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Monthly Archives: March 2008

Out of the Frying Pan

March 17th, 2008 - 1:23 pm

The next battle in Iraq: Gang warfare.

Former victim-in-chief and potential future First Victim Bill Clinton is playing the victim card again:

“What happened there is a total myth and a mugging,” Clinton told CNN’s Sean Callebs in New Orleans, Louisiana, over the weekend.

“It’s been pretty well established. Charlie Rangel … the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in unequivocal terms in South Carolina that no one in our campaign played any race card, that we had some played against us, but we didn’t play any.”

Just when Hillary gets this guy sidelined and starts winning some races, Bill pops back up to remind everyone that it’s always all about Bill.

UPDATE: Originally I forgot to link to the CNN story. Oops.

Wright Place, Wrong Time

March 17th, 2008 - 12:05 pm

Here’s the latest on Barack Obama’s radical priest:

…more than a year ago, Obama disinvited Wright from speaking at his candidacy announcement. Wright told The New York Times then that Obama told him, “You can get kind of rough in the sermons. … It’s best for you not to be out there in public.”

Maybe I’m reading too much into that statement, but it seems like Obama was perfectly aware of Wright’s “God damn America” sentiments, if not that particular sermon. If so, shouldn’t Obama have done more than just shove Wright into the closet?

The story continues:

Church member and University of Chicago theology professor Dwight Hopkins says Wright’s message has been taken out of context.

In what context should “God damn America” be taken, exactly?

“The whole point to Dr. Wright’s sermons is to how do you make America a better America. If anything he’s a true patriot,” Hopkins said.

Ah, yes — in the context of the highest form of patriotism!

Jaw Jaw

March 17th, 2008 - 12:01 pm

The SecState and SecDef are going to Russia for pro-anti-missile-missile talks:

“My view is we’ve put a lot on the table in recent negotiations. Now it’s time for them to reciprocate,” Gates said.

Pentagon’s chief said he was not very optimistic about any changes on missile defense.

“We think there is the potential for some progress and we’ll just see,” he said. “I wouldn’t get too enthusiastic at this point.”

I’m not sure why they’re bothering, but off they go.

Birds of a Feather

March 17th, 2008 - 11:18 am

The Russian government loves a good brutal crackdown so much, it encourages them in other countries:

Russia said on Monday it hoped China would do what was necessary to curtail “unlawful actions” in Tibet, in a strong show of support for its ally Beijing after Tibetans rioted against Chinese rule.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that China’s relationship with the Dalai Lama, whose supporters Beijing accuses of stirring up the trouble, was an internal matter.

In a related story, the Russian Federation Olympic Committee threatened to boycott the Beijing Games if China refuses to “kick at least 4,000 Tibetans right in the nads.”

Caution: Do Not Click

March 17th, 2008 - 10:38 am

My eyes… my eyes!

It’s Going to Take Some Time This Time

March 17th, 2008 - 10:20 am

Politico describes the Democratic race for President has having entered the “World War I phase.” That sounds about right:

…on June 3, when South Dakota and Montana end the current voting calendar, the contours of the race aren’t likely to be much different from what they are today.

That means 2 1/2 months of conference calls, attacks, counterattacks and millions of dollars spent, all to move the political needle just a few inches.

“It’s going to be a long, hard slog,” predicted Jim Jordan, a veteran Democratic strategist not working for either candidate. “It’s not good for the party.”

The Democrats are suffering from an embarrassment of riches: two near-perfect candidates. Clinton and Obama are each an almost Platonic ideal of the modern Democratic Party. The only things distinguishing them from one another are race and gender.

Mix that together with proportional representation, and you have the mess the Democrats are in today. John McCain isn’t exactly a model Republican, but at least winner-takes-all primaries result in a clear winner, and quickly, too. Currently, McCain is overseas and looking very much like he’s already President. Clinton and Obama are locked in trench warfare.

The Democrats’ primary system is designed to give “everyone a voice.” Well, almost everyone has spoken and the result is… not pretty.

If the Dems really want to reform how they choose candidates, they need to get rid of tricks like proportional representation, superdelegates, hybrid votes, Tsunami Tuesday, and all the rest. If they had winner-takes-all, either Obama or Clinton would probably have wrapped this up six weeks ago.

Instead, the Democrats have two strong candidates trying to kill one another, armed with nothing more deadly than Sporks.

Close Encounters of the Robotic Kind

March 17th, 2008 - 9:33 am

This is probably the third-scariest headline imaginable:

Astronauts Build ‘Monster’ Robot in Space

The story itself it pretty cool:

Two astronauts spent their Saturday night assembling a giant robot outside the International Space Station (ISS), wrangling with stubborn bolts to attach the machine’s two massive arms.

Astronauts Rick Linnehan and Mike Foreman, who both arrived at the space station in NASA’s shuttle Endeavour, worked in the vacuum of space for 7 hours and 8 minutes to assemble the 1.7-ton Dextre maintenance robot. Several stuck bolts on a U-shaped shipping platform slowed down the two spacewalkers, but ultimately didn’t stop them from piecing together the Canadian-built “Mr. Dextre.”

So long as Mr. Dextre isn’t armed with frickin’ laser beams, I think we’ll be all right.

It’s Direct from Lhasa

March 17th, 2008 - 8:47 am

Al Jazeera has leaked video from Tibet.

Sharia Is Just Alright

March 17th, 2008 - 5:35 am

In Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, law professor Noah Feldman stands up for imposing Islamic law in Britain. And elsewhere, too. No, really.

Feldman’s very first paragraph is a whitewash of those silly notions of the Archbishop of Canterbury from last week, that maybe a little sharia wouldn’t be so bad for the UK. Read his intro:

Last month, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, gave a nuanced, scholarly lecture in London about whether the British legal system should allow non-Christian courts to decide certain matters of family law. Britain has no constitutional separation of church and state. The archbishop noted that “the law of the Church of England is the law of the land” there; indeed, ecclesiastical courts that once handled marriage and divorce are still integrated into the British legal system, deciding matters of church property and doctrine. His tentative suggestion was that, subject to the agreement of all parties and the strict requirement of protecting equal rights for women, it might be a good idea to consider allowing Islamic and Orthodox Jewish courts to handle marriage and divorce.

bahaimartyr2.jpg

Sounds pretty innocuous, right? It takes a “journalist” of rare talent to make the Archbishop’s statement sound innocuous. Because let me tell you: there is nothing innocuous about replacing 500 years of English tradition with imported foreign notions of justice — and thereby forever destroying any chance of Muslim assimilation, and creating two sets of laws in one country.

From there, things get worse. And by “things,” Feldman means “all of us.” Again, I’m not kidding. Read on:

In some sense, the outrage about according a degree of official status to Shariah in a Western country should come as no surprise. No legal system has ever had worse press. To many, the word “Shariah” conjures horrors of hands cut off, adulterers stoned and women oppressed. By contrast, who today remembers that the much-loved English common law called for execution as punishment for hundreds of crimes, including theft of any object worth five shillings or more? How many know that until the 18th century, the laws of most European countries authorized torture as an official component of the criminal-justice system? As for sexism, the common law long denied married women any property rights or indeed legal personality apart from their husbands. When the British applied their law to Muslims in place of Shariah, as they did in some colonies, the result was to strip married women of the property that Islamic law had always granted them — hardly progress toward equality of the sexes.

Yes, bad press is to blame for sharia’s bad press — not the fact that today, right now, gays and adulterers are being executed for sexcrimes. It does indeed take a long memory to recall the days when English common law was so brutal, because no living person’s memory goes back that far. No living person’s grand-grandparent’s memory goes back that far. Where sharia is practiced today, right now, brutality is the norm.

Sure, sharia gives women some rights to hold property. But when a women’s home and marriage are subject to the whim of her husband, when she cannot leave the house without a male family member, when she cannot drive a car, when her clitoris has been crudely and violently removed… that woman might have some notional right to property, but she has no right to dispose of it. Really, she has no right to her own body or her own life.

But Feldman, not knowing when to quit, keeps digging:

In fact, for most of its history, Islamic law offered the most liberal and humane legal principles available anywhere in the world. Today, when we invoke the harsh punishments prescribed by Shariah for a handful of offenses, we rarely acknowledge the high standards of proof necessary for their implementation.

I’m sure that, while the hangman’s noose is going over his head in Tehran, each convicted homosexual welcomes his impending murder, knowing that he was convicted of queerness by “high standards of proof.” Or should that read “high standards of poof?” In the West, when somebody kills somebody else for being gay, we throw them in jail. Where sharia is the law, gay-killers are called “your honor.”

The West, obviously, hasn’t always been kind or just to gays, women, Jews, or other minorities. But ancient English common law is tempered by the modern will of the people, as expressed through Congress or Parliament. As we, the people, have liberalized, so have our laws. Sharia is based on the immutable Word of God. As such, the clerics — the most brutal and hating and threatening of the clerics — get the final say.

But to a Harvard law professor, none of that counts. Just in case you don’t already get Feldman’s moral equivalency game, he makes it explicit with this single line:

It sometimes seems as if we need Shariah as Westerners have long needed Islam: as a canvas on which to project our ideas of the horrible, and as a foil to make us look good.

You know what makes the West look good? Mirrors. You know what makes most modern Islamic nations look bad? Their own actions under their own laws. The West doesn’t need — or at least shouldn’t need — some dastardly foil in order to feel good about ourselves. Just look around. Meanwhile, most of the Islamic world in general — and almost every square inch of the Arab world in particular — has little to offer but brutality, hate, sand and oil.

But, hey, at least people like sharia:

Today, 66 percent of Egyptians, 60 percent of Pakistanis and 54 percent of Jordanians say that Shariah should be the only source of legislation in their countries. Islamist political parties, like those associated with the transnational Muslim Brotherhood, make the adoption of Shariah the most prominent plank in their political platforms. And the message resonates.

If everybody was throwing loose women off a bridge, would you throw one off, too? The other question Feldman doesn’t ask is: How many of those countries have ever had a real election? Or having had one real election, did they ever hold a second one? And what Feldman doesn’t tell you is: Sharia is popular, by his own data, in countries where it hasn’t been imposed. I wonder what the women of Saudi Arabia, or northern Nigeria, would say? If, that is, you could find women brave and self-immolating enough to offer an honest answer to a Western pollster.

Sharia governments, much less sharia husbands, are not known as being very welcoming of the free press, or very forgiving of uppity women. And Jews? Well, I hope Feldman likes paying taxes. Because, as a Jew, under sharia he’d be paying a surcharge just for the privilege of going to temple. I’m assuming, of course, that Feldman is a practicing Jew. If he’s given up his faith, he can forget being a second-class citizen and say hello to being stoned to death.

And as a writer? What are the odds that even Feldman’s pro-sharia book will ever be published in Arabic?

And as a journalist? Has there ever been a free press in a sharia jurisdiction? Is such a notion even conceivable?

There’s more. Lots more. You can click over to read it all, but I don’t suggest that you bother. What you’ll find there is just more of the same.

What’s worse is, Feldman teaches law at one of America’s premier universities. What’s almost unbelievable is, Feldman goes on for five more pages with similar anti-Western propaganda. What’s all-too-believable is, The New York Times is pleased as punch to surrender themselves to their would-be destroyers.

Required Reading

March 16th, 2008 - 11:19 am

Jules Crittenden remembers the fall of Baghdad.

Carville to NYT: Drop Dead!

March 14th, 2008 - 3:42 pm

Really. James Carville says, “New York Times, get out of these candidates’ way and let them run for president.”

Carville has this one exactly right. Politics is a rough business, and the MSM have gotten way too sensitive. Or at least they think we’ve gotten too sensitive.

Met Opera Broadcast Tomorrow

March 14th, 2008 - 1:17 pm

La Cieca at the Parterre Box website reminds that tomorrow is the Metropolitan Opera’s live HD broadcast of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes. There are several great opera-related sites around the Internets; La Cieca is always my first stop. Lots of fun, lots of gossip, lots of interaction that makes opera enjoyable and entertaining for all.

So who is Benjamin Britten, and who is this Peter Grimes character? Wiki here and here. BBC here and this Royal Opera House synopsis too. Listen here.

Peter Grimes isn’t easy. You have been warned.

Required Reading

March 14th, 2008 - 11:12 am

Krauthammer:

The optimist will say that when this is over, we will look back on the Clinton-Obama contest, and its looming ugly endgame, as the low point of identity politics, and the beginning of a turning away. The pessimist will just vote Republican.

Or leave the top of the ballot blank.

Cleaning Up Her Act

March 14th, 2008 - 10:20 am

Jules Crittenden gets in the best — and hopefully last — bad Eliot Spitzer pun.

NOTE: At first I was going to write “Spitzer gag,” but that seemed redundant.

Persian Polling Proves Pointless

March 14th, 2008 - 9:16 am

Iran held elections today. Who knew? And who cared? Damn few:

Only a handful of voters showed up at many polling stations in Tehran on Friday in Iran’s parliament elections, a sign of frustration with a vote that hard-liners allied with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are expected to dominate.

Where lines formed in the capital, it was at a few major mosques, where most voters backed pro-Ahmadinejad candidates.

Iran’s reformist movement, which seeks democratic changes at home and better ties with the West, was largely sidelined in the race after most of its candidates were barred from running by Iran’s clerical leadership.

What is this world coming to when hardly anyone wants to participate in rigged elections?

Listen At Your Own Risk

March 14th, 2008 - 8:04 am

My appearance on this week’s PJM Political was so over-the-top that Ed Driscoll had to add rim shots. Blame Eliot Spitzer.

Lileks is on, too, so you might want to take an actual listen.

PLUS: Austin Bay, Jim Dunnigan and Bill Bradley!

Mandatory Clickage or Not

March 14th, 2008 - 7:45 am

If you thought the WaPo’s Dana Milbank was questionable as a reporter, wait’ll you read what passes for a column.

Someday, there might be a Pulitzer for “Sneering Condescension.” But until then I think George Will’s job is safe from Dana.

Quote of the Day

March 14th, 2008 - 6:50 am

Great suggestion that we monitor congressmen, etc. at all times. That would lead to the kind of term limits I endorse: one year in office and one year in jail.” –Creech.

What’s left to say?

Daddy, Where Do Babies Come From?

March 13th, 2008 - 6:50 pm

sg3_7519.jpg

Fly Away

March 13th, 2008 - 10:03 am

The last F-117 Nighthawk will be retired next month, after 26 years of service. And after only 22 years of combat. One or two of them were used in Panama in 1986, but the “stealth fighter” really gained its fame in the first Gulf War.

By modern standards, 26 years is a short time for a fighter to serve. Sure, the Nighthawk is based on 1970s technology, but so are the F-15, F-16, and F-18. All of those jets will serve well into the next decade.

Bombers can serve even longer. The first B-52 was built in 1954. Imagine if Pan-Am were still flying — and flying DC-3s.

Veepstakes

March 13th, 2008 - 8:03 am

Obama’s veep: Ohio governor Ted Strickland?

Not a bad pick — but with Ohio Republicans so discredited and in such disarray, I don’t know that Obama needs much help there.

Cowards

March 12th, 2008 - 6:01 pm

Big Brother is browsing your bulletin board:

A new web service that lets users rate and comment on the uniformed police officers in their community is scrambling to restore service Tuesday, after hosting company GoDaddy unceremonious pulled-the-plug on the site in the wake of outrage from criticism-leery cops.

Visitors to RateMyCop.com on Tuesday were redirected to a GoDaddy page reading, “Oops!!!”, which urged the site owner to contact GoDaddy to find out why the company pulled the plug.

RateMyCop founder Gino Sesto says he was given no notice of the suspension. When he called GoDaddy, the company told him that he’d been shut down for “suspicious activity.”

When Sesto got a supervisor on the phone, the company changed its story and claimed the site had surpassed its 3 terabyte bandwidth limit, a claim that Sesto says is nonsense.

RateMyCop did not contain any information about undercover police officers, or home addresses or phone numbers of regular policemen.

Quote of the Day

March 12th, 2008 - 2:52 pm

Only a masochist or castrate would want to be Hillary’s V.P.” -Camille Paglia.

It would almost be worth giving Clinton get the nomination, just to see which castrated masochist would take the job.

UPDATE: NRO’s Frank Gaffney knows just the man.

Measuring Success on the Web

March 12th, 2008 - 9:46 am

The Picador Project is starting to attract the crazies.

Ted and Hazel must be doing something right.

CORRECTION: The crazies have invaded TLIH as a whole, not just the Project. Whack-a-troll, anyone?

Demand

March 12th, 2008 - 9:20 am

The iPhone software development kit has been downloaded over 100,000 times in the last four days.

What the Hell Is Wrong With the Fed?

March 12th, 2008 - 8:56 am

Ben Bernanke’s latest maneuver ought to worry you:

The Fed pledged yesterday to lend, in return for mortgage debt, $200 billion of Treasuries to the securities firms that trade directly with the central bank. Officials told reporters later that the program may escalate from there as the central bank seeks to break the logjam in the home-loan market.

The step goes beyond past initiatives because the Fed can now inject liquidity without flooding the banking system with cash. Bernanke and his colleagues are trying to halt a cycle in which the losses on mortgage investments cause banks to cut their lending, sending the economy into a deeper contraction.

Propping up prices using government trickery is effectively no different than freezing prices by government fiat. All you’ll do in the long run is create inflation and delay the inevitable contraction — and make it worse.

Houses won’t sell because banks are afraid to lend money. Fine. So let the housing market slump. People who shouldn’t have borrowed when prices were high will be forced out of the market, and prices will come down. Cheaper housing means more affordable housing, and fewer high-risk borrowers. Then — just like magic! — banks will regain confidence, and people will buy houses again along everything that goes in them. As it is, the Fed is throwing good money after bad, and bribing banks into doing the same. At your expense, I might add.

Result? A longer, deeper slump. Oftentimes, “longer and deeper” is a good thing. But not when we’re talking about a recession.

Did we learn nothing from Nixon’s disastrous wage/price freeze?

Required Reading

March 12th, 2008 - 8:22 am

David Mamet on giving up “brain-dead” liberalism:

The play, while being a laugh a minute, is, when it’s at home, a disputation between reason and faith, or perhaps between the conservative (or tragic) view and the liberal (or perfectionist) view. The conservative president in the piece holds that people are each out to make a living, and the best way for government to facilitate that is to stay out of the way, as the inevitable abuses and failures of this system (free-market economics) are less than those of government intervention.

I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind.

It’s a helluva article, and kudos to The Village Voice for publishing it. Still, the best thing Mamet ever wrote was his ode to scotch in Playboy magazine a dozen years ago.

And So It Begins

March 11th, 2008 - 1:25 pm

I just got my first fundraising email from John McCain. You can see the text below the fold.

While I’d almost certainly prefer him over Clinton or Obama, I just can’t bring myself to send money to a man who doesn’t believe that money equals speech.

Serves him right.

(more…)

Primary Drunkblogging — SOBER!

March 11th, 2008 - 11:45 am

For now, anyway.

My first report for PJ Media is up, and I’ll be posting more until all the results are in.

And, yes, there will be Eliot Spitzer gags.