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November 30, 2002

Caught out?

Arthur Silber believes my comment to a post on his page was rude, and explains at some length why he believes that.

If you're interested, you can read his original post, my comments, and then his post explaining my rudeness, and decide for yourself.

Posted by susanna at 07:46 PM | Comments (15)

Oh, what a difference a year makes

Well, actually very little, as you can tell from this excellent satire from Rand Simberg, posted last December. Apparently some of the patients escaped the hospital before their therapies were concluded...

Posted by susanna at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

A bloggish Saturday stroll

Media Minder highlights a couple of excellent Thanksgiving Day columns, and adds his own thoughts on the blessing of being American.

Bryan Preston at JunkYardBlog posts Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

Kevin McGehee of blogoSFERICS ponders JFK’s assassination in light of doctors’ efforts to save him despite his horrific wound, and the recent revelations about the true state of his health during his presidency.

Tony Woodlief has got Sand in the Gears over art, Oreos and people who say “holidays” instead of “Thanksgiving”. Go for the grumbling, stay for the post below it on NPR letting the idiot anti-war movement speak for itself; somehow, Tony, I don’t think NPR is sneakily undermining the movement by this series, I think they’re serious.

Arthur Silber explains that religious belief is irrational on its face; Misha responds. I made a few comments on Silber’s site, mainly noting that he so controls the definitions that it empties the debate of value. Best I can tell, Silber adheres to Ayn Rand’s teachings as tightly as any fundamentalist Christian does to God’s, and quotes her writings like a Bible. Hmmm….

AC Douglas smells a scam with Gevalia coffee, but finally decides it’s a clever – and likely successful – marketing ploy.

Jordana Adams at Curmudgeonry has the poop on a recent John Lennon marketing ploy – one that manages to be unintentionally apropos. I love it.

On a weekend of thankfulness, go read Dreaded Purple Master with great thankfulness that Daniel is still with us, and prayers that his concerns that he won’t recover fully are unfounded. Take a moment to say a prayer for the family of his friend Thomas Fuller, who was not so fortunate.

CG Hill pulls Vents from his archives to assess the last few years; he’s not extremely happy.

Moira Breen offers snakes as “sweet-tempered and interesting” pets.

Juan Gato reports that, yet again, the world is taking itself too seriously, at least as far as The Simpsons are concerned.

And finally, a little comment of my own: Why do people say “give props” when they compliment someone on something? Is it short for something? Did I sleep during that part of Slang 101? It just seems goofy to me.

On that note, I’m off to spend the rest of my day studying and cooking - looks like broccoli-rice casserole, homemade yeast bread, assorted cookies, maybe even a pie (or apple betty?). Yum.

Posted by susanna at 01:30 PM | Comments (3)

An interesting discussion

John Scalzi holds forth with great gusto and derision about the Big Bang theory and those who are ignorant enough to question its validity. James Bowen has responded with an excellent set of posts – first here, then here. Alan Cornett weighs in with a more Biblical perspective of the debate.

I’m not going to comment on this issue, as I have before about similar things on this blog. However, here are a few quotes from Scalzi showing his respect for people who question him and his ideas:

I don't really think most Creationists really want to challenge their beliefs; after all, Jesus didn't tell them to question, merely to believe.

…some Bible-brandishing yahoo demands the science curriculum be changed to give equal footing to whatever damn fool brew of mysticism and junk science they've cobbled together this year…

…any Creationist who shows up at a school board meeting is already a lost cause in terms of rationality.

Another part of the problem comes from the idea that the Big Bang might somehow conflict with religious beliefs -- that the end result of accepting the Big Bang as a theory is an eternity of Satan cramming M-80s behind your eyeballs and cackling, "You want a Big Bang? I'll give you a Big Bang," before lighting the fuse with his own pinky finger.

Nice. I wonder if Mr. Scalzi has ever had a conversation with a real live Christian about this issue, where he hasn’t brought to it this attitude?

UPDATE: Here are some excerpts from the article linked by Scott Chaffin in comments:

In recent years, Allan Sandage, one of the world's leading astronomers, has declared that the big bang can be understood only as a "miracle." Charles Townes, a Nobel-winning physicist and coinventor of the laser, has said that discoveries of physics "seem to reflect intelligence at work in natural law." Biologist Christian de Duve, also a Nobel winner, points out that science argues neither for nor against the existence of a deity: "There is no sense in which atheism is enforced or established by science." And biologist Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, insists that "a lot of scientists really don't know what they are missing by not exploring their spiritual feelings."

...decades of inconclusive inquiry have left the science-has-all-the-answers script in tatters. As recently as the '70s, intellectuals assumed that hard science was on track to resolve the two Really Big Questions: why life exists and how the universe began. What's more, both Really Big Answers were assumed to involve strictly deterministic forces. But things haven't worked out that way. Instead, the more scientists have learned, the more mysterious the Really Big Questions have become.

Posted by susanna at 10:29 AM | Comments (14)

Way smarter Harper's Index

Eric Lindholm scores again with his dismantling of Harper's Index for December. He looks at the UN resolutions Israel and Turkey supposedly "violated", the US State Dept's suspected terrorist list (it needs to be longer!), and the chances of getting a hotel room in Bethlehem this Christmas, among other things. It's a monthly treat to read Eric's dead-on and witty debunking, and this month he's posted a new photo as well! Eric, it's a nice photo but you're freezing me to death in those shorts, with those little guys in t-shirts! I'm sure it was taken in the summer, but even seeing it now with 20 degree temps out...!! Brr.

Posted by susanna at 09:40 AM | Comments (1)

November 29, 2002

Honey, I'm home!

I had a great Thanksgiving, from freezing my backside off waiting for the Macy's parade to start, clear through to napping all afternoon and watching Harry Potter on HBO before going to sleep that night. A peaceful, fun time with good friends. Very thanks-worthy.

We woke up at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, and got to Columbus Circle at 7 a.m., setting up our chairs about 20 feet from the Circle itself facing the park across Central Park South. We had foldup chairs, coats, blankets, hot coffee (or hot caramel cider in my case), hats, gloves, warm bodies ... and still managed to freeze almost solid, as it was 25 degrees with windchill in the teens when we got there. The parade didn't actually start coming through the square until about 9:30, but once it did it was lots of fun. I did get testy a couple of times. Some people seem to think that they can arrive at any time they want and then send their kids to stand at the front of the crowd behind the barricades, so the people sitting can't see, because, well, you know, they're KIDS! And it's a PARADE! At first a little boy about 4 and his sister about 8 mooshed their way beside and in front of me. I grabbed the boy and put him on my lap, and had the girl lean against my side so they could see, and that worked for a while. Until I had to go to the bathroom. That was NOT fun - have you ever walked at half mast pushing through a crowd praying for a bathroom when you have no clue if one is available? I did get to one in a cafe, and they were very nice (chalk one up for NYC). I was in quite a better mood when I got back, but that dissipated when a boy about 8 pushed in front of me to stand at the barricade. I made him move to the side twice, he crept back over, and finally I said, "Look. I got here at 7 a.m. to see the parade, I can't see it because you're in front of me, move away." Did I feel like Scrooge? Yes. Do I care? No. Is it my fault they didn't get there until 9? No. His parents are bums, is what they are. And their child has no manners.

The parade itself was good, although I must say I probably won't go back. Much nicer to watch it on television curled up in an afghan with the hot caramel apple cider to hand, and a bathroom down the hall.

Afterward we changed clothes, then took a taxi ride up to Session 73, on First and 73rd. It was supposed to have live jazz, but the band didn't show. The turkey dinner was good, but generic (canned cranberry sauce - I had better at home in my freezer that I made a couple weeks ago), which didn't give me any reason to come back to that restaurant again. The company, however, was excellent, so it was a fine dinner with much to be thankful for. Not the least of which was the nap we all took afterward. We didn't stir out of the room after about 4 p.m., napping, watching tv, then going to bed. A very nice Thanksgiving altogether.

And today I am writing a column to submit to a newspaper with some hope of publication, although (because of the circumstances too long to explain) not much hope because I live outside of their circulation area. We shall see.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and don't burn up too many future paychecks in today's frenzy of shopping.

Posted by susanna at 11:58 AM | Comments (2)

November 27, 2002

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Don’t read this if you’re squeamish)

This morning on the way to work, I heard a radio newscaster describing the process of killing a turkey. The show’s host stopped him halfway through and said, stop it! We won’t be able to eat tomorrow! I have to say I was amused, but a little annoyed too.

Most people don’t know where their food comes from, have no real connection to the process from hoof to hamburger. I think that disconnection from what has been a huge part of life for the majority of our ancestors is a problem for our society – it encourages the thought that somehow we are Above That, or it Doesn’t Touch Us. I know a young woman who shudders at the thought of touching raw meat, although she’ll eat it cooked. And in this unnatural world where veggies are washed before you see them, where the worms are already cut out of the top of the corn, and the meat comes in nice little white and plastic packages, people often have a hard time understanding that life is sometimes bloody and dirty and difficult and it’s okay that it is!

Although I’m not precisely a farm girl, I did grow up on a farm where we grew our own vegetables and many times killed our own animals. I’ve never killed a chicken, but I’ve dunked its feathered body in scalding water and pulled the feathers off by hand – then I’ve eaten that same chicken and enjoyed it thoroughly, thankyouverymuch. I don’t get a thrill out of killing things, but I’m pretty pragmatic about it.

I didn’t realize just how widespread this visceral distaste for reality was until I wrote a short story (still unfinished, unfortunately) that opens with a vivid description of a hog being slaughtered and dressed. It is something I participated in as a young girl, so the details were clear to me. I think it’s one of the best pieces of writing I’ve done, and the scene is pivotal in the story – can’t have the story without that scene. I sent it to some other writer friends to get their advice. One really liked it, and had a few ideas for improvement.

The other ate me up like sausage for breakfast. “How could you do this?” she asked. “This is disgusting! This is horrible! I suggest you destroy this story and never finish it!” She found the passage about the hog slaughter to be inhuman. While I’ve never had another response quite so negative, the reactions of people who’ve read it tend to be extreme – positive or negative. And more negative than positive.

Why is that?

I think it is, in part, that separation, sanitization of our experience from the bloody dirty messy things that the life we lead really necessitates – but which with technology and separation of labor most of us have managed to push away from us. I think this disconnect contributes to disconnects of other sorts – for instance, the success of an organization like PETA. And on a larger scale, the difficulty of many in our society to face up to war. I know there are those who fully understand what war is and are not lacking in courage themselves, yet object to war. While I may disagree philosophically, I can respect that they are operating from knowledge. But so many of us live in a Disney World of sorts, with no knowledge beyond the nearest Kroger or Pathmark, beyond The Sopranos or Private Ryan. Maybe we should introduce “Reality 101” into our school curriculum?

So there’s my little rant about dead turkeys. I’m off to Manhattan to spend a couple of days with friends; we’ll watch the Macy’s parade from a sidewalk on Broadway tomorrow morning (freezing ourselves silly), then eat a traditional turkey dinner at a restaurant in the Upper West Side tomorrow afternoon. We’ll be sitting right by the stage, where they’ll be playing jazz live. Have a great holiday, remember all the wonderful things we have to be thankful for, and know that you my readers are definitely among those I’ll be giving thanks for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by susanna at 06:35 PM | Comments (9)

Sounds right to me

So what about all those graduate students working for zero money and less prestige? CPO Sparkey rails against universities that grind grad students up like so much paper through a shredder, only to complain about how there just aren't any good graduate students anymore.

Well, excuse me.

This is a topic that has been widely discussed amongst the students in my own graduate program; the consensus is, you're tossed out there to live or die, teaching has no importance and if you don't manage to get yourself into a mentoring relationship with a professor expect a much longer track to finishing and possibly such a disheartening experience that you give it up altogether. And if you want to make a living wage? Fuhgeddaboutit. Even after you graduate. If you want to make a comparison, a lawyer in her first year out of college will make more with a large law firm than a tenured professor in the social sciences in many universities.

One of my professors - internationally known in his field of expertise - once told me that at a university like Rutgers, where research is heavily emphasized, a professor who is considered a good teacher by the students is regarded with some suspicion by the administration. Why? Because working at being a good teacher - and it does take work - requires time away from research. Can't have that, it brings money into the university! The original theory was that the cutting edge researchers are going to turn out the best students with, yes, cutting edge knowledge. But if the professors couldn't teach a kitten to drink milk, what use are they?

Gotta hate a school that emphasizes good teaching, don't you?

Posted by susanna at 06:12 PM | Comments (1)

FAIRness in media

The Always Excellent Media Minded has a couple of posts on media bias that warrant your attention. In the first, he asks a very good question: Where's FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) in the matter of the reporter in Nigeria who has had a Fatwah issued for her death after making a (probably truthful) comment about the Prophet Mohammed and the Miss World beauty contest? (They do manage to find time to report about The Most Biased Name in News; that would be FoxNews, btw.)

In the second, he discusses an interview in the LA Times with Jay Harris, the former San Jose Mercury News publisher. Harris has good insight into mistakes reporters make in "performing" for each other in their coverage, but skids off the rails badly in the rest of his thoughts. MM has the scoop on it all.

Posted by susanna at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

Losing meaning

When a word is stretched out of shape to do whatever the user wants, rather than applying to a specific, widely understood meaning, that word has lost most of its communicative value - or has come to mean something else entirely.

That's the case with the word "racism".

Nick Denton has an excellent illustration of this:

Speaking of political correctness, I was told I was a racist at the weekend, at a dinner for radical geeks. The topic was guns, and the question: why did Canada have a lower murder rate when guns were as common as in the US? My partial explanation: African-Americans commit more gun crimes than average, and make up a greater proportion of the population of the US. I can understand that attitudes can be racist; but can facts? It was a bad evening for my liberal reputation. Later, as we were introduced, Matt Jones said: "Oh, so you're the fascist."

And that's the rub - when merely stating facts can lead to an accusation of racism, the word has lost any meaning beyond "You said something I didn't like!" It's really a shame, because I think people get so accustomed to hearing a concept misused that they become deaf to its proper usage. Of course it's possible to be racist, in the original and pure sense, but it's increasingly a buzzword for saying truths about (pick the race) when those truths are unpleasant.

Posted by susanna at 02:39 PM | Comments (3)

McGreevey loves the gravy

The political gravy, that is. The state is in budgetary troubles, New York City is threatening to tax NJ residents who work in NYC at the same rate as NYC residents, and Jim McGreevey, Our New Governor, A Democrat, A Man of the People, who Feels Our Pain...

Flew to Ireland on a "trade mission" and spent $105,000. In a week. Including $16,000 on a cell phone bill!

Apparently he was trying to make that one trip into New Jersey's half of a reciprocal trade agreement. I shudder to think about how many more "trade missions" he'll feel compelled to take. NJ will go into bankruptcy.

McGreevey, who has trashed former governor Christie Whitman for her fiscal policies, took his wife, eight state officials, three state troopers AND his security detail (was the security detail also protecting the troopers? just curious). Here's some of the details:

The Governor went back to his ancestral homeland in style. He flew first-class, was chauffeured around the Irish countryside in a Mercedes-Benz, and stayed at luxury hotels. In Dublin, the Governor and first lady Dina Matos McGreevey spent one night in a $720 per-night "luxury suite" at the plush Berkeley Court Hotel -- a five-star hotel whose guests have included Tom Cruise, Nelson Mandela and the king and queen of Spain...

In Banbridge, Northern Ireland, McGreevey held a family reunion at a steakhouse that cost taxpayers $3,178.48. About two dozen of the Governor's relatives came, joining the trade delegation participants. They ate steak, drank Guinness and sang Irish songs.

Interesting. Especially since McGreevey seriously low-balled the cost in a release before the trip:

By the time McGreevey released his $20,000 estimate for the trip on the day he boarded his plane for Ireland, the state had already spent at least $36,000, according to state records.

And the first class trip was due to the good graces of Continental Airlines:

The state purchased round-trip coach fares on Continental Airlines for $800 each for the Governor, his wife, and the other state officials on the trip. Nearly all of them were moved up to first-class, courtesy of Continental, which had its registered lobbyist, Nene Foxhall, on the delegation. A first-class ticket would have cost roughly $4,900.

Earlier in the month, McGreevey enacted an overhaul of the corporate tax that included a provision that capped the amount Continental will have to pay in corporate taxes at $2.5 million.

Jeff Awalt, a Continental spokesman, said the provision "recognized the hundreds of millions of dollars that Continental has invested in transportation infrastructure in New Jersey."

He said there was "absolutely" no connection between the tax break and the service upgrade to first-class. "The cabin wasn't full so we offered the available seats as a courtesy," Awalt said.

Glading, the Governor's spokeswoman, said accepting the upgrade was "standard practice on trade missions."

Rita Strmensky, director of the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards, said "it probably would have been a good idea for somebody to run it by the ethics liaison in the Governor's office."

Ethics? Isn't that when somebody is a different color from you? Okay, now, while you're at it, remind me again who the "fat cat politicians in the pocket of big corporations" are. Certainly McGreevey had some grateful corporate fellow travelers along:

Administration officials said that 17 corporations and groups represented on the trip paid $26,500 in "participation fees." Those fees were used to offset the state's cost, the officials said. Participants included PSE&G, Merck, Continental Airlines, Prudential Financial and the New Jersey State Laborers' Political Action Committee.

Hmmm. That would be ... $450,500. That's a lot of family reunions in Ireland! Wonder where the rest of the money went to? I'm sure none of those companies have expectations about, you know, favored treatment.

At least some real work got done in advancing trade:

The mission did not produce any new trade agreements or business deals, but some of the company representatives who went along said the Governor helped give them access to top Irish leaders -- including the prime minister. Most of the company representatives on the trip were lobbyists or public affairs executives, not top executives. Richard Kinney, vice president of public affairs for Schering-Plough Corp., said he made several useful contacts.

"In Newry, there was a fellow who wanted to make contact with a pharmaceutical company, so I took his card," he said during the trip. "Same thing in Belfast. I had lunch with a fellow who is involved with various start-ups. So I picked up his card and I'll pass it to our people. I don't know if anything will materialize from it, but you never know."

I always feel getting a business card or two is worth tens of thousands of my tax dollars (well, I don't pay that much, but I guess that would be from part of the $7 million Jon Corzine paid in taxes last year. Remind me again which party is the party of the wealthy?).

It turns out that the $105,000 was just for the Governor and part of his entourage:

Glading said McGreevey's estimate was limited to the projected costs for the Governor's office alone and did not include estimates for his security detail or those of the Labor and Commerce departments. Though most state officials on the trip were from the Governor's office, most of their bills were paid through Commerce.

I guess that's where some of that "participation fee" went. Who knows? Certainly McGreevey wasn't extremely happy about all this getting out:

State law requires that vouchers and receipts for trips such as the Irish trade mission be made available for public inspection on demand. The McGreevey administration took three months to release the documents, and did so only after negotiations with a Star-Ledger attorney.

I have to give kudos to the Star-Ledger for pursuing this. Good job!

My very favorite quote of the entire article comes from Jo Glading, McGreevey's spokeswoman:

"Every effort was made in keeping costs to a bare minimum on this trip and conducting this trip in an efficient and responsible manner," she said.

Preserve the taxpayers if McGreevey ever decides to go first class on a wild and inefficient bacchanalia!

Posted by susanna at 11:36 AM | Comments (6)

Is Blix pronounced "blech"?

In honor of the first day of weapons inspections in Iraq, a day that finds their Fearful Leader in New York City, a place where we've long suspected Saddam maintains a major cache of weapons (in the basement of the UN), I give to you the Happy Fun Pundit analysis of Blix & Co. Yes, I know that was a run-on sentence. The post is from last week too. So sue me.

Posted by susanna at 11:00 AM | Comments (1)

Oh, yeah, they respect their women

The all-encompassing burqa worn in the more strict Muslim societies supposedly sets a woman apart and protects her from the unwanted (by her? her father? her husband?) attention of men. Apparently that's not precisely how it happens:

Although wearing the burqa protects a woman from "impertinent eyes", it does not necessarily protect her from the greater impertinence of pinching and groping. Well-meaning friends from home recently warned a lovely young woman working in the Middle East that, if she dressed carefully, she would not provoke unwanted attention from men. She was therefore quite shocked to find that her Muslim girl friends who appeared in public with only their eyes showing were just as tormented by men as were provocative young women exhibiting miniskirts and skimpiness.

Interesting. This comes from a website run by Christian missionaries in the area, so it reflects their experiences. I didn't realize this:

A burqa* (or abaya in many places) is a long garment used by Muslim women to drape their body, with only a grid through which to see. When women observe this custom, it means that from the age of puberty they mix only with near relatives and women friends in private, and must wear the veil or the burqa in public. Although the Qur'an does not demand that women should be covered completely in public, complete veiling of women is practised in many countries. This reflects traditions in very conservative societies, rather than the teaching of Islam. Some women today may therefore be more restricted in their dress than Muslim women were at the time of Muhammad.

Apparently in some groups, WWMD* isn't sufficient. They have to improve on the prophet. Not that it matters, the women still get "tormented".

* What Would Mohammed Do

Posted by susanna at 09:47 AM | Comments (1)

Ozzie Osbourne = Ozzie Nelson?

Kay S. Hymowitz in The City Journal chronicles the conversion to "family values and bourgeois respectability" of rockers Ozzie Osbourne and Madonna, finding them now "no more a threat to middle class values than Fear Factor".

Pretty funny.

Posted by susanna at 08:38 AM | Comments (2)

A whirling carousel of thought

The newest Carnival of the Vanities has been posted at Silflay Hraka and BlogCritics for your reading pleasure. I realize that most of you already go there if reading from it is your thing, and those of you who don't read it will blow on by this post, but I've been informed that I'm needed nonetheless to get a good Blogdex rating. Always compliant, I'm doing what I can to support my fellow bloggers. So, GO READ. And if you love your bloggish pals, link 'em too so they blow out Blogdex.

Posted by susanna at 06:55 AM | Comments (0)

This has gone too far

I don't often remember my dreams, but my last one of the night this time lingers on with painful clarity. Was it one of those falling dreams, where you fall and fall and never hit ground? Was someone chasing me with harmful intent? Did I lose someone I love, show up naked to work, see an accident happen that I couldn't stop?

Nope. Nothing so... dreamish.

I dreamed that I had parked my car on a narrow Jersey City street and couldn't find the sign that told me whether I could park there. I finally had to ask a police officer. He was very nice (if a bit gruff - it was JC, after all), but still!

A nightmare about opposite side of the street parking??

I really need to get out of this place.

Posted by susanna at 06:42 AM | Comments (4)

November 26, 2002

Outrage

Chris at The Spoons Experience is livid over an email exchange he's had with a woman claiming to be (very well could be) the niece of the organizer of the Miss World Pageant in Nigeria, Guy Murray-Bruce. Apparently Mr. Murray-Bruce is refusing to blame the rioters for the carnage, but blames the journalist. His niece feels the same. Spoons is appalled at them both. As he should be.

The link goes to a post with the full exchange. I especially like the part about "soft bigotry of low expectations" in the West. I think that's one of the biggest international policy concerns we face - our elite's own reluctance to face their patronizing attitudes, and thus refusal to do what should be done in response to such behavior, here or elsewhere.

UPDATE: Here's a very good column by Dennis Prager about what larger meaning the riots in Nigeria have.

(Link via Little Green Footballs.)

Posted by susanna at 04:31 PM | Comments (1)

Live interview with proud father

Frank Schaeffer wrote a book with is son, a corporal in the USMC, about his shock and final acceptance of his son's choice. He wrote a beautiful essay about it in today's WaPo; right now (1:15 p.m.) he's answering questions about it live on WaPo live online here. I think the transcript will be accessible at the same link after the interview is over.

Posted by susanna at 01:20 PM | Comments (6)

NYTimes, WaPo take their licks

David Frum on NRO has a great column today about the NY Times and WaPo's attitudes about the Dems, religious persecution and selective emphasis of facts. It's a good look at how bias reveals itself in what is selected for coverage and emphasis as much as how the material is worded. It's difficult to excerpt, because the whole thing is good - not just in approach but in content. The thing I agree with most is this:

All that said, are we forbidden to notice that religiously motivated hate crimes in the modern world are overwhelmingly committed – not against Muslims – but by Muslims? Apparently so. Yesterday, the New York Times--yes, them again!--ran this amazing headline to describe the murder of an American missionary in Lebanon: “Killing Underscores Enmity of Evangelists and Muslims.” Yes, those missionaries and those Muslims really hate each other: Bonnie Witherall showed her hatred by offering free prenatal care to indigent Lebanese; the local Muslim clerics were naturally goaded by this outrage and killed her.

Frum was keying off WaPo coverage of an FBI hate crimes report, where they emphasized hate crimes against Muslims even though they were committed at a much lower rate than hate crimes against Jews, and were of a much less serious nature than hate crimes against gays.

It's just a column chock full of goodies, and even mentions bloggers!

UPDATE: While we're at it, let's visit a few more examples of liberal consistency and vehement stance for eradicating all hate speech. First, a few quotes from Mike at Cold Fury, who has lots more on his site:

"(I)f there is retributive justice (Sen. Jesse Helms) will get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it." - Nina Totenberg, NPR

"I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease." - USA Today's Julianne Malveaux on Clarence Thomas

"That herd of managers from the House, I mean, frankly, all they were missing was white sheets." - Eleanor Clift, on her principal object of adoration Bill Clinton's impeachment

Charming. And moving right along, let's take a look at how the media respond to behaviors against their favored classes as opposed to behaviors by their favored classes that would be vilified if done by anyone else. This from an article by Rod Dreher in today's NRO:

Before long, though, they were asking questions about my personal life I found intrusive and unwelcome. They wanted to know about my relationship with God. The pair were witnessing to me, which as Evangelicals is a duty of faith. I hastened to assure them that I was a believing Christian, but that didn't dissuade the two, who wanted to be sure I was the right kind of Christian... I simply took the pamphlet they offered me, smiled, thanked them and returned to my book...

You are asking: Rod, why didn't you strangle them and stuff their bodies in the overhead bin?

had I murdered these people, and had been tried by a jury of my peers — that is, journalists — I would have gone scot-free, provided my attorney had kept hidden from the jury the fact that I am neither a sexual or racial minority, a Muslim, or a member of any certified victim class requiring them to suspend normal standards of ethical judgment.

I reach this conclusion based on the deafening media silence around the savage murder of Mary Stachowicz, the middle-aged Chicago churchgoer allegedly killed by coworker Nicholas Gutierrez, a 19-year-old homosexual who reportedly snapped when the Catholic woman told him he should quit sleeping with men. According to Chicago police, Gutierrez confessed to killing Stachowicz in his apartment after arguing with her about his lifestyle. According to Chicago authorities, Gutierrez confessed that he set upon Stachowicz when she asked — are you ready for this? — "Why do you [have sex with] boys instead of girls?"

Obviously, this woman was a Nazi. As a state's attorney told the Chicago Tribune, "He got upset with her. The defendant punched and kicked and stabbed the victim until he was tired. He then placed a plastic garbage bag over her head and strangled her."

...Where have we heard of this sort of thing before? Why, when three redneck men killed Matthew Shepard a few years ago, after the homosexual young man propositioned them in a bar. Understandably, the men found Shepard's words offensive. They should have told him to get lost. Instead, they tortured and killed him.

There is no moral difference between these acts. Both were heinous, and both deserve publicity. Yet the American media made Matthew Shepard an overnight cause célèbre, and have so far said very little about Mary Stachowicz — just as the media said very little about Jesse Dirkhising, the 13-year-old Arkansas boy raped, tortured, and strangled by homosexuals in 1999.

The entire article is worth your time. I have absolutely no problem with the men who killed Matthew Shepard receiving the strongest penalty the prosecution can get. I deeply deplore Stachowicz's killer getting any type of pass because he is gay and she questioned it. The media's coverage of the two cases is clearly biased.

How can you tell?

Dreher does the heavy lifting with his comparisons, but ask yourself this: If someone else did this, someone who was white and rich, or someone who killed a black person because that person asked him why he used the word "nigger" - would that get more coverage? Look at the nature of the acts involved versus who engaged in the behavior, and see if there is a pattern of coverage associated more with who than what.

How many of you have heard of Jonathan and Reginald Carr? The two brothers killed five people in Wichita, Kansas; in one incident alone, they raped, sexually abused and tortured five young people before robbing them and taking them into a field, where they shot all five. One woman escaped that last killing field, and was the primary witness at the Carrs' trial. The Carrs were sentenced to death. There was coverage, yes, but not an incessant beating of the drum like with the horrible killing of the black man in Texas who was deliberately dragged behind a truck, or the beating of Matthew Shepard.

What was different? Certainly the scope of the behavior was comparable if not worse. However, the Carrs are black, and all of their victims were white. Did the Carrs choose to kill white people deliberately, as opposed to other races? I don't know, and for the purposes of this discussion their reasoning is not really important. What is important is whether the media took into account the race of the offenders and victims in choosing not to cover this as heavily as some other cases. I think it's likely that they did.

Obviously other things can have an impact on how much coverage one particular crime receives - for instance, if war were to begin, something that would get front page coverage at any other time would fall to the inside of the paper. But it's still possible to detect patterns of coverage, even given the normal ebb and flow of news, and I think the media has been caught out on their coverage of crimes that could have a hate component, although the prosecuting attorney said it did not:

Some residents in the Wichita area say the murders would have been prosecuted as "hate crimes" had the skin color of the gunmen and their victims been reversed.

However, Sedgwick County, Kan., District Attorney Nola Foulston said she would not charge the suspects with committing "hate crimes" because she believed the murders were motivated by robbery and not racial hatred.

I don't think she's necessarily wrong. But the media's coverage may have been motivated by race - ask yourself, if the race of victim and offender had been reversed, would the coverage have proceeded differently?

(As an aside, I know some people are saying to themselves, "Yes, but if the races were reversed, would the killers be more likely to get life instead of death if it were whites killing blacks?" It's a legitimate question, and one that has raised a great deal of debate about the fairness of the death penalty in this country. But an unevenly applied penalty doesn't excuse uneven coverage. Ideally the nature of the behavior would dictate both coverage and penalty, not race, religion or sexual orientation.)

UPDATE: Yes, I know, you're saying, "MORE?!" But Andy of World Wide Rants posted a link in comments to Jody at Naked Writing, so I went to see. Jody does go after Dreher, then for good measure spins off into a rant about religion in general, concluding:

The softer, more noble aspects of any of the above faiths pale beside the horror they've inflicted and that they continue to cause, all in the name of their most Holy and Invisible. In the day and age of nuclear bombs and biological weapons, and the coming era of nanotech killers, they are conceits, they are luxuries we can no longer afford.

I think if we were to take a few moments to consider those who have killed vast numbers with no religious ideology, or even an anti-religious ideology (ever heard the name Hitler? Stalin? Lenin? Me either), we would see that the killings associated with religion don't precisely stand out. Yes, a lot of horrible things have been done in the name of religion. A lot of great value has occurred as well. I'm not going to do an expository post on religion, but Jody's viewpoint here is clearly biased against it. There's probably not much I can say that would have any impact on him anyway. My only question to him is: What system has over the centuries proven itself to be better, balancing good and bad?

Jody makes a particular point of emphasizing attacks against gays which he said didn't get sufficient media coverage, and then points out the Catholic Church's recent sex scandal. Jody, dear, what did that scandal consist of? Perhaps... grown men victimizing young boys in homosexual acts? If I condemn all religious folk for the predations of some of their co-religionists, to be consistent I must then condemn all gay men for the predations of those who victimized these young boys. Sound like a good deal to you? I didn't think so. And I don't do it. I know full well that many gay men are as sickened by the victimization of children as I am. Good luck to me as a Christian getting the same pass from you.

As for the killing of gays (and lesbians - remember the woman horribly savaged to death by a neighbor's dog, and the accusations that it was to some degree a bias crime), I believe killing anyone deliberately for any reason but self-defense (or a just war, and I am not even going there) is wrong and should get full prosecution regardless of the victim. I would condemn a man to death and be willing to throw the switch if he killed a gay man because of his own religious convictions. Would you do the same for this young man who killed the Christian woman, who did nothing but question his lifestyle?

Posted by susanna at 10:40 AM | Comments (5)

Nice to know the Dems aren't "Big Money"

Just heard this on the radio:

New Jersey's soon-to-be senior Senator, Jon Corzine, paid taxes of $7 million this past year. He received an income tax refund of $2.3 million. His income tax return was 100 pages long and cost him $20,000 to have prepared.

This man may be in charge of fundraising for the Dem Senators soon. I'm comforted to know that when the Dems rail against "Big Money" that there's no hypocrisy there at all. None. Nada. I admire that.

Posted by susanna at 09:11 AM | Comments (5)

Not that I'd know

Where do the French win over us? According to this study, between the sheets. Or wherever the mood strikes - why limit it to an association with sheets?

An informal survey of my own indicates that even 138 times a year seems high for an average for Americans. All I can say is, if they're including me in the average, somebody out there is gettin' it on like a rabbit to pull the number up. Some day, I'm going to be an outlier on the other side of the bell curve.

It is, as my subject in my informal survey noted, a difficult result to validate. It was an online survey, which begs the question: If they had this other option, how do they find time to be online to take a survey on a website for a condom manufacturer? And why were they there to begin with? I'm suspicious. It's not precisely a scientific, randomized study, now is it? Maybe Americans were busy doing... other things than being online?!

I wonder if they broke out the demographics by liberal vs conservative. Now that's a statistic I'd like to see.

Posted by susanna at 08:44 AM | Comments (5)

Oh. My.

This is the funniest thing I've seen in a while.

How does Brent find these things?!

Posted by susanna at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

Cameras shouldn't be allowed in the jury room

A trial judge in Texas has ruled that PBS's "Frontline" program can tape jury deliberations in a capital case; a Texas appeals court says, we need to think about this:

Two weeks ago, Ted Poe, a trial judge in Houston, said he would allow the PBS television documentary series "Frontline" to film the jury's deliberations in a death-penalty case there. Yesterday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, in Austin, suspended jury selection and said it would consider the prosecution's appeal of the judge's ruling next month.

I think this is terrible. We do not need the deliberations of jurors to become fodder for nationwide second-guessing; it's difficult enough to get people to serve on juries, and the types of people willing to do it will be materially changed if recording the proceedings becomes a facet of the experience - especially in a capital case. The prosecutors in this case - the murder trial of a 17-year-old that includes the possibility of the death penalty - are arguing against it:

In their appellate papers, prosecutors said the prospect of open deliberations would harm the quality of the jury eventually chosen.

"The desire to serve on a `Survivor'-style reality television series should not be added to the qualifications for jury service," they wrote.

Shari Diamond, a law professor at Northwestern University and an expert on how juries make decisions, said the metaphor was apt.

"Conscripting citizens for a reality television program strikes me as a really bad idea," Ms. Diamond said. "It involves jurors in signing on for a national public performance. The potential for that having a distorting effect on their work is palpable."

The defense is of course all for it:

Ricardo Rodriguez, Mr. Harrison's lawyer, said he agreed to the filming only after consulting psychologists and criminal defense lawyers.

"It can only help us," Mr. Rodriguez concluded. "We want to make sure everything is done correctly. There is nothing to hide."

But the potential has already changed who may have served on the jury:

Fourteen of the 110 jurors initially called to serve were dismissed after they said the camera might affect their decision-making. Questioning of the remaining potential jurors started yesterday and included more questions about how filming might affect deliberations.

My question is - what is the judge's view on the death penalty? Of course he has to accept that it's a possibility, and to impose it if the jury decides it's the proper sentence. But it seems to me that one way to stack the deck against the imposition of the penalty is to put the jury's deliberations on film for all to see. Judge Poe's attorney doesn't allude to it, although I wouldn't expect him to:

Charles L. Babcock, a Dallas lawyer, represents Judge Poe in the appeals court. He said that the cameras would not affect the deliberations and that the benefits of openness were substantial.

"Anybody who has ever been in front of a camera knows you forget about it in about two seconds," Mr. Babcock said. "Obviously, the court has to balance the rights of the litigants against the positive aspects of opening the jury's deliberations and allowing the public to see it, after the fact, as the jury makes a literally life-or-death decision."

Naturally PBS is saying it will be done with the highest of standards, but to me that's not at issue here. Once that door is open, virtually any media outlet could rightly make an argument that they should be allowed in as well, or at least that any film made be pool film. Apparently jury deliberations in criminal cases have been filmed in Arizona and Wisconsin, and civil deliberations more widely. It's not a trend I like to see.

Certainly the fact that it's a capital case brings more drama into it, increased more by the fact that the defendent is a juvenile. Opinions go both ways on whether the scrutiny would make a death penalty sentence more or less likely:

Prosecutors argued that allowing cameras would distort deliberations and chill jurors' candor. "We strongly believe that the jury will be reluctant to engage in full and free deliberation when they are subject to being second-guessed down the road," said William J. Delmore III, an assistant district attorney in Houston.

Mr. Delmore also suggested that a televised jury might be less likely to impose the death penalty. "I don't know that I would want to take a strong position on the death penalty if the defendant's friends and family could identify who is taking a possibly unpopular position," he said.

Abraham Abramovsky, a law professor at Fordham University and the author of a leading law review article on filming jury deliberations, agreed that capital cases were particularly ill-suited to such scrutiny, but for a different reason.

"Death penalty cases bring out not only the cerebral in members of society but also the visceral," he said. "In a place like Texas, where the odds are that a major percentage of a person's neighbors and friends are pro-death-penalty, I think you would think twice before leading the band against it."

I'll be interested to see what the conclusion on this is. I think allowing cameras into the deliberations will open a door that won't be closed again, and I think it will change how our system works. I hope it doesn't happen.

UPDATE: Alex Whitlock of RAWbservations emails with support for Judge Poe:

Judge Poe (whom I vote for every cycle he runs) is in favor of the death penalty. Nor is it a matter of trying to stack the deck in favor of anything. He is by far the most popular judge around here and when our DA declined to run for re-election a couple years back, it was his Poe's for the taking. In a county with well over 300 (all independently elected) judges, he stands out more than any other (except the corrupt ones, that is).

Apparently Poe is into creative sentencing and has had a very successful career in law. Here's more, published when Poe was considering running for DA in Houston.

I guess my question is - if he's so good, why is he behind doing something so bad?

Posted by susanna at 07:45 AM | Comments (3)

November 25, 2002

Redux

E.L. Core has kindly chosen as his guest column of the week my earlier post on the consistency of holding a pro-life, pro-death penalty, pro-war-when-necessary position. He runs a cool site at A View from the Core, which you might want to check out as well.

Thanks, Lane.

Posted by susanna at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

Gotta luv arnee

That would be "irony", for those of you north of the Mason Dixon (and we'll ignore that, for now, that includes me). Take a look at this:

It is telling that the new chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee probably will be New Jersey's freshman Jon Corzine, who spent $63 million of his own money getting elected two years ago. Corzine is the prototype of what the Democrats need--self-financing candidates. Both parties adore such candidates, but, says Bainwol, Democrats especially crave them because of the new campaign finance law for which Democrats were cheerleaders.

Telling indeed. Democrats rattle on and on about big money and the fat-cat Republicans, but now they're caught in their own trap - race after the candidates with piles and piles of money, earned by engaging in Evil Capitalism, or find themselves increasingly marginalized by Republicans who have never vilified those who've succeeded through honest work so find no hypocrisy in supporting candidates who can bring money to the table. In addition, the Democrats have worked diligently for decades to turn their voting base into dependents sucking off the government teet, so now who's going to contribute? The choices are: the average government-aid receiver giving out of his/her welfare check (yeah, that's going to happen) or people who have earned their money by consorting with The Enemy Capitalism, writing checks while weeping their guilt into their Dom Perignon, wrapped in their cashmere shawl, teetering on their Prada shoes, hanging out with Babs and Bill and Hillary and Alec and whatever Kennedys can be dragged in. It'd be funny if it weren't so pathetic.

Okay, it's funny anyway.

Posted by susanna at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

NYC progressives

The NYC City Council just approved a more than 18% increase in property taxes for all five boroughs, part of Mayor Bloomberg's effort to close a projected $6 billion deficit. He had requested 25%, but I'm sure before he proposed it he made sure they were on board for what he really needed (the 18%). Asking for the much higher percentage gives the Council something to hide behind when they approve the highest percentage increase in the city's history.

I'm sure it's something the NYC liberals will embrace - after all, it's a tax on possessions, and thus progressive since people with more money have more possessions.

Another move is an increase in cost for public transportation - bus and subway - from $1.50 to $1.75 or $2 per ride. As someone who uses NYC public transportation most times when I go into Manhattan, I don't much like it. Jane Galt says it's past due, however, and I can see her reasoning. I'd much rather pay cost than increase taxes to subsidize it.

And I'm grateful not to work in NYC, given that another Bloomberg effort is to pass legislation requiring those who live outside of the five boroughs but work in the city to pay the same (or more) income tax percentage as those who live there.

My question is this: If taxes are going up precipitously, the risk of further attack continues, and soon workers from outside the boroughs will be penalized for working in NYC, what's going to keep NYC from bleeding jobs into the surrounding areas or even, in this technological world, out of the NYC range altogether?

Posted by susanna at 06:56 PM | Comments (5)

Book sales tank, Gore lawyers activated

Rand Simberg has an exclusive on Al Gore lawyers swinging into action against Amazon.com for confusing online ordering of books, resulting in low sales for Gore's new book.

I think the lawyers are from Hanging, Chad & Dimple of Miami.

Posted by susanna at 06:21 PM | Comments (1)

I'm not surprised

patriotic
What Type Of Retro Gal Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

(Via Jane Galt)

Posted by susanna at 05:40 PM | Comments (0)

I'm suffering from...

Best of the Web today has a great list of post-traumatic disorders, keying off an earlier BOTW about the latest designer PTSD, where some blacks are having flashbacks to the slavery experiences of their ancestors, and some Latinos are flashing back to slavery experiences not even their ancestors had. So Taranto had his readers write in with their versions. Too funny.

And here's mine:

I'm suffering from Post-Appalachia Stress Disorder. My ancestors were chased out of Scotland and Ireland and virtually interned in remote and desolate reaches of the southern Appalachian mountains. Although I've been released from it, whenever I see anything associated with my childhood I draw up into a ball and keen. The word "grit" can put me out for an hour or more; people wearing overalls give me heart palpitations and flashbacks to my grandfather with unbuttoned galouse cutting weeds with a hand-scythe. I'm repeatedly bombarded with images from Lil Abner, Beverly Hillbillies and, most recently, a proposal to have a reality show where released Appalachian internees are cut loose in the wilds of Beverly Hills to fend for themselves. Oh the humanity!

I think that's worth a few mil, don't you?

Posted by susanna at 05:28 PM | Comments (3)

Poor Joe

John Stryker does a laugh-out-loud fisking of San Diego State University school newspaper opinion page editor Joe Zarro, who I mentioned earlier. Put down your drink before reading Stryker's response. Here's a couple of gems:

In actuality, our military is designed for aggression.

You don't say? Joe, you've just taken your first step into a larger world. Just wait until you find out where babies come from. It'll blow you away...

You shouldn't have to join the military and kill Muslims for a leg up in society.

Nope, you should be able to kill all sorts of people to get a leg up. Being limited to the slightly darker peoples of the world really limits you in the long run. In the interests of universality, we should open up the Hindu as well as the untapped Asian markets.

I'd love to know how much of the bloggish and general derision Zarro knows about. I'm sure he feels he's being martyred for his cause.

Posted by susanna at 04:56 PM | Comments (1)

How bizarre, how bizarre

Mike at Cold Fury has posted a lot of a letter received by The Guardian, supposedly from either Osama Bin Loser or a representative, about why the Islamonuts hate us; here's the full text. Pretty fascinating, and the second half reads like Babs served as a consultant on it (except of course for the bit about Bill Clinton and his Oval Office shenanigans). Mike has pertinent comments all throughout; it's worth reading.

Will be interesting to see how this spins on the Left, or if they even are willing to touch it.

Here's a bit from toward the end that's enlightening:

The Nation of victory and success that Allah has promised:

"It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad peace be upon him) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it victorious over all other religions even though the Polytheists hate it." [Quran 61:9]

"Allah has decreed that 'Verily it is I and My Messengers who shall be victorious.' Verily Allah is All-Powerful, All-Mighty." [Quran 58:21]

The Islamic Nation that was able to dismiss and destroy the previous evil Empires like yourself; the Nation that rejects your attacks, wishes to remove your evils, and is prepared to fight you. You are well aware that the Islamic Nation, from the very core of its soul, despises your haughtiness and arrogance.

If the Americans refuse to listen to our advice and the goodness, guidance and righteousness that we call them to, then be aware that you will lose this Crusade Bush began, just like the other previous Crusades in which you were humiliated by the hands of the Mujahideen, fleeing to your home in great silence and disgrace. If the Americans do not respond, then their fate will be that of the Soviets who fled from Afghanistan to deal with their military defeat, political breakup, ideological downfall, and economic bankruptcy.

How much clearer do those who defend the Islamonuts need to have it made? And the rewriting of history that this statement requires puts me in mind of someone lying on the ground in a bloody pulp, his victor standing virtually unmarked above him, and out of his smashed mouth saying, "Yes! You are afraid of me! I can see it! I will defeat you!"

Don't miss the quotes from the Quran. The Religion of Peace ™ makes its stand again.

Posted by susanna at 03:25 PM | Comments (5)

Which official would that be?

We've all heard recently about the supposed funneling of money from the wife of the Saudi ambassador to the US through a circuitous route to 9/11 terrorists. The main question seems to be, what route? Well, according to The Arab News, the Justice Department has cleared them:

JEDDAH/WASHINGTON, 25 November 2002 — A US official has denied reports that the two Sept. 11 hijackers were allegedly funded by Saudi personalities vindicating the Kingdom’s stand that it had no link with the funding.

A Justice Department official said it was unthinkable that Saudi officials supported a terrorist organization which is inimical to them also.

The only problem is... that's all that is said about the "Justice Department official" - no word on what section, who it is, why they're talking to him, whether it is a him; this could be a janitor or it could be nobody at all. Good journalism there, amazingly kind to their view.

The Arab News has decided where to hang the responsibility for this vilification of sweet lil ole Mrs. Saudi Ambassador (she's a mother! she's a grandmother! She would never.... haven't they heard of Ma Barker?). They say, it's the American Congress, trying to score points:

Al-Jubeir said the Saudis had thought the money trail issue was closed. “So we find it surprising that now out of the US Congress they repackage this and push it as new evidence, which leads me to believe that the people who are behind this are more interested in scoring political brownie points than they are in arriving at the truth,” he said.

Somebody's had education in the US, Mr. Al-Jubeir Brownie Points. It's funny to watch the Arabs spin this situation, which looks quite bad for them. But then every time we lift the rock named "Saudi Arabia" we see nasty slimy crawling hypocrisy, bloated self-interest and vicious back-stabbing. I wonder what a "Justice Department official" would say about that?

Posted by susanna at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

They just can't help themselves

Bryan at JunkYardBlog mentions a site apparently run by al qaida; he gives the site address but no link. When you go to the site, it tries to imbed a virus into your computer (one of the reasons he offers no link, and I won't give the site name). The insertion attempt happens when your computer first accesses the site, before the page even loads. And this is a propaganda page; they want you to visit, ostensibly. It put me in mind of a vicious creature that bites and tries to maim or kill even when it is in its own best interests not to. If it's not an intentional thing on their part, it's still a good metaphor for their organization. They seek to harm because that's their nature.

DO NOT go to the site unless your virus detector is functioning and updated.

Posted by susanna at 08:18 AM | Comments (1)

Steyn does it again

I love Mark Steyn. Just thought I'd mention that. This time he's dealing with the irrelevance of the left. Wait a minute - that's what he always deals with. But this is particularly tasty.

Posted by susanna at 07:55 AM | Comments (3)

November 24, 2002

A long day

I drove over to Brooklyn this morning to attend church with friends visiting NYC from Kentucky. I did fine until I got to Prospect Park on Flatbush Avenue, was proud of myself to have gotten that far. Actually I was eventually happy all around because I did find where I needed to be without asking for further directions. But it took a while because I had to figure out how to get to Prospect Place from Prospect Park, and almost had to find moss on trees to get headed properly. It turned out the street I needed wasn't a "bear left" it was a "turn left", and since all the streets are one way I meandered around a while.

My friends are in town because the daughter's band is in the Macy's parade on Thursday. The daughter and I drove back into Manhattan (the others took the subway) where I found a nice parking space, only to learn it was on a street limited to commercial traffic. We needed to find a restaurant and a parking space, so this time all five of my friends piled in and off we went. Did I mention I drive a Nissan Sentra? I did find a space, right in front of an Irish pub where a real Irish lass waited on us (although I had the impression she would have belted anyone who called her a "lass").

Everything was quite pleasant until... it took me two hours to drive the 15 or so miles home! Most of that was spent sitting on 7th Avenue waiting to get through Holland Tunnel with all the other New Jerseyites come into the big city to shop. Over an hour, right there. Wouldn't have been so bad (I have a high tolerance for traffic jams when I have books or crocheting or something good on the radio to listen to), except I had neglected to fill up on gas and was getting edgy watching the gas gauge dip down below the last line before E. Made it to the gas station though. Whew.

So that's my day, and also the reason for no other posts. I'll see what I can tear into tomorrow...

Posted by susanna at 08:19 PM | Comments (6)

November 23, 2002

Another Saudi link to 9/11

Newsweek has an exclusive article tracing money from the wife of the Saudi ambassador to the US, to two of the five terrorists who flew Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Scott Koenig has a summary.

Remind me again about how they're our allies?

Posted by susanna at 02:14 PM | Comments (7)

Missing in Minnesota

A few days ago reader Harley Leonard sent me a link to news about four college students in Minnesota and Wisconsin who have gone missing since Halloween. I dug around a little about it, and learned that police have decided the disappearance of the female student, Erika Dalquist of Brainerd, Minn., is not connected to the other three, all of whom involve males: Christopher Jenkins, a 21-year-old University of Minnesota student; Michael J. Noll, a 22-year-old University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student; and Josh Guimond, a 20-year-old St. John's University student. They were originally connected because all four had left parties (some at bars) just before disappearing.

According to an article on Noll just after his disappearance, another student not included in the four had disappeared in similar circumstances in late September. His body was found in a nearby lake a couple of weeks later. In articles about the four, at least three of them are described as being intoxicated when last seen. That would make them more susceptible to kidnapping, but is this likely foul play? It doesn't seem so, but the fact that bodies have not been found yet does raise that question.

While the families of the missing students are going through every parent's nightmare, at the same time it's good to see that the news media are not jumping on this with quite the alacrity they tend to. The information is getting out there that they are missing, but I've not seen specials on a possible serial killer in Minnesota - although the disappearances have been covered nationally, including an interview with Dalquist's uncle by Greta Van Susteren.

One of the reasons why crime is such a major staple in the news, and on television series, is because it is high drama - those victimized by crime are going through possibly one of the worst experiences of their lives, and their families are often dragged into it as well. It's difficult in the face of such trauma to maintain a sense of perspective, to realize that from a wider angle seeming patterns fit well within the statistical probabilities of chance. I was glad to see this section in an article about the disappearances being investigated by the FBI for patterns:

Authorities have said an average of more than 17,000 Minnesotans are reported missing each year. Few are victims of homicide and other crimes. Most are 17 and younger; according to the FBI, 15,401 juvenile runaways were reported in Minnesota last year, and most returned home.

Last year 795 endangered adults, such as nursing-home walkaways, were reported missing, as were 837 disabled people. More than 130 children were abducted in parental disputes.

Now, that isn't to say we should be unconcerned about these things. Having over 15,000 juveniles running away is a problem, and certainly those juveniles are highly endangered - very likely to either be victimized, turn to crime themselves, or both. But it does make it clear that when looking for patterns, we have to disconnect from the emotions of an individual case, or set of cases, and be pragmatic about causation or correlation.

I hope the four students in Minnesota and Wisconsin are found unharmed; in the case of the young men, who were not seen with anyone else, I don't hold out a lot of hope at this point. I'm just glad that the media is not lapsing into full dog-pack baying after the cases, which I think would only hinder the investigations.

Posted by susanna at 12:42 PM | Comments (3)

A friendly warning as a public service

Guys, be careful with those laptops - for the sake of the species.

(I'm also skeptical of his story. And I don't think he was writing a report - had to be something a little more distracting.)

[Via Joyful Christian; James Rummel at Handbasket links a similar article.]

Posted by susanna at 10:22 AM | Comments (8)

November 22, 2002

"You shouldn't have to join the military and kill Muslims for a leg up in society"

I thought about giving Joe Zarro - author of the fine words in the title of this post - a full-fledged fisking, but on reflection realized there was nothing even remotely of substance to use as fisk-hooks.

In case you care, Joe Zarro is the opinion page editor of The Daily Aztec, the San Diego State University newspaper. He's a junior there, and an English major. He also wears a goofy hat with some thought that it's cool.

I'll let him speak for himself. First, the headline:

Join U.S. military, degrade humanity

Mad yet? Hang on:

Join the U.S. military and protect your country from itself. Go to distance lands and fight enemies engineered, funded and trained by your government. Mindlessly follow the orders to shoot slightly darker people from countries you know almost nothing about or fly really, really fast over a village and bomb women and children without slowing down...

The bottom line is if you kill or get killed in the U.S. military, the death was for money.

The average private's level of political knowledge about the institution they support is ridiculous. They may know technical jargon about equipment and the workings of the military, but few know about the social repercussions of their job. They are trained to point and shoot, but never taught the real reasons why.

And my personal favorite:

Today's soldiers are not heroes deserving of unconditional respect -- they are enforcers of economic domination with blood on their hands.

Maybe he does deserve a full fisking with a spiked rod. I may get back to it. Meanwhile, read the whole thing, but not if you just ate. You don't want to get vomit on your keyboard.

[Link via Scott Koenig at Indepundit, who has a lot more grace about this than I'm inclined to.]

Posted by susanna at 09:36 PM | Comments (9)

Kinda cool

The guy who runs Jish.nu posts photos and lets you guess what they're of. Pretty cool.

I love photography; I find the abstractions that occur in everyday life or in nature are the only abstractions that appeal to me visually, and photography is the best mechanism to capture those. Photographic framing is fascinating too - I have a landscape photo on my desktop at work, and one of my "doodling" activities while on hold is to use the cursor to select sections of it, trying to see different ways to crop the one photo into dozens of little photos with their own artistic integrity (using the law of thirds). It's one of the things I miss about journalism - I've really not done much photography since the days when my camera was almost welded to my hand, when I was a reporter. I need to dig out my Canon and have at it again...

Jish.nu takes common objects and photographs sections of them in pleasing abstractions - it's left to readers (viewers?) to figure out what each is. Go back in his archives to see more than what's on the front page. If nothing else, it's a fine lesson in how to make the ordinary look beautiful.

Posted by susanna at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)

A good vibes - bad vibes story

Warning: PG rating

But too funny, nonetheless.

(The first time I've been glad not to live in Texas.)

(And why can't they just say the word in the article, instead of that long description that in the final analysis is a lot more graphic than just using the word?)

(The bad vibe is the arrest. At least she wasn't trying to give a demonstration of her products while driving as well.)

(Would that be DWV?)

Posted by susanna at 04:29 PM | Comments (3)

Evil SUVs - killing children

Last night on Channel 2 out of NYC, consumer reporter Marcia Kramer presented a segment on “back over” accidents – where young children are killed because they’ve run behind a car in a driveway and someone, usually a parent or close relative, don’t see them and back into them. According to Kramer, there are 55 such accidents a year resulting in deaths. Here’s the link to the article about it on their website.

One of the important features of the segment was encouragement for drivers to get sensors on their back bumpers which tell them when some object (human or otherwise) is behind them. That’s a good thing, and if I had a child I’d probably do it. But Kramer couldn’t just do a straightforward presentation of the value of the sensors, or lay blame on the ones who actually hit the children. No, she placed the blame solidly on…

…SUVs.

That’s right. According to Kramer, a big part of the problem is the size of SUVs, where you can’t see behind them very well. She noted that about 60% of the accidents involved SUVs, and said that “critics” think the government should do something about it. My favorite quote, from a woman who backed over her son:

“It's like a gun, I was in control, I can't blame the car manufacturers. But buyer beware, when they sell you something they should let you know the dangers,” says Annette Bottum.

Like a gun? At least she says she can’t blame car manufacturers, but why should cars come with a warning that says, “You can’t see everything behind you, so you might run over your child if for some reason he or she runs behind it”? Those of you who thought you could see everything behind your vehicle, SUV or no, raise your hand. No hands? (Surely no one who reads this site is that ignorant, so I’m assuming no hands.) Then why would these people act like it was a shock?

I can’t begin to imagine the horror and pain of not only losing your child, but being the instrument of his death, even by accident. It would have to change who you are in some elemental level. But that pain shouldn’t give people a pass when they try to blame something that carries no fault for their mistakes. Yes, having the sensors would be great. But your first obligation is to know where your child is. And your second obligation is to recognize that you can’t see everything behind you, which is why the first obligation is so important. There is no obligation to blame your SUV.

Kramer obtained some of her stats, and mentions in her segment, the organization Kids ‘N Cars. It’s focus is a bit more general, basically making people more aware that children should not be alone around or in cars because bad things can happen – they can be run over, they can die if closed in heat or cold, they can put a car in gear and hurt themselves or others. It seems, from a cursory look, a worthy organization. But one thing stood out as not quite so kosher – their statistics. They compile data on all accidents and deaths involving children in and around cars. The numbers are comparatively low, but they have this notation underneath the chart: “These data vastly underestimate the true magnitude of this public safety issue.”

There’s no explanation about why that statement is true, and it is a dual indictment of their numbers: first, that the numbers are low and thus perhaps not the public health hazard some other things are; and second, that they are willing to make unsubstantiated statements there, thus calling into question all their other statements.

So, while the core of Kramer’s segment was solid – it would be a good thing to have sensors to detect if a child is behind your vehicle – the context and sources were either flagrantly or implicitly biased. And there lies a cautionary tale for media consumers in NYC – you have to strip away the agenda to find the nuggets of truth.

Posted by susanna at 04:07 PM | Comments (12)

It's not about the placement

Ever heard the saying "hoist with his own petard"? Well, Don Wycliff of the Chicago Trib should have his photo next to that in Webster's.

The ever astute Spoons noted this photograph on the front page of the Trib - it shows Bush with a rather goofy expression. Apparently some other good citizens noted it too, and enough of them wrote the Trib to complain that columnist Wycliff was moved to write an apology. Of sorts. The kind of apology that goes something like this: "I'm sorry I called you stupid when I should have called you dumber than a slug after bein' run over by a semi in a rainstorm." The best part of Wycliff's nonsense, though, is this little gem:

...the tone of Snyder, Conway, Pfenning and the rest was not the usual strident hyperpartisanship of those pro-Bush zealots who live to hate Clinton and find evidence of media bias. The zealots probably relished "that picture" because it confirmed their conviction that the media are against them.

These correspondents were people who expected us to be fair and objective and were heartsick that, in their view, we had failed.

And are continuing to fail, Mr. Wycliff. You remind me of still another saying: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. And just because "pro-Bush zealots" are looking for evidence of media bias doesn't mean it isn't there. You - and your photo editor - proved it. The rather lame excuse your photo editor used for running the photo was either a) goofy and why is he still your photo editor or b) disingenuous. And here is your closing:

...my gut tells me it amounted to a Page 1 editorial in which George W. Bush was being labeled an idiot and a clown, unsuited to the presidency.

There may be a place for that in the newspaper, but it's not Page 1.

Interpretation: Bush is an idiot and a clown, but we should bury our beliefs a little deeper so at least the non-zealots aren't slapped in the face with it.

Don Wycliff: A man who would say "I don't &$#!% curse!" and think he had effectively denied the charge.

UPDATE: Justin Katz has a few comments to add as well.

Posted by susanna at 12:47 PM | Comments (1)

Peace, tolerance and understa…uh, wrong religion

I can’t say that the Miss World contest is precisely an evangelical wonder, but somehow I’m not thinking the reaction of local Muslims is covering their religion in glory. Alan has a good post about it on theosebes; I especially like this:

One has a hard time taking seriously the religious sensitivities of people who resort to mass rioting over a newspaper article.

Idiots are idiots regardless of what religion they profess, and murderers of innocents are wrong no matter how many times a day they pray. Hey! Let’s send Jimmy Carter over there to Negotiate Peace ™ and Disarm The Masses ™.

Posted by susanna at 11:34 AM | Comments (1)

Harry Potter - fostering witchcraft?

One of the controversies swirling around the Harry Potter series - both books and movies - is that the witchcraft central to the story is anti-Christian and dangerous to children. My usual response to this charge is, "Please. I think you need a life in the worst possible way." My brother, a preacher, went to see the second movie last night and has this to say about the movie, the books and the charges of danger.

(He pretty much agrees with me, but is nicer about it. Love the Sesame Street reference, Alan!)

Posted by susanna at 10:16 AM | Comments (6)

Jimmy Carter: He's not just our idiot anymore

Not that he ever was, but he's now an apologist for everyone but us. Nice from a former president - you really like to see that, dancing for Castro, kissing up to tyrants, skewering and lying about his own country to increase his own sense of piety. Yes, you like to see that.

Tammy Bruce slices and dices Carter for his latest idiocy in this article:

Former president Jimmy Carter told CNN that the United States should disarm, just like we’re asking North Korea and Iraq to do. After all, he said, we should set an example and do exactly what we’re asking the insane totalitarians of the world to do...

Carter also complained to CNN, "There is a sense that the United States has become too arrogant, too dominant, too self-centered, proud of our wealth, believing that we deserve to be the richest and most powerful and influential nation in the world."

...Here’s a little dose of reality for those, like Jimmy Carter, who have somehow forgotten how and why this country became the greatest on Earth. It’s because we have sacrificed dearly to save nations of strangers who were besieged by Bad Guys and Evil Doers throughout the 20th century.

I think the "sense" about the US being "too arrogant" is Carter's sense, and feeds the hatefulness of those he wants to pander to. I've read around the Internet, both in media outlets and blogs, that the US is arrogant, that we do think we're top dog. Maybe we need to give that impression? One of the first things that a police officer learns is that taking control of a situation through his (or her) manner is the first and best line of defense in staying safe and getting the job done. That's part of what we have to do, at least militarily. If we play Carter Kissy-Face with the bad guys, are they going to be deterred or emboldened? I think you know the answer to that. If we swagger just a bit, does that convey the impression that 1) we can whip you without breaking a sweat and 2) we intend to shortly? I think so. And I think that the US's manner is part of what keeps the world safer. I think the "cowboy in the White House" can do as much to accomplish our goals as the actual deployment of our military, just by being a cowboy. I know that is meant as a term of derision, but I like it. Yeehaw.

If you can stomach it, read Bruce's skewering of Carter. Well-deserved, well-done. Can we revoke the citizenship of a previous president?

[Thanks to Brent at The Ville for the link to this idiot-fisking.]

Posted by susanna at 08:33 AM | Comments (6)

November 21, 2002

Amen, sister, say on!

I like this woman's style:

The problem with Broome County's social services is women of low morals and their drug-dealing, abusive boyfriends, said the chairwoman of the county committee that oversees the Department of Social Services.

Further, said Legislator Wanda Hudak of Endicott, the solution to the abusive boyfriends is "a 25-cent bullet."

..."The problem lies with the low moral character of women who insist on breeding children they can't care for because 'somebody else will.' The problem lies with boyfriends being allowed to stay with them to suck on the system while they themselves service a multitude of women and deal drugs without repercussions."

Later that day, Hudak attended a Legislature meeting at which the budget was adopted, and told a number of child protective and foster care caseworkers that the way to end abuse was with "a 25-cent bullet."

...Hudak said Tuesday that the "bullet" comment was an exaggeration, but was an otherwise accurate assessment of her feelings.

"Invariably, you will find the abuser is a boyfriend," she said, citing the October death of 4-month-old Iceas Maddox. Clemmeth L. Maddox, the boyfriend of the child's mother, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Do you think we can convince Hudak to run for national office? I'd like to see her in charge of Health and Human Services.

[Link via Romenesko's Obscure Store and Reading Room]

Posted by susanna at 06:47 PM | Comments (5)

With friends like these...

I was awake for hours. Hours! Doing virtually nothing of value (as the posts below attest). So then I go to bed for a nap...all curled up, warm... RINNNNGGGG!!! It's Desiree.

"Did I wake you up?"

No, I always have morning voice.

We chat for about 15 min, then hang up. Curling up again. Warm, toasty, drifting....

RINGGGGG!!!!

Melody.

"Listen, I have to tell you this!"

"I'm asleep."

"No, you're not. Listen..." and off she goes with her tale.

I give up. So here I am back online while dinner is cooking. Now all I need is for Ben the Conscience to call and ask if I've studied today.

No, Ben, I was trying to sleep, I'll say. Go away.

I wonder if all my phones have ringer-off buttons...

Posted by susanna at 05:51 PM | Comments (2)

I promise to try harder

One of my friends in college was a guy from Australia with a very strong accent. Whenever I didn't get something he said, he'd grin and say, "Gave ya burn marks on the forehead, did it?" I must have had quite the little forehead callous by the time we left college, what with his sayings zinging past me at such speed and frequency. It has occurred to me lately that the finer points of my sense of humor seem to do this to a lot of my online friends. Somehow my words aren't always translating as "humor" when I mean for them to. I'm not quite sure what to do about this. Use more emoticons? (No, Page would strangle me; she already saw through a fake persona I attempted because of all the emoticons.) Say "wink wink, nudge nudge"? (No, I look nothing like Eric Idle.) Say, "In case you didn't realize, this is supposed to be funny"? (No, that immediately kills any humor that might have lifted a weak tendril to the sky.)

I give up. Folks, if you're not sure if it's humor or not - assume humor. It's easier that way.

Posted by susanna at 04:38 PM | Comments (9)

Not that I know anything

I’m at home today, more annoyed than sick although not feeling the best either. It’s one of those days when you can look someone dead in the eye and say, “If you truly want to see tomorrow’s sunrise, you will turn around, walk away slowly and not say whatever it was that I saw in your eyes.” Not only am I irrational on such days, but I both know I am and make no apologies for it.

It seems appropriate then that I would take a few minutes out of my nap to lay into this article:

Eight Sexy Holiday Tips to Turn an Average Joe Into a Romantic Lothario

My first reaction is, who wants a Lothario anyway? Just look at what Roget has to say:

1. A man amorously attentive to women: amorist, Casanova, Don Juan, gallant, lady's man, Romeo. See SEX. 2. A man who seduces women: debaucher, Don Juan, seducer. See SEX.

Debaucher? Casanova? Ew. Of course the main point is "See SEX". Note too how both definitions use the plural “women”. If a man goes Lothario on me, I’m likely to go Lorena on him. To get things off on the right path, I’ll just rewrite that headline:

Eight Sexy Holiday Tips to Give Your Average Joe a Solid Clue of How to Make Happen What You Both Want In Such a Way That You’re Both Happy

There. Not quite as literary and a tad wordy but, I think, more literal. Now for this messy list from Rachelle Zukerman, a PhD (i.e. someone who should know better):

Start communicating. How can he do "it" if you don't even know what "it" is?

Well, first I thought, “If he doesn’t know what ‘it’ is by now, you best toss him back and see what other fish are in that barrel.” Then I realized she meant the turns-you-on “it”:

Figure out which of your senses is most romantically receptive. Do you like soft music, candlelight, loving words, surprises, gastronomic pleasures, gentle touches, incense or perfume?

Yes. So, leave him a Pier 1 catalog and a Godiva catalog all marked up, beside the checkbook? Personally, I find all my senses are receptive. Do I have to choose? How about making it a full body-mind experience?

Get past your hang ups. Don't buy into the myth that romance isn't truly romantic or satisfying unless it's spontaneous.

She keeps doing this. I think she’s going one way with it and she winds up in a completely different zip code. I’m thinking, “Yeah, check your inhibitions at the door”. She saying, “Don’t get whiny if you have to tell him to take you out to lunch or to buy you (fill in the blank).” I say, it’s the blind leading the blind if you ain’t already past the point of being whiny. Any woman who doesn’t know that she not only has to tell a guy something directly, but has to draw a map of how, when and what to do, preferably scanned into a file for his PDA, is a woman who needs a lot more help than MSN can provide.

Spell it out. Men are not good guessers in this area. Tell him what you would like (that's why you must know which of your senses is most romantically sensitive). A sure-fire way to get him moving is to say, "When you do (or say) such and such, I feel sexy." Men will do anything to make you feel sexy!

There we go! She got there, eventually. I’ll just say “ditto” to that last sentence and move right along.

Smother him with affection. No matter how small, fuss over his romantic words or actions. Tell him you adore it when he calls you "pookie" or brings you your coffee in bed. Your reaction encourages him to be even more romantic.

I’m a bit skeptical here. Nobody (well, nobody I’d date) likes a clinging vine, some woman always attached to his hip making little purring noises and calling him “snookems”. And constant exaggerated praise for little things is going to make any man worth anything run screaming in the other direction. What’s more, any man who calls me “pookie” will be summarily dumped, not adored. On the other hand, I’m all for expressing appreciation for sweet, kind, loving, romantic, thoughtful behaviors. But you should be doing that anyway. The more I go along here, the more I’m thinking this is all too calculated.

Model romantic behavior. Every tiny love note you leave in his tennis bag increases the chance that he will follow suit. This is important because some guys have never experienced romance for its own sake (i.e. not just as a prerequisite to sex).

Oh, yeah, this’ll work. Every man I know is highly likely to mirror feminine romantic behavior. As for not having experienced romance before - WHO HAS HE BEEN DATING? I thought all women wanted romance? If he’s not experienced romance before, he’s either a) buying it; b) looking for it in all the wrong places; or c) incapable of experiencing it. Dump him. Yesterday.

I do advocate doing romantic things. Just don’t do them as bait to get him to do it. All you’ll get is mad.

Start romantic rituals. Mark special dates or events with chocolate, music, massage or whatever turns you on. If he doesn't pick up on it, spell out your desires more clearly.

She keeps slipping here. There is no “pick up on it” with men. There is only “clearly spoken, then written, then drawn in a map uploadable onto his PDA”. However, the good thing is that after enough practice, muscle memory kicks in and something approximating spontaneity and planning begins to happen. Yes, I did just call a man’s brain a “muscle”.

Note: Massage is good.

Note: This is not:

One woman writes her husband a yearly "State of the Union" letter reviewing the preceding 12 months of marital joy. She gives it to her husband before their anniversary dinner, and he reciprocates with a special anniversary toast.

I would not want to be that man! He gets graded every year? When does he get to write a “State of the Union” letter? It’d probably be one sentence: “Too much stating, not enough unioning.”

Embrace his nature. Know your man's personality and act accordingly.

Okay, this is beginning to be more rational. Duh.

Traditional men feel protective toward women. To get one of these types to be romantic, say, "When you do such and such, I feel so taken care of." A shy man often can't say the words that are in his heart, but he can find what he feels in the words of others. With such a man, start a card-giving ritual. If your sweetie is disorganized, forget surprises, gifts and reservations. Instead, appreciate his "spur of the moment" gestures. Giving you the seat with the best view is more than just nice -- it's romantic!

I think this falls into the “love him for who he is” category. Uh huh. You’re with him because he appealed to you on some level that was important to you. It’s reasonable to encourage him to nurture you in the ways that make you happy, but it’s not all about you. What about him? I’m still not liking this calculated approach. I’ll give The Susanna Method in a minute. Let’s finish this off first.

Never complain about his lack of romantic creativity. Nothing squelches the potential for romance more than criticism.

Aaggh! What did we just spend the first seven items doing? Finding ways to make up for or correct his inadequacies! This list is the female equivalent of a list for guys on “How To Get More”. They’re just exchanging the coin of the realm – he wants more sex, and she wants more romance. So he doles out romance, she grants him sex.

What is wrong with this picture?

Just about everything, you say? I knew we were on the same wavelength.

Seriously, Zukerchick has some good points, but these lists make me grind my teeth. Why don’t we make it much simpler? Here’s The Susanna Method for Couple Bliss:

Everybody wants to be loved for who they are. Start there. Genuinely and frequently let the other person know that you’re pretty darned impressed with who they are. Awed, in fact. Deeply gratified to be with him (her). Two subsets of this: Compliment him for what you like about him. And compliment him for what he likes about himself. That requires that you know what he likes about himself, but if you don’t know, then you’re a selfish little snot and he should dump you. And if you aren’t impressed with who the other person is, then why are you in the relationship?

Everyone wants what they want. For all its self-evident appearance, this seems to be a little known fact. The point is, don’t give what you want. Give what the person receiving wants. If you don’t know, ask. Duh. Maybe you want to dress up and go out for a romantic dinner – sometimes he should do that for you because he’s giving you want you want. But maybe he wants you to dress up like a cheerleader and feed him beer nuts while he watches TV. Do it on occasion. Don’t do it because you want something back, though. Do it because you want to please the other person. All this calculated “if I do this, I’ll get this” business is why we have so much trouble to start with. Please. Get over yourself.

Don’t think you’re all that and a slice of cheese. An extension of the last sentence in the previous entry. You’re fortunate to have him/her. Act like it.

Always say what you want. Don’t be coy. Don’t expect anyone to read minds. Don’t go crying in a corner because of (fill in the blank). Yes, some guys are so clueless they couldn’t solve a mystery if the answer was written on their hand. But if they aren’t arrogant and childish they’re trainable. So train. In a nice way.

Hmmm… A lot of this seems to be focused on women. Okay, men, here’s one just for you:

Help out around the house and with the kids. That’s it. You can’t begin to imagine the value that one thing has in improving your whole relationship. If you’re just in the dating stage, think of this as “taking a load off her” – look for ways to do it. Just be careful about the pitfalls of condescension. Don’t go there.

And remember: Being a Lothario is a Very Bad Thing.

Posted by susanna at 04:18 PM | Comments (3)

Because I say so

Go wish Dodd Harris a Happy 2nd Blogiversary!

And if you know what's good for you, you'll enter the Caption Contest too - or Nancy Pelosi will keep that whiphand.

[And since I can't, AGAIN, get to his site, you'll have to scroll around for the contest. I think he has a link to it just a couple of posts down. But you're smart. You can find it.]

Posted by susanna at 11:17 AM | Comments (1)

Public dissection

A physician in London last night dissected the dead body of a 72-year-old businessman in front of an audience of 500; a British television company plans to broadcast an edited version of it.

Is this a bad thing?

Some in Britain say it is:

The government said there was a time and a place for autopsies, and this was not it.

Dr. Jeremy Metters, the official Inspector of Anatomy, said it was illegal under the 1984 Anatomy Act because neither von Hagens nor the venue had post-mortem licenses.

Metters said he wrote to von Hagens warning that he faced criminal penalties and that police were asked to take "appropriate action."

...Dr. Roger Soames, of the British Association of Professional Anatomists, said taking a post-mortem out of licensed premises and into a public place raised ethical issues.

He said people's curiosity was understandable, "because most of the public are fascinated by the way their body works."

But "I'm not sure if this is the way to do it," he said.

I tend to agree with Soames, that people are fascinated but that this type of venue might not be the best means of satisfying that curiosity. Especially passing the organs around the audience, which I think doesn't show enough respect for the bodies.

I'm one of those people who is fascinated by how the body works, and I'm not in the least turned off by graphic scenes of bodies in various stages of dissection. What disturbs me about scenes of carnage is not the bodies themselves, but the knowledge of the pain of those whose bodies are in that condition. That can be so difficult that you have to disconnect your emotions from the situation just to be able to observe. However, if the person or his/her family gave permission for a public viewing of dissection, I don't really have a problem with it on principle. I just think it needs to be respectful.

But then, my experiences are different from the average person's anyway. In the course of studying about crime and the things people do to each other, I've seen several crime scene videos that are very graphic, I've studied books on evaluating injuries (such as using blood spatters to determine trajectory of the wounding instrument), and once I even observed an autopsy. That was difficult, because the autopsy was of a child killed by his mother's abusive boyfriend. Your views on the need for severe punishment for abuse firm up remarkably when you see for yourself the little ruptured blood vessels dotting the top of a dead child's exposed brain, a child dead because a grown man hit him on the top of the head with his closed fist because the under-one-year-old child wouldn't stop crying. Yes, indeedy, it makes your approval of retributive sentences rock solid.

So clearly I'm not particularly sensitive about blood and gore, albeit very sensitive about cruelty. And I don't think that people who are sensitive about it should stand in the way of interested people viewing autopsies, as long as the person on the cutting table is handled in a respectful way. I just don't know that an arena atmosphere accomplishes that.

Posted by susanna at 11:02 AM | Comments (4)

What constitutes a journalist?

Is there going to come a time when we have to have a legal definition of journalist? It's starting to appear so, given the proliferation of websites where the writers are not paid by a media outlet but do activities similar to what news media do. It's a difficult question, because you don't want to constrict who can be an official information disseminator - someone would have to make that designation, and any time a bureaucrat and lawyers are involved it gets ugly. But do we then open up the protections journalists have to everyone who has a computer or access to Kinko's and a distribution route? Can we allow Jane down the street to "protect her sources" when she publishes something on her website? Does intent or training play into it?

I'm a blogger, just like thousands of other people. What I do daily isn't substantially different (although, of course, more insightful and better written) than what dozens of others do. However, I do have a journalism degree, I have worked as a professional journalist and my goal is to do so again. Should I be perceived differently, in a legal sense, than someone who does the same thing without that background? In one sense, I would say, no, there's no material difference. On the other hand, I do have training in journalism ethics (stop laughing) and have a clear understanding of the need to not publish something you haven't solid sources for.

It's a bigger issue than I can decide in one morning's ruminations, but it's a question that's going to crop up more and more as things like this happen:

The creator of an Internet site that accuses the Lexington Catholic diocese of promoting a "homosexual agenda" is being sued for defamation by a local priest.

In a suit filed this week in Fayette Circuit Court, Father James Sichko, 35, says webmaster Efrain Cortes falsely accused him of being "actively involved in the homosexual culture that exists in Lexington" and of "cruising the Schools in the diocese."

Sichko, a campus minister at Eastern Kentucky University and Georgetown College, says the allegations caused him "great injury" and forced him to endure "public hatred, contempt and ridicule. ... "

But Cortes -- a maintenance worker whose Web alias is "Abe Lincoln" -- says he is an Internet journalist who is telling the truth about Sichko and other priests. He vows the 13-month-old Internet site, which also criticizes liberal Catholics, feminists and dissenters, won't be shut down.

Hmmm. The article doesn't give any details about what his "sources" are, so I can't judge whether his online writings have any truth. He does mention Drudge as another Internet journalist, and certainly while Drudge doesn't have a master's degree from Columbia Journalism School to substantiate his claim as a journalist, I think he is one.

I tend to think Cortes is not an Internet journalist, but I also think that doesn't mean he can't run muckracking articles. The final issue here is whether his postings are slanderous or libelous, and that's a burden of proof even newspapers have. It's a tangle, but truth is a defense so if Sichko is proven to have engaged in such activities Cortes is off the hook. If he didn't do them - Cortes is in deep trouble. And deserves to be.

[Thanks to Alan for the link.]

Posted by susanna at 09:55 AM | Comments (6)

November 20, 2002

Jokin' Jim Jeffords

You have to wonder how a man with cojones like this manages to walk upright:

According to a senior Senate leadership source, the election results were barely in before Mr. Jeffords' office put out feelers to his former party's leaders. The message? That the Vermonter would be happy to caucus with the GOP — so long as he retained his committee chairmanship.

Nothing like a little integrity and party loyalty to move you forward in this world, is there, Jim?

[Link via The Angry Clam]

Posted by susanna at 11:16 PM | Comments (2)

Poor, pitiful Dems

All opinioned up and no where to go.

UPDATE: Bryan Preston at JunkYardBlog has a few choice words for them as well.

Posted by susanna at 10:59 PM | Comments (1)

Death by espresso

Well, not really. But apparently "casual" coffee drinkers can have blood pressure spikes from drinking coffee. Even decaf. What's up with that?

Posted by susanna at 10:54 AM | Comments (2)

A beauty and a mystery

The most beautiful sight I've seen in a while:

MK 11-19-02.jpg

Molly Katherine
11-19-02

Can't wait to see her and her sister at Christmas. Before long she'll be old enough to appreciate gifts in the mail from her Aunt Susanna. Her sister Haydon already receives monthly shipments of books from Grolier, courtesy of yours truly. I remember when I was in elementary school and bought books from the Scholastic Book Club. The day the books arrived was like Christmas to me; the unread books exciting and full of promise. I'm still that way about books.

I'm also that way about boxes in the mail. Haydon's parents make sure she gets to open the boxes from Grolier (with a little help) because that's a lot of the fun. She loves it. Well, so do I. Yesterday I got a box in the mail from Amazon, and I hadn't even placed an order. What was this? I carried it upstairs, opened it... a wrapped present, with a gift note! It said, To Aunt Susanna from Haydon and Molly Katherine. Had my sister in law ordered something from my wish list and neglected to adjust the mailing address? Was I going to have to wait for Christmas to find out what it was?

I called her. No, she hadn't sent it. My brother hadn't sent it. Could it be my sister? I finally broke down and opened the billing slip, careful not to look at the list of what it was. And ... it wasn't from my sister. It was from a fellow blogger! And so I opened it - a 4-CD set of CSN! Absolutely awesome. I must say it's the best box I've opened in a long time. I've been wanting that set for well over a year.

It's been a rough couple of weeks, although things seem to going very well now. The combination of a lovely photo of MK and a mysterious box that turned out to be something so cool brought me all the way back to happy.

Thank you.

(And when I told my brother what it was, he said, "Well, you know it wasn't Haydon and MK then, they wouldn't send you CSN." Ha. He's such a bluegrass snob.)

Posted by susanna at 07:55 AM | Comments (4)

Deep wisdom and evident talent

The Ninth Carnival of the Vanities is Now Posted for your Reading Pleasure.

I must say the best part is the Naked Apostate Rotating Pant Head Catch, although it made me curse my powers of visualization.

Posted by susanna at 07:32 AM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2002

Matters of life and death

Recently I’ve seen in several places a mantra of the left that goes something like this:

If you think abortion is wrong, how can you be for capital punishment? And if your answer is, people sentenced to die are guilty of heinous things and the unborn are innocent, how can you be for a war where innocents will die?

It’s a good question, for all that conservatives tend to roll their eyes and think the answers should be obvious. I was thinking about it recently, and decided I’d like to explain the answer, at least from my perspective. I make no claim to speak for anyone else.

First, a few definitions. To me, abortion is ending the potential for life that exists in a fertilized egg or zygote or fetus (whatever word, whatever stage) that, if not interfered with, would be born as a living human. I believe life begins at conception. Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is the state taking the life of a person who has committed an offense defined by society as worthy of death, and the sentence of death comes at the end of a fair trial. In my judgment, that is permissible when a person’s behavior has so completely gone beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior as to result in two conditions: the need to remove the person from ever having the opportunity to offend again, and the responsibility of society to avenge an egregious offense committed not just against a human, but against humanity. I’ll say up front that I think it’s a sentence given too often, but one that is valid and even necessary for our society to employ. Finally, war is the pitting of strengths between two or more groups (usually between nations) where one is trying to impose its will on the other by use of force; a fight becomes a war based on the scale of the battles, the level of potential for harm (in deaths and dollars) and the scope of the intent. I won’t address the morality of war yet, as that is a part of my later discussion.

This discussion is not about whether abortion is right or wrong; it’s about how someone who thinks it is wrong could think the other two are right. Therefore I won’t begin by defending my pro-life position, and I won’t be addressing how anyone else’s differing beliefs would fit into the equation. You’re more than welcome to do that yourself.

I alluded to the straightforward answer to the abortion-capital punishment issue above. It really is about innocence vs. guilt. An unborn child has done nothing wrong, has made no choices (not even to exist), and is totally acted upon when aborted. A person who has received the death penalty has chosen a line of behavior that caused great harm to one or more people, and did so in a state of mind that allowed for a different choice. They could have avoided the behavior and didn’t. As I mentioned above, I don’t think the death penalty should be given for simple acts of violence; it should be reserved for truly gratuitous evil. A good example is a case I read about this week, where a man who was invited into the home of a good family, just to help him out, later choked the homeowner’s 8 year old granddaughter almost to death, then raped her until she was bloody and left her to die (which she did) between the wall and the bed in his room. He viciously stabbed the homeowner to death in her bed while her other granddaughter watched, then tied up that granddaughter without further assaulting her, and left. He is someone I think should be executed, and I would pull the switch (or drop the lever, if it was a death by gas or chemicals) myself.

So we have the dichotomy set up – innocence vs evil, protect one, destroy the other. Then you find the duality of war: To destroy the evil, you must accept the death of innocents. How can you make that choice?

The death of innocents is always tragic and every effort should be made to avoid it. But situations arise where evil is growing, and there is no good choice that excises the evil like laser surgery for cancer, without damaging or killing good tissue nearby. The case of an attack on Iraq is a good example. Saddam has used chemical agents to kill citizens of his own country. He has invaded another country for personal gain. He is trying to obtain even greater weapons (and may be close to getting them) and has supported repeated small attacks on US citizens, interests and allies where many have died. He hates the United States. There is good reason to think he intends to harm and kill many more. He is a cancer that is killing his own people and spreading to places outside his country. So it is appropriate to consider stopping him.

But in the final analysis, whether this is a just war is not important here – because while the killing of innocents that happens in war and the moral correctness of engaging in a particular war are related, they are not the same issue. It’s similar to what I used to tell my students when discussing the death penalty – the first question is, is the death penalty a morally correct option? If it’s not, then the discussion stops there. If it is morally correct, then the next question is, can it be implemented so that the good that results supersedes the harm? And that is not a straight utilitarian equation where a simple preponderance of good is sufficient to offset even a substantial harm. The good must be so much better than the harm that it essentially overwhelms the harm. And often the good, in the case of both the death penalty and war, is the preventing of a different harm. So finally we have the question: Is the harm prevented by applying this solution greater than the harm that will result from the solution itself? Another analogy may be illustrative – think of a gangrenous limb. It is never a preferred thing for a person to go through life without a leg. However, there will be no life if the leg is not removed, so the harm prevented by the amputation is greater than the harm it visits.

And there you come to war. It is never a good and happy thing. Anyone who starts their argument by saying, war is bad, has just taken the argument back to the moral equation which precedes the situational question. First they must answer the question themselves, Is war ever the correct thing to do? If they answer no, then they must explain what good lies in the organic expansion of evil that will result in a world with no hard boundaries and no consequences for stepping over them. If they answer yes, sometimes it is the correct thing, then they have emptied that first point of impact and move to the next stage – is this war correct? It is therefore justified to ask someone who says, “War is bad”, just what the alternative is. Of course some of those people live in a mental utopia akin to willful insanity, and you can do no more than offer them a cup of tea and turn the conversation to cats. But with thoughtful people, you can make the solid point that they have their own justifications to make before they can stand on any solid foundation to question you.

My final answer, then, is this: Abortion is wrong because the death of an innocent living being is caused deliberately for the sake of convenience. The death penalty is right because the death of a guilty and evil person is caused deliberately for the dual purposes of preventing the evil from recurring and exacting the just vengeance of society, and it is only right when that is what has happened. War is right when it prevents greater harm even as it inflicts substantial harm in its own right; it is even more correct when great effort is made to minimize harm to innocents inevitably caught up in the hostilities. War is not a source of pleasure or excitement; the death of evil is a source of both.

UPDATE: Although it's not closely connected to this, Emperor Misha has a good rant on the stupidity of the Dems that includes a discussion of "reproductive rights", and the comments on the post focus on that aspect. Worth reading. And, Misha dear, if people were having sex "with gay abandon", unwanted pregnancies wouldn't be the result.

Posted by susanna at 03:27 PM | Comments (13)

The nekkid truth

Brent at The Ville has outdone himself in this rant about the women who got naked for peace in Point Reyes Station. Absolutely hysterical.

Just wanted to share my feelings about it with you.

Posted by susanna at 03:00 PM | Comments (1)

Divining Keillor's intentions

Most of you probably have already read Garrison Keillor's bitter screed in Salon about Norm Coleman, evil Republicans and the election in Minnesota. Bruce Sanborn of The Claremont Institute dissects Keillor's piece to see if he can figure out just what was going on in the humorist's (so-called) mind when he belched out this noxiousness, and concludes that... well, we don't know. But Sanborn has some good ideas about what it might have been, a line of reasoning that skids through a comparison to Achilles, and finally concludes that it well may have been an effort at deliberate manipulation rather than pure and honest emotion.

And if that's true, it's the saddest part of the whole episode.

UPDATE: Here's a piece by media columnist Brian Lambert in the Twin Cities' Pioneer Press about Keillor's venom and the fallout from it. Interesting, especially that Minnesota Public Radio is distancing itself from Keillor.

I keep hearing all these allusions to Coleman's "personal life", but no details about what the rumors are about. Does anyone out there know? I find it curious that there is such attention from the left to whatever is supposedly there in his "personal life", since the term was used virtually as a magic wand to erase any and all culpability from the Clintons on their antics in office. If it's social associations with people or activities that can be shown to have a direct and improper impact on his public responsibilities, then it's not "personal life". If it is personal stuff, aren't we seeing some raging hypocrisy here?

Not that we're surprised.

But I'm still curious. What's the deal?

[Link via Rick Heller at Smart Genes, via Instapundit]

Posted by susanna at 12:15 PM | Comments (9)

Too much scrutiny, too much time?

One of the provisions in the Homeland Security legislation under consideration now in Congress is the CyberSecurity Enhancement Act. Included in that is the call for enhancement of punishment for cybercrimes. James Rummel sent me a couple of links to Jack Burton's weblog, about a Brit who has been arrested for taking control of US government computers from England, and about the CSEA's efforts to jack up punishment levels. And Postwatch is covering efforts to tone down CSEA's provisions.

The Brit hacker was searching for evidence of a government coverup of UFOs - an X-Files geek come to life. It seems doubtful that he was intending to cause harm to individuals, or even the country, so should he receive a very stiff sentence for what was essentially a fishing expedition? I'd need to know more to make that decision, but it's an important question. I've mentioned before that our system of determining levels of punishment for crime is badly out of kilter, and this situation where a cyberhacker could get more time than someone who actually kills another person is an example. Or is it? There may be situations where the threat of widespread loss of life or free commerce is so great as to exceed the loss of one person's life.

It's important because the new cybercrime bills are the "flavor of the month" in criminal justice circles, as gun crimes and drug crimes have been in the past. Again, we need to define the goals of jail time or other sanctions as well as setting a sliding scale of comparative severity across crimes. Is embezzlement ever worse than killing another human? Is robbery worse than cyberhacking? The catalog of punishments and other responses to crime needs more coherence. In the meantime, we may see cases where taking over a computer brings more jail time than killing your child negligently. Is that right? It doesn't seem so to me.

While we're fighting a war that finds its justification in moral rightness, we need to identify the moral rightness of the laws we pass at home in the course of prosecuting that war. In no context is the saying "the end justifies the means" fully true. Even this one.

Posted by susanna at 11:58 AM | Comments (1)

In Our Name

Vincent Ferrari, my almost-neighbor in the NYC metro area, has posted a pledge called "In Our Name". It lays out the approach we want the government to take in dealing with terrorism. I've added my name to the list of supporters; check it out, and sign on if you agree.

I'm behind this war on terror, but I think we do need to proceed with some degree of caution. Few things fall on opposite ends with no gray area between; we have to be careful to draw a clear line beyond which we will not go, and then stay there. It is a philosophical line, one that identifies what is morally right, much like the physical line we draw - for instance, we won't torture prisoners as a Saddam would. We still have a responsibility to question the implications of decisions our leaders make. And I think overall we're doing a good job.

And, I must say, Vince misleads with the name of his blog: Insignificant Thoughts. Good insights there, when we can keep him in this part of the country instead of buried in work on the left coast. Vince, if they try to send you out there again, just say no.

Posted by susanna at 11:18 AM | Comments (1)

Critical realignment

David Hogberg says that the recent election indicates a larger rightward trend in the voting public, a trend that he thinks will be long-term.

I think he's correct, but my big question is this: Is the center moving to the right because, in truth, the right has moved more toward the center over the past decade? I suppose it comes down to what defines the term "conservative". So, you tell me - what is a conservative?

Posted by susanna at 11:09 AM | Comments (5)

November 18, 2002

So much for safety

Something I didn't want to have happen: Cops coming to my back door to tell me someone burglarized another apartment in my building today.

While I was home.

In a six-apartment building.

Apparently gaining access through a stairwell that is usually dark and uninhabited.

Oh, joy.

There are two apartments on each floor in my building, each taking up half the floor; there are two staircases, one in front and one in back. The front one opens off a tiny elevator-sized lobby, and the door between the lobby and staircase is always locked. The back one is accessible through a door from a little concrete courtyard with a fence between it and the sidewalk - a fence that's never locked although the landlord made a big to-do about putting a padlock on it last year. This staircase is always very dark, because while the landlord has put light fixtures outside everyone's back door with little strings to pull to turn them on, even when I leave mine on it mysteriously turns off before I go out the door the next time. I think the landlord's sister, who lives downstairs, turns them off.

It's a narrow stairway painted barn red, except on the landings to the other apartments. At night it's shadowy, and the courtyard is dark, tucked between three buildings and open to the street at one short end. That's the way the burglar came in.

It could be that the burglar knows them; that often happens, that an apartment is cased by someone who knows the resident, or by a delivery person. But that's not something I will know until - if - they catch the person. So now I must be more careful. No more hauling the trash to the bins out back late at night. Given the proximity of other apartments, it seems unlikely to be a problem. But safety first, right? I'm not by nature an easily frightened person. I'm also not stupid.

I wish it hadn't happened because I don't like being edgy. But then, like with the 9/11 attack, the risk was there and the danger was real before it happened - the sense of safety was false. Better to have a wake-up call.

Not that I have much that anyone would want. But you never can tell. That VeggieTales plate is awfully cute.

Posted by susanna at 10:14 PM | Comments (6)

American Gods

I just finished reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods. I enjoyed it a lot, and would recommend it, but I have to confess that while everything seemed to tie up neatly at the end... I felt that I was left hanging. I had a sense of "Is this a sequel segue?"

Maybe I just like sappy happy endings. And that's all I'm going to say.

(Well, I will add that I think it'd be a great movie.)

Posted by susanna at 07:35 PM | Comments (6)

Controversial comic

Marvel Comics will issue the first in a six-part series this week featuring three black men being used as guinea pigs to develop the serum that created comic character Captain America out of "scrawny...Caucasian" soldier Steve Rogers. The comic's author, Robert Morales, used as his inspiration incidences where the US government used citizens in experiments without full disclosure - most especially the Tuskegee syphilis experiments.

I have no problem with using comics to explore difficult historical truths, as long as it's clear the point of the comics is to entertain, not pontificate. I haven't read comics regularly for a while and Captain America was never high on my list, but it would be pretty sad if the comic were hijacked for politically correct messages. Morales says that's not what's happening; I may have to go buy this issue to see if he's right.

Interesting that the issue is coming out in the midst of controversy over using vaccinations on US soldiers without their having the right to say no.

Posted by susanna at 07:27 PM | Comments (4)

No more media bias for you, missy!

Reading Mark Steyn is always a pleasure, and this column on the self-destruction of the Democrats on the altar of their blind allegiance to special issues is especially heartening. Unless you're a liberal newspaper in New Hampshire now being mocked worldwide, but then you probably deserve it. However, Steyn has also brought something to my attention that might have an impact on the future of this blog:

Remind me never to complain about ''liberal media bias'' again. Right now, liberal media bias is conspiring to assist the Democrats to sleepwalk over the cliff.

Excellent point. Expect more posts on crime, recipes and general inanity.

(Too much of the latter already? Be nice.)

[Link via Ipse Dixit]

Posted by susanna at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)

It's about the game

Dan Walters has an excellent column in the SacBee about the precedence of the game of politics over the reality of governance in today's society:

Instead of politics being the means to the end of government, the latter now occupies a subsidiary role. Getting elected, or re-elected, and plotting for the next set of elections two or four years hence are, in the new 24-7, all-politics-all-the-time culture, is much more important than actually doing something meaningful in office. Whatever one does officially is now viewed purely through the prism of how it might affect the dynamics of the next campaign. And we in the media are more than complicit in the notion that an election is an end unto itself.

The media is complicit, yes, but so are we as citizens and voters. It's something to think about, seriously and soon. Policy and accountability should be more important than personality or team.

[Link via Patio Pundit]

Posted by susanna at 10:11 AM | Comments (3)

Evidence of faith?

My brother Alan, who is a preacher in Kentucky, has started a weblog named theosebes. He's looking at today's news from a Christian perspective, and doing a nice job of it. A recent post discussed the reasonableness of faith (keying off the James ossuary currently in the news), and the comments exchange is especially illuminating - should we rely on science to prove our faith is reasonable?

Alan, who has a master's degree in history and is the second best writer in our family (kudos to the first person who guesses who the best writer is, and it is of course a totally objective judgment), brings a lot of knowledge and insight to his discussions. He is more conservative even than I, and has a long-term interest in politics and conservative thought - he's a southern agrarian whose thinking was influenced by a year working as an assistant to prominent conservative thinker Russell Kirk. While his focus is religion, his blog seems to be bringing elements of all his interests together. I'd say at some point he'll even skid off into a post or two about mandolins, another enduring interest.

I encourage you to check out his site, even those of you who don't much agree with religion as a way of life. I think you'll find his insights challenging, and I know he's always willing to engage in honest debate about religion and its role in today's world.

Posted by susanna at 09:26 AM | Comments (3)

Quote of the day

Unsurprisingly, the Blogfather succinctly says what needs to be said:

The best defense against terrorists is to kill them first.

Amen and pass the missiles.

Posted by susanna at 08:22 AM | Comments (3)

Quote me on that

Quoting is serious business in the world of writing, where attribution is essential to avoiding charges of plagiarism. But what about quoting incorrectly, maybe not even realizing you are? This article has a fairly comprehensive discussion of the origin of this saying (and its variants), supposedly from Edmund Burke:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Although the precise quote has yet to be found in Burke's writings, there's some evidence that it traces back to this saying:

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

According to the essayist, the context of this quote is a discussion of political parties in England in the mid 1700s, specifically the need for the Whigs to get their act together or they will fall as the Tories advance. Very different from the meaning of the saying supposedly derived from it.

I love language, and histories of the development of language - especially specific words and colloquialisms - so I found all this fascinating. I have to confess to some amusement, however, when the essayist revealed a little bias of his own:

...tracing the triumph-of-evil quote over the Web does keep taking you far more often than you would like to extreme rightist pages from the USA - John Birchers, libertarians, gun lovers, anti-abortionists and so on. The heart of darkness of the world wide web.

Yes, my fine readers, you have found your way to an extreme rightist page buried in the heart of darkness of the WWW. Do you feel the evil cloaking you, trying to drag you in? If there were any truth to the saying attributed (wrongly?) to Burke, then apparently it would be a call to arms to say something about the darkness perpetrated here. But I digress. The essayist offers four principles of quotes that seem appropriate, if a bit tedious:

Principle 1 (for readers) Whenever you see a quotation given with an author but no source assume that it is probably bogus.

Principle 2 (for readers)
Whenever you see a quotation given with a full source assume that it is probably being misused, unless you find good evidence that the quoter has read it in the source.

Principle 3 (for quoters)
Whenever you make a quotation, give the exact source.

Principle 4 (for quoters)
Only quote from works that you have read.

As a quoter, I will shoot for adherence to Principle 3, although I do not promise faithfulness to Principle 4. Therefore, I suggest you take Principles 1 & 2 to heart. And I will too. Just remember, if it all seems too much, that there is good support for not being too pedantic:

Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. Ecclesiastes 12:12

There. Principles 3 & 4 taken care of. How did you do with 1 & 2?

[Thanks to Desiree for the link.]

Posted by susanna at 01:36 AM | Comments (3)

On the Gore campaign trail - again

Sunday's Washington Post Magazine featured a long article on Al Gore, a friendly "what's he doing now, is he going to run" jaunt through his recent life. Seems like the newest trial balloon in Gore's decision-making process on whether to run in 2004. It does manage to get in a few jibs while holding Gore out as some kind of near-saint:

...losing the presidency, in one of history's closest races, is bad in a particular way that no other living person has experienced. It's a Joblike, Lord-what-have-I-done-to-deserve-this sort of badness.

Moreover, it's a fate that the man himself--the subject, the victim, Gore--has said little about. What adds to Gore's celebrity, as he walks through airports and elsewhere, is that for the past two years Al Gore has not said a word about how it feels to be Al Gore. He's done no emoting, no pain-sharing; he hasn't gotten mad, he hasn't waggled his finger at anyone...

For over six months he had kept a public silence; after the election, he had made the quick and explicit decision to refrain from political comment. He did so for the high-minded reason that the country needed unity after the election. He also did it for the pragmatic reason that to attack Bush too early would make Gore look like he hadn't gotten over what happened. It was reasonable on both counts, but it meant that Al Gore, longtime environmentalist, friend of the Earth, visitor of both poles, worrier about ozone and glacial ice, had to sit there and say nothing while his victorious rival weakened restrictions on the level of arsenic in drinking water, argued for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and declined to participate in the Kyoto treaty on global warming. In private, Roy Neel says, Gore was candid about his disapproval on these and other topics, such as the tax cut. In public he was silent, drawing criticism from Democrats who felt he'd abandoned his leadership role.

Was it hard?

"Yes," Gore says immediately. There is a long pause. "Yes," he says again, with feeling. There is another pause. "It was very hard."

But apparently not so hard for the reporter to advance as received truth that Gore's positions on those issues are correct.

Interesting article, if you want to see the inner workings of the latest Gore reshaping. Who will he be this time? I'm guessing a loyal statesman who can lay his failures at the feet of qualities that are actually positive ones: "He was too loyal", "He was too concerned about the country to think of himself", "His respect for the law was so great", and "He's back now because he can't rest with the image of what Bush is doing to the country". Now, the article doesn't say those things. I am.

And isn't it curious that in the whole article nothing is said about his views on Iraq or Saddam?

Posted by susanna at 12:58 AM | Comments (7)

November 17, 2002

Helen Thomas: Exposed

It's a scary image, isn't it? Helen Thomas, with all her decades of journalistic glory, is termed the "doyenne" of Washington journalists. I think they mean definition 1; I find definition 2 more accurate. Formerly of UPI, she now writes twice-weekly columns for Hearst newspapers. If you don't know anything about her, you can find a bio here.

Thomas said this about media bias:

“A liberal bias? I don’t know what a liberal bias is. Do you mean do we care about the poor, the sick, and the maimed? Do we care whether people are being shot every day on the streets of America? If that’s liberal, so be it. I think it’s everything that’s good in life, that we do care. And also for the solutions, we seek solutions and we do think that we are all responsible for what happens in this country.” (on C-Span’s Journalists’ Roundtable, Dec. 31, 1993.)

And then later said this last week:

She may not be able to speak her mind at presidential press conferences any more -- since they hardly exist -- but Helen Thomas is still raising the tough questions. Thomas, 82, who resigned from UPI in 2000 after a half-century there and now writes a column for Hearst News Service, blasted both President Bush and the press for setting the stage for an unwise war with Iraq.

Speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge earlier this week, Thomas denounced Bush's "bullying drumbeat," adding, "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war. Bush's policy of pre-emptive war is immoral -- such a policy would have legitimized Pearl Harbor."

She also hit the president for holding "only six press conferences, the only forum in our society where a president can be questioned. I'm on the phone to Ari Fleischer every day, asking will he ever hold another one? The international world is wondering what happened to America's great heart and soul."

And Thomas warned the media: "Everybody learned the lessons of Vietnam, including the Pentagon. In Vietnam, correspondents could go anywhere. Now we don't have that access. It's total secrecy. The media overlords should be complaining about this. I do not absolve the press. We've rolled over and played dead."

I'm comforted by the lack of liberal bias; I'm sure the Media Research Center was completely out of line giving her the 2001 DisHonor Award for the most liberal member of the press. They highlight Thomas's coverage of Bill Clinton:

Tom Brokaw declared, "Helen was always fair and never intimidated." But Thomas avoided asking about Juanita Broaddrick’s rape charges in a press briefing the day The Wall Street Journal broke the story on February 19, 1999. Instead she asked Clinton what was learned "from your 13 month ordeal?"

She did pose a vague Broaddrick question days later...

But you of course understand that it wasn't important:

Thomas and her colleagues of the time were stunned by the abuse of federal power for political ends during Watergate. However, she believes that most of the Clinton scandals took on a different tenure because they were mostly personal matters.

To be fair, she did go after Clinton on at least one topic:

…on March 5, 1999, she asked about Kosovo, and hit Clinton from the left: "my other question is how can you justify chipping away at the ABM treaty which helped keep the peace during the Cold War and pour billions and billions into a Star Wars defense against the possibility that starving North Korea may fire a missile at us?"

Remember, it's not liberal bias for journalists to be concerned about poor people, to "seek a solution". Of course, it appears that "starving North Korea" actually might fire a missile at us:

North Korea's determined covert pursuit of new nuclear weapons may stretch back five years and may now be on the verge of success. This much is certain: Pyongyang's recently uncovered nuclear deceit forces the world's powers to reexamine basic attitudes toward proliferation and deterrence.

The deceit was not a solitary, lunatic effort to trick the United States and overturn decades of nonproliferation rules and treaties. This was a calculated, strategic joint venture by North Korea and Pakistan. They conspired to ignore all rules and agreements -- especially Pyongyang's 1994 deal with the Clinton administration to freeze development of nuclear weapons -- and to share the right to possess atomic arsenals and missiles capable of vaporizing their neighbors.

Wonder if Thomas could have found out about it, as "doyenne", digging deep, given that the problem dated back to 1994? I'm sure her failure to do so, the fact that in 1999 she was still worried about "starving North Korea", had nothing to do with liberal blinders. Oh, don't forget this:

Thomas vehemently rejects the notion that the US press has a liberal bias. “Does that mean that we care about the poor and the sick? Is that so horrible? I have to laugh, because I think the opinion press is very conservative.”

Apparently a standard response. And here is her recent opinion piece:

President George W. Bush, who played the war and terrorism and yellow-alert cards to win the casino jackpot in the midterm election, is now in position to ram his conservative agenda through the GOP-controlled Congress.

Or at least that's the conventional wisdom. And you can be sure that the demoralized Democrats are in for a long, cold political winter.

While Bush was careful not to gloat, he made it clear in his news conference Thursday that he feels the Republican victory has given him a strong mandate for his legislative proposals.

My goodness - so conservative, that opinion press! And apparently she's been hanging out at the NY Times watercooler for her "conventional wisdom". I'm surprised too that Bush had a press conference. I thought he didn't do that? I know everyone misses the days of Clinton press conferences, so spontaneous and open to questioning - this, from 1998:

Clinton and his spokesman, Mike McCurry, prepare for hours before each press conference. They know what the reporters are likely to ask and which reporters are likely to ask what. They also know how badly reporters want to be called on (especially by name) and how it impresses their bosses…

But the White House is not happy with television these days. It is not happy with the rumors, innuendoes and leaks that the networks have been breathlessly rushing onto the air.

…Bill Clinton will do what the TV networks hate more than a complaint. He will do what they hate more than anything:

He will ignore them.

He doesn't ignore everyone, though:

This time, Clinton called on Helen Thomas…

Of course she has no personal connection to him:

A few weeks ago, she made a cameo appearance in Bill Clinton's video spoof of his days in the White House...

Helen Thomas, Kentucky native and fair, unbiased reporter. At 82, she represents everything you could ask for in a reporter.

If you're a Democrat.

UPDATE: Fortunately, Scrappleface has discovered a way to take care of both Bush's and Thomas's concerns about North Korea. Gives new meaning to the term "glowing faces", though.

Posted by susanna at 11:47 PM | Comments (3)

Eye candy

A reader sent this link just because:

Necropolis gun.jpg

That's my favorite. Not as pretty as some of the other versions of it, but meaner looking. I like.

Thanks, J.M.

Posted by susanna at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2002

Skanky

Michelle Malkin lays it on the line about Christina Aguilera's beyond-Grease transformation and her nubile following's descent with her into skankiness.

Posted by susanna at 05:11 PM | Comments (6)

Aaaaaggghhh!!

Brent has recent images of Michael Moore. They aren't for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.

Posted by susanna at 08:49 AM | Comments (1)

And these are bad things?

As a student at Rutgers University, I get headlines from the student newspaper - the Daily Targum - emailed to me periodically. The newspaper is headquartered at the New Brunswick campus, which is the bastion of mainline Democrat/academia liberalism. The Newark campus, where my program is, tends to also be liberal but with a different kind of focus - there minorities and foreign students are the majority, so your typical white-bread Democrats are tempered with at least a few different voices. At any rate, while cleaning out my inbox today I looked through a few weeks of Daily Targum emails and was amused by the consistent Democratic spin.

There were no Republican or conservative voices I could see, and the tone was instructive - it is clear the writers think they are addressing like-minded readers, and they think their positions and opinions are by default correct. They need no supporting evidence, they're just received truth. Here are a few excerpts, mostly about the recent midterm election:

From an article on Lautenberg's win:

Despite having only five weeks to mount a campaign against a Republican challenger whose campaign caused incumbent Sen. Robert Torricelli to withdraw from the race, Lautenberg was able to win this year's race.

…In this time of economic downturn when the stock market has dropped 40 percent since President George W. Bush took office, "we need someone who understands the importance of investing in the infrastructure," McGreevey said. That person is Lautenberg. "We need Frank Lautenberg to rebuild our economy."

I was unaware that Doug Forrester's campaign caused Torricelli's ouster - I thought it was his own corrupt behavior and the last minute realization by the Democratic machine that he was, in fact, going to lose. Silly me. Interesting too that GW caused the economic downturn; I'm sure it had no basis in the Clinton economic bubble, or even that very minor thing that happened on September 11, 2001. What thing, you ask? Precisely. No one remembers it, what was I thinking?

Now for a little editorializing about the Future of the Country:

America's decisions leave us speculating — a bit fearfully — about the composition of the Supreme Court and federal courts. Stalled judicial nominations by President George W. Bush will finally gain some momentum. Foreign policy will likely take a more unilateralist stance — a continuation of the administration's display of hard power. Indeed, national security and the war on Iraq were on the forefront of the GOP's successful strategy of accusing some Democratic candidates of lacking patriotism. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has wisely persevered in steering the country into a path of diplomacy, often against the administration's bidding, now remains the only hope of stemming a hawkish tide.

I think the threat of "stemming the hawkish tide" was exactly why the Democrats lost. Obviously this writer missed that point. And it was one that wouldn't die, at least at The Daily Targum:

Although [John Weingart, assistant director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics] doesn't expect the GOP to overturn any laws — such as abortion laws deriving from the Roe v. Wade decision — he did, however, say many policies could change.

With Republicans now in control of the Senate, and with the speculated resignation of a couple of Supreme Court justices, the Democrats are now powerless to stop President George W. Bush from making conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, Weingart said…

Election Night was not a total loss for Democrats, who picked up four gubernatorial seats. However, it was a setback for women in politics, especially in New Jersey, which will not have any women in Congress as a result of the election.

"Although the national number stays the same, it's bad because it is not what it should be," Weingart said of female representation in Congress.

Powerless Democrats - what a vision of bliss. I was amused at the way this article went down the list in the Democratic playbook - abortion, gender politics -and the fear that now "policies would change". Well, that's why you have an election, isn't it? Because you want policies to change. I also think someone needs to have a sit-down with these young people and explain that a woman from a district with a male Congressional representative isn't lacking representation. While I like the idea of women in Congress, it's more important to me to have someone there who espouses my same values. And I think the Dems are the same way - ask those college kids if they'd be happy if half the Congress were women, but all the women were Republicans. Somehow I'm thinking that wouldn't rate high on their blissometer (although it would on mine).

And finally, my personal favorite excerpt, which has nothing to do with the election. It's from an article on the draconian and poorly implemented security measures at some high schools in the New York City area. And the writer has this to say in conclusion:

In a perfect world, we could ban all guns and have ways to enforce the law. But until we do, other measures must be put into place. Security checkpoints are definitely a solution. But do it in a way that promotes safety, not feelings of imprisonment.

In my perfect world, all the anti-gun types would live in the same neighborhood with large signs saying, "We have no guns! We are passivists! We are against killing in any form, and think nothing is the fault of the lawbreaker unless he owns a corporation! We love you! We love everyone!" It'd be interesting to see how long it'd take for them to have a few more clues about the real world.

Posted by susanna at 08:41 AM | Comments (2)

November 15, 2002

Extremely cool

I had several hits today from the Who am I? feature on Reason magazine's website, and I was wondering precisely why, as it's a discussion of a gun. Finally I checked all the links in the story, and, sure enough, one of them was to an old post of mine on Blogspot. Well. That is most excellent! Now if my %$#@% computer would behave, maybe I could post more things that might get me linked.

Update on the computer: I stopped by Staples tonight and bought a new mouse, the Microsoft WheelMouse Optical, thinking that my old yucky mouse was my computer's problem. Well, the cursor didn't freeze up like it has lately, but the computer did do a freaky thing it's wont to on occasion - freezes up with a row of flourescent green pixels at the very top of the screen. So another cold boot. Sigh. I dumped all the temp files, internet files and history, then did a disk cleanup and tried to do a disk defrag. Only it wouldn't. It got started about 10 times, but each time it would stop at about 10% and say, the disk is in use, have to restart. ????? Who knows. I'm now on hold for a Micron tech, and apparently everyone else who's ever bought, thought about buying or heard about Micron, or lives within 30 blocks of someone who's done any of those things, called Micron just before I did.

Do I sound impatient? Of course not! I was linked by Reason! Life is good.

UPDATE: I live to entertain techies. Seriously. It's my lot in life. Tim the Micron Tech chatted with me for about 20 min as the disk defragger did its work (restarting three more times). We went through all that 'puter does, and he said, if it starts freezing again do a reinstall of Windows (now, isn't that in comments? Why do I need Micron when I have my readers?). He scared me with talk of a disk reformat that would make me lose all my data, but then relented and said I could start with a "dirty install", which of course sounded quite wicked and just the thing for a lively Friday night. Poor Tim must have thought for about the first 5 minutes that I was truly a nutcase as I skidded from calling myself a Computer Kevorkian (I had to explain Kevorkian to him) to talking about Big Brother watching (he said, you have an older brother? I had to explain the whole Govt = Big Brother thing) and finally landed in tinfoil hat territory. By then he'd caught on, and claimed he was manipulating my computer from Minnesota. I said, ha! And I am putting a tinfoil hat on my computer immediately! If not sooner! You can see I clearly waited too long to call, or else had too much sugar today, or both.

Finally the disk defrag finished, the computer refrained from locking up again, and Tim and I agreed to hang it up for the night. Before I let him go, we had this conversation:

Me: One more questions....
Tim: Yes?
Me: You're in Minnesota, right?
Tim: Yes.
Me: Tell me - did you vote for Norm Coleman?!
Tim: Yesss........ (tone was: and that matters why....?)
Me: Yay! I knew I liked you!
Tim: Are you a Republican??
Me: Yes!
Tim: Yay! That's great!

So we hung up in great charity with each other. And since the computer didn't immediately lock up, I'm willing to accept that the DNC isn't messing around with it. Maybe it just needed to unload a little junk and have its tangled bytes realigned. We shall see.

Posting, should you care, will resume on normal schedule tomorrow.

Posted by susanna at 09:04 PM | Comments (6)

Well-deserved contempt

You must read this article. Here's an excerpt:

...the Europeans may still be able to count on the sympathies and cultural deference of many East Coast journalists, but something has shifted among the diplomats, the think tanks and even many of the academics. At a think-tank meeting last week, when a European diplomat asked rather patronizingly what all these American weapons were actually for, a renowned liberal academic simply quoted Kipling's line about "Making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep." And then he turned on his heel and walked away.

[Link from the excellent Watch]

Posted by susanna at 07:58 AM | Comments (2)

November 14, 2002

I hate my computer (and you should too)

My computer has locked up on me four times tonight, once eating part of a post and just now eating a whole one. I personally think it's possessed and needs an exorcism; I'd get one for it if I believed in such things. Computer techie guy said, it's a virus or a hacker. Well, I now have the latest Norton Anti-virus, and it says no virus. I also now have a firewall and it says no hackers can get ya, baby, although out of 484 attempts to contact my computer, 451 look like hackers to the firewall. I have a nasty headache, I've had an awful week (although today was very good, thank you for asking), and I'm about to become a Computer Kevorkian if I don't get away from it. So have a nice night, and know that, folks, I did try to post.

Do you think the DNC is monitoring my computer?

Posted by susanna at 10:40 PM | Comments (9)

Best quote today

I loved this:

There’s no comparing the characters of these two men, but on [Alan] Greenspan’s evidence, Osama bin Laden managed to do less harm to the U.S. economy than President Jimmy Carter.

I guess that should have been a Nobel Prize in economics, hmmm?

(smirk)

Posted by susanna at 06:01 PM | Comments (1)

Other thoughts on the (possible) Iraqi war

Salam Pax is an Iraqi who blogs on Where Is Raed?. He is not happy with the US, or the thought of war coming to his country. Al Barger of Culpepper Log first got into a discussion with Pax on Legendary Monkey's blog Sudden Nothing (the original post is worth reading, as well as the back and forth in comments), then posted on his own blog in response to one of Pax's points on Sudden Nothing.

Barger highlights a quote from Pax that is frightening:

...in a case of war I do believe that if saddam has any biological or chemical weapons he is very likely to use them on his own people to give the CNN and Jazeera the bloody images everyone doesn't want to see.

This is the definition of evil - that to give the world good television (good in the sense that it is dramatic and visual) that will, in his judgment, advance his case with the world, Saddam would kill his own people. It's bad enough that he would kill them to advance his ends as an internal matter. But to do it for television? Women and children and old men and newlyweds and babies and strong young fathers would die so CNN can have a powerful visual? This is just speculation on Pax's part, but the fact that he thinks it plausible is telling.

I understand why he doesn't want war to come to his country. I truly hope it doesn't, but I don't see much likelihood that it won't. I pray that if it does the civilian casualties will be low and the fighting quick; I also know it's possible that some of the same people Saddam would kill will in fact be killed during the war. What I don't understand is how he can say that about Saddam and still say it's best that he not be removed. It must be a case of "the devil you know". Read it and decide for yourself.

Pax links to everything in the discussion here.

Posted by susanna at 06:47 AM | Comments (3)

November 13, 2002

What's up with Leslie Van Houten?

Back in June, Leslie Van Houten - the youngest of the Manson clan sentenced to die for murdering the LaBiancas in California - was denied parole again, after 33 years in prison. She is serving a life sentence because her death sentence was commuted in 1972 as a result of Furman vs. Georgia. Yesterday, two people commented on my post from June, saying that she should be paroled and it was unfair that she wasn't. Someone else had commented in September. What's going on? It seems an unlikely coincidence that almost 5 months after the original post, two people would happen on it and be moved to comment supporting her. Very curious. I wonder if some group is making an effort to get her released? Here are the comments (you can't read them in archives):

Lonnie Murphy:

I FEEL LIKE THIS WOMAN HAS PAID HER DUES. I THINK JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED. THE WOMAN IS REHABILITADED AND I THINK SHE SHOULD BE ABLE TO START SOME KIND OF LIFE.

doug:

I would have to think that we, as society seem to think justice is being served by leaving Ms. Van houten in prison. I would bet that she would be of more use to society as a counceler for the troubled, or even inmates, as she certainly must have ample knowledge,of our prison system.. I,m just a blue coller guy,who has worked hard all my life, and raised children.. this is where I get to be an expert"..in raising children, you can never forget what YOU,did, or what turnes could have affected our lives when we were 19 years old. She's not 19 years old anymore, that person is gone! And we cannot undo the past, I feel sorry for the victims and famalies thereof, but she has paid her dues to society, and it is wrong of us to keep her at fault for Charles Manson..parol her!

I did find a review of a book taking Van Houten's side in the November 2002 issue of a journal from Simon Fraser University. Could they be connected? Who knows.

The argument for Van Houten has three main points: she was young and duped, she's rehabilitated and she's more than paid her debt to society. They think she's been kept in prison because she's part of Manson's clan, and the venom directed toward him has poisoned her chance to leave prison. Although those commenters are unlikely to return, I wanted to say a little about each point.

Young and duped: Well, yes, but not a mindless puppet. The review of the book by Karlene Faith makes that point in the process of trying to prove the opposite. It says:

...she confessed to stabbing Rosemary LaBianca at Manson's command, believing that LaBianca was already dead...

If she was a mindless puppet, it wouldn't have mattered if LaBianca was her own mother, alive, on her knees and begging for her life. Van Houten would have done what Manson said irregardless of the circumstances. But she accepted his direction and stabbed a woman because it was within the boundaries she set for herself. And that's the case with many people. Certainly the mob mentality or peer influence can spur us to behaviors outside what we're normally willing to do, but we still maintain boundaries - we may stab an adult, but would we hold down a child to be raped? And if we are easily enough influenced to do heinous acts totally outside the realm of acceptability, should we be allowed out again to fall under the influence of someone else of similar bent? More on that in a minute.

Rehabilitation: I've mentioned before that our corrections system is sadly devoid of a central organizing goal that would give full coherence to the sanctions; we would be well-served to pick rehabilitation or retribution and go with it. But we can't quite go there, because ultimately no matter how much we want to think of ourselves as caringly rehabilitative, we are ultimately about retribution. And I'm good with that; I think we should state that explicitly, and then offer opportunities for rehabilitation to those who want to change without making that a part of the decision about getting out. Or even have a staged approach, where sentencing gets increasingly retributive as the crimes become more severe.

But I digress. The point as it applies to Van Houten is: We're retributive at the core, so it doesn't matter if she's become Glenda the Good Witch complete with vibrato. That's not the ultimate consideration. Did she do it, did she mean to do it? Yes. So she deserves the punishment given. Consider a recent case - that of John Malvo, part of the duo who shot and killed over a dozen people in the Maryland/Virginia corridor. He is 17, and definitely, provably under the influence of John Muhammed. Should he escape death, ever see freedom again? He's two years younger than Van Houten. He allegedly shot several people from a distance; she watched her companions wreak bloody carnage, then joined in when she felt comfortable with it. Different? Not much.

Retribution: This is why Van Houten is still in and won't be getting out, ever. Yes, she was under the influence of Manson, but her crime was horrific nonetheless: She stabbed a woman who had done nothing more than lay asleep in her own bed, and she stabbed her just to please her lover and drug source. Doesn't matter if you're 19 when you do it - some decisions you make change your life forever. Van Houten, as noted above, was not so under the influence of Manson that she followed his edict without thought. At that moment, in her center, she was able to aid and abet in the deaths of two innocents, making no effort to stop it, and even participating. That crime deserves the full wrath of society, and that is the point of retribution. Another name for it is "just desserts", and that is apt. Although her life has been spent in prison, she has had more time and will have more time than the people she helped kill. To allow her out is to say, your crime is not so bad as to warrant forfeiting your life. And it is bad enough. That is sufficient.

The people who continue to argue for the Leslie Van Houtens of the world are those who would never find a reason to keep someone locked away forever, much less kill them. And its those people we protect in spite of themselves when we make an example of the Van Houtens.

Note: Substantially edited from the original post, when was precipitously saved because my computer was about to eat it.

Posted by susanna at 06:22 PM | Comments (8)

I'm back! (kinda)

Well, and wasn't that just a very interesting few days? Last Friday I got bitten by the twin vipers of bitter interorganizational politics at work (not mine, I was just in the middle) and my own procrastination, and had to lay low and work hard until I was relatively sure I wouldn't swell up and die. It was a narrow thing there a few times, especially given my unfortunate tendency toward catastrophic thinking. And I'm still a little nauseous from the poisons, but that's okay. Sometimes difficult times remind you that you aren't all that, after all, and maybe you should pay a little more attention to what you should and shouldn't be doing. No, I won't be less cryptic, except to say that the spectre of a pink slip not entirely undeserved can interrupt your sleep. Everything seems to have righted, mostly, and I hope and devotely pray I don't go through a similar few days anytime soon.

(And no, Melody, I don't think any more details are in order. But thank you very much for being there; it meant more than I can say.)

It's unlikely that there'll be any dozen-post days anytime soon either, but I'll be back to posting at least daily as of now. I'm not going to say anything about free i** c****, because I've been threatened, so just think of me as government cheese making a comeback - not much to write home about, but free, filling, and good with macaroni even if a bit smelly at times.

Posted by susanna at 06:14 PM | Comments (6)

November 12, 2002

:D








(Things seem to be stabilizing. Should be back by Thursday night.)

Posted by susanna at 11:00 PM | Comments (3)

November 10, 2002

Hiatus

It's one of those weeks where something has to give, so I won't be posting until probably toward the end of the week. Unless something huge happens, like we start bombing Iraq. Have a good week, come back next weekend.

Posted by susanna at 01:30 PM | Comments (5)

A good idea

James Rummel notes that St. Xavier President Richard Yanikoski has behaved himself honorably in the situation involving the professor at his university who wrote a very ugly email to an Air Force cadet. Rummel says we should write Yanikoski and encourage him, especially in light of the pathetic attitudes of SFSU and Emory University toward scandals on their campuses. Check out what Rummel has to say, and drop Yanikoski a note if you agree with him.

Posted by susanna at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2002

Keeping an eye on St. Xavier

A few days ago, Glenn Reynolds posted about an Air Force cadet who received a nasty response from a college professor at St. Xavier University when the cadet asked the professor for help in getting information for an Assemby at the Air Force Academy. The episode has caused quite a dustup, as it should. The Misanthropyst, Don McArthur, sends a link to his coverage of the exchange, complete with the text of an email he sent to professor Peter Kirstein, copied to St. Xavier president Richard Yanikoski.

Don received an auto-response from Yanikoski with a link to a website which indicates that Kirstein is in as much trouble as Yanikoski can, within the framework of the university, bring to bear:

I deeply regret the hurt that has affected so many. As both president and former USAF, I offer my most sincere apologies to all in the military and beyond whose sacrifices and intentions have been denigrated by Prof. Kirstein's words. I ask for your understanding as we attempt to rectify this unexpected situation. Please know that the University is taking this matter very seriously and will do its best to bring the matter to a proper close. You have been heard! My goal is to seek a just solution, a practical response, and a lasting form of resolution that will uphold the integrity of both the university and the military.

To those who are current or former members of the military, I offer my heart-felt gratitude for your service to the nation and I extend my personal best wishes on the occasion of Veterans Day.

Note that he doesn't seem particularly concerned about the integrity of Professor Kirstein, which is a good thing as Kirstein apparently has none. You have to appreciate the irony of Kirstein ripping up an Air Force cadet when his big boss is former USAF himself. Maybe Yanikoski can arrange for Kirstein to be one of Saddam's human shields sometime early next year.

Mike at Cold Fury had the perfect comment the day after election day, when the Kirstein story broke:

Wonder what ol' Prof Kirstein is saying to his poor beleaguered students today. ...I can just picture him flopping around on the floor like a gutted fish, screaming and howling. He may actually need to be put down after this.

We can only hope that he will at least be put down in the academic sense. Maybe he can team up with Michael Bellesiles for an Aren't I A Liberal Idiot tour of North America. I'm sure Babs will be happen to open for them.

Posted by susanna at 03:50 PM | Comments (5)

Anti-globalization fun

Reader Richard Wolfe, stepping in to watch the media while I'm keeping my nose to the work grindstone, sent in this link about an anti-globalization rally in Italy. The interesting thing is, between the time he sent me the first email about it, and then a second one with the link at my request, the section he highlighted in the first email was gone. Isn't that interesting. At any rate, his first comments:

I was just reading the preliminary reports on the "anti-globalization" march in Italy and was struck by the second paragraph:
"Fired with anti-American sentiment and angered by a tough new U.N. resolution to disarm Iraq, European activists joined forces in a carnival atmosphere and marched together singing Communist anthems and blowing shrill whistles. 'Take your war and go to hell,' one of the colorful banners read. 'No to war,' said another"

Ah, Communist anthems. Now we see what the anti-war, anti-globalization movement is all about.

I had the opportunity to see the WTO protests up close and personal in Chicago over the past few days. There were placards denouncing Bush and Enron, Cheney and oil, Wal-Mart for some other reason. . .frankly, it looked like a half-hearted "Find Something To Be Against" rally. The police presence was firm and controlled and the marchers were clearly dissuaded from repeating their past performances. The local news breathlessly reported that nothing notable was happening, even breaking into the middle of "Seinfeld" on day one to do so. On day two, when this was quickly becoming the local non-story of the year, one of the local news reporters interviewed one of the dozen or so young idealists milling about Daley Plaza, who complained that "police intimidation" was responsible for the lack of protestor numbers. Yes, I'm sure that was it. It had nothing to do with their incoherent message or that people are just not buying it.

Yes, some people have to have Something To Protest to feel they're On The Correct Side (we can't say "right" side, as they may have heart palpitations at the thought of anything "right"). Cute that the media broke into regular programming to announce that nothing was happening. The public and the media are continuing this dance of excitement escalation - as the public gets more and more numbed to the media's offerings, the media becomes more and more shrill and overdone. If a non-protest warrants breaking into regular programming, and an election requires every station to broadcast endless speculation when there's no grounding for it until the 11th hour, what will happen when there's genuine news? We've seen a taste of it when 9/11 happened, and overall the first few days afterward were appropriate. But the media just gets more and more like an aging whore who has to wear stronger pushup bras, wear more makeup and stand in dimmer lights to get any business. Where's the fresh-faced truth and relevance?

Buried in pancake, apparently.

Anyway, when Rick sent the link, he noted that all references to communism at this rally had vanished (how shocking), and the misbehavior of other anti-globalists in Italy was now attributed to... no one.

The original was just the Reuters report via Yahoo. It looks like they've updated it since then. . .in fact, this version makes no mention of the Communist anthems and makes it sound like a big party. Here is the most interesting section:
"The demonstration was seen as a major test for Italian police after the 2001 Group of Eight summit in Genoa, where one protester was shot dead by a Carabinieri paramilitary officer and hundreds were wounded during street clashes.

Images of wrecked banks, gas stations and stores in Genoa are still vivid for many Italians."

Apparently, the police were the problem in Genoa? Note that the
destruction of the banks, gas stations, and stores is attributed to no one.
They were simply there.

Yep. It's like Pigpen in the Charlie Brown comic strip - poor kid didn't do anything but stand there, yet the dirt swirled around him and covered him over with no noticable effort on his part. The anti-globalists, the protestors and rioters of various ilks, find that wherever they go stores are looted, cars burned, police attacked, property vandalized - but with no one blamed, no cause for the effect.

Wonder what would happen if anti-abortion protestors, or globalization advocates, or Kill Saddam types took to the streets and ripped up the place in a similar way? I don't think the media would cover it like an innocent party. They'd be in high hysterical strut, complete with feather boa and jacked up prices. A working girl's gotta make a living, after all.

Posted by susanna at 03:32 PM | Comments (3)

A plaguing concern

Earlier this week, two tourists from New Mexico were admitted to Beth Israel hospital in NYC with symptoms indicating the plague; as soon as the media picked up on it, they fell into a minor frenzy. Here's what FoxNews.com had to say about the reaction:

When a pair of tourists in New York fell ill with bubonic plague — a naturally occurring though rare disease — reaction in the East was swift and scared.

Why? I was intrigued when I heard, but not scared. But there's good reason why others were:

Fox News Channel ran an on-screen headline that blared "Black Death," while The New York Times ran a subhead on its story declaring: "A disease that ravaged medieval Europe reappears."

Hmmm... is this journalistically responsible? I don't think so. Here's the truth of the situation:

The media "seemed really surprised that the plague actually existed," state Health Department spokesman Eddie Binder said.

"These are extremely rare events that are sporadic," Ettestad said. "We have never really had a case in tourists. It's these rural areas where people are outside among the animals.

"As long as you avoid rodents and don't go sticking your hand down their nests, you will be fine."

...Plague — a bacterial illness transmitted by fleas and by contact with infected blood or tissue — is active in about 15 states, mostly in the West. New Mexico had one human case in 2001, one in 2000, six in 1999 and nine in 1998. The last human plague death in New Mexico occurred in 1994.

Plague outbreaks have killed about 200 million people in the past 1,500 years. The most infamous, Europe's Black Death, started in 1347, killing 25 million people in Europe and 13 million in the Middle East and China within five years.

A number of historically horrific diseases that sound exotic and scary to us even yet are still around - leprosy, for instance, infects approximately half a million people a year in under-developed countries. But in the western hemisphere, that number falls to under 100,000, and those concentrated in South American countries. In the United States it's extremely rare, and only two cases have been reported in the East Coast in recent years.

The point is, diseases that ravaged whole countries in previous centuries no longer have a foothold in modern countries with current medical technology. While it's an interesting footnote that these people have the plague, it's certainly flagrant fishing for audience share that caused the media outlets to cover it so heavily and with metaphorical scare quotes. They should avoid such irresponsibility like...well...like the plague.

Posted by susanna at 10:01 AM | Comments (7)

Something cool

I don't even want to begin to tell you what a horrible day I had at work. I have no heart for blogging. However, this is an exceptionally cool cybertoy, just the thing for amusing a warped and angry mind. The most fun is to swing your cursor over it quickly to see what nastiness results.

A couple of them I think I've dated...

[Link courtesy of my lovely blogsister rhondalicious at Very Black]

Posted by susanna at 12:02 AM | Comments (1)

November 08, 2002

Low posting

I remain with my back firmly against the wall on a number of projects at work; was here this morning by 7:30. You would be unlikely to hear anything other than anguished whining today, so I will spare you and fall uncharacteristically silent until things ease up. Supportive emails are encouraged.

Have a great day.

Posted by susanna at 09:48 AM | Comments (2)

The real resolution

The blogosphere does it again - Scott Ott at Scrappleface has scooped everyone by getting the real text of the UN resolution on Iraq before anyone else has it.

Posted by susanna at 01:35 AM | Comments (0)

I'd like a pizza with onions and sausage...

In case anyone cares, I'm still at work with an hour probably left to go. It's not a really bad thing, I've gotten a lot done. But I'd sure rather be sleeping. If I had a half-eaten cold onion pizza from Domino's and a watered-down Pepsi close to hand, I'd think I was back in college.

Reminds me of one of my favorite gifts of all time. I was up late studying, and chatting online with a friend of mine in another state. I was hankering for a pizza and whined about it to him. Well, about 45 min later there was a knock on the door and it was... a pizza delivery guy. My friend had found a pizza place in my town and ordered a pizza for me to be delivered. Very cool.

And yes, I'm still listening to country music. But I may switch to Celtic.

Posted by susanna at 12:23 AM | Comments (8)

November 07, 2002

Liberty, equality and libertarianism

I had never thought very much about the difference of "freedom from" vs "freedom to", but Dodd explains it very well in the context of a discussion on the meaning of liberty and equality to a libertarian vs a liberal. And I think it's an important distinction.

You'll enjoy the mental meat to chew on after all the brain candy I've doled out today. And I'm still at work, finishing up a grant proposal due at noon tomorrow, so anything else you get from me tonight will be similarly light and fluffy. But I know you, you love it. Admit it.

And just to turn you really green, I'll tell you this: I'm listening to a Live365 station called "R&R Country - music you can sing to" that's all sappy country ballads. Right now it's No Place That Far by Sara Evans and Vince Gill.

Mmmmmmm.... Vince Gill.

Posted by susanna at 08:07 PM | Comments (1)

A very good question

Maybe the reason I don't like coffee is because I haven't gotten the context just right. Clearly some experimentation is in order, but better make it kissin' cousins. Of course, you could start with a little bowling.

I may send a case of these to Britney Spears.

And who doesn't need this?

Someone, please notify DEA.

And this... well, I have no comment.

[Link via Mostly Wasted]

Posted by susanna at 12:05 PM | Comments (2)

50 reasons to leave the Dems behind

Brent at The Ville lists 50 reasons the Dems lost; he also has a nice new logo for them.

Posted by susanna at 11:51 AM | Comments (2)

Truer words...

William F. Buckley, in an odd little NRO article that reads more like stream of consciousness notes, had this to say about the Dems:

But, Senator Lautenberg says, President Bush has to prove himself because the economy is in a terrible mess. He does not adduce from any of the public-policy positions taken by the Democratic leadership, what it is that ought to be done. The Democrats have never been strong on this point. Their strength is in redistribution. One class of Americans produce the goods, the Democrats serving as arbiters on who should have the income from that production.

That's as good an evaluation as any I've seen on the problem with the economy and the Democrats.

Posted by susanna at 11:36 AM | Comments (1)

November 06, 2002

Just what I needed

Schlepping about the blogosphere, I found this site of "motivational" posters - I can't remember where. But it really spoke to me.

Dysfunction
The only consistent feature of all of your dissatisfying relationships is you.

Underachievement
The tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut by the lawnmower.

Mistakes
It could be that the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others

Procrastination
Hard work often pays off over time, but laziness pays off now.

Well, I guess it's anti-motivation. But then that's how I feel today. If you're really down, try this.

Posted by susanna at 10:34 PM | Comments (7)

Impressive!

Martin Devon has scored his Senate predictions - and he missed only two! Great job, Martin. But then we're not surprised.

Posted by susanna at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

Reality blogging

The Last Page has an inside look at a real newsroom during yesterday's election coverage. Warning: It involves Cheese Poofs and turtle turds.

Posted by susanna at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

A new happy thought

Rush Limbaugh just made the point that the whole Torricelli/Lautenberg deal probably helped push the country to the right in this election. I knew that, on one level, but his comment put it together for me. So while it pains me to be represented by Lautenberg, I take comfort that New Jersey in spite of itself contributed to the Republican victory yesterday. I just wish the voters in the state of New Jersey had responded appropriately too.

Posted by susanna at 01:53 PM | Comments (6)

A scary Dowd column

Scary because it...it's...it's almost good!

(Pardon me while I pick myself up off the floor. Dead faints hurt.)

Apparently Maureen Dowd has flown to Saudi Arabia to talk to folks over there, and this column is almost a news article about it (that is to say, straightforward rather than some kind of flaming nonsense). She does make one swipe, so we don't think it's a mind-controlled android instead of her:

Before 9/11, Americans could think of this place simply as an exclusive men's club where pols in pinstripes did mutually beneficial, if corrupting, deals with princes in robes.

And of course a little remark from a Saudi newspaper editor:

"Americans are partly responsible for our country's lack of democracy," one Saudi newspaper editor says contemptuously. "You've been happy to pump our gas and sell us your planes and other toys."

I found that quote interesting because now that we're pumped to come bring democracy if we have to cram it down their throats, the libs - Dowd included - have gotten their knickers all in a twist. So it's a little odd that Dowd would include a quote that would seem to support American assistance in democratization. And then there's this slap at Israel, allowed to stand alone without comment or rebuttal (and I'm sure it could be easily rebutted):

They were defensive about American suspicion of the religious hard-liners' influence on boys' schooling. "Why don't you go to Israeli math textbooks and see what they're saying — `If you kill 10 Arabs one day and 12 the next day, what would be the total?' " demanded one deputy. Agreed another: "If 5 or 8 percent of our curriculum has to be changed, then 80 to 90 percent of the content of American media has to be changed."

I loved the last part of the quote - obviously said deputy doesn't get it that the fact the American media goes its own silly way is part of what democracy is. And the American media isn't required reading for five year olds.

But all that aside, Dowd has some passages that I thought were illuminating and, for her, oddly reasonable:

Saudis are bitter at Americans who are bitter about the Saudi hijackers, Saudi money funding Islamicist terrorism and Saudi madrasas sparking animosity toward Americans.

While this is also without additional comment, I think it's a good summary of the current situation and, just through the juxtaposition, says, "Hey, Saudis, maybe Americans have a point?"

After 9/11, wised-up Americans started trying to figure out what toxic desert flowers were growing behind the kingdom's walls.

Well, I think we already knew. We just didn't realize the extent to which the toxins were going to blow over the wall. And we're prepared to glass it over if those flowers aren't uprooted.

Dick and Jane would never cut it here. And the angry mutawwa would haul in Jack and Jill before they ever got near that hill.

That's a great realization for Dowd to have - Saudi Arabia isn't the USA and its leaders, as well as many of its citizens, find our ways not just different, not just disturbing, but actively horrifying. Dowd, who given her way would take the USA even further away from the Saudi ideal, apparently is only now discovering the truth of that. Is that the source of this unusual insight and subdued tone? I don't know. I'm worried about her - how can we Fisk if the most fiskable columnists begin having clues? But there's hope too; if Dowd can have a clue, she just might be able to share it effectively with her leftist buddies.

But don't hold your breath for her to love Dubya. I'm sure she'll have something to say about the election before the week is out. And it won't be pretty.

I can hardly wait.

Posted by susanna at 01:49 PM | Comments (2)

Constitution no-nos

There were several constitutional amendment proposals on ballots in various states, including such things as protection for pregnant pigs (in Florida). While some of the initiatives might actually have been good ideas for legislation, the fact that they are offered as constitutional amendments is, in essence, both a misuse of the constitutional amendment process and a legislative work-around. Ideally, a constitution sets the framework for how a government - whether state or federal - will operate, and then the legislative bodies set up by the constitution attend to the details by passing laws. However, when someone who wants a particular thing done - say, protecting pregnant pigs - and doesn't think (s)he will get anywhere with the legislature, the only way to "take it to the people" in a direct popular vote is to offer it as a constitutional amendment. And that's the genesis of a lot of these nuisance amendment proposals. Dodd Harris, who knows a lot more about this stuff than I do, has a good post on it too.

I should have said this before the election (hey - there'll be more!), but I would encourage you in the future to vote "no" to any constitutional amendment, whether state or federal, that is not a broad-brush framework issue but rather a specific issue better suited to the legislative process, just on general principle. Maybe if the initiatives are consistently voted down, the process will redirect through the legislatures where it should be. And if someone asks you to sign a petition to get such a measure on the ballot, cry it anathema and sit them down for a detailed discussion of why what they're doing is a Very Bad Thing.

Posted by susanna at 01:07 PM | Comments (3)

Courting smacks

Remember Missouri district court judge Charles Shaw who accused justices on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of racism in a dispute over their response to a ruling of his? Well, the 8th Circuit just slapped him hard and sent the case to Iowa:

Federal appeals court judges in the penthouse of the Eagleton U.S. Courthouse downtown fired back Monday in a war of words with a district court judge on the 12th floor. The subject is a high-profile civil suit filed by a former St. Louis police sergeant.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals aimed its volley at Judge Charles Shaw, who had accused the higher court of racial bias in an earlier ruling in the case of Thomas Moran.

Shaw sought to "impugn the integrity of this court" and had made "baseless, personal, racially oriented speculations," the appeals judges said in a unanimous order that turns the case over to a judge from Iowa...

"While the observations are accurate, they are wholly irrelevant and, in our view, were calculated to impugn the integrity of this court in the eyes of the public," the 8th Circuit judges wrote. "Every judge on this court has, like the district court itself, taken an oath to administer the law impartially, and our duty to decide cases without regard to consideration of race, color, or creed is fundamental and inviolable."

Way to go, Chuck! Of course this is of moment because Charles Shaw is black, and used the race card in his earlier response to the justices; the fact that the only black justice on the 8th Circuit joined in unanimously makes it clear (to me, at any rate) that his concern is the law, not some type of racial preference that supersedes the law.

The next question is, will Charles Shaw face any kind of more generalized criticism for his own racism?

[Thanks to Kevin Murphy of Fun Murphy's blog for the heads up on this]

Posted by susanna at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity and a striving after the readership

The latest Carnival of the Vanities in all its breezy goodness is available for your perusal at Silflay Hraka and Blogcritics. And I keep meaning to participate, I mean, I'm as vain as anybody, but alas. I'm always dithery about which of my posts deserves that kind of singling out, wondering if perhaps the important thing is not a sample, but rather the understanding of my work as a whole, the connecting tone that threads through, creating a higher art that is greater than the sum of the parts...

(Er, what's that you say? Okay, yes, I just procrastinated too long again, hush! This sounds much more impressive.)

Posted by susanna at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

So we're happy!

At least I am! It was a wonderful night, looks like Mondale's going down in Minnesota (thanks, Josh!), and we own both houses as well as the White House. Even Dodd's predictions came out right. Martin hasn't posted his scores yet.

I've seen some folks talking about how the Democrats didn't win because they had no compelling vision to convey. Well, I'm concerned that the Republicans' "compelling vision" is a bit too centrist for me. I'm all for pulling the country to the right on a variety of issues, but on some of them it needs to be a hard right, not a soft and fuzzy right. There needs to be a willingness to "just say no" to some government measures, and I don't see that like I'd like to. If at all. This is a start, however.

I do think it's best for the country to have two strong and opposing parties, so I want the Democrats to rally and get a little backbone. But I also want the Republicans to stand for strong principles and not just move to the center to win votes, which I think has happened too much. For once in the life of the party, Republicans, LEAD!!!! You have your mandate, do something. Don't just play footsie with the Democrats. Don't make nice. And don't be conciliatory to anyone. Do what is right. There's such a stated reluctance to get down in the ditch and fight, unless it's personal attacks. You know what? The electorate doesn't mind if the fight is about policy, not about personality. It makes me, at any rate, feel a little bit better about the possibility that it's not all a done deal behind closed doors.

It's going to be an interesting two years.

UPDATE: Late breaking news - Scott Ott has the scoop on why voters really went right this election. (Hint: It wasn't GW)

Posted by susanna at 08:44 AM | Comments (1)

A very amusing thought

My brother just reminded me of Jim Jeffords. Oooohhhh payback gonna be sweet.

Not, you understand, that I'm bitter.

But I bet that's one Senator who just saw his next four years become one long, bloody nightmare.

Happy post-election, Jim.

Posted by susanna at 08:09 AM | Comments (4)

Okay, one more

I couldn't resist this quote, from an article on the fact that Voter News Service (VNS) wasn't going to be able to provide exit poll information to the major news services as originally planned:

As in the past, AP was calling election winners in a process that involves an analysis of the actual vote returns, Wolman said. "Our emphasis is on accuracy and we're confident we'll provide a strong service tonight."

Using actual vote returns as the basis for calling election winners? A bit radical, don't you think? Personally, I'm skeptical. Give me a good exit poll any day, for accuracy and reliability.

Posted by susanna at 12:23 AM | Comments (0)

I'm done

I'm awake waayyy past my bedtime, folks, I'm off to get some sleep. It's been an encouraging election day, so I'll sleep easily and happily. I'll do a wrap-up in the morning, not that you won't already know all by then anyway. But we need closure, of course. So we can move on.

Hopefully right into the middle of Baghdad with some Hellfires.

(Feel free to update me in the comments section, so I'll be all informed when I check in first thing in the morning.)

Posted by susanna at 12:10 AM | Comments (2)

November 05, 2002

Some consolation

Townsend lost in Maryland.

Hah.

I'm lovin' it.

(And it's way cool that Romney the Republican won in Massachusetts too. Reckon we're about shed o' them Kennedys?)

Posted by susanna at 11:07 PM | Comments (1)

Forrester and Lautenberg results

This will be updated throughout the evening. Just heard on CN8 that the first results are in.

With 1% of precincts voting, it's:

Lautenberg 50% with about 5,300 votes

Forrester 48% with about 5,100 votes

Will be updating this post as the evening progresses.

UPDATE: FoxNews is reporting that Lautenberg has won. WHAT ARE THEY DOING?!?!?!!?!? Only 1% of the precincts are in.

I find that so annoying. Can you tell?

UPDATE: 9:20 p.m. - With 13% of precincts reporting, Lautenberg has 54%. Dancing in the streets at Lautenberg headquarters; uncertainty in Forrester's. Too early to call? Yes. But it seems to be a trend.

Someone just commented on CN8 that it was a choice between Lautenberg with a proven record and someone who did not establish a positive reason to vote for him. And much as it pains me, I have to agree. That was my problem with Forrester all along - I had no sense of him as anything other than an anti-Democrat. He did fine in the interviews I heard, but little personality and no vision that coalesced for me. Sigh.

UPDATE: 10:45 p.m. - Okay, I concede. Lautenberg won. I heard Senator Jon Corzine, D-NJ, chatting gleefully about all the ways he and Frank are gonna spend our money. They'll be such a good team for NJ! Happy, happy, joy joy.

There is cause for some joy - Scott Garrett (R) finished off Anne Sumers (D) 59% to 39%. At least someone from New Jersey won't be on the anti-gun train.

Posted by susanna at 11:00 PM | Comments (2)

Saxby, Sununu, Dole win

FoxNews is calling Saxby Chambliss the winner for the Georgia Senate seat over incumbent (and raging liberal) Max Cleland. With 51% of the vote in, Chambliss is ahead 54% to 45%, which does seem a comfortable lead. Very cool. Republican John Sununu has just given his acceptance speech for the Senate seat in New Hampshire, winning over former NH governor Jean Shaheen.

And of course, you already know that Elizabeth Dole won in North Carolina.

This is a good thing.

UPDATE: My Georgia reporter, Curt, sends this information hot off the Georgia Secty of State website - as of 10:49 p.m. - on the Chambliss win:

United States Senator 65% of precincts reporting

Max Cleland (D) 526,466 46.1%
Saxby Chambliss (R) 600,937 52.6%
Claude "Sandy" Thomas (Lib) 15,441 1.4%

Can you say "Yeehaw"?!

Posted by susanna at 10:45 PM | Comments (3)

Direct info on Minnesota

Not that it's my state, but because it's been so much in the news I checked out the Senate race in Minnesota. With 0.24% of the precincts voting, it's Norm Coleman ahead, 149 to 80, over Walter Mondale. Of course, there are approximately 2.8 million more potential votes (if everyone eligible went to the polls, which of course we know they didn't), so while there's a definite trend I'm going to break with tradition here and not call the race yet.

If you want to know more, here's the link, straight from The Source.

UPDATE: All the out-of-state interest in the Minnesota race has crashed the web servers for the website linked above. Here's the FoxNews report on Minnesota, if you can't get to The Source.

And Coleman is still leading, with 7% of precincts in. Apparently voting went on for more than an hour after the polls closed (so all those in line at the time of the poll closing could vote), and there's a lot of hand counting being done, so the results will be coming in slowly.

Posted by susanna at 09:55 PM | Comments (1)

Garrett way ahead

Republican Scott Garrett currently has 62% of the vote for the 5th Congressional seat over Democrat Anne Sumers, according to CBS News - which also says there are zero precincts reporting so far, bizarrely enough. But CN8 confirms, saying Garrett has won two counties and is doing extremely well in another.

Sumers is Million Mom March chick. Glad she won't be hauling her gun control agenda into Washington with any kind of official status.

Posted by susanna at 09:39 PM | Comments (1)

No stereotyping here, move along

One of the CN8 reporters, discussing one of the state elections (I don't know which one, I was still fried about the Forrester thing), said of the Republican candidate: "On paper, he looks like a Democrat - African-American and an urban activist".

That's right, folks. It's not about policy, it's about race and preceptions about activities appropriate to each party.

Posted by susanna at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)

The polls just closed...

...but CBS is projecting Lautenberg to win.

None of the precincts have reported yet.

Fuh. Go away, Dan.

Posted by susanna at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)

Winners in VA, KY

FoxNews and others are already calling the Senate races in Virginia and Kentucky for the GOP - John Warner returning for a fifth term from Virginia, and McConnell winning his fourth from Kentucky.

Posted by susanna at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)

Motion to extend voting denied

A NJ Superior Court judge has denied a motion to extend voting hours in the sections of Cherry Hill where glitches with the voting machines caused some voters to be forced to use paper ballots.

A mechanical problem caused voting machines to malfunction in each of the township's 46 voting districts Tuesday morning, forcing officials to use paper ballots for a time and causing some voters to be turned away, officials said.

As a result, election officials went to court to seek permission to keep township polling places open for two extra hours, but the petition was denied by Superior Court Judge Robert G. Millenky.

He ruled there was not disruption enough in the voting process to warrant an extension, said Phyllis Pearl, Camden County Superintendent of Elections.

Polls throughout New Jersey close at 8 p.m.

Millenky did grant Pearl's request that emergency ballots and provisional ballots used as emergency ballots be counted. Other write-in ballots used while the mechanical problems were being fixed also were to be tallied in the final count, Pearl said, bringing to about 1,000 the total of paper ballots.

Millenky said he would sit in municipal court until polls closed to address grievances Cherry Hill residents may have with the rulings and Tuesday's voting process, Pearl said.

Wonder how many grievances he'll hear?

Posted by susanna at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

Early indications

Drudge is saying that Lautenberg is leading Forrester in the NJ Senate race; a caller on Sean Hannity's show just said that he's been going around in Essex and Passaic counties, expected to be strong for Lautenberg, and Forrester is making a surprisingly good showing. Of course, that's from a Forrester supporter urging people to vote, so take it for what it's worth.

FYI, Essex County is where Newark is located, and Passaic County is a long, narrow county running north of Newark up to the New York state line. Paterson, in Passaic County, is a major urban area similar to Newark.

Drudge is speaking on Sean's show in just a minute; if he adds more I'll let you know.

Posted by susanna at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

Nice to see that balance

NJ.com has an updated version of an earlier article on the Lautenberg/Forrester race which has a noteworthy series of quotes. Remember, balance is the point here, to hear the journalists tell it. So what happened here?

The only quote from a Forrester supporter:

Joseph Todino, a real estate developer and registered Republican, voted for Forrester, who had to refocus his campaign when incumbent Sen. Robert Torricelli dropped out of the race.

"I think he got sandbagged with the change with Torricelli, so he couldn't run a very good campaign," Todino said.

So even a supporter is saying, well, Forrester didn't have a good campaign. Then you have a quote from a man who voted for the Green Party to send a signal to both other parties. Finally, the remaining half of the article belongs to Lautenberg. Here are the quotes:

...Diane Caruso said one reason outweighed others when she cast her vote for Lautenberg.

"The factor that was large was the issue of retaining Democratic control of the Senate," said Caruso...

***

In Newark, where sound trucks cruised the streets screeching out tinny messages urging voters to support Democratic candidates, Kevin Mack said he also voted for Lautenberg because he wants Democrats to retain control of the Senate.

"It's all about control," he said. "I don't trust the Republicans. They're desensitized to the issues that affect African-Americans and Latinos. Not that Democrats are wholeheartedly going after them, too, but at least they look like they're trying."

***

Lisa Milhous, 40, a Democrat, said she split her ticket, voting for U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo and Lautenberg, whom she preferred because of his experience.

Milhous said she didn't like what happened when Torricelli quit the race and Democrats got a state Supreme Court ruling allowing them to substitute Lautenberg's name on the ballot, but that didn't stop her from voting Democratic.

"They had to put somebody in there, and I'd rather it be somebody who's been in before," she said.

There you have it. Forrester ran such a poor campaign his supporters thought it pathetic, and the Democrats find the Republicans such anathema that they don't care who they vote for to keep the Senate out of their hands. Fair and balanced? You tell me.

Posted by susanna at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

I just can't think on bad hair days!

It's raining in Louisiana, and Alex at Fevered Rants is disgusted with the electorate:

It is pouring down now. Of course the local talk radio wags are extolling people get out and vote in spite of the rain. Frankly, I don't think that important political questions ought be addressed by those who consider the preserving one's hairdo paramount to thoughtfully exercising one's franchise.

Alex, Alex! I can't even bring myself to go to the mailbox without a perfect coif! Your expectations are much too high. Tsk. I think absentee ballots should be hand-delivered to all rain-reluctant voters in your area. You're just trying to disenfranchise the humidity-challenged.

Posted by susanna at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)

The first court call?

I mentioned earlier that some polling machines in Cherry Hill, NJ - which is adjacent to Philadelphia - had malfunctioned, forcing voters to use paper ballots. Election officials were supposed to go before a Superior Court judge at noon today to ask for an extension on voting in those precincts, past the legislated 8 p.m. poll closure time.

Township residents voting in several precincts found that the lever next to the name of Democratic mayoral candidate Bernie Platt could not be pulled.

“It was like being in a Third World country,” said one voter who said he was asked whether he was planning to vote for Platt. “Unbelievable. I have never seen an election like this.”

Phyllis Pearl, superintendent of elections for Camden County, said the problem was a mechanical glitch that had been fixed by 10 a.m.

She said that she did not know how many voters had been affected, but that her office has been receiving concerned phone calls since polls opened at 6 a.m.

Only a Superior Court judge has the power to extend polling hours beyond 8 p.m. Pearl said she has contacted the state Attorney General’s Office to make the petition on her behalf.

I've not seen any results from the hearing yet. I'll let you know when I do.

Posted by susanna at 02:28 PM | Comments (2)

Who's running for Congress?

There are 13 Congressional districts in New Jersey; only one race - the 5th District - lacks an incumbent seeking re-election. That's a pretty hotly contested race, however, with Republican Scott Garrett running against Democrat Anne Sumers for the seat of retiring Republican Congressman Marge Roukema. Sumers, one of the forces behind the anti-gun Million Mom March, has caused controversy by running an ad using sniper John Muhammed.

In the 13th District, Democrat Robert Menendez is seeking a sixth term; he currently is vice chairman of the Democratic House caucus, but if re-elected could be the chair, the third-highest position in party leadership.

In my own 9th District, Democrat Steve Rothman is going for a fourth term; his opponent is 25-year-old Republican newcomer Joseph Glass. I'm not holding out much hope for my candidate.

UPDATE: In case you're wondering about voter numbers in New Jersey, here's the breakdown:

According to state election figures, 1,170,445 voters are registered as Democrats and 900,969 as Republicans. The majority of the electorate - 55 percent, or 2,570,402 voters - are registered as unaffiliated or independent.

So now we have a means of comparison for tonight's count.

Posted by susanna at 02:17 PM | Comments (1)

New Jersey Election - getting started

My duty today is to report on the New Jersey elections. For all those questions about voting hours, who can vote, and the laws concerned, check out the New Jersey Division of Elections, which includes a page on changes in absentee ballots and who to contact in your county about them, as well as the NJ Supreme Court orders about the 2002 election.

New Jersey Channel 12 - the main television station in NJ (most people watch the NYC stations) has ongoing NJ election coverage. And, as you can see from their front page, there's nothing like highlighting a candidate as a bit pathetic:

Although he is trailing in every poll and despite the fact that NJ voters haven't elected a Republican to the Senate in 30 years, Doug Forrester continues his campaigning, with a last minute blitz to win over undecided voters.

A nice lead-in to our top race, for Senate, between Republican Doug Forrester and Democrat Frank Lautenberg, who (for those of you who have been comatose for the last few weeks) took over when Robert "The Torch" Torricelli flared out. Lautenberg was Senator for 18 years before giving up his seat two years ago, now held by Jon Corzine. Polls do give Lautenberg a lead, which is pretty pathetic. But then the NJ Republican party is pretty pathetic, so no one is surprised.

Here's an analysis of the race in The (Newark) Star-Ledger; the article also gives an overview of competitive congressional races in the state.

Quick source list:

News Channel 12 (New Jersey)
NJ.com (best overview of New Jersey races)
The (Newark) Star-Ledger (which appears thus far to have lame coverage)
NYC Channel 2 CBS
NYC Channel 4 NBC
NYC Channel 7 ABC
The Nando Times (not NJ, but a great overview election site)

NOTE: This will be updated as I find more links.

Posted by susanna at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

Noon election update

Not much to report thus far. Early turnout in some areas of the state are reported to be heavy, but more because of local races. Cherry Hill voters had to resort to paper ballots when about 2/3 of the town's voting machines had a glitch; they're hoping to get them back online later today.

The NJ returns will be most closely covered by NJN, the New Jersey public television station. Their opening coverage starts at 6, with full coverage beginning at 8 p.m. I'll keep you posted.

Posted by susanna at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

Beautiful

Mike at Cold Fury has a lot of great quotes on his site today, but I just had to swipe this set from the media:

Diane Sawyer: "Watching you and watching you cover the news over the past year, you are so much about passion for politics, and it doesn’t matter to you, I mean – I really mean this."

George Stephanopoulos: "Thank you."

Sawyer: "You’ve been completely non-partisan in covering the news."
– Exchange on ABC’s Good Morning America, July 24.

"I think there is a mainstream media. CNN is mainstream media, and the main, ABC, CBS, NBC are mainstream media. And I think it’s just essentially to make the point that we are largely in the center without particular axes to grind, without ideologies which are represented in our daily coverage, at least certainly not on purpose." – Peter Jennings, CNN’s Larry King Live, May 15.

Newsweek’s Evan Thomas: "There is a perception, even among journalists, that the [New York] Times is going a little bit left, is getting more liberal, and that’s disquieting."

Time magazine’s Jack White: "That’s a lot of hokum, with all due respect to Evan. There is no liberal bias in the press in the whole. In fact, if there is a bias, it’s on the other side. It’s hard to find a person really, truly, of the liberal persuasion who are making any important decisions in any important media institutions in this country now. I’ve looked for them, I consider myself one, I have very few birds of a like feather around."
– Exchange on the September 1 Inside Washington.

Well. And there you have it. Centrists all, except for Jack White, lamenting that all the other birds have more conservative feathers than he. Jack, I'm moved by your strength in standing tall as the lone liberal voice in the media.

Posted by susanna at 11:59 AM | Comments (8)

Depressing

An article in NRO by Byron York on the complexities that would result from a 50-50 split in the Senate ends with this quote:

"It's a situation of who blinks first," says one Republican. "And we always blink first."

How depressing is that?! The context is that it's a tough negotiating process to win concessions in the organizatin resolution for the Senate when there's a 50-50 split, and the Democrats always seem to get more power than their position would seemingly warrant. And that quote is a Republican explaining why.

I remember reading once that the Republicans don't know how to lead. Apparently in the Senate that's true. Folks, get a rod up your spine and steel in those cahones, and lead for goodness sake! DON'T BLINK! AT ALL! NOT FIRST, NOT LAST, NOT IN THE MIDDLE! BE A MAN!

Even you women.

Posted by susanna at 10:35 AM | Comments (4)

A Minnesota moment

My computer has been misbehaving for a while, and today I finally called Micron tech help to figure out what was going on. In the process of mucking about the computer, waiting for it to reboot or accomplish some task, I learned that my phone techie - Josh - lives in Minnesota. So I couldn't resist - I asked him who he's going to vote for. He said:

Norm Coleman.

Yay! I was very happy. He's probably in his early to mid-20s, single, starting out in the work world. A nice demographic to have on your side. I asked, why Norm Coleman? I was waiting for some big philosophical reason. He said:

He brought us the Minnesota Wild.

That's right. Josh is voting for Norm Coleman because Coleman brought a professional hockey team to the state. He said there were other reasons, but that was what tipped it for him. I'm a sports fan, he said. I asked if his friends were voting for Coleman too - he said, no.

Josh: They say, Why you voting for Coleman? And I say, why aren't you?

I think this young man needs a bonus.

I also asked Josh what he thought about the Wellstone memorial. He said he thought it was kind of neat, how they were upbeat and not all sad. I asked what he thought about it being so political, and I could almost hear him shrug. It's politics, he said, and everyone has to get their bit in. You expect it. I'm sick of politics anyway, he said. He didn't watch it all - he got bored and turned it off.

And, just in case you were wondering, it's snowing in Minnesota and Josh didn't get all the leaves on his yard raked up yet. So they'll likely be there until spring. Oh, well, it's winter. At least, thanks to Norm Coleman, he can watch the Wild while waiting for the thaw. And hopefully, thanks to Josh and others like him, Coleman will winter in Washington.

Posted by susanna at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)

Newsflash: Stomp Sumers!

I didn't realize this until I came across this detailed summary of the two candidates for the NJ Fifth Congressional seat, but Anne Sumers, the Democratic candidate who also is responsible for a vile ad connecting sniper John Muhammed's crimes with her opponent's policy positions, is also the founder of the Million Mom March! It's no wonder! I hope she gets ground into microscopic powder. Unfortunately this is New Jersey, so she may win by a landslide. And she'll be a disgusting addition to Congress.

Vote Scott Garrett!

Posted by susanna at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)

The best election technology?

Start your day off reading Glenn Reynolds' column on the best voting technology for nipping voter fraud in the bud.

You might be surprised.

Posted by susanna at 06:08 AM | Comments (0)

Oops, your hypocrisy is showing

Not that we needed any reason to mock Babs, but this reminder from Page Six is an appropriate lead-in to the mid-term elections: The Democrat elite are quick to preach leftist piety, slow to apply it to themselves.

...don't forget the time Streisand urged everyone to conserve energy by hanging laundry outside on lines, rather than use electric clothes dryers. But when asked if Streisand herself was using a backyard clothesline, her spokesman said: "She never meant that it necessarily applied to her."

They never do, do they?

[Link via Amish Tech Support, for all your Luddite needs]

Posted by susanna at 12:32 AM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2002

Election predictions

Apparently there's something going on tomorrow. Elections, I think. I don't watch television, certainly rarely follow the news, so I'm not up on things. I hope I remember to vote. Maybe one of you should email me to remind me? Or call? It'd be a shame to forget, what with the polling place only a short block away. I should have parked beside it again, so if I go somewhere I'll have to see the polling place. The signs might remind me.

For those of you more politically inclined, Martin Devon has a comprehensive, link-rich analysis of all the Senate races, complete with winner predictions. Fantastic job, Martin! Dr. Weevil has some surmises, with a conclusion I really like. Kevin McGehee wins for "most said with least words". Dodd had some good things to say, and I'd link the exact post if I could access his blog from home at any time other than 10 blissful minutes each morning (there's nothing like not getting to do something to make it suddenly very important to do. Not that reading Dodd's blog hasn't always been important to me).

Owen Courrèges has an exceptionally cool graphic that I also find encouraging. Townhall.com has moved C-Log to Decision 2002, blogging about the election. Terry Oglesby has election thoughts only a possum could love. And Toren is running a one-man anti-GrayOut campaign. Go Toren!

Note: You may have seen an earlier shorter version of this. That was because my computer froze up twice while I was writing it, and the second time I managed to save it with keystrokes rather than the mouse. So I came back to finish it. This is much more... complete, don't you think?

UPDATE: Ohohohoh! A late addition - and a twofer at that! NZPundit, all the way 'round on the other side of Gaia, has found election spin at the NY Times (bias) as the writers try not to highlight that Republicans made gains over the weekend (politics). I propose a new slogan: The NY Times - for all your one-stop bias needs.

UPDATE: Now that I can access Dodd's site, the link to his post is correct.

Posted by susanna at 11:31 PM | Comments (2)

Bias Without Borders

Many of you have heard of Doctors Without Borders, a group of leftist physicians worldwide who try to use their medical degrees as leverage to have an impact on a wide range of political policies. I just learned that they have a philosophical twin called Reporters Without Borders (RWB), which purports to be a watchdog over freedom of expression, most especially for journalists, throughout the world. I found the link on Rangel MD, who also pointed to this study by RWB about what nations in the world allow the most journalistic freedom.

Are you ready?

The United States is 17th.

That’s right. The USA is 17th on this list, behind such bastions of free thought as Slovenia and Germany. And how did they arrive at this? They sent out a questionnaire with 50 questions, forming an index of issues which they believe are the center of journalistic freedom. What, you ask, were the questions?

Sorry. Classified. Or at least, not provided.

Well, you ask, how were the questions developed? Or weighted?

Not your business. Not provided.

Can we at least know how you chose who answered the questions?

No. What do you think this is? An Open Records request or something? Move along.

So this organization dedicated to openness, truth and The American Global Way, doesn’t disclose its method of determining that the United States is 17th among nations in its journalistic freedom. We’re forced to extrapolate from what they do provide. Here’s a quote about how they chose who answered the questionnaire:

The questionnaire was sent to people with a real knowledge of the press freedom situation in one or more countries, such as local journalists or foreign correspondents living in the country, researchers, legal experts, specialists on a region and the researchers of the Reporters Without Borders International Secretariat.

It could well be that they collected the names of all the journalists in the world that they could get their hands on, and took a random sampling. Or they may have put the names of all media outlets in the world in a hat and chose a few, selecting randomly amongst the journalists there. Perhaps, recognizing the complexity of that, maybe they made a point to cut across the political spectrum and obtained a sample of journalists representing a variety of viewpoints. (Wait! you say. It’s journalists! They’re all objective, there are no “viewpoints”, it’s all neutral. To which I say – you’ve been reading this sitehow long??) Somehow I suspect that at the very most this is a snowball sample, where they took the journalists and other experts known to them and got the names of others for the questionnaire from there. While there may have been more than a single viewpoint expressed, the sample is likely to be heavily skewed toward the political viewpoint of the organization.

So. An unrevealed questionnaire taken by at best an inadvertently skewed sample, weighted who knows how. And the US comes in 17th. Here is what they say about the US specifically – this isn’t clearly associated with the Index, but part of their Annual Report:

Nine journalists or media assistants were killed in the 11 September attacks. Some government responses to the event seriously affected the media. Journalists were detained, the press was coerced, new anti-terrorist measures curbed freedom and the media in Afghanistan was attacked. The right to keep sources confidential was not always respected by the courts. One journalist was jailed for having chosen to defend this right in a federal court.

They’re holding it against the United States that nine journalists died in the attacks? I can see how a surprise attack that killed nine journalists amongst a total of 3000 dead could be seen as the United States deliberately suppressing journalism. It’s clear to me, isn’t it to you?

It’s obvious from this and other articles on their site that they count any limits on journalists as an unacceptable infringement, regardless of the reason for the limit. They think journalists should not just have full access in war zones, but be protected while in them. And they put Ariel Sharon beside Saddam Hussein in a list of “predators of press freedom”.

The organization is not without merit; in fact, it appears they do quite a lot of good work in bringing attention to true abuses of freedom of speech and a free media throughout the world. It’s an important work. It’s just too bad that their ideology gets in the way of understanding that all freedoms have their limitations, that a complete freedom in one realm of a necessity imposes tyranny on another realm, and that, when all proper criteria are considered and weighted correctly, the United States is still the most free nation in the world – including freedom of the press.

Posted by susanna at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

Politics, healthcare and stopping bureaucracy

You know we managed to dodge nationalized health care when Hillary crashed in the mid 1990s. Well, as has happened in so many other areas, we're likely to get it anyway through bureaucratic incrementalism if we aren't vigilant. Chris Rangel at RangelMD has an excellent post about just such a recommendation to force "standards of care" amongst physicians receiving reimbursements for providing care to Medicare and Medicaid patients. It's a well-written and clear discussion that shows very clearly why such bureaucracy not only won't provide better care, but could actually result in worse care by the time it crashes under its own weight and ineffectiveness. And here's a nice summary of the reasoning behind the move:

Committee chair Gilbert Omenn appears to take a political potshot at the president when he says, "In the absence of strong federal leadership to address safety and quality concerns, progress will be slow." Well that's great. Go ahead and propose a potentially disastrous system just so you can give George the finger.

I like this guy. As soon as I figure out how to update my links, RangelMD and Medpundit are going in.

Posted by susanna at 02:14 PM | Comments (2)

I love kids

Especially toasted.

Okay, kidding. Really!

This exchange captured by Michele of A Small Victory, on her parent-group blog Raising Hell, is just priceless, and reason enough to love kids even on their worst days.

But then, you realize I'm a twisted soul.

Posted by susanna at 09:44 AM | Comments (3)

New blog on the block

No Left Turns is a new blog from The Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ohio. It's a group blog, and can start your day out right with predictions on tomorrow's elections, as well as other commentary on everything from Michael Bellesiles to gerontocracy (no, I won't tell you. You have to go look. But it involves Maureen Dowd.). There's about a month's worth of commentary, so dig around the archives if you have time.

UPDATE: Oops, forgot to give credit. I found NLT through a link on Brent's site, The Ville. That man is just a fount of cool stuff.

Posted by susanna at 09:26 AM | Comments (2)

Venturing change

Lileks takes a look at Jesse Ventura, and Mike Hendrix takes it further, saying pretty much what I think about the political parties and their push toward bigger and bigger government. Worth reading before you go vote. If, that is, you passed Dean's test. If you didn't, reading Mike should give you all you need to know to make the right decision.

Posted by susanna at 07:35 AM | Comments (1)

Stay home! Really!

Dean Esmay says - stay home on election day if you're not going to bother knowing anything about the issues or candidates. It's an excellent post, and all the comments make it a bonus deal. Read it for the point, stay for the unintentional off-point comments. And please, for The Children (tm), stay home if you can't get the answers right!

[Note: No Democrats or Republicans were harmed in the production of the post, although a few liberals got exercised in the comments. No one was prevented from actually voting, nor would the suggestion place a real roadblock in anyone's way. If, however, you find that you think either of those things happened, you probably shouldn't vote either.]

[Link via Ipse Dixit]

Posted by susanna at 07:08 AM | Comments (3)

November 03, 2002

An apology

Earlier this week I posted a response to Padraic Malinowski regarding a post on his blog. He thought I attacked him personally and overly harshly in making my criticism of his views, and on reflection (despite my immediate reaction) I agree. He didn’t attack me, and I could have criticized his position without making it so personal; I myself have objected when others have made personal attacks on me in the course of criticizing my views. So, Pad – I’m sorry. You were right to be offended. And in the future I’ll take more care about how I direct my ire.

Posted by susanna at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

Walking through the Blogosphere

Brent at The Ville channels an old 1980s band to bust on Fritz Mondale.

Kevin McGehee at blogoSFERICS looks at the differences between Democrats and Republicans, and the Democrats don’t come out well. Frank Martin at BlogGram – a Democrat – gives his thoughts on it, with Kevin following through with this post.

Scott Ott reached right into my dreams and painted a world I’d love to see. Too bad it’s just a Scrappleface illusion.

Bryan Preston at JunkYard Blog told me something I didn’t know – Russia and Albania will be monitoring US elections in Florida this year. I hope they enjoy Disneyworld. Bryan also points out one of the industries that supports the Democratic party. Are we surprised?

Although I’m late to her party, Quana tells a Halloween tale of fear and dampened dignity.

Moira Breen of Inappropriate Response has exactly the right response to an election recording of Susan Sarandon, and still manages to let her hubby live one more year.

David Carr at Libertarian Samizdata uses an analogy of veggie sausages to explain why gay unions will never be marriages.

I missed this by Diane at Letter from Gotham the other day, but it’s well worth a visit now – she exposes the inherent racial bias in NY Post reporting policy, a policy that could actually put citizens at risk. Godless Capitalist at Gene Expression pointed me in that direction, and his additional comments are good too. And he’s right; I've read a lot of his commentaries, and should link him more. In lieu of that, just go there and read often. Finally on this point, Shanti at Dancing With Dogs sees the impact of racial politics in the Asian community, and has a few pointed, important things to say.

If I hadn’t already voted, this would convince me to go for Happy Fun Pundit. And – sorry, Mike – this trumps this. Maybe I’ll just vote for Brent and buy black for all the pet funerals. After all, Brent is my blogbrother.

Meanwhile, Gregory Harris is still reliving the 2000 elections, despite encouragement from Dodd to just get over it.

They’re a little more serious about things in Jordan, according to Cato the Youngest - Islamic clerics [The Religion of Peace!] have issued a fatwa against the US. Their brother in love, Zacarias Moussaoui, continues to prove himself an amazing brain trust, Stuart Buck reports.

And speaking of Stuart Buck, he channels C.S. Lewis quite effectively in this indictment of commercial television.

Finally, if you’re not reading MedPundit, you should. She always has fascinating things to say; just today, you’d learn about doctors getting politically active, to elect moderate judges; about a doctor who committed suicide and left behind evidence of very frightening activity; and a new use of a drug that may help premature babies survive. (Medpundit's archives are screwy; go here until they straighten out, probably when she adds another post tomorrow.)

Posted by susanna at 07:55 PM | Comments (4)

Causation conundrum

The whole issue of global warming is not in my area of expertise, although from what I've read it seems cries of human impact on climate change are often exaggerated, and global warming is not proven. Given that framework, I was interested to see this in an article in the NY Times on a New Delhi conference to discuss global climate change:

The global climate is changing in big ways, probably because of human actions, and it is time to focus on adapting to the impacts instead of just fighting to limit the warming. That, in a nutshell, was the idea that dominated the latest round of international climate talks, which ended on Friday in New Delhi...

Although they conceded its importance, environmental campaigners said an approach that focused on adapting to climate change rather than preventing it would inevitably fail, because the impact of unfettered emissions would eventually exceed people's ability to adjust.

Moreover, many said, coral reefs, alpine forests and other fragile ecosystems — without the resiliency of human societies — would simply be unable to cope with fast-changing conditions.

The change in attitude, expressed in the negotiations and in a formal declaration adopted Friday, has been partly driven by unusual weather this year — record floods in Europe, landslides in the Himalayas, searing drought in southern Asia and Africa.

No single weather event can be linked to human-caused warming. But as the costs of weather-related disasters rise, unease about climate change rises, too. So far this year, unusual weather is blamed for 9,400 deaths and $56 billion in damage, according to the United Nations and insurers, and deaths and costs have been rising for years.

Emphasis mine. So if nothing can be connected to human-caused warming, why has the focus been on reducing alleged human causes of warming? And if they can't say it's humans, why the reluctance to look for ways to reduce the damage from weather-related disasters?

Just asking.

Posted by susanna at 05:39 PM | Comments (4)

Coincidence?

After I posted about the websites pushing Republicans-as-vote-fraud-kabal below, I found this on Dodd's website:

Earlier this week Democratic Senators were briefed by senior Democratic National Committee staffers on the events and plans the party has come up with for the final days before Tuesday's elections. "You're going to be seeing a lot of stories on Sunday about Republican candidates all over the country just pop up," says a Democratic Senate staffer who was afterward told about the meeting by his boss. "Various campaigns have held back on opposition research and are looking to have those stories dumped over the weekend leading into election day."

Now, the vote fraud bit is not about specific candidates, and apparently the information has been posted for at least a week. However, I received the emails today (as I'm sure quite a few others did), which begs the question: Was it part of this push to tar Republicans before Tuesday? I can't say it is, but it's an interesting coincidence, isn't it?

Posted by susanna at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

Voter fraud watchdog has selective bite

I received two emails today from Talion.com, which I had not heard of before, touting the establishment of a VoteWatch website for reporting of voter fraud during this election, and alleging conflict of interest in the ownership of major voting machine companies. (I'd say other bloggers got it too, there's no reason I would be singled out, and it wasn't personalized.) While both VoteWatch and the woman "reporting" the "conflict" purport to be independent, both openly attack Republicans.

First, VoteWatch, which is the least openly antagonistic but I think more of a concern. Here's how it paints itself, from the email I received:

VoteWatch.US is a new web site allowing voters to register concerns about their vote immediately -- important, because by the time anybody catches most election errors, deadlines lapse. http://www.VoteWatch.US (not dot-com, not dot-org --it’s dot-US) now provides a central repository for voting glitches of all kinds -- access to polls, intimidation, strange vote-counting (as in Dallas, where votes for one candidate registered for the opposite candidate) and discrepancies in tabulation. Another Internet firm, Talion.com, has a database of over 450,000 editors, will monitor the complaints at VoteWatch.US and immediately notify the media when problems or patterns deserve more attention.

Indications are that election problems will be widespread -- at least a dozen states have elections that may hinge on less than 500 votes -- and it is the close elections where vote integrity matters most More: 31 News Reports of Major Election Errors: http://www.talion.com/election-mistakes.html -- VoteWatch.US: http://www.votewatch.us. [Note: please report any indication of
hacking for either site immediately, to feedback@talion.com or steven@votewatch.us.]

Talion is a publicity company, by the way, saying of itself: "We specialize in getting stories into the news. Talion.com is the USA's only full service publicity firm designed for small and mid-sized budgets." While VoteWatch is "independent", it is being aggressively marketed by Talion, and the two are overlapping their dissemination of information. Note in the email that it says VoteWatch will report to the media immediately if there are problems needing attention; the website itself has this disclaimer in tiny print at the bottom:

Disclaimer: Votewatch is not an official gov't agency. Please contact your local election officials to lodge formal complaints if you experience problems at your polling place.

So the image it is creating, even by using the ending "us" rather than "com" or "net" or "org", is that it is a way to get information about voter fraud to the authorities, but in actual fact it is collecting data to feed to the media. And while they are "independent", let's look at some commentary from the site:

Front page:

When the American People witnessed irregularities in Florida during the 2000 Presidential Elections, we learned that the media selects the facts that the American people focus on. For example, while the media were discussing chads, 50,000 Florida voters were disenfranchised from the vote because they were erroneously listed as felons on the voter rolls.

No agenda at all, is there? Here's their About page:

VoteWatch was established by a few US Citizens who are extremely concerned about the integrity of the US Election Process. Our objective is to provide voters and election watchers with a voice that can be heard everywhere.

VoteWatch is a homegrown project, designed to reach the grassroots across the USA.

The citizens behind VoteWatch are politically independent.

Steven Hertzberg,
VoteWatch Founder

Now look at their "links" page:

Links __________________________

Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election is the riveting story about the battle for the Presidency in Florida and the undermining of democracy in America. Filmmakers Richard Ray Pérez and Joan Sekler examine modern America's most controversial political contest: the Election of George W. Bush.

Every Where but Florida
A very independent documentary about the true reactions of everyday Americans to the aftermath of The Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore

Talion
an article about just three things: disclosure, conflict of interest and potential for manipulation.

Curious that their focus is collecting information on all voter fraud, yet their site is heavily focused on their delusions from the 2000 election. And note that Talion is linked for it's article on conflict of interest - quite illuminating, given the efforts of VoteWatch to set itself up as non-partisan, while it pushes a Democrat agenda and has major ties (even sponsored by?) a publicity firm. Conflict of interest themselves? Why, Auntie, say it isn't so! A look at the article posted on Talion lets you in a little more on their "objectivity":

The drumbeat begins immediately.

This is an article about just three things: disclosure, conflict of interest and potential for manipulation. It is not a conspiracy theory or a political point of view. I think you'll agree with me: We don't care who wins the election, as long as it's who was VOTED FOR.

Doesn't matter who you vote for, but let us point out that the nasty evil ones trying to manipulate the election are Republicans. The writer - Talion principal Bev Harris - starts by establishing that voting machines are dark and evil things, especially the automated ones, which a sinister kabal controls:

Just a handful of companies sell ballots, machines and program counting codes. They lobby, make campaign donations, and sometimes bribe government officials to choose their vote-counting systems (see sidebar at left). Understaffed election officials are required to make purchase decisions, then supervise the use of machines they can't repair, can't always check for accuracy, made by companies they know almost nothing about...

Because current vote-counting systems are not sufficiently protected from manipulation, and are getting less and less auditable, it is now very important to know who has access to the machines. There is no place for secrecy in our voting-counting system. Secret voting, yes. Secret vote-COUNTING, no — in fact, it's unconstitutional.

For some inexplicable reason, the U.S. is rushing to eliminate the only physical record of the mark made by each voter, going to straight touch-screens with no paper trail. Canada doesn't allow this. Neither does Japan. Why are we so casually throwing away the only real audit trail that protects our vote?

With touch-tone screens, we simply have no paper trail for millions of votes, with private, secret, and (according to computer security experts), insecure programming for vote-counting machines that invites tampering. It takes only ONE true believer with access to manipulate the counting code.

That's right. Only one person can destroy our entire democratic system with a flick of his computer code. But Bev Harris goes on to outline precisely how that can happen, and why we should think the election officials involved in the process are either corrupt or hapless. Then she gets into the meat of things - who owns the machines, and why that should scare us. She starts by disingenuously saying she's just beginning the analysis, and will go on to other companies later - I find it curious that her efforts are advertised widely just two days before the election when her "work in progress" isn't done:

A work in progress — I started with the biggest company, ES&S, which handles at least 56 percent of the vote counting in the U.S. For the other companies, I've got sketchy information, most of which comes from swapping research with reporter Lynn Landes. See her web site for more: http:www.ecotalk.org.

So she's only focusing on one voting machine company which is - surprise! - owned by Republicans. As a side note, look at Lynn Landes's site, where Bev Harris says she got a lot of her information. Ms. Landes is an environmental reporter (to use the term so loosely as to almost lose meaning). Here are the opening paragraphs of a recent article on global warming:

Americans... Leading the Way... Destroying The Planet. What's The World To Do?

by Lynn Landes 9/9/02

It wasn't enough for George Bush to boycott the Earth Summit. He sent negotiators flanked by big business to Johannesburg to destroy it. And Bush had other help as well. He had lots of support from ordinary folks back home. Average Americans are destroying the planet with their fossil fuel lifestyle. And they don't seem to care how it affects the world around them.

The tiny island of Tuvalu in the South Pacific has given up hope. It's evacuating its population of 14,000 to New Zealand. The 16-square-mile island is sinking into the ocean due to rising sea levels caused by global warming. The world is under assault by catastrophic floods, fires, and droughts. And most people are blaming the United States.

Oh sure, other countries also contribute to climate change. But given that the U.S. is responsible for 25% to the world's carbon dioxide emissions while representing only 4.6% of the population...we are clearly leading the way. And although it's common practice to place all the blame at the feet of America's corrupt corporations and spineless politicians, that becomes increasingly difficult when SUVs now account for 23% of all new car sales nationwide and 47% in California alone...

What's a dying third world to do? Don't dismay - Lynn tells you:

So what's the world to do? How can foreign peoples and their governments make an impression on apathetic Americans? More talks? More summits? Not now. The Earth Summit just showed how easily it can be sabotaged. Short of violence, which is commonly used for good and ill by American presidents both past and present, foreign governments and individuals could expand on a three-part strategy already in limited use - sue, boycott, and get 'personal' with Americans.

Let's start in reverse order. First...get personal...man-to-man. Let Americans you meet hear your outrage. Violate our comfort zone. You're not asking for less consumerism from Americans, just clean and green rather than coal and oil...or at least cars that get over 20 miles per gallon for Pete's sake. Many countries are forging ahead with substantial wind, solar, and fuel cell projects, while George Bush promotes coal, oil, and nuclear energy. And Americans let him get away with that.

Next...boycott American goods and services. Don't prop up our economy with your investments and consumer spending. Already there's a fairly successful boycott in many parts of the world against (mostly U.S.) genetically modified crops. And boycotts certainly worked to liberate South Africa from apartheid. Capitalism responds when business takes a hit.

And...for the final and third strategy...foreign nations and individuals can sue America.

That's right. The crack reporter that Bev Harris swaps information with advocates foreign countries suing the United States to make us stop polluting the world. It's that kind of objective, on-target reporting that gives Bev Harris all kinds of additional credibility. But I digress. What does Bev Harris say about the owners of ES&S, the voting machine company? First she outlines who owns what (at one point saying that certain billioniares own a particular company "I think" - well, I think she should know or leave it out), then she starts saying why it matters:

Election Systems & Software (ES&S): * 1. Company founded by: Brothers Todd and Bob Urosevich. The brothers now run competing election companies (Todd is with ES&S, Bob is with Global Election Systems, now part of Diebold.) Together, these two companies count about two-thirds of the votes in America. Think of it like this: Suppose Bill Gates owns Microsoft and his brother Bob Gates owns Apple. (Hypothetical brother.)

* 2. Vested interests: ES&S was given its grubstake (while operating under the name American Information Systems) in 1984 when the billionaire Ahmanson family injected enough cash to get ahold of a 68 percent ownership. (2) This wealthy family has been instrumental in making the Republican Party take a hard right turn — pouring money into conservative Christian candidates and right-wing agendas.(3)

They were instrumental in getting at least 24 conservatives into the California legislature; launching prop. 209, California's successful anti-affirmative action law; financing Prop. 22, California's effort to ban gay marriages; financing efforts to remove evolution from school curriculi; and financing the Chalcedon Institute, which reportedly believes in the death penalty for homosexuality and other "sins." The Ahmansons are heirs to the Home Savings of America fortune, which was the largest savings and loan association in the world during the rollicking 1980s (while the S&L scandals were taking place.) Howard Ahmanson is a major benefactor of the Christian reconstructionist movement, whose followers wish to turn certain tenets of the Bible into national law.

* 3. Skating too close to criminal prosecutions and kickbacks...02/05/2002, The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that Arkansas Secretary of State Bill McCuen pleaded guilty to felony charges that he took bribes, evaded taxes and accepted kickbacks. Part of the charges related to election systems. Tom Eschberger, who became a Vice President for ES&S, took an immunity deal and testified against McCuen.

And in Florida, Jeb Bush's first choice as running mate in 1998 was Sandra Mortham. According to the Tallahasee Democrat (10/6/2002) Mortham, was a paid lobbyist for ES&S and received a commission for every county that bought its touch-screen machines. Mortham says there was nothing improper about the deals, but Broward County Commissioner Ben Graber disagreed, alleging conflict of interest.

And let's look at Alex Sheshunoff, from the BRC merger: He was sued by the SEC for manipulating the stock price of BRC using a technique called "marking the close." The web address of the SEC filing against Sheshunoff is http://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/3437419.txt

Now, let me note that if there really are conflicts of interest, and if the potential for manipulation is genuinely a problem, then yes, it needs to be looked into by a bipartisan investigation group. But this type of information seems to be for the purpose of smearing, deliberately raising the spectre of that sinister kabal seeking to overturn elections. All I can say about that is, if the Republicans meant to engage in voter fraud in Florida, they sure went about it in a very messy and inefficient way. If it's a sinister kabal, it's a very lame one - the Keystone Kops of sinister kabals. And all the other examples she names are pretty much the same types.

This is a not even thinly disguised effort to influence the feeble-minded into thinking that the Republicans are setting up shop to run the elections this year to their benefit. While I wouldn't say Republicans in some places engage in voter fraud - I'm sure they do - certainly the "feed the homeless, help them fill out the absentee ballot" Democrats are not angels on top of the Christmas tree. When anyone in either party engages in actual voter fraud, they need to be exposed and prosecuted.

But this kind of effort to connect Republicans with organized efforts at manipulating voting machines is flagrantly partisan and disgusting, especially with all its purporting "independence" and "objectivity". Um, no, Bev and Steve and Lynn. I think it's pretty clear where your agenda lies. And the VoteWatch site seems more a way to advance the Democratic agenda while bringing publicity to a (watch carefully now) publicity firm than any kind of public service. In fact, I'd call it a rank public disservice.

And you can quote me.

Posted by susanna at 08:32 AM | Comments (2)

November 02, 2002

Stars everywhere

I hadn't seen this before. What I want to know is, how does it work?

Posted by susanna at 05:56 PM | Comments (1)

Having fun with Arab News

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in on Arab News, and I realized this morning what opportunities I’ve been missing.

Muslim states urged to boost ties By a Staff Writer

Yes, ascots are too precious, and open collars violate religious law… oh, wait, that’s not what you meant. Sorry.

RIYADH, 2 November — The ninth international conference of the Riyadh-based World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) has deplored the smear campaign launched against the Kingdom by certain Western quarters.

That would be, I think, the United States, yes? Well, we have been deploring for some time the smear campaign against about 3,000 of our citizens and residents conducted by some of your citizens. And certainly the things said about the United States (the Great Satan) in your mosques would qualify as a “smear campaign”? Unless, of course, you would say that “truth is a defense”, in which case we’d evoke that goose ‘n gander parable. Except your “truth” isn’t really a “truth”, while what we’ve said about you is, in fact, objective truth. But why get bogged down in details.

A final declaration issued at the end of the four-day conference urged Muslim countries to widen the scope of economic and commercial cooperation among themselves.

Please, do. If I were you, I wouldn’t buy a single thing that was made by, originated in or had associations with the United States or, for that matter, any Westernized industrialized country. I’d toss out the oil folk, refuse any funding from any Great Satan just luring you down that old garden path, and I’d depend just on my fellow Middle Eastern countries. Yes, I would. So why don’t you?

It called on Muslim countries which recruit foreign manpower to give priority to Muslims.

Good idea. We’ll do the same, only in reverse – we’ll give preference to everyone except Muslims. What’s that? Discrimination, you say? Hateful, you say? Goose ‘n gander, my friend – goose ‘n gander. We generally try to give preference based on, you know, merit, which is a concept you may want to try, sometime. Amazing what it does for the economy.

The conference underlined the importance of national industries and said all possible facilities and incentives should be extended to them.

I agree. Just toss out the Western influence completely and you can have all the facilities and incentives. Every single last sand hole. Enjoy. We’ll be back in about 20 years to bulldoze the remnants and put in a desert resort for accountants from Peoria.

The conference urged the media authorities to work for narrowing the gap among Muslim countries, and also to give utmost attention to the problems of Muslim minorities.

Muslim minorities? I thought they were the majority in your country? Ohhhhhh – you mean in my country. Have you considered that the best way to advance the safety and progress of Muslim minorities in all countries outside of the Middle East is to maybe stop funding killing thousands of innocent civilians in those countries? I realize it’s a novel concept, but if you sit quietly and just let it creep over you, it might shine a little light into that abysmal darkness you call a mind.

And it’s nice to see that your media is serving its purpose as an independent check-and-balance on government. Keep up the good work!

The conference called on Muslim investors to invest in launching satellite channels, which serve the interests of Muslims and their issues. These channels should air programs targeting at Muslim minorities the world over so that they may be linked to mainstream Muslim societies.

I believe that would be known as “indoctrination”. Question: Why should we let you air your bilious bloodthirsty imperialistic nonsense all over our free countries when your stated goal is world domination? When you want to “link” “mainstream Muslim societies” (that would be you, right?) to “Muslim minorities the world over” for the express purpose of undermining whatever democracies they exist in? You know, we really don’t mind if those Muslim minorities practice their religion here – that’s why the US came to be, to have that opportunity for everyone – but we object pretty strongly to “religious” messages that include “hate the infidel” – especially when, well, that infidel in your judgment would be me, and “hate” means to kill or subjugate me. Nice to know that you’re sure into using our freedoms to spread your hate, but get your robes all in a twist when we even carry a personal Bible into your territory.

The conference expressed concern over the deteriorating situation of Muslims in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Myanmar and Philippines.

Let me see. What is making those situations deteriorate? (Thinking hard) Could that be… repeated targeting and deliberate killing of innocents in the name of spreading your influence? Suicide bombers, hostage takers, disco bombers? Oh my goodness! The deterioration is your fault! I’m glad you’re expressing concern. But somehow I’m thinking your concern isn’t about ending those atrocities, but funding their spread.

The declaration underlined the importance of Shoura council and political flexibility within the framework of Islamic principles and values.

This made me laugh. Really. LOL, even ROFLMAOPIP. “(P)olitical flexibility within the framework of Islamic principles and values”. There, I’m laughing again! Oh, make it stop! Given the way you’ve expressed those “Islamic principles and values” in the past, that’s about like saying, “Encouraging gymnastics among those in straitjackets strapped to beds, gagged and drugged”. It hurts, it hurts!

It pointed out that the educational curricula should match the social developments and changes…

This means you’re going back to that progressive 1200 AD curricula, right? That’ll really move things forward.

…and called for revision of the social and educational studies at Islamic universities.

What? Are they teaching things that originated from the West? Anathema! Remove them! Erase the existence of all knowledge that is not Arab in origin! Oops. Pretty much shuts down the schools, doesn’t it?

The conference stressed the significant role being played by mosques in the preservation of Islamic identity.

Would that be by encouraging followers to think all non-Muslims are infidels who deserve to die?

The declaration also called upon religious preachers to benefit from the general liberalization marking the contemporary world.

Use our freedoms against us, hmm? That’s nice.

The preachers should keep pace with modern developments.

Moving into the 14th century? Don’t take it too fast, don’t want to get lightheaded.

They should also realize the importance of conducting dialogues with other societies.

I would suggest something other than “Do what we say or you die”. Just sayin’, is all.

I can promise you we’ll continue to take exception to that.

Posted by susanna at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

Stupidity exposed

Every day MSN has the stupidest lists of, well, virtually everything is fair game for trivializing so I can't narrow it to a type of thing. This week it was trivializing relationships. I meant to write about it, but then Alex at RAWbservations took care of it very nicely - here he gives the real scoop on breaking up nicely, and here gives both sides of the conversation on a blind date. Since Alex is taking a month off to write a novel, I suppose I'll have to deal with next week's stupidity myself. I would talk about today's top ten list, but as often happens it's recycled - they took the "breaking up" article Alex panned, put a new photo on their front page and renamed it, then slapped it back up again. Not only are they stupid, they're lazy. I may have to come up with a top 10 list about that.

Posted by susanna at 07:57 AM | Comments (2)

In other news

Michele at A Small Victory has been delinked and beleaguered by other bloggers for her increasingly conservative and hawkish take on things; she's gotten a lot of positive support, however. Mike at Cold Fury, another liberal-turned-conservative, brings it all into rich, steaming perspective. All I can say is - go, Michele!

And in other news, I learned this morning that my own criticism of another blogger materially contributed to his shutting down. He asked that I not reprint his email to that effect, but in summary I'm vicious, mean-spirited, ill-intentioned and hypocritical with hideous character traits. And you know what? I still think he's got some good qualities.

So, happy Saturday to you too.

Posted by susanna at 07:21 AM | Comments (7)

November 01, 2002

Because, well, because I'm just that way

It has come to my attention that today starts a weekend, one that will be followed by one of the most fraught midterm elections in recent memory on Tuesday. While I myself do not tend to struggle with these things, I understand that a number of you may not only be tempted, but will succumb, to sinful behavior over the course of these few days. Because I care, because I truly am a warm and loving person, I’m going to share with you one of the ways I myself overcome these obstacles when (on those rare occasions) they do occur. I use – Sin Wipes.

It’s likely that many of you may not have seen these, because of the politically incorrect nature of ever calling anything “sin”. I believe one store in New Hampshire was closed down by protests when they began carrying them and, in Minnesota and New Jersey where the need for them in this season is rampant, Democrats successfully had them removed from stores on the premise that to offer people an easy means of doing the right thing was to take choice away from the electorate. So that you may identify the correct thing, following are scans of the front and back of the sinwipes:

Front

wipe side 1  cropped.jpg

Back

wipe side 2 cropped.jpg

While these are in limited distribution, mostly in the Bible Belt, with these visual aids you should be able to track down the authentic sinwipes. Those of you with iron wills so you can wait a few days may choose to order the wipes here. For some of you, I recommend the entire product line to be sure of effectiveness.

Now, go forth and cleanse.

NOTE: Wiping the screen over my Weather Pixie will not result in her putting on more clothes. I already tried. She's incorrigible. Don't let that happen to you.

Posted by susanna at 04:20 PM | Comments (10)

Madam President?

This (very brief) article says most Americans don't think it's likely a woman will be elected United States president in their lifetime.

My question is: Did the pollsters call only nursing homes?

I'm 41. With a little more exercise, a little less chocolate and a rapid exit from New Jersey and its highways, I could live into my 90s - that's another 50 years to harrass America. Twelve or more presidential election cycles. I'm past the question of "whether" there will be a woman president in my lifetime - I'm solidly into "who" at this point (Condi!). The thought that it may be more than 50 years before we have a woman president is just bizarre to me.

Of course, polls are not precisely the best source of information, although they can show broad brush changes fairly well. For example, this 2000 poll said that 75% or more of Americans polled were comfortable with a woman president - with the caveat that those same Americans thought only 50% of Americans overall were comfortable with it, which the pollsters interpreted as possibly those polled expressing their own views as a safer "everyone else" response, rather than taking on personally what they may think would be perceived as a negative position.

This opening paragraph in the NY Post was pretty funny all by itself:

Women candidates are looked upon as more honest, sincere, caring and moral than most politicians.

What "most politicians" are left? There's only "male politicians", unless they think some politicians are sentient asexual beings who fit neither category (and while I might question whether some politicians are sentient, I think we have a little too much evidence that they're not asexual). I don't know why the article couldn't just say: Women candidates are looked upon as more honest, sincere, caring and moral than male candidates.

(And there must not have been any Republicans in those nursing homes - after seeing Hillary take the Hill, we know all women aren't of better character than all men.)

(Yes, yes, I knew it already. But we're cuter.)

(Run, Condi, run!)

Posted by susanna at 01:48 PM | Comments (17)

Two bodies found in Jersey City

Two bodies were found in the back of an SUV in Jersey City early this morning, in a parking lot for Laidlaw buses. The SUV was on fire, which led to the discovery. No further (official) information is available.

However, it is interesting that the bodies were found right across the street from the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office homicide unit, which investigates all homicides in Hudson County (which includes Jersey City).

And yes, this is about a mile from where I work, and I pass within about two blocks of it on my way in every day.

Posted by susanna at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

All I need now is earplugs*

Since complaining about NJ's silliness in regards to renting guns at shooting ranges, I've gotten a number of emails with information and invitations to go shooting (I think I'll do a shotgun-handgun holiday). This link, from reader Joachim Klehe, is one that's now on my button bar.

www.wheretoshoot.org

It's the website of the National Association of Shooting Ranges, and allows you to search for shooting ranges based on state, zip code or number of miles from a zip code. Very cool. Now excuse me, I have to go find some ear plugs. I have some shootin' to do.

* and a gun

UPDATE: I'm probably the only person who reads this site who needs to know this, but the NRA has training classes all over the nation; I have it on good authority (thanks, Homer!) that there are 40,000 NRA certified instructors out there, so likely one near you. The NRA website has a searchable database set up by state and type of course. I'm trackin' one down - even if I have to go into Pennsy to take it.

Posted by susanna at 08:19 AM | Comments (1)