Thursday, April 27, 2006

On United 93

Todd Beamer's dad:
This film further reminds us of the nature of the enemy we face. An enemy who will stop at nothing to achieve world domination and force a life devoid of freedom upon all. Their methods are inhumane and their targets are the innocent and unsuspecting. We call this conflict the "War on Terror." This film is a wake-up call. And although we abhor terrorism as a tactic, we are at war with a real enemy and it is personal.

There are those who would hope to escape the pain of war. Can't we just live and let live and pretend every thing is OK? Let's discuss, negotiate, reason together. The film accurately shows an enemy who will stop at nothing in a quest for control. This enemy does not seek our resources, our land or our materials, but rather to alter our very way of life.

I encourage my fellow Americans and free people everywhere to see "United 93."

Be reminded of our very real enemy....

May the taste of freedom for people of the Middle East hasten victory. The enemy we face does not have the word "surrender" in their dictionary. We must not have the word "retreat" in ours. We surely want our troops home as soon as possible. That said, they cannot come home in retreat. They must come home victoriously. Pray for them.

Recycle a story; give it some anti-Bush flavor; win a Pulitzer

Don Surber:
Dan Riehl asks was Dana Priest's Pulitzer Prize-winning story on secret prisons a repeat of her 2002 reporting? Good question. But the 2005 rendition of her 2002 story left out this paragraph, according to Riehl:
The Clinton administration pioneered the use of extraordinary rendition after the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
Riehl has a lot more in his examination. Read it.

The Washington Post is a good newspaper. Surely Riehl should ask its omsbudswoman to explain this.

State gas taxes

New York has the highest gas taxes in the country: 44.5 cents per gallon. This is on top of the nationwide federal tax of 18.4 cents for a total of 62.9 cents per gallon. [August 2005 data from the American Petroleum Institute.]

New Jersey's state gas taxes of 14.5 cents per gallon are 30 cents less than New York's. And it shows at the pump. Which is why I fill up every time I find myself across the Hudson.

Here are the data:

Click on image to enlarge in separate window (which is still a bit hard to read).
Or for a clearer version, see the original pdf from the American Petroleum Institute.

On a related note, despite the media and political hype, gas prices have been fairly flat in real-dollar terms since 1979. At least that's the case for this guy who has kept track of all the gas he's purchased for 26 years and adjusted it for the consumer price index.

(Hat tips: Betsy's Page and Instapundit.)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Wilentz on Bush

Reader AKA sends a reference to Sean Wilentz's attack piece on Bush in Rolling Stone ("The Worst President in History?").

Maybe it's just me, but I prefer James Taranto and Mark Steyn's mockeries of Wilentz to Wilentz's writing.

Snippets from today's Wall Street Journal

From the that's-a-relief category, here is Daniel Henninger:
I don't think the blogosphere is breeding cannibals.
From the what-the-heck-is-he-talking-about? category, here is a theater review by Terry Teachout:
...a preternaturally earnest ensemble of Stanislavsky-worshipping leftists...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Great minds

David M, April 16:
UN slips further from relevance as Iran becomes vice chair of Disarmament Commission
Sen. Norm Coleman, April 18:
Iran's election to a leadership role on the UN Disarmament Commission is another outrageous and saddening reflection of the lack of credibility of the United Nations.

The Yankees played their 14th regular season game on Wednesday. And for the first time this season, they scored fewer than 9 runs and still won.

Going to be hard to win a World Series with A+ hitting and B+ pitching.

Beware those anonymous web site operators

According to Strategy Page, some "pro-terror" web sites were really run by the good guys trying to collect information from the bad guys. Since this has been exposed,
many potential users of such sites are now reluctant to get involved. These pro-terror web sites have long been a powerful recruiting tool. Not so much any more.

(Hat tip: my brother-in-law.)

Approval ratings

Are the President's approval ratings dependent almost entirely on the price of gas? If these data are to be believed, the answer could be yes.

Jonah Goldberg speculates that the same things that raise gas prices reduce Bush's approval ratings. (Think Katrina.)

(Hat tip.)

Of Treos, ships and Blackberries and cabbages and kings

Just ordered a Palm Treo 700w. Other contenders were the Treo 650 and a Blackberry. Did I choose right?

Mark Steyn's new book: America Alone

Whenever I sense myself starting to go wobbly, a good strong dose of Mark Steyn or Victor Davis Hanson is always an effective cure. I'm looking forward to Steyn's forthcoming America Alone: Our Country's Future as a Lone Warrior.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Honest Hamas?

Hamas won't play the hypocritical game, first begun by Yassir Arafat, of condemning terrorism while sponsoring it at the same time. These guys endorse terrorism while sponsoring it at the same time. Hey, that's honest! You got to give them credit for that.

The Yale president, special students and the Taliban man

Ensuant to the Yale Taliban kerfuffle, Yale president Richard C. Levin has issued a statement on Yale's special student programs. The statement never mentions the Yale Taliban--a former Taliban official now enrolled as a special student at Yale--but it does mention the increased media attention since February 2006 (when incidentally the Yale Taliban story broke).

Apparently there are 58 to 72 students admitted annually to Yale's special student programs, some on a degree track and most not. Levin mentions twice that these students
do not live on campus, do not receive financial aid, and do not compete for admission with the 1300 members of the freshman class in Yale College.
This is presumably an effort by Levin to ensure that people know that the Taliban is not taking anything away from regular (that is, non-special) Yale students.

First, a trivial quibble with the statement: some students (including the Yale Taliban) do receive financial aid. This aid does not come from the University, though, and so Yale should not be held accountable for it.

Second, a more substantive quibble: special students do compete with regular Yalies for university resources. For classes with unlimited space, the more students in the class, the more diluted is the professor's attention. For classes with limited enrollment, some students are routinely turned away.

Here is my understanding/recollection of how the decision to turn students away is made:
  • For some classes students are turned away based on formal criteria. For example, economics major undergraduates are admitted first, then other undergraduates, then economics graduate students, then other graduate students.
  • Other classes use more subjective criteria. For example, students might write a note of why they want to be in the class, and the professor chooses a mix of students that will make for the most interesting classroom environment.
So, despite Levin's implicit protestations that the Taliban did not take a spot from a Yale freshman, it is quite plausible that the Taliban is indeed taking classroom space from that same Yale freshman (or upperclassman or graduate student). And given the apparent cap of 72 special students, the Taliban man certainly appears to be taking a special student spot that could otherwise have gone to someone who never was a high officer with a terrorist regime at war with the United States--a high officer who incidentally has never publicly renounced the policies of that regime.

Update: Clint Taylor comments on other aspects of the Levin statement here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The movies

Two based-on-reality movies I'd like to see: United 93 and The Lost City.


Ergasiophobia is one of those words that does not get nearly enough use.

It apparently means "fear of, or aversion to, work."

And guess what comes up first in a search for the word?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Thoughts on calls for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation

When some retired generals state very publicly that they want Donald Rumsfeld gone, it reminds me of candidate John Kerry's very public statement listing the retired generals and admirals who supported him, when in fact ten times as many had declared themselves against him.

That said, I do not have a firm opinion on Donald Rumsfeld's job performance. My knowledge of the man comes primarily from Midge Decter's (none-too-neutral) hagiography as well as the (none-too-neutral) media headlines.

Yale Taliban update

Per the latest from John Fund, more people of all political stripes are coming to realize Yale's foolishness in admitting the Taliban man.

For example, liberal Yale alumnus and editor of the New Haven Advocate Mark Oppenheimer was making silly comments about how this was an issue promoted by "right-wing boobs... doing their fake-fury thing." Fund reports that Oppenheimer has changed his thinking on the matter and that Oppenheimer attributes his earlier, misguided point of view to a gut reaction that the right must be wrong:
Mark Oppenheimer, a Yale grad who edits the New Haven Advocate, an alternative weekly, says he has "finally come to the conclusion" that "Yale should not have enrolled someone who helped lead a regime that destroyed religious icons, executed adulterers and didn't let women learn to read. Surely, the spot could have better gone to, say, Afghani women, who have such difficulty getting schooling in their own country."

Mr. Oppenheimer attributes his prior reluctance to realize Yale had erred to "basic human stubbornness" and says he finds it "awfully upsetting to agree with jokers like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly," both of whom have discussed the Yale story on Fox News Channel. "The harder they flogged this issue, the more I became convinced that they had to be wrong. I just feel better across the fence from them. . . . I think it's utterly fair to blame the right wing for making me so desperate to dissemble."

Sunday, April 16, 2006

UN slips further from relevance as Iran becomes vice chair of Disarmament Commission

From Anne Bayefsky at Eye on the UN:
Believe it or not: Iran becomes UN disarmament leader

On April 10th the UN Disarmament Commission elected Iran as one of its three Vice-Chairpersons.

Afterwards, the UN's Under Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Nobuaki Tanaka, said the Commission "played a unique role" with "the advantage of being a fully universal deliberative body." This is the UN fiction which brings us closer to nuclear war with each passing day. The allusion is to universal democracy, though the majority of voters are non-democratic and include thugs, racists and war-mongers.
What next, Sudan on the Human Rights Commission?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Jewish Week:
Reform Movement Goes Silent On Its Anti-War Stand

Almost six months after putting Judaism’s largest denomination on record calling for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, a divided Reform movement has let languish the resolution it passed with great fanfare at its November biennial convention.

The Union for Reform Judaism resolution, which demanded “a clear exit strategy ... with specific goals for [U.S.] troop withdrawal,” marked the first — and still only — official stand by a major Jewish organization against the war....

Who let the Jews out?

Video here.

(Hat tip.)

Does this mean than Donald Rumsfeld is on his way out?

The South Park Mohammed censorship kerfuffle

It's a classic case of life imitating art imitating life.

Comedy Central censors an image of Mohammed on a South Park episode poking fun of media that censor pictures of Mohammed.

Michelle Malkin is all over it with video clips, links and commentary. She's posted the key clip here.

One of the South Park characters, a kid named Kyle, makes a pretty good speech on the issue of free speech and the Mohammed controversy:
Kyle: You can't do what he wants just because he's the one threatening you with violence.

TV exec: I can't be responsible for people getting hurt, especially me.

Kyle: Yes, people can get hurt; that's how terrorism works. But if you give into that..., you're allowing terrorism to work.
And Thom Zaler writes to Powerline on the juxtoposition of the censureship of mundane Mohammed images with the showing of outrageous images of Bush and Jesus:
The episode was built around a network and the free speech/Mohammed hypocrisy. Mohammed's appearance in the cartoon was of him handing off a football, purposefully tame. That's when the "Comedy Central won't air this part" popped up. Then, in the cartoon, the Muslim extremists react by making their own offensive cartoon, including the images of Jesus and Bush defecating on themselves and the American people.

That, to me, is the brilliance of it. They knew Comedy Central wouldn't air Mohammed, but would air the Jesus/Bush images. They not only called out their network's callowness, they illustrated it, and further showed how Americans DIDN'T riot upon seeing those images. Unless there was a story I missed this morning.

And take note of this memo (as quoted in the New York Sun) from Comedy Central executives in response to a prior freedom of speech controversy:
As satirists, we believe that it is our First Amendment right to poke fun at any and all people, groups, organizations and religions and we will continue to defend that right. Our goal is to make people laugh, and perhaps if we're lucky, even make them think in the process.
Certainly a First Amendment right to free speech is different from an obligation to broadcast offensive speech. But it does not seem right to block only speech that might offend to those who threaten violence. Leads to conclusions like this one:
Still, either way the point is the same: Don't like people mocking your religion? Threaten them with violence. It seems to work pretty well.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Jib Jab boys do Passover

A video of Jib Jab's hip hop Passover anthem is here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Slate: Quite simply stupid

Jonah Goldberg on a particularly silly (and anti-Conservative) lead line in Slate:
Even accounting for poetic license, this is quite simply stupid. That this line made it by Slate's editors tells us quite a bit about the entire enterprise.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Notre Dame pass right video

Remember that Notre Dame pass-to-the-right story?

Here is the video. I could not watch it with a dry eye.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Draft mistake

With the fifth pick in the 1992 baseball draft, the Reds picked Chad Mottola; with the sixth pick, the Yankees chose Derek Jeter.

Though the end of 2005, Mottola had 21 big league hits; Jeter had 1,936.


(And Jeter's number does not include his post-season hits or the first-inning homer he hit tonight.)

"Democrats are smarter, so they get all the advanced degrees"

From Thomas Sowell's recent column, "Classroom brainwashing":
Unfortunately, there is much confusion about both free speech and academic freedom. At too many schools and colleges across the country, teachers feel free to use a captive audience to vent their politics when they are supposed to be teaching geography or math or other subjects.

... The lopsided imbalance among college professors in their political parties is a symptom of the problem, rather than the fundamental problem itself.

If physicists taught physics and economists taught economics, what they did on their own time politically would be no more relevant than whether they go swimming or sky diving on their days off. But politics is intruded, not only into the classroom, but into hiring decisions as well.

From a response from Sarah Stravinska, a professor of dance at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette:
A possible answer to what Sowell sees as imbalance in faculty politics is:

a. Republicans are teaching in private, Christian colleges.

b. More Democrats choose the teaching profession.

c. Democrats are smarter, so they get all the advanced degrees.

d. All of the above.
I hope Prof. Stravinska's teaching of ballet is better than her understanding of politics. But then she presumably sees no problem injecting politics into unrelated areas in the classroom, as she implies when writes in response to Sowell, "To strictly limit a professor to 'the subject at hand' is to limit the students’ education and the opportunity to learn the relevance of the subject to real life."

(Hat tip: Phi Beta Cons.)

Friday, April 07, 2006


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

David Gelernter on Federalism

David Gelernter in The Weekly Standard:
The Founders designed a vast garment for America that hugs where it should hug and stretches where it should stretch; each state creates its own society, and the Constitution stitches them all together into a comfortable, sensible union suit.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Date and clock games: 1-2-3-4-5-6

Tonight (well, early tomorrow), at three seconds after 1:02 a.m., it will be 01:02:03, 04/05/06. If you miss it, there's always next millennium.


(Hat tip: my brother)

Monday, April 03, 2006

A rock and roll tribute to W's policies

Watch the video here. Lyrics here. The band is The Right Brothers.

The first verse:
Freedom in Afghanistan, say goodbye Taliban
Free elections in Iraq, Saddam Hussein locked up
Osama’s staying underground, Al Qaida now is finding out
America won’t turn and run once the fighting has begun
Libya turns over nukes, Lebanese want freedom, too
Syria is forced to leave, don’t you know that all this means...
Scott Johnson at Powerline: "A beat you can dance to, lyrics shot through with optimism, a killer hook...and a brilliant middle eight.... Don't miss it!"

Joe Malchow: "Too funny. Whether you agree with the causal argument, these guys are stunningly informed about recent world events."

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I laughed aloud

"A Call From Long Island - You Don't Have To Be Jewish" (Actors Betty Walker & Arlene Golonka; copyright 1992, Bob Booker Productions)

It's a 2-1/2 minute tape. Make sure your sound is on.

(Hat tip: my mom. Via this site.)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Problems with my party

Ramesh Ponnuru outlines some problems with Republicans. Namely, Republicans are:
  • "Preparing to bring the Federal Marriage Amendment to a vote," and
  • "Leading a charge to subject '527 groups' to onerous regulations...."

If there were a viable party of hawkish libertarians, I'd join. But there is not. So I'm a Republican.