November 2004 Archives

Joe Trippi -- Howard Dean's erstwhile campaign manager -- says the Democrats lost the recent election because they weren't left-wing enough:

Since the Democratic Leadership Council, with its mantra of "moderate, moderate, moderate," took hold in D.C., the party has been in decline at just about every level of government. Forget the Kerry loss. Today the number of Democrats in the House is the lowest it's been since 1948. Democrats are on the brink of becoming a permanent minority party. Can the oldest democratic institution on earth wake from its stupor? Here are some steps to pull out of the nose-dive:

Democrats can't keep ignoring their base. Running to the middle and then asking our base to make sure to vote isn't a plan. And to those who say talking to your base doesn't work--Read the Rove 2004 playbook!

On one hand, I'm glad to read this since if the Dems take his advice they're certain to continue to decline in influence. On the other hand, it would be nice -- in theory -- to have two viable political parties instead of just one.

At the end of the piece, he argues that the Democratic Party doesn't have a clear vision or hasn't articulated it to the American people:

Finally, what is the purpose the party strives for today? What are our goals for the nation? You couldn't tell from the election. Very few good ideas come from the middle, and they tend to be mediocre. Consultants have become adept at keeping candidates in that safe zone. But the time has come to develop bold ideas and challenge people to sacrifice for the common good. Experts will tell you that you can't ask the American people to sacrifice individually for the common good. Those experts are wrong--it's just been so long since anyone has asked them.
Few good ideas come from the middle? That sort of logic defies the foundational principle of our two-party system that encourages people on both sides to find common, mutually agreeable solutions. Would Mr. Trippi eliminate the various checks and balances built into our government so that whomever is in the majority can wield unobstructed power? I don't think that's a wise idea, despite my party's present control.

And go ahead, ask people to "sacrifice individually for the common good" -- as if the government is the only organization that works for the common good -- that worked great for Hillary. The fact of the matter is that millions of (mostly red-state) Americans give tons of money to benefit the public good via churches and charities... Democrats are just upset because the money doesn't filter through the government before being spent.

Mr. Trippi has a glowing reputation because of his aptitude for fundraising, but his political instincts seem to be lacking. I think he's mistaken in thinking that the Democrats need to be more extreme, but then that goes with the Howard-Dean-territory I suppose. Most Americans know what the Democrats are about: higher taxes, abortion on demand, girlie-man foreign policy, and government control of every aspect of life other than sex. We know your vision, and we don't like it, and we don't want it.

The Daily Kfnork points to an article about moves in Holland to legalize killing babies that cannot survive on their own. As most of my readers know, I'm just about as against abortion and such as it's possible to be, but I'm not as outraged by this practice as DeoDuce. Why? The answer is near the end of the article itself:

However, experts acknowledge that doctors euthanize routinely in the United States but that such practice is hidden.

"Measures that might marginally extend a child's life by minutes or hours or days or weeks are stopped. This happens routinely, namely, every day," said Lance Stell, professor of medical ethics at Davidson College and staff ethicist at Carolinas Medical Center in the United States. "Everybody knows that it happens, but there's a lot of hypocrisy. Instead, people talk about things they're not going to do."

Even before hospitals and doctors existed, one of the most fundamental and difficult duties of a midwife was to kill babies that could not survive on their own. After birth the mother was in too much shock to know what was going on -- and the fathers were kept out of the birthing rooms partly for just this reason -- and if the baby was severely deformed or injured the midwife would kill him or her and tell the parents that the child died while being born. That's how it's been for thousands of years. Mercy killings are, in my opinion, far different than abortions or killings done for the sake of convenience.

Under what circumstances are these killings performed?

Examples include extremely premature births, where children suffer brain damage from bleeding and convulsions; and diseases where a child could only survive on life support for the rest of its life such as spina bifida and epidermosis bullosa, a blistering illness.

Some of these, like spina bifida, are not fatal and can be treated (even with in utero surgery). Epidermolysis bullosa is eventually fatal, but people born with it can live into their 30s...


...a child with painful wounds similar to burns covering most of his or her body.
...having to wrap each tiny little infant finger with Vaseline gauze and then cover it with gauze to prevent the hand from webbing and contracting.
...never being able to hold your child tight because if you did, their skin would blister or shear off.
...a child who will never know what it’s like to run, skip or jump, or to play games with other children because even the slightest physical contact will injure his or her skin.
...a child who screams out each time it is bathed because the water touching its open wounds creates incredible pain.
...a diet of only liquids or soft foods because blistering and scarring occur in the esophagus. active baby with his knees soaked in blood from the normal act of crawling.
...a teenager with stumps for hands, the affected fingers long gone.

This is the nightmare of life with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB)

In other cases, babies simply can't survive without life support, and even with it they won't live very long. So do we have a moral duty to spend thousands of dollars to extend the life of a doomed baby from one month to three months? Thousands of dollars that could be spent treating other patients with curable maladies? I don't know. Is it worth the health risk for a mother to carry and deliver such a baby even when his or her condition is known far in advance?

Even thinking about the problem makes me ill, and I pray that I'm never faced with such a decision. However, as with battlefield mercy killings and adult euthansia, I don't think the solution is as simple as "never under any circumstances".

It's been pointed out to me, from another article, that the final decision wouldn't fall to the parents but to the doctors, which I think is ridiculous. It's one thing to allow the next-of-kin to make life decisions based on what's best for their loved one, but it's another to allow a council of government doctors to make decisions based on what's best for the socialist health care system.

I may have to start watching Wheel of Fortune again, because so says Pat Sajak about Hollywood's silence over Theo van Gogh:

The presumed murderer, a Dutch-born dual Moroccan-Dutch citizen, attached a 5-page note to van Gogh's body with a knife. In it, he threatened jihad against the West in general, and specifically against five prominent Dutch political figures. Van Gogh’s crime? He created a short film highly critical of the treatment of women in Islamic societies. So, again I ask, where is the outrage from Hollywood’s creative community? I mean, talk about a violation of the right of free speech!

Perhaps they are afraid that their protests would put them in danger. That, at least, is a defensible position. If I were Michael Moore, I would much rather rail against George W. Bush, who is much less likely to have me killed, than van Gogh’s murderer and the threat to creative freedom he brings. Besides, a man of Moore’s size would provide a great deal of “bulletin board” space.

Despite the Crushing of Dissent in John Ashcroft's Alberto Gonzalez' America, I haven't noticed any Hollywood filmmakers brutally murdered recently, even the fat ham-enriched ones that tend to be -- as a species -- particularly hostile to the Bush Administration.

Such a specimen recently appeared on the Tonight Show, supposedly shorn of its gorilla-hair and adorned in human clothes. It didn't address the murder of fellow-director Theo van Gogh, but it did say that the War on Terror makes for a good "story". Also a good story: being attacked by OJ, with a ton of bacon, on the Tonight Show.

The sentencing phase of Scott Peterson's murder trial begins today, and he's stuck with the same jurors who convicted him of murdering his wife and unborn son. If I were on the jury I'd purposefully stall just so I could deliver the verdict on the anniversary of the murders: "Merry Christmas Scott, you get the death penalty. Sucka!"

How the heck did I not know about this creepy site?!

I need to eat more fruits and vegetables, but I only go to the grocery store once a month. What should I do? Plus, I eat out too often. I like frozen veggies, but most fruits need to be bought fresh. Is there a way I can get a weekly delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables that I can tailor to my tastes but not have to think about too often?

Yes, I'm lazy. I want a subscription food service that bills me monthly and doesn't take any effort.

So lots of people have noticed that the ad space on the right is available for a low, low price, and if you sign up now I'll contribute my share of the loot to the Friends of Iraq blogger challenge. If you don't want to buy an ad but still want to donate to a worthy cause, go here. If you're a blogger and want to participate, join Team Bear Flag. My only mission in life is to beat Hugh Hewitt and his dastardly Northern Alliance, so drop the kids out of college and give generously.

Here's a question: are there more people alive than dead? Well, the population is certainly higher now than it's ever been, and it's increasing by the birth rate minus the death rate. The number of dead people is increasing by the death rate. So, if (birth - death) > (death) on average throughout all history then there are more living people than dead people. It seems unlikely that the birth rate has been, on average, twice the death rate, and the standard demographic transition model reflects that for most of history both the birth and death rates have been very high.

# Stage 1, the situation that has characterized the world throughout most of history, is marked by high death and birth rates. Population levels fluctuate somewhat but there is no steady growth.

# In Stage 2, which began in the West around 1800, birth rates remain steady but mortality rates begin to decline because of improvements that reduce the toll of infectious diseases--the big killer in countries with high death rates. Population begins to grow.

# In Stage 3, a continuing decrease in death rates is accompanied by a decline in birth rates. Falling childhood mortality means that the number of births
needed to reach a desired family size drops. In response, fertility rates decline, but the population continues to grow because the number of births in a society is based not only on the number of children each woman bears but also on the number of women of childbearing age. With a disproportionate share of people in the childbearing years, population grows even after fertility rates decline.

# In Stage 4, the situation in the developed world today, there is a rough parity between births and deaths. Correspondingly, the population grows very slowly--if at all. Once a Stage 4 equilibrium of low birth and death rates is reached, immigration becomes the driving force for additional population growth.

Only in the transition stages (2 and 3) is the birth rate much higher than the death rate, so in my estimation there are probably far more dead people than living people.

With regard to conservatives' distaste for the recent movie about Alfred Kinsey, John Hiscock and James Burleigh quote writer and director Bill Condon:

Bill Condon, writer and director, said protesters wanted to "pretend that the last 50 years didn't happen"[.]
No, it's not that we want to pretend the past didn't happen, it's that we can clearly see the damage caused by some of the choices made by our predecessors and we'd like to undo it. As for Dr. Kinsey, it's clear that the experiments he performed on children in the 1940s and 1950s would be considered sexual abuse by modern standards. The Kinsey Institute denies that his research and data were based on child abuse, but rather on anecdotal evidence (so it's not science at all?).

The only pretenders are those who think the decades-long experiment of unrestrained sexuality has been anything but a monumental disaster.

Longing for Another Autumn Eve

Another early sunset brings
Another windy Autumn eve,
Another night that swoons and sings,
Another song of sweet reprieve.

From clocking hours and ticking clocks;
From surrounding crowds, yet all alone;
From hollow house and winsome walks
That only end when you come home.

The death of another Autumn day,
The cold wind blows without respite,
But your fire holds the dark at bay --
Seals in the heat and bounds the night.

Alas, my dear, too soon you leave!
O, for another burning Autumn eve!

Yet another redundant link: I think Scott Ott has the right perspective on Iranian nukes.

I haven't been posting much this weekend but I've been trying to follow the situation in Ukraine, and so far it looks very encouraging. The Parliament has called the recent election invalid, and observers seem to think this is a major step. The real key, of course, was the mass protest in Independence Square... I hope the oppressed in Arab nations are taking note.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Jewish Traveler's Prayer:

"May it be Your will, Lord, My God and God of my ancestors, to lead me, to direct my steps, and to support me in peace. Lead me in life, tranquil and serene, until I arrive at where I am going. Deliver me from every enemy, ambush and hurt that I might encounter on the way and from all afflictions that visit and trouble the world. Bless the work of my hands. Let me receive divine grace and those loving acts of kindness and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all those I encounter. Listen to the voice of my appeal, for you are a God who responds to prayerful supplication. Praised are you, Lord, who responds to prayer."

Very suitable for the times in which we live, particularly if you have friends or family serving abroad. Via Austin Bay.

Via Candied Ginger, I recommend Ivan Lenin for those who are interested in following the election debacle in Ukraine. I also encourage you to pray for a non-violent resolution that secures the liberty of the people in this developing democracy.

Instapundit also has lots more links (of course!), such as Le Sabot Post-Moderne blogging directly from the tent city in Independence Square. Maidan describes itself as "An Internet Hub for Civil Resistance to Authoritarianism in Ukraine" and has lots of information. SueAndNotU points out that the armed forces are a wild card and necessary to support any revolution, peaceful or violent.

Jim Price, in a comment here, points to a story about a fake document scandal perpetrated by Dan Rather over a decade ago.

There's a growing college gender gap, but I'm not sure how much it's growing since it's something that I noticed in 1995 when I started at UCLA.

Today, many colleges, particularly selective residential schools, face a dilemma unthinkable a generation ago.

To place well in influential college rankings, those schools must enroll as many top high school students as they can — and most of those students are female. Administrators are watching closely for the "tipping point" at which schools become unappealing to both men and women. They fear that lopsided male-female ratios will hurt the social life and diverse classrooms they use as selling points. ...

Such recruiting is complicated because girls outperform boys in high school. High school boys do score slightly higher on the SAT but more girls have A averages, rank in the top 10% of their class and take more academic courses than boys, according to the College Board.

Researchers are divided about the causes and extent of the college gender gap.

Some say the gap is limited to lower-income students and minorities, with girls from those populations more likely to attend college and boys more likely to go directly to work or the military. Affluent white males are at least as likely to attend college as their female counterparts, according to those experts. Others say the gap crosses race and class lines.

I don't know for sure what's causing the gap, but there are at least two possibilities worth considering. The first is in the article:
A former counselor at two Los Angeles high schools, Hatch said that in college admissions "the developmental lag rears its ugly head." High school boys "are more likely to be late bloomers," sometimes not hitting their academic stride until their junior year, he explained. That, Hatch said, can hurt boys in class rank and cumulative grade point average.
It's definitely true that girls mature faster than boys, in many ways, and rating kids based on performance up to age 18 would certainly reflect that.

The second possibility is only hinted at in the article.

If students complain about the gender mix, it is usually with a sense of humor. "My friends tell me I should switch my major to engineering if I want a boyfriend," joked student government president and religious studies major Annie Selak, citing one of the few mostly male sectors on campus. ...

The female-heavy graduating classes are making their mark farther up the chain. Women outnumbered men among medical school applicants for the second consecutive year, and more women than men now earn doctorates.

The part about medical school, at least, is incorrect. (More men than women enroll, and more men then women graduate.) As for doctorates and grad school... my hypothesis is that men feel more of a pressure to earn a living and make money, while women may be able to afford to spend more time earning degrees that are essentially, financially, worthless.

Despite Kevin Drum's call for a "stream of outraged posts and crosstalk" from the right, it's perhaps worth noting that while I don't necessarily approve of gender preferences in this context, I definitely don't condemn gender discrimination in general. There are many situations in which treating men and women differently is not only justified, but morally required.

Here's a brief history of jury nullification -- the ultimate bastion of democracy. You should read up on it for when you serve on a jury and are called upon to enforce what you believe to be an unjust law. In short: you can vote to acquit no matter what anyone tells you.

(HT: either Mister District Attorney or CrimLaw, I forget.)

Diplomad has a great inside perspective on what the UN is really like.

Those who don't rely on the "elite" MSM for all their information, know about the UN's "oil-for-food" scam that is slowly being uncovered, and could prove the most massive financial scandal in human history (even bigger than Massachusetts' "Big Dig.") The "oil-for-food" scam, huge as it is, flows logically from the ruling ethos at the UN. The UN system is built on corruption, on the principle of the shake-down; whatever lofty objectives might have existed at its creation, for the UN corruption now provides the means and reason to exist.

Let us explain.

The UN as an institution is the purest of pure bureaucracy: it is the thirty-year single malt of bureaucracies. We refer you to the UN website for details on careers there, but suffice it to say that if you want a job that is VERY well-paying, has lots of perks (first class travel; a generous pension; right to retire almost anywhere you want; tax free), and involves little actual work, the UN bureaucracy is for you -- unfortunately, if you're an American (or Israeli) you'll have a hard time getting it given the solid anti-Americanism (and anti-Semitism) of the UN Secretariat. The UN bureaucracy must have served as inspiration for a sci-fi story we vaguely recall about an ancient civilization that builds an elobrate machine that continues to operate even after the civilization itself has died. Subsequent generations -- in this case, in Europe and the boardroom of the NY Times -- have no idea what the machine does, but don't tamper with it, and, in fact, begin to worship it.

According to Wikipedia, the top UN contributors are:
As part of that agreement, the regular budget ceiling was reduced from 25 to 22 percent; this is the rate at which the United States is assessed. The United States is the only member that is assessed this rate, though it is in arrears hundreds of millions of dollars;(see also United States and the United Nations) all other members' assessment rates are lower. Under the scale of assessments adopted in 2000, other major contributors to the regular UN budget for 2001 are Japan (19.63%), Germany (9.82%), France (6.50%), the U.K. (5.57%), Italy (5.09%), Canada (2.57%) and Spain (2.53%).
Arrears? You mean we're not paying our UN dues?
U.S. arrears to the UN currently total over $1.3 billion. Of this, $612 million is payable under Helms-Biden. The remaining $700 million result from various legislative and policy withholdings; there are no current plans to pay these amounts.
That makes me smile; sometimes I really like Congress. Anyway, all the UN costs us is a couple billion dollars? That's not so bad. Plus, of course, the myriad headaches associated with all the nonsense resolutions -- but those only matter because it's still convenient to pretend we care.

Here's an excellent, and brief, article that explains in easily understandable terms why evolution is a poor theory.

This autumn 18 gifted UGA students and I are spending six weeks examining Stephen Hawking’s best-selling book “A Brief History of Time.” Therein Hawking states, “A theory is a good theory if it satisfies two requirements. It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements. And it must make definite predictions about the results of future observations.”

I consider Hawking’s statement to be an excellent definition of a good theory. How does evolution stack up to the two demands of a good theory? By the term “evolution,” I mean the claim that random mutations and natural selection can fully account for the complexity of life, and particularly macroscopic living things. ...

The second requirement for a good theory is far more problematical for the standard evolutionary model, sometimes called the modern synthesis. Over the past 150 years evolutionary theorists have made countless predictions about fossil specimens to be observed in the future.

Unfortunately for these seers, many new fossils have been discovered, and the interesting ones almost always seem to be contrary to the “best” predictions. This is sometimes true even when the predictions are rather vague, as seen by the continuing controversies associated with the purported relationships between dinosaurs and birds.

There's more, it's short, and I suggest you read the whole thing.

(HT: Donald Sensing -- glad you're blogging again!)

I appear to have gotten my links confused, and the post above has been corrected.

Here also is a peer-reviewed article by Stephen C. Meyer titled "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories" in which "Dr. Meyer argues that no current materialistic theory of evolution can account for the origin of the information necessary to build novel animal forms." (Linked to previously.)

Everyone has probably seen these two stories via Drudge: "September 11-style attack plans thwarted" and "Plane that was supposed to carry former president crashes". Can anyone point to any other "almost news" stories from 2004? There might be a prize in it for whomever links to the most almost-significant.

I sure wish the Bush Administration wasn't so in bed with big business.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and Time Warner Inc. are nearing agreement on a deal in which the media giant would pay about $750 million to settle wide-ranging allegations of accounting irregularities at Dulles-based America Online Inc. ...

The $750 million figure being discussed is 50 percent higher than the $500 million that Time Warner previously set aside for a possible settlement. It would cover all fines, penalties and other payments from Time Warner necessary to resolve the matter fully with the SEC and the Justice Department, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an agreement has not been finalized.

Not that I claim to have extensive knowledge of the issue, but this one example seems to indicate that the SEC is doing it's job. Plus the Martha Stewart prosecution, which even I think was over the top.

I wasn't going to write about the NBA brawl, but now I kinda have to since no one else is making the obvious point: it was awesome. I mean, sure, in theory the audience shouldn't be throwing stuff at players and the players shouldn't be charging into the stands, but c'mon... don't sit there and tell me you didn't watch the video with bloodthirsty anticipation. So yeah, hand out suspensions and fines and press criminal charges -- those also make for great entertainment! -- but don't act so sanctimonious, as if the otherwise-snow-driven purity of NBA Basketball has been tragically besmirched.

Orange County Assistant Sheriff Donald Haidl's son, Greg Haidl, has had his bail revoked. You may remember the younger Mr. Haidl from the earlier post in this series, in which I wrote:

This hasn't been a big national story, but the alleged gang-rape of a teenaged girl by three boys at a party -- one of whom is the son of an Orange County assistant sheriff -- has been pretty closely watched here in Southern California. The details are pretty simple: the girl passed out at a party and the boys then videotaped themselves having sex with her and sodomizing her on a pool table. Straight-forward, right? Nope, there's been a mistrial.

Why? The alleged crime is on video tape, but rape is inherently hard to prove and guilt hinges entirely on the state of mind of the woman involved, which is impossible to prove scientifically (until we get magical time-traveling mind-reading machines). Our system of justice doesn't require scientific proof, it only requires "reasonable doubt" proof, but even that's hard to come by when it's one person's word against another's (or three others). ...

The potential for a misunderstanding is rather high when the girl admits that she had sex with at least two of the boys willingly within the week before the alleged rape. There was also some controversy over whether the girl was actually unconscious at the time of the video taping, or whether the whole event was a staged attempt at making a porno, as the girl had previously indicated she wanted to do.

So what'd he do now? Just a little drunk driving, vandalism, trespassing, drug possession and statutory rape -- but at least this time it was consensual, other than the fact that California doesn't let 16-year-olds consent. Now his $200,000 bail has been revoked and he has twice attempted suicide, thereby further devestating his family... just like Scott Peterson. Haidl and Peterson... does anyone really doubt that the former wouldn't eventually become the latter? I bet an investigation of Peterson's childhood would reveal a lot of similarities.

And finally, the jurors from Mr. Haidl's mistrial are being hired by his defense lawyers to help prepare them for the retrial. Since the first jury was deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of acquittal, it doesn't seem likely that Mr. Haidl will spend much time in jail.

Wow. This massacre is the kind of thing gun-control advocates claim would run rampant if we had more liberal gun laws.

BIRCHWOOD, Wis. — A Wisconsin (search) hunter is accused of killing five people and wounding another three after he allegedly shot them over a fight involving a tree stand, authorities said.

The dead included a teenage boy, a woman and a father and son, County Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle said. Some of the victims were shot more than once.


I guess winter is finally here; the wind is blowing like crazy outside my window and the trees are whipping all around. There was a torrent of rain last night and even some flooding, along with earthquakes, thunder, and lightning. A great night to stay indoors... today would've been a great day to stay indoors as well, but alas.

In case you missed it, Peter Jennings and Bill Clinton had it out on Thursday night.

JENNINGS (Discussing rankings by presidential historians]: They gave you a forty-first in terms of moral authority - after Nixon.

CLINTON: They're wrong about that. You know why they're wrong about it? They're wrong about it.

JENNINGS: Why, sir?

CLINTON: Because we had $100 million spent against us in all these inspections. ... In spite of it all, you don't have any example where I ever lied to the American people about my job, where I have let the American people down. And I had more support from the world when I quit than when I started. And I will go to my grave being at peace about it. And I don't really care about what they think.

JENNINGS: Oh, yes you do.

CLINTON: They have no idea ...

JENNINGS: Excuse me, Mr. President. I can feel it across the room. You care very deeply.

CLINTON: No, no. I care. I care. You don't want to go here, Peter. You don't want to go here. Not after what your people did. And the way you - your network - what you did with Kenneth Starr. The way your people repeated every little sleazy thing he did. No one has any idea of what that's like.

(HT: A cute secret agent.)

Whatever you believe the origin of human life to be, you must admit that our bodies are pretty remarkable (as I was discussing with a friend just last night). Prompted by an article about running as a critical human ability, let me add a couple more.

In addition to running, our dextrous hands and opposable thumbs are obviously pretty important for tool use. Another of our greatest physical advantages is our exceptional sight; our eyes are positioned very high off the ground for an animal of our weight and we can see very far. Unlike prey animals, which have eyes facing to the sides to give them a wide field of view to spot predators, our eyes face forward to give us depth perception for hunting. We also have very high resolution vision compared to most creatures and can distinguish shapes and movement better than most.

Large parts of our huge brains are devoted to sight and recognition, as well as language. Our communication and cooperation abilities are far beyond those of any other creatures, and since we can recognize individuals on sight and use tools together there's really no animal on earth that can come close to competing with us.

(HT: Frank J.)

Here's a cool live-blogging transcript of a Q&A with Justice Scalia. He takes a lot of questions and tackles a bunch of issues (including a persuasive case against using legislative intent to interpret laws), and here's an argument against Roe v. Wade that I hadn't considered before. (All paraphrased.)

Q: Strict originalism, powers to states -- divisions between states? Lots of them? Even more divided society?
A: Court spends ~1/3 of time sorting out federal system. "Running a federal system is one big pain in the neck." France's system run out of Paris is easier. Ours is worth the trouble b/c federalism produces more happy people. eg. abortion: 51-49, 49 unhappy people. Divide into subgroups of 10. Can't possibly have more than 40 unhappy people. Phenomenon magnified when divisions not random, but geographic. Why should NY have to adopt Utah's approach to abortion? What's the use of a fed'l system if we don't allow states to apply their own views?

Laziness: need 5 votes on the S.Ct. and things are fine, instead of going to 50 state legislatures. He doesn't understand the aversity to diversity.

"My answer is yes, and a good thing too."

(HT: Orin Kerr and Will Baude.)

Starting with the election on the second, November 2004 has been one of the best months in the history of mankind. Why? Because, following in Yasser Arafat's recent sandal-steps, Kofi Annan and Kim Jong Il are on their ways out. There are still 11 days left in the month, and I fully expect the world to just keep getting hotter -- Drudge has already filled me in on the big story coming tomorrow evening, and trust me, it'll be good.

SDB also has a poll up about robot girls. I'm not that into anime, but I gather that robot slave girls are a common theme. Kinda the ultimate objectification of women, right? I mean, oh, it's ok -- they're not people, just robots! Sure, they look and act like people, but they're just sophisticated things. Eh. There are enough men who see real women in that same way that the concept of robot girls makes me uncomfortable.

Not that I don't understand the allure. Love is addictive, and a robot girl you could completely control would love you and never do anything to hurt you... but it's a misshaped fantasy. Such love would be just an illusion, no matter how real it felt. Falling into a trap like that would be no different than a heroin addict's permanent ecstatic torpor. The concept is a sort of emotional pornography (other forms of which are all around us).

Isn't the point of love that someone chooses to be with you?

A connection to Islamofascism.

SDB links (via his new anime site, Chizumatic) to a page with a series of lessons on how to speak Yakuza Japanese like a gangster.

If you've ever watched Japanese gangster movies, or had the misfortune of running into a yakuza in person, you know they speak a seemingly incomprehensible form of Japanese. As outcasts and deviants from society, gangsters have their own language with a unique and specialized vocabulary suited to their organizational culture and occupation. Yakuza Japanese runs the gamut from honorifics to epithets, with major regional variations. This webpage is designed as a primer to gangster Japanese, as used in movies, focusing on the Kansai (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto) and Tokyo varieties.

Glenn Reynolds writes a little about giving blood and even posts a picture. I always give blood when the bus comes by work; sometimes I'll go two or three times a day just for the cookies, but they start to get suspicious after a while. So I recommened buying a wig.

Mr. Reynolds also mentions:

One interesting observation: This is the first time I've donated on campus where there were more men than women giving. Usually it's quite lopsided in the other direction. One of the techs there told me that it's been that way this year; no idea why.
The first potential explanation that came to my mind -- possibly particularly apt on a college campus -- is that the young men who aren't fighting abroad are keen to make some small contribution.

Junk mail is the bane of my existance -- it's annoying, and bad for so many reasons.

The environmental impact of junk mail is substantial. In 1991, 62 million trees were cut for junk mail. Over 74,000 acres of trees were cut just for catalogs. In 1989, 63.7 billion pieces were sent, including 55 billion catalogs. This represents 7.4 billion pounds of junk mail. Pulp processing to produce paper for junk mail requires 25 billion gallons of water.(1)

Individually, an average of 41 pounds are sent to every adult. About 44 percent goes unread directly into the garbage(2) and 93 percent of junk mail will be discarded ultimately. Americans spend over $275 million to dispose of junk mail.(1) In one year a New York University marketing professor received 601 catalogs, including 26 catalogs from American Express and 24 catalogs from L.L. Bean.(3) ...

The USPS also sell names, although few citizens know it, through the National Change Of Address (NCOA) program. Twice per month the USPS sells the name and address of anyone who has moved and filled out a yellow USPS change-of-address form (USPS Form #3575) to about two dozen of the largest mailing list companies. Almost 40 million Americans fill out the change of address cards each year.(4) The House Government Information, Justice, and Agriculture Subcommittee held hearings on the NCOA program, and found that these two dozen USPS licensees sell the names to "thousands of direct mail companies."(4)

Unfortunately, my friend Mike Northover (who sent me the link) agrees with me that there is unlikely to be a market solution to the problem. Even if the USPS were privatized (which would be great), they'd make a lot of money selling addresses and delivering junk mail. If anyone has a market-based solution to the problem that wouldn't vastly increase the cost of mail, I'd love to hear it.

Terrorist-sympathizing Canadian MP Carolyn Parrish has been sacked. Miss (I'm assuming) Parrish had previously been involved with heckling President Bush when he visited Canada, but she wasn't dismissed for publically derriding her nation's most important ally:

Ms. Parrish has refused to tone down her criticisms of Mr. Bush, who she has denounced as a "war-like" leader. But her most serious crime seems to have been rejecting the authority of her party's leader, saying Wednesday that Mr. Martin could "go to hell" if he didn't like her behaviour.

Her attitude received international attention when a photo of her stomping on a Bush doll, filmed as part of a This Hour has 22 Minutes episode, ran on the hugely popular Drudge Report.

Mr. Parrish has long been a thorn in the side of Liberals who want to rebuild ties with the United States. She called the countries contributing to U.S. efforts in Iraq a "coalition of the idiots" and was dismayed at the re-election of Mr. Bush.

She responded to Mr. Bush's election victory by saying that Americans had "reconfirmed [him] as their Commander-in-Chief, and he is a warlike man."

She was scolded then by Mr. Martin but she retorted that she would continue to speak her mind. But on Wednesday she went too far by shifting her criticism to the party's leadership.

"I have absolutely no loyalty to this team. None," she told Canadian Press.

"After what they've put me through and lots of my colleagues, they can all go to hell. But [Mr. Martin's] not going to control me, so all he's going to do is end up looking weak."

Mr. Martin could not, apparently, control her. But he could fire her.

It's about time someone started chilling speech and stifling dissent.

Lileks makes a good point about squeeky wheels:

This doesn’t mean the country is split 50-50, but for some reason newspapers feel compelled to give each side equal weight and imply we’re divided on the issue of Smoking Soldiers. It is helpful to remember that if 9/11 had never happened, and we had never invaded Iraq, these people would be bringing the same level of ire and outrage to the presence of irradiated beef on school menus. They are the squeaky wheels shrieking for grease.

Soy-based non-petroleum recycled post-consumer grease, please.

It's hard to take someone seriously when they have a complaint about everything. Does that mean they're always wrong? Nah, but it makes me suspect they complain because they enjoy it rather than because they simply can't let some injustice go unnoticed.

A school in New Hampshire is refusing to publish a student's senior photo in the yearbook because the student is holding a shotgun.

Principal James Elefante said that although the photo isn’t threatening, "I still stand by that holding a saxophone is different from holding a shotgun."

Superintendent Nathan Greenberg said school shootings around the country in recent years make him wary of allowing the photo in the seniors section.

"Maybe it’s not fair but that’s the reality," Greenberg said, adding that "part of our contention is that it could be construed that the school could be endorsing guns."

What's not to endorse about guns? Perhaps unaware of Mr. Greenberg's distaste, Thomas Jefferson encouraged his 15-year-old nephew thusly:
"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks."

I have no idea if this will be comprehensible to many people, but here is an attempt -- at least -- at a layman's explanation of the technical concept of complexity. Here also is a Wikipedia entry about computational complexity theory. For anyone who cares, this is what computer science grad students spent an awful lot of time thinking about. (HT: GeekPress.)

If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made out of meat? Sure, it sounds logical, but now we're not even supposed to eat fish! Not even fish tacos.

Called the Fish Empathy Project, the campaign reflects a strategy shift by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as it challenges a diet component widely viewed as nutritious and uncontroversial.

"No one would ever put a hook through a dog's or cat's mouth," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach. "Once people start to understand that fish, although they come in different packaging, are just as intelligent, they'll stop eating them."

Don't care. I'd eat dogs and cats if they tasted good.
"Fish are so misunderstood because they're so far removed from our daily lives," said Karin Robertson, 24, the Empathy Project manager and daughter of an Indiana fisheries biologist. "They're such interesting, fascinating individuals, yet they're so incredibly abused."
I don't misunderstand fish or any other animals -- I just like to eat them. After all, a cow is just dinner wrapped in shoes.

Actually, PETA might be able to do civilization a valuable service (and advance their own agenda) if they're willing to target their message primarily at fat people. They're the ones who eat the most animals, and they're the ones that could improve their health the most by obeying PETA's proclamations.

(Part 1, in which Senators who send their kids to expensive private schools vote against giving poor families the same option.)

Joe Gandelman at Dean's World points to an article claiming that the children of public school teachers attend private schools at twice the national rate.

Nationwide, 12.2 percent of all families in urban, rural and suburban settings send their children to private schools. But 21.5 percent of urban public-school teachers send their children to private schools. ...

The study's authors came to several conclusions why urban public-school teachers send their children to private schools at a higher rate, including the fact that teachers are generally conservative and have long been discerning connoisseurs of education.

Public school teachers tend to be conservative?! Yeah, I'm so sure. That kind of idiocy brings the whole study into doubt, but there's no question that teachers are "discerning connoisseurs of education" in the sense that they can't escape noticing the fact that public education sucks.

Wow, an essay by James Earl Jones about "Dr. Strangelove" -- two great tastes that go great together!

Jean Jacques Rousseau said that God is a comedian playing to an audience that is afraid to laugh. In his film "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," Stanley Kubrick, to some a "god" in the pantheon of cinema, made us laugh out loud at thermonuclear war. I am a surviving member of the cast, and in this 40th anniversary year of the film, I am pleased to share some of my experiences in making "Strangelove."
And what follows is an interesting retrospective.

At the end of an article about a meeting between the major network news chiefs -- Neal Shapiro for NBC, David Westin for ABC, and Andrew Heyward for CBS -- Beth Fouhy quotes Mr. Heyward:

"I think it's important to look at this as in increasingly sumptuous smorgasbord of choices, and Fox started that." Heyward said. "It's very different from the comfortable oligopoly that prevailed at the beginning of broadcast news, where you had networks with enormous market share. I think that's to the public benefit. It puts more pressure on us to be excellent."
I think that's the exact right perspective. Imagine how the music and movie industries might change if they decided to aim for excellence rather than merely run insipid commercials about how sharing their products is wrong (whether it is or not).

Competition produces excellence, every time, in every scenario. It's often important to have limits on competition to restrain our evil impulses (e.g., it's not ok to kill a romantic rival), but for the most part competition should be given free reign and recognized as a critical contributor to the advance of civilization.

Digger reports that aid worker Margaret Hassan has been murdered on video. This is why I don't feel too bad about questionable killings on the battlefield -- the people we're fighting are monsters, and deserve no quarter. We may, in our mercy, decide to restrain ourselves -- but for these things morality hardly requires it.

I'm not intimately familiar with the dynamics of a battle field, but killing an unarmed enemy who may still be dangerous seems like a non-issue to me.

On the video, as the camera moved into the mosque during the Saturday incident, a Marine can be heard shouting obscenities in the background, yelling that one of the men was only pretending to be dead.

"He's (expletive) faking he's dead!"

"Yeah, he's breathing," another Marine is heard saying.

"He's faking he's (expletive) dead!" the first Marine says.

The video then showed a Marine raising his rifle toward a prisoner lying on the floor of the mosque. The video shown by NBC and provided to the network pool was blacked out at that point and did not show the bullet hitting the man. But a rifle shot could be heard.

"He's dead now," a Marine is heard saying.

The shooting is shown so quickly that it is impossible to tell whether the body was moving before the shot. The only movement which can be seen is the body flinching at the moment the bullet hits.

If someone is faking being dead, it's probably because they're trying to surprise you.
Charles Heyman, a senior defense analyst with Jane's Consultancy Group in Britain, defended the Marine's actions, saying it was possible the wounded man was concealing a firearm or grenade.

"You can hear the tension in those Marines' voices. One is [shouting], 'He's faking it. He's faking it,'" Heyman said. "In a combat infantry soldier's training, he is always taught that his enemy is at his most dangerous when he is severely wounded."

If the injured man makes even the slightest move, "in my estimation they would be justified in shooting him."

That about sums it up.

When you fight a war, you fight to win and to minimize your own casualties. That means you kill the enemy, and on the battlefield you can't afford to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes you make a wrong choice -- as this Marine may have -- but that's the way it goes. Investigate, that's fine, but this is hardly a huge scandal.

I want action figures of the Supreme Court justices, and I can't find them. I also want figures for various Bush Administration officials, but all I can find is W himself. Anyone have any info about such things?

Clayton Cramer responds to my earlier post in which I argued that we should consider amending the Constitution to institute limited terms for federal judges of, say, 15 years, rather than give them lifetime appointments.

This is a very tempting position to take, at least when conservatives seem to be in political ascendancy. I have a theory, however, that lifetime appointments for federal judges has a positive effect of buffering the rate of change--and this is actually a good thing, overall.

Consider what happened when FDR tried to ram through the New Deal. A bunch of federal judges, including most of the Supreme Court, were appointed by Republicans, and had a view of the government's role that is often characterized (not entirely accurately) as "strict constructionism." They hindered substantially FDR's well-intentioned by foolish attempts at making the federal government master of the economy. They hindered FDR's efforts, but they could not delay them indefinitely. Still, without these delays, I suspect that FDR and Congress might have gone quite a bit farther down the road to government control than they did.

My understanding is that "strict constuctionism" was coined by Richard Nixon and William Rehnquist during the former's 1968 presidential campaign, and I don't think any of the justices opposed to FDR closely aligned with the theory. (But Mr. Cramer is the historian, not I!)

Anyway, I agree that long terms for judges are useful as a check on the other branches, but it's also important to remember that people lived much shorter lives in the 18th century when the Constitution was written. Who would have guessed, then, that in 2004 we'd have a Supreme Court with an average age of 70 years and not a single resignation in over a decade? Perhaps Mr. Cramer has some knowledge of the average amount of time served (before death or resignation) by federal judges in the 18th and 19th centuries as compared to the 20th and 21st.

Mr. Cramer responds via email,

The term strict constructionist may be that young, but the theory it
promotes--that judges should only use the explicit language of the
Constitution in deciding what is Constitutional--goes back much earlier
than that. I used the language that I did to emphasize that many of
these judges didn't strictly follow their own theories on this.

Take a look here for the duration of various chief justices of the Supreme Court.
Marshall served for 35 years, from 1801 to 1836.

That's a long time... probably too long, I say. According to the table, for whatever it's worth, Chief Justices nominated to the Chiefship in the 18th century served an average of four years, those nominated in the 19th century served 21.8 years, and those nominated in the 20th century served 11.75 years. This doesn't count time spent as a federal judge, if any, before being made Chief Justice. Really, these averages indicate nothing, other than the known fact that I like using Excel to play with numbers.

I'd be very interested in a larger data set of federal judge tenures.

Update 2:
I just saw the earlierly-misposted comment by Tom Round who has some excellent data, quoting The New Republic:

In 1787, the adult life expectancy was less than 39 years. Today the number is nearly double that. Stays on the Court have lengthened almost exactly in sync, the first nine justices… served an average of 8.6 years, while the last nine to leave… have presided an average of 16.7 years. With the median age of the population at 32 years, the median age on the Supreme Court is now 67.

Considering the incredible amount of debt most Americans are carrying -- particularly on their high-interest credit cards -- the Supreme Court ruling last month that forced MasterCard and Visa to halt some of their anticompetitive practices may have been one of the most significant changes in economic policy our country has seen in decades. PBS has a forum about the decision, but the gist of it is that MC and Visa can no longer prevent their issuing banks from partnering with other credit companies, such as American Express and Discover. Opening this market should result in increased competition and better customer value, likely in the form of reduced fees and interest rates.

Still, the best policy with a credit card is to pay it off completely every month, then you won't have to worry about rates at all.

If one of my loved ones were near death, I'd want to be there while the doctors tried to save her life.

Seeing chaotic last-ditch efforts to save a relative's life is not for everyone. But now, a majority of hospitals offer such access — and many people are choosing to be there.

The movement is called "family presence (search)" and is driven mainly by nurses who see it as more compassionate. Better access to information and witnessing for themselves the measures taken, they argue, often help survivors through the grieving process.

It would be far better than agonizing in the waiting room, waiting for news.

Men and women are different.

It's time to consider amending the Constitution to impose limited terms on federal judges, all the way to the top at the Supreme Court. The terms should be nice and long, say 15 years, but considerably shorter than the lifetime tenure now enjoyed by our judicial aristocracy. The idea that whomever President Bush appoints during his second term could still be making law for my grandchildren is ridiculous. Maybe in an ideal world judges-for-life work, but in reality they're no better than presidents-for-life.

The idea behind life terms is that the judiciary shouldn't be politicised, but take a look around -- it's a little too late for that. I don't think federal judges should be popularly elected (as many state judges are), but I don't think we should have to impeach them be rid of them. Limit judges to one 15-year term, and then let them ply a useful trade in the public sector.

Scott Peterson was convicted of first and second degree murder this afternoon for killing his wife and unborn son. All the evidence against him was circumstantial, but few people seemed to have any doubt about his guilt. There were no eye witnesses, no murder weapon, no blood stains, no DNA. Nevertheless, the circumstances of the crime pointed convincingly towards Mr. Peterson, and possibly even more important in the eyes of the jury, he was a real scumbag.

The worst parts of the crime are, of course, the murders, but secondarily don't forget just how badly Mr. Peterson has screwed his family. They sold everything they owned, mortgaged their homes, and emptied their retirement and college accounts to hire Mark Geragos to put on a million-dollar defense for their son and brother, and he let them annihilate their lives in a futile attempt to get him off when he knew he was guilty. Now they'll never touch him again, and never see him except through maximum security prison glass.

Rather than simply flee his family -- as thousands of selfish and pathetic fathers do every year -- Scott Peterson found an even lower road to travel, and I hope he fries for it. He thought he could, for his own convenience, murder the ones who loved and depended on him; he was too smart to ever get caught. When he was picked up, with dyed hair and $15,000 in cash, he then conned his family into ruining their own futures to cover his despicable acts. What clearer picture of depravity can there be? Saddam Hussein writ small, but no less evil for it.

Hm, I seem to remember another Civil War started by Democrats that didn't turn out too well for them, so I wonder why some leftists are so keen on the idea now? I mean, they're obviously going to be fighting against superior numbers -- at least 51 to 48, discounting Naderite pacifists -- and their opponents will be the ones with all the guns. Plus, y'know, the military favored President Bush 4 to 1, and they've got all sorts of nifty weapons.

Who does the left have? Well, Michael Moore, but zeppelins haven't been useful in war for decades. Maybe Whoopi will make crude jokes in our general direction? Maybe Margaret Cho will remove the UN-sealed bag from her head? I just don't think a battalion of solar-powered tanks with Al Gore at the head is going to be very effective. I guess the main thing we on the right should be worried about is that France and the UN will... uh...? Nevermind.

So to lefty secessionists I say: bring it on.

Apparently now only the spammers can comment on my site. Fantastic. I disabled comments by invalidating a few fields, but the spammers are somehow accessing the databases more directly and bypassing the security code altogether. This makes me sad.

You screw up my site,
While my readers pour out tears.
I hate you, spammer.

Thanks for the offer,
But I don't play 'net poker --
Poke your eyes instead.

Oh comment spammer:
Your wee-wee is so tiny,
Use your drug yourself.

The nearly insufferable Arianna Huffington brutally scourges the so-called Clintonistas who took over the last two months of John Kerry's presidential campaign.

But shouldn’t it have been obvious that Iraq and the war on terror were the real story of this campaign? Only these Washington insiders, stuck in an anachronistic 1990s mind-set and re-fighting the ’92 election, could think that the economy would be the driving factor in a post-9/11 world with Iraq in flames. That the campaign’s leadership failed to recognize that it was no longer “the economy, stupid,” was the tragic flaw of the race.

In conversations with Kerry insiders over the last nine months, I’ve heard a recurring theme: that it was Shrum and the Clintonistas (including Greenberg, Carville and senior advisor Joe Lockhart) who dominated the campaign in the last two months and who were convinced that this election was going to be won on domestic issues, like jobs and healthcare, and not on national security.

As Tom Vallely, the Vietnam War veteran whom Kerry tapped to lead the response to the Swift boat attacks, told me: “I kept telling Shrum that before you walk through the economy door, you’re going to have to walk through the terrorism/Iraq door. But, unfortunately, the Clinton team, though technically skillful, could not see reality — they could only see their version of reality. And that was always about pivoting to domestic issues. As for Shrum, he would grab on to anyone’s strategy; he had none of his own.”

I'm glad she's not my governor, but she makes good points (except that she thinks Kerry should have played up national security by going hardcore anti-Iraq). It's almost as if the Clintonistas wanted Kerry to lose, but by as small a margin as possible.

That most splendid utensil points to a fascinating report from her Middle Eastern sources that explains in reasonable detail how Al-Zarqawi fits with Al-Qa'ida and what's going on in Iraq.

Al-Hayat: "Some of the operations of Al-Zarqawi's group in Iraq are extremely brutal: incidents of beheadings and boasting of them before the cameras in videos later distributed over the Internet, and car bombs killing dozens of civilians… There is widespread criticism to the effect that this group's operations damage the image of Islam."

Nu'man ibn 'Uthman: "I personally believe that these operations indeed damage [the reputation of] Islam. This is due to a mistake common to those movements categorized as ' Jihadist.' These movements base themselves on a religious-theological dimension, disregarding the present reality and the nature of things… This is the source of the[ir] mistake… For example, the slaughtering of hostages and airing it on the TV screens - I believe that those who perpetrate this consider only themselves and do not consider the effect on those they want to address. They focus on their desire to affirm that they are strong and capable of taking revenge…

"This brings us back to the basic problem, namely, that there is a confusion of strategies … [that were developed by Islamist groups] in Egypt … for the struggle against the existing regime, which they considered illegitimate. This has been going on for at least thirty years in Arab countries and in effect has not succeeded in realizing its aims… This does not suit the reality in Iraq for a simple reason: that Iraq now needs to revert back to the stage of being liberated from colonialism, [a stage] which the Arab and African nations had entered after WWII… The logic of a war of liberation is totally different from the logic of a struggle against the existing regime in one's own country.

"There is now an analogy between Al-Zarqawi's group and the GIA in Algeria. As far as tactics, they, Al-Zarqawi's group, carry out acts that we regard as mass slaughter, and [we see] scenes of the slaughter of military personnel or civilians and the issuing of declarations boasting of these actions and counting the dead. The GIA has made these things a matter of common occurrence and subsequently they pay the price for it. Now it seems to me that the group of Al-Tawhid Wa-Al Jihad [Al-Zarqawi's group, 'Monotheism and Jihad '] have contracted the worse form of this [disease] from the GIA - namely, [mode of] operation of displaying your force and asserting your existence and maintaining continuity by choosing very easy targets, usually unarmed civilians… These methods, in my point of view, will eventually lead to the isolation of Al-Zarqawi's group."

And there's much more.

(Now I'm going to spell "al Qaeda" this way so I can find this post with a text search later.)

Islam prohibits euthanasia?

Islamic scholars have generally prohibited the discontinuation of life support machines, since the Koran advises: "Don't throw yourself into death." Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian foreign minister, reacted violently to press reports yesterday that Palestinian officials had arrived in Paris to "pull the plug" on Arafat.

"We don't accept euthanasia," he said, Arafat "is in the hands of God."

How ironic. Apparently strapping on a bomb and blowing up a pizzaria isn't "throwing yourself into death" or taking life out of "the hands of God".

Despite what David Broder and Glenn Reynolds think, I don't see the gerrymandering of House seats as a huge problem. Because of gerrymandering and the 17th Amendment, the House and Senate have essentially reversed roles, with Senate seats turning over more frequently than House seats because state lines can't be redrawn on a whim. So, fine; what's the big deal? Plus, House districts aren't drawn arbitrarily, they're the result of another democratic process, namely state legislatures (whose own districts are also, of course, gerrymandered).

All in all, I'd like to repeal the 17th Amendment and force state legislatures to draw concave House districts, but such things are not high on my list of political priorities. I think ending federal income tax witholding, or eliminating the income tax altogether, would go farther towards reforming and shrinking our government.

I was listening to the radio briefly this morning on the way to work, and one of Rush's callers was astounded that anyone wouldn't love Yasser Arafat -- after all, he won the Nobel Peace Prize! And yes, she was entirely serious. So, for her benefit and yours, here are some famous Arafat quotes that might shed some light onto why he should be rightly reviled. (Note to Rush: you can send your listeners directly to my site.)

"Our law is a Jordanian law that we inherited, which applies to both the West Bank and Gaza, and sets the death penalty for those who sell land to Israelis.... We are talking about a few traitors, and we shall implement against them what is written in the law books. It is our right and our obligation to defend our land."

"When we stopped the Intifada we did not stop the Jihad to establish Palestine with Jerusalem as our capital.... We know only one word: Jihad, Jihad, Jihad.... We are at conflict with the Zionist movement...."

"The Israelis are mistaken if they think we do not have an alternative to negotiations. By Allah I swear they are wrong. The Palestinian people are prepared to sacrifice the last boy and the last girl so that the Palestinian flag will be flown over the walls, the churches and the mosques of Jerusalem."

"All of us are willing to be martyrs along the way, until our flag flies over Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine. Let no one think they can scare us with weapons, for we have mightier weapons - the weapon of faith, the weapon of martyrdom, the weapon of jihad."

"I say once more that Israel shall remain the principal enemy of the Palestinian people, not only now but also in the future."

"Cooperation and understanding between the P.L.O. and the rejectionist organizations is what will lead to the speedy retreat of Israel from the occupied territories in the first stage, until the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem. Only a state like that can then continue the struggle to remove the enemy from all Palestinian lands."

"The jihad will continue... You have to understand our main battle is Jerusalem... You have to come and to fight a jihad to liberate Jerusalem, your precious shrine... No, it is not their capital. It is our capital."

"The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromise."

"You are the generation that will reach the sea and hoist the flag of Palestine over Tel Aviv."

"Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations."

"The victory march will continue until the Palestinian flag flies in Jerusalem and in all of Palestine - from the Jordan River to the Meditteranean Sea and from Rosh Hanikra to Eilat."

"Palestine is onle a stone's throw away for a small Palestinian boy or girl."

My brother passes along this C-SPAN list of policy organizations and think tanks. It's long, but not really complete... I can think of a few groups that aren't on there but seem like they should be, like the National Rifle Association.

Mayor As Mayor of the Munchkin City, in the County of the Land of Oz, I welcome you most regally.

But we've got to verify it legally, to see --

To see?

If she --

If she?

Is morally, ethic'lly --

Father No.1
Spiritually, physically --

Father No. 2
Positively, absolutely --

Undeniably and reliably Dead!

As Coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her.
And she's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead.

Then this is a day of Independence for all the Munchkins and their descendants!

If any.

Yes, let the joyous news be spread: the wicked Old Witch at last is dead!

Thank you.

When I learn someone's pant size I always wonder how much fatter they are than me, or vice versa. So I made up a handy chart. It's only a rough estimate, of course, since people aren't spheres. Correction: Most people.

WaistRadiusVolume% of 33"

This type of information can come in handy if you get in a fight, or if you have to order pizza.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how women's sizes fit into this scheme.

After reading this very public promise by Senator Specter to support President Bush's nominees, I'm entirely comfortable allowing him to take the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

To resolve any concern that I would block pro-life judicial nominees, take a look at my record. I have consistently opposed any litmus test. I have backed that up by voting to confirm pro-life nominees including Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Justice Anthony Kennedy. I led the fight to confirm Justice Clarence Thomas, which almost cost me my Senate seat in 1992.

I have voted for all of President Bush's judicial nominees in committee and on the floor.

The current controversy was artificially created by incorrect reporting. I never "warned" the president on anything--and especially not that I'd block pro-life nominees.

Brian Wilson, a reporter for Fox News, said: "I looked at the tape very closely. . . . Senator Specter was the victim of some spin on the part of some reporters who took some comments and were looking for a kind of a good headline out of it."

Similarly, Rush Limbaugh refused to join the critics, saying: "This Specter story . . . may be a story about the media again . . . apparently, just from the looks of this, it may be that some words were put in his mouth that he didn't say."

The Rev. Pat Robertson has also seen through the media spin, stating on Nov. 8 that "I am not worried about Arlen Specter, and I think he'll be fine."

I'll call up Messrs. Bush and Frist right now to withdraw my objection.

Yes, I know the anti-spam comment code is getting absurdly long, but last night I set it to length six and still had to spend an hour this morning deleting spam. One commenter has threatened to stop commenting if I don't reduce the length, but I'm sorry, I just can't deal with all the spam. If I don't get any more ads I'll slowly walk the length back down to what it was, but for now it's ten digits.

I sincerely hope my homeland security measures don't severely encumber your civil liberties. Keep commenting, please! But I had to make a choice, and I decided to tighten things up. Yes, that means that the comment terrorists have already won. Or something.

Thanks guys. And thanks too, of course, to the American, British, Polish, and every other type of soldier fighting in Fallujah this morning. But especially the Iraqis, because it's none-too-soon for you folks to begin taking responsibility for your own psychopaths.

I'm super annoyed. When I get home from work I want to go inside and relax, I don't want to collect hundreds of papers from my front porch advertising products I could easily find for myself if I had any desire for them. If I want to buy a house, sell a house, install new windows, paint my house, order pizza, order chinese food, or vote for something I certainly don't need a door flyer to empower me. Normally I just leave the crap there and throw it away the next morning when I leave for work. I don't even like checking my mail when I get home, and most of that's crap too.

So when I got home tonight it was all dark (thanks a lot, winter) and my porch was littered with the typical garbage. I waded through it to my door and tried to stick the key in, but I couldn't. What the heck? Someone had the nerve to tape their ad to my door knob over the keyhole. I'm not even joking. Words cannot describe my irritation. Apparently some company is coming around painting address numbers on the curbs and they want me to pay them for it. Oh yeah? Well screw off.

What type of evil genius are you? Keep in mind: we're not talking about super powers here. Just assume that you're ruthless, maniacal, and brilliant -- how would you focus your mental energies to Take Over The World?

A few sample archetypes:

Evil Billionaire -- You're fantastically wealthy and control powerful corporations.

Mad Scientist -- You have prodigious expertise in some realm of science. What would you choose? Genetics? Nuclear physics? Robotics? Geology?

Corrupt Politician -- A rare breed, you have attained high political office but wield public power for your own good rather than the good of your constituents.

Terrorist Mastermind -- You control a secretive global network of terrorist operatives.

Rogue General -- You're a rogue general or mercenary with your own private army.

Master of Deception -- You use psychology and the media to twist the minds of the population.

Or make up your own!

I'm getting a ton of comment spam all of a sudden... I wonder how it's getting past the security code? Anyway: my apologies. I'm deleting them when I see them, and they shouldn't otherwise affect the site.

This morning Matt informs us that Yasser Arafat is both dead and not-dead, which means of course that he's undead: either a wraith or a ghoul, in my opinion.

Jessica wonders who's taking over after someone stakes a stick (or vice versa) through his black heart, but the thing to understand about thugocracies is that there isn't a "position" of President to be filled once its current occupant dies. Arafat is the President of the PLO, and the office doesn't exist apart from him. The Palestinians (and most corrupt third world societies) don't have self-existent governmental institutions -- they're held together by warlords and chiefs of various strengths. When Arafat shuffles off this mortal coil there will certainly be a power vacuum, and the next leader may call himself the "President", but he'll rule in his own right, by his own power, not based on any respected or honorable office.

Israel's wall around the West Bank is nearly complete, and just in time. Most experts (which I am not) think the West Bank will devolve into full-on civil war as the various factions duke it out for control. That could have been a huge problem for Israel, but now they can just shut the gates and toss a few thousand AK-47s over the wall. It'll be a bloodbath, and Jordan may eventually step in and exert some control. Then the Jordanians -- who are rather reasonable as far as Arabs go -- would then have some responsibility for the situation, and they can actually be dealt with.

The Gaza Strip is a different matter, but it's not likely to be as violent, by my understanding. There's no wall there, but there was also no Arafat for over three years. If things get tough it's possible that Egypt will occupy the Strip and enforce order, and we have a decent amount of leverage with them because we've been bribing them for decades.

An ideal situation would see Jordan permanently annex the West Bank and Egypt do the same with the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians could finally assimilate with their Arab neighbors, and Israel wouldn't have to worry about a sovereign Palestinian state that would serve as a base for terrorists. Worst-case: the whole region goes up in flames. But that's hardly new.

Sorry buddy, I've already taken a mental photo of you that simply cannot be redeveloped. If I ever meet you in person I'll give your way a try -- just so I don't embarrass myself too badly -- but I can't change what's in my heart.

Ok, Hugh Hewitt has mostly convinced me that I was over-eager in my desire to prevent Senator Arlen Specter from gaining the chairmanship of the Senate Judicial committee. Mr. Hewitt thinks such an upset would be a Phyrric victory at best, and would unnecessarily disrupt the confirmation process. He says that we should wait to see if Senator Specter actually does start obstructing nominees before we throw him to the wolves. Sigh... ok! But the wolves are so hungry. Maybe that's the point... Republicans shouldn't overplay their hand just because they've got some good hole cards.

The guys at Power Line agree.

It shouldn't be a surprise to any of his devoted readers, but Daniel Handler -- a.k.a. Lemony Snicket -- is a leftist. I realized it when he had Sunny say "Busheney" and translated it as, "You're an evil man with no concern whatsoever for other people". If there were still any doubt, reader Daniel Day points me to an article about "Bay Area artists" which says of Mr. Handler:

Best known by his pen name, Lemony Snicket, the San Franciscan has been active in politics and says the next few years could "make for some really interesting work."

"It's almost like the last four years have been a warm-up for this," he said. "Some artists have gone political in their work -- and it doesn't necessarily make for the best work. There were a lot of books that were hastily conceived. I don't think 'Checkpoint' is the best novel ever written by Nicholson Baker. But we'll see a polishing of that -- so that the artistic content will rise to match the political content. That's not always the case, of course. I just read 'Harbor,' by Lorraine Adams, and it was a really fascinating take on a terrorist cell.

"But can I just add: It's not worth it. No amount of great art or books is worth him being re-elected. I felt the troubles of the world breathing down my neck when I woke up Wednesday morning, but I put my head down and wrote.".

As I wrote before, being brilliant in one area does not necessarily correlate with being brilliant in others.

Conspiracy theorists should be all over the possibility that George Soros was purposefully manipulating oil prices to hurt George Bush. It's not that far-fetched, considering Mr. Soros had vowed to use his fortune to defeat President Bush. Gosh, I'm so sad he wasted all that money for nothing.

Michael Gonzalez writes about Hispanic diversity in America and some of the demographic factors that led to nearly half of voting Hispanics deciding to support George Bush.

This was the election when Hispanics came of age. Two were famously elected into the Senate, providing a powerful symbol of their political advent. To Ken Salazar in Colorado, and to my fellow Cuban-American Mel Martinez in Florida, I send congratulations. But to my mind, much more important are the following numbers from pollsters: 72, 62 and 54. These are, respectively, the percentage of Hispanics that voted for Clinton in 1996, Gore in 2000 and Kerry last week. Two more figures, 50% and 40 million, are, respectively, the increase in Hispanic voters in 2004 over 2000, and the number of Hispanics now in the U.S., a country of 280 million.

Two more stats are really important (and then I'll stop). The first is that 22% of Hispanics told pollsters they were voting for the first time. Of these, the party split was even. This might be the most ominous number for Democrats, since party loyalties are cemented early.

To Democrats, the most perlexing part of Mr. Gonzalez' article may be the bio line at the very end:
Mr. González is editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal's editorial page.
A guy named Gonzalez is editing an Asian paper?

Abortion is a tough issue to take personally, considering the fact that if you're reading this you haven't been aborted and are in no danger of facing such a prospect. Abortion is the ultimate "it only affects other people" debate, since the only victims are unborn children. Because of this distance, the idea of abortion is repugnant to far more people that would be willing to ban it. Consider Australia:

Peter Costello said Monday laws governing abortions should be determined by state and territory governments, and tried to calm the waters by asking politicians speaking on the issue of abortion to do so with "care and understanding."

The issue arose recently when the federal health minister, deputy prime minister and other senior coalition members of parliament called for a reduction in the number of abortions, particularly late terminations.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp., said even the governor general made a rare political statement during the weekend, saying too many abortions are carried out in Australia and he would like to see the number reduced to zero.

Yeah, you know, it'd sure be nice if we could somehow reduce the number of babies murdered. No hurry though; it's not really an urgent matter since it doesn't affect us.

"The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions." -- A. W. Tozer

Hey America, don't forget to keep an eye on our southern neighbor. Mexico doesn't understand that we don't want an open border, and they're constantly working to undermine our security.

Mexico is holding out hope that Latin America will get more attention during President Bush's second term and obtain changes in what a senior Cabinet minister calls ``absurd'' U.S. immigration policies. ...

``It's absurd that (the United States) is spending as much as it's spending to stop immigration flows that can't be stopped ... instead of using that money on real threats that pose risks for both countries,'' Interior Secretary Santiago Creel said earlier this week.

Your migrants are a threat to us, and then can be stopped. Once we muster the political will.

Not everyone is familiar with blogosphere etiquette, so I'm saying this with a helpful spirit. It's generally considered quite rude to send trackback pings to a post without actually linking to it. If you want to call my attention to something you've written, just send me an email -- or better yet, link to my post. Don't send me a trackback if you're not willing to link.

I've been thinking today... what if the Left really is smarter than the Right? Hey, it's possible; maybe individually leftists are smarter than rightists. Let's say that's true. Even still, the evidence of the past six decades demonstrates conclusively that the political ideas of the left are doomed to failure. Huh.

So what if it turns out to be the case that the same types of brains that create entertaining movies and books, craft fashion, and teach in universities also tend to come up with really bad political positions? Maybe people with those kinds of intelligences naturally arrive at solutions to political problems that just don't work. Maybe they are smarter than the rightists in some ways, but just not in this particular way.

Maybe no one type of person is physiologically capable of coming up with the right answers to every question. You know the types of people who are brilliant with math but can't write worth beans, and vice versa. Maybe politics fits into a similar mold, and for whatever reason the brilliant leftists who contribute all sorts of neat stuff to our society just stink at running our institutions.

I have a hypothesis about an area I know little about. Your insight will be appreciated.

I predict that the vast majority of drug-using females will have at some point performed sexual acts in exchange for drugs. Either overtly or implicitly. My understanding of the drug culture is that women very rarely have to pay cash to get their fix.

Anyone looking for a new purpose in life now that Tom Daschle has been defeated should consider getting engaged in the battle against Arlen Specter and his "entitlement" to the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He's a lefty Republican who has vowed, numerous times, to block conservative judicial nominees.

Here's a FoxNews article by Jane Roh that explains some of the dynamics behind the imminent repositioning of American military forces around the world, particularly in South Korea and Germany. It's about time -- I just hope we don't have to kick Germany out of Paris again any time soon.

Jane Smiley pontificates on why Americans hate Democrats.

American politicians ALWAYS operate by a similar sort of flattery, and so Americans are never induced to question themselves. That's what happened to Jimmy Carter—he asked Americans to take responsibility for their profligate ways, and promptly lost to Ronald Reagan, who told them once again that they could do anything they wanted. The history of the last four years shows that red state types, above all, do not want to be told what to do—they prefer to be ignorant. As a result, they are virtually unteachable.
Yeah, that's called liberty. I can't imagine why Americans don't like you.

You've gotta read the "How Bush Did It" series in Newsweek. It's good stuff. That link is just to the introduction; make sure you read all eight full chapters.

I've said before that I think Hillary Clinton is unelectable to the Presidency due to her high negatives, but as I considered it today I thought of one advantage she'll have over any other Democratic competitors in 2008. Hillary's base on the left is enormous and unassailable, which means that after primaries are over she can tack as hard to the right as necessary without endangering her core. Even if she has to say stuff like, "Yeah, universal health care in the 1990s was a crazy idea, and now I've learned my lesson" it won't matter. The left would support her no matter what... and she might be convincing enough to win middlers from the right.

Chris Bertram at Crooked Timber appears to miss the difference between thoughts and things.

— The thirteen original states that brought us the Constitution voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry.
— The states that didn’t secede and which fought against slavery voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry.
— Black America which brought us in Martin Luther King, one of the greatest moral exemplars of modern times as well as the blues, jazz and soul voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry.
— California, home of the modern motion picture industry, voted for Kerry.

These are the great American achievements: the United States’ lasting contribution to freedom, culture and progress. Sadly, that America, the America of which Americans have the most reason to be proud and foreigners have the most reason to admire, just lost. Again.

Some of his "lasting contributions" are inconsequential, and as for the others he appears to miss the point completely. Sure, the geographical land masses that housed the men who wrote the Constitution now house people who voted for John Kerry -- and so what? What type of document would the residents of the thirteen original states craft now, given the opportunity? The American Constitution, or something like that of European Union?

Don't get me started on Martin Luther King Jr., plagiarist and philanderer. Slavery is pretty much a dead issue, except for the statists who do everything possible to keep black Americans dependent on the government. The movie industry? Please.

A cursory examination of the evidence will reveal something very significant, perhaps even to Mr. Bertram. America is the richest nation in the world, and has been for decades. America contributes more to charity, at home and abroad, than any other nation. America has shed more blood and spent more treasure in the battles against tyranny and oppression than has any other nation. America feeds the world. America heals the world. America protects the world. America facilitates trade and keeps peace on the high seas. America funds more scientific research than any other ten nations. America leads the way in space exploration. America leads the way in economic and social freedom. America is more tolerant and less discriminatory than any other nation in the history of mankind. And why? What else is unique about us? Do we have the tallest skyscrapers or the most erudite and sophisticated intelligentsia? No?

America is the most Christian nation in the world. It is the values and ethics of the Red States that made America great... beliefs that began before one foot was set in the thirteen original states and philosophies that no longer reside there. The vast Red ocean (how grand it is to reclaim that color!) stretching from coast to coast forms the bedrock not only of American greatness, but also of global security and prosperity. The New York elites and Los Angeles studio heads may be ignorant and blind enough to snap at the hands that feed and shelter them, but they would do well to realize that Reagan's "shining city on a hill" isn't really a city at all, but rather a web of "flyover" counties that glues us all together and carries the world on its back.

On Tuesday, Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said that his model predicted a Bush win with 51.6% of the two-party vote. According to CNN, Bush actually received 51.5% -- good job, Mr. Mellman!

(HT: James Taranto for the Hill piece.)

Mr. Taranto also points to this hilarious headline:

Where's Bill Clinton When You Need Him?
"Little Girl Unable to Feel Pain"--headine,, Nov. 2
Also, he points to a Blade article saying, "Perhaps the most surprising news for gay observers of the presidential election is that exit polls show President Bush received the exact same percentage of gay votes — 23 percent — as he did four years ago." Bush gets twice the support from gays as from blacks? How ironic; color me surprised.

One of Santa's elves (a so-called Canadian MP, whatever that is) is accusing America of being "out of step" with the world.

Carolyn Parrish said Wednesday that she's "dumbfounded" by Bush's victory. "He has been reconfirmed as their commander-in-chief, and he is a war-like man." American voters showed that they are "completely out of step with most of the free world," Parrish said. "I guess it's a reflection of the profound psychological damage of 9-11."
Strangely, MP Parrish is precisely in step with the terrorists who also don't like our war-like-ness and also didn't want to see Bush reelected. How odd! Fortunately, the "free world" as she calls it -- a.k.a., France, Germany, and the North Pole -- doesn't get to vote in American elections.

And so Parrish is "dumbfounded", but that's hardly news is it? I found out she was dumb long ago. After all, how many people consider 3000+ deaths and a traumatized economy mere "psychological damage"? Screw off. And if you want to see "war-like", just wait till American runs out of trees or snow -- we know where you live. My recommendation to the "free world": get in step with us, or get stepped on.

Now that the election is over we can get to the real news of the day... Halloween 2004!

Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's old campaign manager, has an insightful look into the Democrats' tremendous loss on Tuesday -- and according to his math, it's not the kids' fault.

In the 2000 presidential election, George Bush received just over 50 million votes. At this writing, in 2004, he has received just about 59 million votes— 9 million more votes than he received in 2000.

What is stunning about this number is the simple fact that in the 2000 election, 105 million Americans went to the polls, and at this writing, 114 million votes have been cast in 2004 for President— a 9 million vote increase.

Simple math: A turn out increase of 9 million voters has translated into a 9 million vote increase in the number of votes for President Bush.

And he concludes with what should be a sobering realization for the Democratic Party:
No if we really want to find out what went wrong yesterday, it is time once for all for the organized Democratic Party to stare into a mirror and point at itself.
I hope he doesn't just mean that the Party should examine its tactics, but rather than the Democrats need to really evaluate their unpopular positions.

Fresh off a huge electoral victory, Republican politicians are already struggling to stay unified. Well, some of the outliers are, anyway. Senator Arlen Specter is poised to take over the Senate Judiciary Committee and is threatening to impose his rather leftist philosophy on the President's nominees.

The Republican expected to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee next year bluntly warned newly re-elected President Bush today against putting forth Supreme Court nominees who would seek to overturn abortion rights or are otherwise too conservative to win confirmation.

Sen. Arlen Specter, fresh from winning a fifth term in Pennsylvania, also said the current Supreme Court now lacks legal "giants" on the bench.

"When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely," Specter said, referring to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

"The president is well aware of what happened, when a bunch of his nominees were sent up, with the filibuster," Specter added, referring to Senate Democrats' success over the past four years in blocking the confirmation of many of Bush's conservative judicial picks. "... And I would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations which I am mentioning."

This is the kind of crap that made the Republican 51-49 Senate majority so weak last term. If the Senate leaders can't push Specter and Senators Snowe and Chafee into line, these next four years could be just as frustrating as the last four. At least the new 55-45 majority will greatly reduce the value of marginal Republicans.

Update 041104 5:00pm
I'm glad to see Senator Specter deny these accusations.

Ah -- sweet, sweet victory. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. One, two, three, four-more-years, five, sixty-six, seventy-two, eight, nine, and zero. And, just because I love thee so much, eleven-to-one. (Actually only four-to-one, but it flows better this way.)

Update 041103 4:17pm
JT says that I should acknowledge it wasn't the landslide I predicted... alas! Twelve.

Many of my lefty friends are dismayed at the prospect of a Bush victory, but really, what's the worst that can happen? Does anyone want to make some dire predictions? What terrible changes will President Bush bring about over the next four years that warrant such disgust? I'd really like to hear some rational speculation.

It's interesting that very often the people who most stridently insist that humans are nothing more than animals are also the people who purposefully blind themselves to the lessons that nature teaches. Specifically, every type of mammal uses physical violence against their own kind to establish and maintain social and physical dominance. Not only is this behavior universal, but it's also essential to mammalian social structure. It's impossible for creatures to work together as a group without establishing a hierarchy, and physical force is the ultimate arbiter of authority.

Wolves are incapable of reasoning with each other, so the way they settle disputes is through (generally non-lethal) combat. The winner dominates the pack, and the loser submits or leaves. Similarly, adult humans cannot reason with children, because until the early to middle teenage years humans are incapable of concrete reasoning. It's pointless to try explain to a 5-year-old why he shouldn't throw the baseball in the house or how it hurts his sister's feelings when he refuses to share. He may appear to understand, but he doesn't. Words will make an impact for a few seconds, but the behavior will quickly return. One thing that will leave a lasting impression, however, is a good smack on the butt.

Physical punishment is important for children, but it should also be used sparingly and in love, not in anger. Spanking isn't a way for a parent to take out aggression or relieve frustration, it's a way to teach a child an important lesson that they may not be able to learn any other way. As with everything, balance is key. I've worked with children for a long time, and the worst ones are those who are never physically punished. They don't understand their place in the social order, they don't respect adults, and they don't obey because they never experience any negative consequences for disobedience. Our brains are wired to learn from pain for a reason.

Proverbs 13:24
He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Hebrews 12:5-11
5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

I think it's time for a preemptive strike against India and its blood-sucking monkeys.

Monkeys lurking at an ancient Hindu temple in India's northeast have attacked up to 300 children over three weeks, temple officials said Tuesday.

"They hide in trees and swoop on unsuspecting children loitering about in the temple premises or walking by, clawing them and even sucking a bit of blood," Bani Kumar Sharma, a priest at the Kamakhya temple in Assam state, told The Associated Press. The temple, one of the most famous in India, is located in Gauhati, Assam's capital.

"I was returning home from school when a monkey suddenly pounced on me, scratched my head and hand and pushed me to the ground," said Jolly Sharma, a 6-year-old girl.

Or at least send in some UN inspectors.


One of the things I've learned is that pursuing the truth often isn't worth it. For instance, if I have two friends and A tells me one story and B tells me a different story, one of them must be lying. My natural instinct is to talk with A and B individually to try to discern who is telling the truth and who is lying. Generally, such probing questions make the questionee suspicious -- to some degree -- and both A and B find out that they've been telling different stories. And I get caught in the middle.

Therefore, my new policy is that I segregate information and don't try to discover the truth for its own sake. If the issue at hand is itself important then I'll try to figure out what's really going on, but if it doesn't involve me and (therefore) isn't important, I'll just let it slide. I'll think about how the stories may reconcile and try to figure out what the real truth is, but I won't rock the boat by probing. It's just not worth it. Plus, it's gossip.

An Australian man gets to deduct stolen drug money from his income for tax purposes (second item). Does American tax law work similarly?

An Australian court ruled Wednesday that a convicted heroin dealer can claim a $165,000 tax deduction for money that was stolen during a drug deal. ...

The ATO had been trying to make La Rosa — who served a 12-year jail term for dealing heroin and amphetamines — pay tax on his 1994-95 income, which it estimated at $337,000.

But La Rosa insisted his taxable income should be reduced because half that sum had been stolen.

The money had been buried in La Rosa's backyard and was dug up to spend on a drug deal in May 1995, but was stolen during the transaction by unknown people, the court was told.

First, do you have to pay income tax on illegal income? Wouldn't the government just seize all the money involved? Or do you then have to pay taxes over and above the seizure? Wouldn't the Fifth Amendment prevent you from having to declare illegal income? Second, I wasn't aware that stolen property is tax deductable.

Make sure to read Ron's comment.

My father was in the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS for 20 years. Their job is to find criminals that aren't paying their taxes on illegal income and arrest them for tax evasion.

When he was in the Audit division he said he'd often seen returns that said things like "$100,000 smuggling" and as long as they paid the right amount of taxes they wouldn't do anything to them.

I've written previously that, despite noises from the political arena, American forces are likely to be deployed in Iraq for the forseeable future -- probably decades -- with the blessing of the Iraqi government. Now FoxNews is speculating similarly based on military construction in Iraq.

During the first presidential debate, Sen. John Kerry suggested that the U.S. military is planning to make 14 bases now in Iraq "a permanent concept."

While the major media overlooked the remark, instead critiquing the style and performance of the candidates, security analysts are debating whether the United States plans to use the bases, in various stages of construction, as strategic U.S. outposts in the broader War on Terror (search).

John Pike, director of, an Alexandria, Va., outfit that specializes in gathering national security and defense data, said researchers at his firm culled military news dispatches and can "conclusively identify" nine of these so-called "enduring bases," and possibly three more that are "too vague to pin down."

The politicos are making an expediently nebulous denial:
News of the "enduring bases," Pentagon terminology for such facilities, first came to light in a March 2004 article by the Chicago Tribune. Calling them "long-term encampments" for the thousands of U.S. soldiers expected to serve in Iraq for at least two years, the newspaper nonetheless quoted coalition officials as saying no policy is in place for the bases to serve as a permanent or even long-term headquarters for the United States in the Gulf region. ...

Pentagon and Central Command (search) officials told they have no plans to make the bases permanent.

"No policy is in place" means basically nothing. I predict that we'll have major military bases (equipment, if not soldiers, as per the new model) in Iraq for decades. Certainly longer than we'll continue to maintain facilities in South Korea and Germany.

I've been out of the news loop for the past few days while working on my Halloween haunted house, and a few days feels like an eternity. I'll be posting pictures of the haunted house this evening, but meanwhile I'm trying to catch up. Anyone have any good links I should be sure to check out?

It seems significant (and insulting) that OBL would attempt to claim any portion of the American electorate as his own.

The statement in question is when bin Laden said on the tape: "Your security is up to you, and any state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security."

That sentence followed a lengthy passage in the video in which bin Laden launches personal attacks on the president.

Yigal Carmon, president of MEMRI, said bin Laden used the Arabic term "ay-wilaya" to refer to a "state" in that sentence. ...

"It means that any U.S. state that will choose to vote for the white thug Bush as president, it means that it chose to fight us and we will consider it an enemy to us, and any state that will vote against Bush, it means that it chose to make peace with us and we will not characterize it as an enemy," the Web site said, according to MEMRI's translation.

As misguided as may be any person who votes for John Kerry, I won't consider them to be "at peace" with Osama Bin Laden absent further evidence.

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