Sine Qua Non Pundit

And what is good, Phaedrus, And what is not good -- Need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ------ ------ ------ ------ E-mail:

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Friday, February 22, 2002
Meanwhile, In Zimbabwe ...

Since some of these links are from Zimbabwe, who knows how long they will be up.

Two South African election observers were beaten up yesterday and Zimbabwe’s opposition leader was subjected to a teargas attack in another round of apparently politically motivated violence.

Mugabe says he will ban ZCTU, expel whites -- Inflation in the country has soared to nearly 117 percent, unemployment is at a record 60 percent, poverty is running at 80 percent and companies are closing down in droves because of the deepening crisis that is anchored on governance issues.

President Robert Mugabe might not concede defeat to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai if he loses next month’s election and has already expressed such feelings to leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), it emerged this week. South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad admitted to South African media on Friday that Mugabe had told SADC leaders that he would accept any election result "except the recolonisation of Zimbabwe".

Judging by its previous record, it is questionable whether the government will be able to prevent starvation in some parts of the country this year. When the government embarked on the programme to acquire farms for its resettlement exercise, before the June 2000 parliamentary election, it declared it was acquiring land in all the provinces. In practice, what it did was to acquire about a dozen farms and then proceed to make a huge song and dance about it. That this exercise was a smokescreen is confirmed by chiefs from Mashonaland East province who complain that their own subjects are not even benefiting from the fast-track land reform programme.

And the EU is doing what exactly?

One of the Beauties of Blogging

As a rule, I only post things that I find interesting, humorous, or prone to abuse in one way or another that you probably won't see somewhere else. I'm not in a race with any other blogger to get a scoop and I assume that most of the big stories have already been posted at least a dozen times before I get to them. I also don't have the time, nor the inclination, to post everything I find true, witty, clever, instructive or perhaps just interesting. And you sure as heck don't want to read it here. If you want to get a summary of all the news that's fit to read, go to Instapundit, Punditwatch, or Blog Watch since they already do it much better than I ever could. And if I use the word "I' about six more times, this might be confused for a Richard Cohen column.

But, when I find something special that deserves greater dissemination I'll post it. Specifically this, courtesy of Dr. Frank.


They Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning of Our Terrible Swift Sword

As more and more details emerge about the brutal murder of Daniel Pearl, remember that some people on the planes on 9/11 died the same way.

If our special forces or any media ever get a copy of this video, please, just burn it.


Home, Sweet Home

The problems of urban blight and racism are bad enough in St. Louis without this:

A group of black community leaders on Friday accused a state lawmaker of racism for suggesting that Cardinals fans might want to carry rifles to baseball games if a new stadium was built in East St. Louis, Ill.

I'm going to have to check with Christopher Johnson to find the last time somebody wrote something positive about St. Louis.

Robert Fisk Isn't a Heartless Bastard, But ...

My God, Robert Fisk is at it again. After a long entry full of silliness he finally gets to this about Daniel Pearl:

He was murdered by brutal men.

Yes he was. And then the next word Robert writes is:

But ...

There is no but, jerk. If you can excuse the killing of almost 3,000 people on 9/11 by blaming everyone but those that did it -- root causes and all that -- then adding one more to the list isn't all that much worse, is it?


Dear Leader Is Not Happy

Which do you think troubled North Korea more, President Bush's "axis of evil" statement or his "axes of evil" comment?


What Has the Washington Post Got Against Jimmy Carter?

Mr. Peanut weighs in with what he probably thought was a unique insight today:

Former President Jimmy Carter on Thursday criticized President Bush's labeling three countries an "axis of evil," saying the statement was "overly simplistic and counterproductive."

In six sentences the Washington Post manages to show that Jimmy is out of touch, self-delusional, and lacking an understanding of America as a hyperpower. We all have elderly relatives that say some pretty off the wall things, but we grant them the privilege of age and don't subject them to criticism as we would one of our peers for spouting nonsense. Why doesn't the Washington Post leave poor old Jimmy alone and quit embarrassing him by asking him to comment on things that he struggled with over 20 years ago..


Matt Welch suggested that we start googling people on this list of jackasses across the globe who are in favor of releasing Slobodan Milosevic, sort of fact checking their asses, Jack. It seemed like a popular sport in Greater Blogdom today, so I popped onto the list and picked a name. My candidate is (with spelling intact):

872: Peter Gingold, Speaker of the Association of Persecutees of the Nazi-Regime - Leage of Antifascists, Member of the Main Board of Auschwitz-Committee, Frankfurt, Germany

So I googled Herr Gingold and got a lot of hits, but they are all in German. Since I haven't studied any German in the last 25 years, I thought I'd better utilize the translation services of Google and see if that would help me learn more about Herr Gingold. Here's a sample of what was returned:

Surely the Nazis made themselves guilty worse terriblenesses. But a such lumpiges and infamous Schachern and Feil, like around the sum the remuneration for the victims, I did not experience this Holocausts ever. Shaming, insulting. As is the case for horse dealers on the market. The enterprises against the court complaints to protect, that was the only concern of the Federal Government. The donation law is nothing one but an author law for the protection. One pays only, if the signature is present to do without further requirements. Otherwise gibt's nothing! Legal protection for the authors - outlawry for the victims! And the donation law is a conclusion line law! Thus then everything is paid off, good.

Horse dealers? I gather that Herr Gingold is part of an organization that is attempting to get compensation for the survivors of the Holocaust. This all sounds reasonably admirable, but it is hard to figure out why someone who survived the Holocaust would think that releasing Slobodan Milosevic is such a good thing.

After going through the same process on a couple more German URLs, I kept finding references to "racingism." Maybe, just maybe, Tim Blair just took a couple of fairly straightforward paragraphs and ran them through the Google translator a few times to get this clever suggestion for an Arab News article:

Why They Are The Hating Of Us, by Aussie Tim Mate, Sydney.

"It is not the hamburger, rolling along the street, that is the reason for the hating of us dirty Westerns. Not also is it the luxury goat in every garage, proud and supple.

"No, they are the hating us for being the dog scum Jew-lover pig filth that we all are in the West, me included. As a genuine Australian cobber from out back, I tell you now this: we are every week killing of Arab babies for fun of it. Yes!

"I say to my wife, Barry, we are out of the babies again. She goes to Western market wearing no clothes because of decadence and return with fresh babies. Put on disco music and dance for the killing!

"I go now to make beer with mates and laugh at Phil Hogan show. Shalom."

A blogging classic. And congratulations to Tim for getting a paying gig here. Fair and unbalanced.

Now if the Canadians Can Take Care of Business Against Belarus...

The Olympic US Men's Hockey team have just beaten the Russians 3-2. I thought that this item rung a little hollow:

An Ontario government spokesman says he'd rather lose to the Russians than see the Americans win the gold, and he probably speaks for most Canadians

Although Damian says that Canada - Russia is a classic rematch, these days I would think the best competition would be between the US and Canada. Back in the "classic" days, there were almost no US born players in the NHL. Things have changed. And lighten up on Christopher, Damian. If we get a US - Canada final, only about half the Blues are going to get a gold medal. The question is, will it be the offensive guys (Tkachuk, Weight, Young) on the US squad, or the defensive guys (MacInnis and Pronger) with the Canadian squad? Even the ex-Blues fall into the same offensive/defensive breakdown. Weird, huh?

Thursday, February 21, 2002

This is Cool

Dr. Frank kindly mentioned me and my blog in The Blogs Of War, although he may have been taking the piss out of me just a little -- but not without good cause.

But what is really cool is that Sine Qua Non Pundit made his list of "Good Ones". I am honored.

And while I am at it, I'd also like to thank Midwest Conservative Journal and Blorg for providing links to the blog! That's 3! What a weird game this is...

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. III

(Ed. – The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

It will soon become obvious that I am not a lawyer, and if I have misused or confused any terms or misstated some point of jurisprudence, then I ask in advance for your forgiveness and forbearance. I struggled writing this and against my better judgment, I am going to go ahead and post it anyway.

If anybody is reading this, it will probably generate some vicious hate mail. So to be clear, I support the death penalty. However, I believe that “beyond a reasonable doubt” is too low a threshold for its application as a punishment, though not for a guilty verdict. Perhaps, as it relates to capital punishment, “to a virtual certainty” would be a better legal standard before the state does something so completely irrevocable. The fact that we may someday be able to take some hair from the deceased to clone him or her when we realize a mistake has been made does not mean that justice will have been restored. This helps illustrate the difficulty of an argument about cloning like this. The arguments against the death penalty per se do not move me. I do not believe that Charles Manson, Osama bin Laden or any of a countless number of psychopath murderers and sociopath child molesters deserve to live and breath in the same universe as the rest of us.

Nonetheless, there are principled opponents of the death penalty and I respect their opinions even if I do not agree with them. A deep respect for all life, like that of Buddhists or devout Roman Catholics, is honorable, consistent and should not be ridiculed in any way. But there are also less-principled opponents of the death penalty and these, you will not be surprised, tend to aggravate me.

Of course, the difficulty for those who accept capital punishment as legitimate is where to draw the line. No matter how heinous their crimes, executing some classes of people causes moral and ethical concerns -- specifically, women and those with diminished capacity, i.e., children below the age of consent (majority?) and the mentally handicapped. If one accepts the death penalty as legitimate and further believes that we are all equal under the law, it is difficult to accept a restriction on executing women, just because they are women, if the crime merits that penalty. But even this can be problematic. If a woman on death row is, or becomes, pregnant, it is unimaginable that she would be executed while pregnant. If the fetus is aborted or a miscarriage occurs, then it would seem reasonable that the death penalty could then be carried out. But when she might become eligible to have her sentence carried out after delivering her child … I have no idea how to respond to that. The easy answer is that the child is taken away by the state and the execution proceeds. But, something about that just doesn’t seem right. This is a cognitive dissonance that I cannot yet resolve in my head.

Executing children under the age of consent is problematic for reasons that go to the core of who, and what, we are. Children are the very definition and personification of innocence and nothing shakes our faith as much as seeing that innocence violated and destroyed. Even when children commit the most horrible acts like the Bulger murder, there is a feeling that we are, or would be, killing something within ourselves if we hold them completely responsible and execute them. Some of this comes from an occasional unwillingness to face the reality of evil in the world, but not all of it. It is almost as if there is something in our DNA that cries out against it. In this country, on occasion, children younger than the age of consent are held to be still responsible for their actions as adults and they are then treated accordingly. I’m not sure this is a good thing to do, but then I’m not sure that releasing juveniles when they reach the age of consent with a clean bill of health is a good thing either.

When it comes to the mentally handicapped, my moral compass is a little less uncertain. Since we are dealing with the punishment for a capital crime, we are already past any instance where an insanity or diminished capacity defense has been successful in mitigating a guilty verdict. In these cases, the mental state of a convicted murderer at the time of his execution is not an issue for me. They can, and should, suffer the consequences of their actions without reservation. This may not be a popular sentiment, but I have not heard any arguments that have convinced me otherwise.

As I was composing the scourge for today’s Richard Cohen column, more information started coming about the murder of Daniel Pearl. If the latest reports are correct, someone videotaped his murder. When I read of actions like this, it gets even harder to accept the arguments against the death penalty. Unfortunately, I have been expecting the worst for a while because the kidnapping had gotten too much publicity. Lots of publicity seems to almost always result in the demise of the victim. Of course, I have no idea if it could have turned out better, but some things are much better not discussed too openly, like “we are getting close to the kidnappers.” My heart goes out to his family, friends, and colleagues. Daniel Pearl’s death is truly a very bad thing.

Between the subject of today’s column and the breaking news, I just couldn’t begin to try and take cheap shots at Richard Cohen today in an attempt to be wry and humorous. But, I don’t agree with his opinion that Andrea Yates should be spared the death penalty because she is obviously crazy and that further, we are crazy if she is executed. I detest Richard’s attempts to try and have it both ways, arguing that either she’s crazy or if she should happen to become sane and realize her crime it will drive her crazy. While admitting that she may very well have understood the import of what she was doing when she methodically killed her five children, he still feels that she should not face the consequences of her actions. It is impossible for psychologists and psychiatrists to express anything other than an opinion in cases like this when asked whether or not someone was crazy, certain knowledge is just not possible. No doubt this trail will have experts offering both opinions. Reasonable people can differ on this point, which is why I don’t think it is a valid criterion for making such a momentous decision.

Richard then continues on with a variant of a utopian argument that we cannot execute anyone in any case if we cannot be 100% certain that we are correct in every case. This point is something I tried to address above in changing the requirement for application of the death penalty to something greater than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” For various reasons I lack the time to go into now, I don’t believe it will ever be possible to be absolutely certain about these verdicts, so establishing perfection as a minimum requirement is a non-starter. The fact that mistakes have been made in the past does not mean that we should never consider it again. I freely acknowledge that there have been past injustices and we should strive very hard to eliminate them. But it doesn’t mean we adopt another abdication of our responsibility like zero-tolerance does in so many cases. And the moral self-righteousness of the death penalty being the “abiding shame” of the country is just over the top.

Richard Cohen asks us to consider what would have deterred Andrea Yates. Well, perhaps nothing. Why not apply this reasoning to say, Mohammed Atta? The many blog references to the frog and the scorpion story highlight the fact that perhaps there are no perfect solutions to be found, so predicating your decisions on their existence is foolish. And I do believe that there is justice in her execution that five little coffins can attest to.

Finally, Richard writes something that is really astounding, He writes that Bill Clinton’s greatest character deficiency didn’t involve Monica Lewinsky, but Ricky Ray Rector – a mentally retarded man whose execution Clinton approved while he was Governor of Arkansas. If he really means this, he is saying that he thought Bill Clinton was a major league slug before he became President, and yet he supported him very strongly for eight years anyway. Of course, otherwise he would have had to support some Republican.

Now that’s cynicism.


The Olympics Are in Meltdown

The Russians are threatening to pull out of the games over the hockey officiating, a skiing disqualification, and they are still pissed off about having the pair skating gold also given to Sale and Pelletier. The Koreans are threatening to sue a judge in a US court over having their short track skater disqualified, thus awarding the medal to Ohno (a name that was begging for controversy no matter what he does). Every event where a winner has to be picked is now highly suspect, as well as a lot of others that should be pretty cut and dried. This is perfectly predictable and the inevitable result of the corruption in the IOC and the various sporting federations, foundations, and authorities that has been allowed to become endemic in the Olypmics. What were they thinking? That you can be just a little bit corrupt, or worse, that corruption can be managed?

Unfortunately, the patient will have to move from critical to near death before they get serious and really fix it.

I'll have more on this later.


Canada Wins Hockey Gold!

Congratulations to the Canadian women. They were clearly better tonight.

Now about the men ... I'll defer to Damian.


I Wish I Were This Good

I called Noreena Hertz an unhinged lefty here. Andrea Harris performs a vivisection and explains why.

Here's the entry from the online Merriam-Webster dictionary for vivisection:

Main Entry: viv·i·sec·tion
Pronunciation: "vi-v&-'sek-sh&n, 'vi-v&-"
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin vivus + English section
Date: 1707
1 : the cutting of or operation on a living animal usually for physiological or pathological investigation; broadly : animal experimentation especially if considered to cause distress to the subject
2 : minute or pitiless examination or criticism

I'm torn between which usage is more correct.

An E-Mail From My Friend Ron

My financial advisor is a pragmatist. My rabbi is an idealist. I trust a portion of my savings with
the former and delegate a portion of my soul-management with the latter. I try not to get them mixed up.

I suppose one could craft an idealistic rationale or apology for Mr. Patten's mandatory multilateralism.
I, however, take much comfort in the pragmatic - geopolitically speaking - modus operandi that our executive
branch and military have pursued to date.

The Incumbent Protection Act

Andrew Sullivan isn't too worried about campaign finance reform this morning. Change is usually a good thing, but not always. In this case, Senator Leghorn's cash and carry corruptahs of guhvuhnmuhnt are already plotting how to get around the limitations. Out here in flyover county, the cynicism about government is driven a lot more by things like the congressional investigations into Enron, the never-ending debasement of seemingly everything by the Wizard of "is", and the endless game of style over substance than the influence of campaign contributions. As more continues to come out about the Clinton administration and the Bush administration ties, watch this one dry up in no time. Just to be clear, Enron is a business scandal driven by poor accounting and auditing, dubious legal and financial activities, and a lack of internal oversight. Had Enron never given a dime to any politician it would have collapsed anyway. As to the Wizard of "is", he was the culmination of an accelerating moral relativism that seemed to believe that as long as it wasn't illegal it was ok. With much of the media's apparent admiration of the technique and success of the spinmeisters, they found themselves slipping down into the mud as well in the eyes of the denizens of red states.

But is money still fungible? Will legal defense funds, library funds, spouses employed for exhorbitant fees, and personal PACs now be off limits as a way to move money around. I predict that a rather sophisticated effort will now begin to help get around the soft money limits by using some sort of clearinghouse to spread the lower sums around. Instead of 10 companies or PACs around the country each giving $10,000 to a candidate of their choice, they'll each now give $1,000 to their candidate and $1,000 to each of 9 others they never would have contributed to before, except that this will get the preferred candidate $1,000 from 9 other companies or PACs who never would have given a dime to him or her before either. Leading candidates to perform this clearinghouse service are, of course, the RNC and DNC. Just watch. I'll bet a dollar to a donut right now that spending on campaigns only continues to go up, despite this new reform.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

An E-mail From My Friend Vince

Contrary to a sentiment in one of your posts, you shouldn't yet lament your punditry going to waste. You have at least one loyal reader.

I'm intrigued that you spend so much time reviewing Richard Cohen. I have read his columns on occasion but generally ignore him, as I do others who write columns with contents I can predict reliably. (Imagine the time I save by not reading them.) I commend you on the fortitude you exhibit by regularly subjecting yourself to Dick's pricks. I do take exception to your characterizing all of Cohen's work as knee-jerk reactions. Many are just jerk reactions. Also, you must forgive him for not being able to see beyond the Beltway; the immense shadow cast by his own head is diminishing the view.

EU Falls Behind

Damian Penny helps pile on the EU for its pathetic response to evil as personified by Robert Mugabe. As noted below, I think the EU is guilty of outright cowardice. How do they expect to be taken seriously if the full extent of their response is reduced to forbidding Mugabe to travel to the EU and condemning him in the stongest possible terms? Meanwhile, Zimbabweans will die.

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Dr. Frank has a nice post this evening on the overreach on the part of many Americans regarding the criticism leveled at us by the Euroweenies, to borrow a term from Charles Johnson. I lived in England for a year back in 1994 and there are significant differences between the "street" and the people who write the newspapers, just like there is here in the good old USA. But, it is hard to overestimate the skewed and sometimes bizarre view that the English "street" has of life in the US. As with all but a few countries in the world, the relative size of England and its proximity to so many other countries makes it a virtual certainty that its citizens will know more about international events, i.e., events beyond their borders, than most of the people in the US. But, the English "street's" knowledge of the US in most cases isn’t nearly as great as is usually assumed. Or even worse, it isn’t what they don’t know, but what they know that just ain’t so that is the real problem.

Many people I met in the pubs of England just assumed that all of America consisted of wealthy gated communities ringed with crumbling communities full of either rednecks or gun-wielding crack addicts. Now, that’s a bit if an exaggeration, but most of their knowledge of the US came from news reports which focused almost exclusively on the most horrid aspects of our society and culture, mass entertainment US sitcoms and soap operas which are hardly representative, or those UK newspapers and Euroweenies who were (and are) largely anti-American to begin with. While the UK man or woman on the street has an inherent sense of solidarity with the people of the US, they have to first overcome a bias that is constantly reinforced.

I've known dozens of Brits who have lived in the US for several years and almost without exception they wanted to stay here when it came time for them to return home. I know, because I asked some of them, that before they came to the US they had no intention of staying here when their time was up. But, even with all the problems we have, they found life here for them, and especially for their children, preferable to what it would be when they returned to the UK. I greatly enjoyed my time in England, but I never thought I wouldn’t be returning home at some point, and with only one exception that was true for the 20+ people who were there with me. This is not an attempt to denigrate the UK and to hype the US. I’m just trying to illustrate that the perception of the US by the English "street" does not generally reflect the way things really are.

Of course the sniping back and forth by government officials and the punditocracy isn’t particularly conducive to having a constructive dialogue. Nonetheless, the media here, and there, are always anxious to jump on any US officials’ gaffe or use of a word that could be misconstrued -- remember President Bush's use of the word crusade? Meanwhile, officialdom in the EU has said some remarkably mean and stupid things which we are supposed to just ignore. The American "street" has been struck as it never has been before literally and figuratively by 9/11. The American "street" is very sensitive to some truly obnoxious criticism of its remarkably restrained efforts to hunt down the bastards that did this. The US has went to great lengths to keep civilian casualties down, protect captives, and help Afghanistan rebuild while avoiding the bloodthirsty, revenge driven, scorched earth policy we are frequently accused of. And then when we get snarky comments back from our allies when we ask for their help and cooperation in trying to prevent it from ever happening again, we should be expected to get a little snippy. And expressions of schadenfreude will not be forgotten for a long, long time.

I wonder if perhaps the non-democratic structure of the EU is at the heart of the problem. As the bureaucracy of the EU and its appointed commissioners becomes less and less answerable to the populace, does it automatically become less and less representative of their views as well? Have you noticed that we do not seem to be getting the same complaints from Japan, Australia, the countries of South America, India, or even China and Russia! And as for the media, I’m fairly sure that the media in the UK wants to imagine that it leads public opinion around by the nose just like the American media imagines it does.

It's worth repeating that the EU needs to get on board and engage with the US in a constructive manner. You cannot on one hand lament that the US defense budget is larger than the next 14 nations combined and then also hold that the US cannot go it alone. The US clearly can go forward alone if need be and we will if necessary. This would be unfortunate because the US could easily reach the point where some restraint should be encouraged. But most of what we've got so far has done little but harden our resolve, and make it less likely that the EU will even be listened to when it matters. Crying wolf now is just embarrassing.

I've Been Very, Very Bad

One of the things I've learned in the last week is how much fun you can have with headlines. How a short, sharp choice of words can be just as important as everything that follows it. So who do you think came up with this headline:

DA's hands seem tied in dominatrix death case

But they didn't stop there. The first paragraph in the story is:

The family of a retiree who was dismembered and dumped by a Quincy dominatrix in July 2000 accused the Norfolk District Attorney's office yesterday of letting Mistress Lauren M beat justice.

No doubt all that practice with a whip made beating justice a piece of cake. Well, Justice is usually depicted wearing a blindfold. Who knew? And I really, really hope they aren't talking about this Quincy.

A Blog By Any Other Name ...

In honor of the best title for a blog I have encountered (The Blog That Dare Not Speak Its Name), even though the blog owner doesn’t claim it, here are some more names for any new blogs anyone may wish to start. I don't know who created that name for NRO's Corner, but it might have been Dr. Frank who also has an excellent blog name. There is a substantial blog entry to be written on the truly clever blog names and pithy little quotes that usually go with them. But that will have to wait for at least the weekend. Until then, how about:

My Other Blog is Instapundit
Mind The Gap
Let’s Blog the Whole Thing Off

Or perhaps you prefer a mildly obscure comedic reference themed blog name:

Toledo Window Blog
No Blog For You
I Have a Cunning Blog
One Wafer Thin Blog
Summarizing Proust Blog

Or if you have a vicious "Scourge-like" mentality, perhaps a blood themed blog name is in order:

The Blog Coursing Through My Veins
Thicker Than Blog
Blog in the Water

Or if you want a Quixote-like impossible quest themed blog name, there's always:

Cubs Win World Series

Wrong Said Said

Apparently, according to The Best Of the Web Today, Mr. Edward Said is owed an apology by this blog since he didn’t probably write the following:

"My answer to PLO out of NYC is that the moment we start kicking terrorists out of New York City--I leave also. A terror-free city is no place for me."

I humbly apologize and in the future, I will endeavor to stick to the actual sins of Mr. Said, such as this, or this, or this. Jeff Jacoby provides a more sustantial summary of Mr. Said here.


Not a Blog Resource

Using you best Andy Rooney voice impersonation, say out loud, “Have you ever noticed that the USA Today is almost never cited as a source in any blog?”

If your Andy Rooney impersonation isn’t too good, you can have Joe Piscopo come and do it for you.

The Message Is Not Getting Through ... Yet

Not everyone has the same opinion of Richard Cohen's columns as I. Punditwatch takes a neutral to positive view of the column last week that was deconstructed here. Punditwatch writes:

Richard Cohen reviewed Al Gore's speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. He called it "a crushing disappointment ... We waited all these months for him to speak and then, when he did, he didn't have much to say."

Except for having to wait for months, I thought the same thing about Richard Cohen's column.

I must redouble my efforts to purge the ether of these vile words.

McCarthyism Redux?

From the Wall Street Journal via NRO in an article by Byron York on the coming battle over executive privilege:

"The GAO simply seeks the names of those he met in his capacity as head of the energy policy task force, when and where he met them, the subject matter of the meetings, and an explanation of the costs incurred."

Doesn’t this sound like something out of a transcript from the Senate Committe for Government Operations in the 1950s? I wonder if anything Vice President Cheney might have done will be forgiven if he will just give up the names of people who attended these meetings. I'm sure that Congressman Waxman's motives are pure.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

EU Takes the Lead

Let's see how well things work out in Zimbabwe now that the US is following the lead of the EU. We'll be keeping tabs on the relative success of the effort vice the EU following the US in the war on terrorism.

Only His Hairdresser Knows for Sure

I cannot improve on this, except perhaps to note that I doubt that "less positive recognition" is what Mr. Blair is striving for when he dyes his hair.

WHETHER Tony Blair dyes his hair or not, his modelling career has suddenly taken off. IBM has chosen to use him as its new face for a test signal to determine the best colour configuration on its computers. Dr Bernice Rogowitz, the technician in charge of IBM’s “Which Blair Project” in New York, has created an assortment of Andy Warhol-style Blairs with grey, green, pink, yellow and brown hair.

“I used Blair because he has nice clear features and, frankly, because I liked the name, The Which Blair Project,” she says. “I was stunned to see that he has apparently lightened his hair. My research indicates that this creates less contrast and, therefore, less positive recognition.”

He's Got My Blood Up

While doing some research on the last Scourge, I found this column Richard Cohen published on 9/11/2001. A classic backhanded compliment as he wishes Rudy (the nut) Guiliani good riddance. Nice timing there, Dick.

Not only can we fact check your ass, but we can remind you of the truly wicked, stupid things you wrote about somebody like Rudy Guiliani, who like President George W. Bush, hasn't changed since 9/11 any more than you or I. The start of WW III just made it harder to criticize them over political differences as those differences were placed much, much lower on the scale of priorities.

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol II.

(Ed. – The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Wow! Richard Cohen wrote a column today with which I find myself in almost complete agreement. Not complete agreement, but there’s not enough in here to merit wasting time on tearing it apart, especially since the gist of it is similar to a long screed I lost when blogspot went down over the weekend. But, it is worth noting that, in this column, Richard Cohen is substantially more open-minded about Ken Lay than he was when he wrote this.

I wonder if he was sitting in a dark room Googling himself, saw that someone had decided to act as his personal scourge and decide to shape up. This is only one data point, so I’ll have to see more evidence before shedding my title and moving on to the next tedious, knee-jerk, pretentious, self-serving, unable to see beyond the beltway pundit.

Discussing this predicament with my friend Buzz, he suggested that I dig into the archives and do my best to remain a viable scourge. Excellent suggestion Buzz! And since he is so understanding of Ken Lay’s predicament now, let’s examines the column mentioned above when he thought Kenny Boy was George W. Bush, uh, I mean the devil incarnate.

Having made this decision, I found that the scourging of this column was especially hard to write since virtually every sentence requires a response, some stretching to essay length. To avoid problems with the Washington Post’s copyright lawyers, large portions of only marginally less insipid text have had to be ignored. But if you plan to read the whole article, do not be confused or dismayed. Huge sections of text required to explain the frequent leaps of faith necessary to get from one clause to the next aren’t missing from the article. This is just the way Richard Cohen thinks and writes.

The 29 January 2002 column was titled Enronomics Explained.

The principle that the government can and should run a deficit when it does not have to was developed by George W. Bush. This is called Enronian Economics.

Well, which is it? Enronomics or Enronian Economics? And that first sentence virtually requires an essay in and of itself. But, as already noted, Richard has written an especially tendentious column and it would be impossible to get through it all today if I took the effort to provide him with an annotated list of all the economists who think otherwise. I’m really disappointed that Richard didn’t find a way to work Voodoo Economics and some sort of Oedipus Economics complex into the mix somehow.

It should not be surprising that Enronian Economics has taken over Washington.

Of course not, but then you do have quite a history of difficulty seeing beyond the beltway. Trust me Richard, outside of Washington and perhaps Houston, we are getting on with the rest of our lives.

Both the Texas-based firm and the Texas-based president have so much in common.

You forgot to mention that James Byrd was killed in Texas too! By Texans! And last time I checked, I think that President Bush is “based” in Washington DC, inside the beltway. That trip to Crawford only seemed like it lasted four (eight?) years.

For one thing, the president was once a friend of Enron's former chairman, Ken Lay.

A former friend? That’s awfully strong.

He called him Kenny Boy

Guilty! You really nailed him there, Dick.

Bush recently expounded the doctrine that a tax cut postponed is the same as a tax hike.

Makes sense to me. Is having less money next year due to paying higher taxes your definition of a tax rebate? And didn’t you argue that a decrease in the rate of growth in federal spending a few years ago was actually a cut in spending? Hmmm, I’m starting to understand now.

This, of course, is Enronian in both its essence and conception. Enron, too, counted things that didn't exist as if they did. I am referring now to profits. And it counted things that did exist as if they didn't. I am referring now to losses.

Yes, Enron was run by a bunch of crooks who will end up in jail if there is justice. No argument here. But, George Bush is a former friend of the CEO of Enron. And Enron is in Texas. And George Bush is from Texas. Hey, I think I’m beginning to get the hang of this.

Enron was able to present itself as the seventh-largest corporation in America. This assertion, as Bush himself would tell you, was entirely faith-based.

So, are you implying that the lies and deceit of the crooks that brought down Enron are roughly equivalent to the motivations of all those volunteers who have found ways to feed, clothe and care for people through their churches, synagogues, and mosques?

[Bush] has managed, in a way that would make Kenny Boy green with envy, to make a projected $4 trillion budget surplus disappear.

No one, not even John Maynard Keynes, could make $4 trillion dollars disappear in a few years with relatively small changes to the tax code. And you’re not seriously arguing in favor of over taxation are you? In my Freshman Economics class, the devout Keynesian professor taught us about the multiplier effect. How $1 spent by the government results in $8 dollars added to the local economy where it is spent by being re-spent over and over before its purchasing power has been diluted to the point that its value drops to nothing. I remember getting blank looks when I asked about the divisor effect caused by the loss of dollars due to taxation in the communities not lucky enough to be the recipient of the government provided dollars.

Bush did it by giving tax breaks to the rich and the poor alike over a 10-year period. This plan, as brilliantly counterintuitive as Keynes's, would give 37.6 percent of the tax cut to the top 1 percent of the population.

Your selective and not terribly clever mixing of absolute and relative statistics is too obvious to merit analysis, but nice try. And he could have given tax breaks to the bottom 30 percent, but since they don’t pay any taxes it wouldn’t have been of much use to them!

In other words, the very rich would get the most. (Who could argue with that?)

Is this a trick question? Uh …, Richard Cohen?

… as far as Bush and Lay are concerned what doesn't happen happens …

Like Al Gore losing the election to the Supreme Court?

… the chairman of Enron … would have saved more from the Bush tax plan than what the average American earns in an entire year.

That would be a tax savings of 0.64% for Kenny Boy while he paid taxes of over $2,000,000. The greedy rat bastard.

I could not have put it better myself.

Why, thank you.

Is this a great country or what?

Well I think so, but you seem to be trying to convince me otherwise.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy apparently doesn't think so.

Yes, we all know that America’s free markets are an abomination in Senator Kennedy’s eyes. Freedom to fail is something that Senator Kennedy has never been allowed to experience. And are you implying that in Senator Kennedy’s utopia, Enron should still be in business?

He has proposed postponing tax cuts for people such as himself

Must … not … go … there …

But for reasons I have already made perfectly clear, the administration has -- fairly and justly -- characterized the Kennedy plan as a tax increase.

Stripped of the sarcasm, this makes sense.

Alas, we are approaching the end of this particular column.

Alas? Get over yourself.

Too bad, because there was so much more I wanted to say

So you're going to continue to do your part to make this a regular feature of my blog.

But, instead, I will tip my hat to George W. Bush, who has combined Orwell with Keynes to propound The Anticipation Theory of Taxation.

Um, OK. Perhaps it's not too late for you to nominate President Bush for the Nobel Prize in Economics to go along with his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize!

It's as plain as the nose on your foot.

Just remember to look both ways before the Global Crossing.

Heady Stuff II

Wow! The numbers are slightly different, but now even the ISU is implementing the changes in scoring proposed in a blog post last week:

... the proposal would put 14 judges on a panel instead of 9. Only 7 of the 14 marks would be picked by a computer, with not even the judges knowing whose scores were included.

But not everyone is convinced:

There is plenty of skepticism about this new approach to judging. Many believe the same old problems will develop. "The judges will always figure out a way to manipulate the numbers," said the American ice dancer Charles Sinek. The judges can actually hide easier under the new system, according to one judge who spoke on condition of anonymity. With the names behind the marks kept secret, it will be hard to identify a bloc of judges who are trying to play with the numbers.

Perhaps taking my final suggestion and publishing all the information tying scores to judges once the competition is over would help solve that. It still seems weird to me that there would be such resistance to accountability and quality improvement on the part of the judges.

Maybe I won't have to wait for the Professor's link after all to know I've made an impact. And I don't believe this reform has been in the works for month's for a second. Ottavio Cinquanta merely changed the numbers to hide the source.

Monday, February 18, 2002
Why Do I Blog?

Why spend all this time reading what people write, what people write about what other people write, what people write about what other people write about what other people write… ad infinitum? Why spend all this time slaving over the precise wording of a pun that no more than eight people are ever going to read – and even fewer will get? Why bother to learn more about a web technology that will be obsolete long before I ever master it?

Well, because I can. And damn it all, I enjoy it!

I enjoy spouting off to a (mostly imagined) audience of smart, hip people and engaging in an intelligent virtual conversation with people all across the political spectrum. I enjoy the humor and dry wit that is so lacking in the technical and administrative material I have to read every day. I enjoy the sheer wonder of the amazing quantity of information at my fingertips and helping to spread the best bits around. And then, of course, there’s immortality.

Immortality! The knowledge that something I wrote will be floating in a Google archive forever, one day to be retrieved by some 14-year old post-doc Borg on Klaxon 5 after her query on a 10**38 bit database while doing research on her novel theory concerning the origin of the human species; well, it keeps me going.

But until then, and while I’m still here, I’ll look for some other sign that this is all worth it. But how will I know? Perhaps in a final demonstration of the complete failure of imagination of the entertainment industry, after having exploited virtually every sitcom idea from almost every television program ever aired in the UK, some washed-up comedian will purchase the rights to The Young Ones and in the new episode 6, Neil will be checking to see who has hit his blog in the last year and when no entries come up, he’ll say, “Nobody ever reads what I write. I might as well be a Richard Cohen column.” Then I’ll know I made an impact.

But until then, I’d settle for a listing in the Professor’s Recommended Blogs.


The Other Skate Drops

So, the French just won the Olympic Ice Dancing gold medal by a 5-4 count over the Russians. Like I wrote earlier, I'm not much of a believer in coincidences.

Yet Another Argument for Unilateralism

So, when faced with the opportunity to do something in the face of evil as Robert Mugabe destroys Zimbabwe, the EU chooses to pack its bags and go home and shout their complaints over the fence, rather than make some difficult choices and actually do something about it.

European Union foreign ministers have had enough of Robert Mugabe’s bullying and repression. After months of trying to cajole him into behaving responsibly, they have decided to withdraw election monitors and impose economic sanctions

Yea, that'll show him. Bring out ... the dreaded economic sanctions. Given that Mugabe is 77, I doubt that he's ever going to notice any effect, whereas the people left behind certainly will. In the meantime, how many Zimbabweans are going to die at the hands of Mugabe's goon squads that might have lived if you acted now?


Shake, Rattle and Sink

For those of us who live in St. Louis, this is not amusing. I know that we have little to complain about compared to our fellow citizens in California, but the last time the big one occured here, the Mississippi river flowed backward for two days. According to the USGS:

On the basis of the large area of damage (600,000 square kilometers), the widespread area of perceptibility (5,000,000 square kilometers), and the complex physiographic changes that occurred, the Mississippi River valley earthquakes of 1811-1812 rank as some of the largest in the United States since its settlement by Europeans. The area of strong shaking associated with these shocks is two to three times larger than that of the 1964 Alaska earthquake and 10 times larger than that of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

I've read other accounts that said that because of the soil here, things just disappeared like they were in quicksand. Well, now the buildings are taller, but the soil is pretty much the same. And we are overdue since the pressure hasn't been released for a long time. Here's more USGS info on the area.

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

Thanks to Dan Rector for showing me how to insert a picture in my blog. Now if someone will show me how to link to a spot in my own blog (or anyone else's), I can complete the Laser of Death blog entry.

The flag of Spectre:

Ante-Modern or Anti-Modern

The "other" really has a problem dealing with the present world. Now that’s not news, but here’s another example of why that is as the BBC explains the Bank of England’s attempt to implement Islamic mortgages. Now, I'm not referring to their idea of not paying interest, that’s their choice to make in a free market. But coming up with a system that must effectively pay interest (i.e., assess risk) while pretending to not do so only makes life more complicated and less efficient.

With Islamic mortgages, the bank might buy a 90% share of the home while the homebuyer buys 10%. The homebuyer borrows nothing, but pays a rent instead, only some of which will go straight to the bank. The rest goes towards gradually buying the bank out of its share of the property.

Now it doesn’t say so here, but I can only guess that the price has to be higher than it would otherwise be to compensate for the risk. Or if the price doesn’t go up, wouldn’t it be taxpayer-funded discrimination against non-Muslims? But here’s where it really gets interesting, suppose the Islamic Mortgagee defaults. Dr Zaki Badawi says:

"Supposing he failed to pay and we're going to sell the house. If I am a bank, a Muslim bank, lending to a Muslim, sharing with him, I am not going to sell the house in the way that it is sold now, by putting it in an auction and selling it at the easiest and the fastest price."

Well Dr. Badawi, I think that you are deluding yourself, unless of course the Bank of England is now a Muslim institution. Even if a practicing Muslim does not wish to think of it as interest, the holder of the mortgage is going to. When faced with a non-performing asset, they are going to liquidate it at a loss if the cost of carrying the non-performing asset exceeds the loss on the sale. It has nothing to do with whether the asset was defaulted on by another Muslim. That’s the whole bloody point.

If there are all these wealthy Muslims and it is this straightfroward, why don't they just form a bank and issue these non-interest bearing loans themselves to their fellow Muslims? Could it be that they perceive these loans as a bad risk not worthy of their investment resources? If the Bank of England ends up underwriting these mortgages, the taxpayers are going to end up holding the bag.

Thanks Ken

I would like to credit Ken Layne for providing the adjective “unhinged” as it relates to some people.

Note to Unhinged Liberals: When you can't tell the difference between Susan Sontag being mocked on talk radio and an international terrorist organization murdering 3,000-plus of your fellow citizens in an hour, you should feel lonely, because you've lost all touch with reality. Your bogus claims of victimization are not only insulting to the millions of people around the world who truly have no rights and no freedoms, they're also poison to legitimate dissent and rational opposition. The Nation, for my money, is a fine example of thoughtful liberalism, and I'm glad to hear you people are reading it. But do you understand it?

I have used it a couple times already and plan to make generous use of it in the future.

Lighten Up Francis

William Safire lets his paranoia run rampant today over concern that he might be caught on a candid camera in Washington DC. Charles Murtaugh also worries that this is rightly considered to be an Orwellian nightmare come true. This is about watching, not spying – and there is a difference.

First of all, let’s look at the numbers. Forty screens trying to keep track of 300 million people a year. Assuming a 24-7 operation and that each person was tracked by only one screen, then each watcher would have to keep track of more than 14 people every minute of every day – and that further assumes a perfectly equal distribution of people across every minute of every hour of every day of the year. Even with the technology that is out there today (hyper-massive storage and retrieval, face recognition, high bandwidth networks, and video compression) and what is coming, this is still a tremendous hurdle to have to overcome. The problem of how to process all this data, catalog it, store it, and be able to retrieve it in less than a few weeks is a lot harder than you might imagine. At best, they might get a lucky match someday on some face recognition, but that’s got to be one of the easiest things to beat if you are worried about it.

Secondly, so you’re on camera and videotape. BFD. Surveillance cameras were everywhere when I lived in England in 1994. Their primary use seemed to be to gather evidence after the fact like a security camera in a convenience store. Not exactly a police state sharply curtailing personal freedoms, and just imagine what Fox would have to do for programming if they didn’t have the British videotapes. Why the big concern about being watched, since, after all, we are talking about public places. You are seen constantly in public places by people all around you – and some of them probably have you on videotape while they were recording other things. You aren’t scared because someone can now see you on a monitor from a remote location in exactly the same place doing exactly the same thing, are you?

I’m not entirely sure this is a good thing, but it’s not the beginning of the end either. It’s just another change that we have to make to adjust to a new “normal.” Unfortunately, our children are never going to know that carefree environment we became accustomed to that disappeared on 9/11. Just keep in mind that the current administration isn’t the one to blame for this happening.


With Apologies to President Franklin D. Roosevelt

There has been some speculation about the ultimate impact of blogging and the Internet. Perhaps as we all learn how to do this and share our thoughts and insights almost instantaneously with each other, becoming less reliant on the professional class of pundits who, as we are learning, are no more or less qualified to weigh in on the hot topics of the day than the seven or eight people who will read this, there will be nothing left but bloggers. When that day comes and Richard Cohen has written his last column lamenting the demise of his profession to those outside the beltway, then we will have nothing to blog but blogging itself.

Another Argument for Unilateralism

The Brits invade Spain near Gibraltar! Oops, so sorry. And those sensitive negotiations about returning Gibraltar to Spain? Well, pure bloody coincidence. Perhaps this explains why the Europeans should focus on peacekeeping and nation building and leave the heavy lifting to the US.

Local police spokesman David Iria said the mistake was understandable, because it is "difficult to know exactly where you are" on the poorly marked coastline.

Perhaps these would help. They are available to all of our armed forces. In fact, they are available to anyone in the US with $125. That has to be less expensive than dealing with the fallout from invading the wrong country.

Sunday, February 17, 2002

Responsibility and Authority

Tripping lightly through the blog fantastic this evening, I keep running into almost universal disgust with the elitism, self-professed sophistication, and mandatory multilateralism championed by Chris Patten, Joska Fischer, Hubert Vedrine, the Guardian, et al. If I may digress to first principles, in my humble opinion I believe the fundamental problem with the arguments put forth by the European contingent is that they want the US to take responsibility for all kinds of problems in the world, but they refuse to grant the authority that is necessary to do so. They, on the other hand, want to keep the authority -- via multilateralism -- but refuse to accept the responsibility of making the hard decisions and following through on them. All the silliness about the sophistication and complexity of events is just a smokescreen to justify not accepting the responsibility to act in a way that demands making hard choices and living with the consquences.

Responsibility and authority must go hand in hand. When they do not, bad things happen. This is true whether you are dealing with children or with the leaders of nations who act like children.

The Scourge of Richard Cohen

(Ed. – The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

The Professor wasn’t the first person to think that anybody can do this. I have to credit Richard Cohen with inspiring me a long time ago to believe that anybody can be a pundit, though I’m not sure I even knew what a pundit was then. Reading his tedious, knee-jerk, pretentious, self-serving, unable to see beyond the beltway columns made me first think that anybody could write this stuff. Since I lack the forum that the Washington Post provides Mr. Cohen, his Rolodex, the A-list dinner party invitations, and the time and inclination to focus on bi-weekly sycophantic DNC talking points, I’m going to do the next best thing and dissect his columns each week for fun and merriment.

Thursday’s column was titled Al Gore's 'Evil' Refrain.

Gore's speech here to the Council on Foreign Relations -- his first foreign policy address since he lost the election to the Supreme Court -- was a crushing disappointment.

Well, there’s one tired, but oft-repeated, knee-jerk comment meant to butter up his loyal readers. Richard, get over it. Please.

By characterizing social and economic conditions as evil, he showed how the word can be applied to almost anything the speaker thinks is bad.

Hold this thought, we are going to come back to it at the end.

I suppose I should not hold Gore accountable for not saying precisely what I wanted him to say.

Kinda bummed about not being consulted first? Jeez.

… he did warn Bush about unilateralism, and that, as Martha Stewart might say, "is a good thing."

Why the pretentious quotation marks around “a good thing.” Phaedrus and I take this personally. And what pray tell, does dropping Martha Stewart’s name accomplish other than taking a sidewise cheap shot at the cultural sensitivities of all those people who live in the red zones.

… it just could be -- it has happened before -- that Bush and I (and even Colin Powell) are wrong.

Name dropping is a recurring feature of a Richard Cohen column. And if Richard Cohen can consider himself in Bush and Powell’s class, then I can certainly consider myself in his.

… American intelligence has been able to find no link between Baghdad and the events of Sept. 11.

Really? You get daily briefings from George Tenet? Just because it hasn’t been printed in the papers doesn’t mean it isn’t true. And I think the US and the world have plenty of reasons to want Saddam out of Iraq even if we found he had been working to stop 9/11 from happening.

Moral certainty is both intoxicating and addictive.

That must be why he writes columns like this twice a week.

Sept. 11 gave Bush a political raison d'etre that he sorely lacked and that, in the theocracy of his mind, emerges as a religious crusade.

Wow, you can read his mind. Well, after all it is pretty simplisme. And dropping crusade in there with such a deft touch, but are you sure that's a bad thing?

This clarity, of the sort the United States had during the Cold War, is bracing, but it can be dangerous as well.

Yes, well scissors can be quite useful, but dangerous as well. In fact, Norman Mineta believes that nail clippers can be “a good thing” but still phenomenonally dangerous in the hands of a 75-year old strapped into a pressurized metal tube. Which brings us back to the thought at the top of the article. Everything can be good or bad when placed into some context. George Will and many others have noted this before. But I’m afraid the thinking behind this is even more muddled and tied to the sort of moral relativism that prevents unhinged liberals from being able to distinguish from well meaning people doing their best to fulfill their responsibilities and those with evil intentions doing their worst to wreak havoc on civilization.

… but almost no one is asking basic questions, not even Gore.

I guess Richard doesn’t get out much. Google "blog" and start reading. Either that or Richard has the same problem that Chris Patten and Hubert Vedrine have -- that sophistication has to be hiding in here somewhere... And in conclusion --

As a speech, to use an old Florida term, it was a hanging chad.

Jeez, just let it go already. OK?


Well, Its Less Pretentious Than Barenaked Ladies

How long before we have some guitar-heavy thrash band called the Axes of Evil?

Loaded Dice

Bush job performance lowest since before 9/11; Voters split on rolling back tax cut; They strongly prefer tax roll back if it means more money for programs

That's the headline for James Zogby's latest poll that shows the President Bush's approval rating has slipped to 74%. Here's some of the questions receiving a 63-71% "favor" vote that were asked:

Tell me if you favor or oppose rolling back the tax cut if it means the government has more money available for education?
Tell me if you favor or oppose rolling back the tax cut if it means the government has more money available for a prescription drug program for seniors?
Tell me if you favor or oppose rolling back the tax cut if it means the government has more money available for environmental protection?
Tell me if you favor or oppose rolling back the tax cut if it means the deficits would decrease?

What do all these questions have in common? The word "if." Oh, and it also presumes that throwing more money at education, prescription drug programs and environmental protections are automatically good things. While it is probably true for seniors and prescription drugs, it is debatable for environmental protection and there is some evidence that it is not true in education. And deficits? Well, the experts can't seem to agree whether deficits seem to matter or not, and the politicians of each party flip-flop on this issue depending on who's out of power.

What if these same questions were phrased as follows:

Tell me if you favor or oppose increasing your tax burden if it means the government has more money available for education?
Tell me if you favor or oppose increasing your tax burden if it means the government has more money available for a prescription drug program for seniors?
Tell me if you favor or oppose increasing your tax burden if it means the government has more money available for environmental protection?
Tell me if you favor or oppose increasing your tax burden cut if it means the deficits would decrease?
Or how about adding these questions to the next poll:

Tell me if you favor or oppose increasing your tax burden if it means the government has more money available for funding stem cell research from aborted fetuses?
Tell me if you favor or oppose increasing your tax burden if it means the government has more money available for relocating more of the federal government to West Virginia adn Mississippi?
Tell me if you favor or oppose increasing your tax burden if it means the government has more money available for foreign aid?

Now, be careful about supposing you know what I may think about each of these respective issues just because I've chosen them for inclusion here, but somehow I think the general public's response to these would be keyed to their feelings and ideas about the external issue more than whether or not they want their taxes raised, or tax cuts rolled back if you prefer. And when Dick Gephardt or Tom Daschle try to exploit this data, they'll focus on the broad support for rolling back the tax cut more than anything else. Remember Lord Acton's dictum that power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Keep that in mind whenever someone is arguing that the government should keep getting larger and larger. But I digress.

Mr. Zogby has usually been much better at avoiding these kind of "God, mom and apple pie" leading questions. But I gave up worrying about uninformed opinions a long time ago. That's why I read blogs!

I Think NBC Is Behind This

Tim and Damian have their own unique takes on an Australian winning the men's 1000 meter short track. He really was lucky to be there since:

He had been blessed with not one, but two rounds of sheer dumb luck. In the semis, he also was far behind the leaders, but survived a crash 10 meters before the finish line.

I was sorry to hear the American crowd boo him -- it's not like he did anything wrong and he was gracious in acknowledging his good fortune. I think I've seen three short track races and there was only one in which an accident like this did not happen. Itis the nature of the beast. Ohno and Turcotte seemed to take it all in stride. I'm also glad to see that the judges did not choose to run the race over.

But could NBC have asked for more controversy and human interst stories than they are getting out of this Olympics? I'm not a strong believer in coincidences.

Weblog Commenting by