Monday, July 31, 2006


Funny, I don't see anyone on the frothing right rushing to link to this article about the man who opened fire in a Jewish center in Seattle over the weekend:

Naveed Haq, now widely portrayed as a Muslim American so angry at Israel that he shot up a Jewish charity in Seattle, had recently converted to Christianity.

...His father was a founding member of the Islamic center here. But the son was rarely seen at a local mosque for more than 10 years.

Haq, 30, told a ministry leader that he saw too much anger in Islam and wanted to find a new beginning in Christianity. He converted to Christianity, but, as with many other endeavors in his life, drifted away from the faith.

...Last winter, Haq began attending a weekly men's group meeting at the home of a men's ministry leader with the Word of Faith Center, a non-denominational, evangelical church in Kennewick.

The group's leader, Albert Montelongo, said Haq started studying the Bible. In December, he was baptized by Montelongo. The ceremony brought tears to Haq's eyes, Montelongo said....

A few months after he was baptized, Haq stopped attending the men's group meetings....

A neighbor of Haq's parents told the Tri-City Herald that Haq expressed anger at Jews, having convinced himself that the Jewish community controls the nation's media and economic system. The neighbor, Caleb Hales, also said Haq expressed an interest in the Mormon faith.

At the Islamic Center of Tri-Cities, a senior member and family friend, Muhammad Kaleem Ullah, said that Haq stopped attending regularly after he graduated from Richland High School in 1994. He said Haq would attend off and on while visiting his parents and that he surprised members at a Friday prayer service two weeks ago with a visit.

"We just shook hands and he walked away," he said....

Read the rest of the story. Read other stories about this guy. This guy's life was spiraling out of control. He was bipolar, unstable, jobless -- a mess. Recently, it seems, he seized on vile notions of the blood guilt of all Jews -- in his madness.

Anyone who can't see a distinction between this loose cannon and a coldly reasoning terrorist is an idiot.


Oh, and I know right-wingers will dismiss this out of hand, but the Islamic Center of Tri-Cities doesn't exactly seem like a hotbed of jihad:

Tri-City Muslims gather in prayer

This story was published Sept. 15, 2001

Muslims in the Tri-Cities on Friday added their voice to the call for unity, peace and justice in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks on America.

"We hope and pray God sheds light to the government to catch the right people," said Imtiaz Madni of Richland, who led about 50 Muslims in worship at the Islamic Center of Tri-Cities in West Richland.

Madni, who is the imam or worship teacher for the center, urged Muslims to show sympathy for the victims of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks and for their families who are suffering. He said the center will send a donation to the Tri-Cities chapter of the Red Cross....

Madni said Muslims who are true to the religion are against killing. "God has honored mankind through Adam, so we should honor all mankind," he sad.

"Whoever these guys are, what they are doing in the name of Islam is wrong. They are not true Muslims," said Mohammed Ahmed....

Madni said Muslims should pray for the perpetrators because they are misguided. "We should not just stand for peace, we should struggle for peace," he told worshippers at Friday's service....

Most of the time, I'm an extraordinarily good Christian.

--Ann Coulter, interview at

You have to read the whole thing. It's a train wreck -- the questions are serious, and Coulter has clearly crammed for the test, but she can't break out of the riffing-Vegas-insult-comic rhythm:

... You say that the Episcopal Church is "barely even a church." Why?

Because it's become increasingly difficult to distinguish the pronouncements of the Episcopal Church from the latest Madonna video.

Are churches that don't agree with your politics or religious beliefs not really churches?

Correct: They're called "mosques." ...

It's Christian apologetics with a two-drink minimum. She's Andrew "Dice" Aquinas.

Bonus: Ann Coulter's Favorite Bible Verses. No, really.

(Now X-posted.)
Julia would like to remind you that if anti-war Democrats really were engaging in a "purge," a certain other non-peacenik Northeastern marquee-name Senate Democrat who's up for reelection would be feeling the wrath of the Stalinists, which is decidedly not the case.


Rock star Ted Nugent is speaking out again, this time for Michigan Republican U-S Senate candidate Mike Bouchard.

Nugent and Bouchard, the Oakland County, Michigan, sheriff, met with supporters tonight before the "Motor City Madman" performed at a Sault Sainte Marie casino.

Bouchard faces Troy minister Keith Butler in the August-eighth G-O-P primary. The winner will face incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow in November...


Longtime readers of my blog have seen most of these already, but here are a few of Nugent's most charming quips:

"My being there (South Africa) isn't going to affect any political structure. Besides, apartheid isn't that cut-and-dry. All men are not created equal." - Detroit Free Press Magazine , July 15, 1990

"...Yeah, we want to go to Saudi Arabia, man, and see if we can't get a four iron and knock people's laundry off the top of their heads. Wear laundry on your head and die, is the basic theme of the Damn Yankees ... (The Damn Yankees was Ted's band in the '90s)" - WRIF-FM, Detroit, Ted Nugent as guest D.J., September 25, 1990

"... Yeah they love me (in Japan) - they're still assholes. These people they don't know what life is. I don't have a following, they need me; they don't like me they need me ... Foreigners are assholes; foreigners are scum; I don't like 'em; I don't want 'em in this country; I don't want 'em selling me doughnuts; I don't want 'em pumping my gas; I don't want 'em downwind of my life-OK? So anyhow-and I'm dead serious ..." - WRIF-FM, Detroit, Ted Nugent as guest D.J., November 19, 1992

About Hillary Clinton: "You probably can't use the term 'toxic cunt' in your magazine, but that's what she is. Her very existence insults the spirit of individualism in this country. This bitch is nothing but a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro." - Westword Newspaper , Denver, Colorado, July 27, 1994

... Interviewed in late '92 on WRIF-FM ... he referred to Heidi Prescott (of The Fund for Animals) as a 'worhtless whore' and a 'shallow slut' and suggested 'Who needs to club a seal, when you could club Heidi?' Detroit Free Press , April 5, 1995

More here.

Bouchard leads Butler in the polls.

Forget Ann Coulter -- why is Nugent not beyond the pale? Because he rawks?


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Stupidly fighting a war in a way that radicalizes the populace, destabilizes the region, and almost certainly threatens to create more terrorists? Check:

An Israeli air raid on the southern Lebanese town of Qana killed dozens of civilians on Sunday, many of them children, marking the bloodiest day of this conflict....

... there is ... pressure from allied Arab nations like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, who want to see Hezbollah diminished but who sense rising anger about the civilian death toll in Lebanon among their populations.

Demonstrators in Beirut attacked a United Nations building, breaking windows and ransacking some floors. They carried signs reading: "Arabs, you chickens," and "American-made bombs, dropped by Israeli planes, with Arab cover."...

The crowd chanted slogans against the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, saying: "Zionist, oh Zionist, Hosni Mubarak is a Zionist."...

Losing ground when you were sure your tactics would bring a quick, glorious victory? Check:

On Sunday, Hezbollah fired more than 156 rockets into northern Israel, the Israeli Army said, the highest total so far in the fighting....

It almost seems as if America was jealous of Islamicist groups like Al Qaeda that seem to have exported their war-fighting style to other fighters -- so we exported ours to Israel.

A question from Barbara at The Mahablog:

...[Frank] Rich [writes today] that the simple answer to the question of why "the mission" in Iraq was such a failure is that the Bush Administration didn't care enough about Iraq or Iraqis to get the job right. And although I'm sure that’s true, it begs the question -- why didn't they care? We’ve heard time and time again that Bush "rolled the dice" and "gambled his presidency" on Iraq. You’d think he would have been at least mildly interested....

You'd think that if establishing a new Iraq was a priority for the Bush Administration, then the White House would have been energized and focused on the project. But, clearly, it never was. What's left? Oil, of course, and contracts for Halliburton. But I suspect there are other, more primal, motivations in the murky depths of the Bushie collective psyche. Bottom line, the Bushies invaded Iraq because they wanted to invade Iraq. But I don't think they are self-reflective enough to understand themselves where that desire was coming from. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.

Well, I have a couple of theories, saome of which I've argued here before.

First of all, for a lot of these guys, the real enemy wasn't Saddam or Islamofascism -- it was that kid in the photo from 1969 with long hair and a headband and a fringe jacket standing next to a VW minibus with a peace symbol painted on the side. The Bushies took out Saddam, but their real enemy was the 1960s counterculture. Bush hated the lefties when he was at Yale, of course, and Rove began his move up through the front ranks of the College Republicans during the Nixon years. (Remember that to these guys there's no distinction between an anti-war radical from decades ago and, Lieberman excepted, a contemporary elected Democrat.) Rove knew the war in Iraq would divide the country thew way Vietnam did, and the way the war in Afghanistan hadn't -- thus, it was the ideal next step.

And the Republicans do keep beating Democrats in elections, so, by that measure, the Bushies are winning the war.

And speaking of Nixon, I think we've determined by now that Cheney has his own "real enemy" -- he's using the state of permanent war to get back at all the people who dared to curtail Nixon's executive power.

For Rumsfeld, of course, it's all about proving his theories about fighting modern wars with a lean (read: inadequate) force. He lives to demonstrate that he's right and other people are stupid. (No, he hasn't been proved wrong yet, I'm sure he'd say -- he'll be vindicated eventually, just you wait.)

And getting back to Bush: He's still trying to prove that he's not the no-'count brother. As long as the war goes on, he's a war president. He's taken seriously. He's not the infantile screw-up in the family. (He's also not his father after the troops came home in '91.) I think Bush would suffer a huge letdown if this war ever ended -- he might question his purpose in the world, and he's sure other people (read: his mother's voice in the back of his head) would, too. He needs this as a self-esteem builder. So let those kids die.

Noah Feldman in today's New York Times Book Review:

AS for breaking up the rest of the country, [Peter] Galbraith [in The End of Iraq] frankly concedes there is no good solution for Baghdad, with its mix of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, which includes perhaps a quarter of the whole population of the country.

"Perhaps a quarter of the whole population of the country" -- remember that next time you're told by a war supporter that the violence in Iraq is confined to "just a few provinces," including Baghdad, or that if we just subdue Baghdad, that's the key to peace in Iraq. The numbers I find for the population of Iraq and Baghdad suggest that the city has about 22% of the country's population. Know what you'd have to add up to get that percentage of the U.S. population? You'd have to add up all of California, New York State, and Illinois. Or all of New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

That's some "pocket of resistance."

From today's New York Times:

...The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows what one expert describes as a continuing "chasm" between the way Republicans and Democrats see the war. Three-fourths of the Republicans, for example, said the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, while just 24 percent of the Democrats did....

"The present divisions are quite without precedent," said Ole R. Holsti, a professor of political science at Duke University and the author of "Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy."...

Without precedent? Er, the Civil War? Or am I wrong about that?
What the hell...?

BAGHDAD, July 28 -- A Shiite Muslim political leader said Friday that rumors were circulating of an impending coup attempt against the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and warned that "we will not allow it."

Hadi al-Amiri, a member of parliament from Iraq's most powerful political party, said in a speech in the holy city of Najaf that "some tongues" were talking about toppling Maliki's Shiite-led government and replacing it with a "national salvation government, which we call a military coup government." He did not detail the allegation.

A new government would mean "canceling the constitution, canceling the results of the elections and going back to square one ... and we will not accept that," he said. Amiri is also a top official in the Badr Organization....

In a sermon at the Fatimy mosque in Najaf, Sadr al-Din al-Qubanchi also spoke about coup rumors. "We should go on with the political process in building a new Iraq," the preacher said, "and there is no space for thinking about a national salvation government or a military or a political coup."...

I guess some gloomy Gusses don't think that "more hopeful ideology called freedom" the president was just talking about is all it's cracked up to be.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Michelle Malkin and most of the rest of the right blogosphere are justifiably upset at reports that a Muslim man shot six women at a Seattle Jewish federation, killing one -- although they seem less concerned about the suffering of the victims than about scoring political points by demanding conservatively correct language of government officials.

(An FBI agent in Seattle was guilty of incorrect thought, you see, when he told a reporter, "There's nothing to indicate that it’s terrorism related," a statement that appeared in early versions of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's coverage of the shootings, but has been purged from the updated story, perhaps to shield the FBI agent from the wrath of right-wing yobs who'd probably track down the address of his kids' school in retaliation for something he blurted out within hours of being called in to a murder investigation.)

Now, here's something I find interesting: The Seattle Times tells us that the man in custody, Naveed Haq,

was on medication for bipolar disorder


[i]n recent years [had] found himself in a variety of courts, mostly on small matters: traffic violations, such as speeding and negligent driving, and a dispute over unemployment benefits.

In addition,

In March of this year, he climbed up on a raised coin fountain inside Kennewick's Columbia Center mall and began "catcalling" women at the makeup counter at the nearby Macy's store, said Lisa Beaton, a Kennewick city prosecutor. When young women walked by his perch, Haq unzipped his pants and allegedly flashed his penis at them, Beaton said.

Haq, 30, was charged with lewd conduct -- a gross misdemeanor -- and was scheduled to stand trial in Benton County District Court on Thursday. But the trial was postponed....

And yet as the Times notes elsewhere,

Haq told Richey [a neighbor] he owned a .45-caliber handgun, which he kept locked up in safety deposit box.

[A] law-enforcement source said Haq had a license to carry a concealed weapon.

Ain't that America: A guy's bipolar and medicated, and he's arrested for a very aggressive act of indecent exposure -- but God forbid we should rethink his right to pack heat.

(I don't know what the laws are in Washington State, but a quick search tells me that in Colorado, for instance, you're supposed to be denied a concealed weapons permit if you're on medication for bipolar disorder.)

The evidence suggests that Haq is a lone nut who, in his madness, glommed onto Islamicist anti-Semitism. And Islamicist misogyny -- read the report of his indecent exposure incident. Now note that all six of the people he shot were women. And note this:

Although Haq made a point of announcing his Muslim faith before opening fire Friday, he had told the friend he was not a practicing Muslim because he was turned off by the religion's strict gender divisions.

I think a lot of men who shoot up public spaces like this are conflicted about sex. They've absorbed misogyny or homophobia or sex-phobia and they can't reconcile it with other thoughts they have. Then they lash out -- and maybe they're trying to shoot themselves in the bad thoughts.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not being a bleeding heart. I want this guy somewhere where he can't do this to anyone again. But is he a terrorist? Not in the sense of a person who expects his act to affect the future behavior of people he didn't harm -- which is what makes classic terrorism terrorism. I don't think this guy was trying to be part of an ongoing campaign of striking fear in the hearts of Jews, or Americans, or non-Muslims. I think he just wanted to kill -- kill Jews and kill what he thought of as his own sexual demons.

"IRON FIST"? Yeah, I'm sure Hezbollah is just quaking in fear of The Mighty Flightsuit.

This isn't quite as silly as

but it's close.

(NR lnks via TBogg.)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Busy weekend coming up. Back Sunday night.

Never mind. Plans got canceled. Back soon.

...Er, sort of. She's finally found a candidate who's not embarrassed to be seen with her on the campaign trail:

This guy.

He's Jeffers MacArthur Dodge and he's running for ... er, well, he's only running for the California State Assembly (warning: utterly inappropriate audio -- a cover version of Midnight Oil's not-even-remotely-right-wing "Beds Are Burning"). Ann's kicking off his campaign with a fund-raiser at Culver Studios -- which, as Mr. Dodge gleefully points out, is the site of Tara from the movie Gone with the Wind.

(Hey, Ann -- your guy picks this site for a fund-raiser and you're making wisecracks about Clinton and Gore's heterosexuality?)

Mr. Dodge makes videos and engineers music for such Z-listers as Michael McCarthy and the Beautiful Fools and Rainlord. He also provides Web services, e.g., for Media Drool. (Which really might be the ugliest site ever designed.) And he made this utterly incoherent 9/11 video, which seems to suggest that on that day Hitler flew airplanes from Saturn into the lower floors of the Twin Towers, after which the terrorists fled, leading their camels. (I may be garbling a few plot points.)

Despite my offensive snark a couple of paragraphs up, Mr. D. is very much anti-gay -- so much so that he wants to prevent businesses from choosing to offer benefits to domestic partners. (Being pro-capitalist doesn't mean letting capitalist enterprises decide these things for themselves -- not when there are yahoos to pander to!) He's also "Against Transsexual/Cross Dressing in Workplace."

He thinks it's important to "secure the boarder." He compares the ACLU to the Nazi Party under Hitler. Oh, and his policy on transportation?

"Flintstones" vs. "The Jetsons" - The choice is yours.

Er ... yeah, right. Got it.

Ann, I think you've found a guy who is to public service what you are to human decency.


Steve Benen links to this story, which tells about a recent presidential photo op in West Virginia:

...The president's motorcade came to a halt when Bush stopped to buy some lemonade from a South Hills girl on his way out of town.

Charleston attorney John Miesner's 8-year-old daughter, Mary Melinda, set up a lemonade stand....

Little did they know that the president would drop in for a cold drink....

Bush told the kids he liked their marketing campaign, which included signs that read "God bless W" and "Lemonade for the President, 50 cents."

He bought a few cups for reporters and photographers traveling with him....

Bush did not drink the lemonade himself, telling the kids he had to watch his weight since he turned 60, Miesner said....

Think about that last part. Now, try to imagine what the reaction would have been if a prominent Democrat had stopped at a lemonade stand run by kids and refused to sample the product, with a frou-frou excuse about the need to maintain a youthful wasteline.

Let's go back to 2004:

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) today expressed his disappointment regarding a Kerry-Edwards campaign photo-op stop at a Wendy's for the Edwards' anniversary dinner only to have gourmet catered lunch waiting for them on the campaign bus.

"In their relentless pursuit of the ultimate extreme makeover, Kerry and Edwards continue to put up a facade of who they are," Diaz-Balart said. "Nothing is wrong with two rich men enjoying a meal at Wendy's. But why would you have gourmet catered food to eat afterward? Was the Frosty not good enough?

"If you are going to have a photo-op at Wendy's to show you are a regular guy, then at least have the decency and honesty to eat the food...."

And Bush didn't just reject humble fare. He rejected humble fare prepared by children -- innocent, God-fearing, mostly fair-haired, fair-skinned children.

Hillary Clinton had better not think she can get away with this. The rules would be very different for her.

UPDATE: Dan Froomkin of The Washington Post has a clarification:

Today, Dave Gustafson of the [Charleston] Gazette corrects himself and reports: "President Bush does appear to take a sip of lemonade during his photo-op stop Wednesday with U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., at a Charleston girl's lemonade stand."

The sip is visible at the very end of the video of the event shot by the Associated Press.

"Bush appears to take a quick sip as he reaches for a writing implement. He quickly hands the drink away," Gustafson writes.

(I stand by my original argument. Take a real drink, dammit! For the kids.)

Gustafson adds,

"President Bill Clinton famously said he didn't inhale, but the White House did not respond to a query about whether Bush swallowed."



(By the way, this is Bush's second lemonade-stand photo op* in less than a month and at least the third of his presidency.)


*UPDATE: If that link is dead, try one of these -- and greetings, FDLers.

Damned if you do:

Pander and Run

By Peter Beinart

After years of struggling to define their own approach to post-Sept. 11 foreign policy, Democrats seem finally to have hit on one. It's called pandering....

The latest example came this week when Democratic senators and House members demanded that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki either retract his criticisms of Israel or forfeit his chance to address Congress....

... Maliki's forthright disagreement with the United States was a sign of political strength, one the Bush administration wisely indulged.

But not congressional Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid demanded that Maliki eat his words or be disinvited from addressing Congress....

... The Democratic Party's single biggest foreign policy liability is not that Americans think Democrats are soft. It is that Americans think Democrats stand for nothing, that they have no principles beyond political expedience. And given the party's behavior over the past several months, it is not hard to understand why.

Damned if you don't:

...We are now [in 2003] experiencing "a very explosive moment in Jewish politics," one that is rocking the traditional Jewish affiliation with the Democratic party and creating an undercurrent of anti-Semitism, said Peter Beinart, editor of the New Republic magazine.

[ . . . ]

For the left, the methods employed are of secondary importance to the otherwise justified anti-imperialist struggle, so the Palestinian use of suicide bombings are seen as no more than a "misguided tactic," Beinart said.

Beinart described how traditionally liberal U.S. Jews have recoiled from that view and how they are moving away from their traditional liberal affiliations.

[ . . . ]

With the outbreak of the current intifadah, "this consensus started to crack. The liberal media have gone in one direction and the Jewish community has gone in another. The liberal media have gone left and the Jewish community has gone right."

Funny how everything liberals and/or Democrats do is a reason for voters to reject liberals and Democrats, according to self-styled liberal Democrat Peter Beinart.


(Also see Julia on Beinart's selective memory for facts.)
A Freeper addresses one of the burning issues of the new millennium.

The essay below was originally written in the early Spring of 2001:

With the passing away of LEXX ends an intriguing albeit tawdry experiment in Sci-fantasy. One that breaks with conventions, or should I say cliches of TV sci-fi of the 90's . The politically correct pabulum, the multicultural indoctrination, the BladeRunner motifs, and not the least; the steroid mutated superbabes that can punch the lights out of men, but never get punched back in return !?

How about creating a new sci-fi anthology with none of the puerile baggage of Rod Serling, Rockne Obannon, Michael J. Stracinsky, etc .. It is time to end their reign of un-American cynicism and fatalism !

Let us create a future of infinite possibilities devoid of the agenda of the social engineers who work their corruption on us thru the one way world of television . A world where anything is possible , but not everything is possible . Anything can happen , but not all things can happen at once . That is what 'Time' is for , to keep all things from happening at the same moment . That shall be the only rule of our new fantasy world . That an event happens only once . What has been done , cannot be undone . There is no turning back the sands of time . You can review the past but you cannot change the past . That a vision of a possible future - to the present , must be taken in the context of the present . A Cosmos not governed by compassion or tolerance or equality , but common sense and merit . A Universe of strange and totally new lifeforms and not distorted reflections of human characters , just to make some social allegory ---- THAT is the insipid barren road of Political Correctness that Sci-fi entertainment has been a slave to for so many years . The future is not the current events of our world thrown into Outer Space . The future is not with the Liberals , not with the Multiculturalists (both hate America) , and it is certainly not to be found in some cheapo TV production made in Canada ! The future is not written , the future is unformed . . .

I feel I should have something to say about this, but I don't quite know where to begin. Your thoughts?

(Alternatively, I suppose you could address them to the author in person, if you could find his parents' basement.)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

If you used to read Norwegianity before it became a campaign blog, good news: It's Norwegianity again.
Peggy Noonan's lead today:

Why does President Bush refer in public to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as "Condi"? Did Dwight Eisenhower call his Secretary of State "Johnny"? Did Jimmy Carter call his "Eddie," or Bill Clinton call his "Maddy," or Richard Nixon call his "Willie" or "Hank"?

Er, no, but I vaguely recall that Jimmy Carter used to refer to himself as "Jimmy." (Correct me if I'm wrong here.)

What are the implications of such informality?

I know it is small, but in a way such things are never small. To me it seems a part of the rhetorical childishness of the age, the faux egalitarianism of the era.

Childishness and faux egalitarianism at the highest levels -- when did those become such a problem? Hmmm, let me think...

It reminds me of how people in the administration and Congress--every politician, in fact--always refer to mothers as moms: We must help working moms." You're not allowed to say "mother" or "father" in politics anymore, it's all mom and dad and the kids. This is the buzzy soft-speak of a peaceless era; it is an attempt to try to establish in sound what you can't establish in fact.

My Merriam-Webster Collegiate says "soccer mom" was coined in 1987. Therefore, it's all al-Qaeda's fault!

And while we're discussing the retreat from formality and dignity, can we talk about presidential speechwriter-slash-memoirists? Did Robert Sherwood, for instance, begin Roosevelt and Hopkins by talking about how much he'd always wanted to caress the president's feet?
And now a message from the American Family Association and Agape Press:

"Good news! We found yet another thing for right-wing Christians to be angry about even though it doesn't affect them in any way, shape or form!"

Prospective applicants to prestigious Harvard Business School no longer have to be of the male or female gender. One pro-family leader in Washington, DC, is criticizing the school for legitimizing transgenderism.

Before completing an application, students looking to enter the Harvard Business School MBA program are asked to fill out an online profile that offers three choices of gender: female, male, or transgender. The form also asks prospective applicants if they would be interested in learning more about the school's "lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender" community.

(It's true -- check out the "Gender" pull-down menu on the application.)

Bob Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute (CFI) at Concerned Women for America, says "it's not compassionate" for Harvard to encourage people to reject their "God-given natures." But then Knight considers the source.

"I'm not surprised it's coming out of Harvard," he says, "because they've flirted with the idea that, in terms of sexuality, anything goes, and they've given intellectual respectability to it." ...

My advice to Harvard Business School? Admit the transgendered. But stop admitting the ignorant, self-satisfied cokehead frat boys with politically prominent parents.


(Now x-posted at Roger Ailes.)

That's one of the messages from this poll of likely voters in the fifty most competitive congressional districts, conducted for NPR by Stan Greenberg (a Democrat) and Glenn Bolger (a Republican):

On the question of which party would do a better job on "values issues," like stem-cell research, flag-burning and gay marriage, Democrats prevailed by their biggest margin in the entire poll: 51 percent to 37 percent.

"And when we list values issues like stem-cell research, flag-burning and gay marriage, these are the issues that Republicans took the initiative, used their control in Congress to get on the air to be voting on, to be talking about," Greenberg says. "What this says: By 13 points, voters say they are more likely to vote Democratic because of hearing about these issues. Which suggests that the strategy of using the Congress to get out the base is one that's driving away a lot of voters."

So, can we expect interminable hand-wringing from the GOP as it tries to come to terms with the fact that its value system resonates only with a small elite, and not with ordinary citizens? Can we anticipate a round of self-flagellating op-eds from Republicans? Will the pundit class start talking about angry, exclusionist conservative Stalinist-fascists who are dragging their party to the right and alienating the vast middle?


The Greenberg/Borger poll asked questions in those fifty competitive districts that haven't been asked in other polls. The answers are pretty good news for Democrats:

In 2004, the total vote in these 50 districts went republican by about 12 points. In our current survey, voters in these same districts say they would vote for the Democrat over the Republican by about six points.

We asked the question about a generic Democrat or Republican, then we plugged in the names of actual incumbents and challengers. The numbers didn't change much and the voters seemed pretty firm about their choices.

Only 18 percent of those favoring a Democrat said there was any chance they'd change their minds. Only 16 percent of those favoring a Republican said they might switch.

There's also good news in just-released CBS/New York Times and NBC/Wall Street Journal polls. Jonathan Singer at MyDD summarizes the results of those polls here.
THE best-kept secret in global diplomacy is out - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will perform a piano recital at the annual gala of Asia's top security meeting, diplomats and reports said....

Rice ... is expected to perform a work from one of her favourite composers, who include Brahms and Shostakovich, the New Straits Times said.... News

Accompanied, presumably, by Nero on fiddle.

(Cross-posted at Roger Ailes.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Shorter Ann Coulter:

"Don't pay attention to all those silly wars! Pay attention to ME! You were all paying attention to me a few weeks ago and I want you to PAY ATTENTION TO ME NOW!!!"

Look down, Ann -- it's a shark.


UPDATE: Steve Gilliard makes short work of Coulter's theory.

Will Bunch at Attytood says it better than I could:

...In this showdown, do you back the folks who kidnapped a couple of soldiers in the hope, frankly, of triggering wider bloodshed, and who launch inaccurate rockets into civilian neighborhoods, or do you support the people who manage to kill a lot more civilians, with lethal accuracy, who seemingly target ambulances and neutral UN observers and drop phosphorous bombs?

Some bloggers don't have a dog in that hunt. Can you blame them?

That's just about what I'm thinking.

You know, if you're going to engage in right-wing character assassination, at least pretend to have firsthand knowledge of some bad thing a Democrat did. Don't be like Bill Fry at

Fry's "smoking gun" #1:

John Murtha spent a few years in the Marine Corps as an enlisted man and then went to college, got a Reserve commission, and joined the 34th Special Infantry Company in Johnstown. He later became the Commander Officer. I spent my first tour in Viet Nam in 1965 and 1966 and therefore missed Murtha, the war hero. However, I had a tour at Headquarters, Fleet Marine Forces Pacific, in Hawaii in 1968 and 1969, and the stories were still bouncing around about this reserve major from Johnstown who went to Viet Nam and sent his daily information to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat telling his fantastic was stories.  They were labeled "Murtha Sends". While in FMF Pac I was the Head Systems Officer in the Computer Automated Center. I had the opportunity to design and implement a system to control and track all awards coming through FMF Pac. Having heard of this war hero from Johnstown, I took it upon myself to look in the data base and, lo and behold! There were no personal awards for Murtha.

"I never met the guy, but everyone told me he was a big jerk. And then -- probably because I just had a hunch he was going to become a filthy DemonRAT traitor congressman 37 years later -- I looked up his records. And what do you know? He really was a liar! True story!"

Fry's smoking gun #2:

During discussions with the Director of Westmoreland County Information System, I just happened to mention that I was raised up the road about 30 miles and mentioned my high school. He said, "Hey, I have a good friend who taught there -- Bob Wagner."

I was elated and asked if I could get in touch with Bob. He called him on the spot, and we had a short phone reunion during which he asked me to come to his house for a visit after a planned dinner with the Users Group. This I did, and we had a great evening....

In the course of the evening we talked about the 34th Infantry Co., and Bob said, "Hey did you run into a Major in Viet Nam by the name of Murtha? He took a year off from washing cars to go to Viet Nam and politic his way into Congress. Then Bob told me what a disgrace he had been in the eyes of the officers with whom he served.

"Hey, that's what he told me. Secondhand hearsay isn't good enough for you? What are you, some kind of liberal French pinko terrorist?"

I guess all the competent character assassins are asking Rove for too much money these days.

While I'd rather have Hillary Clinton as the next president than a Republican, I know her time in office (if she somehow managed to get elected) would be marked by the same desperate attempts to please and appease Republicans as her husband's, and the same naive belief that Republicans can be placated, or even won over.

Hillary's engaging in this exercise in futility already -- as you probably know, she let Rupert Murdoch hold a fund-raiser for her Senate campaign last week. And what did Rupe do after that? First he announced that he opposed her presidential bid. Then his New York Post warned the populace that she's assembling an army of overpriced frou-frou image-makers. And today she's on the front page of the Post with this story:

Peter Cook, who humiliated his supermodel wife, Christie Brinkley, by bedding a doe-eyed teen in the Hamptons, has given thousands in campaign cash to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The senator, who champions women's causes and children's issues, is the biggest recipient of Cook's generosity to politicians - raking in $13,000 from him since 2000 for her campaign war chests, according to records.

Asked by The Post whether she will return the contributions, Clinton said, "I'll have to look into it."

Clinton refused to answer further questions about Cook, waving her hand and turning away with no reply.

Campaign aide Ann Lewis later said, "Senator Clinton has met Peter Cook. We do not intend to return his contributions." ...

Oh, that's rich -- the Post is demanding that Hillary return contributions because the contributor is an adulterer. Hey, I have an idea: Given the fact that Newt Gingrich is a serial adulterer, why doesn't the Republican Party return the last twelve years to us so we can rerun them with a Democratic Congress?

And yes, I see that Hillary's benefactor is a bit older than his bedmate. This is a curious thing for the Post to point out, given the fact that Mr. Murdoch married his third wife when she was 30 and he was 68.

But Hillary really doesn't get it. Murdoch didn't raise money for her because he respects her or approves of her in any way. He raised money for her because he wants to help guide her to a definite decision to run for president -- so his media outlets can bash her relentlessly. Turning Hillary into a pinata could very well keep the White House (if not the entire federal government) in GOP hands; even if it doesn't, it will certainly attract many, many yahoos to Murdoch media holdings. Murdoch's raising money for her for the same reason casino bus companies hand out free rolls of quarters -- it's a small expenditure with the expectation of getting that back and a lot more. And Hillary's about as naive as the suckers pumping away at the slots.
I don't think Frances FitzGerald, who wrote this week's New Yorker story about Ken Blackwell and his Republican/theocrat run for Ohio governor, quite gets this charming line from Blackwell's preacher pal Rod Parsley:

Conservative Pentecostal pastors often use military metaphors, but Parsley's sermons are notable for their graphic detail. At the service that I attended, he spoke of the moment when "God broke into the world through the bloody flanks of a fourteen-year-old virgin." This puzzled me, until I understood that he was picturing Mary as a teen-ager who chose not to have an abortion.

Er, Frances? I don't think he's focusing on abortion here -- I think he's fixating on the virgin part.

And he seems to be really, really digging that image.

Ladies, I wouldn't go on a date with this guy without a police escort.

(Yes, I know -- he's married, though not, perhaps to her regret, to his good pal Ann Coulter.)

FitzGerald heard the sermon and I didn't, but I don't quite see how this constitutes a "military metaphor." And I'm not sure I want to know.

(Cross-posted at Roger Ailes.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


First Ned Lamont developed an instant 10-point lead in the Rasmussen poll; now Bush's job approval drops 5 points in one day, to 37% approval. What are these Rasmussen guys putting in the water?

Bush is also back down to 37% in the Gallup poll, a 3-point drop in two weeks.


UPDATE: Math corrected.
Oh yeah, I'm sure this is just a perfectly normal cyclical variation:

July hottest month in Netherlands in 300 years

July 2006 is on track to be the hottest month in the Netherlands since temperatures were first measured in 1706, the Dutch meteorological institute KNMI said on Tuesday.

Average daily temperatures in the first 24 days of July were a record of 22.3 degrees Celsius (72.14F) compared with the previous record of 21.4 degrees in July 1994 and normal average temperatures of 17.4, the KNMI said....

Temperatures in the Netherlands rose as high as 36-37 degrees last week, when two people died during a walking event which was later canceled.

For the Celsius-challenged, that normal average temperature of 17.4C is 63.32F; this is nearly 9 degrees hotter. This month's high of 37C is 98.6F-- in a country that's latitudinally north of Montreal.

...Oh, sorry -- Peggy Noonan assures us that scientists can't agree on whether global warming really exists. Whoops! She's the expert, right? Never mind then!


UPDATE: In comments, Paige points out, correctly, that this isn't the right way to gauge climate change -- it's more important to show trends over time:

Maybe you could show how the last ten years average temperature in Netherlands (if this is true, and I don't know if it is, because I don't have those statistics) are hotter than any previous set of 10 year averages. Now that's a trend!

In fact, a 2003 report from KNMI said that

all the warmest years fall within the last 14 years.... The warming climate, which the KNMI confirmed in its previous climate report (1999), is continuing unabated.

This year's heat seems to be just more evidence of a previously noted trend.

The other Roger Ailes:

Fox News Channel chairman and CEO Roger Ailes responded to Keith Olbermann's latest critical volley against Bill O'Reilly on Monday, saying the MSNBC host's behavior "is over the line."

...Olbermann opened his Saturday session at the critics' meeting by whipping out a mask of O'Reilly and giving a Nazi salute.

"I really think that's over the line," Ailes said....

O'Reilly compares secularists to Hitler, Stalin, Castro, and Mao.

O'Reilly says, "Hitler would be a card-carrying ACLU member."

O'Reilly compares advocates of withdrawal in Iraq to Hitler appeasers.

O'Reilly compares Michael Moore to Goebbels.

Bite me, Roger.

(Belatedly cross-posted from the blog of the good Roger Ailes, where I'm one of the guest bloggers, and where I seem to be ruder and much more succinct.)
To those who are wondering about the identity of the mystery Republican Senate candidate in a tight race who tells The Washington Post's Dana Milbank that his party affiliation is "a scarlet letter": My money is on Maryland's Michael Steele.

The candidate sports French cuffs, according to Milbank? Sure looks to me as if Steele's wearing French cuffs here. Oh, here, too.

French cuffs (Wikipedia).

Whoever it is, the story's mighty entertaining:

The candidate, immersed in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country, sat down to lunch yesterday with reporters at a Capitol Hill steakhouse and shared his views about this year's political currents.

On the Iraq war: "It didn't work. . . . We didn't prepare for the peace."

On the response to Hurricane Katrina: "A monumental failure of government."

On the national mood: "There's a palpable frustration right now in the country."

It's all fairly standard Democratic boilerplate -- except the candidate is a Republican. And he's getting all kinds of cooperation from the White House, the Republican National Committee and GOP congressional leaders.

Not that he necessarily wants it. "Well, you know, I don't know," the candidate said when asked if he wanted President Bush to campaign for him. Noting Bush's low standing in his home state, he finally added: "To be honest with you, probably not." ...

Has Steele had "all kinds of cooperation from the White House"? Yeah, that sounds about right. (Looks as if he's wearing French cuffs at that link, too.)

If I'm right, what do I win?

(I really don't think it's Tom Kean Jr. in Jersey -- he may actually beat an incumbent. As for Santorum, can you really imagine him "[speaking] of his party affiliation as though it were a congenital defect rather than a choice"? Remember, his state regularly elects another Republican to the Senate; he has to know it's his positions that are killing him, not his party affiliation.)


UPDATE: Well, a lot of people are saying it's Steele now.

I think he's screwed, by the way. He may have thought that his dissent from the party line would help him in his blue state in the event he was ID'd, but he just looks like a guy who's afraid to stand up and say what he means. That's what Maryland Democratic voters are going to think -- and the loyalty-obsessed, vengeful Bushies are not going to forget this, ever.


UPDATE: And now ABC says Steele's the one.

From yesterday's White House press briefing:

MR. SNOW: ... It is clear that there is -- that there is work to do to secure Baghdad. And General Casey has made no secret of that, and other spokesmen in Baghdad have made no secret of that.

So now we're working with the government to say, okay, what can we do. What can we do to go ahead and get into those neighborhoods, deal with sectarian violence, but also deal with the fact that in some cases, there really is just gangs of rowdies?


Er, no, Tony.

This is what "rowdies" do:

This... not the work of "rowdies."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hillary Clinton and Rupert Murdoch may be pals these days, but in covering Mrs. C., today's New York Post managed to get two evil-Democrat memes into an eight-word headline and subhead:



Yup, Hillary's jackbooted Hezbollah is on the march -- wielding blowdryers of mass destruction!

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign army has increased its ranks to 50 staffers and more than 20 consultants, specialists in everything from fund-raising to speech-writing to hairstyling and makeup.

Clinton, the likely 2008 Democratic White House front-runner, ponied up nearly $3,000 in campaign cash for her blond tresses to get some presidential pampering from acclaimed D.C. stylist Isabelle Goetz.

Recently released federal fund-raising records show Clinton shelled out $1,500 in April for Goetz to carefully craft her coiffure and another $1,000 for a camera-ready clip in May....

It goes on and on like that (avoid the Post firewall and read the whole thing free here if you want to) -- much is made of the work lavished on Hillary's "gilded mane," and a fancy-schmancy "makeup maestro" shows up, too.

So why on earth does this make the Post think of an army?

And not for the first time -- back in March, Hillary was lining up campaign workers and we had this in the Post:


March 27, 2006 -- PREZ-ENT ARMS!

WASHINGTON - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won't say if she's running for the White House -- but she's already drafted a presidential-size army of campaign staffers that dwarfs John McCain's outfit and those of everyone else in the field....

Well, as I said then,

Right-wingers love to think they're at war (as long as they're not physically in the line of fire). If they can't have a real war (enjoyed from a safe distance), they want a metaphorical war. But they prefer a particular kind of war: a war in which they can say the other guy declared war first.

By the way, I'm not entirely sure about the Post's price figures for Isabelle Goetz -- I don't believe she's really charging ten times what she charged the last time the Right was yammering about her. That was 2002, when Drudge declared that Goetz regularly charged Hillary $150 (but billed John Kerry $75). Unless Goetz has started pegging her fees to the price of crude oil, $150 to $1500 is a rather incredible markup.

It does appear from the Post story that Hillary had Goetz flown in to get a 'do or two, and that the high cost of the cuts included travel expenses -- but I figure that's what you do when you're a woman running for president in a visual age and you can't travel with a hair stylist like Laura Bush. Sure, it's extravagant, but what about another possible Madame President, Condi Rice? The Washingtonian says her hair choice is the Watergate Salon -- which charges $700 and up for a hair straightening, which makes it the most expensive of the salons recommended for straightening in another Washingtonian article. That's a service I assume Condi avails herself of; if she runs for president, thing Drudge or the Post will say a word about the cost?

After a quarter century of Reaganism and post-Reaganism, I should expect corner-cutting in everything the federal government does, in the name of the holy sacrament of privatization -- but I wasn't aware until now that wildfires in forests are regularly fought by underpaid and poorly trained illegal immigrants, essentially per U.S. government policy:

...Since the government began cutting back funding for firefighting responsibilities, private contractors have charged in to fill the gap. Seventy-five percent of contract firefighting crews in the United States now come from the Pacific Northwest, and most of them are Latino....

Most of the firefighters earn between $10 and $15 an hour -- that's cheaper than government employees....

This spring, a federal audit sharply criticized the Forest Service for "chronic mismanagement" of Latino crews. The report said there was "no assurance that the firefighters were properly qualified and trained, or even if they are in the U.S. legally."

Safety concerns were high on the list of problems identified by the inspector general for the United States Forest Service. Using immigrant firefighters raises the important issue of language and communication. Understanding orders and warnings can be crucial on the fire line, and basic communication has sometimes been a problem...

That's stor, which ABC ran yesterday, just scratches the surface. There's more information in this Sacramento Bee article from May:

...Public records offer a glimpse of what crew inspectors have documented: underage workers, counterfeit IDs, falsified training records, a van roll-over, broken and dangerous tools, even a firefighter with only one lung who "went into convulsions ... and was having difficulty breathing," as one federal inspector in Washington put it.

...corners are cut. Some are spelled out in reports that ... federal and state officials prepare, including these excerpts from 2003, 2004 and 2005:

"Lots of tools but most were very beat up and some were unusable ... ." "The company and its crews have been out of compliance in so many ways it is ridiculous ... ." "Victor is only 20 years old which means he started at age 12 ... ." "Arturo went out and purchased a fake INS card and false birth certificate ... ." "Crew had to haul gas and hand tools in van (and) had been getting headaches from the fumes." ...

This is happening because of budget cuts -- but wouldn't you know it, the private contractors seem to be doing just fine:

...What's drawing contractors to firefighting is the chance to earn big money. A 20-man crew of firefighters can bring a contractor $7,000 a day, including overtime. Crew wages make up about $4,800 of that - an average of $15 an hour for a 16-hour day.

"This is a big money item," said Gavenas. "There is an incentive to get your crews on the fire line." ...

And there's more money to be made when you can pay your workers even less. Or train them less. Or let them work injured:

... Emilio Morales Donis, a native of Guatemala, said he was injured in [a controlled] burn in the Rockies in 2002.

..."I was working on a fire line. A log I was lifting slipped. It landed on my wrist, pinning it to the ground," he said. Wrenching his hand free, Morales said he approached his foreman. His wrist was throbbing.

"He told me, 'Hurry up. We have to finish this area,' " Morales recounted. Despite the pain, Morales complied, working one-handed. There was no aspirin, not even a Band-Aid. "In the mountains we didn't even carry a first-aid kit," he said.

Asked last week if he had any training, Morales said no. "We learned on our own," he said. "You figure out how to do the job as time goes by."...

You know, I stick up for illegal workers on this blog, because I think they're being blamed for an economic order they didn't create. But the system is broken -- it's a race-to-the-bottom system with regard to wages and a rich-get-richer system overall. And obviously no job is immune.

In the ABC story, someone says of the illegal firefighters,

"When million-dollar homes are being threatened, I doubt those people [owners] care who is fighting the fire."

Well, yes and no. I bet they want their houses saved by highly trained professionals. And I bet they also want all illegals banished from the country. And, oh yes, their tax cuts.

Sorry -- it appears you can't have all three.

The damn Ay-rabs may want to kill us all and cut off our oil, but at least our Japanese pals still want to let Americans be Americans:

...Panasonic said last week that it would begin selling a 103-inch flat-panel plasma television in the United States in time for the holiday season. The TV, about as big as a queen-size bed and, Panasonic says, the largest on the market, will sell for $70,000....

The screen's 90-inch length and 48-inch height makes it equivalent in size to four 50-inch TV's, the company said. With the frame and speakers, it measures nearly nine feet by six feet. It weighs about 450 pounds and has to be shipped in a box with a specially designed suspension system....

The sets have to be professionally installed because of their size and weight....

103 inches? Well, thank God America's TVs will still larger than America's waistlines.

If only by a few inches.

Not that there's, y'know, a connection between the two or anything like that.

Needless to say, the new Panasonic is expected to be a niche product.

"Sales will be limited in scope because of its weight and size," said Andrew Nelkin, vice president of the display group at Panasonic Consumer Electronics....

"I'm not sure a 103-inch TV will ever hit the mainstream," said Mr. Nelkin....

Yeah, I'm sure that's what they said about the SUV.

(Cross-posted at Roger Ailes.)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

If it's not bakers in Iraq...

...For the past year, Sunni Arab militants have swept through their old neighborhood, a heavily Sunni district in northwest Baghdad that borders a Shiite area, forcing Shiites out of their homes and shutting their shops by killing customers and workers inside. One after another, bakeries, whose workers are overwhelmingly poor and Shiite like Mr. Aaraji, began to close.

Now, out of 11 bakeries in the area, northern Ghazaliya, just one, the Sunni-owned Al Obeidi on Center Street, remains open....

...or doctors...

...Adel Abdel-Mohsin, the Deputy Health Minister, told The Times that 190 medical staff had been murdered and 400 doctors kidnapped and that 1,000 doctors had fled the country....'s garbage collectors:

...Many of the roadside bombs in Baghdad ... are hidden in garbage piles....

Which makes the job of garbage collection extremely dangerous -- in the last year 350 garbage collectors have been killed.... Some of the collectors have died by inadvertently setting off bombs as they scoop up piles of waste. Others are shot by the insurgents for informing the police when they find a device. Now there are some neighborhoods where garbage collectors will simply not go to work, because insurgents will shoot at them to prevent them clearing the streets at all....

And yet the civilian leadership of the most militarily powerful nation on earth has no plan to deal with any of this except more of the same.

Forget us war critics -- why is this considered acceptable by supporters of the war?
The New York Dolls have reformed after three decades and have a new album out:

...The new record's best song, "Dance Like a Monkey," is a rock 'n' roll answer to a timely theological question. Trying to woo a "pretty creationist," the singer invites her onto the dance floor. "Evolution is so obsolete," Mr. Johnansen shouts like a leering old bluesman. "Got to stomp your hands and clap your feet." ...

Oh, no -- is John Miller of National Review going to misread these lyrics and revise his conservative rock song list?

(Watch the "Dance Like a Monkey" video here. Fun song, fun video, not pro-creationism or intelligent design. Bonus: Cheney going nutso with a gun [relax, it's a cartoon].)


UPDATE: I should have warned you about the David Johansen picture in the first link, which might frighten pets and small children.
I guess Bush doesn't always need a signing statement to unilaterally gut a law he doesn't like:

The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes....

The administration plans to cut the jobs of 157 of the agency's 345 estate tax lawyers, plus 17 support personnel, in less than 70 days....

The Bush administration has passed measures that reduce the number of Americans who are subject to the estate tax ... but has failed in its efforts to eliminate the tax entirely....

Sharyn Phillips, a veteran I.R.S. estate tax lawyer in Manhattan, called the cuts a "back-door way for the Bush administration to achieve what it cannot get from Congress, which is repeal of the estate tax." ...

So why is this happening?

...Estate tax lawyers are the most productive tax law enforcement personnel at the I.R.S., according to Mr. Brown. For each hour they work, they find an average of $2,200 of taxes that people owe the government....

Can't have that!

Saturday, July 22, 2006


So let me get this straight: The U.S. wants to persuade Syria to distance itself from Iran and Hezbollah -- but we're not going to offer any anything in return and we're not even going to have the courtesy to talk directly to the Syrians?


...Bush administration officials say ... they are seeking ways to peel Syria away from its alliance of convenience with Iran.

In interviews, senior administration officials said they had no plans right now to resume direct talks with the Syrian government....

But officials said this week that they were at the beginning stages of a plan to encourage Saudi Arabia and Egypt to make the case to the Syrians that they must turn against Hezbollah....

Several of Mr. Bush's top aides said the plan was for Mr. Bush and other senior officials to press both Saudi Arabia and Egypt to prod Syria into giving up its links with Hezbollah, and with Iran....

But so far, there appears to be little discussion of offering American incentives to the Syrians to abandon Hezbollah, or even to stop arming it. The Bush administration has been deeply reluctant to make such offers....

You know, I'm really starting to think Bush's forced neckrub really is a metaphor for his governing style. In his approach to Syria, he's like a guy who approaches women in the most boorish, demanding way possible, who's rude and obnoxious and inconsiderate, but who still believes that the women should be swooning at his feet -- it's ovious to him that he's God's gift, so isn't it obvious to everyone else?

To this guy, quoted in a New York Times Week in Review article about the shrinking middle class in big cities:

Of course, cities need police officers, firefighters, teachers. But as long as they can get the labor they need from somewhere nearby, some economists say, middle-class shrinkage may not hurt. In Southern California, developers import construction workers from Las Vegas and put them up in hotels; costs go up but rich clients can pay. Firefighters who want to live in high-priced cities can work two jobs, said W. Michael Cox, chief economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. "I think it’s great," he said. "It gives you portfolio diversification in your income."

Let them eat never seeing their families!

The next president will inherit a military in decline. The best intentions and the highest morale are undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment and rapidly declining readiness.

--George W. Bush, campaign appearance, August 21, 2000

The Army, bearing most of the cost for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Thursday its money crunch has gotten so bad it is clamping down on spending for travel, civilian hiring and other expenses not essential to the war mission....

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, said last week that in 2004 it cost $4 billion to repair or replace war equipment, but now it has reached $12 billion to $13 billion. "And in my view, we will continue to see this escalate," he said, adding that the Army is using up equipment at four times the rate for which it was designed.

...The Army chief said there is too little money available to keep up with equipment repairs. He said the Army's five major repair depots are operating at only 50 percent of capacity, resulting in a backlog of 1,000 Humvee utility vehicles awaiting attention at the Red River Army Depot in Texas and 500 tanks at a depot in Alabama....

--AP yesterday


UPDATE: Dick Cheney, campaigning for GOP congressional candidate Gus Bilirakis in Florida:

"Gus is going to remember that the first order of business is to protect the American people and to support the men and women who defend us in time of war."

Well, that would be nice, Dick, because you guys sure don't -- especially that last part.

(Via Athenae.)

Friday, July 21, 2006


That the economy is slowing is getting clearer. Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust notes that retail sales in the second quarter, adjusted for inflation, fell more than in any quarter since 1991.

--Floyd Norris in today's New York Times business section (TimesSelect)
So who's in the deepest circle of hell in Iraq? The bakers? Or maybe the doctors? The people of Baghdad or the people of Diyala province?

If you can read those four stories back to back without wanting to punch the next person you meet who says "we're winning" in Iraq, you're a better person than I am.

...if Cheney will still give interviews to a guy who calls Islam "a religion of vicious, violent, bloodthirsty cretins."

(I don't know why I bother asking -- Neal Boortz said that if you recite the Muslim creed "with conviction, ... the next thing you know, you're strapping on a suicide bomb" before Cheney gave him an interview. Apparently Cheney and the White House were unfazed.)

From, citing the Bush/Merkel neckrub video (which is now on YouTube):

Once again: Eeeeuuuwww.

In the administration's view, the new [Mideast] conflict is not just a crisis to be managed. It is also an opportunity to seriously degrade a big threat in the region, just as Bush believes he is doing in Iraq.

--Washington Post today

The Permanent State of Denial Presidency.

From yesterday's Jackson Clarion-Ledger:

...Activists from Operation Save America, formerly known as Operation Rescue, have been in Jackson since Saturday for eight days of protests against [Mississippi]'s only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization in the Fondren neighborhood.

During a demonstration at the Capitol on Tuesday, anti-abortion activists tore up pages from the Quran, the Muslim holy book, along with a gay pride flag and copies of six U.S. Supreme Court rulings related to religion in public schools, sodomy and abortion.

The group intended to burn the items at the Capitol but couldn't because it didn't have a permit, said Operation Save America volunteer Pat McEwen, a retired college professor from Palm Bay, Fla.

Instead, the activists burned the Quran and other items Tuesday evening in the parking lot outside Making Jesus Real Church in Pearl, McEwen said. Police confirmed the burning....

Was Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life there? He's certainly participated in other OSA activities this week in Jackson:

Anti-Abortionists Give Funeral For Fetus

An unusual event marks the sixth day of abortion protests in Jackson. The group Operation Save America drew crowds downtown, where they had on display what they say is an aborted child.

It began like any memorial service. But inside the casket was what protestors say is an aborted fetus they named Rebecca....

National Director of Priests For Life Father Frank Pavone led the ceremony...

OSA has burned Qurans before: Columbus City Hall, Thursday July 22, 2004, ... Operation Save America (OSA) burned a "gay" flag, a copy of Roe vs. Wade and a Muslim "holy" book, the Koran....

And Pavone was there:

Thursday, July 22, 2004...

Frank Pavone, a priest who is an official of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, spoke this afternoon at OSA's City Hall event.

As I've pointed out several times, Pavone gave invocations at both a rally for religious conservatives organized by the GOP before the 2004 convention and a subsequent "Christian Inaugural Eve Gala" that was also addressed by Karl Rove.

And now I see that he spoke at these GOP functions after he participated in at least one Quran-burning event.

(First story via DU.)


UPDATE: Did I forget to remind you that another member of Priests for Life is Father Paul Scalia, who's Antonin Scalia's son?

Also, here's some background on Flip Benham, head of Operation Save America.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


...on at least one issue. Here's a story from today's New York Times on the Sago mine disaster:

The 12 miners who died in the Sago Mine in West Virginia in January would have survived an explosion in an abandoned section of the mine if the seals cordoning off that area had been properly installed, state mining officials concluded in a report released yesterday....

Under current rules, the seals are supposed to withstand explosions exerting 20 pounds of pressure per square inch....

... physical evidence showed that the force of the explosion exceeded 20 pounds per square inch.

Federal mine safety officials said yesterday that they would begin requiring mines to use new alternative seals that could withstand 50 pounds of pressure per square inch....

Sago was horrible, but it's a good thing the standards are being modernized, right? Well, yes -- but "modernized" isn't exactly the right word.

Last May, West Virginia's Charleston Gazette looked at a 1971 U.S. government study, which in turn looked at how this issue had been dealt with in the U.S. and other countries in previous years. Among other things, the Gazette found this:

In Poland and Germany, [a] 1921 study said, the standard for seal construction [was] 72 pounds per square inch.


...the United Kingdom determined that the 50 psi standard "gives a good margin of safety in practice" after studies of disasters there in 1933 and 1960.

And a tougher standard was partly implemented here in the U.S. decades ago:

The 1921 study also notes that the government set a 50-pounds-per-square-inch requirement on seals in mines located on federal lands. That regulation, the study said, "was based on the general opinion of men experienced in mine explosion investigations."

But the business of America is business, dammit, and we couldn't possibly have a standard like that for mines on private land.

So what we got instead was the 20-pounds-per-square-inch standard. It became law in 1992. And it was inadequate to prevent the deaths of twelve miners in 2006.

Lesson #13: Strengthen your argument by using links that really get your point across....

It never fails that when the press discusses things like President Bush vetoing this bill, they leave out the word EMBRYONIC.

--The Anchoress


UPDATE: See the Anchoress's reply in comments.


UPDATE: Er, I hope you don't think I feel chastened. The Anchoress's comment points out that when she linked it, the CNN article didn't have "embryonic" in the title, but it did have "embryonic" in the text. Where I come from, that doesn't constitute "leav[ing] out the word EMBRYONIC," but the Anchoress's mileage may vary.

More news sources that either did or didn't "leave out the word EMBRYONIC," depending on your perspective.
Much of the left blogosphere is enjoying an article in today's New York Times entitled "Lieberman Finds Favor Among Donors That Usually Support G.O.P." It certainly reinforces the case for Ned Lamont -- but let me (as usual) be the skunk at the garden party and point out that it means Lieberman won't lack for friends and financiers in a general election campaign, whether or not he wins the Democratic primary.

And right now, of course, it looks as if he might not win that primary -- he's trailing Lamont 51%-47% in the latest Quinnipiac poll, as you probably know. But Joe's still well ahead in a three-way race, 51% (Joe)-27% (Ned)-9% (Republican Alan Schlesinger).

The full results of the Quinnipiac poll are here; results of the previous Quinnipiac poll, released June 8, are here. In June, Lieberman led a three-way race 56%-18%-8%, so he's down 5% and Lamont's up 9% in six weeks.

Does that mean Lamont has the momentum to win the general? I don't know; I have my doubts. I'll note that Lieberman's support among Republicans in a three-way race is unchanged from June to July, and very strong (58%). Independents also still favor Lieberman overwhelmingly, though admittedly by less than in June (54%-22%-7% as opposed to 59%-15%-6%).

What I keep trying to figure out is what the GOP is thinking about this race. Atrios keeps insisting that the Republicans are going to fight to win it, but what's really going on? Last week we were hearing that Connecticut Republicans wanted to pressure Schlesinger to drop out, because of a reporting gambling problem -- but instead of a heavy hitter, they're reported want to replace him on the ticket with a nonentity, John C. Orchulli, who was the party's sacrificial lamb in the 2004 Senate race, which Democratic incumbent Christopher Dodd won easily. (Forget about those rumors that Lieberman himself might take the GOP line -- he says he won't.)

My worry is that Rove is husbanding his resources -- concluding, presumably, that the party doesn't have a potential winner for this race, he may think a Lieberman independent campaign is of more use to him nationwide than a full-fledged GOP battle for the seat would be.

How? By giving him (and the GOP's media surrogates) the opportunity to point to Connecticut and say GOP-friendly things like this (from John Hawkins at Right Wing News):

So, if Joe loses as a Democrat, but wins as an independent with lots of Republican and Independent support, what does that mean?

Well hopefully, it'll mean that the "Harry Truman Democrats" will realize that if they're serious about defending America, they're in the wrong party. Could it mean that some Jews, who vote Democrat 2 to 1, might get the message that they're in the wrong party? Sure.

We've already had a Lieberman spinner feeding the press the arguments that support for Lamont is grounded in anti-Semitism and a Lieberman loss will alienate Jewish voters from the Democratic Party nationwide. Rove is surely thinking, More of this, please. He may really believe that getting these memes to spread across the country (along with the ever-popular "the Democratic Party is falling into the hands of purge-crazed Stalinists") will help him win enough tight races elsewhere that not getting a pickup in Connecticut is a small price to pay. (Especially when the likely winner in Connecticut is a Bush Republican disguised as a Democrat.)

If I'm right about this, those Republican-leaning donors aren't putting themselves in the GOP doghouse at all when they write checks to Joe.

By the way, via Julia, I see that I'm not the only left blogger who's sick of Lieberman yet skeptical about the Lamont fight -- check out the Talking Dog's objections, which don't track mine exactly, but are well worth pondering.
I forgot to mention that John Dean's book Conservatives without Conscience just hit #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, in its first week on the list. Ron Suskind's The One Percent Doctrine remains at #3. (This is via e-mail; the Times will post the list this weekend.)

Ann Coulter's Godless drops from #4 to #5 in its sixth week on the list. Her books sell, but this one had only two weeks at #1, unlike, say, Slander, which was #1 for eight weeks. She's slipping.

Travis G. has a great post at Sadly, No! from which it's clear that Ann's many remaining fans don't think of her as a satirist or a jokester, even when she's sentencing political enemies to death. (Though they can't seem to agree on whether the staff of The New York Times should be hanged or shot.) I'll add that when I go to Captain's Quarters, a blog ad on the right from talk radio station WMCA says, "WHY ANN COULTER IS RIGHT" -- not "WHY ANN COULTER IS HILARIOUS" or "WHY ANN COULTER'S FANS CAN TAKE A JOKE, UNLIKE THOSE HUMORLESS, POLITICALLY CORRECT LIBERALS."