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January 31, 2003

A true hero

If you want to know what a true hero is, read about this one at Sgt. Stryker's.

Here's a little of what he went through:

Every time the plane showed up and you could hear them, we weren't being shot at. Just having the planes nearby kept the enemy away. Continuously dropping bombs discouraged them from coming after us. So every now and again, we would drop bombs on them with B52s, B-1s, those were the last aircraft we had. I cannot remember which one.

I was watching our medic, he was a part of the second team, as he was working on the PJ. I saw him doing CPR on the PJ and I knew it was bad. I then saw the medic stand up, look over at me, and start walking to me. That is when I got on the radio to Controller and told him that we now have seven KIA.

The whole fifteen and one half hours we were on the ground I was fighting, talking on the radio, or telling CCT what to call in. I shot a total of 420 rounds during the fifteen and one half hours.

Read it, and remember it every time you hear about our soldiers in a fire fight. And pray they make it out alive.

Posted by susanna at 04:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WSJ solicited letter from EU countries

Or so says Jesus Gil at Ibidem, citing Spanish newspapers. Looks likely, from what he says, and since he's in Madrid, Spain, I'm thinking he has more inside scoop than most of us. That doesn't mean the sentiments aren't real - there's no indication that the WSJ dictated the contents. JG's discussion of the situation and its implications is fascinating.

And he also asks a pretty good question: Should the WSJ be in the business of mucking about so directly in world affairs? I guess planting seeds is not improper, when it's an opinion piece, but if it went beyond that... I'm not happy. I'd like to know more details.

Posted by susanna at 11:18 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Deconstructing a shrill anti-Bushite

John Rosenberg at Discriminations masterfully deconstructs an article by one of the NAACP attorneys representing minorities in the University of Michigan affirmative action case - an article where she attacks Bush rather than making a case for her, well, case. Worth your time.

Posted by susanna at 11:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The right ANSWER

Ombudsgod explores the probable truth behind the numbers reported for recent protest marches. It's highly enlightening, and a good example of how bias can be injected into the news media through manipulation of facts by their sources. It's a serious problem, and one that should be anticipated by the news agencies with plans for ways to obtain neutral assessments rather than reliance on those with clear investments in the portrayal. The extreme version of this is clear in an excerpt from an article in The Nation that Ombudsgod quotes. A reporter is being pressured to report a march (not the most recent one) at 150,000, even though she estimated it at about 50,000-75,000; here's ANSWER's response:

"It's not about accuracy. It's about politics. It's not about counting," said ANSWER's Tony Murphy condescendingly. "It's us against them. [The pro-Israel] demonstrators had 100,000 here last week."

And there you go.

Ombudsgod has a number of other excellent posts, including taking a flagrantly anti-Bush ombudsman to task and finding a conservative bias against the use of Ritalin.

Posted by susanna at 09:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Schooling in bias

I get regular email updates from The Daily Targum, which is the Rutgers-New Brunswick student newspaper. I generally don't look at it, and the few times I have I've noticed a distinct liberal slant. I did go this week, because they highlighted an article on the State of the Union. And it was actually pretty funny.

Here's the full text - I'm not sure if you have to sign in to get it:

Experts question calls for war By Carmen Cusido, Staff Writer

U.S. President George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, discussing domestic and international issues, but focused heavily on his justifications for military action in Iraq -- action that may Americans see as excessive.

Bush also discussed the possibility of war with Iraq, saying [Saddam Hussein] is not disarming, but rather deceiving the international community seeking the elimination of Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, according to the Fox News Web site.

Bush said Iraq, Iran and North Korea threaten not only peace internationally, but their leaders are threats to their own people, according to a prepared statement.

The associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics on Douglass campus, John Weingart, said the president's two goals are "to convince Iraq that he wants to go to war and the secondary goal is to convince the American public to be supportive of the decision."

"Everyone pretty much agrees that Saddam engages in practices that are dangerous," Weingart said.

Jan Kubik, a University professor of political science, said, "We have not seen proof [of weapons] yet. On the other hand, it is a bit foolish to think that such proof is easy to obtain."

Kubik said Iraq is an indirect threat to the world's peace and stability and that "may be even worse."

David Abraham, a professor at the University of Miami Law School said, "Bush's [war] rhetoric intended to obscure his failure as a leader in diplomatic and military areas."

Abraham said, "Osama is still alive. The anthrax terrorists are still on the loose. Our best friends the South Koreans and the Germans are turning against us and North Korea gets away with what they want."

Yes, yes, it's obviously written by a student. Let's move beyond that. Notice the headline: "Experts question calls for war". Now look at summaries of the actual quotes from the "experts" at Rutgers:

Weingart: Bush's goals were to convince Iraq he's ready for war, and get the US behind it. He also says everyone knows Saddam's actions are dangerous.

Kubik: No proof of WMD yet, but it's tough to find. Iraq is at least an indirect threat to world stability, and maybe more.

Hmmm... no reason for that headline yet, is there? Nor even that little comment in the lead graph: "...action that ma[n]y Americans see as excessive." So where does that come from? Maybe from the quote from a professor in Miami - and we're given zero reason as to why they went to him. Who is he? Why two quotes from Rutgers professors and then one from a professor thousands of miles away with no apparent connection to anything Rutgers, New Jersey or evident expertise in presidential politics? Could it be because he said what they wanted to include? He was their dissenting voice? I can't say, I wasn't there. But it is fairly bizarre.

I'm calling it bias. Any dissent?

Posted by susanna at 08:18 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sore loser

Bruce Kluger has a piece in the USA Today op/ed section that trashes Fox News, most specifically Bill O'Reilly, while lauding Phil Donahue to the heavens. It's so thoroughly lacking in reasonable specifics that it's almost funny. But not quite. His basic premise is that the kind of "genuine, affable, well mannered and well informed" host that Phil Donahue is no longer is appreciated by an audience who now has a taste for gratuitous mean-spiritedness - which Bill O'Reilly represents. He's crying because Donahue's show has tanked in the ratings, and that is his excuse: It's not that people have caught on to Donahue's sugar-coated leftism, it's that they've all gone stupid and hateful.

The piece reveals a few important insights, but not the ones Kluger means to reveal. You learn this about Kluger: He's a liberal. He's against the war in Iraq. He doesn't trust the American people. He thinks they're meanspirited and stupid. He thinks asking hard questions of liberals and not letting them dodge them is mean. And he thinks holding 9/11 charities accountable for how they spent the millions in donations they received while this country's heart was newly bleeding is just wicked.

Did I mention that Kluger also writes for National Public Radio? Everyone who finds this surprising, raise your hand. Hmmm... I see no hands. Shocking.

I don't particularly care for Bill O'Reilly, mainly because I find him smug and humorless. But from what I've seen and heard, he does go after issues with an intensity and bull-dog tenacity that is often sorely needed. Phil Donahue goes after issues too, but his tools are belittling and superiority, rather than butting heads with people he considers equals. An interesting thing about Kluger's column is that he actually emphasizes this elitism vs. O'Reilly's populism, and finds it to be a good thing. And this is a man who fits right in with NPR.

I found out about this piece from CPO Sparkey, who detests Phil Donahue for a very specific reason. He even traces his conservative political views to a day when he was nine, home from school and listening to Donahue affably discuss a topic close to Sparkey's heart - and skewing his approach to heavily favor the liberal agenda. It's a good vignette to show the kind of damage a Phil Donahue can - and does - do. I don't think a show like Bill O'Reilly's would have the same effect.

And one last note about Kluger. His whole whiny rant is about the meanspiritedness of modern cable news channels, and even the reality shows. And in the midst of that, he says this:

The chances of any TV executive pulling the plug on a ratings champ — or keeping a runner-up on the air — are about as likely as Greta Van Susteren's old face suddenly reappearing.

Now, if that's not gratuitous meanspiritedness - directed at one specific person too, which IMHO makes it worse - then I don't know what gratuitous meanspiritedness is. I guess it's okay if the liberals do it.

Posted by susanna at 07:01 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 30, 2003


Nelson Mandela needs a firm smack with a clue bat:

Former South African President Nelson Mandela on Thursday accused President Bush of planning a "holocaust" with his Iraq policy, and said U.S. and U.K. leaders were undermining the United Nations because it was headed by a black man.

That's right. If Kofi were a white guy, why, we'd be lifting the sanctions on Iraq and feting Saddam in the streets of New York City! We'd be giving him the keys to the nation in a White House ceremony! We'd be lapping up the UN's edicts like fudge sauce on a sundae! But noooooo.... because Kofi is black, we're going to mobilize our military at the cost of billions of dollars and invade a country half a world away!

And get a load of this:

The Nobel Peace Prize winner said the United States itself had been guilty of atrocities in Japan when it had used the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

"If there is a country which has committed unspeakable atrocities, it is the United States of America," Mandela said. "They don't care for human beings."

No, no, we care naught for the world. We're vicious slavering warmongers who rape the world to fill our coffers, nary a dime crossing our borders the other wa... oh. We seek only our own good, we never make any attempt to help othe... oh. Wait a minute. Is Nelson Mandela living in an alternate universe?

Either that or he's so soaked in white-hate that he has lost all relevance as a world leader.

[Link from Bryan Preston]

Posted by susanna at 09:16 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Why are fewer doctors performing abortions?

It has something to do with this:


MedPundit Sydney Smith tell us why in her TechCentralStation column today.

UPDATE: Sydney also posts about an exhibit with MRI and CT scans of a fetus at conception (an egg surrounded by sperm), 44 days and 56 days. Stunning.

For some reason the one of the egg and sperm made me laugh. Maybe it was because of all the evident frenetic activity around this calm sphere. Kinda like a bar full of men when a really hot babe comes strolling in alone. "Me me me me me me me...!!"

Posted by susanna at 02:57 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Bias roundup

And here we go for today:

Just another world leader

Juan Gato gets testy about this article on Fidel Castro, which he says is:

...just another normalization of a tyrant article.

You mean he isn't a fine and altruistic kinda guy? I'm crushed. It can't be that the writer saw Fidel through his own lens, could it?

More later, probably.

Posted by susanna at 02:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I don't think I could sit through this movie, even with popcorn

Mike at Cold Fury is a talented man.

Sometimes that talent runs wildly amuck.

Today... well, today was one of those days.

Just look.

(Not for the faint of sensibilities, or any anti-Americans)

Posted by susanna at 02:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How Frodo, France and Germany are connected

It's all in Dave Barry's column, which is a Cliff Notes version of the LOTR II script.

Here's the evidence:

(Scene 5)

FRODO: How come, if I'm the protagonist, Lord Aragorn has TWO love interests, and I'm stuck in a subplot with Dick Cheney?

GOLLUM: Maybe it's because your big hairy feet make you look like you're wearing a pair of dead weasels.

It gets even weirder. Seriously. Okay, maybe it isn't France and Germany, they aren't dead. Yet. Perhaps it is their ancestors. Huh.

Posted by susanna at 01:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Run Kofi out of town

George Jonas in the National Post gives more strength to the argument (which I discussed earlier) that the UN has to go:

It's been alleged that the choice of "going the UN route" was urged on the Bush Cabinet by Secretary of State Colin Powell against the objections of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Be that as it may, it turned out to be the wrong choice. UN weapons inspector Hans Blix's report this week -- concluding that Iraq still hasn't shown "genuine acceptance" of the demand to disarm -- was too little, too late. While in September the President had overwhelming support for his call that the United Nations "fulfill its promise in our time" by authorizing military action if Saddam fails to disarm, within months the UN support dissipated, carrying with it much of the support for Mr. Bush's policy even at home. Far from enhancing the mission of challenging tyrants who threaten the world's peace, the UN subverted it. The momentum was lost; the task of dealing with Saddam became harder. In September, Mr. Bush could have confronted Saddam with a support of 81% of Americans if Iraq failed to co-operate with UN inspectors. Today he may have to do it with the support of about 52%.

And here's the closer:

As a bastion of multilateralism, the UN has become a menace -- a menace, above all, to its own original principles. By now, the institution's main role is to enable dysfunctional dictatorships to punch above their weight. Still, people who have high regard for the ideals that brought the UN into being continue to be on the lookout for saving graces. Some argue that the UN is a worthwhile institution, only it has been "hijacked" by coalitions of dictators, hate-mongers and their appeasers.

True as this may be, it's meaningless. It's like saying that Islam is a peaceful religion, only it has been "hijacked" by Wahhabi sheiks, theocratic ayatollahs, and followers of Osama bin Laden. The point about a hijacked entity, whether it's a commercial jet, a great religion, or an international institution like the UN, is that once it has been diverted, it's under the hijackers' command. At this stage, regardless of its benevolent origins, regardless of its innocent passengers and crew, it becomes an instrument of destruction. A hijacked airliner is a missile on its way to the Twin Towers. If it can't be rescued from its hijackers, it must be shot down.

The same goes for a hijacked institution. Irrespective of what action Mr. Bush contemplates against Saddam, America should cut itself loose from the United Nations. It should withdraw from the world body, then offer Kofi Annan and his cohorts a generous period -- say, six months -- to get out of town.

Amen and amen. There's nothing I can add.

[Thanks for the link go to Capt. J.M. Heinrichs, who is a strong reminder that Canada is our friend, even though the government there is friend to neither the US or its own citizens]

Posted by susanna at 11:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A caricature of reality

Former US ambassador to South Korea Don Gregg writes this in the Feb. 3 issue of Newsweek:

KIM JONG IL of North Korea is now being subjected to the same ridicule that we applied to Ho Chi Minh of North Vietnam for years. We now see “Uncle Ho” as a man who was not necessarily our enemy—but that perspective came too late to avoid war and its tragic consequences. As we did with Ho, we are now filling in the gaps of our knowledge about Kim with prejudice.

Let’s face it: Chairman Kim is easy to caricature. And no one should entertain any illusions about the horrendous human costs the system over which he presides exacts from the people of North Korea, many of whom don’t have enough food to survive the winter. At the same time, I believe it is counterproductive to treat Kim in a derisive or disdainful manner. For all his defects, he demonstrates a willingness to learn from neighboring countries’ economic policies and to differentiate his rule from that of his father, Kim Il Sung.

The middle of the column is filled with kiss-ass quotes about how he has talked to the Chinese and Russians concerning the ways Kim has admired their systems and ostensibly seeks to improve things similarly in North Korea. He even tosses in a quote from that Bastion of Foreign Relations, Madelene Albright. Then he closes with this:

So how are we to deal with this man, who stands staring at us, surrounded by the horrid detritus of 50 years of dictatorial rule? Are we to believe that he embodies hope for a new and different North Korea? Now we are filled with legitimate doubts, but reasonable certainty about Kim’s potential cannot be reached through ridicule. We need to talk to him and to test him. Only then will we know what Kim Jong Il represents for the future of Korean-American relations.

That's right. We need to "talk" to him and "test" him. Guess what Gregg doesn't mention? Nuclear weapons! Just a small omission, that Kim's regime serves as an active threat to rain radioactive destruction on whomever they wish if the Western world doesn't accede to his blackmail demands. Please, don't ridicule him! He has sensitive feelings, and he's talking to Russia (while driving through the country in an extravagant custom-outfitted train as his citizens literally starve to death) and to China! Can't you see how valuable an ally he could be? And...and...he's not his daddy, he isn't nearly as mean!

Somehow, I don't think destroying the lives of, say, only 500,000 people as opposed to a million people with your deliberately evil policies is reason for dancing in the streets. But for Gregg, I suppose it is.

This column is such noxious liberal twaddle that it boggles the mind. And what's Gregg's current interest? Why, he's the chairman of The Korea Society, which is an organization dedicated to making connections between Korean and American businesses and culture. Surprisingly (at least to me, after reading this column), he was the ambassador to South Korea during Bush I's administration, and Bush I is on the Advisory Council to the Korea Society. So I don't quite get what he's up to here. But whatever it is, he's wrong. And needs to be called on it.

Posted by susanna at 11:17 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

NOTE TO SELF: Do not use public restrooms in Britain

Oh, yeah, that's not public:

A new offence of sexual activity in a public place, carrying a maximum jail term of six months, was proposed in legislation published by the Government yesterday.

For the first time, the law would define the circumstances in which sex in public could happen. The new offence would rely upon whether the activity was witnessed and the couple was reckless about being seen...

Hilary Benn, the Home Office minister, said homosexuals meeting in a public lavatory would avoid prosecution provided the participants were not seen.

"If the cubicle door was open then clearly an offence was committed. If it's closed, it's different," he said.

"No one wants to be an unwitting spectator to other people having sex in a public place. At the same time it's not intended to catch activity which takes place in private, which is no business of anybody."

You know, I have no problem with people adding a little adventure to their lives by taking it on the road. As a matter of fact, I'd actively encourage it as long as I don't have to see or hear it. However, and I hate to break this to Mr. Benn, who apparently has been celibate from birth, has seen no racy movies or even talked to his buddies in the locker room, but two people going at it in a bathroom stall, even with the door closed, are not going to be unobtrusive. Mr. Benn, there are sounds. And those aren't sounds I want to hear when I open the bathroom door, even if I can't see anything more than four feet in the same stall. I assure you that few if any men of my acquaintance would find it unobtrusive either.

It's one thing to leave something out of the books altogether - to keep silence about people out for a little playtime in the public loos. That gives the proprietor the ability to say, "Not in my restrooms, you aren't!" and send them on down the road. It's another altogether to explicitly identify public restrooms as permissible places to get it on. You just gave irresponsible homosexual activity* legal protection. Now isn't that a fine idea!

I think the next wave of illegal aliens will be Brits frantic to escape their country gone mad. What idiots!

UPDATE: My friend Melody made a good point - what about children? Do you think a five-year-old isn't going to a) want to know what's going on and b) talk about it loudly and c) likely crawl under the door to find out? It's just ... well, you get the picture. Unfortunately probably in too great a mental detail.

* Since public restrooms are still, for the most part, single sex, most sex in the restrooms is going to be homosexual. And while married people (or committed partners) may occasionally take it to a semi-public place to add a little spice, the majority of those who have intercourse in restrooms are going to be engaging in opportunistic sexual promiscuity (and that includes heterosexual loo-lovers). Regardless of your stance on homosexuality, you have to admit that this encourages the very kind of behavior that is most likely to lead to the spread of AIDS. Reason bows again to political correctness.

Posted by susanna at 09:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Who we have to thank

This is who we have to thank, and this is why we will win the war with Iraq.

I couldn't be more proud.

UPDATE: I can't get the link to work the usual way. It's a 4:39 min video by the Navy and Marines, and this is the link: Apparently you'll have to cut and paste. Sorry to be so inept.

Posted by susanna at 08:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


A caller to the Curtis & Kuby show on WABC 770 just said that he thinks the reason Bush wants to help with the AIDS crisis in Africa is...

......(wait for it).....


It's a mutant meme, taking over the world, eating up all actions in its path!!!

Posted by susanna at 07:29 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

NPR for President

Scrappleface has the inside scoop on the candidate(s) most likely to succeed as the 2004 Democrat candidate for president.

Can you begin to imagine what a fundraiser with them would be? "And for donations to our presidential campaign in the $1,000 range, we have the mug of Daniel Schorr AND the embossed leather program guide AND a CD of the "Give Peace A Chance" compilation put together by the great humanitarian Barbra Streisand. If you donate in the next 30 minutes, Ben & Jerry's will match your donation..." Talk about good theater.

Posted by susanna at 07:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It's a woman thing

Bigwig has a funny post on men doing housework; the perfect complement to it is Deb's comment on the post. The main point is - men and women approach things differently, in most cases, and expecting that to change isn't going to take you far. I remember growing up that when I washed the dishes, my mom taught me you weren't done until you washed down the sink, including behind the faucet, wiped down the countertops, put away all the extraneous things on the counters and swept the floor. Now my dad is the Chief Dishwasher, and yes, my mom complains to me about it sometimes. "He'll do the dishes and not even see the crumbs on the countertops! I don't know how he can miss them!" she'll say. But Bigwig excerpts an Atlantic article that explains it:

What we've learned during this thirty-year grand experiment is that men can be cajoled into doing all sorts of household tasks, but they will not do them the way a woman would. They will bathe the children, but they will not straighten the bath mat and wring out the washcloths; they will drop a toddler off at nursery school, but they won't spend ten minutes chatting with the teacher and collecting the art projects. They will, in other words, do what men have always done: reduce a job to its simplest essentials and utterly ignore the fillips and niceties that women tend to regard as equally essential. And a lot of women feel cheated and angry and even—bless their hearts—surprised about this.

Very funny. Bigwig adds his own twists, including his general "not getting" the whole card thing. But he's adjusted:

In my world, cards were pathetic substitutes for presents. In my wife's world, cards were required, regardless of present presence. She thought I was uncaring. I thought she was insane.

I still think she's insane, but after several special days were rendered slightly less special by my inability to remember to buy a card, I said the hell with it and bought 5 years of special day cards.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by susanna at 06:40 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Confirming UN's irrelevance

Bryan Preston thinks the UN is defunct, and finds encouragement in the support for the US shown by eight European countries standing in solidarity while Germany and France go off the diplomatic cliff. And he also thinks another international body will succeed the UN. I'm not sure how all that would come to pass. I think it needs to, and the countries he identifies as the main players in a new world order look right to me. But the UN has such a monolithic political presence worldwide that it would be difficult to dismantle. So many countries have used it as their only source of international influence that they will fight its demise long after the rotted corpse is nothing more than pocked bones. If the UN dies, it will take a long long time, and it will be very painful. And that's sad because it will only confirm what we know already to be true: the UN is not about improving the world, but rather about brokering influence to improve the internal interests of member nations.

Maybe the US could shoot it in the head by withdrawing its funding and kicking it out of the country, reforming a new organization with the collaboration of the countries Bryan mentions, and the other allies the US has. Only that kind of aggressive action will prevent the slow death of the bloated irrelevant organization. Japan has already said that it will soon cut its financial support in half, and they are the second largest source of support.

It needs to happen. I just wonder when, and how, and whether it will try to take down as many others as it can in its death throes.

Posted by susanna at 06:18 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

January 29, 2003

and now for something stupid

Okay, Juan Gato says this is the stupidest thing he's seen all day. While I agree it's way stupid, it's so stupid that it's funny. Requires sound.

The big questions to me are: Who? And why?

You have to seriously worry about the mind from whence this came...

(I think Laurence will like it.)

UPDATE: This is so wrong, on so many levels. But it does explain why Spoons quit blogging. The burning question, though, is does it explain why we've never seen a photo of Laura?!

I mean, if 30 seconds could do ... what it did, and a minute did... what it did, can you imagine what a long kiss would do? I don't even want to contemplate it. Much less... baby spoons.

I'm going to get offline now so I can curl into a ball of misery in a corner and keen. It's all too much.

Posted by susanna at 07:49 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Paging anti-Americans

Here's what people truly in need in the world think about things:

Ivory coast.jpg
Demonstrators take part in a protest near the American embassy in Abidjan, January 28, 2003. Young supporters of president Laurent Gbagbo called for American support for their country and denounced France, its former colonial ruler, for brokering a recent peace initiative in the four-month civil war. The protests in the Ivory Coast capital underlined the problems facing the power-sharing deal agreed by Gabgbo to end the war that has split the world's top cocoa producer along ethnic lines. Photo by Luc Gnago/Reuters

Instapundit notes that France is in trouble with this, as a peace they brokered has imploded. I hope for the sake of The Ivory Coast that things improve soon, and that it serves as a wake-up call to the French. I'd say (a) will happen before (b). Also, we need to see large 11x17 prints of this to Babs, Sean, Janeane and, um, that guy in Germany.

Posted by susanna at 07:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A new meme!

I just heard The Carpet Kitten on Sean Hannity's radio show suggest this for a term for the Hollywood idiotarians:

The Asses of Evil

I'm liking it!

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

A fisk from down under

A brainless twit of an Australian Democrat has ennumerated 10 Reasons To Be Un-American. Fortunately, Whacking Day was right there to thoroughly and righteously fisk his countrywoman. And you have to love any fisk that says this:

The UN: the geopolitical equivalent of being slapped in the face with a wet lettuce.

Just a thing of beauty.

Posted by susanna at 06:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Go. Read. Now.

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is hanging it's hat up at Ipse Dixit this week. Dodd's done a great job of setting up teasers for each post, and it sounds like an excellent mix. Fifty this week! CotV is one of the best ways to discover new blogs, or get to something you may have missed this past week. So head on over and browse.

Posted by susanna at 05:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

This is too funny

I know it wasn't meant to be funny, and if I were Michele and Laurence I'd find it quite annoying, but Aaron at Uppity Negro asks in rather... harsh language for both of them to remove their links to him.

I guess he meant the "uppity" part. As far as I know he's also "negro", but apparently not one with a momma who taught him manners. I got this mental image of some vicious, petty, pouty little arrogant potentate waving his hand dismissively at his minions saying, "Make it go away!" in a whiny little voice. If I used that kind of language, I'd call him that thing you do with a needle to make a balloon burst.

Michelle, Lair, love you guys! Be sure to print out his post, it's good for a laugh.

UPDATE: Is it a troll? You tell me - this showed up in my referer log.

Posted by susanna at 02:49 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Better do it soon

Theosebes links an article saying that satellite photos are allowing archaelogists to map the ancient Middle Eastern roads probably taken by Abraham and his historical contemporaries, which is very cool.

In his comments, I noted that they'd better map fast.

The ancient roads are in modern-day Iraq.

Posted by susanna at 01:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What will Powell say?

According to The (UK) Guardian, here's one of the things Colin Powell will bring to the UN to bolster the case against Iraq next week:

Mr Powell is expected to produce aerial photographs as evidence that Iraq has been hiding its weapons pro grammes from UN inspectors. These will show activity at suspect sites just before the inspectors' arrival, and will be part of the evidence the White House is in the process of declassifying.

They also have an interesting quote from Karen Hughes:

Karen Hughes, a close adviser to Mr Bush, said: "There is a significant body of evidence _ that shows that Saddam and members of his security forces are engaged in ongoing deception, sanitising sites, moving materials, destroying documents, in advance of the inspectors coming in."

That's strong evidence, it seems to me. I've heard a little about it, but not that part about the photos. Did I just miss it in the other media?

Posted by susanna at 01:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I could learn to like Tony Blair

Tony Blair says we gonna nail Saddam and move on to North Korea next.

Not bad, for a Brit.

Posted by susanna at 01:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

But officer, I just forgot!

The student government president at the University of Kentucky has been indicted by a grand jury for failing to return completed voter registration cards last fall.

Did I mention he's in law school at UK? This is really gonna cut into his chances to clerk at the US Supreme Court.

A Fayette County grand jury indicted the University of Kentucky's student government president yesterday for willfully failing to return voter registration cards to the county clerk's office.

Tim G. Robinson, a law student at UK, faces a Class D felony with a potential penalty of one to five years in prison.

Last year, Robinson initiated a voter-registration drive at UK, mostly aimed at ousting city council candidate Dick DeCamp, who supported a plan to curb student partying. Robinson told city council members he had registered 800 students.

But according to student government representatives and the grand jury report, 747 completed cards were found in the SGA office.

DeCamp beat Don Pratt by fewer than 400 votes in the November election, but Pratt has said he won't challenge the results.

But... but officer! I just forgot to turn them in after launching a huge campaign to register people!

Maybe his goal in registering people gives us a clue as to why he "forgot" - DeCamp wants to curb partying at the school. So was Robinson "partying" so hard he got amnesia about the cards? We won't know until it goes on trial.

I lived in Lexington for six years, and I can sympathize with the people who live near UK. Students love to live within walking distance, so the areas around the school have been increasingly taken over by students as the enrollment at UK expands. Of course the students are out from under parental supervision for the first time, and partying is first on their mind. It's Animal House all the time. They'll throw huge parties with dozens in attendance (although probably not that many all at one time), pouring out into the streets and puking on the sidewalks. The next morning, as the bleary eyed neighbors get up at 6 a.m. to go to work, the students are sleeping off a drunk and skipping their morning classes, leaving couches and beer cans and the insides of their stomachs all over the front yard of the party house. Not all the parties are that way, but a lot of them are different only on a matter of scale.

Do I think they shouldn't be allowed to party that way? I honestly don't care - knock yourselves out, I say, as long as you don't drive home. But part of being an adult is recognizing that your behaviors have an impact on those around you, and you have a responsibility to be reasonable in your actions. That's why when I move next time I want to move into a house with a big yard so I can crank my music up until the walls vibrate and no one will be bothered but me. So I'm sympathetic with DeCamp's position (although he gets a bit draconian, being a stuffy old preservationist type who wants to Protect Our History).

And that means, I don't have a lot of sympathy for Robinson. He's an idiot to try to stuff the ballot boxes to help UK be an even bigger party school, and he's beyond an idiot to "forget" to turn in the voter registration cards.

He'll make a great lawyer.

(Sorry, all my fine and upstanding lawyer readers :). I couldn't resist.)

Posted by susanna at 10:46 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What others thought about the SotU

I said what I have to say about the SotU in the two posts below. So now I'm going to go find out what others had to say, and (because I'm just that way) I'll link them here for Your Perusal.

R. Alex, in the countdown to his Last Day, actually accomplished the feat of Blogging During The Event. Start here and scroll up for live action commentary.

Well, Vodkaguy just about did my whole job for me, what was he thinking? He did Live Blogging as well, then went around collecting what others said (you mean the idea wasn't original with me?). If I link to an individual post, you'll get a page with just that post on it and you can't scroll up from there. So just get over yourself, go to the main page and scroll about 3/4 of the way down the page to start.

Aurora Leigh at Memento Mori says she doesn't know if it was a score for Bush, but it was a shut-out for the Dems.

UPDATE: Mike at Cold Fury really liked the speech. He was inspired, and says so quite eloquently. As usual. He also thinks you're an idiot if you weren't.

Uhoh. Steven Den Beste wasn't inspired. In fact, he says:

Let there be no misunderstanding: if there are no American soldiers patrolling the streets of Baghdad on May 1, we are all royally fucked.

I'm with him in that I think a) removing Saddam is necessary and b) we have to be clear about that. And I think c) Bush wasn't as clear on that as I wanted to see last night.

MORE! Mac Owens at NRO said a couple of things I say "amen" to:

...the first part of the speech was a reminder that "compassionate conservatism" can be almost expensive as unvarnished liberalism.

Yeppers. And:

He laid out the case against Saddam so clearly that even the French could understand it.

Or at least they could have understood it if they weren't standing there with their eyes closed, hands over their ears, singing "LA LA LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING LA LA LA LA LA!"

STILL MORE: Jane Galt liked it! She really liked it!

OSAMA'S SPEECH: In the interests of diversity, The Australian has printed Osama Bin Laden's SotU 2003 speech (as channeled through who else but Tim Blair).

[Link via Vodkapundit]

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

What I didn't like about the SotU

So we're all bully for small government.

So we're all excited about lower taxes, ending the double-tax of dividends, ending the marriage penalty.

So we're all glad that the federal government is going to be less cradle to grave.


Then what was this all about:

My budget will commit an additional $400 billion over the next decade to reform and strengthen Medicare.

Tonight I'm proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.

I ask the Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years, including nearly $10 billion in new money, to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean.

The budget I send you will propose almost $6 billion to quickly make available effective vaccines and treatments against agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, ebola and plague.

Okay. Maybe these are things we need to do. But whence the funds? I dinna like this. I want less government, not more. I didn't see in Bush's speech just how that is going to happen. Seems like an opposite trend to me.

I dinna like it at all.

Posted by susanna at 08:47 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 28, 2003


"There is power -- wonder-working power -- in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people."
-- GW Bush, State of the Union, 2003

Sooooo.... did this sound familiar* to anyone but me?

Great speech. Going to sleep now.

Words & Music: Lewis Edgar Jones, 1899

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Would you over evil a victory win?
There's wonderful power in the blood.

There is power, power, wonder working power
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is power, power, wonder working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Come for a cleansing to Calvary's tide;
There's wonderful power in the blood.

Posted by susanna at 11:19 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Just in time!

The UPS guy just handed me the perfect attire for a State of the Union address. It was awfully cold from being in his unheated truck all day, so it's draped over the radiator right now getting warmed up. But I'll be on point by the time 9 p.m. rolls around.

I've been thinking about that peace rally I heard was going to take place in Manhattan on February 15. I may just have to take a trip to the city in my sartorially correct answer to peacemongering.

Posted by susanna at 07:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Skewering with finesse

(Note: Blogger's archives are trashed again; go here and scroll down.)

Aurora Leigh has a cool new blog, Memento Mori, that I discovered the other day courtesy of Steve at HappyFunPundit. I don't know how old she is, or what she looks like, but her writing sounds like your boyfriend's really sassy college-age sister who kind of sneaks up on you with how smart she is. Funny and often spot on.

Here she is on libertarians:

If I ever get a reader, and they happen to be a libertarian who opposes military action in Iraq because they think that the best thing for everyone would be for the United States to retreat behind its borders and make a credible committment to only staging military action in response to a direct attack on US soil, could you tell me what is it about y'all? Do you get better drugs than the rest of us, or what?

Can we talk about the Middle East? The actual Middle East, I mean, not the one in your head that's a couple of Gap franchises away from turning into Peoria, with mosques?

The Middle East is poor. It is desperately poor. You can argue about whether it's cultural, or your old friend, the government, but the problem is not a shortage of MLM salesmen. You can airlift in emergency supplies of MTV and The Wealth of Nations all you want, and they aren't going to get any richer until something radical happens to their societies.

And today she took on liberals:

Iraq is the size of, say, Texas. Okay, I've hidden a bunch of stuff in Texas. You take 300 people and find it. Only, I have spies on your team, so I know you're coming days in advance. Also, everyone in Texas is afraid I'll kill them if they help you. You want to put money down on your chances of success?

Inspections work when you have co-operation. Otherwise, all you're doing is playing hide and seek.

And you know what really chaps my britches? It's the liberals who seem to think that well, yes, this is all just some sort of elaborate kindergarten game that we're supposed to play as if the stakes are an extra piece of candy at snack time. That the object of this whole thing is not to disarm Sadaam, but to play a sporting game until we all get bored and go home. And if Sadaam's better at hiding things than we are at finding them, we have to let him keep his WMD, because after all, he won fair and square.

Earth to liberals: this is not a game.

She promises the Republicans are going to get theirs soon. I'm trembling in my boots.

And the coolest part is - she started blogging as a result of the PBS show starring Glenn, Megan, Anil and Oliver that was on two weeks ago.

Posted by susanna at 07:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hannnnggg on, Sloopy!

Joe R. Thompson III escaped from serious injury with a high-wire self-rescue after his Jeep rolled several times following an accident.

His dad made it a cautionary tale:

...the elder Thompson said[,] "And don't forget, this is a great story to remind people to wear seat belts."

I think his dad must be my mom in disguise.

[Thanks to Desiree for the link]

Posted by susanna at 07:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Algore - an insider's tale

John Stryker has a tale to tell of Algore and his love of "the little people". Pretty funny. Having worked for a number of politicians myself, I found it ringing very true.

His take on McCain is right under the Algore post. A twofer!

Posted by susanna at 04:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bias roundup

I'm going to post this now and add to it if I find more. If I add to it, I'll pull it to the top of the page.

Reuters - deliberately anti-war?

Steven Den Beste takes a look at Reuters' coverage of the British response to the Blix report, as opposed to the AP's coverage. His conclusion is, I think, both accurate and fair:

By the way, Reuters is also the agency which decided quite a while back that it would no longer refer to any Arab as a "terrorist" under any circumstances (even when they deliberately blow themselves up with a nailbomb in a crowded place), and Reuters was responsible for this rather strange caption on a press photo last year. They've also been pushing the idea ever since last November that a second UNSC resolution was absolutely required before the US could attack Iraq (which is false), and it was Reuters which (apparently deliberately) misreported Bush's press conference in Texas in December.

Everyone makes mistakes, of course, but when all the mistakes go the same direction you have to begin to wonder.

I didn't transfer the individual links from the quote; check them out when you read the whole post.

UPDATE: Viva la BBC!

Porphyrogenitus reports that the BBC committed a sin of omission:

So I'm listening to the BBC World Briefing on the radio on my way into work this morning, and they decide to have an interview with the executive of a major oil company to discuss the possible consiquences of a war involving Iraq. Fine and well. Which company do they pick? The French company Total Fina Elf. Ok, fine. We know where they're comming from, right?

Not exactly. Not once did the BBC report mention that Total Fina Elf stands to gain significant wealth if Saddam stays in power and sanctions are lifted. They don't mention the contracts Total Fina Elf has signed with the Ba'athist regime. I find it hard to believe that such interests would go unreported if the shoe were on the other foot. . .

What you don't say sometimes says more than what you do say.

[Link via Instapundit]

NOTE: This bias roundup, let me remind you, is not just for conservatives. If some liberals (or leftists) amongst my readers want to send links to evidence of conservative bias in the media, be my guest. I will comment on it, maybe disagree with you, and I won't use it if I don't think it's legit. But I'm not one to say that conservative outlets don't show bias. They do, and I don't mind calling them on it. So, my liberal friends (Tano? Frank?), have at it.

Posted by susanna at 10:32 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Steyn on abortion

Have I mentioned he rocks?

[Thanks very much to Steyn's fellow countryman, Capt. J.M. Heinrichs, for the link. It's refreshing to know that non-idiotarian Canucks still make a strong showing.]

Posted by susanna at 09:33 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

No more Washington Redskins (or, Rampant PCism in the hinterlands)

The Lincoln, Neb., Journal-Star has decided that there is no longer a sports team called "The Washington Redskins".

It's now simply "Washington".

Readers of the sports pages may notice a change in the newspaper's style beginning today: We have stopped using the nickname "Redskins" to refer to the professional football team of the nation's capital. When we're reporting on that team, we'll call it Washington.

We also have stopped printing logos for professional and college sports teams that use Native symbols -- ones that adopt imagery such as an arrowhead and ones that caricature Native culture. The Chief Wahoo logo of the Cleveland Indians, which we stopped using last summer, is an example of rank caricature. Instead, we'll use alternative logos that stay away from Native symbols.
Finally, we've decided to drop the stereotypical modifier "Fighting" when used with team nicknames such as Fighting Sioux or Fighting Illini.

We've made this decision out of respect for Native people. Plain and simple.

We will no longer use "Redskins" or "Skins" because it is a racial slur. It derives from an old, genocidal practice in this country of scalping Indians to earn a bounty. A bounty hunter could prove he had killed an Indian by turning in a scalp. The bloody scalps were called "redskins." I learned this from the Portland Press Herald in Maine, which banned "Redskins" from its sports pages in July 2000.

In other news, they will soon refer to the Oakland "Raiders" as just "Oakland", at the behest of the descendents of Vikings, and the Tampa Bay "Buccaneers" will just be "Tampa Bay" because three descendents of pirates say it makes them feel "sad". The "Detriot Pistons" will become "Detroit" because of the phallic symbolism of male dominance really intended by the original name. However, at the urging of PeTA, the "Detroit Tigers" will also be called "Detroit", so no actual animals will be referred to in a sports column. For those who can't pick up which sport is being referred to by the context, they will be referred to in articles with both teams as "Detroit Engine Imagery" and "Detroit Colorful Endangered Species".

Breaking news: Prominent weblog cut on the bias will no longer refer to the Lincoln, Nebraska paper as the "Journal-Star" out of respect for diarists and astronomers, both of whom feel being associated with such idiocy damages their reputation and has resulted in Post-PC Stress Syndrome. The Lincoln newspaper will now be referred to as "That PC rag in Lincoln".

[Link via Romenesko]

Posted by susanna at 09:13 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Could have been written in the USA

Here's a very interesting column in The Straits Times, a newspaper in Singapore, about a speech from a member of Parliament advocating affirmative action to give the Muslim Malays "icons of success" to improve the community. The columnist is against it.

Where I must disagree with him is on the need to tweak the principle of meritocracy, the very building block of Singapore society that has made what we are today.

This is how he sees it happening.

'There must be opportunities, without affecting the core principle of meritocracy, for there to be some form of action which will see Malays in important positions in greater numbers than they are now.

'I am not suggesting that no regard to ability be given. But I suggest that the principle of meritocracy can be leavened, with some steps which assist the Malay community to have its stars.'

In my view, there is no reason to 'leaven' the principle of meritocracy...

To allow this means that if the best and brightest in the Malay community lands a top job in the public or private sector, some will always question if he or she earned it.

That has always been the concern of those who believe in meritocracy: that Malays who make it to the top must be seen to be making it on their own steam, rather than by having a 'helping hand' extended to them.

After all, affirmative action has been tried in certain other countries and has failed. Miserably.

He notes that part of this concern is because of terrorism, which is certainly a refrain we hear in the US. And here is evidence that unease over terrorism since 9/11 has gone into a lot of other places with greater strength than we always realize:

It is very sad indeed if Singaporeans are made to feel they must conform - like moneychanger A.M. Rafi, who swopped his sarong for Bermuda shorts. Mr Rafi said that after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the US, his neighbours and strangers became nervous about him because of the sarong he wore.

Yes, sad indeed.

Posted by susanna at 06:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

US military kills 18 in Afghanistan fighting

As we move closer to war in Iraq, don't forget it's not over in Afghanistan yet:

At least 18 people have been killed in more than 24 hours of heavy fighting between United States-led coalition forces and some 80 armed assailants in south-east Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan, the US military said on Tuesday.

In a statement issued from Bagram air base, north of Kabul, where its operations are headquartered, the US military said: 'At least 18 enemy personnel have been killed. No coalition casualties have been reported.'

The fighting broke out on Monday near mountains north of Spin Boldak, a border town 450 km south-west of the capital Kabul, and 100 km south-east of the main southern city of Kandahar, the former stronghold of the hardline Taleban militia.

Fighting erupted when US Special Forces and Afghan troops were attacked with small arms at about 11 am (0630 GMT) while they were clearing a compound north of Spin Boldak.

Spin Boldak administration official Saeed Jan said coalition and local Afghan forces were battling around 70 ex-Taleban fighters.

Here's more at the NY Times.

Posted by susanna at 06:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Beheading Tony Soprano's fault

Or so say the two young men, 20 and 15, who strangled their mother before cutting off her head and hands and disposing of the body down a ravine. Her head and hands were found in their apartment.

No motive is established yet.

Somehow I'm thinking the Soprano defense isn't going to work in court.

Posted by susanna at 06:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Think Episcopally, act prophetically

Tom Maguire is worried he's going to hell.

Why, you say, other than his high talents in locating and thoroughly excoriating idiocy of all sorts?

Well... um... he's fisking his minister!

Sad, sad. Shocking, even. But you know what? I read what his minister said, and all I can say is... Tom, honey, you held back. You coulda gone up two or three grades in roughness and not done it justice.

The minister - well, not to be offensive, but Tom, he's Episcopal - what did you expect, hellfire and brimstone rained on the evil one, Saddam? In my experience, the Episcopal clergy are At One with any liberal movement that comes down the chute. But that's just my experience. Tom does a nice job with his fisking, although, like I said, he hung back. There's more than enough peacemonger trash-talking in that sermon to keep me busy for several days. I won't redo Tom's fine work, but I have to excerpt just a tiny bit and give it a brisk smack myself:

This week, I found myself praying – God, send your people a prophet, someone who will tell us your will. And God answered –


Minister, that wasn't God - that was the sausage you had for dinner. God doesn't talk in bumper stickers.

Seeking peace is a prophetic act. As each one of us seeks peace moment by moment, in our daily interactions, we infuse a pattern of peacemaking into our culture that influences the course of our international relationships.

That's right, the more we become French, the closer we are to God. I think that's First Episcopal Minister 6:12.

Making war, imposing any agenda by force, only perpetuates the cycle of violence and hatred. War is always, ALWAYS an admission of failure – the breakdown of negotiations, the demise of hope, the collapse of mutual trust, the inability to root out evil any other way.

The misreading of Scripture, the inability to recognize that God himself advocates war on a daily basis with evil, the minor point that Jesus said*, "I come not to bring peace, but a sword..."

I get cold chills just thinking of having to sit quietly through this tripe. Tom, you're a better man than I. There's so much risible in this sermon that I have to stop now or I'd never get to work. Just go read it and weep. Then, if you really want to know what God thinks, I suggest the next time your minister starts in with a bumper-sticker sermon that owes more to Noam Chomsky than to Christ, just tune it out and read the Bible instead. I promise you'll be closer to God.

UPDATE: Well, as Tom notes in comments, Joseph Loconte trumps us all with his most excellent column on Jesus as warrior. His closing words:

Like Mr. Tittle, many of today's war critics hail Jesus as "the Prince of Peace," while forgetting that the Bible also calls him "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," the one "who judges and wages war." In itself, that's not an argument for a pre-emptive strike on Baghdad. But it's a good reason for a little more humility among the apostles of diplomacy.


UPDATE: My brother Alan, who is a preacher himself, adds a few comments on this at Theosebes. I particularly like this part:

That's fine with me, but don't preach a sermon about it. ...sometimes I might speak on, say, abortion as a moral issue. I will not tell you to vote for (or against) Candidate X based on his abortion views. That's for you to decide. That's not to say that one should separate religious views from political views. That I'm very much against. But I'm not going to abuse a position of trust by trying to make my political preferences a Voice From On High. Be very wary of someone who does.

I agree completely (yes, Alan, you might want to mark that on the calendar). It's a very important point, because "religious leaders" are often treated as if they have a Red Phone To God. The funny thing is, invariably whoever is at the other end of the leader's Red Phone has politics very similar to the leader's. Is the God of this Episcopal minister the same God that "speaks" to Jerry Falwell? Not so's you'd notice, when it comes to politics. If all those "religious leaders" spoke about politics as religious leaders as little as Jesus did, you'd be hard pressed to get an annual 10-second sound bite.

And even that would be 10 seconds too long.

* I know that this passage is talking about the effect the Gospel will have on families - that when people who choose to follow Christ go against what their families believe, there will be strife and it could well end relationships. But the point overall is, peace is not the ultimate earthly goal of the gospel. I think the Bible in no way condemns just war.

Posted by susanna at 06:15 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Tsk, Radley!

It appears that Radley Balko has a problem with Kentucky.

He keeps talking about it in less than glowing terms.

But then... it all becomes clear when you realize he's a Hoosier.

So I can be magnanimous. That Freudian Kentucky-envy can be debilitating, especially untreated, and Hoosiers are particularly susceptible. I think it has something to do with basketball. Radley, my dear, I forgive you. Love you, man!


Oh, and the article he links? Kentuckian Dodd Harris already linked it with the proper attitude. And please, that's not nearly as bad as the Manhattanite surgeon who carved his initials on the belly of a woman he performed a Caesarian on. I doubt he's ever even been to Kentucky.

Posted by susanna at 05:47 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 27, 2003

Your Guide to Wascally Weasels

Last week Scott Ott brought you the "Axis of Weasels". Today, John Hawkins brings you the definitive guide to identifying French vs. German weasels.

Now what'd I do with my trap and bait...

Posted by susanna at 09:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bloggish influence?

I've noticed in my stats lately that someone (or several someones) is looking up specific newspaper article links in Daypop and Blogdex. Here's one from today. I find that intriguing, because I can't really imagine that your average blogger or blog reader would care enough about one article in a Sydney newspaper to search out all the references to it in blogs. So who is it? My guess is either the writer or the newspaper itself, most likely the former. That says to me that the blogosphere is beginning to matter more to the "traditional media" as a means to get the word out. And that's very cool.

Posted by susanna at 09:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

What a difference a decade (or so) makes

I started working at The Oldham Era in August of 1985. I was two years out of college, a bit battered by the world of journalism, and happy to be landing at a small weekly newspaper right outside of Louisville, Kentucky. I have more stories than I can (or will) share about the two years I was there, but one thing that stands out is that when I arrived, they gave me a desk, a chair, and... a typewriter.

A manual typewriter.

And they were serious.

Computers weren't what they are now, even at newspapers, but we had had them at my journalism school, and at the last newspaper where I worked. Even the teeny tiny weekly I worked at outside of Owensboro had an electric typewriter. But the manager was not techie (or even a journalist), the main office of the newspaper chain hadn't insisted, so there we were. Manual typewriters.

I brought in my little electric.

For a year I pounded out news articles, opinion pieces, feature articles and the occasional business kissy-face article on that electric typewriter that my parents gave me as a high school graduation present. I don't remember the brand name, but it had the typing and correction ribbons in cartridges that you popped out by pushing a button on the side. By this time, six years into its hard-scrabble life, the little electric typewriter shook like a palsied grandmother and tried to walk off the table when I really began typing fast. If I typed really fast (that is to say, about 50 words/min), the keys would meet each other coming and going and get locked in a death embrace halfway up. Deadline is not a time you want to spend five minutes out of every 10 detangling your typewriter keys.

We finally got computers a year into my tenure, and little electric typewriter gratefully returned to my closet, resting except for my occasional forays into The Next Great American Novel. By the time I left The Oldham Era, we even had laptop computers - basically a keyboard with a screen about 1 x 6 inches, where you could read a sentence at a time of what you wrote. I haven't used a typewriter as a main part of a job since.

And now The Oldham Era has a website, which I just found tonight.

What a difference a decade (or so) makes.

Posted by susanna at 09:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Janeane Garofalo, Girl Activist

Howard Kurtz's column today starts with Janeane Garofalo, who is actually one of my favorite actresses. Unfortunately, she suffers from the Viggo Mortensen syndrome - her fame as an entertainer should bring her credibility as a commentator on war. And it just makes her mad! that it doesn't happen.

Shall we take a closer look?

Janeane Garofalo says she knows why Fox, CNN, MSNBC and "Good Morning America" have booked her to argue against war with Iraq.

This should be good.

"They have actors on so they can marginalize the movement," the stand-up comic says.

Well, if that's the strategy, it's sure been a successful one.

"It's much easier to toss it off as some bizarre, unintelligent special-interest group.

You said it, not me.

If you're an actor who is pro-war, you're a hero.

Not necessarily; if an actor was pro-war and as vicious and shallow about it as most of the actors who are anti-war, then I don't think (s)he would be a hero. If by pro-war you really mean pro-American, then yeah, you're right.

If you're an actor who's against the war, you're suspect. You must have a weird angle or you just hate George Bush."

You said it, not me.

The problem here, Janeane, is that you're not offering proof that you and the other actors are anything but reflexive Bush haters or just, well, weirdly spouting off about things you have no depth of knowledge about. Maybe I'm being unkind. Let's see what else you have to say.

The woman who once plied her trade on "The Larry Sanders Show," "Saturday Night Live" and such movies as "Reality Bites" has been all over the tube lately, arguing that the Bush administration is stampeding the country into a misguided war.

See? Reflexive Bush hater and weirdly spouting about things you're ignorant of. Advantage: me.

And the experience has convinced her that major news organizations are unfair to liberal activists, especially of the celebrity stripe.

Yes, that's right. That's why you're on... how many shows? And how many have I been on? I'd be happy to match you one for one and see which of us knows more about the war. Who is speaking in favor of disarming Saddam? Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Who's speaking against it? Janeane Garofalo, Viggo Mortensen and Sean Penn. I'd say the fact that you got past the guard at the door of the studio says they are being unfair - but not to liberal celebrity activists. They're unfair to non-celebrity pro-disarm-Saddam activists.

Well, Connie? I'm waiting for my call.

"I'm being treated like a child

Maybe because you're acting like one?

...and that's how I think the American people are being treated by their media," Garofalo says.

No, not like children. Like idiots. Because "their media" is dishing the likes of you into their living rooms. If they were being treated like children, at least we might get to watch A Little Mermaid again.

Entertainers must brave a certain degree of ridicule when they waltz into the public policy arena

Only when they behave in ridicul-ous ways.

whether it's Sean Penn going to Baghdad or Leonardo DiCaprio pitching Earth Day.

I rest my case.

They are, after all, using their fame to be heard in a way that would be impossible if they couldn't make people laugh or cry.

Precisely. And they're making us laugh and cry again, but for different reasons.

Why, they are asked by the same programs that invited them on, should anyone care what you think?

And why, they should be asked, do we even have you on this show to ask you why anyone would care that you have a thought on the war? Not because you have a PhD in international relations.

But Garofalo, who works with the group Win Without War, says the media are not only condescending but suggest she doesn't care about the country.

Think really hard about this, Janeane. I know it's difficult, but try. If Connie Chung did a show on acting, how to act, how actors get into their characters, the inside technicalities of acting scenes that are filmed in a disconnected way and yet still show the emotion that makes the movie work in a linear way... You know, the tough stuff about acting... if Connie did that show, how do you think she'd interview Donald Rumsfeld if he insisted on being on the show to tell what he thought about acting, on strength of his having seen a dozen or so movies? Think she'd be sitting in speechless awe at his insight? Or do you think she'd be a little condescending and the entire crew would be snickering behind their hands? I think you know, Janeane.

And I won't question your love for country. I don't know enough about you to say. But I will tell you that what you want for the country will result in it no longer being the country you say you love.

CNN's Leon Harris wondered about her reaction to critics who say that she and her fellow activists "aren't patriotic Americans."

And just asking that question made you angry? Thin-skinned, aren't we?

ABC's Robin Roberts asked: "Do you feel at all a risk with your career, especially after September 11th, that anything that you do is considered unpatriotic?"

A legitimate question. After all, other actors have run aground in the shoals of stupidity (heard of Jane Fonda?).

CNN's Connie Chung asked about American soldiers: "Don't you feel a bit of responsibility in the sense of being supportive of them?"

Given that some of your activist compatriots sling all manner of vile verbal spew in the direction of our military personnel, that's a valid question too. Sounds to me like you want to heard uncritically as you slice and dice the foreign policy of your own country, something you have no background in. See "treated like children". This should give you insight into why you feel that way.

That question, says Garofalo, "was so silly that it actually had me flummoxed. If you are in the antiwar movement, you obviously don't want the troops to be hurt."

Not so obvious to me. See "vile verbal spew" comment above. I'm glad to hear that you are not among those. So far, it's your one redeeming feature.

How did the 38-year-old actress drift into politics? "Now that I'm sober I watch a lot of news," she says, quickly adding that critics will snort: "See, she had a drinking problem! I knew she was crazy!"

"Well, I had a little time on my hands, so I thought, I need a hobby... politics! Yeah, that's like, way cool!" Good, Janeane, that's reassuring. And as a critic of you, I can truthfully say that I don't automatically assume someone who used to have a drinking problem is crazy now. I did, after all, vote for GW Bush. However, there's ample additional evidence that you are, in fact, nuts. You might make more sense drunk.

She leavens her indictment with periodic punch lines, saying reporters covering demonstrations "always interview the guy who says, 'The government has put a microchip in your dental fillings.' . . . It's disgusting that we know more about Winona Ryder's trial than we do about the Iraqi people."

You might. I didn't watch it. I was reading about the reasons we need to go to war with Iraq. And that microchip guy made the most sense of anyone at the anti-war demonstrations.

But Garofalo isn't kidding when it comes to her disdain for the media: "These same corporate entities have an interest in war, have an interest in profiting from war. They represent corporate America. Corporate America dictates the news we are getting."

Are you sure it's not the Jews? Sorry, wrong meme. You know, Janeane, any lingering thought I had that maybe you know a little bit more than the average actor activist hack just left. This is such a buzz phrase that means absolutely nothing at all, so "talking points", that it empties your rhetoric of credibility all by itself.

Does she really believe that anchors and correspondents are just following company orders? Too many, she says, "are willing to be a mouthpiece for the establishment and for White House propaganda."

Here we go again. That bias thing. Last I saw, Janeane, they were being a mouthpiece for Hollywood, letting you and Sean and Leo and Susan and George and and and suck up air time that could be spent "learning about the people in Iraq". Ever thought of giving up some of your airtime for that? Make up your mind, are they shilling for corporate America, or the Bush administration? Ohhhhh, I forgot - they're the same thing. Uh huh... Um, did you hear that feedback? It's from the microchip in Connie's filling. Just tell her to turn her head a litttlleee to the right...

While Garofalo believes Saddam Hussein is a menace

One lonely brain cell lives!

-- but that U.N. weapons inspectors should be given more time --

But it's weak... very weak.

she also tosses around the word "imperialism" and declares that "this is a manufactured conflict for the sake of geopolitical dominance in the area."

Wow. How long did it take you to memorize that? Did anyone explain "geopolitical" to you? Or did you just play a foreign relations analyst in a movie?

"There is no evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

That's funny. That's not what Hans Blix said. Or Nancy Pelosi. Or, for that matter, Uday Hussein. Huh. I guess they didn't get that briefing. Good thing you did!

You never even get that idea floated in the mainstream media. If you bring it up, they hate the messenger. You've ruined everyone's good time."

Yeah. That's the first time I've heard it mentioned. Not a single other person, certainly no public officials, no liberal anti-war activists, no foreign diplomats... nope, you're the first one to bring it up in the mainstream media. I must mock you! You have ruined my good time!

What bugs the New Yorker most of all is when interviewers question whether she's torpedoing her career.

See the "Jane Fonda" note, above.

"You can't force people to cast you or become younger or more popular. What I do have is control over my mind, my life and my participation in current events. I won't stick my head in the sand and have history roll right over me. I refuse to allow my government and the mainstream media to bully me into accepting a war that is immoral and illegal. If it means people make fun of me or think I'm a jerk, or I lose a job here and there, that means nothing to me."

So in other words, your career is already in its sunset years, which is why (along with your separation from demon alcohol) is why you have time to be a talk show gadfly. Time to lay yourself in front of that media and government juggernaut intent on grinding an innocent little country all to bits for nothing but human greed and just free-wheeling evil. Glad to see that it means nothing to you that I'm making fun; I don't feel so mean now.

I'm so grateful that we have the Hollywood diplomatic corp, aren't you? Just think what a paucity of morality, selflessness and glowing intellect this country would have without them...

UPDATE: Media Minded went after Janeane too. Go, MM!

Posted by susanna at 04:06 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

The case for the Battle of Iraq

Bill Whittle has written a post that explains in gut-wrenching detail why the Battle of Iraq must be fought. Last week I posted that I felt a void of evidence, a sense that while the battle was right, the timing was not fully explained. Bill's post connected all the dots, and ended the last of my doubts. It is written with skill, passion and, most of all, truth of both fact and thought.

It's long, but worth every second. Read it. If you don't think you have the time, then use what time you would otherwise spend coming here the next few days, and keep at it until you're done. I'll be posting, but I can't think of a thing I could say that is more important than that you read his post. Go. Now. Then print it and give it to everyone you know.

Posted by susanna at 02:03 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


A friend of mine sent me the following excerpts, chilling in their juxtaposition:

First, from Saddam Hussein's son Uday, in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald:

In a rare public appearance, the son of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein said the consequences of American attack on his country would make the September 11, 2001, terrorist strike look like a picnic.

[Uday Hussein] warned: "If they come, September 11, which they are crying over and see as a big thing, will be a real picnic for them, God willing.

"They will be hurt and pay a price they will never imagine. They can get much more from Iraq without resorting to the logic of force and war."

Now this today from Peggy Noonan:

[Bush] needs more than "bleeding Belgium" rhetoric: "Saddam gassed his own people." He needs uncommon unknown data.

An example. I'm going to refer to a private conversation about another conversation, I hope in a good cause. Four months ago a friend who had recently
met with the president on other business reported to me that in conversation the president had said that he has been having some trouble sleeping, and that when
he awakes in the morning the first thing he often thinks is: I wonder if this is the day Saddam will do it.

"Do what exactly?" I asked my friend. He told me he understood the president to be saying that he wonders if this will be the day Saddam launches a terror
attack here, on American soil.

I was surprised. We know of the arguments that Saddam is a supporter and encourager of America's terrorist enemies. We know the information that has been made available. But the president has not to my knowledge said in public that he fears Saddam himself will hit us hard on the ground in America, and soon.

Maybe my friend misheard, maybe something was misunderstood. But my friend is a careful man, and I suspect he heard exactly right. Which begs the question, what does Mr. Bush know that he hasn't said about Saddam's intentions and ability to strike America?

One hopes more information will come to the public. Presidents are always bound by the need not to compromise sources or operations, and rightly so. But at this moment, on the brink of war, an immediate and situational new flexibility would seem to be helpful. If you lose a source or an operation and gain more of the understanding of the people of the world and the people of your country-- well, that would seem to be a reasonable deal.

Reading this gives me a cold feeling as I sit literally within sight of the empty sky where the WTC once stood. It's not an academic question for me, nor is it remote in any way, as it would be for those in the heartland. Millions of people, including me, in the New York and Washington areas are in the direct line of fire. I could die, or be plunged into chaos in the space of a heartbeat because of this war. It's not impossible, or even improbable, that an attack would focus in another place. But it's more likely in these two centers of American power. The question is: Has someone already not only gotten us in their sights, but are even now pulling back the trigger? I think we know the first of that is true. If the president knows the latter is a high possibility, do we need to know that too?

I recognize that this is a risk we face in going forward. And I don't see it as reason not to go forward. I just want to know more of what the president knows about the likelihood of it happening. And not in the rainbow colors of another Homeland Security "non-specific" alert.

[Thanks to Ty Clevenger for the links]

Posted by susanna at 12:14 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Happy birthday!

Jim Bowen today celebrates the first birthday of his blog, No Watermelons Allowed. It's an interesting mix of nuclear reactors, including Chernobyl; bubbles; Midwest murder; marriage taxes; faith behind the big bang; dust; and breasts. Repeatedly. Really.

And if you've always wondered what the name means... here's your answer.

Posted by susanna at 08:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2003

Classless Clooney

Bill O'Reilly (shockingly) has a good point in his column today - George Clooney is a classless idiotarian. Not that it's anything new, but apparently he's snarking around again. This time, he made a nasty little crack about Charlton Heston's Alzheimer's, saying at a National Board of Review meeting that "Charlton Heston announced again today that he is suffering from Alzheimer's".

Now, this kind of high school venom is not uncommon amongst the highly intellectual models of character who people much of our movies and television programs these days. I tend to just ignore it and let them have enough rope to hang themselves; O'Reilly makes the point that in his view this is just what happened to Alec Baldwin's now-tanked career, and he predicts the same for Clooney. I agree, if he keeps it up.

But O'Reilly takes it a step further and berates the mainstream media for not picking up on it like they would if, say, Tom Selleck made some snarky comment about Christopher Reeves' disability. He says that the reason it's not picked up is, essentially, that the mainstream media agree with Clooney that Heston is so awful that nothing you say about him is too bad. Thus the media find nothing to comment on in what Clooney said. I think that's partially correct, but I also think there's another factor at work. When someone like Clooney pops off like that, unless it's hammered into our faces most conservatives just shake their heads, say, "idiotarian extraordinaire" and go on with their lives. But in a similar situation, the professional victims segment of the left would immediately descend on Selleck (to continue using him as the example) en masse, and demand not only that he apologize, not only that he donate the proceeds of his last five films to their organizations for the victims of conservatives (no self-interest there), but also that the entire country wear mourning for three days and pass a tax hike to fund educational program throughout the country to teach our young people that Tom Selleck is a cancer on humanity.

The media take some blame, but they don't deserve to take the whole fall. Part of the blame rests on the difference in how lefties and conservatives approach life and their interaction with it. But I still think that Clooney's getting a reputation for being a looney, and before long he'll be gracing The Shopping Channel selling Clooney Brand Nose Tweezers.

[Thanks to Laura Almost-Mrs-Spoons for the link.]

Posted by susanna at 02:40 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

January 25, 2003

Juicy new site!

John Cole has moved Balloon Juice to a new address - check out his great new design, and the same old excellent commentary with an attitude. If he's linked on your site, fix it. If he's not - what's your problem?

Posted by susanna at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Freaky thought-police

Bill Quick has unearthed a case of thought police: a young man was attacked by a group of Hispanics. He went home and wrote something derogatory about them on his home computer. Somehow (the article doesn't say) his words got to the school, and of course everything broke loose with the poor kid. He's had to apologize to everyone and their third cousin, and will undergo "sensitivity" training. Gah.

Diatribes by minorities against whites (or other non-protected groups like Christians) are allowed, even when done with a broad brush damning everyone in the group, because "truth is a defense". Well, in the case of this young man, truth is a defense to precisely the same degree. Where's the fairness?

[First graph edited after Tom M. in comments pointed out my garbled references.]

Posted by susanna at 11:44 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Comparing race quotas in the US and India

Shanti at Dancing with Dogs has an excellent post on her thoughts about the University of Michigan race-based admissions policy:

This system all the more bothers me, since I have been raised in a country that has one of the worst quota systems in the world, which is the biggest cause of "brain drain" from the country. Reservations were introduced in India to level the playing the field for "upper-caste" and "lower caste" Hindus. Initially, they were meant to be there for only a few years. Once they went into place, no one now has the power to try and remove them from the system...

Really bright upper-caste students had to fight tooth and nail to make it into popular college courses that just fell into the laps of others less qualified. That frustrates people. They fight to study and then they have to fight to get a job and then to get promoted. So what do they do? They pack up and they leave. They go to the one country on earth that they think looks at nothing but their intelligence and talent to reward them. Here, in America, they think they are free from all the burdens of quotas and that they are in a true meritocracy.

Unfortunately, they are wrong. America is definitely not as bad as India is, but I am afraid we are slowly getting there. I am afraid that the paradise I came here seeking, the society that I was hoping to find that cared only about my ability to deliver, and not my skin color or my caste, is being taken over by fools. Fools who claim that diversity is God and screw academics. Fools who would frustrate bright and hard-working students, just so they can "represent" colors on the campus. Every admission given to a less qualified candidate is one bright person being told that he does not qualify for "equal opportunity", since he is not the right skin color. This is insane.

I hadn't been by Dancing with Dogs lately (sorry, Shanti!) but when I went over this morning I realized what a lot of great stuff I've missed. I'd recommend your skidding right on over there, start at the top and just read on down. Some other highlights (and this will show you why Shanti's so cool):

On Shaq's "slur" toward his Chinese teammate Yao:

I am glad I have joined the deep-breathing-counting-till-100-when-you-are-so-angry-you-want-to-rip-someones-face-off club with JK and Ashwini. Or else, I would have called Emil a stupid jerk. I would have told him it is ridiculous to think that someone is going to come after Asians with knives in their hands ala Norman Bates, just because Shaq made fun of Yao (who supposedly represents the Asian-Americans, though he is a puppet of the Chinese Basketball Association). I would have also told him that constant race-baiting like his columns is what frustrates really sane people into believing that all Asians have to be inferiority-complexed, whiny, cry-babyish fools...

On her efforts to read "other viewpoints":

Beat me up! I am a masochist!

I really am! I would have been perfectly happy in my little universe, but then I had to go around trying to gather "other viewpoints", so I visited the blogs in the blogroll of a certain person...(Hint: I have a cat-fight going on with her in a post below). Blechh! I am at work, so I don't even have my toothbrush here to wash this dirty taste out of my mouth. I should have been careful when I saw "Guardian" as one of the favored links, but I was too naive. Usually, I stop reading blogs as soon as I see any mention to "Noam Chomsky" - I call it the nom-chom test. The minute I see his link on someone's blogroll, I flee like I am being chased by a thousand "peace-protesters" (isn't that an oxymoron? How can you be for peace if you protest all the time?) chanting "no blog for oil" and "kill SUV-owners".

So, my anti-idiotarian(TM) meter malfunctioned and like Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets, I wandered off into the blogosphere's version of "Knockturn Alley"...

On Arundhati Roy winning a US prize for poetry:

I cannot believe the utter disregard for basic human decency and the fawning approval of anything anti-American, pro-communist, anti-establishment, pro-socialist, that someone would choose to give an award to a person like Arundhati Roy. I am ashamed that she is my fellow country woman. Maybe now I can find some solace in the fact that she is a "global citizen", becasue that will mean she is not just mine, but everybody-in-the-world's fellow citizen.

See what I mean? I'm off to the library this morning, but I leave you in Shanti's good hands.

UPDATE: I have Been Informed that Shaq and Yao are opponents, not teammates. Sorry! You can tell I don't watch either pro basketball or sports news a great deal. If it's not UK basketball or Bret Favre, I struggle to locate interest in sports generally. Not that I don't enjoy it when I'm watching it with someone who cares - I do. I'd just rather watch HGTV or TLC than most sports. You haven't lived until you've seen the reveal of a Trading Spaces gone wrong! (Hint: If the decorator is Hilde, it probably did go wrong.)

Posted by susanna at 09:56 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Internet DoS overnight

Dean Esmay, who works for a major ISP, says a very large section of the Internet in North America was down overnight for about two hours; it could have been a Denial of Service attack, but they're not sure yet. He doesn't think it was terrorists.


UPDATE: Kitteh has more here. It's the first post (right now), but I must confess I couldn't figure out how to link to the specific post. *sigh* Kitteh, if you make it back over here, help?

UPDATE II: Here's another, more detailed article on it. [Link via Instapundit] I've not had any problems accessing my Internet service (obviously), my website (obviously), or my (web-based) email. However, my sister, who has MSN dial-up, can't get her new email. She can get online, and get to many sites, as well as access her old email in Outlook Express, but can't download the new. I just proxied for her in an online tech help session with MSN, and they said the email was unavailable on their end and their techies were working on it. I asked specifically if it was associated with the DoS attack, and the tech support guy said he was not permitted to discuss it. (!!!!!) Annoying, but understandable, I suppose. I think it probably is.

Also, the tech help guy used some interesting English constructions, such as plural verbs where singular would be appropriate ("Laurel were" instead of "Laurel was"). Sometimes it was almost like one of those computer-generated response systems, so I asked: Are you real or a computer? He said, I'm real. Ooops! Since it was an online tech help session, do you think it's likely in a country other than the US? I read somewhere (can't remember where) that a lot of the ISPs source out their tech help overseas, and the techies use Americanized (Anglo-Saxon?) names to create the impression of being here. This guy's name was Martin. I'm pretty sure English is not his first language. Not that it matters - he was very helpful and pleasant. Just interesting.

Posted by susanna at 08:51 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 24, 2003


The information that the French and Germans ambushed Colin Powell with their volte face on a second UN resolution is interesting in and of itself. But this article, written using almost exclusively unnamed sources, is fascinating in its own right for the jockeying for position that it represents, and the underlying messages flying around. Just remember that the chances are very slim that any of these people are speaking without their leader - be it Powell or a European diplomat - knowing precisely what's being said, and most likely involved in selecting it.

First, the set-up:

Last fall Secretary of State Colin L. Powell won unstinting praise for what the world seemed to regard as a coup: persuading President Bush to seek United Nations Security Council approval for confronting Iraq, and then lining up unanimous Council backing for that approach.

Today administration officials say Mr. Powell is abruptly on the defensive after France and Germany went public with their bluntly worded refusal to support quick action to find Iraq in breach of United Nations resolutions and clear the way for a military attack.

Got that? Powell has been dropped in big time.

One of Mr. Powell's associates said the secretary was irritated at the French, and another that he was "incandescent" with rage at the French and German envoys...

Letting them know that this was not a small thing, and he's not going to let it just roll off.

No less suddenly, Mr. Powell is described by associates as having less leverage to stop military action in an administration dominated by hawks...

Powell's lost bargaining position, and not just with the war, although of course that's the biggest thing right now. It's undermined his credibility and influence, among a group that naturally leans in a different direction already. "No less suddenly" - his change in stature is a direct and immediate result of the actions of France and Germany.

Another aide said the United Nations session on Monday was "a turning point" for the secretary...

France and Germany have lost him as a sympathetic ear.

He said Mr. Powell felt the French and German comments, especially those praising the inspections as working and needing more time, signaled Iraq to continue not cooperating.

There's supposed to be a two-person poker game going here, between the US/UN and Iraq. The US strategy has just been dealt a blow by supposed allies, which had the effect of not only weakening the US's strategy and strengthening Iraq's, but in effect made France/Germany a third person in the game. Now they have to be considered at least to an extent as part of the enemy.

An administration official said that the State Department had been "struck dumb and stupid" after the French statements and was slow to realize what had happened. Mr. Powell and his aides are now scrambling to get the French and Germans back into line, with doubtful chances of success.

Notice it didn't say Powell was struck "dumb and stupid". Was that what they meant? I'd say some in the administration think so; for most people, though, I think this indicates that the State Department's complement of career diplomats, notoriously on the side of diplomacy over force and smug about their ability to bring about diplomatic alliances, just got slapped so hard they won't recover for a while. The next sentence seems out of place given what the rest of the article says. I'll come back to it.

An irony, diplomats say, is that European diplomats view Mr. Powell as their only ally in the administration in favoring diplomacy over confrontation on a range of issues, from Iraq to North Korea.

"Diplomats say" - as opposed to "European diplomats". Not US people, but people from other countries - Great Britain? Australia? Turkey? - saying, look, Powell was their golden goose.

"The Europeans have this idea that they can empower Powell," said an administration official.

See the arrogance? The Europeans think they can give gravitas and cachet to Powell, make him the great leader by deigning to work with him on diplomatic projects. They think they have something to give, that they have value on their own merits that can build up Powell. Wrongo.

"They haven't empowered him. They have undercut him."

They just killed the metaphorical golden goose.

Mr. Powell was said by aides to be eager to turn the French around, possibly by reaching a compromise that might allow a couple weeks of delay in the inspections so that — if Mr. Hussein refuses to disclose his weapons — a war might begin in March rather than mid-February.

This is your deal, France, your chance at redemption. That's all you're getting. And be thankful for that much.

...swirling around Mr. Powell's position, according to diplomats who deal with him, is an uncertainty about just how he feels about going to war. Some diplomats, who insist on anonymity, say he gives them the impression that he shares their deep misgivings about it.

Powell is playing a close hand, so everyone is speculating. That says to me that he knows he's a Bushie and has a responsibility to the country and the president not to discuss his personal views for just the reason that this shows up in an article - everything he says about war with Iraq will be analyzed and mulled over to determine just how much of what other countries want have a chance of getting his support. Of course they're going to leverage by reading into his every current word and gesture, as well as what he's said previously.

Note that "insist on anonymity". What's that about? What diplomats OR aides have been identified by name? What diplomats by country? Only the French, in the next quote. Is the emphasis on "insist(ing) on anonymity" here because they're actually the French envoys quoted next, and they're trying to make it seem like there are more on their side?

Some say Mr. Powell continues to feel that way [that invading Baghdad would destablize the Middle East with negative consequences for the US]. Others say he accepts the need for using force to overthrow Mr. Hussein but that doing so without international support would inflame the Arab world. French envoys indicate that they think Mr. Powell agrees with them on their reservations about a war.

So we're back to "nobody really knows", which is as it should be. Except the French, who are sure Mr. Powell agrees with them. Of course they're sure; they're the French, after all, God's gift to diplomacy. But what they are also saying is that they think Powell will take their side against GWB. And I think that's where they run aground. For all his pacifist tendencies, Powell is a military man, a patriotic American and a loyal team player. He's not going to betray his history, his country or his president for the promise of all the creme brulee he can eat for the rest of his life.

On the other hand, Mr. Powell is said by aides to regard the French criticism of a war as hypocritical. In this view, the French are more interested in exercising power on the Security Council, where they sit as a permanent member, and perhaps in being guaranteed access to Iraq's oil resources.

Notice here that it's not "diplomats" or "administration officials", it's "aides" - Powell's aides. I'd say they're the ones who know what Powell thinks a little bit better than the French do. And they're calling the French on their peace-lie - the French aren't concerned about peace on principle, they're trying to protect or project their status at the UN and protect their economic interests in Iraq. And Powell is saying to them - I know, and you know, and now you know I know. So shove it where the sun don't shine, boys, I'm not playing anymore.

[Editorial question from me - if the French are so all-fired concerned about the Iraqis, why haven't they used economic leverage to make Saddam clean up his act before now? They don't care, that's why.]

In private, many French diplomats acknowledge that the war is inevitable. In public, they say war can be avoided. That infuriates the State Department, where aides speak sarcastically of French envoys as "the French resistance."

Another example of their hypocrisy. And the "dumb and stupid" State Department says, fool me once, shame on you...

The story of how Mr. Powell was surprised by the French is complex. Aides say he never wanted to attend the special United Nations session on Monday, but France's foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, pleaded with him to do so. Mr. Powell kept asking aides, "Why are we doing this?" one official said.

So France duplicitously set Powell up for an international humiliation; the meeting wasn't something he would be at anyway, he came at the urging of France's foreign minister. Do you think Powell's going to willingly go to lunch with the French again, much less go to a meeting, without a thorough briefing? And even then he may not go just at their behest.

The rest of the article just details the fallout, with the first longer treatment of what the Germans did and said. And then that the French foreign minister, after Powell let them know he wasn't their patsy-boy, went to a damage-control press conference with his own alternative suggestion - two months more of inspections. Notice above that Powell's people countered with - two weeks, no more. End of discussion.

This is a beautiful article, great fun to read even though its content is so serious. The bottom line? The Germans are toast; the French are burnt, ground-under-the-heel crumbs.

Posted by susanna at 08:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

US judge allows Ten Commandments

U.S. District Judge Karl Forester has ruled that the Ten Commandments can remain displayed in the Mercer County, Kentucky, county courthouse. Is this a reversal of a trend in the other direction?

I agree with my brother Alan at Theosebes that it shouldn't be in the federal courts. And I actually don't really think the Ten Commandments or the Lord's Prayer need to be in a courthouse, or a school, just as a general principle. It's a non-issue for me. I do, however, object to the efforts to remove religious expression (or at least Christian religious expression) from public life altogether. So in that spirit, bravo to the judge.

Posted by susanna at 03:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Al-Qaeda attack thwarted

Spain fights terrorism while France and Germany whine and weasel.

Today Spain says they thwarted a major terrorist attack by arresting 16 suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists operating in Catalonia, a northeastern section of Spain.

I personally think there's no reason to believe it's significant that the corner of Spain where the terrorists were arrested borders on France.

Link from CPO Sparkey, who is a little more colorful about the Axis of Weasel.

UPDATE: More from Ibidem

Posted by susanna at 02:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Super Pottery! er, Crock! er..., um.. Bowl! Bowl!

ESPN Columnist Dan Shanoff gives his Hot/Not list for Sunday's Super Bowl. Pretty funny; I agree that the Dixie Chicks would be awesome anthem singers, but I don't see how Gwen chick is better than Shania. Personally I'd dump both and bring in Toby Keith. Mmmmmm.... Toby Keith. Guess that wouldn't do it for the guys, though.

Dodd*, call your publicist - Shanoff appears to have a serious anti-Raiders bias that Must. Be. Countered.

For those who don't know, Dodd Harris is the biggest Raiders fan outside of California. In fact, speculation is that he's the only Raiders fan outside of California. If you don't believe me, go here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here...

[Dodd, love ya, man. Seriously. ;) I'll be cheering for the Raiders on Saturday. At least I think I will... who are they playing again?]

Actually, I love watching sports with someone who really really roots for a team. It gets me jazzed and it's quite exciting. Of course, it also has to be someone who won't strangle me the 10th time I say, "Wow! That was awesome... what'd they do?" In an effort to prevent some of that, I convinced a friend of mine in another state to watch a football game with me over the phone - he explained everything as it happened, so I could learn and ask questions without running the risk of death. It worked, and I do enjoy watching football sometimes now. I have a few gaps in my knowledge, though, because I kept being distracted by Bret Favre's rear view...

Posted by susanna at 12:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Let's go to the videotape!

Police are increasingly videotaping their police stops and interviews, as much to protect themselves as the public. Fritz Schranck discusses two cases where videotape or the lack thereof was an important factor.

I don't like a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking of police officers' decisions in the midst of crises, not because they shouldn't be accountable but because "heat of the moment" actions are always going to progress on a different trajectory than ones we have a lot of time to consider. In fact, the opportunity to consider changes the nature of the situation completely. That said, I think, overall, that videotaping of police interactions is a useful tool that, used properly and analyzed fairly, improves safety and accountability.

Posted by susanna at 11:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Scrappleface - the meme factory

Axis of Weasel.gif

And now let's take a moment to admire Scott Ott, the inimitable Scrappleface, who has inserted a very funny meme into the media stream that's taking off with extraordinary verve, possibly even to some small degree eating away at the American media malaise identified by Nick Denton (discussed below).

Now look for this meme to begin morphing, with the following as possible permutations:

Axis of Dweezils - Idiotarians Eric Alterman, Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd Axis of Sleezles - Bill Clinton, Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson Axis of Geezles - The on-air staff of 60 Minutes, who Nick Denton notes average over 70 years old Axis of Peezles - a rotating roster of idiotarian peacemongers, heavily populated by Hollywood types

Feel free to add your own in comments.

UPDATE: The CounterRevolutionary has an excellent graphic for Axis of Weasel - a crest, he says. Very funny - I want a t-shirt with that graphic and "Axis of Weasel" under it.

I was just reading the comments on Scrappleface, and it's funny how some people have to heckle. Several said, in essence, "You think you're funny? Why, you're not funny at all!" What, pray tell, did that accomplish other than assuring all other readers that the person who wrote it is a jerk? If you pay for something, there's a little validity to speaking up publicly about what you think. But if it's free, and no one forced you to go there, then it's just jealousy and/or pure bad manners when you complain publicly on that person's blog. I don't care what you tell your mom. Or even what you put on your blog. But to leave a general "you're not funny" in the comments... sigh I know. It just annoys me.

And if by some bizarre chance one of the folks who doesn't think Scrappleface is funny shows up on my site - keep it to yourself. The man is comedy deity, thankyouverymuch. Now, if you want to say I'm not funny, go right ahead. You're probably right.

UPDATE: Uh oh, somebody's maadddd! Charles Donefer has had "enough"! of that "bitter" Scott Ott, and his little dog Toto too!

Posted by susanna at 10:24 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Sounds right to me

Nick Denton has an excellent essay on American media and why it's not as good as it could be. Go read it.

I especially love this paragraph:

All these criticisms beg the question: given that the US media market is the most lucrative in the world, why is the journalism not more vigorous? It depends whom you ask. The shrivelled intelligentsia bemoans the poverty of public-service broadcasting; liberals cite ownership by media conglomerates; conservatives blame consistent liberal bias, and suffocating political correctness; and hard-scrabble reporters the pernicious effects of ethics courses at modern journalism schools.

Yep. While I give no brief to the intelligentsia, I'd say both liberals and conservatives have a good point (not something you'll hear me say often). While I don't think that the media conglomerates require news to spin right, I do think that good, rowdy journalism is smothered by corporate blandness and fear of ... well, all kinds of things, most of them resulting in loss of money. And I do think that the conservatives are correct in that much of the mainstream media spins left, but not, I think, for the most part consciously. It's a worldview issue, a matter of who's in the position and how they see "truth" (Andrew Cline's concept of contingent truth works well here). Pernicious ethics? Welllll.... ethics are a good thing; political correctness isn't. I think you can be rowdy and raucous and still ethical. But PC is as smothering as corporate blandness.

Denton identifies what he sees as the cause as well:

The underlying cause is prosaic. The United States sprawls across a continent, its population is more dispersed than that of the UK or France, and its media market is geographically fragmented...

The US has many more daily newspapers, but each serves a local market, in which it is typically dominant. Even in cities with two titles, competition is usually constrained by ‘joint operating agreements’, under which the papers share printing and distribution. And these newspapers share the qualities of all monopolies: arrogance, complacency, and disregard for the customers.

Yep, again. Fortunately, as Denton notes, the cable news outlets and weblogs are the leading edge of messy, interesting journalism. What's been interesting to watch is the big media outlets getting weblogs, because that form of journalism just grates on several levels - the best stuff is posted quickly without going through 32 editors and three lawyers; it's in-your-face, bold in both information and tone; and it's personalized! The horror!

And just as a quick side note - remember last night's post about the lament by two Americans - one a fired editor of a Paris-based newspaper, the other a UCLA professor writing in a Singapore newspaper - that American voices were taking over the world? Denton sees it a bit differently:

And even the homegrown success stories turn out, on closer inspection, to rely heavily on borrowed talent. The hot magazine editor of the moment, Bonnie Fuller, is Canadian by origin; Tina Brown, of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, was British. The New York Post is the greatest of American tabloids, except it is not all that American: the last two editors were British and Australian.

Peter Goldmark Jr., call your office!

[Denton link via Instapundit]

Posted by susanna at 10:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Equity and bias

A commission reviewing the effects of Title IX on athletics is recommending changes that would lessen the gender-quota consequences that have sharply reorganized school athletic programs on all levels nationwide since its passage in 1972. The advocates of the law as it stands say the changes will mean fewer opportunities for women; the advocates of the changes say that it won't lessen opportunity for women, but will rather just lessen the unnecessary damage that faulty interpretations of the law have caused to men's sports.

I lean on the side of the changes, in part because of reading the material on the Independent Women's Forum site. And that raises another issue - why wasn't someone from IWF quoted in this article? They've done quite a bit of work on the issue for several years, including this excellent in-depth review. Googling "Title IX" finds IWF on the third page, near the bottom - after a long long list of feminist organizations. But googling "Title IX wrong" finds an article by IWF scholar Christina Stolba second on the list, and the same article on the organization's site second from the bottom on the first search page. The blurb on the search page for the article says:

Spring 2002 We’ve Come the Wrong Way, Baby Christine Stolba on why Title IX harms college athletics...

That's pretty clear. So why didn't the WaPo writer track them down?

Oh, and look at who's responsible for the recommendations: by former Women’s National Basketball Association star Cynthia Cooper and Stanford University Athletic Director Ted Leland...

Not exactly woman-haters, or even people against women's sports.

Posted by susanna at 09:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stopping to take a breath

I've been on the "Saddam must go!" bandwagon for a while now, and I'm not climbing down. But I have to admit that lately I've not felt that the Bush administration has made a clear case for why he's an imminent danger to the US, why we should go in now instead of two years ago or two years from now. I think we should, don't get me wrong, because I think he's a dangerous man who is both harming his own people ceaselessly and seeking to have increasing influence in the world, with specific animus toward the United States. I would have been fine with going in at any time in the past 10 years, if we did it with full intent to win, no holding back. But what makes it different now?

The Bush administration doesn't have to make a stronger case for me - I want to know why they haven't gone in already. But I've been increasingly uneasy with how they're presenting the case because it seems they're increasingly saying in ominous tones, "We have the information we need..." without backing it up with something concrete. The chemical warheads were the first solid evidence I had seen, and the documents they've recovered do indicate a secret weapons program. So there are good reasons to think that what they're saying about Saddam's current activities and intents are correct. But what they're giving as proof seems too thin.

There is a part of me that thinks there are a range of reasons for the war that we aren't privy to, that they're emphasizing the part of the reason that they think is most palatable to the nation as a whole rather than giving the whole story. The reason the evidence seems thin is not that it's unimportant or invalid, but that it's trying to carry too much of the load of explanation for a more complex decision. And I need to know more.

I was discussing this with a friend last night, and she explained why she thinks it's about oil. Not just about oil, and not in the way the lamebrains in their "no blood for oil!" t-shirts mean. This isn't about Bush and Cheney padding their pockets or the pockets of their business buddies. I think part of the issue is that we as an industrialized nation do need stable energy supplies, and the increasingly destabilized Middle East with its rampant anti-Americanism could hold the Western nations hostage sometime soon. We would be forced to go in and clear out that nest of vipers as a result, with potentially many more deaths because the fighting would be more widespread. It is in the nation's security interests to have that stable supply, and I think that's part of the reason for going in. Not the whole reason, maybe not even the primary reason, but a part of it. And I think there are other parts. I just don't know what they are.

The bottom line is - I trust this president and his people. I have seen how they have handled this situation, and if anything I think they've twisted themselves into a pretzel too much to appease on the road to doing what needs to be done. Saddam is in clear and material breach of the UN resolution, and he is an egomaniacal, vicious dictator. He deserves to be ousted; he deserves to die. I just would like a little more explication on why now.

And I vote we send the environuts off to Iraq as Saddam shields so we can then move to open the oil fields possible in Alaska.

UPDATE: Okay, why isn't anyone telling me I'm wrong? You're worrying me.

Posted by susanna at 09:01 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gotcha! moment falls flat

I didn't cover this originally, although Tom Maguire sent me the link. At least he was on his toes! TIME magazine reported on Tuesday that President Bush had "quietly reinstated" sending a wreath in honor of the Confederate dead, a practice which they said his father had ended. All sorts of people, especially the liberal bloggers and the gibbering Maureen Dowd, denounced this as another instance of racism. Well, now TIME has issued a (to their credit) very straightforward and full retraction; for the full story, soup to nuts, check out Tom's post on Just One Minute.

The basics of the correct story are: Bush I switched the laying of a wreath at the Confederate Memorial in Arlington Cemetery from Jefferson Davis's birthday to Memorial Day. This practice continued throughout Clinton's administration. The Bush administration has continued it unchanged. And nobody can fault the administrations, any of them, for honoring the dead on Memorial Day.

I think this is a case of wanting to believe the worst, and I also think TIME is more likely to believe it of Bush than of a Democrat. However, I also think they scented a way to revive the whole Trent Lott brouhaha, which was just the kind of nasty mess a lot of journalists like to sink their teeth into. I remember when I was working at a daily newspaper in Kentucky, and the editor always wanted us to get dirt dirt dirt. Where's the dirt? Where's the story? Go find it! And I think this is in part bias, but in part just a joyful non-partisan taste for "gotcha!" Their correction, while not as good as getting it right the first time, was full and detailed.

Dowd and the liberal bloggers, OTOH, went after it with a little more partisan glee. Have any of them printed a retraction? Well, Josh Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo gives the correction a little toss-off acknowledgement at the end of this post, after getting some pretty decent mileage out of all its supposed implications before knowing the truth. Hardly seems equivalent, although he does take a paragraph to explain there were differing versions of the story. Atrios does it more handsomely. Adam Magazine, which appears on cursory reading to be quite consumed by "Bush as racist because he acknowledges the Confederacy memorials etc" meme, has not posted any sort of retraction or correction on the wreath story. And The Hauser Report says TIME "messed up" the story then quotes JMM's correction.

So the lefties that Tom identified as carrying the story did for the most part let their readers know the truth. That speaks very well of them. We'll see if Ms. Dowd does as well.

For more on what lefties had to say, check out RJ West at North Georgia Dogma, who has more on leftie gleefulness that has yet to turn to apology.

[And lest anyone think I was on top of this at any time, Henry of CROOOOW blog sent me the link for the TIME retraction, and I found the link to RJ West on his blog.]

Posted by susanna at 08:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 23, 2003

Out there in media land

I told you last week that I was going to start a regular roundup of media bias links, as suggested by Spoons, so I'm getting started tonight. I'll collect things throughout the day and post them at night - just short takes and links. I'll still take loving care in taking apart anything I think needs it.

So, to start off, I'll direct you to Media Minded, where you should be going daily anyway. Posts include MM first debunking a column by Eric Alterman trying to establish that there's this big right-wing media cabal, and then taking a wire fisk brush to similar nonsense from Paul Krugman (you'd think it was a liberal meme or something, wouldn't you? wait a minute... it is!).

I received a sarcastic little email from Thomas at The Daily Review quoting a post on The Daily Kos, saying after the pasted-in post, "Well, I'm sure you enjoyed that and cannot wait to write about it." Actually, Thomas, I thought it was pretty funny and am happy to post on it. There are actually two posts - the first mentioning how GW made a speech at JS Logistics in St. Louis standing in front of a stack of boxes with "Made in the USA" on them - while a stack of hastily removed boxes with "Made in China" were off to one side. Hmmm... Kos explains to his readers that Bush cannot avoid derision for this little bit of staging because the Reuters story put it in the fourth graph (noooooO!) - and in case you don't know why that's significant, he explains it. That's a necessary setup for a later post on how Forbes edited the story to take out the reference to the boxes. Clear media bias! Actually, I'm not sure whether it's conservative media bias on Forbes' part, or liberal media bias on Reuter's part to put that yuck-yuck point so high in the story to begin with, but either way, I was amused by the whole thing. Nearly as amusing is Kos's hopeful little rant about how this all means that Bush is so yesterday's news!

And finally, a little something with an international flavour - or maybe not. An article in The Strait-Times in Singapore details how the editor of the International Herald Tribune, based in Paris, was fired by his American bosses and now the American hegemony in media will continue to rule the world! The only problem is... the Strait-Times piece was written by an American professor at UCLA, and the fired editor is American Peter Goldmark Jr. Oops, sounds like hegemony was already well-established.

I'm sure it's a tragedy, though, because it sounds like Mr. Former Editor had quite bought into the French anti-American meme:

The [International Herald Times] is the US-owned daily newspaper that has the distinction of being edited and published outside of the United States. It draws on the best journalism appearing in the New York Times and Washington Post, and from its Paris perch offers a cosmopolitan perspective on issues political, economic and cultural…

Said [exiting editor Mr Peter Goldmark Jr.]: 'This means I am the last publisher of the IHT as an independent newspaper with its own voice and its own international outlook. At a time when the world is growing to mistrust America, it needs thoughtful voices and independent perspectives to see the world whole, not managed from America... It is the end of an era in international journalism that will leave a big hole.'

Oh, what American newspaper bought out the International Herald Tribune and will force onto IHT's pages its blaring unthoughtful American voices lacking independence? Why, the New York Times. Which means that maybe Goldmark said more than he realized.

Posted by susanna at 07:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It's a good thing

The company where the lab mistake was made that led to a woman having an unnecessary double mastectomy has changed its procedures to guard against similar mistakes in the future. The changes sound reasonable to me - reasonable to the point that I have to wonder why they weren't in place before. But the main thing is - it's less likely another such mistake will be made.

Posted by susanna at 03:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Condi lays it on the line

Condoleeza Rice lays out the case against Saddam in the New York Times editorial page today:

Eleven weeks after the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution demanding — yet again — that Iraq disclose and disarm all its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, it is appropriate to ask, "Has Saddam Hussein finally decided to voluntarily disarm?" Unfortunately, the answer is a clear and resounding no...

Instead of a commitment to disarm, Iraq has a high-level political commitment to maintain and conceal its weapons, led by Saddam Hussein and his son Qusay, who controls the Special Security Organization, which runs Iraq's concealment activities. Instead of implementing national initiatives to disarm, Iraq maintains institutions whose sole purpose is to thwart the work of the inspectors. And instead of full cooperation and transparency, Iraq has filed a false declaration to the United Nations that amounts to a 12,200-page lie...

Many questions remain about Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and arsenal — and it is Iraq's obligation to provide answers. It is failing in spectacular fashion. By both its actions and its inactions, Iraq is proving not that it is a nation bent on disarmament, but that it is a nation with something to hide. Iraq is still treating inspections as a game. It should know that time is running out.

There's lots more in support, but that's the money stuff. Basically - you've violated the UN resolution thoroughly, you're still lying and we can prove it, and we're coming for you soon. Go, Condi!

Also, according to the radio news, the White House is launching a major initiative to publicly pressure its allies to agree Saddam needs to be taken out, in anticipation of the UN inspectors' report to the United Nations on Monday. The Sunday shows should be interesting this week.

Strap on your helmet and goggles - we're in for a ride.

Posted by susanna at 07:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Shooter didn't act alone

The man who shot two American civilians yesterday in Kuwait, killing one and seriously injuring the other, was arrested yesterday in - wait for it - Saudi Arabia. According to an unnamed source, the shooter did not act alone. He had one, possibly two, collaborators. I wonder just what organization they'll finally be associated with?

Posted by susanna at 07:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Good news in the bad news

Well, it turns out that Al Sharpton's office burned as a result of an overloaded extension cord. Fortunately his personal things, including papers, were not damaged; a reception area was destroyed. No one was hurt.

So, it was the best of all possibilities given that the fire happened at all.

Posted by susanna at 06:52 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 22, 2003

BBC = Blatantly Biased Crap

Spoons sent me this last night, and I meant to post it this morning. Yesterday two American civilians, contractors for the military, were attacked in their car in Kuwait City. One was killed, the other seriously wounded. The US is saying it was a terrorist attack.

As part of their coverage, the BBC did the obligatory "what do other foreigners living there think about it", limiting their interviews (or attempts to interview) to Americans and British, in tacit agreement that they should be the only ones concerned. It was a fairly straightforward piece, until you get to the very last paragraph:

Whatever they decide, the expat communities of both countries will chew on the irony that they were probably safer before their nations decided to fill up their adopted homeland with tanks and soldiers.

That is so flagrantly biased, so clearly opinion, so disgustingly smug and ugly. And it doesn't even make any effort to portray itself as anything but that - it's not a quote, not even an extrapolation from what anyone else said. It's just editorializing in the guise of a hard news story. And this from the news agency that considers itself the only truly neutral news agency in the world. And realize too that the paragraph made it through at least three people - the writer, the copy editor and the page editor. At the very least, this is so clearly what they think that it didn't occur to them that it was opinion.

I hope the writer someday finds out what it's like when the US and Britain don't bring tanks and soldiers to a land where he's in danger. I don't wish him death or great pain, but I deeply wish him great fear.

Posted by susanna at 06:49 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Not news, but funny

Well, not really funny either, except in a dark sort of way. Everyone knows now that Scott Ritter was charged in June 2001 with luring an underage girl over the Internet to meet with him to watch him play the flute one-handed. Or maybe two-handed, it being Ritter. Anyway, apparently it wasn't the first time. The Brothers Judd have a pertinent question:

One of the great mysteries of our time is how Scott Ritter went from the most hawkish of the Iraqi arms inspectors to essentially being Saddam's boy toy... Considering the startling transformation in Mr. Ritter's views on Iraq, mightn't we fairly assume that Saddam has a videotape of him with some poor Iraqi teenager?


[Thanks to Tom Maguire for the link]

Posted by susanna at 06:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ten weeks

How can this not have been a person?

(Warning - graphic photo)


Posted by susanna at 02:58 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Oh, oh, oh! Look here!

The newest Carnival of the Vanities is up at Meryl's place.

Take a look-see!

Posted by susanna at 12:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sharpton's office on fire

A news bulletin on WABC 770 in NYC just said that Al Sharpton's NYC office building is on fire - it's a two-alarm fire, so that means it's not just a trashcan someone tossed a cigarette into. According to the report, the fire began on the second floor of the three-floor building; Sharpton's office is on the second floor.

Sharpton filed yesterday to make his candidacy for President official.

So... accidental fire? Set fire? If set, who did it?

Best case scenario, of course, is accidental. I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: The fire went to three alarms, but is apparently now under control. Rumblings of "arson" are getting louder. Sharpton is in Washington, but his spokesperson said he was "concerned." Well, yeah.

UPDATE: Okay, it was two alarm after all. The fire started at 8:30 a.m., and was out by 9:30 a.m. According to the fire department, the entire second floor was destroyed. That had both Sharpton's non-profit civil-rights group headquarters, and his Harlem presidential campaign headquarters.

UPDATE: Here's the local television reports on it: CBS, NBC, ABC. The ABC station also has a set of photographs of the scene, which shows smoke coming through the roof in a few places. One of the TV stations said the fire was confined to a "reception area", but if so it must have been pretty fierce at some point to get smoke up through the third floor and out the roof.

And why do I care that Sharpton's building has burned? Well, other than a reflexive sympathy for anyone who's burned out, I'm mainly intrigued by the possibility of arson. So we shall see.

Posted by susanna at 09:21 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Race-based coverage of race-based writing

Media Minded has an excellent post about an article in the Columbia Journalism Review where the writer lays part of the blame for the wrongful conviction of the accused Central Park jogger attackers at the feet of the journalists who covered it. The writer, LynNell Hancock, uses selective reporting to make it seem that only blacks are covered using hyperbolic stereotypes. MM points out that it's just not true.

You like to see deliberately biased reporting in the CJR.

Posted by susanna at 08:43 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

30 years later New York [it] is a far greater moral offense to smoke than to abort a child...

--Bryan Preston
Junk Yard Blog
(in comments)

Posted by susanna at 06:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Just what you needed

Ran out of ideas for blogging?

Blogideas to the rescue.

Just refresh if you need another list.

I think I'll post about... the perfect pizza. No, no, Lileks did that. My shower curtain! No, no, I don't have one. Cats say the darndest things! Hmmm... no cats. Sheesh. How long could I go without a haircut? Well, I made it three years once, but I'm sure you don't care. Foods that have an aftertaste... Anything made with artificial sweeteners. How do you feel about being naked? Well, depends on who else is there. Okay, all these ideas are turning out to be no-goers or one-liners.

I guess I'll stick to my own ideas. Darn it.

Posted by susanna at 06:09 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 21, 2003

Pooorrrrr CNN sniffle sob

CNN is having such trials and tribulations, it just breaks my heart! I mean, seriously! Why, it hurts me worse than the time I was getting ready for a date and had just had a manicure and my fingernail tip broke off and took half the color on the rest of the nail with it! And the worst part was - I didn't have any more nail polish of that color! I don't even remember what happened next, I think I've blacked it out...

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, CNN. It appears they have been torn by the competing demands of a Top Cable News Network - journalism or viewers? Viewers or journalism? All this has been complicated by the fact that that lil ole upstart FoxNews is beating them for viewers! Fortunately, they have found a moral high road to rest on:

"Ratings are the greatest enemy of good journalism in television," said Tom Johnson, Isaacson's predecessor as chairman and CEO of CNN.

That's because, you see, FoxNews is consistently getting higher ratings. Now that CNN has tanked there, other measures of "winning" have luckily emerged:

Frustrated by the attention paid to Fox's ratings victory, they frequently point to a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey released in August that found that Americans ranked CNN No. 1 -- and Fox No. 12 -- among broadcast news organizations in terms of believability. And CNN brass often notes, with exasperation, that CNN makes much more money than Fox by attracting viewers more prized by advertisers.

Now, now, don't get all worried! They're still not all about money, why, that would be so... gauche:

"It goes to the question of how you define winning," Walton said, "and one way we define winning is making money."

(And not that I would bring it up, but look at this: "CNN does not release its revenue publicly, but it made $300 million profit in 2000, and a knowledgeable source says it made "closer to $200 million" in 2002." Maybe ratings isn't all that's slipping?)

And some are afraid they may be losing the edge of their moral high ground in their coverage - especially that Deanette of Objective Journalism, that Testimony to Impartiality - Christiane Amanpour:

"If CNN intends to regain its foothold as the pre-eminent cable news network," she said, "it has to be 100 percent committed to journalism in deed as well as in word. We do face competition, but it does not behoove us to follow Fox."

Asked if she believes CNN is in fact following Fox, she declined to comment.

Oopsy! Christy's maddddd! Of course, I wouldn't dare suggest that a widespread belief in this might be the problem:

Even Christiane Amanpour, one of the network's star correspondents and the personification of CNN's commitment to foreign coverage, expresses reservations about the direction the network is heading.

Yes'm, if Ms. Amanpour is the personification of CNN's commitment to anything but a museum on bias in the media, they may as well close those doors now!

And even the reporter tosses a little barb at FoxNews, that uppity channel!

Fox has clearly compelled more viewers to watch its bombastic, often entertaining mix of news and opinion than CNN.

Bombastic n - Grandiloquent, pompous speech or writing

Hmmm... apparently the reporter had just sat through a few hours of Bill O'Reilly on a continuous loop. Reporter guy, there are other shows!

It seems that CNN has pulled out all its big guns (oh no! Christiane wouldn't like that reference!) all the stops to get the unimportant ratings up - leading with Her Objectiveness Christiane, and ladling Paula Zahn and Connie Chung over our heads (eewwww) - but it hasn't worked! Their earnings are down! That uppity FoxNews is winning the ratings! It must be... vacuous viewers! So we have to give them more flash, more graphics, more pretty faces! Even though it makes Christiane frown!

I just don't get it! They're all good liberals - why don't they sit down and ask the viewers, "why do you hate us?" Oh, I forgot - the answer would be:

You report. We'll decide.

Been nice knowin' ya, CNN. Don't let the door slam you in the butt as you leave.

Posted by susanna at 07:50 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Revolving door evolution

Scientists have discovered that the entire species of walking sticks (that's an insect, to you) must be female.

They can't make up their minds whether to be wingless or not.

I think they don't have shoes to match?

Oh, and it has implications for evolution too. A little above my head, but Theosebes riffs a little on it.

(And actually I do think it's cool, I'm just not quite sure where and how it all fits. I like my theory the best so far.)

Posted by susanna at 06:35 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

When "sorry" just isn't enough

Somebody's going to own a hospital:

A hospital apologized for a laboratory mistake that resulted in the amputation of a healthy woman's breasts after she was mistakenly told she had an aggressive form of cancer.

This is one instance where I say, own that lab! Own that doctor! It seems to me that you need a confirmation before that kind of serious surgery. It should be a standard part of the process. That kind of mistake is a) avoidable and b) life-changing.

Oh, and the pathologist who made the mistake? Still employed by the same lab.

UPDATE: Okay, okay, I've cooled down some, so I can clarify what I said in light of the comments I've received. I do think there were breakdowns in a variety of places here, a correction of any of which would probably have prevented it: better quality controls at the lab, a second opinion from a doctor, etc. I also think the pathologist who made the mistake should be sidelined until the case is investigated, just like a cop who shoots his weapon; I also think (s)he shouldn't be fired out of hand. Just kept away from the vials until more is known.

As for suing, I don't really want her to own the hospital. I agree that a cap of punitive damages set at twice the actual is sufficient. I think that very few lawsuits should be allowed - we've gotten to be a society of victims. But this woman has a clear and valid case, and I think she should get a substantial settlement.

Posted by susanna at 09:14 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Scott Ritter, sexual predator?

A newspaper in Albany, NY, is reporting that Scott Ritter of Iraq inspector fame was arrested in 2001 for... well... I'll let them tell it:

Former United Nations arms inspector Scott Ritter was arrested in 2001 on charges he tried to arrange a sexual encounter with an underage girl, according to a broadcast report at the time.

Colonie police accused Ritter of using the Internet to set up a meeting with a 16-year-old girl at a Burger King in Menands and intending to perform sexual acts on himself in the presence of the girl, NewsChannel 13 reported. Ritter was taken into custody in June 2001 before any contact took place, police said at the time.

When a reporter for The Daily Gazette asked Ritter about the arrest on Friday, he denied any knowledge of the incident.

"Sorry, you must have the wrong person," said Ritter, whose full name is William Scott Ritter Jr.

Officials aren't talking:

Police and prosecutors have declined to discuss the case, which involved at least one class B misdemeanor, because it was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal and ordered sealed by a Colonie Town Court justice. The Daily Gazette's request for access to the arrest report was denied by the Colonie town attorney's office, which ruled disclosure was barred under the state Freedom of Information Law.

However, the local DA was not happy that he didn't know about it:

When told of the case last week, Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne initially said he was unaware of it. He subsequently learned that one of his assistants had agreed to a resolution of the Ritter case without his knowledge and Clyne fired Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Preiser on Friday.

"Any arguably sensitive case should have been brought to my attention," he said.

It's going to be a delicate thing to deal with, because the disposition of the case was an ACOD - adjourned in contemplation of dismissal:

When a case is adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, the adjournment indicates no admission of guilt or innocence. The case is essentially put on hold for six months and the charges dismissed if the defendant doesn't commit an offense.

I have some sympathy for Ritter, because if this isn't true then he's about to be sliced and diced horribly. OTOH, if it is true, it certainly speaks to his credibility, which is important when he's been given so much credence by some circles in opining about the Iraq situation. I know it was on Rush Limbaugh yesterday, but it's not in the NY Times this morning. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this.

UPDATE: Here's the story on MSNBC, and here's the story in The Daily News.

Posted by susanna at 08:17 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 20, 2003

A picture's worth...

It speaks for itself:

Genuises against war2.jpg

And here's a partial list of the signs in the little slide show; enjoy!
Go Solar, Not Ballistic

America did not elect you, you don’t speak for America

CIA out of Venezuela!


No blood for oil!

Drop Dubya, not bombs! No blood for oil!

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind

Not in our name!

Bush’s brain on Venez. oil (frying pan with oil pouring in)

Bush’s brain on Iraq oil (same)

Bush is on crack Don’t attack Iraq

Nation shall not lift sword against nation.

Trim Bush

No dead children (on a pregnant woman’s bare belly; peace sign center is an airplane)

Raging grannies of Sonoma County


Jesus didn’t say blessed be the warmongers

Terrorist Caves (on a t-shirt under a drawing of the White House)

Peace for all children

Globalize Justice not war

Bush Dick Colin no wonder we’re screwed

No War in Iraq! Or against workers at home

Dethrone King George

Granpa for Peace

Bush is NOT my president

I want you to kill for the POX, Amera-Israela

Bush Supreme Ruler for Life

Support our troops – car pool

An injury to one is an injury to all

War is SO boring

Build schools not bombs

Stop the Fourth Reich – Visualize Nuremberg

And you thought he was pro-life (with photo of Bush)

And my very favorite:

If war is inevitable, start drafting SUV drivers now!

(And this one makes me think Dodd may have been there: NO WAR GO RAIDERS)

[Link from Dodd, and he got it from Tanya. Also, the photo has not been Photoshopped beyond a tight crop; clicking on it will take you to the original.]

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

I'd like to live... a place where I don't find out what everyone's having for dinner every night as I walk up the stairs to my apartment.

Tonight somebody's having salmon. I don't know what anybody else is having, since the salmon is pretty much owning the whole building right now.

I'm not a huge fan of salmon.

Posted by susanna at 05:04 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Framed! FRAMED! Oh, the humanity!

I've mentioned (ad nauseam) in this space about the ways that the media frame issues by presenting them from a certain perspective - the facts are all there, but the impression created isn't always the most... objective.

Well, thanks to the peace anti-American rallies yesterday, we have the opportunity to look at photographic framing too! Yeehaw!

First, go to the Pet Bunny blog for an excellent series of photos on the Washington protest. Note especially the photo with red flags in it, and the one with people walking up the mall toward the Capitol building. Any of you who've been there can assure those who haven't that there are not 100,000 people there, much less 500,000. These photos look like they're taken with a standard lens, which is to say a 50 mm that "sees" things pretty much as your eye does; it's what all one-lens cameras have.

Now, go look at this photo on rally-organizer A.N.S.W.E.R.'s site. I found the link to it on Glenn Reynold's site, and he says:

The photo on A.N.S.W.E.R.'s website is suspiciously tight in its framing. (In fact, all their crowd shot are). Note the absence of a panoramic view, and note that reports from the scene yesterday noted that a block from the mall you couldn't tell anything was going on.

Not only is there no panoramic view, there's not even a 50mm "as the eye sees it" view. Of course most professional photographers won't use a 50mm very often in a crowd, as group shots aren't very dynamic "as the eye sees it". But what they've done here is two-fold - they've used a zoom lens, which compresses the perspective with the effect of making things further away seem closer. That compacts a crowd and makes it look denser, and thus more impressive. And, as Glenn notes, they crop it tight so you don't see the fringes of the crowd. Additional photos do give a broader perspective, but never at an angle that gives a real sense of how many are there - just ones that make it seem the crowd goes on and on and on.... Where are the helicopter shots?

It's easier to lie with photographs than you might think. Bring the same care to interpreting what they're saying as you do to the articles that accompany them.

UPDATE: I thought this line from Pet Bunny was perfect:

Their consciences are pure so they have permission to be rude.

And that covers a lot of ground. Their consciences are soooo pure they have permission to be foul-smelling, rude, insulting, hypocritical... well, shoot, just anything they want to be! Because, you know, they're the good guys!

Posted by susanna at 03:33 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Smokin' hot

Mike at Cold Fury is not happy about the story that Bloomberg was a) fumed at the Stones for smoking onstage and b) apparently didn't succeed in getting his cops to stop them.

He's also not happy about several other things to do with the long arm of the law, all of which makes good reading. I even mostly agree with him.

Posted by susanna at 01:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Schwarzenegger liberal?

Eric at Viking Pundit finds John Kerry running on his Vietnam military service to preserve his "tough guy" image.

I thought the liberals were against that "conflict"?

Posted by susanna at 09:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Devilish dilemma

You're a Bible college administrator.

And the telephone company gives the school a new telephone prefix.

It's 666.

What are you going to do??

Posted by susanna at 09:14 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Are we surprised?

Remember how there was such a push by the left to get the UN involved in whether to go to war with Iraq?

Remember how unilateralism was the big ugly evil, and a multi-cultural, world-wide support via the UN was the way to go? The way to ensure that the ravening United States didn't chew up and spit out a hapless, probably mostly innocent Iraq?

And then, remember when the first resolution set the inspectors as a condition, putting off any invasion for months? Everyone said that even if the inspectors found something, the UN would need to approve a second resolution before any military action against Iraq could be taken.

Well, now that the first resolution was approved, the inspectors did find something, and a second resolution seems very likely to be passed, the lefties (here in The Guardian) are firing up to discredit the whole process - including the UN:

A second resolution will not somehow make war more just. It will not make it more moral. It will not make it less dangerous or any less of a "defeat for humanity", as the Pope puts it. It does not make it right. The push for a second resolution, whether or not it actually comes to pass, provides a get-out clause for all those who, for manifold different reasons, cannot or will not stand up to Washington's warmongers - including our own half-deaf, tag-along leadership - or are just plain confused, frightened or apathetic. It is no substitute for taking individual and collective responsibility.

The whole article is leftist-loony gloom-mongering, but my favorite part is how the writer thoroughly discredits the UN. Now that the left's favorite multi-cultural, multi-lateral, honest and concerned "governing" body has been discredited, where oh where will they go now?

(Heh heh)

Posted by susanna at 09:03 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 19, 2003

Bloomin' stoopid

According to Drudge, NYC Mayor Bloomberg sent the cops after The Rolling Stones for smoking onstage during a concert in Madison Square Garden this weekend.

I guess it's good that he goes after the big guys as well as the little guys. But that doesn't mean it's a good use of cops, or isn't in aid of a stupid law to begin with.

Posted by susanna at 05:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Immoral equivalence

We've repeatedly heard, read about and discussed the moral equivalence of the peaceniks, from Noam Chomsky to Sheryl Crow. This cartoon on Eject!Eject!Eject! shows how many of us view them. But this morning on Steve Malzberg's talk show on WABC 770, I heard an interview with Jeremy Corbin, a Labour member of the British Parliament who was in the anti-war crowd in Washington yesterday. I came into the discussion late, and they were discussing Israel and Palestine. Of course Corbin believes the problem rests with Israel, and even talked about how while many Palestinians do not think the suicide bombers are right, they do "see how people can be driven by despair to do it".

In the process of this discussion, Corbin said, If you want peace, you shouldn't fight, you should sit down and discuss what it is that is causing the anger and keeping the sides apart. Now this isn't new to me, they say it all the time. But this time it clicked with me that we have a situation here that they should apply this tactic to - the differences between the "peace" movement and the ones supporting removing Saddam from power.

We are definitely not agreeing, and there doesn't seem a lot of common ground. The "peace" movement has its own agenda, and certainly the pro-military-solution folks have theirs too. So why aren't the peaceniks trying to find a negotiated peace with the pro-military-solution types? Why don't they try to understand the root causes of why we think Saddam should be removed, and find some solution that would help us not feel so angry about the situation? Why do they instead hold demonstrations and fling ugly accusations at us, ensuring that our anger flames hotter and appeasement with us is pushed further away?

Of course the reason is because they have a certain position that they think is the right one, we have a certain position we think is the right one, and the two are not compatible. There probably is a middle ground that we could meet on, but not one that would meet their need for absolute eradication of arms (for everyone but the Palestinians) and our need for protecting the United States and, in the process, protecting much of the rest of the world from at least one kind of virulent danger. And they do equate themselves with the Palestinian cause - they see themselves as morally superior even though less in numbers and power, just the same way they see the Palestinians.

It's not a particularly momentous realization on my part, but it did underscore for me just how hypocritical their position of negotiated peace is - their view of negotiation is, how can we make those who hold the opposing view come to understand that we're completely right? That's their position. Too bad they aren't honest enough to admit it - or perhaps even to see it themselves.

(Note: I know there are people against a military action in Iraq who are both morally and practically honest about the situation. This isn't about people who can discuss the issue on honest terms. It's about those who talk a good show but don't even try to live their own rhetoric.)

Posted by susanna at 09:33 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 18, 2003

Would that be judicious?

/archives/Saddam_t_shirt.jpgI just bought one of these over at Cafe Press, courtesy of Patrick Ruffini's design skills. I'm pretty happy about it, but now I'm pondering just where to wear it. Would it be judicious for me to wear it to the mall in Jersey City, a city where the 1994 WTC bombers lived, a city where the 9/11 bombers found succor? Where nests of the vipers still coil?

Hmmm... I wonder if I can get the shirt by next weekend. I've been needing to go buy some shoes...

[Heads up on the Ruffini merchandise from Instapundit. There's lots more stuff, including bumperstickers for your SUV.]

Posted by susanna at 01:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sheriff-killer takes a plea deal

Last April, Sheriff Sam Catron was shot and killed in Pulaski County, Kentucky, as he was leaving a campaign rally in his run for a fifth term as sheriff.

Now Danny Shelley, the man who actually pulled the trigger, has taken a plea deal to avoid the death penalty. He'll get 25 to life in exchange for testifying against the two men who are charged with master-minding Catron's murder - one of them, Jeff Morris, is a former deputy under Catron who was running against him for sheriff, and the other, Kenneth White - a man with a long history of trouble with the law, and an alleged drug dealer - was his campaign manager. They both face the death penalty.

I knew Sam Catron when I was a reporter for the daily newspaper in Somerset, the county seat of Pulaski County. He was a good guy. I hope both Morris and White soon feel the state's electric embrace, and sooner rather than later.

The spin's already begun on the part of the lawyers:

David Hoskins of Corbin, White's attorney, said he had anticipated that Shelley would plead guilty.

"My defense has been prepared with this in mind from the beginning," Hoskins said. "Mr. Shelley didn't have much to work with in his case because he was caught pretty much red-handed, and he made a statement the night he was arrested in which he implicated Mr. Morris in some detail. He had next to nothing to say about my client that night, but I'm sure he's made a deal where he's going to have to be creative in how he remembers things.

"I fully expect him to do whatever he can to save his own life," Hoskins said. "He was obviously capable of committing a pretty cold-blooded crime and I don't think it will cause him a minute's discomfort to say whatever he has to say, true or untrue, about my client."

Just thought you'd enjoy that little noxious spin there. I don't think either man has much hope of freedom this side of death. And I say, good.

Posted by susanna at 01:25 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Making Marines

MSNBC has a great series of photos of Marines training at Parris Island this week, with audio narrative from the photographer and a Marine public relations officer. It's enough to make you proud.

Posted by susanna at 09:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2003

Tying our own hands

The cretins are having sway and we are letting it happen.

One of the most pernicious effects of terrorism is the little indignities and fears it introduces into our daily lives. They do what they want to do, and if we do even a pale shadow of their behavior, they retaliate with the viciousness of arrogant children secure in their own sense of superiority. And when the message goes out that we're sorry we upset you, your evil is our fault, it just feeds the arrogance and emboldens the next wicked act.

We in the United States have been mostly free of that fear, but it's spreading and with good reason - the potential that we as individuals will be harmed is not a theoretical matter anymore, and our country collectively is reluctant to really do something about it. And here is an example.

An art show in Seattle, not one I would have liked but a legitimate presentation in a private gallery, included this piece:

The piece [is]...a Koran with a Buddha shape carved into it (a reference to the Bamiyan Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban) ...bearing the inscription vita brevis, ars lunga, God is Sorry...

The piece was in the gallery for only a short time before art critic Regina Hackett visited the show - billed as Gods and Monsters, an irreverent look at religion (including, for instance, a representation of Frankenstein as Christ) - came to do an article on it.

[Hackett] decided not to include [the Buddha] in her article, largely because she thought it irresponsible to feature such a work--and she told Roq la Rue owner Kirsten Anderson so. "I was afraid to publicize it, because Kirsten sits there alone in the gallery," Hackett said. "It's a particular kind of flag to a tiny group of people." Anderson, after talking to a lot of people and thinking it over, asked [artist Kurt] Geissel to remove the work--which he did, albeit unhappily.

Now, what tiny group of people might she be referring to? Perhaps someone like these:

All of that changed with the publication of "The Satanic Verses" (1988), the book that ignited a global political and religious furor and put the death contract on Rushdie’s head. The novel's representation of the prophet Mohammed, lightly disguised as the character "Mahound" (a name traditionally assigned to satanic figures), was experienced by many Muslim communities as a shot through the heart, and more importantly, as a vicious act of blasphemy. Iran's leaders were especially offended and soon issued a "fatwa," or death sentence, that sent Rushdie into protective hiding for the next eight years (although pressure from the international community has prompted the Iranian government to lift the fatwa, hard-liners in Iran continue to consider it active).

While Rushdie is the most famous artist who has had a fatwa placed on him, similar death sentences have been declared for any number of people, including a fashion writer in Nigeria:

Fashion writer Isioma Daniel is reported to have left Nigeria after calls for her to be killed for insulting the Prophet Mohammed...

On Tuesday, authorities in the northern state of Zamfara issued what they said was a "fatwa", urging Muslims to kill her for writing the article, which sparked religious riots in the northern city of Kaduna.

At least 220 people were killed in several days of clashes between the city's Muslims and Christians. Kaduna is now reported to be calm.

Although the BBC, where this article came from, is too "multi-cultural" and "objective" to say it, actually the Muslims attacked the Christians.

I would say that it is a tiny number of fanatical Muslims, at least in the United States, who would be a threat to art gallery owner Anderson. But we've been so afraid as a country to not only denounce the behavior, but to call it the moral rot that it is and promise dire consequences for it, that we leave people like Anderson in fear for her life.

Of course even moderate religious Muslims would say that the artwork in question profaned their religion and shouldn't be shown for that reason. But many Muslims have no similar care for the religious sensibilities of other religions:

Afghanistan's Taleban has destroyed two giant Buddhas carved into a cliff centuries ago, pictures obtained by CNN show.

United Nations officials confirmed the claims made by the Taleban, which announced last month it would destroy images deemed "offensive to Islam." But no photographs of the demolition were available until Monday.

Museums and governments around the world had hoped to save the two Buddhas, the earliest of which is thought to have been carved into the sandstone cliffs of Bamiyan in the third century A.D. At 53 meters (175 feet) and 36 meters (120 feet), the statues were the tallest standing Buddhas in the world.

And more recently:

On the Temple Mount the earth moving has already destabilized the "South Wall", a section of the ancient Herodian Wall around the Temple's perimeter, that is now in danger of collapsing. Historically and religiously, the South Wall is comparable to the Western Wall and every bit as sacred. Other artifacts, predating the birth of the Buddha by centuries, have no doubt been completely obliterated. The clay tablet is almost a thousand years OLDER than the Dead Sea Scrolls!

But the finding of the ancient tablet from the Judean King proves something else. Evidently the tablet was uncovered when one of the bulldozers was ripping through the earth on the Temple Mount and the tablet was unearthed and simply discarded. Someone must have come across it and sold it to an antiquities dealer, probably not knowing what it was. (That is also how the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.) My guess is that because the writing is the ancient Phoenician script, it was not recognized by the PLO as having Jewish significance and so was not deliberately destroyed by the savages as part of their campaign to obliterate evidence of the Jewishness of the Temple Mount.

Although the prose in the second excerpt is rather purple, they both show that a certain faction of Muslims are disdainful of any other religion; these are the same type of Muslims who issue fatwas on writers. And they are the same type of Muslims that the art community which repeatedly mocks, profanes and sneers at Christianity are afraid of.

the art world...went to the wall to defend Andres Serrano's photograph of a cross floating in his own urine, which offended devout Catholics. So why is it somehow all right to offend Catholics and not Muslims? It's a question of relative fear, of the (perceived or real) difference between facing an angry Catholic activist and an angry Muslim one. "Christians can take it," Anderson said.

Anderson was clearly not happy with having to make such a choice. "This was not a rash decision," she said. "Roq la Rue can support a certain amount of this kind of thing, but sometimes ideology goes out the window."

While my own views* on objects of worship are different from both Catholics and Muslims, I think it's appropriate that the traditionally liberal art community that has for decades mocked and profaned Christianity is now removing objects from exhibits not out of respect for sensibilities, but out of fear. Appropriate in the sense that the liberals are the ones that give the "tiny group of people" cover by their vociferous attack on any efforts to crack down on people because of their religion and countries of origin. Is it a Christian who would try to kill them for profaning Christ? Highly unlikely. Is it a Muslim born and raised in the United States who would try to carry out a fatwa against Anderson? Probably no more likely than that a Christian would.

So who is putting the fear into the hearts of these people?

Muslim fanatics funded, trained and animated by vicious hardline Islam which has its epicenter in the Middle East, most especially Saudi Arabia.

While they are angry at it, look again at what Anderson says:

...sometimes ideology goes out the window...

She - and apparently the art critic as well - are willing to allow themselves to be cowed by fanatics rather than to demand that this country be safe. Would they remove art because of a threat from Christians? Obviously no. How quickly would they be at the police department if they received a threat? Immediately, no doubt. But that's because:

"Christians can take it," Anderson said.

That's actually a compliment.

I don't know whether Anderson is a liberal; I hesitate to identify her as such without knowledge. However, the arts, like academics, are heavily populated with liberals, so I think it fair to say the following: This kind of situation illustrates why the liberals cannot be trusted to know how to keep this country safe. They will defend even the violent radical Muslims and when threatened will roll over and show their belly. It is an instance where they must be protected from their own shortsightedness.

No one in this country, not even artists who profane objects sacred to religionists, should fear a knife between his ribs or a bomb in her car from evil people who know no law but their own bastardized version of Islam. It is not a good sign that the fear has taken hold. And we have to make sure we do what needs to be done despite ignorant, feel-good dissension**.

[Thanks to Capt. J.M. Heinrichs for the link to the art gallery article, and to Steve Quick for the link to the Temple Mount article.]

* I personally have no physical things that I consider to be holy, except in the sense that they are used as representations for the purpose of blasphemy - and then it is the contempt expressed for what it represents that is the problem, not the treatment of the paper or wood or plastic or stone image. Quite frankly, I don't much care for any religious objects that are intermediate objects of reverence between God and man. In that sense, I really am not in this fight.

** Thoughtful debate between opposing views is always appropriate and welcome. The danger is the stupidity of "no blood for oil" and protecting Saddam while art gallery owners fear death at the hands of fanatical Muslims at home.

Posted by susanna at 09:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Are males disadvantaged by the feminist movement?

Reason Contributing Editor Cathy Young recently taught what sounds like a fascinating class on gender at a Colorado Springs college. She mentions several points you won't find in traditional feminist texts, in her article about the class:

Can male/female biological differences be a legitimate factor in some workplace gender inequities?

Does a hyperfocus on rape actually contribute to a infantilizing women?

Is it wrong that women have a choice to get out of an unwanted pregnancy, but men don't?

Have men been disadvantaged by the women's movement?

All excellent questions. I wish I had taken the class.

[Thanks to Mark Haines for the link]

Posted by susanna at 07:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

This is only a test

Is this man (choose all that apply):

a) At a barbeque with friends
b) Chatting with his minister at a church social
c) Waiting for his son to finish soccer practice
d) At a candlelight vigil for his beautiful 27-year-old wife who disappeared without a trace a week before this photograph was taken
e) Currently under suspicion for causing his wife's disappearance
f) A married man having an affair
g) A married man who took out a $250,000 life insurance policy on his wife last summer


d, e, f and g

Posted by susanna at 06:13 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Just in case you care

Andrew Cline of Rhetorica and I have gotten into quite the little discussion over in Media Minded's comments. It started when Andrew said, in response to MM's post about an anti-war art show, that "Art has always been political, IMO." Of course I asked why he said that, citing Monet and Mozart as examples that it wasn't true, and the conversation has now evolved into a discussion of theory and truth, rhetoric and deconstructionism. It's much less impressive than that implies, but fun nonetheless.

MM, of course, is standing to one side watching and laughing, no doubt ready to toss in raw meat if things start settling down.

Posted by susanna at 05:55 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Dead Man Talking

IRAQ Saddam.jpg

Saddam Hussein hallucinating again.
Posted by susanna at 08:16 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Very scary

Remember Billy Ray Cyrus?

You know, Acky Breaky Heart?

Well, he's back, and you're not gonna believe just how:

"Doc" captures the drama and comedy of big city medicine as seen through the eyes of Clint Cassidy (Billy Ray Cyrus), a handsome country doctor from Montana whose love for a woman took him to the Big Apple. Clint's down-to-earth style and bedside manner endears him to the patients at his Manhattan HMO, but he encounters resistance from his colleagues and the system. Never losing his values, common sense and "fish out of water" demeanor, Clint adjusts to an urban lifestyle, forming new relationships and stumbling upon new adventures along the way.

That's right. He's the Marcus Welby of the new millenium, starring in the new PAX TV drama Doc. And even in the commercials his "acting" talent is glaringly obvious.

Kinda like Reba in Tremors.


(Although I must say he is quite gorgeous. And if you loved Tremors, you might find this online Tremors game a cool time-waster.)

Posted by susanna at 08:11 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

The naked truth

Brent at The Ville can take down idiotarians like just about nobody else. His mix of information, mocking and ribald language is always hysterical to read yet right on point. I take off my hat to him.

Fortunately, I only take off my hat - unlike The Organization of Naked Women Committed to Proving California is a Nest of Idiots. Don't miss his hilarious takedown.

Posted by susanna at 07:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 16, 2003

Quite good

The Media Matters segment on blogs was quite good, I thought, and showed all the bloggers in a positive, realistic way. The light and angle in the interviews was a bit stark, especially on Glenn Reynolds, but I thought the feel and idea of blogs came through quite well. All four bloggers were excellent ambassadors for the genre.

I did keep waiting for someone to mention that Bill Quick coined the term "blogosphere", but it didn't happen.

Posted by susanna at 11:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What's in a name?

Jane Galt notes that the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) has a new name - NARAL Pro-Choice America. She's got a good post about how that name change may have an impact on their advocacy efforts. Don't miss the comments either.

I was really glad to see this, because Kate Michelman, who I heard on NPR last night and discussed here, was introduced as president of Pro-Choice America. I'm sure Dick Gordon also said "NARAL", but it didn't mean anything to me so it didn't stick. I googled for Pro-Choice America and had no luck finding it, so I just identified her as a pro-choice activist. (And yes, I could have googled for Kate Michelman but I didn't.) So now you can find out more about Ms. Michelman and her agenda.

There's also been quite a few comments on my original post below, including from My Favorite Liberal, Martin, so check those out too.

Posted by susanna at 05:52 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Is this true?

I came across this on David Weinberger's blog, Joho the Blog!:

...the Web's architecture reflects our own moral natures. We can go as wrong on it as we can in the real world. But unlike the indifferent real world, the Web is based on an admission of shared caring, and thus has a tendency towards moral goodness just as our own moral natures do.

So what do you think?

I'll have more to say when I've had time to digest the whole post more thoroughly.

Posted by susanna at 03:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Is it biased or righteous reporting?

On Kausfiles I came across a mention on a change in ethics rules that I didn't much like to hear about - especially given that the Republicans were the ones responsible for the change. Here's what Mickey had to say:

My prediction that media ridicule would quickly force House Republicans to withdraw their corrupt and misleadingly named "pizza rule" -- which allows lobbyists to grease up Congressional staffers with $50-a-head catered meals -- was wrong, very wrong. I'm actually baffled that this a) anger-producing, b) easily-understood, and c) anti-GOP story didn't get picked up everywhere, especially on the network news. It can't be that reporters and editors really are sucking up to the dominant Republicans, can it? That the press has gotten so used to a plush, subsidized lifestyle that $50 meals seem normal, almost an entitlement? Alternative reader explanations welcomed. ... But at least WaPo, whose Juliet Eilperin reported the story, has a strong editorial denouncing the 'Feed Us' rule and the accompanying, equally corrupt, GOP-sponsored change in the "charity junket" rule.

Now that's serious, to say that the media's sucking up to the GOP on this one, and this first sniff does sound like nothing very good. I personally am not very fond of lobbyists bearing gifts regardless of the party receiving them. So I went to see what Eilperin had to say:

House Republicans weakened their own ethics rules yesterday, pushing through language that would allow lobbyists to cater meals to members' offices and let charities pay for lawmakers to travel and stay at golf resorts and other locales.

House leaders tucked the changes into a broader rules package that Congress approves at the outset of each term. The move sparked a protest from Democrats, the House ethics committee chairman and officials from public watchdog groups, all of whom argued that the changes would undermine efforts to eliminate influence-peddling on Capitol Hill.

Yikes. It's getting worse. And this quote from a "watchdog group" adds another nasty little piece:

"It's just an erosion of the gift rule that is not justifiable," said Don Simon, acting president of the public interest group Common Cause. "It's a major retreat. It was done in a stealth fashion without any public scrutiny."

It's not just bad, it's secret (well, almost) and bad. Sneak, sneak, sneak it in. Not good for the GOP. I had visions of Congressional staff members dining lavishly day after day from the largesse of all manner of lobbying groups.

But... what precisely changed?

When Republicans took control of the House in 1995 they severely limited what members could accept from lobbyists and other outside groups.

Wait, wait, wait! The GOP made the original rules? And they're a lot more stringent than any rules before? Huh. Sounds like they had a high moral ground to start with and, while they might be lowering the peak a little, they're not mowing down the mountain.

Under current rules, members and staff cannot accept a meal or gift exceeding $50, with a limit of $100 each year from any source.

Okay, so one lobbying group can't ply legislators or their staff with more than two really nice meals a year? Wait, that's the current rules, not the change. So now they can feed everyone endlessly?

The new rule modified these restrictions by divvying up the value of any given meal by the number of people who eat it.

Huh? That's it? That's the change? I don't quite get what the original rule was if this was a change. It sounds like now Lobbyist A can send Staff R a meal worth a max of $150 if there are three staffers. Does it matter if John Staffer eats $75 of the meal and Mark Staffer and Tammy Staffer snarf the remaining $75 worth? Is this some sneaky way to get more fancies in the mouth of the Top Aide - take him and two staffers to lunch, ply TA with foie gras, truffles, high-end wine and other delicacies while the underlings make do with water and a basket of bread between them? I don't get this. Maybe they can explain it...

The change contradicts an advisory the ethics committee sent out in November, saying the $50 limit "cannot be evaded by . . . averaging the expense of gifts given to more than one member or staff person."

So that's confirmed. I guess the biggest concern here is that in a Congressional office with 20 staff members (does anyone have that many?) Top Aide could bloat out at a series of huge meals from lobbyists while the other staffers nibble on popcorn and Pepsi. I don't think it's a bad thing to keep the $100/year cap per person in effect. But on the other hand, in the larger scheme of things, I don't think this change warrants the grave tone of the opening paragraph. And it also doesn't deserve the idiocy of this response from Dennis Hastert's spokesman:

Hastert spokesman John Feehery defended the new rules by saying that congressional aides, not lawmakers, would benefit from them.

"What this is aimed at is the interns or the low-paid staff who doesn't make any money, and if someone wants to send some food in to them, they should be allowed to eat it," Feehery said.

We're supposed to believe that Congressmen slipped a change into a major bill so their poor underpaid staffers could eat better? There's nothing like a lame response to give credence to an idiotarian charge of misbehavior.

There's another change too, one I think is more pernicious but which gets short shrift in the article:

A separate change would allow any charity certified by the Internal Revenue Service to reimburse members for "travel and lodging expenses" for events where the net proceeds go toward the charity. Common Cause's Simon said this would return Congress to an era where lawmakers traveled to lavish resorts, often to play golf for free.

Hefley said he, too, has concerns about the measure. "It does open the gates to abuse," he said.

Um, yeah. This I don't like. I don't like it a lot. Do you know what runs under the guise of a non-profit out there? Every philosophical pitstop from PETA to Catholic Relief Services. I really don't want them having "celebrity golf tournaments" as a means of getting members of Congress in a position where they feel the need to listen to whatever drivel goes down because, after all, the organization paid them to be there...

So is the article itself biased or righteous reporting? I'd say a combination. To me the charity exemption is the bigger story, and I don't know why it was almost buried. I do think the opening was misleading, and the changes given more gravity than is, on a whole, deserved, especially given that the GOP made the original stringent changes that this deviates from. But in a Congress where the far bigger story is pork barrel politics, a $100 meal here and there doesn't begin to compare. If we're going to get up in arms, I vote for that issue over this.

The WaPo editorial about it also leads with the food issue, and gets all in a snither about it. I agree that it's not a good idea, but I don't get the ominous "weakening of the ethics rules" that this represents. They, like me, call the free trips to charity events a "pernicious" change - and I wrote most of this post before reading that, so apparently we're on the same page here. I have to agree mostly with this editorial. I just wish they'd kept the editorializing out of the "news" article.

Posted by susanna at 01:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Uh oh

frozen hell.jpg
Posted by susanna at 11:20 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Good point

So do we, Sheryl.

[Link via Cold Fury]

Posted by susanna at 08:25 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


After a lot of thought and consideration, I've come to realize that this blog takes up more time than I should reasonably give it. It's been a difficult decision, but I've decided to give up sleep.

So blogging will continue as usual.


The Real Announcement: The Former Spoons (I think he loses his moniker when he quits us) suggested that my New Year's Resolution should be to be "media bias central" for the blogosphere. That's a little ambitious, and Media Minded is the one on the front lines with it all, so I won't try to claim that role. However, I've decided to start posting daily lists of media bias links, those I find and those others find, so I'm soliciting from you any links you find - either on your own blog or those of others. If you find instances of media bias, feel free to send me links but I can't promise to link or read them all. I'll do what I can.

And this means all instances of media bias that you find, whether from a liberal, conservative, or other bias (despite Chris's preference that it be lefty bias). The point here is to become more aware of how journalists spin things, and I think it's as important to look at bias from your own ideological perspective as from any others. In fact you probably learn more seeing it on your own side. So my three liberal readers, please - send me links too, without fear that I will slice and dice. I may disagree with you, but then again, I may agree - because I do think there are, on occasion, examples of conservative bias in the media.

I'll do the first post with links early this evening. Meanwhile, it's off to the salt mines!

Posted by susanna at 07:49 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Instapundit in The Paper of Record

Instapundit has made the Big Time - there's a bio on him today in The New York Times. A good one too, quite fair I thought. They even found someone - Martin Wisse - who fussed about him (said Glenn "poses as an objective journalist" - he's obviously reading an Instapundit located in an alternate universe). Of course Wisse has a site I've never heard of before... Could it be link-envy?

And don't forget that tonight's PBS Media Matters is on weblogs, featuring Glenn, Megan McArdle, Anil Dash and Oliver Willis. As they say, check your local listings. Also, there's a link on that page to submit your own blog. I don't know what they'll do with it (maybe publish a blog list?) but it's an opportunity.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh explains why the anti-Glenn guy quoted in the article is an idiot anyway. Obviously Wisse doesn't "get" what blogs are about. Hint: It's opinion. (Link via Instapundit)

UPDATE: I found an excellent set of polls on the PBS site, about photojournalism. The questions are about what decisions you think a newspaper should make about publishing photos and how to go about it, but in the process hits on a couple of very good questions - for instance, should the San Francisco Examiner have altered a photograph to edit out more graphic elements? Photos can be used in a way that helps frame a story toward a certain bias just as words and ideas can.

Posted by susanna at 07:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 15, 2003

More on NPR

I need to get a CD player in my car so I stop listening to NPR when ballgames are on WABC 770. Tonight I was listening to Dick Gordon on The Connection, and he was interviewing Kate Michelman, a pro-choice lobbyist (you can listen to it yourself here). I decided to listen in a more analytical way, just to see what it was she was saying. All quotes are paraphrased from memory because I was driving and it was nighttime, but you're more than welcome to listen to the segment yourself to make sure I don't misrepresent her.

First, Gordon's introduction was interesting because he couldn't bring himself to say "pro-life". He introduced her as a "pro-choice activist", who was fighting against "the other side of the legislative question". Cumbersome, I thought. Then, throughout the segment, Michelson used the term "anti-choice" for the pro-lifers, which I thought interesting given that I've been fussed at a few times for referring to pro-choicers as pro-abortion. I recognize that there's a distinction in philosophy (although ultimately not in practice), so generally I'll go along. Apparently Michelson isn't into "getting along". I think Gordon finally broke down and used "pro-life" a time or two, but it was glaringly obvious that he sided with Michelman - he wasn't neutral, he was partisan. The tone of the segment as a whole was that of a warrior explaining her battle to a sympathetic ear before a sympathetic audience.

When Gordon brought up partial birth abortion, Michelman wouldn't even use the term. She said the term was not medically accurate, and represented "inflammatory language" on the part of the "anti-choice" crowd. They discussed how partial birth abortions are rare, and done only to preserve the "health" and "life" of the mother - she made the distinction. She did not at any time refer to a fetus in utero as a baby; once they were able to live outside the womb, she termed them "post viability" fetuses.

Two of the most interesting points to me had to do with the larger context of abortion "rights" - first, that women have a right under the Constitution, according to her, to have abortions. It's a "health" right. Second, that refusing this Constitutional health right puts the United States in the same category as the Taliban. She didn't say it quite that directly, but spent a few sentences talking about how the Taliban degraded women, that their focus was degrading women, and how they didn't understand that for a woman freedom and "reproductive rights" are one and the same - if a woman doesn't have "reproductive rights", she is not free. Michelman virtually spat out the sentences about the Taliban; I'd hate to have been across the table from her when she said that, if she had anything that would stain in her mouth.

Michelman, like the NY Times editorial on Sunday, apparently believes the big agenda now is to shut off women's reproductive rights in the United States. She sees the partial birth abortion ban as a backdoor way to stop abortions generally, and thinks the Supreme Court will strike it down if Congress passes it.

I was pretty steamed by the time the segment was over, about ready to spit just like she did when talking about the Taliban. But I wanted to present her information in a more neutral way, to think about how rhetoric is used to put forward the extreme when trying to get support. Of course here she was preaching to the choir, but the rhetoric was there. And it's not just on her side; the pro-lifers use rhetoric too, and demonize as much as they are demonized. There's a lot of pro-lifers I wouldn't have much to do with, who don't speak for me, and I'd say the same is true of Michelman and many pro-choicers.

But I bet you won't hear the pro-life rhetoric spun with such a sympathetic audience on any NPR show, any time soon.

Posted by susanna at 10:11 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack


Quana's back and blogging!

Posted by susanna at 06:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good stuff

Check out the Carnival of the Vanities, over at Greeblie this week. Some of the best stuff from the blogosphere this past week.

Posted by susanna at 06:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Arthur Silber of The Light of Reason blog challenged me in email to answer this:

What is objectivity?

I talk about it a lot, but as he commented, unless you have a stated baseline it's difficult to be clear about what deviates from it and whether that's a bad thing. As some of you know, in my graduate work I'm looking at media framing in covering criminal justice. I (and others) think that one of the major ways bias is introduced to modern media products (radio, print, television, internet, etc) is through framing - which is to say, by the way the information or topic is approached and presented.

So I'm collecting information from a variety of sources - the journal articles in my bibliography, a bunch of materials from The Poynter Institute which styles itself as a journalism clearing house and training center, and whatever else I come across that looks useful. Starting soon (maybe as early as tomorrow, or as late as Monday) I'll begin series of posts on objectivity - what it is, why it matters, whether it can be attained and what I think about its possibilities of being achieved in real situations. This is taking a lot of my time, so I apologize for the relative lack of posts the last few days.

Posted by susanna at 02:13 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Is it really a problem?

A reporter who covers the CIA for the NY Times has co-written a book on the CIA with a former operative. As is their wont, the CIA reviewed the sections written by the operative, Milton Bearden. Now some journalists are raising issues about the ethics of a reporter having his work "vetted" by the CIA, and whether his book deal creates a connection to the CIA that jeopardizes his objectivity.

One of the golden rules of journalism is that you can't let your source control your content. Another is that you must avoid making financial deals with the people you cover. The reasons are obvious. Reporters turn themselves into pretzels to prove their reporting isn't compromised. And their credibility becomes a casualty of their relationships.

Here's what's happening.

The CIA is editing half of The Main Enemy, a book on the supersecret agency's 1980s war with the former Soviet Union's KGB co-authored by James Risen, a Times reporter who watchdogs the spies. The book is now set for a May release.

The CIA sanitized the sections written by Milton A. Bearden, a retired chief of the agency's Soviet division. He also ran the CIA's covert war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, according to Risen.

Obviously you don't want a reporter covering the CIA actually writing a book for the CIA, but I don't understand why this particular situation has the ethicists' shorts all in a tangle. At least Risen is on the up and up, letting people know what happened. And according to the article, the sections written by the reporter were not edited by the CIA, just those written by the former operative - and that's the only way any information will get out. It seems to be a bit hypocritical too, given the support in the media for many liberal causes - especially at that newspaper of record, the NY Times.

The opening of the article about this situation seems more problematic or blinded than Risen's situation:

What would Americans think if they knew that their best newspaper, The New York Times, had allowed one of its national-security reporters to negotiate a book deal that needed the approval of the CIA?

What would they say if they knew the CIA was editing the book while the country is days or weeks away from a war with Iraq and is counting on the Times to monitor the intelligence agency?

They would be properly horrified.

I really really don't get this. Anyway, "its best newspaper"? Yes, probably as a whole the newspaper is "best" on a variety of measures, but objectivity is not one of them. And I know I'm not "counting on the Times" to monitor anything with "objectivity" - monitor, yes. Bring up possibly important facts, yes. Do possibly important articles, yes. Cover it objectively, no.

All this "horrified" reaction from the journalism ethicists seems a bit strained to me. Why aren't they "horrified" by a journalism professor who actively trashes the United States while teaching budding journalists their craft? A bit more of a problem in my view.

UPDATE: Great minds and all that! Media Minded has a few things to say about the idiot-ethicists' CIA-flap too. And since MM is currently a working journalist (of the editing type), concerned on a day to day basis with getting it right in both facts and integrity (in other words, he's spent a lot more time on the front lines than me), I'm glad to see that his thoughts march along with mine.

In other news, I just spent (wait for it) over two hours driving the seven miles from my apartment to my office, all with no evidence of a reason (traffic accident, road construction, etc.). Have I mentioned lately how much I love New Jersey?

Posted by susanna at 08:20 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


This makes this more understandable.

I didn't say explained it. Just more understandable.

I don't get the Nebraska thing though.

Posted by susanna at 07:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 14, 2003

And then there's happy news!

Media Minded is 1 year old today!

Congratulations, MMmmmmmmmmmm!

He has, as always, excellent posts on the media. But I'm waiting for a retrospective that includes his "Just Say No" photo.

Posted by susanna at 04:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I'd be willing to bet...

TVs Henry of CROOOOW blog sent me a heads-up about this snippet (you'll have to scroll down a ways) from Rich Galen's Mullings, about an idiotarian in Texas:

In Saturday's Austin American-Statesman there was an inquiring photographer type of feature in which people were asked what they would do with their tax cut money. Here's what one guy said - verbatim:

"I will use whatever I might receive for left/progressive political organizing aimed at (1) creating an economic system that meets the needs of people rather than lines the pockets of the wealthiest in the country, and (2) ending the United States' imperial foreign policy and the accompanying

I swear that is an exact transcription of what was in the paper. So what, you say? Here's the good part: The guy's occupation is listed as "Associate Professor, School of Journalism, University of Texas a(t) Austin.

Of course he's an idiotarian, and he's out there teaching the next crop of "objective" journalists. But that description triggered my swiss-cheese memory, so I had to go searching. Back in April, Glenn Reynolds blogged this little bit from the WSJ:

"The problem with America," a college professor told me recently, "is that it can't get over the idea that it is somehow special among nations." His name is Robert Jensen and he teaches journalism at the University of Texas, Austin. He's flat wrong.

How much you want to bet that the journalism prof in Saturday's article is the same journalism prof identified as Robert Jensen in the WSJ/Instapundit piece? A little more information - from his bio at the UT-Austin site - tells you a lot about Jensen:

In his research, Jensen draws on a variety of critical theories. Much of his work has focused on pornography and the radical feminist critique of sexuality. In more recent work, he has addressed questions of race through a critique of white privilege and institutionalized racism...

He also is involved in a number of activist groups working against U.S. military and economic domination of the rest of the world.

Everyone who feels confident that Jensen is teaching objectivity and fairness in coverage to his journalism students, raise your hands.

Hmmm... still on your keyboards and mice. I'd bet that you're right.

And, even though I'm not a betting woman (and I couldn't find the article in the newspaper's online site to check), I'd lay good odds that Jensen is the anonymous anti-American idiotarian being paid by tax dollars to spread his vomitous screeds.

UPDATE: I knew that name was even more familiar than that little blurb on Instapundit. Alex Whitlock in comments reminded me that Jensen also wrote an article saying "Rape is Normal", which Alex, my hero, thoroughly fisked back in September. I think I wrote something on it too; I'll have to search.

Posted by susanna at 09:52 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Justice the Brockovich way

In case you didn't get enough of Erin Brockovich in the movie which starred Julia Roberts as Erin, the television channel Lifetime launches the show Final Justice this month with Brockovich as host.

And what would that show be about?

Famed environmental activist Erin Brockovich is coming to Lifetime this January! Brockovich will host Lifetime's new reality series, "Final Justice," featuring the true tales of courageous women who fought back against the system — changing laws, putting criminals behind bars and overcoming huge obstacles. If you have a story of legal triumph, share it here!

Interesting how whistleblowers are lauded - when they "whistleblow" on people or groups the media and liberals (and I know there's a strong overlap there) already dislike or find suspicious.

The problem here, though, is that Brockovich has specifically been debunked in a manner that shows her as no heroine. Here's what Michael Fumento had to say in 2000:

Erin Brockovich, which was No. 1 at the box office for a second week in a row, is a slick and enjoyable movie. The film tells the true story of Erin Brockovich, a legal assistant, who in 1993 lined up some 650 prospective plaintiffs from the tiny desert town of Hinkley, Calif., to sue Pacific Gas & Electric.

PG&E's nearby plant was leaching chromium 6, a rust inhibitor, into Hinkley's water supply, and the suit blamed the chemical for dozens of symptoms, ranging from nosebleeds to breast cancer, Hodgkin's disease, miscarriages and spinal deterioration. In 1996 PG&E settled the case for $333 million.

The problem is that no one agent could possibly have caused more than a handful of the symptoms described. Chromium 6 in the water almost certainly didn't cause any of them.

Very interesting, especially this:

It's profitable work for the lawyers, who collected $133.6 million in fees from the 1996 settlement, while Ms. Brockovich herself collected a $2 million bonus.

Nice work, if you can get it. Of course this is all about Robin Hooding, in the liberal view, and of course it's nice that these days Robin Hood gets a little for his good work, yes?

Brockovich answered Fumento (with a little help from a friend):

Despite Mr. Fumento's claims to the contrary, Chromium-6 kills. It has been labeled as a human carcinogen by the EPA, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the state of California. PG&E's own documents concede "the material is toxic." Indeed, it is so toxic that California no longer permits its use even in cooling towers...

How does Mr. Fumento support his position? By citing William Blot. Mr. Blot is a paid "expert" for PG&E, who has earned as much as $400 an hour testifying on behalf of the utility...

If the case against Chromium-6 is as weak as Mr. Fumento claims it to be, how is it that PG&E "coughed up" (his words) $333 million in settlement payments? ...It wasn't bad timing that scared PG&E into arbitration, nor was it "slick lawyers and sympathetic witnesses," as Mr. Fumento tries to imply. It was the facts of the case: PG&E poisoned people.

And Fumento came back:

It's clear that Ms. Brockovich and attorney Gary Praglin in their letter of April 6 have spent too much time around lawyers, as the purpose of the letter had nothing to do with clarification and everything to do with obfuscation and the hope that readers have completely forgotten the contents of the original article.

They cite zero studies, alludes to zero texts, and names zero experts...

It goes on, and it's a very good exchange for seeing how she reacts with emotion and sweeping statements when charged with facts. And notice how she derides Fumento for relying on information from a $400/hr expert when Brockovich herself received $2 million for getting people to sign on to the lawsuit. Can you say "hypocrisy"? Why should we believe more strongly that Blot would lie for his money than we would believe that Brockovich lied for hers? Because she's a "crusader"? We've seen enough "crusaders" to know they aren't always after the interests of the downtrodden. (Paging Jesse Jackson)

So now Brockovich is the Anita Hill of the environmental crowd. Pretty good gig, apparently.

Posted by susanna at 09:50 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

News Flash!!!

This is the best news I've heard in quite some time:

Dove dark chocolate is better for you than red wine.

Better for you than regular chocolate.

Better for you than an apple!!

Oh baby.

I love modern medicine.

Now where are my Dove Promises?

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

Okay, this is getting out of hand

Bloggers are falling by the wayside day by day, and it's getting worrisome. The latest casuality is Chris Kanis of The Spoons Experience. WHAT IS HE THINKING!! There's got to be some other way. Somebody needs to start a blog called "Bloggers With Lives", where all these folks can post as they have time and we won't lose their voices.

Chris.... ya gotta find a way.

Posted by susanna at 09:39 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Another NY Times takedown

Stuart Buck of The Buck Stops Here has an excellent takedown of the NY Times "War on Women" pro-abortion editorial from Sunday. Much more detailed on the editorial itself than my own response.

Posted by susanna at 09:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2003

Beyond pathetic

Merrie Olde England indeed. I may write more on this when I have some time - it's just beyond anything:

Police have been ordered not to bother investigating crimes such as burglary, vandalism and assaults unless evidence pointing to the culprits is easily available, The Telegraph can reveal.

Under new guidelines, officers have been informed that only "serious" crimes, such as murder, rape or so-called hate crimes, should be investigated as a matter of course.

In all other cases, unless there is immediate and compelling evidence, such as fingerprints or DNA material, the crime will be listed for no further action.

Tony at Trojan Horseshoes, where I came across this, has excellent thoughts on it.

Posted by susanna at 09:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Scalia and old folks homes

Actually, Scalia doesn't have anything to say about old folks homes, but Theosebes has posts on both. First, Alan notes US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's attitude about religion in public discourse, which might surprise you. Then he passes along a first-hand account of what really goes on in those old folks homes.

I guess you really aren't ever too old.

Posted by susanna at 11:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Just in case you need to be annoyed

A friend just sent me the link to this page. It's all about smileys. Don't go unless your treacle tolerance is pretty high. Or if you really want to throw your coffee mug through the monitor screen.

Posted by susanna at 11:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Interesting puzzle

In the context of the horrible situation involving two boys locked in a basement and a third dead of starvation and blunt force trauma, a caller to the Curtis & Kuby show on WABC 770 suggested that mandatory sterilization be instituted for women who have shown they won't be responsible for their children. I'm not in favor of that - and certainly it seems more efficacious to do a few vasectomies to stop serial sperm donors - but it raised in interesting question in my mind.

Kuby, a vehement leftist and strong advocate of pro-choice, said to the caller, "Ah, so you're saying it would have been better for those children not to have been born?" He was trying to make something racial out of it - as he always does - but my question was... If abortion on demand is fine, how can you use that the children have a right to be born as an argument against mandatory sterilization? Why does it matter if the child is prevented from being conceived or is scraped out after the fact? The ultimate result is no child. If anything, the widespread use of abortion is a good argument for at least providing government-paid voluntary sterilizations.

I'm not advocating either kind, and there are sufficient arguments against mandatory sterilization even from a liberal viewpoint for a child's right to live not to come up. I just found it curious that a leftist hauled that out of his philosophical goody bag.

Posted by susanna at 09:41 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 12, 2003

Hysteria on the left

Bush isn't satisfied with the War on Terror.

He's not satisfied with the War on Drugs.

He's been fighting another war... a subversive war... even, you might say, a guerrilla war.

He's declared... a War on Women.

Or so says the NY Times editorial board:

...two years into the Bush presidency, it is apparent that reversing or otherwise eviscerating the Supreme Court's momentous 1973 ruling that recognized a woman's fundamental right to make her own childbearing decisions is indeed Mr. Bush's mission. The lengthening string of anti-choice executive orders, regulations, legal briefs, legislative maneuvers and key appointments emanating from his administration suggests that undermining the reproductive freedom essential to women's health, privacy and equality is a major preoccupation of his administration — second only, perhaps, to the war on terrorism.

If you want a nice dose of leftist shrieking screed, check it out. It's such a steaming pile of hysteria that I don't even want to deal with taking it down right now. It's certainly true that Bush has a more moderate attitude about abortion than most liberals and all leftists, but to read this editorial you'd think that Bush was trying to wrap all women world-wide into burqas and turn them into baby-making machines for John Ashcroft, and while they might lose a few hundred thousand along the way to botched abortions and war-rapes, what the heck, they're just women! Keep 'em barefoot and pregnant! That's the way we do it in Teeeeexxxxas!

Funny this appeared today because I came across an Ann Telnaes cartoon from last spring that caught my attention:


Of course

A Florida judge this week ruled a law requiring parental consent for abortions for teens was unconstitutional.

Circuit Judge Terry Lewis cited the Florida Constitution's privacy amendment -- which grants every person "the right to be let alone and free from government intrusion into his private life" -- in overturning the law. The state attorney general's office said it will appeal the ruling.

In 1989, the Florida Supreme Court also ruled a law requiring parental consent before an underage girl's abortion was unconstitutional. The new law would only have required parental notification at least 48 hours before. It was to have taken effect on Monday, but now will not be enforceable during the appeal.

we know

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed suit on behalf of health care providers and their patients throughout the state to prevent New Jersey from enforcing a restrictive new abortion law aimed at minors.

In its lawsuit, the ACLU challenges as unconstitutional New Jersey's newly enacted Parental Notification for Abortion Act, which prevents minors from obtaining an abortion unless they first notify a parent or get a court order waiving the requirement.

that the left

Drug-sniffing dogs detected Advil in a 13-year-old Texas student’s backpack. She was suspended since students are only allowed to take medication that the school has administered.

would never get involved

some SUV critics are insinuating that drivers of the oversized vehicles are not so much impious as unpatriotic. A campaign known as the Detroit Project is airing television commercials connecting SUV drivers to terrorism. One of the spots shows armed terrorists in a desert and explains that they get money from Middle East countries "every time George fills up his SUV."

in your private life,

Just last week, California State Senator Deborah Ortiz, Democrat of Sacramento, introduced legislation in that state hiking taxes on all sugared soft drinks, whether carbonated or not. Her goal, she says, is to reduce consumption of such products among youth in order to help control obesity.

now don't we?

A remarkable 70-page opinion upholding California's ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sharply criticized the "individual rights" view of the Second Amendment recently endorsed by the Ashcroft Justice Department. Even though the Justice Department was not a participant in the case, the federal appeals court, in Silveira v. Lockyer, noted that the "current leadership" of the Department had "recently reversed the decades-old position of the government on the Second Amendment" and that this reversal of position has caused "turmoil" in the lower courts, leading to the "assertion of Second Amendment defenses…by criminal defendants throughout the nation…."

The Court's detailed discussion of the Second Amendment's language and history also is a direct challenge to last year's adoption of the "individual rights" view by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in United States v. Emerson, on which Attorney General Ashcroft relied in support of the Department's historic reversal.

"The Ninth Circuit's opinion has exposed, in spectacular fashion, the tortured logic and twisted history underlying the distortion of the Second Amendment by the Ashcroft Justice Department and its patrons in the gun lobby," said Dennis Henigan, Director of the Legal Action Project at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "The Court has made it crystal clear that the Attorney General has enshrined a constitutional myth as the official policy of the United States government."

Of course we do.

Farmers Cindy and Amy Domenigoni are plagued by rats.

It isn't that the rats are eating their grain or spreading disease, though they may be doing both. It's their existence on the Domenigoni's land in Riverside County, Calif., that's the problem.

The rats are Stephens' kangaroo rats, which happen to be on the Endangered and Threatened Species List. The protection plan for the animal – really a type of squirrel – has denied the Domenigonis use of 370 of their 720 tillable acres, costing them $75,000 in gross income since 1990.

"I feel [the Endangered Species Act] is unfairly discriminatory," said Cindy Domenigoni. "Our actions have not caused that species to become threatened or endangered. We should not be the ones forced exclusively to pay for it."

Libertarians, the lot of them.

(And they're not anti-religion either.)

Posted by susanna at 09:01 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack


*Same Old Stupidity, Another Day

Anyone accusing Ramsey Clark of being a idiot leftist panderer now has another neatly packaged slur, this time against Jesus Christ, as evidence.

Clark, the former US Attorney General under Lyndon Johnson, speaking to a new anti-war group (and don’t we need more of those), compared Jesus to a terrorist in the process of claiming that Christians who level that charge against Mohammed are at best hypocrites. He shows a lack of knowledge of the definition of “terrorist”, of the content of the Bible, and of the secular history of Mohammed himself.

So let’s help him out a little.

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark Wednesday compared Jesus Christ to a terrorist during a media event for a new anti-war group.

It was a media event, so Clark needed some flashy statement to make the news. After all, who cares about another anti-war group? I’d say, and this is just me guessing, that they think that the war in Iraq is all about oil, that the US has contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Americans are generally the scourge of the world that single-handedly blocks peace for all. Given the startling departure from all the other anti-war groups out there that this “doctrine” would represent, they need a little help getting attention. So Clark gives it by maligning God.

Recently the Democrats have accused Republicans and conservatives of speaking in “code”, specifically to hide a racist agenda. While I dispute that vehemently, I think they make that claim because they know they use those tactics in other contexts (and I think in matters of race as well), so naturally they see our behavior through that filter. Clark’s statement is an example of how they themselves speak in code. How so? Look at a recent article by Claudia Winkler in The Weekly Standard, entitled “The Party of Unbelievers”:

The religion gap--the tendency of religious conservatives to vote Republican and of atheists, agnostics, and non-churchgoers to vote Democratic--is large, relatively new, and systematically underreported in the media. For while half the story, the GOP activism of religious traditionalists, is boringly familiar, the other half, the secularists' preference for the Democrats, passes nearly unnoticed in the prestige press…

As secularists have grown more numerous, they have become an important Democratic voting bloc. In 1992, three out of four voted for Clinton, while religious conservatives chose Bush by two to one. Today, say Bolce and De Maio, secularists are as large and loyal a Democratic constituency as organized labor: In 2000, both "comprised about 16 percent of the white electorate, and both backed Gore with two-thirds of their votes."

Another striking finding is the intensity of many secularists' dislike of conservative Christians--vastly greater than any dislike of Jews of Catholics discernible in the survey data from the University of Michigan that the authors analyze. "One has to reach back to pre-New Deal America," they write, "when political divisions between Catholics and Protestants encapsulated local ethno-cultural cleavages over prohibition, immigration, public education, and blue laws, to find a period when voting behavior was influenced by this degree of antipathy toward a religious group." (emphasis mine – slc)

By attacking Jesus Christ, and through him conservative Christians, Clark is holding up a mental effigy for the anti-war crowd to burn with their hate for all things conservative and religious. In their minds, Jesus Christ is not about the Bible, about Christianity as a whole, about any objective religious doctrine, but about the Religious Right. This is about demonizing the group that represents the cultural and philosophical opposite of the anti-war leftists, and not incidentally a group President Bush belongs to.

Let’s move on to a quote from Clark:

” The Christian Church overwhelmingly -- there are exceptions -- who choose to call Mohammed a terrorist…

If you need any confirmation, there you have it. “The Christian Church overwhelmingly…choose to call Mohammed a terrorist”. He tosses in “there are exceptions”, but the implication and (I’m sure) the tone is calculated to indicate that those exceptions are precious few - and most likely anti-war French Episcopalians who question whether Jesus was God in the flesh anyway. In other words, “our kind”, who are cultural rather than religious Christians, would likely be the only exceptions.

He does say “who choose”, which could be construed to mean “some choose not to”, but that plays back into the “exceptions” and does not serve to soften his broad characterization. Moving right along:

”They could call Jesus a terrorist too…

Yes, and we could also call him “quiche” or “Maureen Dowd”, but that doesn’t make him either one. What’s Clark’s evidence in support of that statement?

”I mean, he was pretty tough on money lenders a time or two."

Do tell. Let's look at the Biblical text; it’s in all four gospels, but we’ll go to Matthew 21:12-13 because it has a quote from Jesus:

12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God[1] and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13And He said to them, "It is written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer,'[2] but you have made it a "den of thieves."'

Yes, there you go. He ran off thieves (maybe they were the first century equivalent of Enron? Paging the TIME women of the year!), overturning their tables and chairs. Ooooohhhh I am so scared! Any blood? Anyone whipped, cut, beaten, harmed physically in any way? Innocent bystanders killed? Were all those in the surrounding area told to convert or die? Did Jesus’s followers start tearing down the joint?

Maybe we’re not getting the point. Just what is a terrorist?

terrorist (n): One that engages in acts or an act of terrorism

Well, that ‘s not too helpful. How about terrorism?

terrorism (n): the systematic use of violence as a means to intimidate or coerce societies or governments
“Systematic” is an important element here, although some of the definitions didn’t include that. If you remove “systematic” and add “threat of violence” as a part of it, well, then, I suppose Jesus could be a terrorist. But if you set the threshold there, so could, say, most anti-war groups. Or Clark himself, come to think of it. He was an Attorney General, right? Yes, you’re right, there are other contextual concerns in labeling Clark or all anti-war groups as terrorists. But there’s other contextual concerns in labeling Jesus one too, and you don’t see that bothering them.

What else went on at Clark’s little anti-war soiree?

When asked if Americans in general, and Christians in particular, should be wary of Muslims and the Islamic religion, Clark cited the need for trust among people of different faiths. "We have to live together," said Clark. "You can't do that by being leery of a billion and a half people who are very devoted to what they believe in."

That’s a good point, Ramsey, my love. So why are you and your ilk leery of the 1.6 billion people (as of 1995) who are very devoted to believing in Christ? And since secularism is a faith, shouldn’t you “just try to get along” with and “trust” Christians? We have to live together, yes, but who’s killing who now?

On October 17, bombs killed 6 people and wounded 143 in Zamboanga, the Philippines. While press accounts mentioned in passing that the victims were Christians, few conveyed to the reader that these were people assaulted by Muslim extremists because of their religion. On September 25, militant Muslims shot dead 7 Christian Pakistanis execution style in Karachi. Most of the media failed to report this at all, though it was at least the fifth bloody attack on Christians in Pakistan in the last twelve months.

And the media almost never point out that Christians are being killed, often at places of worship, in several countries with Islamic majorities or governments, not because they are Westerners or Americans (many are neither) but because they are Christians. Nor is the White House or Congress nearly as attentive--to put it mildly--to this pattern of killing as it is to any injury on either side of the conflict in Israel.

People who follow international news are aware that a civil war raged in Ethiopia for more than 30 years. But few realize that it was a religious war--between Muslim Eritrea and Christian Ethiopia--in which tens of thousands perished. Many know that the people of East Timor were savaged, but it is rarely mentioned that most East Timorese are Christian, while the Indonesian militants who killed many of them and brutalized the refugees in West Timor are Muslim. Indeed, Christians in other parts of Indonesia have hardly fared better; for instance, thousands died during riots in the Moluccan Islands in 2000.

The bloody war in the Sudan, similarly, pits the Muslim government in the North against the Christian and animist South. And in Nigeria, as Muslims try to impose a strict version of the legal code called sharia in several provinces, armed conflicts between Muslims and Christians have erupted and thousands have died. Just lately, in the Ivory Coast, Muslims in the North have been attacking Christians in the South. On a smaller scale but very much along the same lines, scores of Coptic Christians were killed in Egypt in January 2000; several churches were burned in Kenya the following year.

Where are the similar slaughters of Muslims by Christians? Yes, there are a few incidents where Christians have killed Muslims because of their religion, and I wouldn’t try to justify that in any way. But point me to slaughter. Point to systematic violence against Muslims that is proactive, not reactive, and predicated on the religion of the victims. We want to live in peace, Ramsey, and Andrea Harris tells you exactly what message to carry to your less peaceable Muslim friends:


Fairly simple, isn’t it?

As for the behavior of Mohammed, a list of ten battles he led himelf are on this biography page; as it’s written and maintained by Muslims, it certainly gives the most positive construction on his behavior. Feel free to review his life versus the life of Christ, and discuss among yourselves the difference between a) chasing some thieves one time from a house of worship and b) killing thousands of people and capturing many lands to spread your belief system. And that’s the positive spin on Mohammed.

The rest of the article posits first that Clark’s statement was in response to Jerry Falwell’s statement that Mohammed was a “terrorist” and “a man of war” (see definition, see biography of Mohammed), then skids into a rather bizarre effort to bolster the value of Islam – it’s widespread in the nation’s prisons, giving criminals a blueprint for change. I don’t know that identifying Islam with prison is the best choice, but there you are. I certainly wouldn’t dispute that a lot of people in prison have improved their lives by becoming adherents of Islam and submitting to its disciplines, but I don’t see how that either makes Christianity a bad thing or supports accusations of Jesus as a terrorist. And I’d like to see his statistics on the relative percentage of Christians vs Muslims in prison – according to this article:

Over the past 30 years, Islam has become a powerful force in America's correctional system. In New York State, it's estimated that between 17 and 20 percent of all inmates are Muslims – a number that experts say holds nationally.

While I couldn’t find a similar percentage quote for how many prisoners are Christians, I would be very surprised if it wasn’t double that or more. In any case, “more” doesn’t indicate “better” - otherwise, we’d just have to say on that basis alone that Christianity is better than Islam, given that there are 1.6 billion Christians and 1.2 billion Muslims in today’s world. Be careful what you imply, Ramsey.

The bottom line is that Ramsey Clark is an old man, trying to be relevant and failing, who is more interested in making news and pandering to his audience than he is in telling the truth or making even token gestures toward his implied philosophical goal of peace, tolerance and understanding in the world. He has the substance of a hot air balloon, and I’m more than happy to apply the sharp prick of reason.

Posted by susanna at 03:36 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Who are these people?!

Back on June 29th, I posted about Leslie Van Houten, the youngest of the Manson clan members who went on a murderous rampage in the late 1960s. She, like the rest of them, was sentenced to death but her sentence was commuted to life with the possibility of parole as a result of the US Supreme Court decision in Furman vs. Georgia. She keeps coming up for parole and keeps being denied; the last time was last June when I put up the original post.

Starting in September, I've gotten six comments from people advocating her parole - one in September, three in November, one in December and one today. Obviously these folks are out there searching for things on Van Houton's parole, and it makes me very curious. Are they personal friends? Family friends? Manson groupies? Somehow associated with her lawyers? All the comments are still available in the archives (just recently made available again, actually, through the gracious efforts of the ever talented Page).

I copied off the ISPs to compare them, and there's two that are repeated once and two that are unique. Here they are: Nora Lonnie doug Glenn Lee D. jenny

So Lonnie and Lee came from the same ISP, and Glenn and jenny did. Lonnie was in November, Lee in late December. Glenn was in November, jenny was today. And now I'm stumped. It's a mystery, but as much as it itches my mystery-solving propensities, I don't think I can solve it.

Quite curious, though, don't you think?

Posted by susanna at 12:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 11, 2003


I've discussed before why liberal talk show hosts just don't make it, but apparently Richard Blow didn't read it:

Michael Moore has a problem: Nobody wants to put him on television. "I’ve been on a total of two network shows in nine months," the lefty filmmaker and author recently told The New York Times. "What’s going on with that?"

It’s a fair question...

The real reason that Moore doesn’t get on television is because Moore isn’t just a liberal. By today's standards, he’s a radical. Moore attacks the power of big corporations, including General Motors, Nike, and Wal-Mart. No, he doesn’t just attack them; he embarrasses them. And that makes people in television uneasy.

I wouldn't deny that the media doesn't always cover everything that should be covered - everything from corporate malfeasance to the utter failure of the welfare system to improve the nation, from misbehaving religionists to lethal ecoterrorists - but the reason that Moore isn't on has more to do with his lying, his aw-shucks cruelty and his general arrogance. To put it bluntly - he's a noxious person lacking in integrity. That tends to undermine your attraction to both conservatives and liberals.

And apparently Blow saw a different movie than the one I saw:

[Moore's]film "Bowling for Columbine," is the most explicitly political film in recent memory. Its concluding interview with Charlton Heston reduced one of America’s leading gun fanatics to a state of embarrassing, self-incriminating incoherence -- and not, as his apologists insist, because Heston has Alzheimer’s.

Here's what I saw:

Moore later uses paparazzi techniques to ambush Charlton Heston - first going to his home and asking for an interview about “the gun thing”, quick to point out that he’s a “member of NRA”**. Heston agrees to meet with him the next day, and graciously takes Moore to his pool house where they sit for a chat. Moore gives deliberately mixed messages, telling Heston that he is “a lifetime member of the NRA”, then asking Heston about going to Flint, MI, for a gun rally a few days after the killing of 6-year-old Kayla Rolland by a classmate, or going for a similar rally in Denver just over a week after Columbine. It takes a few minutes for Heston to realize that Moore is meaning to attack him, that he’s not there for a regular interview but to catch Heston flatfooted on camera for the purpose of ridiculing him and, by association, ridiculing gun owners and the NRA. Heston is never rude, even when Moore says, “Don’t you want to apologize to the people of Flint, MI, for coming for a gun rally right after Kayla Rolland was killed?” Heston, clearly shocked, stops in the midst of getting up from his chair and says, “Me? Apologize?” then leaves the room without any other comments. His movements are those of an old man. Moore follows him out of the pool house and across a terrace before standing watching Heston go, a color photo of Kayla Rolland in his hand, saying, “This is her, this is Kayla Rolland, don’t you want to see it?” Heston turns to look, then continues into his house without speaking; Moore props the photo against a stone pillar before he lumbers out of the estate.

It's obvious that Blow enjoyed what Moore did to Heston, and that says a great deal about Blow. I would not admire Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity - any prominent conservative pundit if one of them did something similar to a prominent lefty - say, Noam Chomsky. It's one thing to have a tough interview where you ask the hard questions and persistently go after answers. Our country operates better when that's done consistently by both sides of the political agenda (or should I say, all sides). But at no time is Moore's kind of slice 'n dice ambush admirable.

However, while I shake my head in disbelief about how the libs just don't get why they don't succeed in punditry, at the same time there's a comfort knowing that if they don't get it, they'll never succeed. And who am I to find fault with that?

Blow says he'll be doing a series of articles on on liberals and the media. I'll keep an eye on it - should be good for amusement at least.

[Link via Tim Blair, who has a few words to say himself about Moore.]

UPDATE: Here's a review from last October of Bowling for Columbine by Matt Labash at The Weekly Standard. Like all of Labash's work, it's excellent. Here's an of excerpt that shows (again) why Moore is noxious sludge:

In the film, Moore heads to Littleton, where he visits Lockheed Martin, the weapons maker and Littleton's biggest employer. Always one to blame societal ills on big corporations and/or the military-industrial complex, Moore interviews a Lockheed flack while his camera pans the factory's corny successory posters. As Moore nearly pops a hamstring, hyper-extending himself while reaching for a causal factor in the Columbine shootings, he asks the poor flack if he doesn't "think our kids say to themselves, 'Well, gee, dad goes off to the factory every day, and he builds missiles, he builds weapons of mass destruction. What's the difference between that mass destruction and the mass destruction over at Columbine High School?'" (Neither Klebold's nor Harris's parents worked for Lockheed, and Klebold's father has actually been identified as a liberal who favors gun control).

By this point, the flack is as puzzled as we are. He kindly explains that he's not catching the parallel, and that our missiles are generally built to defend us "from somebody else who was the aggressor against us. We don't get irritated with somebody and just because we get mad at them, drop a bomb or fire a missile at them." In what is perhaps the most-heavy handed two minutes in any film of the last 30 years, here, Moore cuts to a montage of American atrocities throughout the decades.

Against the strains of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," Moore cuts to a caption and image timeline explaining how we are guilty of everything from propping up tin-pot dictators to killing innocent civilians the world over. As Armstong sings the last words, Moore flashes a visual of the smoking World Trade Center, with the plane flying into tower two as a caption informs "Sept 11, 2001: Osama Bin Laden uses his expert CIA training to murder 3,000 people." Perhaps the likes of Bianca Jagger, Daniel Berrigan or the French would think Moore's uncorked a real sly piece of satire, but he's rolling out pretty heavy artillery to explain a school shooting.

On the other hand, Labash does reveal information that goes a long way to explaining the problem with the French:

...since Moore's film also won the "Cannes Prix Educational National" award, voted on by hundreds of French teachers and students, it will now become part of their national curriculum, shown every year at schools in France.

That's right. Bowling for Columbine will be spoon-fed in the classroom to naive French youth. You can bet there won't be much effort on the part of the teachers to offer perspective on it either. Charming.

Posted by susanna at 08:15 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Uh oh

I was just innocently reading Eric Lindholm's excellent new blog, Viking Pundit, when I came across this phrase*:

I was away from my computer (my precious!) most of the day...

The imagery struck me immediately as frighteningly accurate for me too.

I'm in trouble.


* If you don't get it, be thankful. That's all I can say.

Posted by susanna at 01:12 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Now, why is it our children don't learn?

Just came across this on Tongue-Tied:

A St. Louis middle school teacher who attempted to use a chapter from Harvard prof Randall Kennedy’s new book about the N-word in class was slapped on the wrist by school officials and parents for it, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

English teacher Shannon Schumacher distributed a chapter from Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word as part of a lesson on sensitivity. The calls from angry parents started almost immediately, school officials said.

The offending chapter includes anecdotes and samples of hate letters written to Hank Aaron when he was nearing Babe Ruth's home-run record, and a comedy sketch between Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase on "Saturday Night Live."

Schumacher was forced to apologize to the offended parents and students and the book has been removed from the curriculum.

No wonder kids grow up to be Democrats. They're robbed of any opportunity to learn critical thinking skills - all in the name of sensitivity. We're going to be a country of sensitive but very dead people* if we don't get some sense instead of sensitivity into our schools PDQ.

* That's because, as we've already seen, cultural sensitivity values feelings over safety. The more we tip toward that direction, the more in danger we are. There has to be a balance - we don't want to lose all sensitivity, but there has to be reason too.

Posted by susanna at 11:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The beat goes on

Now Sherry Murphy's 16-year-old son has been charged with aggravated assault in the death of 7-year-old Faheem Williams. Sixteen. And it looks like the charges for Williams, Murphy & Co. aren't done yet.

The condition of the NJ state child welfare agency isn't doing any better:

Two days after New Jersey officials ordered child welfare workers to visit 280 children who are the subject of abuse investigations, caseworkers have been unable to locate 110 of them, officials said today.

I realize that the families of many of these endangered children are not precisely stable, tending to be somewhat transient, changing addresses often and not having telephones. But that's not a new condition, and you'd think the state would have already developed processes to track these families - like, for instance, automatic blocks on public assistance monies as soon as a regular check on the children fell through because the family had moved. All that's happening now is finger-pointing from the state to the agency and back again.

It's worth noting that NJDYFS was sued in 1999 by Children's Rights; the NY Times reports today on the dismal findings by two experts who reviewed randomly chosen case files from the system:

Many accusations of child abuse reportedly go entirely uninvestigated in New Jersey's poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods. More than half of the children in foster care in the state are not checked on with the regularity that federal guidelines demand. And caseworkers investigating abuse reports often fail to conduct the kind of basic interviews with neighbors or doctors that might improve the state's record for removing children from troubled households.

Charming, isn't it?

And in case you've not had enough of this yet, Lauren Coats at Loyal Peon opens the guts of the Alabama child welfare system, and it's not pretty.

Posted by susanna at 09:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Money, honey!

This may be something everyone but me knows - there are so many things out there that I'm quite clueless about - but apparently there's a big anti-trust settlement against the music industry that all those who purchased music in the late 1990s can sign on to benefit from. Benefits are limited to $20, but hey, you can get a good CD for that! Here's the link. Deadline for joining in is March.

Posted by susanna at 08:55 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Advantage: CPO Sparkey!

FoxNews reports today with deep, brow-furrowed concern that Baghdad may have bought Russian jammers that could "confuse" American missiles by interrupting their signal enroute to target. It's not only very scary, according to Fox, but it's information they've "learned" recently. A new peril! They even have an exclusive photo.

The problem is - our very own CPO Sparkey over at Sgt. Stryker's blogged about these self-same jammers back in September (complete with link to a photo), and today highlights a press release from Boeing published in 1998 announcing anti-jam missiles.

Advantage - CPO SPARKEY!

It's very cool when our intrepid reporters scoop the big guys, and it's happening more and more. Congrats, CPO!

Posted by susanna at 08:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 10, 2003

Biased? Media? Of course not!

Last Sunday night, CBS ran a made-for-TV movie about Enron based on The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth About Enron, by Brian Cruver. This speaks for itself:

...CBS's Sunday night movie, The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth About Enron, got in a few very straight shots at the company's ties to the Bush administration, but made no mention of links to the Clinton team or financial support of any Democrats. In addition to several references to Ken Lay meeting with President Bush and Vice President Cheney, the TV movie superimposed images of left-wing actor Mike Farrell, who played Lay, into photos with the real George H.W. and George W. Bush, as well as Cheney...

The January 2 [Houston] Chronicle quoted Cruver: "In the book, as far as connections to the Bush administration, to me it was a bipartisan corruption, and I have as much information in the book about connections to (Bill) Clinton as (George W.) Bush. But the movie has taken a more one-sided view of that."

Nothing to see here! Move along!

[Link via The Long View, who relates his own impressions of the movie.]

Posted by susanna at 03:08 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Telephone question

A friend of mine needs a telephone/answering machine that can be set to pick up on zero rings. She's looked, her hubby's looked, I've looked, can't be found. Anybody out there know where to find one? Needs to be cordless phone, caller ID, answers on no ring. Surely somebody other than my friend wants to be able to have phone-ring-free afternoons or evenings! Surely enough people that someone has filled this market niche.


UPDATE: I've gotten a number of gracious suggestions (thank you), but since several consist of "turn off the phone", I need to make this point: my friend has about 6-7 phones over two floors of her home. She has a home office where it is important that she not be disturbed by phones ringing during intensive times of work. It would be annoying and cumbersome to go turn each and every phone off every day before she gets to work, then turn them back on afterward. Therefore, she needs an answering machine that answers the phone as soon as a call connects to the house, before the phones actually ring. Alternatively, one that lets the phone ring only once is next best. Unlike me - I work well with a cacophony around me, drowning out the noise in my own head - my friend likes complete quiet and no distractions to do her best work. And you want her to do her best work. Trust me. This is for the betterment of the world.

Posted by susanna at 02:55 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

A waste of oxygen

Two boys are found on the verge of starvation in a "fetid" basement. The mummified body of a third - the twin of one of the other two - is found stuffed in a plastic container; an autopsy finds that he died of starvation and "blunt force trauma" to the stomach. The boys were living (or rotting) with Sherry Murphy, a cousin of their mom's, a go-go dancer with five children of her own that no one can locate. The mom, Melinda Williams, handed the boys off to Murphy when Williams went to jail in March 2002 for child abuse; when police found her after finding the boys, she was in the hospital because, she said, "she was racing to Newark to see her children when she was struck by a car in the Bronx".

Another man has been arrested on suspicion of having molested one of the boys while they were locked in that basement.

Murphy disappeared when police found the boys, but was turned in Wednesday by a man she met on Monday. What were they doing in the interim? Well, let's see what the articles say:

[Jean-Claude] Dessources told police that Murphy, visibly upset, told him she had just come from the South after the death of her mother and had been left a house with no furniture and needed a place to stay while she hunted for friends and family, the mayor said. She gave Dessources the name Michelle Williams.

"She said, 'Can we chill together for a while?'" James said.

The two spent Monday and Tuesday on Ellery Avenue, with Dessources unaware that he was rooming with one of the most wanted fugitives on the East Coast. Neither read a newspaper or watched television news reports in those two days, James said...

[Newark Mayor Sharpe James] said Dessources' cousin, Jean Baum, who lives across the hall, knew about the guest and told him: "I want to chill with her, too." The two cousins agreed they would tell Murphy she had to move into Baum's apartment for awhile because Dessources' girlfriend was coming over, the mayor said...

Admitted into the Ellery Avenue building by Dessources, DeMaio and five of his officers swept into the basement and found Murphy in bed with Baum. As they pulled her from the bed in her T- shirt and panties, she said, "Keep your hands off me," and told them she had intended to turn herself in the next morning, a Newark police official said.

"She was snippy, but there was nothing physical," a source said.

Charming, charming folks. And why did Dessources turn her in, after his turn of "chilling with her"?

"He was concerned about the children, he was concerned about the charges, and in the same breath he said he was concerned about the reward money," James said during a news conference Thursday.

Fortunately, he may not "get his":

James last night said authorities are still deciding whether Dessources deserves the $5,000 reward for turning Murphy in. Investigators are trying to determine exactly when Dessources became aware that Murphy was a fugitive and how soon after that he approached police.

Should it turn out that Dessources purposely delayed reporting Murphy's whereabouts, "he may not be worthy of the reward," James said.

Who could blame him for delaying? Chillin' takes time, you know.

This story is just pathetic from beginning to end. Those poor poor children. The people in their lives are the lowest dregs of society - and of course we'll hear from their attorneys how they were "downtrodden" and how it's all society's fault. That's just drivel. I suggest we put all these people in a basement together where they can "chill" and "molest" until they're all too dehydrated and starved to move. Then let them die, in the way they let little Faheem die. Brick over the opening and forget they exist. Spend all the money the government will save in welfare payments and indigent health care on getting those two remaining boys a good home, education, tutoring, a chance in life.

I'm totally sick of this disgusting maggot-infested slimy inhumane trash cloaked in human form sucking off the teat of society and blaming us all for their self-absorbed, mundane evil. I'm just waiting for the whining to start. You know, there are good, decent people who are at times on welfare, who need government assistance. It's not fair to them either for this kind of garbage to sully them too. There is nothing that causes evil. It's chosen. Let these child-abusers suffer the full and most horrible consequences.

And the state of New Jersey is a major player here, just as the state of Florida was in the disappearance of Rilya Wilson, who, by the way, is still missing. The story of how these children fell through the cracks is criminal, but of course now the employees are pointing fingers at the state, the managers are pointing fingers at the state, the state is suspending everyone associated with the case, and everyone is saying the answer is more money. Well, that may be true, in the sense that they probably don't have the latest in technology and training, or the best salaries. But it's always a people and management problem, always. I've worked for local governments for nine years, and have worked with governments for quite a few more. There are excellent workers and people really concerned about doing the right thing in all areas of government, but there's also a lot of people there because the emphasis is more on politically correct hiring and preserving civil service than on getting good workers or practicing good management. Rich that in a state where the governor tried to get the state to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a jaunt to Ireland for him and his political cronies, including a personal family reunion, the Department of Youth Services supposedly doesn't have enough money to hire sufficient caseworkers, or install adequate technology, to track children so they don't starve to death in basements.

I could drive to where this happened. It would take me about 15 minutes, on a good traffic day. I was living just a few miles away while Faheem starved to death. And that makes me sick too. I wish I could do something, but I don't know where to start. I look at the monolith our government has become, the rabid cry of special interest groups that work together to keep this dysfunctional jibbering monster of a "compassionate government" intact and lurching forward without substantive change, and I just feel helpless.

I just feel helpless.

Posted by susanna at 11:16 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack


Remember Peter Kirstein, the professor who ripped a military cadet only asking for help in bringing a recruitment program to the campus of Kirstein's university? Well, he's corresponded with Instapundit, who has posted Kirstein's abbreviated apologia. It's just about what you'd expect. Since I posted about Kirstein several times, I thought I'd give you a heads up. To be fair and all. No, no, no need to thank me. It's just who I am.

Posted by susanna at 07:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Heather the Canadian Idiot

Brent at The Ville takes down columnist Heather Mallick. It's a thing of beauty.

Posted by susanna at 07:40 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

&*(%!! ^%$@*&!!!! #^!

Warning! Much bad language ahead. Please don't read if you'll be offended. If you do read, don't write me to complain. I warned you.

What in the #@$% were you thinking?!

Yes, yes, I know. Such language! But I've been thinking lately about how so many people who don't believe in God or the devil or hell or damnation not only use the language of cursing but use it with a sense that it's composed of what we called "bad words" in grade school. If they weren't "bad words", there'd be no point in using them because the point in using them is to be bad. But if you don't believe in the concepts behind the words... are you really being bad?

Quite a philosophical puzzle. I was considering the word "bloody" while driving home tonight (and driving in NJ is always a fertile time for curse words), wondering if my saying it carries the same moment as someone from England, where it is a "bad word", saying it. If I wanted to tell you that your chances of a certain outcome were dim, I'd say "Not bloody likely!" in England where I might say "Not a snowball's chance in hell!" in the US. Both are much more colorful than "It's quite unlikely" - don't you think?

But I digress, since I don't know the origin of "bloody" as a curse word.* I believe that there is a God, I believe that there is a literal place which we call "hell" (literal in the sense that it is a very bad place that can be experienced on some level by whatever form it is we have after death), and that some people will be there for eternity. Those people will truly be "damned", in the original sense of condemned to everlasting punishment. So if I looked at you, dead in the eyes, and said, "Damn you to hell", and meant it, then I would have done something really evil because I believe in both hell and damnation. However, in the hands of our mercurial language, that phrase now carries the weight of anything from an evil curse to an affectionate form of "get out of my face".

But why does someone say "Damn you to hell!" when they mean "Get out of my face!"? Is it shock value? Lazy language? An underlying animosity that oozes out with darker words? Some kind of code bonding them together, like when a black person calls another black person "nigger"?

I suspect the shock value was the reason for using the language initially, because even if you don't believe in the concepts behind the words they're still not considered "polite" in our society. That seems to be the case behind using either "shit", "crap" or "fudge" - all words which perform the same function for the people who use them as an exclamation of dismay. (And I think it's funny that "fudge" is the word of choice for some - given its, shall we say, similar appearance to the other two.) The first is no holds barred; the second is what my mother would call "rough language" (and when I use it I'm being "earthy", in her lexicon). The third is your grandmother's word.

Of course, these days the word of choice is "fuck", which has become as ubiquitous as "smurf" in the Smurf cartoons - just think of an angry Smurfette: "What in the smurf do you think you're smurfing doing with that smurfing hammer?" "Smurf" has about the same value as a word, in the sense of adding meaning; the value in "fuck" over "smurf" has to do with its disreputable place in the language. Thus someone seeking to shock, or wanting to show they're hard-edged or somehow not constrained by those silly religious conventions of their youth, slip "fuck" in at every opportunity. But what does it mean? The dictionary shows a range of uses, but that's more reflective of how it has evolved in usage rather than giving meaning to it in any real way (other than its original meaning).

The words having some religious associations, on the other hand, do have meaning and their use draws on specific history for their power. Why doesn't a Valley Girl say, "Oh, my TREEE!!!" instead of "Oh, my GOOODDD!!!"? There must be some lingering sense that God is a more powerful thing than a tree. Jesus's name is used a lot too, but since it has two words - Jesus Christ - it's been treated to all manner of changes: Jesus H. Christ. Christ on a crutch! Jumpin' Jesus! The list goes on. The most recent incarnation that I see around the blogosphere is Jeebus. Now that has about the same value as saying "darn" instead of "damn" - it softens the blow a little but not by much.

My question is... if you don't believe in Jesus at all, why invoke his name in any form? What value is it? Is there really an intent to offend believers? This isn't a lecture, mind, although I do cringe when I hear the names of God and Jesus used that way. I'm genuinely curious. Using "Jeebus" seems, to me, kind of an insider way of saying, I'm not bound by these word conventions but I'm also kind enough not to deliberately offend.** Otherwise, if you're not going to say "Jesus", then why not use something completely different, like "tree" or "pudding"? Because they don't have deeper connotations in our language. And the other words do.

So it comes back to using language that has a rough edge because of the context (a flippant use of a serious concept). In a way, using what are commonly known as "curse words" has now become a convention of its own, a type of shorthand for all manner of meanings, and a code for recognizing those of a certain philosophy (I'm willing to use [this set of words], which says [fill in the blank according to your thoughts] about me). And for most people I think it's now just habit, similar to the way many people began smoking to be cool and now smoke because... well... they just do.

What does this all mean? I don't know, it's just musings from my drive home yesterday. Maybe today I'll listen to the radio.

UPDATE: See? I always get in trouble. Spoons informs me in comments that the "Jeebus" thing comes from a Simpsons episode, so I've managed the double no-no of drawing conclusions from incomplete info and showing myself to be terminally uncool because I do not watch The Simpsons regularly. Oh the humanity! So I stand corrected. What in the smurf was I thinking?

Also, Henry found a bit different explanation for "bloody" (the one I found is in the "MORE" section):

...According to the Oxford English Dictionary: "In foul language, a vague epithet expressing anger, resentment, but often a mere intensive, especially with a negative -- as, not a bloody one." They cite an 1840s usage. On the other hand, the use as adverb dates back to 1650s: as an intensive, meaning, "very" or "and no mistake". In the 1880s, it was considered a "horrid word" by respectable people, on par with obscene or profane language, and was printed in newspapers, etc., as "b----y."

The OED says the origin is uncertain, but possibly refers to "bloods" (aristocratic rowdies) of the late 17th-early 18th centuries ... "bloody drunk" arising from '"drunk as a blood" ... and the association with bloody battle, bloody butcher, etc., "appealed to the imagination of the rough classes." They add, "There is no ground for the notion that 'bloody', offensive as ... it is now to polite ears, contains any profane allusion or has connection with the oath ' 's blood!', referring to the blood of Jesus."

As to how offensive the word actually is, well, that depends on whom you ask, or say it in front of. It's fair to compare it to the "F-word," in that it may cause your mum to faint, but may cause scarcely a raised eyebrow amongst the gang at the pub....

That's what I get for blogging my drive-time musings without sufficient research. ^%$@#!!!

* Okay, so I found it, albeit obscurely:

"Bloody" is a curse word because it is a form of "God's Blood" which means "By the blood of God"--usually used to speak some unspeakable thing onto another person.

So it has a religious connotation too.

** Another possibility is that "Jeebus" is used in a wholly mocking way, serving the dual purpose of disrespecting the concept and poking fun at those who'd be offended by it at the same time. Clever.

And no, I'm not the language police. Just a curious person interested in language.

Posted by susanna at 07:23 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

January 09, 2003

On a more serious note

Don't miss Gadgets for God, a website for all your usual and unusual Christian lifestyle needs:

The Blessed Bandage, a postcard of the bloodied pad of a Band-Aid, where the distribution of monochromatic blood-ooze forms an image of a smiling modern-day Jesus;

The Fire Bible, where real flames put the fear into readers;

The Return to Sender casket, for those going home; no word on whether it comes with an Elvis soundtrack. For others, there's a wide choice including a University of Kentucky casket (for fans at the UK/UofL game this year), a New York, NY, casket with the WTC prominently displayed, and for the more cultural, a Monet "Waterlilies" casket.

The Swarm of Locusts Plaguedome, for those of you into the Egyptians-as-bad-guys thing. Yes, this is the time they got theirs, and you can keep a memento on your desk. For an elegant touch, go for the Three Days of Darkness Plaguedome with - you guessed it - a solid black globe.

And for those for whom eating is a religious experience, or those who want to taste a small piece of where you may wind up, try the Religious Experience line of salsas and hot sauce, including The Wrath and Apocolypse.

Last, but most assuredly not least, is the Light Up Musical Jesus, a glass box with a statuette of Jesus suspended in water with lace and plastic flowers.

Of course, my favorite is the grave decoration still available in some parts of the south on major visit-the-cemetery occasions: a block of Styrofoam with plastic flowers arranged on the front and a Princess phone tucked into the middle, the receiver off the hook. And on the ribbon across the arrangement are the words, "Jesus called".

["Gadgets" link via Gizmodo]

Posted by susanna at 06:46 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Fiction by definition

Media Minded came across a review of a science fiction book depicting a world some 70 years hence, where conservatives are firmly in control - and it's a bad thing. They're trying to establish a colony on another planet to establish a "pure" world, in a McCarthyish way. You gotta read MM's post about it, if for no other reason than his little musical aside about liberals. The best bit from the review (quoted by MM) is about the ones who will save the day:

...liberal intellectual dissidents hatch a conspiracy, steal the starship Alabama from its port in Earth orbit and start their own space colony in the spirit of the Mayflower

Sounds like an academic leftist's wet dream, doesn't it? For the rest of us, it's comedy.

Posted by susanna at 04:13 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Hypocrisy on the Left? Say it ain't so!

Arianna Huffington is at it again, this time with ads to run this weekend mimicking the anti-drug theme ads which claim that using illegal drugs supports terrorism. In this instance, Huffington's campaign is claiming that driving SUVs supports terrorism because - wait for it - they use an oil derivative to run.

NOOOOOO!!!!!!! Please, please make it stop!

CLog has a little on this, including links to two articles, one at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and one at Insight Magazine. I heard Huffington interviewed this morning on WABC radio in NYC, and it was pretty comical. I think it was the Curtis & Kuby show. They said, Arianna... don't you travel by private jet? Doesn't that use a way lot more of an oil derivative - kerosene in this instance - than any SUVs out there? And she said (are you ready?):

"I don't own a private jet, I just ride in those owned by friends."

There you go. Don't buy an SUV yourself, just ride in the ones owned by your friends and you'll get the Huffington Seal of Approval.

This is all about as integritous as you'd expect from the same kind of folk as those who travel thousands of miles (burning fossil fuel) to have global warming conferences, showing up in chauffeured limosines (burning fossil fuel) and meeting in highly air-conditioned rooms (using great quantities of fuel to cool their fevered brows as they tried to figure out how to prevent the using of great quantities of fuel). It's just silly, and I wish the TV stations that are refusing to play the commercials would do it. Unintentional self-parody is the finest debunker there is.

The article in Insight Magazine points out that while Huffington and her ilk are berating American SUV owners over terrorism, they're curiously silent about actual hands-on terrorism committed by their brothers and sisters in eco-solidarity:

As their fellow Americans were celebrating the (sometimes) peaceful respite the holiday season offered, the enviro-activist Earth Liberation Front (ELF) was reveling in disrupting the peace, particularly in Pennsylvania. On Jan. 2, the ELF claimed responsibility for "its first action of 2003 with the destruction of several SUVS at a Pennsylvania auto dealership."

As is common practice, the enviro-terrorists issued a communiqué to the ELF press office, which posted the missive on its Website ( The New Year "action" involved an arson attack on the Bob Ferrando Ford Lincoln Mercury Dealership in Erie, Pa., on Jan. 1. The ELF release proudly estimated $90,000 in damage to have been done by the attack, in which at least four SUVs were completely destroyed and several other vehicles heavily damaged.

The communiqué stated: "There is a direct relationship between our irresponsible overconsumption and lust for luxury products, and the poverty and destruction of other people and the natural world. By refusing to acknowledge this simple fact, supporting this paradigm with our excessive lifestyles and failing to offer direct resistance, we make ourselves accomplices in the greatest crime ever committed."

Admittedly torching a few SUVs isn't the same as killing innocent people either on US soil or in other parts of the world, but it's certainly a more dangerous and direct act than driving an SUV. So the Huffington folks get to wear the "hypocrite" label both coming and going. They might want to spend a little time with the Good Book, which says: can you say to your brother, "Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye.

And that's even an environmentally friendly analogy.

Posted by susanna at 03:40 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Very bad move

Can you say "fired" and "lawsuit"?

DETROIT (AP) - Police have asked prosecutors to file charges against an officer who cut off the fingertip of a 45-year-old woman he was trying to handcuff, the department said yesterday...

Officers at the scene early Sunday said Joni Gullas was resisting arrest. But Gullas told the Detroit Free Press that she thought she was being carjacked.

According to police, Gullas' fingertip was severed when Johnson used a 4-inch utility knife to cut off the sleeve of her oversized coat so he could put her left hand in the handcuffs...

According to police reports, Johnson and two other plainclothes officers on a breaking and entering task force were riding in an unmarked car when they noticed Gullas' van in a bar parking lot.

Gullas, of Detroit, said she was waiting for friends when a car pulled up and someone shined a spotlight in her face.

A man approached, said he was the police and demanded her identification. Gullas said she could make out only a silhouette and asked the man for police identification.

"I just thought I was getting hijacked right then and there," she said.

Johnson approached the window and demanded Gullas' license. He wrote that she refused and smelled of alcohol.

Johnson wrote that he reached inside to open the door, but Gullas pinned his hand with her knee and began moving the car backward. Johnson wrote that he hit her in the face, opened the door and pulled her onto the pavement while she violently resisted.

He cuffed her right hand but couldn't get to her left hand. He pulled on her coat sleeve, and she pulled her hand inside, he wrote. Gullas denied doing that and said the sleeves on the coat normally hang over her hands.

Concerned that she might be reaching for a weapon, Johnson pulled out the knife and cut the sleeve off, he wrote.

He severed her left ring finger at the top knuckle and deeply cut her middle finger, she said. The fingertip was later recovered but could not be reattached.

There's just no explanation for this that works. No mitigation. This officer obviously is a bit loony, and should be dumped forthwith. How can you apply enough pressure to slice off someone's finger and think you're just cutting through a coat? And what's up with cutting the coat anyway? And what were the other officers doing? It says he wasn't alone.

And while the woman might be dissembling about thinking she's being attacked, a man in plainclothes emerging at night from an unmarked car approaching a woman alone in an isolated place ... doesn't scream "cop" to me. Sounds like she should have been cautious. Then he slugs her and grabs at her arms after saying he's a cop but not proving it? Well, this guy is toast and the Detroit police department may be too.

Cut off her finger? Yikes.

Cops in plainclothes need to remember that just because you know your intent doesn't mean others do. And at night everything changes anyway. It reminds me of people who wear dark clothes at night and cross heavy traffic streets against the light or away from cross walks. They don't realize that you can barely see them. Or maybe they're just idiots. Like this cop.

UPDATE: Stephen Quick makes a good point in comments - behavior like this deserves more than a lawsuit and firing. If he was just an idiot, he should be personally liable for her medical expenses etc, as well as maybe a misdemeanor assault. If he was being an arrogant jerk who pretty much was operating on "If I do it it's ok because I'm a cop", then I think jail time isn't out of line. I don't like to hamstring cops in protecting themselves and others, but there are lines and this crossed them. On several fronts. I want to know more about the situation, because I'm having difficulty getting my mind around it just being a cop so lost to all humanity that he thinks anything is okay as long as he's the one doing it. I'm still hoping for some mitigating circumstances (and yes, no mitigation will get her finger back on, but if she was not in any serious way aggressive toward him, and he really was unidentifiable as a cop in dress, vehicle or general circumstances... well, he's toast and should be. Well crisped toast).

Posted by susanna at 10:02 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


On January 1, the NY Times played the new Democrat mantra of "no liberal radio hosts!" on their front page. Naturally I had something to say about it, mentioning (toward the end) that there is a liberal talk show host I like - Ron Kuby, part of the Curtis & Kuby Morning Show on WABC Radio 770 AM in NYC.

Now we learn that the NY Times knew about Kuby too, and just chose not to mention it. Are we surprised?

Kuby has been teamed with Guardian Angel founder Sliwa for six years on WABC radio, and has been on the morning show for almost three years. He's not a flare-out celebrity. Their show has gained morning market share steadily since it was transferred to that time slot, and Kuby is key to its success. So why didn't he make the NY Times article?

This morning on the Curtis & Kuby show, they talked on the air with WABC radio program manager Phil Boyce. He told them that R&R has nominated their show as one of the five top local talk shows in the nation, in the running for the best. And he addressed specifically the NY Times article.

As it turns out, the NY Times called Boyce for an interview for their article on the lack of liberal talk show hosts; I assume Jim Rutenberg, who wrote the article, but I don't recall Boyce mentioning the name. It's logical for Boyce to be interviewed, since he manages a station that is devoted to talk shows, the majority of which are conservative - it's the NYC base of Rush Limbaugh, the parent station of Sean Hannity's radio program which has now gone national; and there's several other talk programs. It has a huge listenership, reaching out even to the midwest when weather conditions are right.

And Boyce told the reporter about Kuby. He told the NY Times reporter that Kuby is very liberal - beyond liberal, into radical. He told the NY Times reporter of Kuby's success, teamed with Sliwa. How much of it showed up in the article?

Zero, zip, nada.


Here's what the article has to say:

...Liberal radio programs have not worked very well in the past. Liberals and conservatives said they believed this was in part because the most prominent liberal hosts have tended to present policy issues in all of their dry complexity while refraining from baring fangs against conservative opponents.

"Most liberal talk shows are so, you know, milquetoast, who would want to listen to them?" said Harry Thomason, the Hollywood producer who is close to Bill Clinton. "Conservatives are all fire and brimstone."

Kuby is nothing if not fiery, to the point that he and Sliwa have on their show a warning that goes off when the argument gets too heated, a funny little siren noise with a voiceover saying, essentially, "We're having a meltdown here. We'll return you to the show when the hosts have cooled down". Kuby is all for more government, more money to government, socialized medicine, etc et al. And Boyce told the reporter about Kuby. He's a long-term successful talk show host, who even had a brief run with Sliwa on MSNBC as a TV talk show duo. So why didn't the reporter talk about Kuby?

Boyce said he thought it was because the reporter already had a template in mind for how he wanted to write the article, and the information on Kuby didn't fit it. He said that many reporters basically have an article written before they start calling for quotes, and are just looking for a little pizzazz and support from the people called for quotes, not actually any new information that might possibly (horrors!) challenge the take they've already decided on. And he echoed what I had to say about why Kuby is successful when other liberal hosts are not - because he has a sense of humor and doesn't hesitate to poke fun at both himself and Sliwa.

But I think the reason the reporter didn't mention Kuby goes deeper than that, and I think it's revealed in what the Democrats think about what's behind the Republican success. Here's from the Times article again:

For his part, Mr. Podesta is discussing with the Internet entrepreneur Steven T. Kirsch and others the creation of a liberal version of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative research group that, along with others of its kind, is credited with helping start the modern conservative movement.

The foundation is part of a circuit of influential conservative groups that are credited with helping to hone a singular message, bolstered each Wednesday at back-to-back meetings held by Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, and the conservative activist Paul Weyrich. Those meetings are monitored and at times attended by some conservative commentators, columnists and Internet writers.

Democrats have long claimed that the circuit has corralled conservative thinkers, and more important, conservative media, into a disciplined message of the week that gets repeated attention from Web sites like the Drudge Report, Mr. Limbaugh's radio show, Fox News's prime-time talk shows and the editorial pages of The Washington Times and The Wall Street Journal.

So they're saying the conservative media types have a unified message that they're told to get out, and the Dems need to do the same. I don't think the conservatives do have a talking-points strategy beyond the suggestions made by the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups - the media types hear the information, but I doubt very seriously that they sign on to it. But the Dems think they do, and they want that kind of propaganda machine themselves. That's why a Ron Kuby would not be acceptable, and - in my judgment - it's why Kuby didn't show up in the NY Times article. He's not the kind of liberal the Dems want advancing their party.

Why's that? Because he's an independent thinker who doesn't hold to the Dem party line. He's someone that even mainstream Dems would consider too liberal on some points, and he feels no allegiance to the Dems. He has a sense of humor, an entertaining style, and that quality sadly missing in so much of the Dem leadership - intellectual honesty. He can't be had (or at least, if he can be, he hasn't yet).

The truth is, someone like Ron Kuby would be perfect to advance the Dem agenda, because his intellectual honesty is evident. He's wrong, and when he's on a tear his opinions on conservative policies are at times scurrilous, but I never question whether he truly believes what he's saying. I have a number of serious problems with Kuby - for instance, I think he is at times a race-baiter, taking every opportunity to accuse whites as a race of prejudice against blacks as a race. But that's not out of line with Dem thought in general, and at least with Kuby you have a feeling that you could have a reasonable discussion with him about it and he might shift his perspective a tiny bit. That's because he's not politically motivated, and his goal isn't to get someone in power. And that's the real reason he'll never make the Dems' short list for Top Liberal Radio Host - he can't be owned and led like the Dems want.

I don't have that same confidence in the NY Times.

Posted by susanna at 07:35 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

January 08, 2003

"Freedom of Speech" means everybody

Scene 1: The present

WWMohDo Marlette.gif

Political cartoonist Doug Marlette draws the image of a man in traditional Arab dress driving a Ryder truck with a nuclear warhead in the back, titling it "What would Mohammad Drive?". An angry reader writes to complain about the characterization of Muslims. Political columnist Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat fires off a rather rude email to the reader on company email. The reader sends it to CAIR. Cotterell is subsequently suspended for a week without pay and apologizes to everyone who will stand still long enough to hear or read it. His newspaper apologizes even more, using the code words of the day: "tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness".

Scene 2: 1989


Artist Andres Serrano urinates into a flask, pours in a little cow's blood for color, slides in a crucifix with an image of Jesus Christ affixed to it, photographs it, names it "pisschrist" and calls it "art". It creates a stir, hundreds protest, and newspapers around the country support his "freedom of speech." No one is suspended or apologizes for defending him. The image of the man millions of people world wide believe is God continues to travel submerged in urine.

I know it's subtle, but do you see a difference here?

What Cotterell said was strong, but no stronger than what, say, Ted Rall regularly depicts in his published cartoons. Would you like to judge for yourself? Here's the text, from the CAIR site:

In an e-mail to a concerned Muslim, Cotterell had written: "Except for Jordan and Egypt, no Arab nation has a peace treaty with Israel. They've had 54 years to get over it. They choose not to. OK, they can squat around the camel-dung fire and grumble about it, or they can put their bottoms in the air five times a day and pray for deliverance; that's their business…And I don't give a damn if Israel kills a few in collateral damage while defending itself. So be it."

Cavalier, yes, but again no worse that fundamentalist Christians are often portrayed by liberals, or Republicans by Democrats. Or even sometimes Democrats by Republicans. How many times have you heard fundamentalist Christians referred to as "snake handlers"? There are some who do handle snakes, just as I'm sure there's a few Muslims who sit around camel-dung fires - just like some Americans, both natives and transplants, have in the past sat around buffalo dung fires. It's a matter of need, availability and economics. But the reference is not meant to be descriptive - it's meant to be pejorative. It's rude. But while it does show a certain bias on the part of the writer, I've not heard of anyone who's used "snake handlers" being suspended for a week without pay and apologizing to Christians everywhere.

I'm not saying that writers should declare open season on Muslims, trashing them and their religion right and left with impunity. Of course that's wrong. But this excessive sensitivity is preventing a dialogue that needs to happen. If Muslims are going to integrate into the country as citizens - and many many have - then their religion needs to be treated just like Christianity or any other religion. Death threats to cartoonists (Marlette) or fine artists (Serrano) from fundamentalist Christians or from Muslims should be followed up by a knock on the door from police. A rude email from a columnist could trigger a public apology, especially if he uses the company email system, but not some tolerance and diversity mea culpa. I think Andres Serrano committed blasphemy when he showed such disrespect to Jesus Christ, but I wouldn't call for his death or even insist that his artwork be taken down - unless it was paid for by public funds, which I would (and do) object to. The intense tussle between art (and cartoons are art [except for Ted Rall]) and politics has a long history, especially in the United States. That's not likely to end soon.

And we can't ignore the chilling effect this kind of kowtowing could have on journalists. How long before stories in the Muslim community, or involving Muslims, that need to be told are going to be bypassed or handled with kid gloves because of the thousands of emails, public outcry and editorial folding to the pressure? It may have already happened.

I'd say that a lot of Muslims, and people from the Middle East who are not Muslim, are fully behind free speech in this country and understand their own religion and countries of origin aren't immune to negative depictions. And certainly genuine bigotry and racism are always wrong. But the behavior of CAIR and the resultant folding of Cotterell's publisher are a sobering warning of the future. Muslims can't be protected from the rough and tumble of American society. It's what makes this country work. I like the way that Marlette put it in his response to the controversy over the WWMD cartoon:

"...those who rise up against the expression of ideas are strikingly similar. No one is less tolerant than those demanding tolerance. A certain humorlessness, self-righteousness and literal-mindedness binds them all together. Despite differences of culture and creed, they all seem to share the egocentric notion that there is only one way of looking at things, their way, and that others have no right to see things differently..."

Cotterell was rude. Fine, he apologized. Marlette drew his impressions of a situation. Good, it makes us think. Maybe what we need is more of those, not less.

Additional info:

Article on Cotterell apology
Marlette gets death threats
More info on Piss Christ
Australian discussion on pisschrist
CAIR on Marlette
Article on NEA, with mention of Serrano

[Original link from Romenesko]

UPDATE: All you wanted to know and then some on snakehandlers, fairly dry. Here's a page on them that says "try to be understanding". And here's an interesting article with lots of links.

Posted by susanna at 09:28 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

January 07, 2003

Hello from Nashville

I'm sitting in my beautiful room in a Nashville hotel; it has 20 foot ceilings with two huge arched windows, one looking out into the 7-story atrium with a stained glass domed ceiling. Now if the TV internet in the room worked with anything like the same high quality. But, alas, it doesn't, it's actually quite awful, which is why you've heard little from me since yesterday morning. This post alone will take me probably 10 minutes.

However, I left two posts with her wonderfulness Page, of The Last Page, one of which she graciously posted this morning (on Moore, below) and the second to be posted tomorrow. I thought both of them would give you quite a bit to chew on until I'm back in the land of fast connections and mice that click instead of squeak.

So this is to say, Hello from Nashville! and thank Ms. Page for being, as always, a good friend - bloggish and otherwise.

(Now we'll hold our breath and see if this actually posts.)

Posted by susanna at 02:22 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

No Moore, please!

The boy is on the cusp of adulthood, handsome, almost pretty, thin with dark hair to his shoulders. He sits in a wheelchair as a camera zooms in, filming Exhibit A, The Boy In The Wheelchair Because Of Columbine. Cut to a scene of his bare back, as he leans forward in the chair, and a pudgy finger traces the puckered tissue where bullets sliced into his flesh. When next we see him, he sits silent in the chair as his companions speak to K-Mart officials, pointing to him and saying, your 17-cent bullets put him in this chair.

The next day, he smiles but still is quiet, and looks uncertain, as a K-Mart representative speaks to the media that his companion brought to their offices. We won’t sell bullets anymore, not this kind, the representative says. In 90 days they’ll be gone. His companion is elated - his goal is accomplished, beyond his dreams.

In 90 days the bullets will be gone from the stores. The ones in the boy will still be there. He will still be in the chair. And his companion - filmmaker Michael Moore - will have succeeded in victimizing him one more time.

I went to see Bowling for Columbine on Sunday. I’d heard a lot about it, read a number of articles on it, and trashed Moore a couple of times myself for other things. When I saw Bowling for Columbine on a list of movies showing locally, I thought - I should go. I should see this for myself and make my own judgments.

That judgment is: Michael Moore is an evil man.

The scene with the young man paralyzed at Columbine - who was accompanied by another young man who walks but carries inoperable bullets in his own body - was one of many scenes of exploitation and bare-faced, deliberate propaganda that riddled the film. There is no question that there is much violence in America, that guns are involved in many instances of violence, that people who shouldn’t have guns do, that racism is still a problem. What is unconscionable is that Michael Moore uses lies, exploitation, ambushes and damning-by-association to condemn … guns? Americans? Americans owning guns? and is lauded for doing so. He doesn’t even make it clear precisely what he’s condemning - he’s just strafing the bushes to demonize the Bush administration, white Americans, gun owners, conservatives and the media. He lets you extrapolate in a wink wink nudge nudge way from his “guileless” interviews that show the interviewees in the worst light.

The movie shifts in documentary fashion from scene to scene, using juxtaposition and voice-over narration to convey impressions, or stating “facts” over violent images - like showing the second plane hitting the WTC on 9/11, with the text “Sept. 11, 2001: Osama bin Laden uses his expert CIA training to kill 3000 Americans”. Others (like Tim Blair) have done an excellent job of reviewing the film and debunking the lies; I won’t repeat their work. But what I came away with was a deep anger at Moore for the way he used people, promulgating the rankest hypocrisy.

One major theme in the film is the American media’s tendency to cover criminal activities intensely, to the point that it can actually create a fear out of all proportion to the actual threat. It’s one thing in the film that’s to some extent true*. Moore’s twist on this fact is that the fear created by the media’s relentless crime drumbeat is a big factor in Americans feeling fearful and thus in their belief they need to have guns to be safe. He holds the media up for ridicule repeatedly, highlighting their cynicism and exploitation of their subjects. He then deliberately collects the Columbine victims for a little exploitation event of his own, descending on K-Mart headquarters and, when he doesn’t get the reaction he wants, comes back the next day with a full complement of the media he mocks to press his point home.

Moore later uses paparazzi techniques to ambush Charlton Heston - first going to his home and asking for an interview about “the gun thing”, quick to point out that he’s a “member of NRA”**. Heston agrees to meet with him the next day, and graciously takes Moore to his pool house where they sit for a chat. Moore gives deliberately mixed messages, telling Heston that he is “a lifetime member of the NRA”, then asking Heston about going to Flint, MI, for a gun rally a few days after the killing of 6-year-old Kayla Rolland by a classmate, or going for a similar rally in Denver just over a week after Columbine. It takes a few minutes for Heston to realize that Moore is meaning to attack him, that he’s not there for a regular interview but to catch Heston flatfooted on camera for the purpose of ridiculing him and, by association, ridiculing gun owners and the NRA. Heston is never rude, even when Moore says, “Don’t you want to apologize to the people of Flint, MI, for coming for a gun rally right after Kayla Rolland was killed?” Heston, clearly shocked, stops in the midst of getting up from his chair and says, “Me? Apologize?” then leaves the room without any other comments. His movements are those of an old man. Moore follows him out of the pool house and across a terrace before standing watching Heston go, a color photo of Kayla Rolland in his hand, saying, “This is her, this is Kayla Rolland, don’t you want to see it?” Heston turns to look, then continues into his house without speaking; Moore props the photo against a stone pillar before he lumbers out of the estate.

And lumbering is part of his approach. Moore is a very heavy man, who dressed sloppily, sporting a baseball cap and a few days growth of beard throughout the movie. He moves slowly, the camera following his “aw shucks” everyman progress through all his interviews and confrontations. You expect him at any minute to say, “Hyuck hyuck! I’m just a lil ole documentarian filmin’ what’s there ta see, folks, and look at all these horrible people!” It is such a studied projection that it could be nothing but deliberate manipulation, and the way he asks his questions, along with the manner the interviews are edited, invite the viewer to mock along with him the gullibility of these rubes - Heston included.

Moore’s manipulations are not limited to the obvious baiting or mocking of gun owners, or the exploitation of a paralyzed teenage boy and a dead little girl. He segues into blaming white-on-black racism for the proliferation of gun violence in America, carefully choosing his images to make any reasonable person bristle. But he can’t resist over-characterization, so his efforts slide into obvious hyperbole that undermine whatever good point might remotely have been possible. Two examples, both amongst the most subtle in a segment rife with references to the Ku Klux Klan: He uses a clip of a silent movie where a stereotyped caricature of a black man with huge eyes is chasing a frightened white woman through a forest, apparently implying whites today fear blacks in just that way. Then he spends several minutes showing clips and discussions of “Africanized” bees, as if in some fashion the fact that dangerous bees are called “Africanized” means that the media are using some code to indicate how fearful white people should be of these bees - they’re like the fearsome black people! Run! Run away! It’s just noxious. While he does give the history of the bees, his extrapolations from the truth are nonsense - the truth is that a species of bees from Africa - thus “African bees”, as legitimate a term as “African elephant” or “African tiger” - were brought to South America. The African species of bee is more aggressive than the European version already resident in SA; when the two mixed the hybrid was “Africanized”, a term used to indicate that they had the more aggressive qualities of the African species of bee. In Moore’s hands this perfectly legitimate shorthand becomes heavy with portent and evil intention. It’s one of the clearest indications that his intent in this movie is not to show truth, but to villainize those he disagrees with.

The oddest thing about the movie were the flashes of truth that did get through - for instance, the media’s overemphasis on violent crime, mentioned above, and the interview with Marilyn Manson, who came across as quite reasonable and articulate. While I do think the nihilist music of some groups can help feed the destructive impulses of already disturbed people, I agree with Manson that it doesn’t cause the behavior - in this case, the two Columbine killers were reported to be Manson fans, and he was blamed by some for their spree. And Manson said something else I thought insightful - that it benefits some companies to “keep people afraid”, because then “they’ll consume” products like alarm systems. Of course, the point from Moore’s perspective is that it also encourages people to buy guns. But he spins off again into some fantasy landscape of stupid racist violent white people, and leaves any possible valuable point lying unmade.

It was a difficult 2 hours to watch, especially given the approving laughter of the other 10 people in the theater, or the lady who sat through much of the film with her hands over her mouth in apparent shock and horror. But the overriding feeling I had as I left the theater was that Moore is all about Moore, that he did what he did to push forward his own agenda, that he didn’t care who was harmed by his behavior in the film and didn’t care how he used people as long as he got what he wanted. That, in my book, is evil. The enduring image I will carry from the movie is of the man-boy in the wheelchair, watching as Moore does his song and dance, maybe looking for some meaning in his own tragedy and, this time, finding only one more victimization.

(*I’ve got a couple of journal articles on the media creation of “crime waves” -which is to say, the perception by the public that there is a crime wave - when in fact the covered crime has gone down in incidences. I’ll write on that probably later this week).

Other information:

MooreWatch - debunking central
Dave Kopel in NRO on the guns used at Columbine
John Lott in NRO on K’Mart and ammunition
Dave Kopel in NRO on the weapons effect - a theory that the weapon can draw someone into an act they might not otherwise have done.
Parents of Columbine victims speak on “Bowling” (brief)
High praise - review from MacLean’s in Canada, from Moore’s website
Article on Marilyn Manson about Columbine, two years later
Details on Africanized bees

Posted by susanna at 09:49 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

January 06, 2003

The crime problem

Mark Steyn does it again with an excellent column on the state of crime in Great Britain:

Since the Government's "total ban" five years ago, there are more and more guns being used by more and more criminals in more and more crimes. Now, in the wake of Birmingham's New Year bloodbath, there are calls for the total ban to be made even more total: if the gangs refuse to obey the existing laws, we'll just pass more laws for them not to obey. According to a UN survey from last month, England and Wales now have the highest crime rate of the world's 20 leading nations. One can query the methodology of the survey while still recognising the peculiar genius by which British crime policy has wound up with every indicator going haywire - draconian gun control plus vastly increased gun violence plus stratospheric property crime.

There are too many good points in his column to highlight them all, but I think the juxtaposition of three things are important and telling. First is the section above - the "draconian gun control" that in essence fulfills the prophecy of gun rights advocates in the US that when guns are taken from law abiding citizens only criminals will have guns. Now look at these two excerpts:

After Dunblane, the police and politicians lapsed into their default position: it's your fault. We couldn't do anything about him, so we'll do something about you. You had your mobile nicked? You must be mad taking it out. Why not just keep it inside nice and safe on the telephone table? Had your car radio pinched? You shouldn't have left it in the car. House burgled? You should have had laser alarms and window bars installed. You did have laser alarms and window bars but they waited till you were home, kicked the door in and beat you up? You should have an armour-plated door and digital retinal-scan technology. It's your fault, always. The monumentally useless British police, with greater manpower per capita on higher rates of pay and with far more lavish resources than the Americans, haven't had an original idea in decades, so they cling ever more fiercely to their core ideology: the best way to deal with criminals is to impose ever greater restrictions and inconveniences on the law-abiding...

Aston is the logical reductio of British policing: rival bad guys with state-of-the-art hardware, a cowed populace, and a remote constabulary tucked up in bed with the answering machine on.

And finally:

I see I haven't yet mentioned the touchy social factor which even squeamish British Lefties have been forced to confront: Aston is yet more "black-on-black" violence. The reason I haven't mentioned it is because there hardly seems any point. What's new? Canada also had a Dunblane-like massacre, followed by Dunblane-like legislation, and, like Birmingham, boring, bland Toronto has lately been riven by gun violence from - wait for it - Jamaican gangs. But in neither Britain nor Canada is it politically feasible to suggest that perhaps Jamaicans should be subjected to special immigration scrutiny. As it happens, that Canadian massacre, of Montreal female students 12 years ago, was committed by the son of an Algerian Muslim wife-beater, but, although we all claim to be interested in the "root causes" of crime, they tend to involve awkward cultural judgments. It's easier, like Mr Blair, just to go "total": blame everyone, ban everything.

It's the trifecta - hamstrung law-abiding citizens, a disaffected and impotent police, and cultural sensitivities interfering with efforts to curb crime. Sound familiar? It's happening in the US too. And the liberals are leading the charge.

The usual answer to citizens complaining about increasing gun control and its potential to leave their families unprotected is "call the police". But the police themselves will tell you that their primary responsibility is not to prevent crime - while they will do what they can to do so, they're kept busy responding to "after the fact" calls. And in any discussion of policing theory, it's clear that the main method of crime control for police is the threat of discovery and capture after the offense - that's one of the reasons police officers drive marked cars, so their presence is an open warning to the criminally inclined. The numbers of police officers per capita are relatively low - for example, 800 police officers for a city of 250,000 is a fairly high number; take 200 off the top for administrative and special duties, and you have a ratio of 1 officer per 1600 citizens at best on any one shift (given that it takes 4 officers to cover any one beat 24/7/365). So there's not many officers, and they're usually answering calls, not proactively preventing crime. Add to that the way their ability to police is continually limited by laws, lawsuits and restrictions (for example, the end of car chases in many jurisdictions) and not so suddenly your police are hamstrung too. This naturally affects morale, which in turn lowers productivity. This isn't an indictment of the police; it's just an honest assessment of the state of the art. The majority of officers work hard and want to do the right thing by the community. It's just getting tougher. And please don't assume that I think the rules guiding police shouldn't be adjusted as obviously problematic or just bad behavior is revealed. Of course the police must be policed. But some restrictions are more about political correctness than police excess, and that has a negative impact on policing.

That brings us to the cultural sensitivity that limits policing. Again, of course racial prejudice has no place in policing and must be strongly addressed wherever it's found. But that black criminal being hauled away by a white cop in the clips from Cops shown in Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine is statistically more likely to be victimizing another black person than a white person. Especially the most serious crimes - like murder and rape - are highly likely to be black-on-black, white-on-white - both victim and offender from the same racial or ethnic group. Yes, we can deal with root causes. Yes, we can work to get more racial balance in the police forces. But that doesn't change the fact that many violent gangs are formed of minorities, many violent crimes are committed by minorities, and giving them a pass because they're minorities feeds the criminal cycle. Make sure policing is fair, but don't let the minority communities go to hell on the backs of liberals afraid to say a black man did it.

And then you have citizens being disarmed. What I said about policing is true here as well - the best deterrent is the knowledge that you run a high chance of getting caught or suffering some harm as a result of your act. Given the solve rate on crimes outside of homicide, and the low number of police officers generally, the criminal is playing the odds every time he offends and right now the odds are stacked his way. When I was in my master's program, there was a student in the undergrad criminal justice program who had served two stretches in prison for aggravated rape. Statistically speaking (based on data from 1989, when I was in the program), he would have had to commit more than 10 rapes to have been caught and gone through the system twice. Those aren't wonderful odds for the victims. Think: if he knew Woman A had a gun, and Woman B did not, which do you think he'd attack? While the majority of rapes are done by someone the victim knows, the more violent rapes are more likely to be by strangers or in non-intimate settings (not a date rape, for example). An armed populace is a safer populace, because the police can't be everywhere. And we don't want them to be. As Steyn says:

The right of individual self-defence deters crime, constrains it, prevents it from spreading out of the drug-infested failed jurisdictions.

The sad part there is that in the name of cultural sensitivity we abandon those drug-infested failed jurisdictions - which are much more likely to have a predominantly minority and/or immigrant population. So in the name of protecting the vulnerable, we further victimize the very ones we claim to seek to protect. Where's the feel-good part of that? The liberals, IMHO, have a lot to answer for. And Americans as a whole have a responsibility to make sure the English model doesn't make it over here the second time.

Posted by susanna at 07:18 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 05, 2003

I'm so mad

I went to see Bowling for Columbine today. I was seething when I left, and cried on the way home thinking of the people Moore exploited in his film. You'll get to read all about it later this week. It may take me a bit to get it all down coherently.

UPDATE: If you just can't wait, Dima read Moore's book Stupid White Men, and gives it the respect and reverence it deserves (which is to say, none).

Posted by susanna at 05:57 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Another GOP race brouhaha

Bill Back, vice chair of the GOP in California, is vying for leadership of the California party; he's apparently about to run aground because of a newsletter he sent out in 1999:

Bill Back, the California party's vice chairman running for the top job, sent out an e-mail newsletter in 1999 that reproduced an essay that said "history might have taken a better turn" if the South had won the Civil War and that "the real damage to race relations in the South came not from slavery, but from Reconstruction, which would not have occurred if the South had won."

The Contra Costa Times reported on the e-mail article yesterday and quoted Shannon Reeves, the California GOP secretary and an African American, saying: "There's no room for bigotry in the Republican Party, and I don't think there's a lot of room in the Republican Party for people who distribute bigoted information. What's appalling is to have the vice chair of the Republican Party distribute this."

In a statement, Back said: "Upon reflection, I should have been more sensitive regarding issues raised in this piece and not included it in the e-mail. I regret any pain and offense taken by readers."

You can't go back to see what his reasoning for including it was back then, but just from the parts excerpted it does seem a hard-to-justify mistake. While there's an inkling of states' rights in the excerpts, the comment on slavery can't be reinterpreted to be anything other than it is - saying slavery wasn't so bad. And Back's statement about it - if this is all he said - certainly isn't adequate. "More sensitive"? Nothing he says in that "apology" rejects what the article says, but rather faults his own misreading of the audience ("I didn't realize they'd be offended, oops! My bad!). While I do think Reconstruction caused horrible damage to the South, there's just no way to justify saying that Reconstruction caused more damage as a whole to the South than slavery did to the slaves.

I'd be surprised if Back makes it as head of the California GOP; he shouldn't. And if he does, expect this story to grow exponentially.

Posted by susanna at 08:45 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 04, 2003

Sex, Proverbs, death and Hinduism

I've badly neglected my blogson, Lauren Coats of Loyal Peon, and he's doing some good stuff. Right now he's discoursing on the role of sex in getting married; death and rape under sharia law; training up your child as Proverbs says; and looking at the United States through the eyes of two coworkers who are Hindus from India. Check it out.

Posted by susanna at 07:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Benny Hinn and the Holy Blazer of God

Paul at Beers Across America (don't miss his very cool new LOTRish logo) spent a little time last Sunday watching the Sunday morning preaching shows. It's pretty funny, especially his description of Benny Hinn, but as he notes fairly serious too. There's a lot of people sending money to these folks with, in my judgment, not much return but entertainment. The Biblical quote that opens Paul's post is an excellent choice.

I had my own run-in with the preaching-for-dollars crowd; since that topic is not high on the list of some readers, I'm dumping it in MORE. Check it out if you want.

The junior college I attended in Florida was heavily focused on Christianity - we had Bible classes every day, plus devotions, plus chapel... I figured it up one time, and realized that if we had a gospel meeting during a week, I could wind up having a Bible lesson (sermon, class, etc) 20 times in one week. And that was organized stuff. It made for some interesting times. At any rate, one of the things the students did for fun was attend those hellfire-and-brimstone tent meetings held by preachers who rarely had any real denominational affiliation, teaching a mismash of Baptist and Pentecostal doctrines, with some of their own tossed in. Yeah, I know - kids.

A couple of years before my tenure at the college, one of the students who went on these jaunts was a young man who'd had his leg amputated at the knee. One of the staples of these tent preachers was healing and miracles - he'd bump a supplicant on the forehead with the heal of his hand, and that person would suddenly be free of (pick your illness/disability). That was always the climax of the meeting, followed by the nightly money collection. This young man from my school went to a few of those meetings, and when they called for the ones needing healing, he'd start down the aisle. I understand the healing portion of the show shut down pretty quickly at that point - before he got to the front.

The students from my school stood out in other ways too - they didn't raise their hands with the audience, they didn't get frenzied in response to the preacher. After a while the tent preachers were on to "those students", and were not happy to see any of them in the audience. They didn't create disruptions (beyond the healing ones predating me), but I'd say skepticism radiated from all of them. It was quite horrendous, how these men in $500 dollar suits sucked the living from people who'd be lucky to make that in two weeks.

One sullen Florida night, I went with a group headed out to one of those meetings - the only time I went to one. I was curious about it, didn't think it accomplished much to go but thought I'd see what it was like. It was awful. The preacher raved and ranted, railing at an audience who didn't look like they had much, but who were obviously grateful that this "man of God" was there to show them the light. He had a choir backing him, and bouncers - big beefy men standing with their arms crossed - behind the audience. He would have been good theater, with his pounding and vein-popping preaching style, sweat all but flinging from his face, if he wasn't duping hundreds of people with his ranting. At one point he took up the first offering - apparently he did it more than once a night - then, when his people took the baskets to him, he riffled through the bills and said, "There's nothing in here bigger than a $10! You folks out there with the $20s, give to the Lord!" I wanted to slap him.

Not long after that, either someone told him about us or he saw our group (six, sitting in a row) not responding at all to his preaching. He looked directly at us, and started talking about people who didn't believe in God, who didn't believe in his ministry, who would try to damage his message... it was clear enough to where people began turning around and looking at us with distinctly unfriendly eyes. Finally one of the guys in the group said, "We'd better go". We walked out with the preacher's voice pounding the air behind us, a few hisses following us out the door, and the bouncers standing close by to watch us as we left.

I was genuinely frightened. I don't think I would be now, but the heat, the sweaty emotions, the fervor of the moment, combined to overwhelm a young college student. I was very glad to leave.

Since that time, I've had even more dislike for the televangelists types than I did before, or that I might have otherwise. None of us are perfect, nor do we live up to the ideal we see as right. But there's a difference between trying and failing, and putting up a facade you know is a facade for the purpose of making money from people seeking God.

It just makes you wish that all their Holy Blazers of God would get lost at the dry cleaners. Permanently.

NOTE: If you can distance yourself from the damage they're doing, some of the preaching-for-dollars crowd are high entertainment. Or is that low entertainment?

Posted by susanna at 07:13 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

A very cool blog

I love my referrer logs. Last night they clued me in to JoniElectric, an interesting blog that is just beautiful. She has a whole list of skins on the left, and it's fun to see how they all look. I wish I knew how to do that. Maybe a goal for this year? Anyway, check it out.

Posted by susanna at 12:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bowen in the wind

On this, the first normal Saturday since mid-November, take a little time to read the answers Bowen in the wind:

How liberal writer Josh Micah Marshall lost credibility in his rush to newfound fame (and don't miss Bryan Preston's first-on-the-spot nailing as well;

How we're all dying of arsenic (not);

More than you wanted to know about feminine hygiene;

And (drum roll please)...

The wonders of dust.

Jim is one of the more eclectic bloggers out there, and I must say I think him both interesting and brave. A man writing about feminine hygiene? And making it work? I think we'll make him the Tampax Man of the Year.

Posted by susanna at 12:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sit back and enjoy the fun

In this season of possible impending war and suspected terrorists slipping through our borders, it's nice to have a fresh-faced comedy taking the airwaves - yes, it's "Dem Sum Candidates!", whereby progressively more and more Democrats, mostly white, no women, announce they're running for president and try to find a way to stand out in the crowd of other white male candidates also endeavoring to criticize Bush without criticizing war in general, to appear multi-cultural and for the "little people" while themselves universally white-bread wealthy candidates, and trying to explain why they're the best candidate and everyone else sucks yet at the same time leaving a little corner of credibility for when they may have to support one of those candidates they just ripped as useless sludge.

Of course you understand that I don't think someone must be black to serve the black community well, just as I don't think a white person has to represent whites. But the Dems make race such a mantra (I've always been amused by Bill Clinton as the "first black president") that it's funny to watch them squirm as they try to deflect attention from the fact that they in fact are everything they say is politically bad in this world - a bunch of white Euro-Caucasian male rich capitalists. Oops! Of course Al Sharpton is forming an exploratory committee, but everyone knows that's to get a place at the table, not a campaign with a genuine expectation of winning. It will be intriguing to see who tries to bolster their candidacy by bringing on a woman VP running mate, or a representative of another minority. You know they'll be trying to weigh the relative advantage of a minority versus the disadvantage that I think is more in their minds than a reality.

Quite frankly, I think this country would elect anyone - black, Asian, Jew - if their policies were in the right place, and the campaign was run on the basis of those policies, not on the ethnicity or race of the candidate. What's important is the candidate's American-ness, a quality many (especially leftists of all colors) seem to have in short supply. I don't care if my candidate is named Jamal or Ramchandra or Abrahim as long as I can trust him - or her - to uphold the Constitution purely and operate on conservative principles, including small government and individual rights as paramount. It's when a candidate is put forward as being "good for the blacks" or "good for the women" or "good for the (fill in the blank)" that I get itchy. We need "good for the country".

At any rate, the Dems sure don't get it, so it'll be fun to watch them scuffle and pontificate and slice&dice each other while trying to maintain some type of united front against the Republicans.

It's interesting too to see how the Dems work the media. Of course it happens this way, that's why companies and politicians have full-time media relations people. But it's worth remembering:

...a part of this sudden flurry of what one strategist described as campaign Kabuki reflects the news business, as well, and the way it interacts with campaigns. For news organizations, this is a slow time of year, and the standard for what might be considered "news," which is typically defined as something new, is rather low.

An adviser to Mr. Edwards said that campaign had deliberately chosen the day after New Year's to go on "Today," because the senator's aides figured, correctly, that not much else would be going on and that the questions in that morning forum would be something less than fierce. The calculation appeared to have worked, as Mr. Edwards's aides spent the day seeing their candidate's face turn up on television again and again.

"We had all three nets last night," an Edwards adviser said enthusiastically, by which he meant that the Edwards "announcement" was covered by the three major evening news broadcasts.

Lay in lots of popcorn and Pepsi, it's going to be a fun couple of years.

Posted by susanna at 12:10 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

The Dodd Chronicles

Dodd of Ipse Dixit just keeps marching along with interesting things, so here's a pointer to several of them. First, yesterday he was mentioned in the Washington Post in an article about weblogs. Much deserved attention, IMHO. Then he notes that the Third Annual Weblog Awards are collecting nominees, and suggests yours truly as a good candidate. Much appreciated! And finally, because you don't have enough activities sucking down your Saturday, he links to an exceptionally cool time-waster.

More fun than you thought to have this morning, isn't it?

Posted by susanna at 11:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who expects consistency?

Alan at Theosebes noticed a little inconsistency in an athlete's response to the home team's win. I'm betting nobody but his preacher noticed.

Posted by susanna at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A new sLott

Trent Lott will take over chairmanship of the Senate Rules committee next week when Congress reconvenes.

Senator Rick Santorum was slated for the position. The FoxNews article wasn't able to give information on Santorum's fallback position. It'll be interesting to see where he winds up, since he was actually amongst those initially jockeying for Lott's vacated Senate Majority Leader slot.

Here's what the Rules committee does:

The Rules committee controls the assignment and administration of the prized office space on the Senate side of the Capitol, resolves disputes on Senate rules and procedures and controls credentials for the Senate.

Note that Lott will not be in a position to affect public policy directly as a committee head, which I think is deliberate. The taint of his recent scandal would likely call into question any decisions his committee made otherwise (I can just see the newspaper articles: "Was this decision a result of Lott's racism?" or "Is Lott pandering to Dems again in an effort to show he's not racist?").

[Thanks to D. Watts for the link]

UPDATE: The NY Times has more on this. Santorum will "retain his post as No. 3 Republican", but I'm not sure precisely what that means in a formal way. It's clear the Republican Senators are saying, "Here, Trent, we're tossing you a bone to keep you here and help you save face, but don't go thinking there'll be any meat on it." I still say, keep an eye on Santorum to see what he gets out of this deal.

Posted by susanna at 05:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 03, 2003


The University of Kentucky lost its football coach last year when Hal Mummy left under a cloud. His assistant did well as a fill-in, but left for Baylor when UK didn't give him a good contract. Now new Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart just got egg on his face when his choice for coach - an old friend from Oregon - was revealed by journalists as having been involved in a sports scandal of his own in the late 1970s.

I've not followed the situation closely, but a friend of mine who has pointed out to me that the new coach, Rich Brooks, had a squeaky clean record after the 1970s problem, and even sat on the NCAA rules committee for a while. She wondered why the story about Brooks was covered so voraciously and critically by the local newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader. And she thinks she's found her answer - look at an excerpt from an article by H-L sports writer Mark Story, telling Barnhart how to salvage his struggling tenure as AD:

Obviously, there are times when secrecy is needed in negotiations, but your failure to communicate with your own school's fans hurt you and Kentucky in the just-concluded football search.

Because you were saying nothing, the only news fans were getting was coming from coaches either saying they were not interested in the job or that they had turned it down.

That created a perception of failure. And it led to a lot of rumor-mongering. Both might have been prevented had you kept people better updated on what was really happening.

The media felt locked out. Was the intense coverage in part a form of retaliation? I don't know. But it sure looks suspicious. We've certainly seen the media get testy about how tightly the Bush Administration controls information.

Posted by susanna at 09:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dem dim bulbs

Limbaugh the evil one

The Democrats are whining about Rush Limbaugh again. Remember Tom Daschle, back before Thanksgiving?

"You know, Rush Limbaugh and all of the Rush Limbaugh wannabes have a very shrill edge, and that's entertainment. We were told that even people who don't agree with them listen because they – because they're entertaining. And, you know, but what happens when Rush Limbaugh attacks those of us in public life is that people aren't satisfied just to listen, they want to act because they get emotionally invested. And so, you know, the threats to those of us in public life go up dramatically and – on our families and on us in a way that's very disconcerting...

If entertainment becomes so much a part of politics, and if that entertainment drives an emotional movement in this country among some people who don't know the difference between entertainment and politics and who are then so energized to go out and hurt somebody, that troubles me about where politics in America is going."

Asked if he thought there was a direct link between the talk radio criticism and the threats to his personal security, he answered: "I do. Oh, absolutely."

We wants them, preciousssss, those talk show hostses

Now, the Dems want their own entertaining hate-mongers, apparently in the endearing spirit of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em":

Worried that their party has been outgunned in the political propaganda wars by conservative radio and television personalities, influential Democrats are scouring the nation for a liberal answer to Rush Limbaugh and the many others on the deep bench of Republican friends.

A number of folks have opined about this latest wrinkle in the Dem game, including Mickey Kaus, John Ellis and David Horowitz, with the general consensus being - excuse me? What precisely are all those people on ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, the writers at the NY Times, etc., if not liberal voices? But one of the most interesting things to me is the inability of the liberals to see relative seriousness of characterizations - that is to say, the Democrats have demonized the Republicans and conservatives relentlessly, but when just a little sliver of it is reflected back at them, they have sudden self-righteous meltdown before vowing to be even more relentless. Look at this from Spinsanity, after Daschle's November whine:

Yet Limbaugh, especially, is guilty of extremely vicious rhetoric. Consider just a few examples from his frequent diatribes against Daschle over the last two years. On Nov. 15, he asserted that Daschle's criticism of the conduct of the war on terrorism amounted to "an attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism," called him "Hanoi Tom" and suggested that he is " a disgrace to patriotism." On other occasions, Limbaugh has suggested that "In essence, Daschle has chosen to align himself with the axis of evil" and has drawn an extended analogy between Daschle and Satan.

Hmmmm... okay. The Dems' answer for their excesses in the demonization department is implicitly "truth is a defense"; I'd say that Limbaugh's discussion of Daschle would, at the very worst, have as valid a claim to that defense. But I'd say their actions are much worse. We'll look at that "devil" comparison in a moment. Here's Spinsanity again on the Daschle brouhaha, this time smacking Sean Hannity for his defense of Limbaugh:

Perhaps the most egregious spin, however, came from Sean Hannity, the co-host of Fox's "Hannity and Colmes," who didn't even bother to address the substance of Limbaugh's attacks on Daschle, instead blaming him for tactics Hannity says Democrats use to attack Republicans. On Wednesday's show, Hannity said, "You want to talk about shrill rhetoric ... the attacks by Daschle and the likes of him saying Republicans want to poison the air, water, and kill children, that Republicans every year we have the ads, grandma thrown down the stairs. If you elect a Republican, another black church is going to burn, a Democratic party ad ran that in a recent election. They are the ones with the shrill, mean- spirited hateful rhetoric."

The problem here is - Hannity is 100% correct! While Limbaugh's characterization of Daschle could be taken as a personal attack, since it is basically conclusions about the implications of Daschle's behavior, Hannity lists things that the Democrats have actually done to demonize Republicans in campaign ads, not in a venue where the characterization is clearly the opinion of one person. And some of those Dem-onizations have actually become Dem-memes, like that Republicans are all (wink wink nudge nudge) closet racists, some not so closet, and certainly that meme got a huge boost during the whole Lott imbroglio. But let's get back to Limbaugh's "devilization" of Daschle, this time from Spinsanity back in July. The Spinsanity post has an extended excerpt transcripted from Limbaugh's program, which if you listen to Limbaugh at all you will recognize as vintage Rush. It's certainly high-blown rhetoric, deliberately so, I'd say, to be entertaining as well as to make you think. You can't get it from the text, but when Rush is on one of his riffs, the tone is never ugly or angry. It's mocking in a David Letterman-ish way. But here's what Spinsanity concludes about it:

This is state of the art jargon. Limbaugh is openly comparing Daschle to the devil for no other reason than to incite anger in his listeners. The devil is an extremely powerful concept, maybe one of the most potent in Western society. There is no legitimate justification for this kind of rhetoric, which is why Limbaugh has set up plausible deniability by framing the monologue above as an "analogy" and a "routine". If questioned, he will almost surely deny that he was serious and instead claim that he was just trying to make a point about Daschle's partisanship.

That's right, folks, everyone knows that the majority of Americans look over their shoulders daily expecting the devil to leap out at them, right? Well, according to one study only 35% of Americans in general think Satan is a real being; 60% see him only as a symbol of evil. So who does think Satan is real? Well, 52% of born-again Christians do, and we all know the religious conservatives are who listen to Rush, and who are actually running the Republican party. Spinsanity's effort to imbue Limbaugh's words with vicious, evil intent dies in the light of fact, and actually makes me wonder if they're trying to say that those who believe in the devil (i.e. fundamentalist Christians) are the ones likely to endanger the lives of Democrats. Who else would feel a need to rid the world of a devil?

So Daschle and Spinsanity rip Limbaugh, while the Dems determinedly demonize conservatives then whine when their own behavior is scrutinized, exposed and mocked. Now they want to join in the chorus. Can you say "rank hypocrisy"?

They just don't get it

Mickey Kaus and John Ellis both highlighted one part of the New Year's Day article in the Times:

Liberal radio programs have not worked very well in the past. Liberals and conservatives said they believed this was in part because the most prominent liberal hosts have tended to present policy issues in all of their dry complexity while refraining from baring fangs against conservative opponents.

So, you see, the failure of the liberal hosts is that they are too serious, dealing with policies, issues, the important things instead of "baring fangs against conservative opponents". We can't think of a single liberal media type who bares fangs, can we?

What the Dems don't get is that the liberal media types aren't funny, they aren't entertaining in the least. They're much too serious, and single-minded about advancing their party's agenda. One thing I like about Rush, and Sean, and other conservative talk show hosts is that they question the administration and the Republican Party. Not perhaps as much as they can or should, but they do it. And when they're dishing about the Dems, they're often very funny. Can you imagine Ted Rall bringing more than a grimace to the face of any marginally sane person? Donahue? Lynn Samuels (for you New Yorkers)? There's only one liberal talk show host that I consistently like, and that's Ron Kuby, who hosts with Curtis Sliwa on the WABC 770 radio morning show (and yes, you can listen to it online). However, Kuby is a leftist and Communist, so he doesn't hie the Dem line either. While sometimes I want to strangle* Kuby because he's so annoying. at the same time I have listened to him long enough to trust that when he presents the facts of a case, he does so honestly and fairly - it's his conclusions and interpretations that make me nuts. I don't trust many liberal media types that way (and not all conservatives can be trusted either).

And they're unlikely to

I don't see much hope for the Dems with their new endeavor. Their demonization of Limbaugh and the others is flagrant hypocrisy, and their efforts to duplicate what they just finished trashing is stripping their hypocrisy bare. Complete aside from their hypocrisy, they will have a difficult time finding anyone on the Dem side with the sense of humor that makes the conservative hosts so entertaining. It'd actually be funny if it weren't so pathetic - the Dems have always liked to portray themselves as the party of non-conformity, of taking chances and having fun. Now the Republicans are all those things, and the Dems have transformed themselves into their own evil doppelganger.

[Some links from Instapundit]

* For my Dem readers, "strangle Kuby" is hyperbole. I have absolutely no desire to harm him, much less attempt to strangle him, even much much less succeed in doing so. Please do not call a press conference.

Posted by susanna at 08:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A day to toast Tolkien

Today is J.R.R. Tolkien's Eleventy-First birthday!

Lift a glass of the beverage of your choice in toast to the Master of Middle Earth.

Apparently his actual birth time was 9 p.m. Great Britain time, which means it may be past already. But I think any toast to Tolkien is timely.

Check here for more.

[Link via The Corner]

Posted by susanna at 04:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 02, 2003


Walter Williams has a great column on; this is exactly right:

Multiculturalism and diversity are a cancer on our society...

[Link via Sasha Castel]

Posted by susanna at 02:27 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Tangled Rangel

I was listening this morning on the radio to a discussion on Charlie Rangel's proposal that a universal military draft be instituted. One of the folks talking about it was Ron Kuby, the Communist leftie (and that's his words, I'm not being pejorative here), who supports the draft for basically the same reasons Rangel proposed it, including that there would be less chance of war if all families ran equal risk of losing family members in the fighting.

I got all steamed up and decided to post on it, but fortunately went to see what John Stryker had to say about it first. As usual, he and his readers didn't disappoint - here's the post, and don't miss the discussion in comments. Mike at Cold Fury linked it as well, and there's discussion in his comments too. There's not a lot I can add to it, beyond saying, "Yeah! What they said!"

One aspect I didn't see treated by Stryker & Co., however, was the Kuby mantra that blacks, Hispanics and the poor are who make up the military because they can't find other opportunities. The implication is that they are so much cannon fodder, put out there to die with no options. While I do think there aren't a lot of wealthy people in the military, at the same time I resent the implication that those who are in the military are there just because there were no other choices. I think that diminishes the dedication and skill inherent in our volunteer force. There's always something else you can do, including going on welfare which has been the solution of a lot of people with limited choices. We don't have a lot of wealthy people serving as cops, firefighters, factory assembly line workers, construction workers and hair stylists either, but I don't see Rangel or Kuby suggesting we conscript folks into those professions. In our society today, the military is a valid career option, and those that choose it are deserving of our respect and appreciation. If anything, Rangel and Kuby are showing a disdain bred in a sense of superiority when they imply that people in the military aren't intelligent, thinking people who chose to be there, not just mindless victims of the ravening bourgeois.

Of course their other mantra is that if we had a conscripted military where everyone had to go, we would be less likely to fight wars because the power brokers' children would be literally in the line of fire. I think that's also a specious argument - our society has shown an overwhelming support for our military efforts this last 18 months, and those people are the ones with children on the firing line. I've not heard a single case of the parent or wife or husband of a soldier saying "No blood for oil!" or other anti-war idiocy. I'm not saying they accept the possibility of war without question, but they don't have the reflexive liberal objections you hear from the likes of Rangel. If the American public was against the war, I think you'd hear a different tone in Washington. This is not England in the 1400s. And in instances where the wealthy have gone into war, they often have acquitted themselves well - when they wanted to be there, which is just like any other American.

It seems to me that all Rangel, Kuby and their ilk accomplish (think Bonior et al) is to lay siege to the morale of the military and give succor to our enemies, thereby increasing the likelihood that those who are fighting will die. Who's seeing our soldiers as cannon fodder now?

UPDATE: TR Fogey recently learned that his son, a senior in high school, has signed up to join the Army and will be sent to Korea after basic training. In this post he talks about his feelings about it and what he thinks of Rangel.

TR, thank you for your gift. We don't take it lightly.

UPDATE: Here's what John Hawkins had to say.

Posted by susanna at 11:09 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Rockwell appeals

Back in August I discussed the lawsuit by Susan Rockwell against the Catholic Church, alleging discrimination against women because they are barred from the priesthood. The first post is here, the second here. Apparently she found my posts, because today I received an email from her with the URL for her website on her efforts with a notification that she's filed an appeal in federal court of an earlier ruling against her.

I think we're going to see more of this kind of lawsuit, and it's important that we collectively show her attitude is not just unacceptable but unconstitutional. That is, of course she has a right to think the Catholic Church is discriminatory - and actually she's correct. They are, and what's more they have the right to be. What is problematic is her contention that the federal government has both right and responsibility to order the Catholic Church to ordain women as priests. The federal government has as much responsibility to stay out of doctrinal issues in individual denominations as it does not to pick one to support.

I don't know if she makes this argument, but if not someone is likely to - the choice of the Catholic Church not to ordain women priests is not a harmful behavior on par with the abuse of children that has rocked the CC this past year. In the one, priests used their positions of power and trust to victimize the vulnerable, and then the CC as an institution did not respond properly to protect the children and discipline/defrock the priests. The activities were not a matter of doctrine. Limiting priesthood to men is a matter of doctrine, and not one that limits women's choices as a whole. Women can be religious leaders in a variety of contexts, and they can start their own church if they want. Trying to strong-arm the CC into accepting women as priests generally is both wrong-headed and just wrong.

Posted by susanna at 06:58 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

January 01, 2003


Eric Lindholm, the fine mind that brings you the Smarter Harper's Index each month, has succumbed to the siren song of regular blogging.

Welcome, Eric. How does it feel to be assimilated?

(And Eric, the lack of a permalink to Smarter Harper's continues to be my html lamer status, not any rejection of either you or our common alma mater.)

Posted by susanna at 11:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Just in time to save me from having to do it myself, Chris the Spoons Guy posts my New Year's Resolution - or at least what he thinks it should be.

I like Mike's better. And no, I'm not saying which one.

But anyway. Chris, I'd need a host of minions scurrying around collecting reams of data in order to do that task justice. However, you'll be happy to know that a revitalized focus on media bias is in fact on the to-do list for this fine new year.

At least now I don't have to tell you the resolutions I came up with.

Posted by susanna at 08:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I just got back from seeing LOTR: The Two Towers. I only have one word to say:


(And I have to wait a year to see the rest of it?!)

UPDATE: CPO Sparkey gives his analysis of LOTR: TT, wherein he expresses disappointment. I then express my sentiments of "get over it" in comments. It's an amazing movie, and while there are some changes - a few sizable - overall it keeps to the tone of the books. It's just a phenomenal achievement.

You know I love you, Sparkey. You're just wrong here. And that Dr. Wife is one smart lady.

Posted by susanna at 04:05 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

I feel faint

It appears that The Last Page is actually The Amazing Techie Girlfriend, while "Dave" is actually Media Minded. Got that? Let's make it easier:

"Dave" = MM

This may be more than I wanted to know. It does explain some of the more revealing posts we've seen from MM - he's all tangled up with a crazy woman. It's going to be pretty interesting seeing media bias from the quirky perspective of our dear Page, and see just how unleashed MM can be.

Hold onto your hats, this could get wild.

Posted by susanna at 04:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Have a great day

I'm off to see The Two Towers, after having seen the extended DVD last night (awesome) (Aragorn is so hot) (I tried to forget he's also Viggo Mortenson the idiot). For something to read, here's Dodd's list of his best posts for the past year. And Carnival of the Vanities is also up.

And while I'm late on this (blame Christmas), Eric's Smarter Harper's Index is out for January in all its juicy goodness. Check it out.

They're doing a retrospective on WABC 770, and they just replayed sections from their program on the morning of 9/11/01. It still makes me cry. And the WTC towers are still gone from my horizon. It's difficult to remember, but as we move into another year, it's something we can't afford to forget.

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