Monday, January 31, 2005

"The so-called elections in Iraq"--Gotta love the academic left

University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole:
I'm just appalled by the cheerleading tone of US news coverage of the so-called elections in Iraq on Sunday.... The 1997 elections in Iran were much more democratic, as were the 2002 elections in Bahrain and Pakistan.
(Link via Andrew Sullivan.)

Iraqis on the elections

Iraqi bloggers write about election day. The Wall Street Journal has a round-up. A couple of examples:

  • "This is a very hurried message, while we are witnessing something quite extraordinary. I myself have voted and so did members of my family. Thank God for giving us the chance." (The Mesopotamian)
  • "In Kurdistan and Iraq now, people check others' index fingers: 'Oh you have a normal finger?!! How come it is not blue?! You are not democratic at all.'" (Kurdo's World)
(Link via Betsy Newmark and Shining Light.)


Leave it to Robert Fisk to find the downside to the historic weekend in Iraq:
I asked a Sunni Muslim security guard what he thought would be the future of his country.

He had not voted - in many Sunni cities only a third of the polling stations opened - but he had thought a lot about this question.

"You cannot give us 'democracy' just like this. This is one of your Western, foreign dreams," he said. "Before, we had Saddam and he was a cruel man and he treated us cruelly. But what will happen after this election is that you will give us lots of little Saddams."
Wonder how long he had to search to find that security guard.

Hillary faints. What does Bill know and when did he know it?

The once and would-be future inhabitant of the White House fainted during a speech today. It does not appear to be serious.

Not that I'm a conspiracy theorist, but is it possible it has got something to do with proximity to Bill Clinton? After all, there is precedent.

The April 17, 1999 Boston Globe describes another prominent Democrat fainting after being in close proximity to Bill:
US Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island also entertained and alarmed the group by recounting how he cut a finger while accompanying the president on Air Force One.

Kennedy said he had been disposing of a paper towel in an ashtray with a movable top, and that he was cut pulling his hand out. Kennedy said the badly bleeding wound was sutured by a presidential physician only two cabins away. He then fainted at the Solomont house, he said, but regained his composure enough to urge the Democrats to push for health care as good as the president's. [Emphasis mine.]

The purple fingers are mightier than the bloody sword

A Cox & Forkum cartoon.

Location, location, location

For some reason NBC/MSNBC decided not to go on location for the Iraq elections.

Still, I suppose that is better than CNN, which went on the wrong location.

NY Times: The story is the elections violence

The paper of record today demonstrates the meaning of irony.

The New York Times published today an article entitled "Arab Media Focus on Voting, Not Violence." Here is an excerpt [emphasis mine]:
After nearly two years of providing up-to-the-minute images of explosions and mayhem, and despite months of predictions of a blood bath on election day, some news directors said they found the decision surprisingly easy to make. The violence simply was not the story on Sunday morning; the voting was.
Well, perhaps the voting was the story for the Arab media, but not for the Times. Even in the above paragraph about how the voting was the story, the words explosions, mayhem and blood bath all appear before any mention of voting. Similarly the lede of the same story mentions an insurgent attack and violence before any mention of the election. And remember, this is supposed to be an article about how the story is the voting, not the violence. The Times just cannot face that fact, even in an article purportedly stressing that fact.

Meanwhile, the Times itself made halting efforts to write an upbeat article about the elections, but in the end succombed to its own essential character. As Glenn Reynolds notes, a Times story on the elections originally discussed how the people of Baghdad had defied terrorists and, "showing a new, positive attitude, had turned a corner." But alas, the paper of record just could not let itself run with a positive election story. By the time the story made it into print, the lede had evolved to "Bombs Kill 35." And this paragraph from the original online version of the story had disappeared from the story altogether:
But if the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned a corner.
And so the Times explicitly acknowledges that the story in the Arab world is the elections, not the violence. And yet the paper, despite its best efforts, can only bring itself to report on the violence.

Update: Ann Althouse has more on the topic. (Link via Instapundit.)

"Freedom has won. We have conquered terrorism."

An historic day:
Joy explodes across Iraq

By Sharon Behn, The Washington Times

BAGHDAD -- Triumphant Iraqis yesterday defied the terrorists, turning out by the millions to vote in Iraq's first free elections in almost 50 years.

Voters joyfully waved celebratory purple-stained fingers aloft, proof that they had cast their ballots, defying a vicious campaign of assassination and intimidation to keep Iraqis from the polls.

"Freedom has won," said Adel Lami of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. "We have conquered terrorism."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Global warming

Much of the writing on global warming seems driven by political agendas rather than the advancement of knowledge. I personally do not know enough about the topic to have a strong point of view, other than to know I should be skeptical of what I read.

I do know that what I read and hear about global warming in the so-called mainstream media--be it in entire issues of Time magazine devoted to the topic, or in passing comments by network news anchors--appears to reflect one point of view. And what I read in right-leaning publications generally reflects a different point of view, one not heard in politically correct society.

And I know that more of the country is exposed to Time and network newcasts than is exposed to conservative political magazines. Which throws the debate off balance a bit.

In the spirit of countering that imbalance, I hereby present two essays from Stanford's Hoover Institution:

  • The first, by Thomas Gale Moore, is entitled "In Sickness and in Health: The Kyoto Protocol versus Global Warming":

    Advocates of curbing greenhouse emissions and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol contend that global warming will bring disease and death to Americans. Is this is likely? Should Americans fear a health crisis? Would a warmer world bring an epidemic of tropical diseases? Would Americans face increased heatstroke and summers bringing a surge of deaths? Would global warming bring more frequent and more violent hurricanes wreaking havoc on our citizens? Is it true that warmer climates are less healthy than colder ones? Would cutting greenhouse gas emissions, as the Kyoto Protocol requires, improve the health of Americans? This essay will show that the answer to all those questions is a resounding no.
  • The second, by S. Fred Singer, is entitled "Climate Policy—From Rio to Kyoto: A Political Issue for 2000—and Beyond." From the executive summary:
    The essay also demonstrates that global warming (GW), if it were to take place, is generally beneficial for the following reasons:

    1. One of the most feared consequences of global warming is a rise in sea level that could flood low-lying areas and damage the economy of coastal nations. But actual evidence suggests just the opposite: a modest warming will reduce somewhat the steady rise of sea level, which has been ongoing since the end of the last Ice Age—and will continue no matter what we do as long as the millennia-old melting of Antarctic ice continues.

    2. A detailed reevaluation of the impact of climate warming on the national economy was published in 1999 by a prestigious group of specialists, led by a Yale University resource economist. They conclude that agriculture and timber resources would benefit greatly from a warmer climate and higher levels of carbon dioxide and would not be negatively affected as had previously been thought. Contrary to the general wisdom expressed in the IPCC report, higher CO2 levels and temperatures would increase the GNP of the United States and put more money in the pockets of the average family.

    But even if the consequences of a GW were harmful, there is little that can be done to stop it.
(Links via The Diplomad.)

Memo to the Left

Now that's the way a rant should be written. It's Cold Fury's six-paragraph memo about the Left and their attitudes toward the War on Terror. Operative phrase:
You on the Left are not seriously concerned about the security of this nation. You are dead wrong, and you do not deserve to be taken seriously.
(Via Instapundit.)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Red mind, blue state

Tony Iovino's blog, A Red Mind in a Blue State, should be getting more attention. Some excerpts from the past few days:
  • On Carson:
    The night your parents let you lay on the floor watching the family TV (one per household, thank you very much) and didn't chase you to bed when Ed McMahon roared out his "Heeere's Johnny!," that night was a special one. You weren't a little kid anymore.
  • On cows:
    Is it just me or does anyone else find it amazing that our government can track a cow born in Canada almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the state of Washington, as well as all her calves to their stalls, but we are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens wandering around our country?
  • On Starbucks:
    ... a rapacious international corporation, which makes money off low-paid workers, and which markets a non-essential product that wholly depends on discretionary spending, lecturing its customers on prudent spending habits and liberal political issues, all to appear hip & trendy.

"See yourself in past lifetimes" and other greatest hits from public schools

A brochure and course listing arrived in the mail this week from the White Plains (NY) Public Schools Continuing Education program.

Precisely three courses appear under the category of "science":
  • Principles of Astrology for Beginners,
  • Past Lives ("Using a Mirror to see yourself in past lifetimes...") and
  • Astrology PredictionsMaking the Future Work for You ("Paticipants will learn how to forecast the future...").
No disclaimers about astrology being a pseudo-science. In fact, no disclaimers of any sort.

What's worse, the brochure makes it clear that this is a program of the public school district. It even lists the names of the members of the White Plains board of education as well as the superintendent. I called the information number to double check whether the continuing ed program was conducted under the auspices of the public school board of ed. I was told yes, it definitely was.

Makes you wonder what the kids in the White Plains public schools are learning.

[Update: The final paragraph of this post has been deleted.]

Terrorists speak

Fascinating points from captured terrorists on on Iraqi television station Al-Fayha, reported by Iraqi blogger Hammorabi. Syria doesn't look good.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Auschwitz blogburst

Auschwitz, the scene of perhaps the greatest atrocities ever perpetrated, was liberated sixty years ago.

Some 174 bloggers have committed to posting on the topic.

In the mail

Just received an information packet from the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), an organization which bills itself as
the oldest research organization promoting
  • Individual freedom
  • Private property
  • Limited government
  • Free trade.
Should be interesting.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Washington Post's cunning plan

The Washington Post's coverage of the Senate confirmation of Condoleeza Rice was remarkable for its characterization of some left liberal Democrats as centrists.

The original article in the Post (via Power Line):

Some of the Democrats who opposed Rice were centrists from states in which President Bush won or ran strongly in November, including Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
Power Line comments:
"Centrists"?? Mark Dayton? Robert Byrd? Carl Levin? And Tom Harkin?? These are some of the most far-left politicians who have ever served in the United States Senate.
Perhaps it's part of a cunning--nay, Baldrickesque--plan by the Post. If the paper classifies Levin and friends as centrists, then the Post itself is free to lean as far left as it wants and still consider itself a neutral paper. How liberating.

Note: The updates to the Power Line entry show that the Post has tweaked, then rewritten, the article in apparent response to reader criticism. And yet the paper gives no indication that the story has been tweaked or rewritten. Amazing.

And the writer of the story denies writing the relevant part of the story at all. Seems the word centrists was added by an anonymous editor. A one-time summer intern at the Post finds this plausible:
After you file a story, the editors feel free to add whatever slant they feel like to the copy without telling the reporter.
This isn't the local junior high paper. We're talking the Washington Post. These guys have won 39 Pulitzers, five in the past two years alone. What are they thinking?


In an article about multitasking conference callers, today's Wall Street Journal introduces a charming new term: flush-pas.

A flush-pas occurs when the tell-tale sound of a commercial toilet flushing can be heard by all participants in a conference call.


Best use of the word crikey:
So, the Bush administration thinks it's okay to use racial profiling to hand out government retirement benefits, but it's not okay to use racial profiling to prevent terrorists from getting on planes?


Disclosure/request regarding Amazon

You'll notice an Amazon logo over on the sidebar on the right of this blog. You have to scroll down a little way to find it. It looks like this:

If you click on the logo, a new window will open at And if you then buy something at Amazon, I will receive a small commission. There is no extra cost to you.

Note that when I link to a book or product on Amazon (here, for example) I try to remember to put in the code for my commission as well.

Unfortunately the Amazon commissions are unlikely to make me rich. My commissions for the fourth quarter of 2004 totaled $15.04. Better keep the day job.

Seems to be a pattern here

Seems Ted Turner has a history of making comments comparing Rupert Murdoch and Fox News to Hitler. You think his world view may have colored the network he created and ran?

Broadcasting & Cable reported yesterday,

Ted Turner called Fox a propaganda tool of the Bush administration and indirectly compared Fox News Channel's popularity to Adolf Hitler's popular election to run Germany before World War II.

Back in 1996, ADL reported on similar shenanigans:

Ted Turner has apologized to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for comments he made recently comparing Rupert Murdoch to Hitler. ADL had written to the CNN Chairman that such inapt analogies "trivialize a profound historical tragedy," and should be avoided.

Meanwhile Fox News takes the latest incident in stride:

"Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network, and now his
mind," said a Fox News spokesperson. "We wish him well."
(Story and links via Drudge.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Another reason I read blogs

Why do I spend so much time reading blogs? For posts like this one in this one from Aussie blogger Tim Blair.

In one entry, Blair manages to (a) Expose the myth that American troops are forces for evil, (b) Uncover bias in the reporting of the Washington Post, and (c) be hilarious in the process.

For the full story, first read this article from the Washington Post entitled,
In One Night, Iraqi Turns From Friend to Foe
Man Who Supported U.S. Occupation Calls Americans 'the Devil' After Alleged Raid on His House.
Then read the post in which Blair rips the Post article to shreds, entitled,

(The Blair reference comes via Hugh Hewitt's CNN interview--transcript here:

Just this weekend, Tim Blair, an Australian blogger, a very good blogger, took a "Washington Post" piece that was completely silly -- and the term is fist [actually, "fisked"]-- destroyed it, deconstructed it, proved that it was all spin.

And the CNN transcript comes via Instapundit and Hugh Hewitt.)


It'll take me a while to get through what's already on my bedside table, but when I do, the next two non-fiction books I buy are likely to be:

New resource for Middle East policy analysis

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has just unveiled its new web site,

See especially the heading called "research areas" for sections on:
  • Egypt,
  • Iran,
  • Iraq,
  • Israel,
  • Jordan,
  • North Africa,
  • Palestineans,
  • Persian Gulf States,
  • Syria & Lebanon, and
  • Turkey.
I've been reading (well, skimming) their stuff for years; it will be remarkably useful to have it organized in one place.

Is that a prom dress?!

The New York Post: "Prom princess or porn queen?"


Permit a dad a moment of dadness.

I just looked out the window at my two-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. They both have new snow shovels, and they are both bundled in their hats and mittens working hard at touching up the path from the back door to the garage. Very excited about doing it, too. Both of them babbling away. Nothing remarkable, but it made me very happy to be a dad.

Blogs 101

The San Francisco Chronicle prints an overview of blogging for the uninitiated.

(Via The Blue States Conservatives, a new group blog.)

More on the inaugural address

An American by Choice, writing in New England Republican's blog, distinguishes between Wilson and Bush:
Much is being written about the 'Wilsonian' tone of the Inaugural Address and the foreign policy it implies. This is nonsense and misses the once-in-a-century importance of what he said. Wilson talked of 'making the world safe for democracy," which was a goal driven by an idealism putting America at the service of mankind. Bush is quite clearly talking of making the world safe through democracy, which is a very different matter. It is a strategy driven by a realism, which keeps our national interest front and foremost in our interaction with other nations....

Blame the Jews

Betsy Newmark links to a couple of examples of anti-Semitism's re-emergence:

Subservient chicken

For those who have fantasized about having a chicken at your beck and call, now is your chance. Ask it to do a cartwheel, play the trombone, dance, play dead, go away, take its top off, show you its garters, watch tv, cry...

Monday, January 24, 2005

Steyn, the eve of destruction and liberty

Mark Steyn (whose columns I do not read nearly often enough) is fun to read even when he is not saying anything in particular. Here is his latest in the Chicago Sun Times:
I picked up the Village Voice for the first time in years this week. Couldn't resist the cover story: ''The Eve Of Destruction: George W. Bush's Four-Year Plan To Wreck The World.''

Oh, dear. It's so easy to raise expectations at the beginning of a new presidential term. But at least he's got a four-year plan.
And there is substance, too:
Sept. 11 demonstrated that the paradox of America -- the isolationist superpower -- was no longer tenable.

That was what Bush accomplished so superbly in his speech: the idealistic position -- spreading liberty -- is now also the realist one: If you don't spread it, in the end your own liberty will be jeopardized. "It is the policy of the United States," said the president, "to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." By the end of his second term? Well, not necessarily. But what matters is that the president has repudiated the failed "realism" that showers billions on a friendly dictator like Egypt's Mubarak and is then surprised when one of his subjects flies a passenger jet into the World Trade Center.
Gee, blogging is much easier when you just stick to quoting others.

Tsunami pics

Some fairly devastating before and after satellite pictures of the tsunami damage.

Click on the picture to toggle between "before" and "after." Then click "next."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Johnny Carson, 1925-2005

RIP. To quote Carson,
Now it's a farewell show. There's a certain sadness.
If I were one of those bloggers with artistic talent, I'd draw a cartoon of the Pearly Gates draped with Carson's trademark curtains, Carson appearing from the left side of the curtain while Saint Peter says, "Heeeeere's Johnny."

The best of outcomes, the worst of outcomes

Amir Taheri, writing in Arab News, describes a best- and worst-case scenario for post-election Iraq. The difference is rather stark. He suspects the best case is more likely. I pray he is right.

Best case:

The election is held producing a Parliament that, in turn, will choose a new government of national unity. Enjoying people-based legitimacy such a government would deprive the insurgency of its claim of fighting against foreign occupation. The US and coalition allies would be able to scale down their military presence while accelerating the recruitment, training and deployment of the new Iraqi armed forces and police. That would make it possible for the US-led coalition forces to be withdrawn by 2007, the most realistic date for such a move.

Also in the best case scenario Iraq could mobilize its immense manpower and natural resources, to rebuild its economy. A little noticed report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued last November, shows that even now the Iraqi economy is, relatively speaking, performing better than anyone else’s in the Arab Middle East. The report makes a predication that some might find audacious: In the next decade, Iraq could become the engine of growth for the region.

The IMF experts are not being frivolous.

Iraq sits on top of the world’s second largest oil deposits. It is the only Middle Eastern nation with substantial water resources and arable land. At the same time Iraq has the highest rates of literacy in the Arab world plus a vast pool of skilled workers at most levels. With a minimum of security, Iraq could also attract up to 10 million Shiite pilgrims a year from all over the world. (Between June 2003 and June 2004 some seven million foreign pilgrims visited Iraq.)

Worst case:
Widespread violence could disrupt the election while mass Sunni boycott casts doubt on the results. The insurgents could extend their attacks to Shiite areas, provoking Shiite counterattacks. This could lead to a de facto partition of the country or intermittent ethnic war of the kind Lebanon experienced in the 1970s and 1980s. President George W. Bush may try to stick it out until the end of his term. But his successor, lacking the stomach or the desire to stay the course, may galumph out of the quagmire. Then the Kurds may decide to set up a break away state, provoking clashes with Turkey and Iran. Iraq could become a black hole sucking the Middle East into the unknown.
(Link via Dr. Sanity.)

An interesting if tangential point: Kudos to the Arab News, a publication which as far as I know does not typically run pieces by regular contributors to National Review.

This cannot be good for the Democratic party

Kerry seeking role in spotlight

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Most expensive inauguration ever? Well, not exactly.

Perhaps you've seen some references to this year's being the most expensive inauguration ever. In case you missed it, here are some examples:
  • The New York Times: "And there was little effort to cloak the big-donor brunches and lavish corporate spending that made this inauguration, held at a time of a costly war, the most expensive in history."
  • Terence Smith hosting The News Hour with Jim Lehrer: "...the most expensive inauguration in history."
  • The Washington Post in a front page article: "...what is estimated to be the country's most expensive inauguration."
  • The Independent (apparently on its cover): "55th inauguration costs $40m, making it the most expensive ever." (Via the Daily Ablution, which notes the claim was on the paper's cover.)
  • More examples here and here.
It has become conventional wisdom.

Only one problem--it's not true. At least not once inflation is taken into account, which is the only reasonable way to look at the issue.

Of the most recent seven presidential inaugurations, this one fits right smack in the middle cost-wise. It's the median. Three cost more, three cost less, in real dollar terms.

Lest you doubt me, The Daily Ablution has done the research and has the figures.

Tempting as it is to attribute the rampant mis-reporting of this issue to anti-Bush bias in the main-stream media, I cannot lay it all on bias. Otherwise the press would not regularly pronounce a new blockbuster to be the "highest grossing movie of all time" without a thought to inflation adjustment.

So why was the misleading "most expensive inauguration ever" meme reported so often? Part of the problem is journalistic laziness; once an item gets reported enough it becomes conventional wisdom and people--even journalists--do not think to fact-check it. And perhaps part of the problem is economic illiteracy; but I think even mainstream journalists can often grasp the concept of inflation adjustment.

And yes, part of the problem is bias.

Buckley confused

In "What is Bush Saying?," William Buckley writes that the language of the inaugural address was confusing. He cites an example:

The president seemed to be saying that unless liberty survives elsewhere, our own is vulnerable.
No "seemed" about it, Mr. Buckley. The president's works were direct and clear; here is what he said:

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.
A closer reading of Buckley's column, however, reveals that his critique was less of his perceived "confusion in [the president's] language" and more a discomfort with some of the president's thoughts. Expanding worldwide freedom in the cause of US self interest seems to be beyond the scope of what Mr. Buckley thinks is achievable.

Buckley cites three examples of unfree countries: the Central African Republic, China and Saudi Arabia. The Central African Republic is, per Buckley, too exiguous [Go ahead, click on the link to get the definition; I had to when I read Buckley's piece. I'll still be here when you get back.] to worry about. And freedom in China and Saudi Arabia is, per Buckley, too ambitious a project, or at least a project which Bush neglected to support with specific policy proposals.

But inaugural addresses are not the place for specific policy proposals. I wonder if Buckley would quibble with these inaugural words:
We shall strive for perfection. We shall not achieve it immediately—but we still shall strive. We may make mistakes—but they must never be mistakes which result from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principle.
I've scoured FDR's address but found no comprehensive outline of the policy proposals which will lead the nation to perfection.

You know the Times is in trouble when...

Glenn Reynolds writes,
I should have been more skeptical of the Times, which has apparently gotten so unreliable that you need to turn to Reuters for more accurate reporting . . . .

Lean budget? Let's hope so.

My biggest complaint with President Bush's first term is the rising level of domestic spending. It has been outrageous--especially given Republican control of Congress and the presidency.

Donald Lambro reports in today's Washington Times that this may be coming to an end:
President Bush will propose a virtual freeze on overall non-defense discretionary spending in next year's budget and will abolish or consolidate wasteful, duplicative programs, according to administration budget officials.


Administration insiders and congressional budget officials said this week that the budget Mr. Bush will send to Congress early next month will propose freezing or substantially cutting many agencies and programs that fall within the discretionary budget that must be appropriated each year.
Lambro also reports that critics will believe it when they see it. Count me in that camp.

But I'm hopeful.

Friday, January 21, 2005

A liberal lesson on conservatism and classical languages

I remember a couple of months ago listening to Randi Rhodes explain on Air America Radio that the Bush administration wasn't conservative, it was neo-conservative. The scorn in her voice was palpaple.

She then proceeded to patronize her audience with an etymology lesson. Neo, she explained, meant near. So these guys weren't even conservative, they were near-conservative. Which was, for some reason, far worse. [Anyone know where I can find a transcript of Ms. Malaprop's Rhodes' program?]

For a somewhat less malapropos discussion of the matter, I recommend Victor David Hanson's discussion of traditional conservatives, neo-conservatives and the Bush administration in National Review--Idealism and Its Discontents: Thinking on the neoconservative slur.

Inauguration trivia

Historical trivia buffs know that William Henry Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address en route to the shortest presidency.

But which president delivered the shortest inaugural address? Take the CFIF presidential inauguration quiz.

(Hat tip: Large Bill.)

Less anti-Israel bias at UN?

Via an RJC newsletter, I learned of this Jerusalem Post article:
The anti-Israel tide in the United Nations is turning, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on Sunday as he welcomed its decision last week to hold a special session of the General Assembly on January 24 to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps.
Color me skeptical.

Overheard this week:
The British definition of an anti-Semite: Someone who hates Jews more than is absolutely necessary.


Welcome to readers of Pith in the Wind.

My thanks to Pith, the Nashville Scene's new blog, for sending some readers my way. Tracing the hits back I realized that one Pith contributor linked via his own name to this blog. He says he's a regular reader of David M. By way of disclosure, though, he is not a contributor to David M.

However if he'd like to contribute I'd be happy to give him a user name and password. Way I figure, anyone who's won national investigative investigative reporting medals more than once is probably qualified to post here.

An Alternative Inaugural Address

P.J. O'Rourke:
MY FELLOW AMERICANS, I had intended to reach out to all of you and bring a divided nation together. But I changed my mind. America isn't divided by political ethos or ethnic origin. America isn't divided by region or religion. America is divided by jerks. Who wants to bring a bunch of jerks together with the rest of us? Let them stew....

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Plus ca change

Back in the summer of 2003, Mecca was a city of intolerance. A city where non-Muslims were not even allowed to enter the city limits.

Journalist Jonathan V. Last described Mecca as a city which, "by national and religious law, is only accessible to visitors of the Muslim Religion." Writing for the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard, Last reported that infidels were forbidden from entering the city of 1.2 million people. He matter-of-factly called the system one of religious apartheid and detailed the reasons why.

Fast forward to January 2005. Oh, how times have changed. Today a New York Times headline trumpets the "Cosmopolitan Air" of Mecca in an article about the city's openness and diversity. To prove the point, the article quotes a Meccan sociology professor:
"This city is a stage where people from all over the world can come and find an audience to listen to them," says Dr. Bagader, a Meccan native. "There is an acceptance of being different here."
The Times journalist echoes the sentiment:
But what really makes Mecca so open is its diversity....

The average Meccan is just as likely to be Asian as Arab, just as likely to be light-skinned as dark-skinned, just as likely to speak English as Arabic, and almost everyone who lives here is bilingual or better. [...]

"Other cities claim to be melting pots, but this is the original melting pot," says Salah Abdel Jalil, an educator who heads a program for gifted students. "You feel a certain level of peace and openness here that you won't find elsewhere."


All that has resulted in an unlikely liberalism--not quite a Berkeley-style liberalism, but still a striking oasis of open thought and discussion in a world of hardened politics and interests.
So what has changed in the past two and a half years to transform Mecca from a city of intolerant religious apartheid to a cosmopolitan melting pot characterized by diversity and openness?

Nothing has changed. Nothing at all. As it happens, Mecca still practices religious apartheid and still will not let a non-Muslim so much as enter the city limits.

The Times just chooses not to stress that. Doesn't fit the image of a cosmopolitan melting pot. Sure they mention it. In passing. In the twelfth paragraph. In the last sentence of the paragraph. In parentheses. If the paper's style book allowed for smaller fonts, one has the sense the caveat would have appeared like this: (No non-Muslims are allowed in the city.)

There was a time when I thought the Times was the best source of news available. Over time I began to see the Times as a valuable source of news which was at times tainted by inadvertently tripping on its own bias. With each week that passes, however, I am having an increasingly hard time taking the paper seriously at all.

(Hat tip: Taranto.)

Lesson learned

Here is Iraqi blogger Ali responding to a fairly pitiful profile of him in The New York Times:
Lesson learned and I won't make the mistake of talking to anyone from the NY times again.
For those interested, Jeff Jarvis dutifully ripped apart the Times article here.

(Links via Instapundit.)

Schumer misses the point on taxes

Today's New York Sun reports on Senator Chuck Schumer's opposition to Bush's forthcoming tax simplification plan because it likely will eliminate the deductibility of state taxes from federal tax returns.

According to the Sun, Schumer said that not allowing taxpayers from high-taxing states like New York to deduct state taxes from their federal returns would
"create a giant sucking sound as the best and brightest workers, and the most productive companies, face incentives to tear up longstanding roots and move to lower-tax jurisdictions."
To summarize, Schumer opposes the Bush plan because it will create higher federal taxes for New Yorkers. But no sane person thinks the Bush plan will result in higher taxes, not even for New Yorkers.

On one point, the senator is astute in his thinking. He clearly understands that high taxes are disincentives to people and businesses. So why is he not on the vanguard of those pushing for lower taxes at all levels?

Mets fans

For those fans excited about Mike Piazza's upcoming nuptials with Playboy Playmate Alicia Rickter, now you can browse their registry. As of this writing, they still need three of the eight curved horn napkin rings they requested.

(Hat tip: Chris Lynch.)

President Bush's Inaugural Address

No small thinking here:
Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.

And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.
Update: Kathryn Lopez writes that the White House should post translations of the speech into Arabic. And Persian, Korean and Chinese. She's right.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Kerry, Rice and Rumsfeld

The more I know about John Kerry, the worse I think his presidency would have been. Let's look at his recently expressed views on the qualifications of Condoleezza Rice and Don Rumsfeld to serve in the Cabinet.

Here is Kerry explaining his vote against confirmation of Rice as Secretary of State:
There isn't anybody in the United States of America who doesn't admire Dr. Rice for the journey she's made, for what she represents. And is she qualified for the job? Absolutely. Of course she is absolutely qualified. And the president has a right to make a choice.
Kerry continues by stating, "...I recognized at the beginning of this hearing that Condoleezza Rice will be confirmed overwhelmingly by the United States Senate...."

In summary then, Kerry feels that Rice is "absolutely qualified" for the job and stands to be "confirmed overwhelmingly" by the entire Senate.

Yet Kerry deems it appropriate to vote against her. Says his is a vote against the nation's policies over the last four years which Rice was instrumental in developing. Kerry forgets that on November 2 the nation voted to re-elect Bush and the administration that created those policies.

(Kerry was one of two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to vote against sending Rice's nomination to the full Senate for a vote. He was joined by Barbara Boxer; the other 14 committee members voted yes.)

Given that record, how can we take Senator Kerry seriously when he demands the resignation of another cabinet member? In a blast e-mail message Kerry sent to supporters this week, he wrote,
I'll say this in the Senate, but I'm asking you to add your voice to mine:

"President Bush, for the sake of our troops, replace Rumsfeld now."
(And he backs it up with a petition on his website calling for Rumsfeld's ouster.)

His e-mail message continues by stating the reasons "WHY RUMSFELD HAS TO GO!" [The bold print, exclamation point and capital letters are Kerry's. I find that the more emphasis a statement is given, the less likely that statement is to be true--perhaps never more so than with John Kerry, the man whose least reliable memories are "seared" in his mind.]

Kerry's reason number one WHY RUMSFELD HAS TO GO! is
"Rumsfeld Blamed The Troops for Problems in IRAQ."
He backs this absurd allegation by citing CNN (12/9/04) reporting Rumsfeld's statement,
As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want.
Kerry provided no link to the CNN article because reading the article would make it far too easy to prove his allegation wrong. Rumsfeld's statement had nothing whatsoever to do with blaming the troops. It was a reference to making sure the Army had Humvees with appropriate armor. The link is here.

There may be legitimate reasons not to want Rice or Rumsfeld in the Cabinet, but Kerry has chosen absurd ones. I am increasingly thankful that it is not a man of Kerry's judgment nominating Cabinet members in the first place.

Update: Cox & Forkum are unimpressed with Kerry and Boxer.

And LGF's Charles Johnson writes a post entitled Dems Show Their Irrelevance at Rice Hearing. His conclusion:
Our nation dodged a bullet when these people were denied the White House.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


When kayaker meets whale.

Update: says the video is fake. But it's still fun to watch.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Seven-fifty, seven-fifty, do I hear eight hundred?

In order to "highlight the tragic loss of life among children in South Asia," Cox & Forkum drew this cartoon:

Now they're auctioning the original art for tsunami relief charity.

Last spring they raised $2004 for charity auctioning the original art for this cartoon:

Memo to John Derbyshire re: bumpy tongue

For those not interested in bumpy tongues, please move right on to the rest of the blog. The rest of you, read on.

National Review's John Derbyshire asks about bumpy tongue:
My kids keep discovering diseases hitherto unknown to medical science. My 9-yr-old son is complaining about "bumpy tongue." Symptoms? "My tongue feels all bumpy." Let's take a look. Hmm, looks like a normal tongue. "No, it's got bumps on it. I can feel them."

Anyone know anything about bumpy tongue?

Well, Derb, you've come to the right place.

First a little background. I have no medical training and hence my advice on any medical topic should be appropriately discounted. I'm also the guy who once set your cribbage posts to bad Seussian poetry, which I suppose means my advice on any topic should be quite heavily discounted.

That said, I have uncovered various possible causes of your son's bumpy tongue, which I list in (roughly) ascending order of likelihood.

  1. Your son is an armadillo. (This one seems unlikely unless you and your wife are also armadillos.)
  2. Your son is a large member of the cat family, in which case "the hard bumpy tongue combs fur clean, cleans off blood after feeding, and removes ticks, fleas and other parasites." (Again, this seems unlikely--unless, of course, you've noticed considerable blood on your son's fur after feeding time.)
  3. Your son has a rare genetic disorder. (While more likely than numbers one and two above, this too is unlikely unless your kid also has a slipped capital femoral epiphysis which you might recognize by ongoing pain in the hip or knee and below-normal range of motion).
  4. Your child has strep throat or scarlet fever. (This one seems more likely if your son also has a sore throat and fever.)
  5. Your son has some other sort of tongue inflammation.
  6. Your son is feeling normal papillae on his tongue:
    If you look at the surface of your tongue, you will notice many tiny bumps scattered in among the velvet along the edges of the dorsal surface. The bumps are another type of papilla called "fungiform papillae" (named in honor of their mushroom-like shape). These are small, slightly raised and slightly redder than the surrounding "velvet" filliform covered surface that surrounds them. Foliate papillae are a third type located on both sides of the tongue in a small area just above (dorsal to) the lingual tonsils on the lateral surface of the tongue. The fungiform and foliate papillae are associated with taste buds.

    Update: In response to reader sentiment I have removed a picture of the tongue. Curious readers can still find it here.
And thus concludes my bumpy tongue research.

Update: Related articles:

Worthless United Nations

OK, so the UN has lost credibility on all sorts of fronts. (A few that come to mind are internal corruption, letting countries with atrocious human rights records sit in judgment of countries with passable human rights records, and letting anti-Israel prejudice dictate its agenda.)

But at least they can manage a disaster relief effort, right?

Um, wrong. For details read The Diplomad. Scroll through all the postings from the first week in January. It's outrageous.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Reading list

I'm looking forward to reading Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim To Help--And The Rest Of Us, the new book by Mona Charen, author of Useful Idiots (which I have not read).

Reading from my just-finished vacation:

  • David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day. A cousin-in-law gave it to me, and I'm glad I read it. It's a fast read (even for me, a laboriously slow reader). Mostly observations about Sedaris' life experiences. I even laughed aloud once.
  • Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. Not sure why I waited so long to read this after reading Angels & Demons almost a year ago.

Another relative gave me How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must) with assurances that it would help me communicate with my mother-in-law. Amusing tidbits from Coulter, even if not much of an effective tool for bridging the political divide.