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October 31, 2004

Karl Rove returns from Pakistan after taping OBL video

Story here.

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WaPo begins effort to derail baseball stadium

In a previous post, I noted that when the Post smells blood, it moves in for the kill. Today, the Post had an article in the Metro section and a large piece in the Style section giving voice to the stadium opponents.

The Metro section article, "Baseball Debate Plays On/Mayor's Confidence Unshaken in Face of Opposition," sets the tone with its opening paragraph:

Opponents of a plan to build a baseball stadium with public funds have viewed their cause as a long shot. But recent developments have ignited some optimism.
The idea that it's a long shot is repeated, but so is the cause for optimism.

The Style section piece, "No Joy in Stadiumville/An Unbuilt Ballpark Casts Its Shadow on Southeast," is a little funkier. It starts by describing the guy who's thought of as the mayor of the area that the stadium is planned for:

Robert Siegel, entrepreneur, works out of a windowless office in a gay porn shop and "adult theater." In this electronics-jammed bunker he has half a dozen closed-circuit TV screens that monitor the cashier's booth, the hallway, the back rooms and the shop's exterior. One of his cameras is mounted on a nearby building and serves as his eye on O Street SE, pivoting by remote control from inside the bunker.

Siegel is something like the mayor of this part of town. When he answers the phone, he says, "Commissioner Siegel," in honor of his status on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. He has been called a land baron in the media, but so far has resisted the urge to call himself Baron Siegel. He owns 11 properties, several of which house gay nightclubs.
We learn there's actually a lot of exciting stuff in the neighborhood, not the forlorn corner of town it's made out to be. Hey, whatever turns you on, I guess.

But the tone of the coverage is clearly sympathetic with the opponents. And as I've said many times, I can't say that the proposed cost is particularly justified. I just enjoy watching this kabuki theater, in which the Post pretends to be a neutral observer but steers the confrontation in the direction of its choice.

My last post on the stadium is here, with links to earlier posts.

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Arlen Specter -- feh!

I don't live in Pennsylvania, but with the strong possibility that the Republicans could pick up seats in the Senate, I won't be sorry if Pennsylvanians vote against Arlen Specter. Specter, if re-elected, is in line to be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and could make it difficult for President Bush (assuming his re-election) to get his judicial nominees through the committee. Considering that the Democrats have taken to filibustering judicial nominees, we don't need Republicans to do even more damage in-house. Although Bush endorsed Specter early, I am totally confident that Specter will feel no obligation to Bush.

Specter's history with judicial nominees is a big deal for me. I became a Republican in 1987, because I was totally disgusted with the attacks on Robert Bork that the Democrats orchestrated. Specter was there to help them out. I remember laughing at how ignorant his questioning of Bork was, but he ultimately had the last laugh. I give Specter a little credit for helping to debunk Anita Hill's charges against Clarence Thomas, but this is something he's spent the last 13 years apologizing for. How much credit does he really deserve?

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Best. Bumper sticker. Ever.

I've had this sticker for 8 or 10 months, but it hasn't gone on my car . . . until 2 days ago. It wasn't that I was afraid to display it in my heavily blue state. (After all, I have a Protest Warrior sticker on my car.)

It's just that Mrs. Attila thinks it's vulgar. (Wherever did she get that idea?) I've humored her by taping it to the inside of the rear windshield.

So on it goes for the last 5 days in this election cycle. We'll see if my car survives. I trust my marriage will.

Consider this to be free advertising for RightNation.US. Clicking on the image will take you to their shop, where I bought the sticker and a mug.

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Lacking bottle opener, Kerry shows how to remove top with teeth

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Osama bin Toast -- ONCE AGAIN!

Matt at Froggy Ruminations has looked at the new "Osama" video and concluded that he was wrong to say that Osama was dead. That's because Matt is a serious, thoughtful person. Me, I don't let facts stand in the way of a good opinion.

Here's how I see the "Osama" tape. The speaker talks about how Bush stayed with the schoolkids on September 11 to read "My Pet Goat." He trashes the PATRIOT Act. So I suspect Michael Moore lost a lot of weight by fasting during Ramadan, donned a wig and a fake beard, and shot a video.

Ha, ha! I'm just kidding, of course. Moore couldn't possibly lose all that weight in time.

So, who's tall and thin, has a long, sad-looking face, and accuses Bush of war crimes? Who charges that the Bush people are lying, crooked folks? I mean, have you read the text of "Osama's" video?

Last question: Has anyone seen John Kerry and Osama at the same time?

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October 29, 2004

D.C. baseball stadium opponents are on to me

Friday's Washington Post and Washington Times have accounts of a public hearing held Thursday on the financing of the baseball stadium. Apparently, it was not pretty.

But what interested me about these accounts was the comment of David Catania, a council member who's an opponent of the stadium. Catania said this:

"Quite frankly, I think it's lunacy, nonsense ... to say people are going to come from the suburbs, go outside the defined [stadium] area and shop in our stores. We're basically proposing to subsidize the entertainment of Marylanders and Virginians."
Uh, oh! They're on to me.

Previous posts on the subject are here, here, here, and sort of here.

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October 28, 2004

Study shows that baseball won't help D.C.

The Cato Institute has released a study showing that a city-financed baseball stadium will have no economic benefit to the District (mostly because money spent there will be diverted from other places of entertainment) and possibly will be an economic detriment. Cato's study also argues that building a stadium will detract from efforts to end the War on Drugs. (Only kidding about that last one.)

About all of this I have one word: DUH! The folks who run D.C. are a bunch of suckers, but I'm glad they are, since I can see the games and don't have to pay for the stadium. (We Marylanders are stuck with the Glendening-Modell fiasco, which is pretty awful, too.)

Previous posts on the move of the Expos to D.C. are here, here, and sort of here.

UPDATE (10/29): The Wall Street Journal weighs in:

Mayor Williams has already mocked Cato for bothering with the study. And there will always be folks who remain willfully blind to the high costs and associated idiocies of publicly financed stadiums. In such contexts, "corporate greed"--team owners raking in millions from naming rights, luxury boxes, club seats, etc., at a stadium built for them--doesn't bother sports boosters. Their hearts want what they want.

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October 27, 2004

3 and 0 is pretty good for not trying

"Red Sox Try to Win World Series Tonight"

Yahoo! Sports, Oct. 27, 2004

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"I will dispatch the terrorists with a karate chop, like this..."

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Iraqis return from showing of Saturday Night Fever

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"And then I grabbed her like this..."

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Horse-drawn Carriage Veterans for Truth

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Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes discuss the elections

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October 26, 2004

The Jewish vote

I'm taking time off from pondering whether there still is anything that can be called the Jewish vote, a subject I hope to write about in the near future. (Tentative conclusion: It still exists, but only barely.)

Reader "Just Moi" sent a link to the Weekly Standard's site, which has a brilliant but rather bitter article today by Joel Engel entitled "From Me to Jews: Why, despite everything, Jewish-Americans keep voting for Democrats." Let me just say that I think the bitterness is entirely justified.

Engel's piece begins this way:

FOR NEARLY SIXTY YEARS, since the birth of Israel, American Jews have faced accusations that they care more about the well-being of their ancient homeland than of their home. Well, barring some unforeseen circumstance, the canard of dual loyalty should be retired forever on November 2, 2004. On that Tuesday, Election Day, up to 80 percent of American Jews will pull the lever for John Kerry, thereby proving that they not only do not care about Israel's well-being, but that they don't mind making common cause with people who wish them ill. Or worse.

The evidence is overwhelming that acceptable anti-Semitism has moved from right to left on the political continuum, and that its philosophical home now resides in the Democratic party, which has become less the party of liberals than of leftists.

He then discusses how high-profile Democrats have kissed Sharpton's ring and given him a choice slot for his speech at the convention. They have also honored Jimmy Carter and Michael Moore, two viciously anti-Israel voices. The Left has brought anti-Israel (and, increasingly, anti-Jewish) demonstrations to campuses, to go along with the similarly virulent classroom teaching.

Why is it, then, asks Engel, that liberal Jews are silent? His answer: Liberalism's a religion.

American Jews' allegiance to Democrats is nothing less than a religion. And conversion is considered a sacrilege.

If you ask even the most secular Jew, one who stays home to watch baseball on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, to convert to Christianity--say, in order to marry a shiksa--he'll likely recoil. It's a visceral thing, hatched in the belly eons ago.

So, too, is the notion of pulling the lever for dirty anti-Semite, racist Republicans. That's the catechism. No matter that Republicans booted out David Duke and Patrick Buchanan--or that both of them would find plenty of fellow travelers in today's Democratic party. Catechism states that only Democrats can be authentic liberals.
To this I would add that Jewish support for Israel is way down among liberals, whose support for Israel (in my view) is contingent upon its having a Labor government. There are real limits on how far liberal Jews can go in defending Israel against the anti-semitic Left, because liberal Jews are themselves so conflicted over Israeli policy. How can they publicly support Sharon? Or, for that matter, publicly support non-Jewish Americans who love Israel? Engel points out that liberal Jews
fear evangelicals' unshakeable support for Israel on the grounds that it's biblically based, which is the equivalent of refusing to accept your dog back from the guy who found him after he admits doing it only for the reward.

I have frequently referred to this attitude as a "shtetl mentality" -- a view that, just as on the shtetl in Eastern Europe, Jews in America are somehow at risk of death, or at least forced conversion, from the neighboring gentiles. I can't fully understand how this attitude can be held by second and third generation American Jews. (See also my post Jew in America.)

I would suggest, though, that, as the importance of Israel to liberal Jews declines, the relative importance of secular idols increases. What I mean by "idols" is political positions that are so firmly held that they are not subject to question. Number one is unrestricted access to abortion. Why this is a Jewish issue is not obvious. While Jewish law is not opposed to abortion in all circumstances at all times, it is closer to the Catholic view than to the secularist "anything goes" view. But, of course, liberal Jews do not support abortion for religious reasons. Number two is "separation of church and state." Liberal Jews approach this as strict separationists, trying to move religion entirely into the private sphere. These two "idols" make it all but impossible for liberal Jews to create alliances with evangelicals on Israel.

I've always wondered how support for Kerry can possibly be "good for the Jews" if Kerry insists on giving the U.N. and "old Europe" primacy in his foreign policy. Engel explains just how self-defeating this is:

Why won't Jews who plan to vote for John Kerry take the senator at his word, and consider the ramifications, when he says that he wants to refract his foreign policy through the prism of the United Nations and the European Union? Nearly one third of the United Nations is comprised of Islamic states, which helps to account for why Israel has been targeted by a relentless barrage of condemnatory resolutions--as well as the disgraceful ruling in the International Court of Justice against the anti-terror fence.

As for Europe, birthplace of anti-Semitism, the European Union publicly wrings its hands over dead Palestinian terrorists but not dead Jewish children and mothers, insisting that there will be peace when Israel withdraws from all so-called Palestinian lands; and if that pullback to the "Auschwitz borders" should someday result in Israeli Jews being driven into the sea, then good riddance. In the unvarnished words of Daniel Bernard, French ambassador to Great Britain, Israel is "a shitty little country" inhabited by "those people" who are putting the world "in danger of World War III."

He closes by referring to James Baker's famous line about how the Jews "don't vote for us" and notes the consequence of high levels of Jewish support for Kerry.
"F*** the Jews," Republican James Baker snapped during Bush 41's reign more than a decade ago. "They didn't vote for us anyway."

Right he was. And if only 20 percent of them vote for Bush 43, American Jews won't need James Baker--they'll have done it to themselves.
The only consolation here is that the real Jewish vote tally this year will be about 3 to 5 percent higher than exit polls show. I can never prove this, and I don't think it's even capable of proof, but I have anecdotal evidence, from my own experience, that of others, and various postings around the blogosphere, that some Jews are secretly going to vote for Bush, even if they won't admit it to a stranger. It is a small consolation, because what can it possibly say about the state of Jewish politics that Jews are afraid to admit they're voting for a man who, as the Kerry campaign implicitly admits, has been a stronger supporter of Israel than any previous president?

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October 25, 2004

Photo caption thread

Today's topic:

Photo captions at Pillage Idiot -- amusing or puerile?

Discuss. (Or e-mail me privately at pillageidiot -at- hotmail -dot- com.)

NOTE: I don't promise to follow the will of the people. If I decide they're amusing (even if puerile), I'll continue posting them.

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Kerry meets with UN Security Council member Pakistan

Story here.

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"Look, Teresa! We'll pick Spreadeagle in the fifth race."

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October 24, 2004

Spitting back

A random walk through the Baltimore Sun finds the city concerned about a recent shooting at Thurgood Marshall High School. The perp had a lengthy juvenile record and was wanted on a separate arrest warrant at the time of the shooting. Another article reports a call for better sharing of information among school, juvenile, and law enforcement officials.

And the Mayor? Well, the Mayor apparently thinks things are still pretty good, according to the Sun:

At the conference yesterday, Mayor Martin O'Malley delivered an upbeat assessment, saying that "as the stubborn homicide rate spits back at us, we are undeterred."
My guess is that the Mayor and his wife had a bet over whether he could use the words "stubborn," "homicide," and "spits" in the same sentence. The Mayor won.

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Posing as a Republican in Los Angeles

Richard Rushfield, "a Los Angeles based journalist," has an amusing piece in Slate, in which he describes the reaction in "blue" California when he poses as a Republican in full battle regalia ("T-shirt, campaign button, and tote bag"). Rushfield first tries posing as a Democrat in Republican Newport Beach but has little to report after four days. Once he switches to Republican gear and hangs out in Silverlake in Los Angeles, he has a more interesting experience.

Dressed to impress in my Bush-Cheney T-shirt, tote bag, and "W." button, I first stop at Silverlake's Über-cafe, the Coffee Table. "The Table," as it is known, is the daytime HQ for the area's writing community—the bed-headed brigades of aspiring indie auteurs who hunch over their laptops, whispering pitches back and forth like state secrets. I stand in line for a soda; my T-shirt first makes contact with the locals as the server, a rather prim-looking Asian-American man, double-takes at my unabashedly partisan display, his smile freezing into a look I can only describe as bracing for me to pull out an assault weapon and open fire. I order, pay, and walk with my Diet Coke through the restaurant, taking a seat on the patio that puts me and my garb on prominent display for the 20 or so patrons. A wave of distressed glances ripples in my direction, but I remain unmolested. Yet as I finish my soda, two hipsters saunter past. One of them, untucked shirt hanging over his jeans, gapes at my shirt and mutters, "Asshole," only slightly under his breath.
He next encounters a Latino Bush supporter in another cafe. The man freaks out the patrons by raising his fist and yelling, "Viva, Bush!"

In Brentwood, he almost ruins a 6-year-old's day:
Dining nearby is a young girl who looks to be about 6-years-old; she gazes at my shirt with a look so forlorn, I expect to learn that Dick Cheney just stole her crayons. Her mother arrives and gives her a hug of consolation. The girl starts to talk, but I can only make out "Bush shirt," which she says to her mother as she points my way. The mother turns and glares, shaking her head at me. I start to wonder what sort of person I am to inflict this on a poor child.
Rushfield leaves us with this question:

Reflecting on the sting of being called "asshole" during my travels through Blue America, I wonder: If I were truly a Bush supporter, how long would I be able to endure a life filled with epithets before I gave up on the shirt?
(Link via VikingPundit.)

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October 22, 2004

"Moi, zees ees how I would surrendre"

UPDATE (10/24): Trying to improve the caption.

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No, John. You stroke me HERE and touch me THERE.

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The manuscript unfortunately was abandoned

"Mike Read’s Oscar Wilde Closes in London After Single Performance"

Playbill, Oct. 22, 2004

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Felon disenfranchisement - UPDATE

A group of foreign observers (including several people from tin-pot semi-democracies) has come to the United States to lecture us on democracy. They know how we can improve our election process.

My favorite criticism of theirs is that we disenfranchise felons, a topic I discussed recently.

A Reuters dispatch describes their position in a delightfully poorly phrased way:

The delegation condemned the disenfranchisement of an estimated 4.7 million ex-felons which it said fell short of international standards.
So international standards call for even more disenfranchisement of felons? Nah, that's not what they meant. They meant that under international standards felons should be allowed to vote. Why not? So many international leaders are corrupt themselves.

(For the curious, here's the list of countries from which the observers came: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, England, Ghana, India, Ireland, Mexico, Nicaragua, Phillipines, South Africa, Thailand, Wales, Zambia.)

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October 20, 2004

Claudia Rosett takes on the Kleptocrat-General

A few days ago, I noted Kofi Annan's statement that the countries apparently bribed by Saddam in the Oil-for-Food program were "not . . . banana republics."

Today, in the Wall Street Journal's, Claudia Rosett eviscerates Mr. Annan in a piece called "La République des Bananes."

To be fair, maybe that's how the world would appear to anyone dulled for decades by U.N. diplo-speak--and Mr. Annan has toiled there for 42 years. But in the modern world, the notion that Russia and China in no way qualify as banana republics might be news to the state-muffled media of both countries. It might also surprise readers of the Berlin-based Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks 133 countries by levels of corruption, from best to worst. On that list, China ranks about halfway down, worse than Colombia or Peru and tied for 66th place with Panama, Sri Lanka and Syria. Russia does worse yet, ranked between Romania and Algeria, and tied for 86th place with Mozambique.

France does much better. Though it ranks as more corrupt than the U.S., Israel or Japan, it ties with Spain for a still respectable 23rd place. That makes France one of the most corrupt countries not in the entire world, but merely in Western Europe.

Alas, such dignity may come as cold comfort to the French, given that Mr. Annan did not actually deny that the Chinese, Russians and French had taken big payoffs from Saddam. Mr. Annan merely disputed that the Chinese, Russians and French would have delivered anything in return for the bribes. In other words, they may be corrupt, but at least they weren't honest about it.

There's a lot more there, and I don't want to spoil the fun. Enjoy!

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My post below

My post entitled "YW (Why Dubya)" was submitted in Hugh Hewitt's symposium "Vox Blogoli" under a rule limiting entries to 250 words. Given the limit, I had to omit some other points, which I intend try to make in the next couple of weeks.

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YW (Why Dubya)

I supported Bush in 2000 more enthusiastically than any presidential candidate since Reagan, though if I had anticipated 9/11, I would have been unsure how well he would do. But well he has done. He has engaged the war against terrorism with courage, tenacity, and singleness of purpose, in the face of the carping, sniping, demonizing, and all the "-ings" that the lilliputians engage in. One can quibble with some aspects of this effort. I will not. All wars look ugly from the battlefield. Bush's keen insight was that to reform the Arab world, where terrorism originates, you have to go into the shuk and knock over the carts. This process has only begun; there are carts yet upright. With Kerry, if you can even cut through the fog, you find he wants to fight terrorism through law enforcement. This approach has been tried, and it has failed. It fundamentally disqualifies Kerry for the office.

Bush has been steadfast in support of Israel. Why should this matter if you are not a Jew or devout Christian with a deep emotional and religious attachment to Israel? It's because Israel is the canary in the coalmine of terrorism. If Islamic terrorists achieve anything resembling victory over Israel, we're in the gravest of danger ourselves. Americans thus have a strong interest in Israel's success. Kerry talks a fairly decent game about Israel, but his support for the U.N. and Old Europe puts Israel, and ultimately the U.S., at risk.

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October 19, 2004

Bush is given a "time out"

Bush Adds Teeth to His Attacks on Kerry

N.Y. Times, Oct. 19, 2004

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ACLU doesn't know what "bigotry" is

The ACLU has turned down grants from two left-wing foundations because it thinks they aren't left-wing enough. OK, so that's my spin. Here's the real story: The Ford Foundation now has language attached to its grants that bars recipients "from engaging in any activity that 'promotes violence, terrorism, bigotry, or the destruction of any state.''' The Rockefeller Foundation has similar language saying that recipients may not "directly or indirectly engage in, promote, or support other organizations or individuals who engage in or promote terrorist activity.''

The AP reports that the ACLU feels this language "could foster impediments to free speech and includes terms like 'bigotry' whose meanings are too vague to support in any funding agreements." So the ACLU doesn't know what "bigotry" is, and it apparently doesn't understand what "violence" and "terrorism" and "the destruction of any state" are.

Aren't these people too dumb to be allowed to drive?

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"See what John Kerry can do for you"

That was the title of two e-mail messages I received this morning. But don't worry. Unless I want to buy pharmaceuticals over the internet from people who can't spell, John Kerry can't do anything for me.

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Felon disenfranchisement

Roger Clegg rebuts the claim that felon disenfranchisement laws are connected with efforts to keep blacks from voting. He notes that even the Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch, two pro-felon groups, admit that the practice dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. Clegg's final point is one that few, if any, people mention:

The irony is that the people whose votes will be diluted the most if felons are reenfranchised are the law-abiding citizens in communities with a high proportion of felons in them. These citizens, who are also most frequently the victims of crime, are of course themselves disproportionately poor and minority. But somehow the bien pensants always forget them.
Clegg's point is right on. The Sentencing Project, given a choice between supporting minority felons and supporting the law-abiding minority victims of those felons, will always side with the felons. Here's a statistic of note: The National Crime Victimization Survey reports that about 85% of completed violent crimes against blacks are committed by blacks. So who's going to be hurt by helping the felons? As a general principle, when people claim to speak for blacks (or other minorities) by advocating for felons, they are a fraud at best.

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October 18, 2004

New obstacle to D.C.'s baseball stadium?

The George Washington University Hatchet, a student paper, reports that the proposed new stadium in Southeast is upsetting gay groups. Apparently, the location, a forlorn industrial area, is home to "gay strip bars, dance clubs, adult theaters and bookstores along O and Half streets in Southeast D.C." This is a serious problem.

"I think we obviously have a challenge here," said Jim Graham, one of two openly gay members on the D.C. City Council. "We're going to have to work hard to see how we go about relocating this businesses. They're contributing to the city, and of course these owners are very much surprised that they're going to be uprooted."
And it's not easy to relocate them, anyway.
The gay entertainment district was allowed to exist in an isolated setting, he said, adding, "It was a sort of 'out of sight, out of mind' thing."

"The question becomes, if the city exiled us down there, and if now, they're going to 'de-exile us,' where are we going to go?" Kameny continued. City zoning laws restrict nude dancing and liquor in other parts of D.C.
And compensation? How about naming the new team after them? The Washington Nude Gay Dancers. It's got pizzazz.

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Sex lives of elephants and donkeys

Man, this is too good. Tom Maguire buried it in an unrelated, long post, and I almost missed it. Paul at Wizbang trumpeted it.

According to an ABC News poll, more Republicans are happy with their sex lives than Democrats.

The poll analysis includes a breakdown by many subgroups, including region, age and even political party affiliation, which is the topic of results released today:

Of those involved in a committed relationship, who is very satisfied with their relationship?
Republicans — 87 percent; Democrats — 76 percent

Who is very satisfied with their sex life?
Republicans — 56 percent; Democrats — 47 percent

The poll analysis also reveals who has worn something sexy to enhance their sex life:
Republicans — 72 percent; Democrats — 62 percent

When asked whether they had ever faked an orgasm, more Democrats (33 percent) than Republicans (26 percent) said they had.
Paul says that Republicans tend to be happier in general and it spills over into the bedroom. I think there's truth to that, although I would say that Republicans are more content with what they have in life, while Democrats are convinced someone else has an unfair advantage, an attitude that sours every aspect of their lives.

Oh, and the poll adds:
Also, Democrats are more likely to be women; and the poll results show that women are more likely to fake orgasms.
Really? Who would have suspected?

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Osama bin Toast - UPDATE

In another recent post, I quoted Matt of Froggy Ruminations about Osama and his, shall we say, non-existence. Matt had a cogent explanation, which meshed with my own thoughts on the subject. If he were alive, he would have managed to send out some kind of tape to rally the troops. (Matt said it better than I am right now, and he has an update, so go back.)

James Robbins has an interesting piece in National Review Online in which he makes a similar point:

There has been no confirmed new video of him since December 26, 2001, leading many including me to believe he is dead. After all, a man that vain would have to pop up at some point, if only to taunt his enemies and inspire his followers.
Check it out.

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Students lied, NY Times editors died - UPDATE

About a week ago, we were having a little fun at the expense of the NY Times over its letters editor's anguish. See, some students got letters in the paper even though they sometimes faked their names and addresses. The editor was worried about the credibility of the Times, whatever that is.

Turns out, the New Yorker carries an item about this, too, which contains this gem from the editor:

Feyer acknowledged that the students exhibited “good writing and smart thinking,” but that’s beside the point, he said. “Coming in a climate where journalists are under increasing scrutiny and the Times has had its troubles in the last couple of years, and CBS—this isn’t of the same order, but we rely on the good faith of our letter writers.” He does not consider Duckenfield’s assignment a harmless pedagogical stunt.
Yes, I can see the harm that real letters from fake people could cause to the Times's credibility.

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October 17, 2004

Hope their undies are clean

U.S. Navy makes skirts optional for women

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Oct. 17, 2004

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Testimonial from the Kleptocrat General

Kofi Annan, Kleptocrat General of the United Nations, defends the countries that Saddam appears to have bribed through the Oil-for-Food Program.

Annan also dismissed any suggestion that France, Russia and China had been prepared to ease sanctions on Saddam Hussein's Iraq in return for oil contracts.

Iraq tried to manipulate foreign governments by awarding contracts - and bribes - to foreign companies and political figures in countries that showed support for ending sanctions, in particular Russia, France and China, the final report by the U.S.-led Iraq Survey Group said earlier this month.

But Annan said it was "inconceivable" Saddam's activities could have influenced policy in the countries concerned.

"I don't think the Russian or the French or the Chinese government would allow itself to be bought..." Annan said.

"I think it's inconceivable. These are very serious and important governments. You are not dealing with banana republics."

Mr. Annan knows a banana republic when he sees it. And we can be confident he also knows bribery when the U.N. is up to its neck in it.

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Just blame it on the Jews

Baltimore's Mayor Martin O'Malley has only token opposition in the upcoming election in an overwhelming Democratic town. So he's decided not to bother debating his Republican opponent. The opponent has an explanation: "'I feel that [O'Malley] does not want to debate me because he is afraid that I will uncover that' he is performing poorly, said Elbert 'Ray' Henderson, a Republican candidate for mayor." But the Baltimore Sun explains the Mayor's reason more succinctly.

O'Malley cannot attend the league's mayoral debate because he has a meeting with the Jewish National Fund, at which he will be a keynote speaker.
That's right, just blame it on the Jews. Sheesh! I know Jewish fundraising can be aggressive, but surely JNF would consider a request from the Mayor to reschedule or provide a taped address.

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October 16, 2004

Navy missile shoots down Pierre Salinger

Pierre Salinger Dies at 79; Press Secretary for JFK, LBJ

Washington Post, Oct. 17, 2004

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L.A. Times: Afraid of liberals?

The L.A. Times apparently thinks there's something to be afraid of in electing liberals. In an article today, it says that both Bush and Kerry are using fear in the closing weeks of the campaign. Kerry is using fear in scaring the dickens out of college students afraid of the draft, which is a completely bogus issue. Bush, according to the L.A. Times, is scaring people by calling Kerry a "liberal."

Bush, Kerry Both Employ Fear to Get the Job Done
By Matea Gold and Nick Anderson, Times Staff Writers

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — With the campaign for president reaching the closing-argument stage, Republicans called Sen. John F. Kerry the most liberal candidate for president in history, while Kerry said President Bush's inept prosecution of the war in Iraq had left the "great potential" for a military draft.

The paper notes that the Bush campaign is calling Kerry a liberal in a new ad but questions the evidence.

A narrator in the 30-second spot calls Kerry "the most liberal man in the Senate. The most liberal person to ever run for president." He goes on to say Kerry has voted to cut military and intelligence agencies.

"We live in a dangerous world that requires strong and steady leadership," the ad concludes. "John Kerry is a risky choice for America, a risk we cannot take."

The new GOP ad cites no evidence to back up the contention that Kerry is more liberal than every other presidential contender in the nation's history. Bush previously has cited a magazine analysis that said Kerry had the most liberal Senate voting record in 2003, although the results of that analysis may have been skewed because Kerry missed many votes as he campaigned for president.

Although Kerry is generally in the Senate's liberal wing, he has cast several significant votes on trade, balanced budgets, welfare and other matters that indicate a centrist streak. He voted to cut military and intelligence programs at various points in his career — along with some Republicans at the end of the Cold War — but also supported defense and intelligence bills far more often than not.

And the interesting thing is that Kerry himself is running away from the term.

Kerry's campaign Friday called the liberal label "misleading and disingenuous."

"John Kerry opposed his party to vote for deficit reduction, supported landmark welfare reform, supports middle-class tax cuts, led the fight to put 100,000 cops on the street and supports increasing our military," the campaign said in a statement.

When liberals want to spook people about conservatives, they use terms like "extreme" and "far right." When conservatives want to spook people about liberals, they call them "liberals." Apparently, the L.A. Times is on board with this terminology.

Click here to read more . . .

Osama bin Toast

Matt at Froggy Ruminations makes the Osama-is-dead argument in very compelling terms. And he says what I have been thinking for some time. Which makes him right. (QED)

You hadn't heard? Well, I'm not breaking news, President Bush knows damn well that UBL has been dead for quite some time. But why would Bush keep it to himself? If he were to disclose his knowledge that UBL is dead he would blow John Kerry's doors off in the election, and yet he remains silent. Why?

Maybe you're wondering how I know he's dead. Perhaps one of my SEAL buddies let me in on the secret? NO. I know because a publicity whore and grandstanding scumbag like UBL could not possibly resist the multitude of opportunites to inspire his cult members. His number 1, Zwahiri, has appeared on video or audio broadcasts every few months since 9/11. UBL has not been heard from since Tora Bora despite developments in the GWOT in Afghanistan and Iraq that make it unthinkable for him to have remained silent. Not to mention successful attacks in Bali, Madrid, Turkey, and Jakarta to name a few that remain unremarked upon by UBL. The invasion and occupation of an Islamic state by the US and not a word. Elections held for the first time in Afghan history, and he had nothing to say about it in the lead up. AQ tried once early on to air a tape that never mentioned key developments in the Afghan campaign and was quickly discredited as an attempt to put one over on his followers by airing a previous recording. Zwahiri decided that it was better to just pretend that UBL was alive because there was no plausible martyr story to tell. UBL went out running for his life like a coward. He is dead. His remains are turds shat by scavenging animals in the mountains of Afghanistan blown by the wind and stomped on by US troops.
(Link via Power Line) By the way, Matt's post continues, and he explains why he thinks Bush is sitting on this killer information. Read it.

Now, I don't care what the smarty-pantses at the intelligence agencies say. If you had to choose between those intelligence guys on the one hand and Allah, a guy named Matt, and the anonymous clown who sits at my computer on the other hand, there's no choice.

Click here to read more . . .

You mean, Christians and Jews aren't?

Muslims observing Ramadan

Baltimore Sun, Oct. 15, 2004

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October 14, 2004

Another Jewish liberal for Bush

Move over, Ed Koch.

An anonymous woman who identifies herself as a Jewish liberal writes to explain why she will vote for Bush "with more passionate conviction than I have ever mustered in a lifetime of voting Democratic." It is a beautiful essay, and I can only hope that it reflects the secret thinking of other Jewish liberals. Here is the beginning. Please read the entire essay over at The Command Post.

Why This Lifelong Jewish Liberal is Voting Republican

When I pull the lever on November 2nd for George Bush, I will be voting with more passionate conviction than I have ever mustered in a lifetime of voting Democratic.

My motive is simple: I believe the moral imperative of our time is to fully prosecute the War on Terror. As a Jew, I believe this sacred fight embodies the deepest Jewish values, so eloquently expressed by the ancient sage Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”

Click here to read more . . .

Voter fraud chutzpah

The Washington Times reports on allegations of fraud in registering voters in Colorado and other states. One new voter registered about 35 times "after coming under pressure from registration gatherers." But that doesn't get the chutzpah award. What gets the award is a comment from Jim Fleischmann, western regional director of ACORN, one of the groups in the registration drive.

A number of the voter-registration groups tilt politically to the left, such as the Colorado Progressive Coalition and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which describes itself as "community organization of low- and moderate-income families" that works closely with labor unions.

Jim Fleischmann, ACORN Western regional director, said he was cooperating with Denver authorities to track down several hundred fraudulent applications collected by the organization, but he downplayed the severity of the problem.

"Registration fraud is different than voter fraud. Just because you register someone 35 times doesn't mean they get to vote 35 times. They can only vote once," he said. "The local press is having a feeding frenzy on this."

But that's precisely the question that remains: Can they vote only once?

Click here to read more . . .

No wonder he can't win elections

It turns out that Michael Howard, British Tory leader, is a Mets fan. Irwin Stelzer mentions that in his Weekly Standard article:

Howard knows that his support for the war is not a vote-getter, but he is both an America-loving Mets fan, and a man who can sympathize with the horrors inflicted on Iraqis by Saddam.
As a life-long Mets fan, who expects to find them losing, I find this extremely troubling.

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Camera oscura

Liveblogging (consider the alternative) by others is a wonderful camera oscura in which to watch the debates. I can't bear to watch them directly, but viewing them indirectly through others' eyes is a wholly different experience.

And then, even better than that is viewing them afterwards through the eyes of Jeff Goldstein.

John Kerry: “Whatever you need, it’s yours. Need a job? You got it. Need a higher living wage? Done. Need cheap, universal healthcare? I’m your man. Need a better education? Have at it, paid in full. Relying on social security for your retirement? I’ll put it in a lock box. Tax relief? I can give you that, too. Want to lose your virginity to a teenage Mexicali hooker and a donkey? I’ll print coupons. And the best part is, every single one of my plans comes with free cole slaw and a plate of homestyle biscuits!” George Bush: “Anybody who believes this guy can deliver on even one percent of his promises deserves four years of John F’n Kerry. God bless, and good night.”

(Link via The Kerry Spot)

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October 13, 2004

Students lied, NY Times editors died

N.Y. Times Deceived by Students' Letters

A professor had his students write letters to the NY Times without disclosing that it was for a class project. Big whoopee doo!

But the NY Times letters editor feels violated.

Thomas Feyer, letter editor for the newspaper, said students, at the instruction of [Prof.] Duckenfield, wrote the letters about subjects ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to American consumption as if they were submitted from their hometowns instead of Durham.

"They are clearly smart and good writers -- they wrote very nice letters -- but I want people to be up front," Feyer said. "The professor was urging them to deceive us, and it undermines the credibility of the paper if it's discovered as it was in this case."
The credibility of the NY Times? Paging Jayson Blair.

Click here to read more . . .

October 12, 2004

Mark Steyn's sacked column

As Steyn fans have already heard, his column about the Kenneth Bigley beheading was dropped by the Telegraph. The column has been posted at Steyn's own website, and it is very much worth reading. Steyn suspects that the Telegraph viewed his column as "a little heartless," but he responded, "Well, this is a war, and misplaced mawkishness will only lead to more deaths."

Wretchard at the Belmont Club writes eloquently about the meaning of this, and I have no intention of trying to match him.

But I do want to say one thing about the distinction Steyn draws with an earlier beheading by the jihadis. Steyn writes:

By contrast with the Fleet Street-Scouser-Whitehall fiasco of the last three weeks, consider Fabrizio Quattrocchi, murdered in Iraq on April 14th. In the moment before his death, he yanked off his hood and cried defiantly, “I will show you how an Italian dies!” He ruined the movie for his killers. As a snuff video and recruitment tool, it was all but useless, so much so that the Arabic TV stations declined to show it.

If the FCO wants to issue advice in this area, that’s the way to go: If you’re kidnapped, accept you’re unlikely to survive, say “I’ll show you how an Englishman dies”, and wreck the video. If they want you to confess you’re a spy, make a little mischief: there are jihadi from Britain, Italy, France, Canada and other western nations all over Iraq – so say yes, you’re an MI6 agent, and so are those Muslims from Tipton and Luton who recently joined the al-Qaeda cells in Samarra and Ramadi. As Churchill recommended in a less timorous Britain: You can always take one with you. If Mr Blair and other government officials were to make that plain, it would be, to use Mr Bigley’s word, “enough”. A war cannot be subordinate to the fate of any individual caught up in it.

Steyn is right. "A war cannot be subordinate to the fate of any individual caught up in it." Private citizens may have their concerns about the safety of their friends and relatives, but national leaders must make difficult decisions for the broader good of the country. Any one of us who had a relative or friend in Mr. Bigley's situation would want the government to do anything it could to get him released. We could be forgiven if we persuaded ourselves that the national interest would not suffer from doing what was necessary to release the captive. But Tony Blair could not be forgiven if he subordinated his responsibility to do what would best protect the country against further attack to a desire to save a particular individual.

About a quarter of a century ago, we all suffered as Jimmy Carter became so consumed with the safety of the American hostages in Iran that he was unable and unwilling to act decisively in the interest of the nation. The rescue operation was too little, too late. I remember commenting that if Carter had handled the situation properly, many or all of the hostages would have been killed. That was not my wish, of course. I was simply bemoaning Carter's failure to do what was necessary to prevent further anti-American acts.

A president who orders troops into war necessarily realizes that some, perhaps many, of them will not come back alive. It is no solution to this that the president must act as if each were his own son or daughter. That is a recipe for surrender. Nor do the troops themselves act with such timidity. So many demonstrate a selflessness and courage in the face of death and a recognition that there is something larger they are fighting for than any individual caught up in the war.

Click here to read more . . .

Congressional hijinks at home

In my 8th congressional district of Maryland, we were represented (if you use the term loosely) by "Commie" Morella, possibly the most liberal Republican in Congress, until she was defeated in 2002 by Chris Van Hollen. Frankly, there isn't much difference now, except that unlike Van Hollen, "Commie" didn't hate Bush; she simply disagreed with him. This district is well educated, wealthy, and liberal, just the kind of place where good ideas go to die. And from now on, Republicans need not apply.

The current Republican challenger to Van Hollen is Chuck Floyd, who has provoked the Washington Post to cover him by registering three websites with the name vanhollen2004 and dot-com, dot-org, and dot-net, and then putting up "unflattering comments" about Van Hollen.

One site,, features a picture of a man in a chicken costume challenging Van Hollen (D) to a debate and outlines Floyd's campaign themes: that Van Hollen is weak on defense and a supporter of wasteful government programs.

A second site,, shows "The Van Hollen 13-Point Pledge to the Voters," declaring that Van Hollen wants "the U.S. to be like France" and wants his "friends -- the liberal judges -- to push the social envelope for our society."

The third site,, includes a picture of a bus destroyed in a suicide bombing in Israel and says Van Hollen is "more pro-terrorists than pro-Israel."

Here's Floyd's take on the incident -- it shows how incompetent the Congressman is.

Floyd said Van Hollen should have seen it coming.

"I feel if the congressman doesn't have the foresight to buy up certain domain names with his name, does he deserve to be in Congress?" asked Floyd, a retired military officer and State Department employee. "It was up for grabs, so I bought it."

And Van Hollen's response? The smart, wealthy, liberal constituents won't like it.
"I think people in this congressional district are going to be insulted at the level to which their campaign has stooped," Van Hollen said. "I have the benefit of representing a very educated district and this kind of garbage, people can see through it."
Proving that Floyd's assessment of his savvy is right, Van Hollen has now purchased the relevant domain names for 2006.

Click here to read more . . .

A naked partisan attack

Congressman Martin Frost (D-TX), who is running against Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) because of the recent redistricting, is attacking Sessions for having participated in a mass "streaking" incident at Southwest Texas State University in 1974, when Sessions was 18. "Streaking" -- for the benefit of those too young to remember -- means running through a public area sans clothing. From the San Antonio Express-News:

In 1974, during a two-night rampage involving about 300 students in San Marcos, two streakers were arrested the first night, leading to a clash with police in which students damaged a police car, the San Antonio News reported at the time. Newspapers were filled with nude photos and headlines such as "Dudes, Broads, Bare Bods."

Southwest Texas students were apparently trying to break a streaking record set by another university amid a nationwide college streaking craze.

"Pete Sessions exposed himself to children and strangers," said Frost spokesman Justin Kitsch. "He's exposed himself as a hypocrite, as well."

"Congressman Sessions' old school days are long gone," said Sessions spokesman Chris Homan. "He recognizes it as an immature action of an 18-year-old college freshman."

Three comments: 1. Glad I didn't participate in streaking when I was in college. 2. Glad I'm not running for Congress. 3. Glad we don't let 18-year-olds serve in Congress.

Click here to read more . . .

October 11, 2004

World Series will end in January

Yanks Could Start Heading Home After Iraq Vote

New York Sun (Associated Press), Oct. 11, 2004

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An obscure philosophy

Dana Milbank writes about Dick Cheney's counsel, a man named David Addington. I love it when lefties write about conservatives and act like academic anthropologists who dimly understand the peculiar beliefs and rituals of the right.

Milbank writes that Addington believes in "an obscure philosophy" that is in fact obscure only if you are both liberal and under-informed.

Even in a White House known for its dedication to conservative philosophy, Addington is known as an ideologue, an adherent of an obscure philosophy called the unitary executive theory that favors an extraordinarily powerful president.
How obscure can this philosophy be when even I know about it? I mean, just read Federalist No. 70. For example:

Taking it for granted, therefore, that all men of sense will agree in the necessity of an energetic Executive, it will only remain to inquire, what are the ingredients which constitute this energy? How far can they be combined with those other ingredients which constitute safety in the republican sense? And how far does this combination characterize the plan which has been reported by the convention?

The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are, first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision for its support; fourthly, competent powers.

So for about 220 years, this "philosophy" has been well known. Welcome to obscurity, Dana Milbank.

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By any means necessary?

Just another day, another break-in and burglary of a Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters.

Offices that house President Bush's re-election campaign in Spokane were broken into and vandalized last night, the latest in a string of crimes at Republican offices across the country.
Must be a coincidence.

In Bellevue last week , computers that stored the Republican get-out-the-vote database were stolen in a burglary at the Republican headquarters there. Bush campaign officials believe the break-ins are part of a broader attack on the president's re-election offices around the country, including a burglary in Canton, Ohio, last night, gun shots fired in West Virginia, Florida and Tennessee and union protestors storming offices in three Florida cities and Minneapolis.

There are no suspects in the burglaries or shootings and no injuries were reported.

Because the protests at campaign offices that were stormed were part of organized union demonstrations, Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot wrote a letter today to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney asking him to call off any future protests.

"In addition to the injuries, property damage and disruption associated with these acts, these events have created a threatening and intimidating atmosphere abhorrent to our democratic process," Racicot wrote.

Yeah, a coincidence, like this one 10 days or so ago.

BELLEVUE - The state's Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters in Bellevue were burglarized and three laptop computers containing campaign plans were stolen, Republican Party officials said Friday.

Sometime between 2 a.m. Friday, when campaign workers went home, and 8 a.m., when the office reopened, a person threw a rock through the window of Jon Seaton, executive director for the state's Bush campaign, said Chris Vance, state GOP chairman.

Stolen were three laptops that Vance said belonged to Seaton and Chris Taylor, head of the office's get-out-the-vote campaign. A third computer had been slated for a field office.

Information on the computers included much of the Bush-Cheney campaign strategy for the state, he said.

Paging Woodward and Bernstein.

(Link via Drudge. Power Line also reports on the more recent incident. Hindrocket says he's unable to find any report referring to the Canton burglary.)

Click here to read more . . .

And the answer is: The Massachusetts judiciary did it

Here's the question, posed by Jesse Jackson:

"How many of you — someone from your family — married somebody of the same sex?" Mr. Jackson asked of the congregation of about 500. After nobody raised a hand, he asked, "Then how did that [same-sex marriage] get in the middle of the agenda?"

"If your issues are cancer and Medicare and education and jobs and Social Security and decent housing, then how did someone else put their agenda in the front of the line?" he asked.

Massachusetts. Now, where have I heard of that state before?

Click here to read more . . .

Where's Al Gore when they need him?

Afghan Election Concerns Subside (Wash. Post)

Several of Karzai's key opponents said Sunday that they would accept an impartial investigation into the allegations of multiple voting and ink mix-ups, rather than insisting that the entire election be declared invalid and held again.

Click here to read more . . .

The Post smells baseball blood

Ya gotta love the Washington Post. It's got a great nose for vulnerable politicians, and when it smells them, it moves in for the kill. It wasn't more than a few days ago that we and the Post were all celebrating the return of baseball to the District.

Now, the Post senses that Mayor Williams is in trouble.

But baseball never really became a citywide spectacle. Talk of a pep rally at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium with souvenir T-shirts and hot dogs for the kids went nowhere. Within days, carping about Williams's promise to raise taxes to build a ballpark drowned out the happy news that baseball is back, after 33 years. And what might have been the brightest moment of Williams's tenure as mayor dissolved into another opportunity for critics to take their shots.

Some political observers even opined that the return of baseball would prove to be disastrous for Williams (D) should he seek a third term in 2006. They said it provides a potent symbol for those who argue that the mayor courts the wealthy while neglecting the poor.

Look, I'm not saying I disagree; I'm saying I just don't care. I'm not a resident of the District, so I'm delighted that other people are paying for something that will be fun for me. Isn't that what pork-barreling is all about? I was livid when our former governor, Parris Glendening, brought the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, giving Art Modell not only free rent and all concession revenue but also unlimited use of the governor's mansion in Annapolis and unlimited dates with Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. (I exaggerate a little; dates with the Lt. Gov. had to be on weekends.)

And I also don't think there's any merit to the pro-baseball argument that building a new stadium will be a net benefit to the District. The comparison with the MCI Center is inapt, as we say in the law. The MCI Center is open year-round and is used not just for sports but for concerts and other events. Baseball, as fond as I am of it, is an 81-game-a-year event. The stadium might be used for an occasional concert, and perhaps another "sport" like soccer (what James Taranto calls "metric football") could use the stadium. But when push comes to shove, the stadium is not going to be in use for much of the year.

My point is that the team may be months from arriving and the stadium may be years from being completed, but the Washington Post is already providing us with entertainment as it looks for roadkill.

Click here to read more . . .

October 10, 2004

Good guys win in Australia

This is really big, so big you have to dig for it in the American news.

Mr Bush described Mr Howard as a friend and said he was the right man to lead Australia.
"Earlier today I had the opportunity to call and congratulate my friend, the Prime Minister of Australia, who won his election," he said during a campaign rally in Iowa.
"Australia is a great ally in the war on terror, and John Howard is the right man to lead that country.
"The president will always work with our friends and allies. We build strong coalitions."

Maybe Mr. Howard can work some of his magic in the United States. The future of the world may depend on it.

On the other hand, maybe we should wait till Al Gore's challenge to the election is resolved.

Click here to read more . . .

Germans see no anti-semitism at Arab book fair

The fact that Germans can see no anti-semitism when it's right in front of their faces shouldn't surprise anyone.

The fact that an Arab book fair contains books like the following also shouldn't surprise anyone:

On the cover of one of the books, displayed by the Dar Tlass publishing house of Damascus, Syria, was a photograph of the World Trade Center exploding in flames during the 9/11 attacks. Overlaying the photo of the Twin Towers is a Star of David and a fingerprint.

Nearby, another book showed a Star of David covering the Statue of Liberty, which held, instead of a torch, a sword that dripped blood.

At the exhibit sponsored by the Egyptian Publishers Association, the Cairo-based publisher Dar el-Shorouk displayed "The Zionist Message and Its Terms," whose title was translated by an Arabic representative of the publisher and whose cover portrays a field of Stars of David and menorahs. The book's author, Abdel-Wahab el-Messeri, also wrote the "Encyclopedia of Jews, Judaism and Zionism," which some critics have said contains anti-Jewish themes.

What is not surprising -- just disgraceful -- is the NY Times's unwillingness to take a position. Notice that "some critics" have said the book contains "anti-Jewish themes." Sheesh! The reporter could have called the author to confirm this point.

Click here to read more . . .

The face of peace in the Middle East

Egypt, with which Israel has a peace treaty, acted in a way that can only be described as barbaric. Here is what the NY Times delicately refers to as "bureaucratic and practical obstacles" following the bombing at Taba:

There were many reports of bureaucratic and practical obstacles to rescue efforts. Kobi Zuza, an ambulance driver from Israel, was at the Taba Hilton two hours after the blast, around midnight. It took 90 minutes for the Egyptians to let him in, he said. "When I got to the hotel, the situation of the dead was shocking,'' he said. "There were bodies and bodies without legs and body parts floating in the swimming pool.''
Inside, he said, people were trapped and crushed by the collapsing wall, with an engine from the truck bomb burning in the lobby. "There was a woman trapped, and I couldn't get to her,'' he said, looking off into the bright desert sun. "We were afraid to pull her out because everything would have collapsed.''
On the way back to the hospital, Mr. Zuza said, the Egyptian border guards insisted on having the passports of the wounded. "People were bleeding and screaming in the ambulance, shouting that their documents were still in the hotel - and the guards then gave them forms to fill out,'' he said angrily.
Doron Kotler, an ambulance coordinator, said Israelis were not allowed to cross to reach Ras al-Sultan or Nuweiba until 4 a.m.
Shimon Romach, the Israeli fire and rescue commissioner, said his men had had to spend 20 minutes pushing their way through the border to get to the Taba Hilton and begin to extinguish the fire. "Egyptians were helping, but there was no professional Egyptian firefighters still,'' he said.
If this is the way Israelis are treated by a "peace partner," it really makes one wonder what the point is.

UPDATE (10/10): Apparently the Israelis are more forgiving than I am. I suppose that's a good thing. There's at least a possibility they know more about things than I do.

There is increasing cooperation between Israeli and Egyptian investigators probing the attacks, Naveh said.

Col. Gideon Bar-On, commander of the National Search and Rescue Unit, said Sunday afternoon that his team did not find any survivors in the wreckage. Bar-On said there were no more bodies in the rubble of the Taba Hilton. "This was a tragic event, but the one ray of light in this whole thing was the way our relationship with the Egyptians improved. The situation of life and death did its job, and the cooperation improved," Bar-On said.

Egyptian and Israeli rescuers worked side by side searching for bodies in a collapsed section of the hotel where ten floors plummeted and condensed into just four floors.

Click here to read more . . .

You don't say

Egypt Attacks Concern Israeli Travelers

Associated Press, Oct. 9, 2004

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Jacques Derrida begins deconstructing

Jacques Derrida, Abstruse Theorist, Dies at 74

N.Y. Times, Oct. 10, 2004

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Prelude to invasion of the election lawyers

It's looking more and more as if we will all look back fondly on the 2000 election and the Florida recount. The Washington Post has a rundown of maneuvering already going on in different states.

Just remember: Voting fraud invariably helps Democrats.

Click here to read more . . .

October 06, 2004

Wish I Had Noticed That

James Taranto's Best of the Web Today column on Friday referred to Kerry as a "'But'-head" for qualifying so many of his statements at the first debate with a "but." Yesterday, he quoted a the insight of a reader, Ruth Papazian, which seems to have been based on her experience as a parent. I wish I had noticed what she did. Here's what she said, according to Taranto:

Kerry is trying to have it both ways: to reserve "the right to pre-empt in any way necessary" while also insisting on "the global test." Reader Ruth Papazian offers some insight on what this really means:

It's the placement of the conditional but that is most revealing of Kerry's true inclinations regarding pre-emptive use of force against countries harboring terrorists.

Consider these two statements:

(a) I will let you go to the concert, but I want you to clean your room.
(b) I want you to clean your room, but I will let you go to the concert.

In statement (a), permission to go to the concert is conditional upon cleaning your room. In statement (b), permission to go to the concert is not conditional upon cleaning your room.

Consider Kerry's "global test" statement with the phrases before and after the conditional "but" flipped:

You've got to do it in a way that passes the global test, but no president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to pre-empt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

The first statement suggests that the historical right of pre-emptive action by a U.S. president is conditional upon first convincing the rest of the world that our actions are justified. The second statement suggests that while global considerations are important, the right of pre-emptive action by a U.S. president will never be conditioned upon whether the rest of the world thinks our reasons are legitimate. The man who would utter the second statement will not hesitate to pull the trigger. The man who uttered the first statement will.

Think about other statements one might make before a "but" clause: "I love you, but . . ." "You're doing good work, but . . ." "I have nothing against black people, but . . ." In all these cases, you know that what comes next is going to be a statement that belies the introductory clause and that represents what the speaker really means to say. Kerry said a lot of things that made him sound strong, but they were only a way of diverting attention from his advocacy of American weakness.

An excellent point.

Click here to read more . . .

Not That Dumb

That (or a close facsimile) was the headline of an American Lawyer cover on Judge Daniel Manion of the Seventh Circuit in the mid-1980s, a year or so after his hotly contested confirmation that centered on his intellectual and legal abilities.

I would apply it today to the Republicans, who are dumb not for the reasons the Dems give but because they always seem to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In this case, however, they are not that dumb.

The Dems have been trying to scare the daylights out of younger voters and their parents by making the phony argument that Bush will impose a military draft if re-elected. There's a bogus e-mail message that they've circulated, too.

Sensing that it wasn't enough simply to deny the draft or to point out that the only bills in Congress aiming to reinstate it were introduced by Dems (in an effort to hurt the military, not help it), the House Republican leadership brought up a Dem bill on the draft for a vote. It lost by 402-2.

My favorite comment on the event came from a Dem congressman, Ike Skelton:

"That's the first time ever, probably, in the history of the United States" a measure came to the floor in such a fashion, said Rep. Ike Skelton (Mo.), ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee. His panel never held a hearing on the bill, he noted, and to vote on it "is nothing more than a cynical election-year political ploy."
Sort of like the Dems' bogus draft scare?

Click here to read more . . .

Dickey can't read, either

Janey Finds Widespread Failure in D.C. Schools

Washington Post, page A1, Oct. 6, 2004

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Kicking Charm City below the Balt, Part 1

The big, non-political news around here is that the Montreal Expos are moving to Washington, a city that's missed baseball for 33 years. Of course, whenever there's good news, there's a trial lawyer around to stink up the place. Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, intends to grab a major piece of the action. Two words: Ex-tortion. (Apologies to Sam Goldwyn.)

Well, Angelos, I call your extortion and raise you a murder and non-negligent manslaughter.

I've pulled out my trusty copy of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports for 2002 (latest full version available), which can be found here. You mean you don't keep the UCR at your bedside?

Some preliminaries: For 2002, the UCR uses the following population figures: 5,458,137 for Maryland and 671,028 for the City of Baltimore (not including suburban areas). Also, in 2002, Maryland had the third highest rate of violent crime, trailing South Carolina and falling only a few hanging chads behind Florida. For those who are keeping score, violent crime includes (a) murder, (b) rape, (c) robbery, and (d) aggravated assault.

Some observations:

  1. Baltimore has a violent crime rate of 2054.9 per 100,000 population. For purposes of comparison, Washington, D.C., has a rate of 1595.9 per 100,000.
  2. Baltimore has about 12% of the population of Maryland but a grossly disporportionate share of the violent crime.
  3. In 2002, there were 513 murders (including non-negligent manslaughter) in Maryland, 253 of which (49.3%) were in Baltimore.
  4. In 2002, Baltimore had 13.0% of the rapes in Maryland (about proportionate) but had 35.1% of the robberies and 32.4% of the aggravated assaults.

I plan to look into some of this in future posts.

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October 05, 2004

Tell me when it's safe to come out

I don't watch debates. Yes, I'm interested in politics, but I don't watch debates. I also don't watch State of the Union Addresses, major policy speeches, etc.

In short, I don't watch politicians being politicians. It only encourages them.

Please tell me when it's safe to come out, so I can read about what has already happened.

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I, Attila

Q. Is Attila your real name?
A. No, of course not. How many Jews do you know who are named Attila?
Q. Why do you Jews insist on answering a question with a question?
A. And why shouldn't we answer a question with a question?
Q. That's a very old joke.
A. Point well taken. I guess you've figured out, then, that Attila is my nickname.
Q. No thanks to you. So tell me why you're called Attila.
A. A colleague gave me that name. For some reason, he suspected that my political leanings were to the right. Then he and I got into a discussion during an office softball game, when he noticed I was the only player who insisted on using a wooden bat. I told him, "The Framers did not contemplate metal bats." I like the Attila image. It makes me seem like a powerful and fearsome figure, when in fact I'm pretty quiet and mild-mannered. (Sort of like calling a huge, overweight man "Tiny.") I often say I'm conservative in politics and moderate in temperament.
Q. Thank you. That's more than I wanted to know.
A. You're welcome.
Q. Why did you start this blog?
A. Some people egged me on, and I had a few things I wanted to say. I don't have the time to do what the serious bloggers do, many of whom do an amazing job requiring a huge time investment. I also don't expect more than a few people to read this, and I'm not going to engage in the sort of self-promotion or marketing required to get readers. Not that there's anything wrong with that; I'm just fairly modest about what I hope to accomplish.
Q. What topics will you cover?
A. Oh, I guess politics, law, religion, crime, whatever seems interesting.
Q. You're an expert in all those fields?
A. Absolutely not. I said they were interesting, not that I'm an expert.
Q. How long do you expect to keep this up?
A. It's said that a typical blog is abandoned after about 2 or 3 months. We'll see.
Q. Why have you not given your real name?
A. In my day job, I work for a large federal agency – I'm in the career civil service – and my name sometimes appears on public documents. It probably should be clear without keeping my name secret that my views here are my personal views, not the views of my employer, and that they're not my views in my professional capacity. But by using a nickname without disclosing my real name, I hope to make that separation much clearer.
Q. Which "large federal agency" do you work for?
A. If I told you, I'd –
Q. Stop! That's another very old joke.
A. I realize that. Sorry.
Q. You know, it's not too hard for people to figure out who you really are.
A. I know. But I have three things to say to anyone who tries that:

  1. Please don't.
  2. If you succeed, please don't tell me.
  3. And please don't tell anyone else.

As I said, I'm anonymous for a reason, and I'm not trying to fool anyone. Please respect that.
Q. Why have you chosen not to allow comments?
A. Comments can be a lot of fun, but there are two obvious problems. One, even at many blogs that are reasonably successful, most posts have no comments. It makes me sad to read an interesting, thoughtful, clever blog and see post after post with zero comments. Two, at blogs where people do comment, it's really necessary for the blogger to keep an eye on the comments so they stay civil. I don't have the time to do that. If you have comments, please send me an email. I'd be delighted to receive it.

UPDATE (10/14): On a lark, I've decided to enable comments provisionally on the blog. I'll see how it works for a while.

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Jew in America

The United States has been the most hospitable country for Jews in the entire two-thousand-year history of the Jewish diaspora. Any suggestion to the contrary is sheer lunacy.

The Torah says we are created "b'tselem elokim" – in the image of God. Invoking a strikingly parallel notion, the Declaration of Independence announces that all men are endowed by their Creator with "unalienable rights." And the U.S. Constitution applies that principle. Under the Constitution, Jews are born with the same unalienable rights that belong to every citizen of any faith, of any race, color, or creed. What's more, religious tests for office are prohibited; there is no official religion; and the free exercise of religion is protected.

In 1790, replying to a letter from the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, George Washington wrote:

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

We have now reached the 350th anniversary of the arrival of the first Jews in New Amsterdam from Brazil. In an essay entitled "The Citizen Stranger" on the op-ed page of the New York Times (Sept. 12, 2004), Jonathan Rosen observed that it is a fiction that we can celebrate 350 years of Jewish American life; in fact, "there has been Jewish American life for only 228 years, because that's how long there's been an America." Although this might sound like a smart-aleck riposte that an 11-year-old would offer at the dinner table, Rosen was correct in an important way. We should in fact measure from 1776, because the creation of this country was not just one of the most important events in the history of mankind. It was incidentally one of the most important events in Jewish history as well.

While I don't share Rosen's ambivalence about Jews in America, he is surely correct that the date of Jewish arrival

doesn't really matter anyway because of the nature of America, which in this regard has something uncannily in common with Judaism, a religion that maintains that all Jews stood at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah; even if they are converts, their souls are retroactively invested with a kind of primary authenticity. America does the same for its citizens, whenever they become citizens. Everyone, naturalized or born here, is the inheritor not only of the rights and freedoms of the place, but its responsibilities too – whether or not one's ancestors were here to perpetrate past injustices or fight for greater equality. In this sense America itself is like Mount Sinai, which is hardly surprising, given the biblical inspiration of its founders.

* * * * *

I am not trying to say that it has been an unwavering straight line from the Declaration, through the Constitution and Washington's letter, to the present. I am not denying the existence of Leo Frank, Father Coughlan, or Crown Heights. I am not suggesting that there has never been anti-semitism here or that all anti-semitism has departed America forever. I am simply pointing out an incontrovertible truth that under our law, under our fundamental law, under the natural law principles of the Declaration, every Jew born or naturalized in America is 100% pure American. As George Washington wrote, all citizens – including Jews – "possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship."

Full citizenship was a unique status in Jewish history. A few months ago, Ed Koch was interviewed in Hadassah magazine (March 2004) and compared the status of Jews in America to that of Jews in the Spain during the Golden Age: "If you were to compare this experience to anything, you'd have to go back to the Golden Age in Spain, where Jews were treated respectfully and equally and were permitted to rise to heights unknown in the rest of the world. That is what we have today in the United States." I am quite certain that Mayor Koch meant this as a tribute to America, but I am even more certain that he got it fundamentally wrong. In medieval Spain under Muslim rule, the Jews were treated very well, but that assessment is subject to the old joke – "compared to whom?" Compared to the treatment of the Jews during most of the diaspora, the Golden Age of Spain was indeed an idyllic period. While Jews were permitted to participate in society – Maimonides is a perfect example – Jews were dhimmis under Muslim law. They were respected as "people of the Book," but they were nonetheless second-class subjects. Nothing of the sort has existed in the history of the United States.

This has always been a Christian country in nearly every respect short of establishment. Jews today are about two percent of the population, while Christians are about eighty percent – higher if those who don't identify with a religion are excluded. But as George Washington recognized, the Jews are not merely "tolerat[ed]" by this Christian country; they have been full citizens from the start.

* * * * *

My grandmother was born in a small town in the Ukraine in 1895 and immigrated to the United States as a teenager. One of the stories she told about her childhood in the Ukraine – and told at great length – had to do with her yearning for an education. In her community, so the story went, the school was empty. The local peasants wanted their children to work on the farm, and the Jews were prohibited from attending school. One year, a new teacher came to her town. According to my grandmother, he didn't know much about how the school worked, but he quickly discovered that he had virtually no students in his classroom. One day, he stopped in at my great-grandfather's store and got to talking with the local Jews. The Jews hired him to teach their children in secret. This arrangement lasted until a peasant passed by the store, noticed what was going on, and alerted the authorities. My great-grandfather and others were fined a large amount. ("For what?" my grandmother always asked. "For the crime of wanting to teach their children about their country?") The history of our family is somewhat unclear, but there seems to be some truth to the story that my great-grandfather left the Ukraine and came here because he was unable to pay the fine assessed by the authorities.

Whenever my grandmother told this story, she always let us know that when she came to the United States, she loved this country. The reason she always gave us was that while Jews in her part of the Ukraine were prohibited from attending school, this country gave her children a free education.

The epilogue to my grandmother's story is that my grandmother accompanied my aunt and uncle to Washington for a year when she was in her eighties. During that year, my sister made a phone call to my grandmother and in the course of the conversation asked her how the weather was. Now, in response to the question about the weather, my grandmother launched into the familiar tale about her childhood in the Ukraine when she wasn't allowed to attend school. My sister had heard it many times, of course, and all she could think of was that my grandmother had completely lost her marbles. What did that story have to do with the weather? My grandmother's story went on and on and on, as usual. Eventually, after quite some time, my grandmother reached the point about getting a free education for her children in America, which was usually the end of the story. This time, she said to my sister, "And I always said that if I ever got to Washington, I would kiss the ground that the Capitol is on. But I haven't been feeling very well, and I haven't gotten out, so I don't know what the weather is."

* * * * *

When observant Jews pray in the morning, they recite a series of 15 blessings. Three of those blessings are existential; they thank God for having made us who we are and who we are not. An Orthodox Jew blesses God for having not made him a gentile. He blesses Him for having not made him a slave. An Orthodox man blesses Him for having not made him a woman, and an Orthodox woman blesses Him for having made her according to His will. Conservative Judaism has modified these blessings so that they focus on the positive. A Conservative Jew blesses God for having made him an Israelite (a Jew). He blesses God for having made him a free person. And the third blessing is no longer bifurcated. A Conservative Jew (man or woman) blesses God for having made him in His image (sheasani b'tzalmo).

In Judaism, prayer is formalized in both time and substance. Jews are required to pray three times a day, and within each branch and tradition of Judaism, the liturgy is wholly standardized. It is quite unusual for Jews to choose one from Column A and one from Column B.

But the standardized liturgy may be supplemented by individuals who wish to speak personally to God, and it really is long past time for American Jews to reflect on their own God-given good fortune in being Americans. Yes, it's true that in many Jewish congregations, we recite a prayer for our government on the sabbath. But some common versions of the prayer are quite old-fashioned and might just as well have been wishing God's blessing on a medieval king or sultan. These versions of the prayer don't reflect the relationship between a Jewish citizen in America and the government, which George Washington noted over 200 years ago. They almost sound as if we are subjects in a very tenuous position in the kingdom and are beseeching the ruler to be nice to us, when we really should be praying as citizens for the nation's leaders to do what is right on behalf of this country.

I suggest that American Jews reflect on their fortune and thank God for having given wisdom to our Founders who established this nation; thank God for having blessed this nation with judgment, strength, and a willingness to repent for our sins; and, finally, thank God for having given our parents, grandparents, or more distant ancestors the courage, like Abraham, our forefather, to leave their homelands and start a new life in America. In short, I think it is time for American Jews to say:

"Thank you, God, for having made me an American."

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