Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What is an oil company, anyway?

Good piece by Ben Stein in the Sunday New York Times:
So, when gasoline and heating oil prices go up — prices that are set by the markets, not in the Exxon Mobil boardroom in Irving, Tex. — why are we angry at the schoolteachers and retired police officers who own Exxon Mobil and who can now buy new golf clubs?

We can be angry at "them" all we want, but it does not make a lot of sense because, at the end of the day, "them" is us.

The current temperature is 20°F (feels like 12), and today's high is supposed to be 34°F (feels like 24).

The good news, though is that it's the time of year when thoughts turn to books like this one and blogs like this one.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Classic Clemens: high and tight to his own son

The only man I know who would brush back his own son:
Roger Clemens' son took the Rocket deep on his first real pitch of spring training, crushing a trademark fastball over the left-field fence.

...The next time his oldest son came to the plate, Roger buzzed him high and tight with another fastball.
(Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt.)

The 2006 elections: conflicting views

Glenn Reynolds:
MARC COOPER was at Restoration Weekend and reports that Republicans are worried about the midterm elections. Well, they should be.
Betsy Newmark:
Gallup acknowledges that polls of registered voters overstate Democrats by about 10% when it comes to actual elections. Using that metric, the GOP is actually ahead going into the Congressional elections this Fall.

Good for Cher

I've mentioned the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund a couple of times before. It will likely remain my family's top charity as long as we are at war.

When Hollywood and recording stars support worthwhile causes (a too-rare event) we should give them due credit, so take note of this e-mail message today from Bill White, head of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund:
Cher (yes of Sonnie and Cher) just called the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund line from California. She heard about us on Imus and was so moved by what we are doing that we will be making a $300,000. contribution today. I called IMUS to give him the great news and he invited her to call into his show live on MSNBC at 810am tomorrow or on WFAN 660am radio EST.

Cher will attend our opening ceremonies and possibly perform the National Anthem schedule permitting. She was very sweet and wonderful on the phone and talked about at 19 y/o visiting Vietnam and going to our troops hospitals there and visiting the soldiers. It was an honor to talk to her – was a wonderful 30 minute call and she is VERY interested in being with us.

What an amazing woman – Kudos to all and special thanks to IMUS.
Read more about the fund here. Make a donation here.

Update: Thanks for the links, K-Lo and the Armorer at Castle Argghhh.

Click here to see main blog page.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tax data, top 1 percent and all that

Is this right?
Office of Public Affairs

March 2, 2005
Who Pays the Most Individual Income Taxes?

...The President’s tax cuts have shifted a larger share of the individual income taxes paid to higher income taxpayers. [Emphasis mine.] In 2005, when most of the tax cut provisions are fully in effect (e.g., lower tax rates, the $1,000 child credit, marriage penalty relief), the projected tax share for lower-income taxpayers will fall, while the tax share for higher-income taxpayers will rise.
  • The share of taxes paid by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers will fall from 4.1 percent to 3.6 percent.
  • The share of taxes paid by the top 1 percent of taxpayers will rise from 32.3 percent to 33.7 percent.
  • The average tax rate for the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers falls by 27 percent as compared to a 13 percent decline for taxpayers in the top 1 percent.
Granted this looks at income taxes only. But it's still remarkable in light of the conventional wisdom on the topic.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Valentine's Day thoughts

From Andrew Tobias:

Tonight I thought he was acting weird.

We had made plans to meet at a bar to have a drink. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment. Conversation wasn't flowing so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed but he kept quiet and absent. I asked him what was wrong; he said nothing. I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said it had nothing to do with me and not to worry.

On the way home I told him that I loved him, he simply smiled and kept driving. I can't explain his behavior. I don't know why he didn't say I love you too. When we got home I felt as if I had lost him, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there and watched T.V. He seemed distant and absent.

Finally, I decided to go to bed. About 10 minutes later he came to bed, and to my surprise he responded to my caress and we made love, but I still felt that he was distracted and his thoughts were somewhere else.

He fell asleep - I cried. I don't know what to do. I'm almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.


I shot the worst round of golf in my life today, but at least I got laid.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

NYT writer giving cash to a Democrat?

Note: See updates at bottom of message. There appears to be no wrongdoing at the Times in this case.

From Federal Election Commission 2006 primary campaign contribution records:
Name: Shelly Phillips
Employer: New York Times
Occupation: Writer
Amount: $518
Name of Committee: Lois Murphy for Congress
Date of receipt: 12/28/2005
From the May 2004 New York Times handbook entitled "Ethical Journalism" (p. 19, paragraph 62 of pdf):
Staff members may not themselves give money to, or raise money for, any political candidate or election cause.
From the October 2005 "New York Times Company Journalism Ethics Policy" (paragraph 90):
Staff members may not themselves give money to any political candidate or election cause or raise money for one.
  • Oddly, googling nytimes.com for "Shelly Phillips" yields no hits. Did Phillips make up the affiliation with the paper?
  • The reply on the matter from the Times confirms that there does not seem to be a Times writer named Shelly Phillips:
    Friday, February 24, 2006 12:38 PM


    We have no record of a Times writer named Shelly Phillips, or anything similar, like Sheldon Phillips or Rochelle Phillips.


    Toby Usnik
    Executive Director, Public Relations
    The New York Times Company

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dave Barry follows the olympics so you don't have to

BIATHLON: This fun sport was invented by the Norwegians, often called ''The Yuckmeisters of Western Scandinavia.'' Rifle-toting competitors ski for a while, then shoot at targets, then ski some more, then shoot some more, then ski some more, then shoot some more, then ski some more, then shoot some more and so on until France surrenders.
(Hat tip: Dr. B.)

Why are these Google videos "not playable in [my] country"?

Can you watch these Google videos?
I'm in the US, and I cannot.

Via Lapides ("CENSORED by Google in America!") and Reynolds ("IS GOOGLE CENSORING STUFF IN AMERICA?").

Speaking of Nancy Grace

Reader RLS e-mails a Romenesko link to a USA Today puff piece on Nancy Grace: "When it comes to true crime, Nancy Grace is on the case."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Grossly offensive or shrewd and pertinent?

An 1899 Winston Churchill passage on Islam is getting some attention of late. Here's what Mark Steyn wrote about Churchill's account in 2004:
Is that grossly offensive to Muslims? Almost certainly. Is it also a rather shrewd and pertinent analysis by one of Britain's most eminent leaders? I think so.
Here is The American Thinker's reprint of the Churchill passage today. I will let the reader judge whether it is grossly offensive, shrewd, pertinent or all three.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

InterContinental expunges Israel

Blogger Zalmi Unsdorfer reports that the InterContinental Hotels Group has wiped Israel from the map in its advertising. Kudos to Zalmi for breaking the story and posting scanned pictures of the ads.

Picture from zalmi.blogspot.com

According to the company's web site, InterContinental is the world's largest hotelier by number of rooms. The group, headquartered in the UK, is behind not only InterContinental Hotels but also Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and other chains.

Here is an excerpt from the hotel group's "Overview: Corporate Responsibility" (pdf, top of second page):
Wherever we operate we seek to maintain an apolitical stance....
Wonder if InterContinental views its newfound nonrecognition of Israel as apolitical?

Interestingly, InterContinental does appear to operate hotels in Israel, and the firm's web site does identify these properties as being in Israel, as this screenshot shows:

Screenshot from www.ichotelsgroup.com
(Click on image to enlarge in separate window.)

So why did the firm run a four-page magazine ad with Israel blatantly missing from the map? I might (unfortunately) expect this behavior in the Arab world, but a big British multinational should know better.

(Hat tip: MR.)

Scene, CNN & David M

The Nashville Scene's "Desperately Seeking the News" column today notes the story I wrote earlier on the geography-challenged folks at CNN Headline News and the Nancy Grace show:
Media Reporting, Blog Style
Calling CNN on the carpet...and other online ruminations
Thanks to Scene editor Liz Garrigan for the credit and the link.

Here is my original post on the Headline News matter.

(Ever notice the irony in the attitude of so many bloggers toward more established media? We revel in gotcha moments with big media, and we revel even more when recognized media cite us.)

Taranto and Vanderkam

James Taranto calls a USA Today piece by blogger, columnist (and friend of this blog), Laura Vanderkam, "silly."

So silly indeed that Taranto quotes the piece at length [scroll down to "Be My McValentine"] and seems to accept its conclusion.

Vanderkam should know that being mocked by Taranto puts her in good company [scroll down to "Amateur Hour"].

New e-mail address

I've got a new e-mail address for the blog: davidmblog [at] gmail [dot] com. If you have my old blog e-mail (Softhome.net) on file, please update your records.

Monday, February 13, 2006

CNN and Nancy Grace: Don't know much about geography

Anyone catch Nancy Grace's eponymous legal show on Headline News tonight? (Transcript here.)

One of the two feature stories was about the Perry March case--a Tennessee murder where the body may have been dumped in Kentucky. Grace teased it as a North Carolina story. Oops. You know how those southern states all seem alike to us New Yorkers.

Then she asked a guest about the police looking for the body in Lexington. The guest politely corrected that the body was allegedly in Bowling Green, not Lexington. At least she had gotten the state right this time.

Then the helpful CNN production staff posted a map to clarify matters. Only thing is, they reversed Kentucky and Tennessee. And they reversed Bowling Green and Nashville. Oops.

A few minutes later they posted the map again. With the same mistakes.

A few minutes later, they posted it a third time. With the same mistakes.

Can anyone get me a screen shot of the bad map? A CNN classic.

And what a performance by that Nashville Scene guy! (Disclosure: I'm not fully disinterested.) And I don't think the guy works for the Scene anymore. But it's really not that important for the network to get the facts completely right, is it? After all, it's just CNN. And this is the age of truthiness.

Update: According to sources, some flattering and some not, Grace spent significant time in the South. All the more reason for her to get her southern geography right.

Update: Related post here about Nashville Scene citation.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

World Baseball Classic

The Dutch roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic includes Mark Mulder (born in South Holland) and Andy Van Hekken (born in Holland).

Just wait till the organizers find out that Mulder's hometown is South Holland, Illinois and Van Hekken's is Holland, Michigan.

You could look it up.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Andrew Sullivan, King George and Glenda Gilmore

Andrew Sullivan's recent over-the-top comparisons of President Bush to a monarch deflate his own historical ridicule of others for making similar comparisons.

Here is Sullivan in December 2002 mocking the comparison of Bush to a tyrant as "egregious anti-Americanism":
SONTAG AWARD WINNER 2002 (for egregious anti-Americanism in the war on terror): "It is not enough for Bush to be President of the United States, he must become the Emperor of the World. This unclothed emperor is, as they say in Texas, all hat and no brains. In the years before us, I fear there will be causes worth dying for. There will be tyrants so unstoppable that we will have to fight them to preserve our own freedom. But that is not the case now. Instead of standing up against tyranny, we are bringing it to our own doorstep. We have met the enemy, and it is us." - Glenda Gilmore, professor of history, Yale University.
By comparison, note the headline of this January 2006 piece by Sullivan in Time:
We Don't Need a New King George
How can the President interpret the law as if it didn't apply to him?
In the opening paragraph of the Time piece Sullivan writes that Bush's unfortunate king-like behavior has been going on for five years. (Note that five years encompasses Professor Gilmore's piece). And Sullivan's comparison is not just a passing thought: Sullivan has made a "King George Watch" a regular feature of his blog.

Does Sullivan owe Gilmore an apology? Perhaps. Certainly Sullivan is entitled to change his mind, but he'd do well to think about glass houses.

Both Gilmore and Sullivan are out of line in making their comparisons. To disagree with the President is fine. To take the argument to an absurd extreme only weakens the case. Bush is not Hitler, and those who claim he is are not to be taken seriously. Bush is not an emperor or King George III, either. Commentators wishing to be taken seriously should take note.

Update: Gilmore later said she had perhaps been "a bit rough" on Bush:
Okay, perhaps, as my momma suggested, I was a bit rough on Bush when I said he wanted to become the "Emperor of the World," and "This unclothed emperor is, as they say in Texas, all hat and no brains," a riff on "all hat and no cattle" that brought me scorn from bellicose Texans.
This was hardly a retraction, as she immediately followed it with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt on the importance of being able to criticize the President:
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

David Horowitz refutes Columbia Journalism School dean Nicholas Lemann's refutation of Horowitz in CJR.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Please cut it out

Whoever is posing as me, please stop.

Somebody is sending e-mail messages to rabbis and temple officials in New Jersey (and maybe elsewhere) giving my address and blog as the return address.

These messages sometimes contain links to posts from this blog regarding the politics of the Union for Reform Judaism, and they sometimes contain links to articles from the Jewish World Review. Some of the messages contain grammatical errors. The messages tend to be of a tone that I would not adopt.

If you are in receipt of one of these messages, please let me know via e-mail.

If you are the sender of these messages, please stop.

Thanks to Commentary magazine's Davi Bernstein for sending a link to an advance copy of Gabe Schoenfeld's "Has the New York Times Violated the Espionage Act?" from the March Commentary. Schoenfeld's thesis is that while intelligent people can (and do) disagree over the legality of the NSA surveillance program, the more interesting story involves the role of the wartime press, the Constitution and whether the Times committed a criminal act.

Power Line's Scott Johnson writes that the piece "should change the terms of the debate over the NSA surveillance program." Should is--unfortunately--the operative word.

Meanwhile, the February Commentary has a review of Robert Fisk's new book. Glenn Reynolds comments on the review:
Fisk has never been strong on facts. Of course, his analysis has always been weak, too.
(Of course, this way of thinking is what led to the blogosphere verb "to fisk." Speaking of which [Nice segue. -ed], I'll take the opportunity to mention that the Little Green Footballs Dictionary cites (as of this week) my etymology of the word fisking. As, apparently, does Wikipedia, at least for the nonce.)