated, he is hoarse [and getting a cold - check next 2 days' clips] - and he croaks out an exuberant whoop. Please: be the first on your block to actually look at this [and succeeding clips] and say publicly that this man maybe does have a little self-control. Need more proof? He got through med school, where self control counts for way more than a good mind.

I don't need to look at the clips. I was there in the room, about 10 feet from Dean when he screamed. You're correct in one sense, that nothing he did that night seemed remarkable at the time. Everyone in the room was screaming. Dean was hardly the only person there who lost control of himself. But you're wrong to think I was referring only, or even especially, to the famous scream when I said Dean lacks self-control. I was also in Iowa a few days before, when Dean barked at a man at a rally who dared to question him, and then berated reporters for no apparent reason. I watched as he made comments about Osama bin Laden ("innocent until proven guilty") and Saddam Hussein and partial birth abortion and Israel and the U.S. military and a lot of other topics that clearly he hadn't thought deeply about before uttering. In other words, Dean is a guy who just says whatever pops into his larger than normal head. Which may be good. Or not. But it's not evidence of self control.
This is taken from Tucker's PBS website.
For fun, I thought I would post an LSAT question that I missed, and you can see how you do. To simulate the test you should limit yourself to about a minute and a half. The question:

Trust, which cannot be sustained in the absence of mutual respect, is essential for any long lasting relationship, personal or professional. However, personal relationships, such as marriage and friendship, additionally require natural affinity. If a personal relationship is to endure, it must be supported by the twin pillars of mutual respect and affinity.

If the statements above are true, then which one of the following must also be true?

(A) A friendship supported solely by trust and mutual respect will not be long lasting.
(B) In the context of any professional relationship, mutual respect presupposes trust.
(C) If a personal relationship is supported by mutual respect and affinity, it will last a long time.
(D) Personal relationships, such as marriage of friendship, are longer lasting that professional relationships.
(E) Basing a marriage on a natural affinity will ensure that it will endure.

Note: Don't pick the answer that you agree with, pick the answer that follows logically from the statement. Email me at, and I'll respond and tell you if your right.

Ukrainian Mischief

Former President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, has been of accused of the murder of reporter Georgiy Gongadze, famous for publishing embarrassed stories about corruption under the Kuchma administration. A Kuchma body guard fled Ukraine with hours of audio tapes, wherein Kuchma orders Foreign Minister Kravchenko to "get rid of" Gongadze (Kuchma claims the tapes have been doctored).

Now a new development:

Former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Yuri Kravchenko is said to have committed suicide over the investigation into the murder of reporter Georgiy Gongadze. There was even a suicide note where Kravchenko writes he killed himself because he claimed to have "become a victim of political intrigues of Kuchma and his entourage."

Still, one has to wonder how someone shoots himself in the head twice.

Read more here. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this looks like fowl play to me.

Stem Cells

Mitt Romney, who has my endorsement for 2008 (as if anyone cares) has written an op-ed piece on stem cell research for the Boston Globe.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Rather Untruthful

I've learned of more deceit from Dan Rather. I think by now we all know that Rather is/was a shameless partisan parading as an objective arbiter of facts. It also turns out he's a shameless self promoter.

Two points:
  1. Rather claimed he was the first to get the "Kennedy is Dead" scoop, when in fact it was really his coworker Eddie Barker who was the first to find out President Kennedy was dead.
  2. Rather reported a story about Texas school children cheering upon finding Kennedy had been assassinated. Barker's children attended that school, and told Rather before the story aired that this was not the case. The principle of the school had let the children out early because of the assassination, but had not told them why they were being let out. The children were merely happy to be out of school. Despite being forewarned, Rather still arranged for a special live segment, and allowed as local Minister to repeat the school children 'story' on air.

Friday, March 4, 2005

What Have Americans Done for Us?

Funny article with Monty Python quote.

Let the Record Show...

Dan Rather did not tell the truth last night on Letterman. Rather must have said, 4 or 5 times that the independent panel found that the Bush AWOL story was not politically motivated. Actually what they said, "The Panel does not find a basis to accuse those who investigated, produced, vetted or aired the segment of having a political bias."
But even that estimate is conservative. This article applies the legal standard for measuring bias to Rathergate and get a positive result. And the panel enumerated many instances that can accurately be interpreted as political bias.
Also I was a little insulted that Rather went on Letterman to make his case, yet dodged every serious news venue. I'm sure Meet the Press would have been glad to have Dan explain Rathergate on their program.

Romney 2008

Originally uploaded by RHarris.

2008 elections seem to be the only reason Democrats didn't resort to mass suicide after Bush won in 04. I've been thinking about them as well, and I'm not so sure the Dems should get their hopes us yet.

Hillary is the front runner for the Democrats. Some think she is a strong candidate, some a weak. I'm not sure. She doesn't appeal to me, but then again, I don't represent every voter. What I do know is she is smart, and that scares me. She's already started positioning herself more towards the middle (e.g. her speech about making room for/tollerating pro-lifers). New York is a liberal state, and so is Hillary. Because of this, one may be tempted to think "here's one more northeastern liberal, bound to lose." But there are reasons to be concerned. One is how well she did when she ran for senator, winning some counties that traditionally vote Republican. Then again, New York is home to Republicans like George Pataki, Michael Bloomberg, and Rudy Guliani. I like Pataki and Giuliani, but there far from being conservative's conservatives. My guess is those Republicans who voted for Hillary, are the kind who also voted for Bloomberg: Not exactly your typical heartland conservative republican.

Democrats, in my opinion, would do better with someone like Evan Bayh, or Barack Obama. Obama is too green to run in 08. Bayh it seems is too moderate to get the nomination: That's why he's already started positioning himself more to the left. I don't think it will work though. It looks like Dems are more or less set on Hillary.

Hillary may have a shot though. She could convince some women, who would otherwise vote Republican, that it's time to have a woman president. On the other hand, if in 2008 were still talking about terrorism and national security, It difficult for me to believe we'll pick a woman to be our Commander and Chief and keep us safe. My prediction is Hillary will take the nomination but lose for this precise reason.

The Republican side is harder. I really like Dick Cheney, but he has said, unequivocally, he will not run in 2008. That leaves Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Bill Frist, R-Tenn.; New York Gov. George Pataki; Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. McCain, Pataki and Giuliani could win, but are really to liberal for my taste, and probably too liberal to get the nomination. Frist is a charismatic dud. Does anyone know anything about Hagel? Jeb Bush as far as I can tell is doing a good job if Florida. He's a lot like his brother, but seems to be a much better communicator, and that would help a ton. ( I still think that's Bush 43's biggest problem).

All and All, I think Mitt Romney is our best bet. He's a handsome Mormon Harvard Law School graduate with a wife and kids (original wife, original kids). He's pretty conservative, yet has managed to get elected governor of MASSACHUSETTS!! (only the most liberal state in the US!). This is partially due to his great communication skills. He's pro-life, though he promised not to do anything to change the laws in Massachusetts in order to get elected (he both compromised, yet didn't compromise). I especially like his positions on stem cell research and same-sex marriage. Romney is for using the embryos from fertilization clinics for research, but not for cloning human embryos (he's more liberal on this point, probably because his wife has MS). He also is against same-sex marriage and civil unions (in my opinion civil union is just a euphemism for same-sex marriage) but he favors some benefits for same-sex couples, such as hospital visitation rights (That seems very reasonable to me, especially since a hospital patient should, in my opinion, be able to have those people who are close to them come visit if they so desire). He also has executive experience. We Americans seem to prefer governors to say senators, partially for this reason. Lastly, he is talented politically. He smoothed the Salt Lake City Olympic scandal over, and did I mention, he was elected Governor of Massachusetts?!

More on the Ten

Rich Lowry writes about the Supreme Court cases i wrote about in the not so distant past. Here are the highlights:

A better question is: If a Ten Commandments display establishes a religion, exactly what religion is it? Is it Judaism? And if so, Orthodox or Reform? Or is it Christianity? If so, Roman Catholic or Protestant? If the latter, is it Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian, or something else? Maybe Seventh-day Adventist? If government has gone to the trouble of establishing a religion, shouldn't all of us know which one? Or is this just another case of government's notorious bureaucratic inefficiency? It meant to establish a religion, but memos got crossed somewhere and it couldn't agree on its fundamental tenets?

Indeed, the alleged harm of Ten Commandments displays is attenuated to the point of nonexistence. The Texas case came about because in 2002 a homeless man named Thomas Van Orden — on his way to idling the day away at the State Law Library — noticed the display on the grounds of the Texas state capitol. As it happens, Van Orden has a law degree (is this an over-lawyered country or what?). With nothing else to do with his time, he sued. The display had been up since 1961, and in 40 years, no one in Texas had noticed the state was trying to establish a religion.

The Texas case is dicier, since the display isn't quite so clearly part of a historical statement. Expect tangled 5-4 decisions in the two cases that do little to clarify anything. The Ten Commandments are one of Western culture's great symbols of law. In its arbitrary and erratic jurisprudence, the U.S. Supreme Court has become a symbol of the opposite.

Read the full article here.


This article is about Michael Malchin. His stories and his talent are sureal. I highly recommend reading it.

Dead of Alive?

Many are already prematurely pronouncing Social Security reform dead on arrival. Charley Rengel is one individual whose been saying such things. However Byron York writes that although many are cautious when it comes to personal accounts, more people consider social security a problem and think that it needs to be fixed immediately. Read here.

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Robert Byrd

West Virgina Senator and former Ku Klux Klan member, Robert Byrd, has decided to offer up some criticisms of the Republican Party.

New York, NY, March 2, 2005 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed outrage at the remarks of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, who suggested that
some Republican tactics on judicial nominations were similar to Adolf Hitler's use of power in Nazi Germany. . . .
It is hideous, outrageous and offensive for Senator Byrd to suggest that the Republican Party's tactics could in any way resemble those of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
The Senator shows a profound lack of understanding as to who Hitler was and what he and his regime represented.
Senator Byrd must repudiate his remarks immediately and apologize to the American people for showing such disrespect for this country's democratic process.

Read the full story here.

More Putin Nonsense

Putin continues to behave badly. Take a look at the list of guest he has had to the Kremlin recently.

And the New McCarthyism is....

Originally uploaded by RHarris.

I was sort of thinking that racism was the new McCarthyism. Its so easy to call someone a racist, and all accusations of racism are taken seriously regardless of their actual validity, or the evidence to support their validity. I guess Davis Horowitz was really the first to bring this to my attention.

Ann Coulter suggests that the actual new McCarthyism is Homosexuality (not in those words exactly). It does seem that there is a lot of hypocrisy coming from the left on this point these days. For instance, we're supposed to have a sexual-preference-blind society, however, at the same time the left can't help but parade Jeff Gannon/Guckert's sexuality, despite it having no relevance (he was the reporter accused of asking softball questions at white house press conferences). And the outing of the relatives of conservatives is about as sordid of a practice one can think of.


Originally uploaded by RHarris.
If you're like me you probably have no idea what Eugenics is (or at least I didn't until I read this article). If your interested, Eugenics is improving the human race through better breading. This was popular science in the US, and included sterilizing tens of thousands of people in the early 1900's. Sounds sorta like what Hitler did with the Aryan race. Scary Orwellian stuff.

I was just thinking......

that penguin swatting is probably what the employees of PETA do durring there spare time.

Time Waster

Love penguin swatting? Well then go here.

Good News

More good news from Iraq:

Iraqi troops have spread their control over Mosul, according to Interior Minister Falah al-Naqeeb.

Insurgents controlled Mosul, the country’s second largest city last November, after overrunning its 12 police stations.

“Mosul was on the point of collapse from the security point of view and under threat from organized gangs,” the minister said in an interview.

“The Interior Ministry was forced to take urgent measures, ferrying troops and commandos who have managed to return tranquility and stability to the city,” Naqeeb said.

The minister said the troops have now established “an intelligence and information” gathering center in the city which is receiving full cooperation from residents.

Just thought I'd point it out since you'd probably miss it if i didn't

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

The Man...

Originally uploaded by RHarris.
the legend. Here he is for those of you who may not know what William F. Buckley Jr. looks like.

Shut up Lou!

I used to give myself ulcers watching Lou Dobbs every night, hoping that he would have a guest who knows about the economy go on the show and tear him to shreds. Unfortunately he selodomly has guests on that disagree with his views, and when he does there way to nice to Dobbs . There isn't an economist in the world who doesn't support free trade, yet Dobbs uses some of his time every day to stump againt it (yes i am commiting the logical falicy of apealing to authority). I have since deemed this sadistic behavior unhealthy, and stopped watching. Luckily there is Fox News, so most everyone else has stopped watching as well. Anyhow, I was very pleased to see that my hero, WFB, feels the same way about Dobbs as I do. See it here.

The Times

There have been two great articles illustrating the bias in The New York Times recently. One, by Byron York, points out that The Times ran 16 stories about the explosives that disappeared from al Qaqaa facility in Iraq before the election, 0 after the election. The other, by Larry Kudlow, points out that bad news about the economy makes the front page, but a corresponding correction is buried. Both are great.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005


is up to his old tricks it seems. This youth group smacks of communist youth groups like the 'pioneers' or the 'komsomoltsy.'

Iraqis Speak Up

Here is a touching story about Iraq. Thousands of Iraqis take to the streets to protest yesterdays car bombing, chanting "no to terrorism!"
If your like me you've probably wondered why blacks vote so consistently Democratic. I guess it has something to do with the civil rights movement (as if republicans had nothing to do with it). Anyway, if your not wondering, or you just needed some reasons to justify your wondering, read this article by Deroy Murdock; a great conservative.