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September 29, 2005

Oy vey!

The Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, has prevailed upon the state's Department of Transportation to put a sign on the Williamsburg Bridge in the direction in which traffic leaves Brooklyn for Manhattan. (Hat tip: Bob G.)

The sign reads "Leaving Brooklyn/Oy Vey!"

I can think of a much better sign.

Feel free to submit your own slogans.

UPDATE: Linked to Outside the Beltway's Beltway Traffic Jam.

UPDATE: I've had quite a few visits from people who want to know what "oy vey" means. Try this explanation.

Click here to read more . . .

Who's your Supreme Court nominee?

Via Baseball Crank, I took a quiz. Here's my result:

U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, appointed by
Reagan, born 1949
A Texan! Nearly nominated to Souter's seat by
G.H.W. Bush. You're hoping the son follows
through! Jones is considered radioactive by
Democrats, which you (and the administration)
might consider a plus!

New World Man presents: My favorite candidate for the Supreme Court
brought to you by Quizilla

Actually, this is pretty accurate for me. My choices are Miguel Estrada, Edith Jones, and Mike Luttig, in that order.

I fiddled with the answers to the questions on the quiz and got different and somewhat peculiar results. Gideon's Blog thinks the poll sucks major eggs, and it's hard to disagree, though I can't imagine anyone takes this whole thing terribly seriously.

Click here to read more . . .

Throwing the book at him

A Spanish judge threw the book, or at least the Spanish Constitution, at an imam who wrote a book explaining how to beat your wife without leaving telltale signs, by sentencing the imam to study the Spanish Constitution. The course is supposed to last for six months. To study 3 short statements? Sounds more like six minutes to me.

According to La Vanguardia newspaper, he will have to study articles 10, 14 and 15 of the constitution. The first two address "the dignity of a person and inviolable rights" and states "all Spaniards are equal before the law."

The third one states "the moral and physical integrity of a person in no case can be submitted to torture nor inhuman or degrading punishments or treatment."

All right! That'll teach him! "Ted Bundy, I sentence you to study the laws against rape, aggravated assault, and murder. And while you're at it, check out the UN's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women."

I'll bet that the Spanish judge would get more than half the Democrats in the Senate to support him.

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September 28, 2005

Cindy and John: He said, she said

Previous entries (in order):

Cindy Sheehan raises her demands

Condi steps in

Condi explains herself

Cindy Sheehan bombs on Broadway

Cindy Sheehan seeks the unattainable

Click here to read more . . .

Cindy Sheehan seeks the unattainable

Discovered by the clean-up crew at the Ellipse.

Previous entries (in order):

Cindy Sheehan raises her demands

Condi steps in

Condi explains herself

Cindy Sheehan bombs on Broadway

UPDATE: Cindy and John: He said, she said

Click here to read more . . .

September 27, 2005


Who but the Washington Post could have a lengthy report in the health section about vasectomies, including three jokes, and make it boring? Except for the fact that I felt sorry for the reporter, who had to talk about it in public.

The one thing I learned from the article is this:

"You can train a monkey to do a vasectomy," said [Arnold] Belker [a urologist]. "It's pretty straightforward. It's minor surgery -- except from the patient's view."
Monkeys! Ouch!

Click here to read more . . .

President Cleavage, Part 2

Back in May, prompted by a Drudge promo for a new TV drama about Geena Davis, the first woman president, and by a photo of the actress displaying what is commonly known as cleavage, I posed what I think is an important constitutional question: Is a female president constitutionally permitted to show cleavage? I noted that had checked Article II of the Constitution and that it was silent on the issue.

The program, "Commander in Chief," which starts tonight, is based on the premise that the President dies, leaving Geena Davis, the Vice President to take over. She, being an independent, and not an evil Republican like the deceased President, is encouraged by the President's advisors to step aside in favor of the next-in-line Speaker of the House, also an evil Republican. The Speaker, though, is more than evil; he is terminally stupid and offends Geena by acting like the male troglodyte pig that he is. Geena, our heroine, is so incensed at this treatment that, damn it, she decides to do what the 25th Amendment already provides: succeed to the presidency and kick the living crap out of the Republicans.

Interestingly enough, given its neutral political outlook, the show has attracted the attention of even the Gray Lady herself, which illustrates its article on the show with a photo of the actress displaying what is commonly known as a sour puss but otherwise nothing in the cleavage category, at least so far as the eye can tell.

But since you never can trust the New York Times, I took the legal question to the White House Counsel's office. I was quickly referred to Attorney General Gonzales's office, which referred me like a hot potato to the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. There, I received the following constitutional opinion, to wit: "Huh?" After asserting my rights as a citizen, I received the following amended opinion: "It's permissible under Article II, so long as it does not constitute torture under international law." But how will I know? "It's a case-by-case analysis." Geena Davis? "Judge for yourself." I get it, I'll know it when I see it.

Now we're talking.

But before I could hang up the phone, my contact said, "You do know, don't you, that this matter could be directly affected by a case to be decided by the Supreme Court?" I said, "You don't mean . . . " My source: "Yes."

Today's ABC News reports: "US top court to hear Anna Nicole Smith's appeal." According to the petition for a writ of certiorari, Anna Nicole Smith claims that she is in line to succeed to the presidency if the 280 million or so Americans ahead of her in the line of succession should suddenly croak, and she wants the Supreme Court to reverse a decision of the Fourth Circuit that, if she became president, she could not constitutionally show cleavage like this:

There's still time to ask John Roberts to opine. In fact, there's still time to nominate Anna Nicole Smith herself. I'm sure she'd kick the living crap out of those evil Republicans on the court, just the way she did to her deceased husband.

UPDATE: Check out Outside the Beltway's Beltway Traffic Jam.

Click here to read more . . .

If that's what floats your boat . . .

Singapore: Bull Semen Improved China Ties

Singapore Says Relations Boosted With Chinese Province After Bull Semen Gift

Headline, ABC News (AP)
Sept. 27, 2005

Click here to read more . . .

September 26, 2005

Don Adams, R.I.P.

Don Adams, best known as Maxwell Smart, Control's Secret Agent 86, who played opposite Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, died yesterday of a lung infection at the age of 82. I really can't believe he was 82. (Would you believe 81-3/4?)

Kaos killer: Look, I'm a sportsman. I'll let you choose the way you want to die.
Max: All right, how about old age?

A fairly lengthy AP obit is here and the tribute of a fan site ( is here. Plus obits in the NY Times, Washington Post, and LA Times.

Get Smart was always my favorite TV show. During a 1991 Nick at Nite marathon, I managed to record all 138 episodes. Even now, my 14-year-old son watches them and argues with me about which ones are good and which are only fair. We also argue with the ratings in Joey Green's Official Get Smart Handbook.

Max: We've go less than two hours before that missile center is going to blow up, and not only do we not know how it's going to be done, we don't even know who's going to do it.
99: We know when.
Max: Yes, well, knowing when isn't going to tell us who or how. I'd gladly trade my when for a who and a how.
99: Why?
Max: Why? Good question, 99. Well, you see, if we know who then we can watch how who did it and then that wil give us our who, our how, and our when.
99: That makes sense.
Max: I know it, 99. That's what worries me.

Don Adams wasn't even going to be cast as Max. The original plan was to use Tom Poston. In retrospect, it's impossible to imagine anyone else as Max. It's also impossible to imagine Don Adams as anyone but Max, and the AP obit quotes Don Adams as saying that the show made him a lot of money but basically ruined his career, because he was typecast.

Chief: Just don't get caught, Max. Capture means certain death.
Max: Suicide mission, eh, Chief? Well, you picked the right man.
Chief: I hope so.
Max: You hope what? That you picked the right man? Or that it's a suicide mission.

I had a friend in high school who was of Armenian descent, and he used to make me act out the scene in one episode, with a dying Inspector Sahokian of the Armenian Branch of International Control. The only place you can find the dialogue on the internet is on Pillage Idiot (scroll down).

Don Adams has died, but Maxwell Smart lives on.

Click here to read more . . .


Fortunately, with the anti-war protests on Saturday, I wasn't able to go downtown to witness them personally.

But, via LGF, I've come across a wonderful archive of photos on Chris Christner's blog.

Byron York has an account in National Review Online.

And across the country in San Diego, Lt. Smash documents the fun, including the leftist Jew who almost caused a riot by complaining about all the anti-Israel rhetoric.

Click here to read more . . .

Smuggling in Gaza

Soccer Dad notes that two things are now being smuggled into Gaza from Egypt: weapons (you mean they still have to be smuggled?) -- and brides.

In that part of the world, of course, carrying a concealed bride is very common. You've heard the dialogue before: "Drop that bride-in-a-burqa, Mahmoud, and no one will get hurt." (Except perhaps the bride.)

I suppose this also proves the ancient dictum that if smuggling brides is outlawed, only outlaws will have brides.

Apparently, the State Department has asked Abbas to get tough by demanding that Hamas turn over all its brides. Or at least stop displaying them publicly. But don't count on it. He has too much at stake in the bride trafficking.

Click here to read more . . .

September 25, 2005

"Empowering" the younger generation for peace?

I just heard this chick in a 45-second snippet on our local news radio station. She was talking about how her visit to the Middle East showed her that we can have peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians if we just "empower" the younger generation to seek peace.

The younger generation? Yeah, that's it!

Thanks to LGF, some photos of how the younger generation of Palestinians are being empowered are here, here, here, and here.

By the way, you just knew this woman had to be Jewish. My father always said when I was growing up that you had to be smart to be stupid. When it comes to the Middle East, you may have to be Jewish.

Click here to read more . . .

Meanwhile, in Gaza

Here is the Jeopardy answer that leads to the correct question "Who cares?"

Under an informal agreement between Mr. Abbas and the militants, a ban on displaying weapons was to take effect later yesterday. It was not clear whether Hamas would honor the deal after the Israeli strikes.
That was from an AP article in the Washington Times. With Hamas showing what a Palestinian state will look like by engaging in rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza, it's hard to get worked up over whether Hamas will honor the deal with Abbas not to display weapons. That's like telling the Crips and the Bloods that they can shoot all they want if they simply conceal their firearms.

Meanwhile the BBC moans about the "cycle of violence." (At least the Washington Times article was headlined "Israelis hit back at Hamas in Gaza.") The BBC has a helpful chronology of the cycle of violence, which -- this will surprise you from the BBC -- starts with an Israeli attack: "Israeli troops shoot dead three Islamic Jihad militants in Tulkarm, West Bank, in raids on those suspected of involvement in suicide attacks earlier this year." As a friend of mine says, "It all started when he hit me back."

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Party dog

We have a yellow labrador retriever who weighs about 95-100 pounds. She isn't fat, just huge. She's a member of the Women's Yellow Lab Olympic Basketball Team. (We can't let her get fat, because she has congenital knee problems.)

A few days ago, she had a cyst removed from her right front paw. That evening, she managed to get upstairs, but she couldn't get down, because her paw hurt. For those of you who are not dog owners, "house-trained" doesn't mean that the dog knows how to use the plumbing in the house. So being stuck on the second floor was potentially a large problem. I rushed upstairs to help her down by lifting her front end and reducing the weight she had to put on her foot. The operation was a success, but the patient died. At least, I did. I got a charley horse in my back, which has improved but isn't yet 100%.

Last night, the dog chewed off her bandage, so my wife had to take her to the emergency vet clinic. They fixed the bandage and fitted her (the dog, not my wife) with a "bonnet" that keeps her (again, the dog, not my wife) from chewing the bandage.

The bonnet has one drawback: it greatly limits peripheral vision. So the dog couldn't figure out how to jump back into our car. She kept bumping her bonnet into the bumper of the car. (I guess that's why it's called a bumper.)

And going up and coming down the stairs is also a problem.

The bandage and the bonnet, we hope, are coming off on Wednesday.

UPDATE: Eating meals turns out to be a little tricky. But if you get the seals working around the bonnet, you can really have some suction going.

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September 24, 2005

Tin ear

You would think with Ken Mehlman, a Jewish guy, running the Republican National Committee, it might occur to them to schedule a fundraiser sometime other than on Rosh Hashanah. But you would be wrong.

I made a respectable contribution to the President's re-election campaign a year ago (my first contribution to a presidential campaign since I gave a dollar to Humphrey in 1968). Of course, I've been snowed under with appeals for money ever since. I don't have any plans to give more money, not because I'm unusually disgusted with the Republicans (just usually disgusted) but because last year was a unique situation for the good of the country. Still, this invitation really irritates me.

OK, sure, dinner's at 6:00 p.m., when a lot of folks have already forgotten they went to shul in the morning, and the reception's at 7:30, a few seconds after the yom tov is over. But that wouldn't even have been an issue had they chosen a different date.

I wasn't going to post the invitation at all, because I didn't want to involve the poor shnook who's hosting it at his house, but I did a quick Google search and discovered that Shelly Kamins is a member of the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition. I was going to ask where the RJC was during the planning of this event, but now I know.

Click here to read more . . .

September 23, 2005

What, no cocaine?

"Routine Colombian traffic stop nets African lion"

Yahoo News, Sept. 22, 2005

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Tech dummies

Here's news: Your co-workers are dumb as a post when it comes to computers. You never would have figured that out, would you?

Most office workers find computer jargon as difficult to understand as a foreign language, a survey suggests.

Three quarters of workers waste more than an hour a week deciphering what a technical term means, the poll found.

"RTFM? What do you mean when you say 'read'?" And here's the best:
More than one in four people are not sure what a firewall does, tempting them to turn it off.

Turning off firewall - software to protect computers against hackers - is the worst course of action to take, according to IT experts.
This is why tech people have a term for a large class of computer problems: "user error."


Click here to read more . . .

September 22, 2005

Fulla it

If you think that Arab culture has invented nothing since the Dark Ages, when Arabs invented zero (the numeral) -- some say it actually was the Hindus -- then this will probably confirm you in your views: There is now a Muslim equivalent of Barbie, a doll named Fulla, which apparently is all the rage in the Mideast, at least all the rage that isn't being directed at the United States and Israel.

Here's one troubling feature of the doll: "Fulla roughly shares Barbie's size and proportions, but steps out of her shiny pink box wearing a black abaya and matching head scarf." If she shares Barbie's proportions, better keep her out of the hands of the Islamists, or she might be beheaded.

This is more than an immature joke. The article reports:

Not everyone sees Fulla as such a positive influence. Maan Abdul Salam, a Syrian women's rights advocate, said Fulla was emblematic of a trend toward Islamic conservatism sweeping the Middle East. Though statistics are hard to come by, he said, the percentage of young Arab women who wear the hijab is far higher now than it was a decade ago, and though many girls are wearing it by choice, others are being pressured to do so.

"If this doll had come out 10 years ago, I don't think it would have been very popular," he said. "Fulla is part of this great cultural shift."

"Syria used to be a very secular country," he added, "but when people don't have anything to believe in anymore, they turn toward religion."
But don't worry. Maybe Fulla can't really replace Barbie after all.
But Jyza Sybai, a lanky, tomboyish Saudi 10-year-old, visiting Syria with her family for a short vacation, disagreed. "All my friends have Fulla now, but I still like Barbie the best," Jyza said. "She has blond hair and cool clothes. Every single girl in Saudi looks like Fulla, with the dark hair and the black scarf.

"What's so special about that?"
Call me when Fulla makes peace with the Jewish dolls next door.

Click here to read more . . .

Blogrolling reciprocity

You might think it's totally bizarre for a small-time blogger like me to offer blogroll reciprocity, but it's not. Given my relatively limited traffic, I'm very much aware of my visitors, and I appreciate all of them, even if I don't always recognize some of them as bloggers.

So here's the offer: If you're a regular reader (as you define it yourself) and a blogger, and you have me on your blogroll but you're not on mine, please email me your URL with a request to add you to my blogroll. Assuming your blog is generally SFW, I will be happy to add it.

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Hegel and other judicial activists

Paul Mirengoff and Scott Johnson, two-thirds of the Power Line team, have written a fascinating article in the Weekly Standard trying to make the case that the concept of a "living Constitution" that liberals rely on derives from Hegel, through Woodrow Wilson. It's a fascinating, well written piece.

Still, while I've never read Hegel, and I'm familiar with little more than the fact that "David Hume/Could outconsume/Schopenhauer and Hegel," I think Mirengoff and Johnson's theory suffers from the usual problems of grand theories: the facts simply can't keep up with the theory. I have two reservations, which I'll summarize here.

First, there was a time when conservatives on the Supreme Court were also invoking the living Constitution, even if they didn't call it that and even if they undoubtedly detested Hegel. The whole Lochner line of cases, in which "substantive due process" was used to invalidate liberal state legislation, principally in the area of labor relations and contract, is based on the notion of a living Constitution. When you invoke a concept that is basically a contradiction in terms, you are not applying the Constitution as written. (I know I'm offending a whole bunch of libertarians with this paragraph. Just say to yourself, "That fool doesn't know what he's talking about." It'll make you feel better, and it's probably true.)

Second, I would invoke Occam's Razor. You don't have to come up with a complicated theory. You can explain the whole problem by observing that the federal judiciary is drawn largely from the legal elites. (Just take a look at the states in which there's "merit" selection. The candidates are judged by people just like themselves, all in the legal establishment.) Congressmen come from all walks of life. God knows the President can be some dumb yokel from Texas, right? But the legal elite in the judiciary know better than all of them. They know better than you. And, most important, they know better than some dead white guys who wrote the Constitution more than 200 years ago.

So I'm not really rejecting the Hegel-to-Wilson-to-Breyer double play. I'm just not sure it's complete, and I'm not sure it's not just too complicated.

UPDATE (9/23): Ruth Bader Ginsburg proves my point, taking the opportunity to advise the President to appoint a woman, but noting that "any woman will not do."

There are "some women who might be appointed who would not advance human rights or women's rights," Ginsburg told those gathered at the New York City Bar Association.
And: "I have a list of highly qualified women, but the president has not consulted me," she added during a brief interview Wednesday night.

As Ed Whelan explains at Bench Memos:
Beyond the inappropriateness of Ginsburg’s comments is — not to put too fine a point on it — their arrogant stupidity. Ginsburg obviously thinks that a justice has a roving authority to “advance human rights or women’s rights,” irrespective what the Constitution and other federal laws actually mean. It is equally obvious that she sees her own ideological agenda — which apparently includes same-sex marriage, taxpayer-funded abortion on demand, prostitution, bigamy, and co-ed prisons — as the proper way to advance those rights.
Hegel? I don't think so. She just knows better than you, way better.

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The President speaks to the RJC

Yesterday, President Bush spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition at its celebration of its 20th anniversary. The speech is here. I don't believe in trying to discern major policy pronouncements from throw-away lines, but I was still pleased with this: "As we saw in the recent desecration of the synagogues in Gaza, the ancient hatred of anti-Semitism still burns in the hearts of men."

Click here to read more . . .

Never shake hands with a Braves fan

"As if you needed a reason, never shake hands with [a] Braves fan…" is how notes this article on The article, by the Associated Press, recounts a survey in which testers surreptitiously counted the numbers of men and women in public restrooms who washed up after using the loo.

• The worst hygiene was at Atlanta's Turner Field baseball stadium, where 37 percent of men left the bathroom without washing, and 16 percent of the women did.
So, now that we've had our laugh at the expense of the dregs of Turner Field (LAR-RY! LAR-RY! LAR-RY!), let's turn our attention to the dregs who performed this study.
Back in 1996, the society first studied how often people follow mom's advice to always wash up after using the toilet. Researchers lingered in public restrooms, putting on makeup or combing their hair, while surreptitiously counting. They concluded about one-third of people did not wash.
Hanging out in public restrooms? That is flat-out degenerate. I don't even want to think about it.

I'm going to wash my hands.

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September 21, 2005

Are Jews, like, doomed?

Church was concerned because his former girlfriend was Jewish. He turned to Moeller, "I said, like, Jewish people, they don't believe in Jesus. Does that mean they're doomed? Jon nodded, like, that's what it meant. My ex-girlfriend! I was like, man, if they only knew. Other religions don't know any better. It's up to us to spread the word."

In Baseball Now, More Teams Pray Before They Play
Washington Post, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2005

I'm beginning to think that in fact Jews are, like, doomed. But not for the reason Ryan Church, outfielder for the Washington Nationals, believes.

Church was in church (let's get the stupid wordplay out of the way early) or, really, in baseball chapel, and he was simply asking the volunteer chaplain a doctrinal question. According to the Post article, baseball teams are now providing chaplains for their players. But not everyone attends.
Nationals manager Frank Robinson would not comment. "Frank doesn't do religion," said team spokesman John Dever. When team members gathered to pray, Robinson stayed in his office, watching ESPN, with hitting coach Tom McCraw. McCraw cracked the door and said: "I don't go to chapel. I'm a sinner."

Some of the other players, such as third baseman Vinnie Castilla, said they prefer to pray at home or in church. Assistant General Manager Tony Siegle doesn't attend chapel either: "I'm Jewish."

Those who do attend seem to find spiritual sustenance. ("It's about guys needing Christ," [Jon] Moeller [the chaplain] said. "It could be the security guard, or it could be Nick Johnson. RFK becomes a church on Sundays.") And the players and chaplains do have to deal with the obvious theological issues. ("I get a ton of people saying, 'Hey, Wayne, you gotta pray harder for the Brewers,'" said Wayne Beilgard, chapel leader for the Milwaukee Brewers. "I tell them, 'God doesn't choose sides in baseball. God is not a Yankees fan.'")

So what could be wrong, right? What could be wrong, according to Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Sholom Talmud Torah, an Orthodox congregation in Washington that calls itself the National Synagogue, is that it appeared to him that "the locker room of the Nationals is being used to preach hatred." Hatred, he said. The Nationals (the team, not the shul) have now suspended the volunteer chaplain, and Ryan Church has issued an abject apology, as the Washington Post reports today.

Many Christians believe as part of their religious doctrine that acceptance of Jesus is necessary for salvation. Pardon me if I disagree with them. I'm a very committed Jew; I don't believe that Jesus is the Messiah; and I have no expection of ending up in Hell, if such a place should exist. Yet, and this is very important, it's totally out of line to tell these Christians that their views are based on hatred. They are not. They are based on faith and love.

Jews in America need not be so fearful of believing Christians. We are not in medieval or pre-modern Europe, where "the Jews killed Jesus" was incitement to murder. We are in the United States, where most Christians who believe we are "doomed" will figure it's just our dumb choice, and the absolute worst that will happen is that some of them will try to convert us. So what? The correct answer of an American Jew to a proposal to convert is a polite but firm "No, thank you."

It is our own obligation as Jews to provide spiritual sustenance for others of us, and any Jew's conversion from Judaism represents our own failure, not some kind of evil behavior on the part of the Christians. We are blessed with freedom in this country, and every Jew has a choice to remain a Jew or not. Our strategy for preventing conversion, loss of affiliation, and intermarriage should be to support Jewish education and outreach, organizations like the National Jewish Outreach Program, and others groups that offer sustenance to Jews and help them choose to remain Jewish.

What makes the charge of "hatred" levied by Rabbi Herzfeld even worse is that the Christian view that acceptance of Jesus is necessary for salvation is not based on hatred of Jews at all. It's based on a desire to show Jews and other non-believers in Jesus what Christians see as the truth. It's based on faith -- and love -- even if, in our opinion, it is profoundly mistaken. When Ryan Church said, "I was like, man, if they only knew. Other religions don't know any better. It's up to us to spread the word," he was trying to say that he wanted to help others. And he's not coming after us with a sword, or even a baseball bat. (Nor, might I add, is his rhetoric even remotely similar to the rhetoric of another large religion, of which a non-trivial number of adherents actually is trying to kill us.)

It's embarrassing to me, and I think it should be embarrassing to Jews generally, that Ryan Church was forced to apologize. So let me say this to him:

I apologize to you for the fact that a prominent Jew castigated you for believing in your faith. I don't agree with your religious doctrine, but I'm happy you believe in it. I think Jews are better off in this country when Christians believe in their religion than when everyone is secular; secularism is a greater threat to Jewish continuity than religious pluralism. Irving Kristol once wrote that the danger facing American Jews today is not that Christians want to persecute them, but that Christians want to marry their children. So I'm glad your Jewish girlfriend is no longer your girlfriend, because I hope that she, like all Jews, can find a Jewish soulmate to marry. Nothing against you; I hope you find a wonderful Christian woman to take as a wife. Anyway, I think you're painfully aware by now that we Jews are very sensitive about being told we are doomed, even though that's what you believe. But if we are doomed, it's not for the reason you say; it's because we're not doing enough to keep Jews Jewish. Please keep believing what you believe in. We'll just have to agree to disagree on our faith. Oh, and by the way, the answer is "No, thank you."

Click here to read more . . .

September 20, 2005

Cindy Sheehan bombs on Broadway

Source. Hat tip: Jeff Goldstein

More Cindy here, here, and here.

UPDATES here and here.

Click here to read more . . .

Danes in the forefront

Via the Volokh Conspiracy: The Danes are branching out in new ways, with a government program providing "sex workers" to disabled people, according to the National Post.

Danish activists for the disabled are staunchly defending a government campaign that pays sex workers to provide sex once a month for disabled people.

Opposition parties call the program, officially known as "Sex, irrespective of disability," immoral.

"We spend a large proportion of our taxes rescuing women from prostitution. But at the same time we officially encourage carers to help contact with prostitutes," said Social-Democrat spokesperson Kristen Brosboel.

Responded Stig Langvad of the country's Disabled Association: "The disabled must have the same possibilities as other people. Politicians can debate whether prostitution should be allowed in general, instead of preventing only the disabled from having access to it."
Sure, go ahead and laugh. Go ahead and make cheap jokes about whether baldness or astigmatism or anything else you "suffer" from is a disability. I'm worried about the legal ramifications. Who's liable if the disabled person contracts an STD? Are disabled women entitled to the same "help" as men? How about gay disabled people? And who's liable if the "sex worker" injures herself (or himself) in the line of duty? And which dimwit senator forgot to ask John Roberts about this stuff?

But, more seriously, if that's possible, is John Hinckley, Jr., a guy who's spent more than 20 years in a mental institution, disabled, because he's lookin' for a chick.

Click here to read more . . .

Bill and Monica in China

Clinton the condom? Bill and Monica will lend their names to a new brand of condoms produced in China. "The Guangzhou Haokian Bio-science company has registered their names as trademarks for the contraceptives. They will be given the Chinese spellings of their names - Kelitun and Laiwensiji." (via The Corner)

Click here to read more . . .

Mets anniversary

Thirty-two years ago today, as a freshman at a college roughly 60 miles from my home town in the New York suburbs, I strained to listen to a weak radio signal broadcasting the Mets' game against the Pirates. The Mets, in last place in the NL East at the end of August 1973, had taken advantage of poor division competition and moved steadily ahead, eventually winning the division title (with an embarrassing record of 82-79), the playoffs with Cincinnati, and 3 of the first 5 games of the World Series against Oakland, only to lose the final two games to a much better team.

But, man, was it exciting! Anyway, the Mets-Pirates game featured an unbelievable play off the wall by Cleon Jones, with a relay throw bagging the runner at the plate in extra innings. There's a wonderful reminiscence of this moment at the Mets Walkoffs blog. I still get the chills. (via

Click here to read more . . .

September 19, 2005

Roberts confirmation update

Previous series, Anatomy of a Nomination, may be found here.

Stay tuned to see how it all turns out.

Click here to read more . . .

Washington Post vs. Yahoo

Give 'em credit where credit is due. Much as I complain about the Washington Post (and rarely even read its editorials), yesterday's editorial on Yahoo's role in the criminal conviction of a Chinese journalist is a strong one. Good job!

Click here to read more . . .

September 18, 2005

Donn Clendenon, R.I.P.

Donn Clendenon, the Mets' first baseman in their miracle season in 1969, has died of leukemia at the age of 70. The New York Times obit is here.

The obit mentions his most memorable game, Game 5 of the 1969 World Series, against the Orioles:

One of the strangest moments came at Shea Stadium in the sixth inning of Game 5 in the World Series, with the Orioles ahead by 3-0.

Cleon Jones, leading off, was allowed to take first base when Mets Manager Gil Hodges proved to the home-plate umpire, Lou DiMuro, that Jones had been hit by a low curveball. Hodges did it by showing how the pitch delivered by Dave McNally was smudged with polish from Jones's shoe.

Clendenon, the Mets' first baseman and the next hitter, hit a home run off the auxiliary scoreboard of the left-field loge seats to make it 3-2. The Mets tied it in the seventh inning on a homer by Al Weis, a little-noticed infielder, and scored two in the ninth [actually, the eighth] for a 5-3 victory and the World Series championship.
I remember. Because I was there. My mother managed to snag two upper deck seats, right behind home plate, last row, and I skipped ninth grade with a friend to attend. Definitely the highlight of my life as a Mets fan.

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Useful medical information

I had a birthday over the summer, and my wife gave me a present this weekend. One part of it was a book called "Why Do Men Have Nipples?" This book has "Pillage Idiot" written all over it. At least it did after I started marking it up.

If you're a regular reader of this blog -- and not just because you feel sorry for me -- I think you'll enjoy the book. Here's an excerpt from the preface, explaining how the two authors met up. One (Billy Goldberg, M.D.) is an emergency room doctor, the other (Mark Leyner) a novelist and screenwriter. Leyner came to visit Goldberg on his rounds.

[T]he first new patient to arrive was an "EDP." This is the term that we use for an emotionally disturbed patient. He was wildly agitated and a dozen burly New York City EMS personnel and cops were barely able to keep him restrained on a stretcher. Mark and I hurried over to see him wide-eyed and ranting psychotically. He was screaming in Spanish and English, "I am Superman, motherf[-----]. Get me Jimmy Olsen. I am faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive." I stepped up to the bed with the goal of getting an IV in and calming Superman down. He screamed again, "I am Superman, goddammit, your medications won't work on me." Leyner, who had been coolly observing the scene with clinical detachment, popped some Skittles in his mouth and made a stunningly unorthodox suggestion. "Give him kryptonite." I know that as you tell as story many times it begins to get embellished, but I remember that these words and these words alone calmed the patient enough so that we could get the drip going and get him under control.
The main part of the book answers questions like these:

Does coffee stunt your growth? (Short answer is no. Your parents were wrong. "It also helps if the child falls asleep and leaves Mommy and Daddy alone to find out if there really is a G-spot (see chapter 3, page 94).")

Do cucumbers relieve puffy eyes? (It's not the cucumber but the cooling effect of the water it contains. "Hemorrhoid cream also helps, but I'd prefer puffy eyes.")

Will yogurt cure a yeast infection if you put it "inside"? (It should help if you "put it in the correct orifice -- your mouth.")

Why does poo float?

OK, you get the idea. This book is at least a Code Orange on the Pillage Idiot Advisory System.

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Weekend doings

We spent this shabbat and Sunday morning with two of our kids and several other couples in cabins at Cacapon State Park in West Virginia. This is an annual, sometimes semi-annual, event with many of the same families each year. Each family provides one meal for everyone; we do erev shabbat and shacharit the next morning; and usually we take a hike in the afternoon or a nature walk. Saturday evening after havdalah is game night.

Many years, I'm the most observant person in the group. (It's an odd feeling. On a normal shabbat, at our orthodox shul, I'm closer to being one of the least.) As a result, when we do our Cacapon weekends, I'm usually asked to pick a topic for Torah discussion. The past two visits, I've actually written something out to present. Last spring, I spoke about math and economics -- about how the laws of remission couldn't possibly work, unless people believed that God had ordained those rules, and in fact, the rabbis later made them all but irrelevant through a legal device called prosbul. This weekend, I discussed a single verse in the Torah reading, Deuteronomy 23:8, which directs the Israelites not to abhor the Edomite, because he is their brother, and not to abhor the Egyptian, because they were strangers (sojourners) in his land. Here's the d'var torah:

The parasha we read today – ki teitzei – is full of laws. In fact, according to the O.U., it contains 74 of the 613 mitzvot, 27 positive mitzvot and 47 negative mitzvot, for a total of 12% of all mitzvot.

I want to focus on one verse – Deuteronomy 23:8 – which contains Mitzvot 164 and 165, if you use the Rambam's list. Like a lot of biblical poetry, this verse sets up a parallelism. (I don't mean to say this is poetry, but it follows biblical poetic style.)

First, we are prohibited from abhoring an Edomite. Why? Because he is our kinsman. Edom is associated with Esau, who is Jacob's brother. (Later on, by the way, Edom was associated with Rome and Christianity.) So no matter what Edom has done to us, we must remember he is our brother.

Second, we are prohibited from abhoring an Egyptian. Why? Because you were a stranger – a ger – in his land. But what does that mean, really? The Ramban (Nachmanides) says that Egypt offered us sanctuary when there was famine in the land of Israel. This is consistent with the idea that ger means a sojourner, as Robert Alter translates the word.

So that's it, right? End of d'var torah? Not really. What struck me about this verse is that the parallelism seems off. Normally, when the Torah says "You were a stranger in the land of Egypt," it's recalling a time that was bad for us, not good, and exhorting us to be good. For example, Exodus 23:9 says, "You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the soul of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." Similarly, Exodus 22:20 says, "You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." And again, Leviticus 19:34 says, "The stranger living with you shall be like the home-born among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God."

If the Torah is telling us we should not abhor an Egyptian because we suffered in Egypt, we lose the parallelism of the verse. We should not abhor the Edomite because there is something good about him, and we should not abhor the Egyptian because there is something bad about him. But the word "ki" can be understood to mean not only "because" but also "although." At the beginning of "b'shalach" (Exodus 13:17) we're told that God did not lead the Israelites by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. Ki karov hu. "Ki" almost certainly means "although" rather than "because." None of this solves the problem of parallelism, but it at least deals with the meaning of the verse.

What I want to suggest here is that we can learn something from both readings of this verse. What we learn from my reading of "ki" as "although" is that we are being instructed to treat the Egyptians fairly, even though they mistreated us. The lesson can be put this way: Don't hold a grudge. Don't stoop to the level of people who have acted out of their worst instincts. Show magnanimity.

But what of the other reading? What if "ki" really means "because"? Don't abhor the Egyptian because he treated you well. Why would anyone mistreat someone who had treated him well? Because the good deed was forgotten? Sure, but how about the possibility that it's because the good deed was remembered? The Israelites were sojourners in Egypt because there was famine in the land of Canaan. When they arrived, Pharaoh offered them the land of Goshen, which we're to understand was the prime location in all of Egypt. So why would that good deed cause the Israelites to abhor the Egyptians?

Here's my thought: When people are in dire need of help, they will often feel a sense of shame about their condition, especially if they've had a good life until that time. So when they receive charity – or, nowadays, handouts from the government – they have mixed feelings. On the one hand, they feel relief; on the other, they feel shame and embarrassment. And more important than that, they feel a little resentment toward the people who helped them.

This problem was one of the reasons for the Rambam's Eight Degrees of Charity, which ranks in order of desirability the different ways in which people can help the needy. In the bottom four levels, the giver and receiver know each other. The problem this creates is that, to quote Chabad's analysis, "even when the giving is done with utmost sensitivity and happiness to help, theirs is a relationship of superiority: the giver's ego is gratified, and the recipient feels shame and inferiority because of his dependency."

This is not an absolute rule, of course. I'm thinking of the gentile families who saved Jews during the Holocaust. I suspect it was extremely rare for the saved families to resent those who risked their lives to help them. But neither is this rule purely hypothetical. The Jews were disproportionately involved in fighting for civil rights for blacks in the decades leading to the big victories of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But it wasn't long after that that black anti-semitism became a major force within the black community. There were several reasons for this, but one of them was a resentment at the Jews for having helped. Some blacks thought that the Jews were taking too much credit for the victories. Some thought the Jews had an ulterior motive for helping. And there was similarly a resentment that I think grew out of the fact that the help from outsiders, especially the Jews, confronted blacks with the reality that they had not done it alone.

So, to sum up, I think there are two completely conflicting readings of the verse, and I'm really not sure which is correct. But in a way, it really doesn't matter. We can learn something from each of them.

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September 15, 2005

Carbon fiber equipment

Serious bikers know that with carbon fiber you get durability and, because of the light weight, greater speed. (Not that I would know personally. Kicking butt on a hybrid just means you can whip the casual crowd.)

Anyway, it turns out that the same carbon fiber technology can be used on other, even more important equipment, toilet seats. Motto: "You know how fast a little fiber can make you go." (Finally, a high performance, race ready composite toilet seat.)

I kid you not. And the best part is it's only $229 for the complete lid and seat.

Click here to read more . . .

Minor league pitching

All of us have had this thought: John Roberts, former Deputy Solicitor General of the United States, who's argued, what, 39 cases before the Supreme Court, would find questions from senators on the judiciary committee to be fairly easy. Sort of obvious, right?

Dahlia Lithwick gets no credit for pointing this out, but she's a good writer and puts the point nicely:

Here's a man long accustomed to answering really hard questions from extremely smart people, suddenly faced with the almost-harder task of answering obvious questions from less-smart people. He finds himself standing in a batting cage with the pitching machine set way too slow.
Trouble is, she's too respectful of these senators, who are very definitely last in the American League. They are not just "less-smart people"; they are blithering idiots. Roberts wins in a laugher.

(via ConfirmThem)

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Hotel safety

You know how, when you get to your room in a hotel, you check where the fire exit is . . . or you do, anyway, if you're careful? I've found that hotels have really piled on the safety warnings these days. I was in Denver yesterday on business, and my hotel had not only the usual safety warnings but even this special announcement, placed near the TV for some reason.

I never realized that cell phones could activate an alarm system. Seems like a little problem in a hotel.

And I was imagining what's implicit in the final "warning" -- "We've received complaints . . . from management; it affects productivity in their offices."

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September 13, 2005

"Public relations entrapment"

"Public relations entrapment" is the phrase Mahmoud Abbas used to defend the Palestinians' torching of the synagogues left behind after the Israeli pullout from Gaza.

Do you see the beauty of it? The Israelis evacuated Gaza but left the synagogues standing, because they knew the Palestinians would burn them down and would look bad as a result. The Palestinians were entrapped into bad public relations.

It's even better than the rhetoric hawked on the front page of the New York Times this morning about Hurricane Katrina:

With a crowbar and a flat-bottom boat, the two have been helping people break into their own homes and steal back from the city's most audacious looters - the falling water and rising mold - some reminders of what was: an inherited painting, a homemade quilt, a colorful print made by a child's hand that has since grown much bigger.
We learn from this that people who looted in New Orleans -- and I'm talking about people who stole liquor or high-end electronics, not those who took water and necessities -- are no more morally culpable than water and mold, which have no volition and no ability to determine right from wrong.

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September 12, 2005

Do you know where your teenagers are?

According to this long article in Bethesda Magazine, based on interviews of 13 Montgomery County high school kids, 9 from public schools and 4 from private schools, you don't really want to know.

Your kids (and I don't mean yours; I just mean generally yours) are into alcohol big time, marijuana moderately, and sex indiscriminately. (Unless you accept Bill Clinton's definition of oral sex as not really sex.)

I suspect that there's a lot of this actually going on, but that at the same time, reports like these generally don't include kids who are serious students or religious or heavily involved in community service. There's almost certainly a lower incidence among those groups.

Click here to read more . . .

FEMA for kidz rap

I absolutely am not making up this wonderful use of your federal tax dollars. Check out this rap on the FEMA for Kidz web site (complete with music):

Disaster . . . it can happen anywhere,
But we've got a few tips, so you can be prepared
For floods, tornadoes, or even a 'quake,
You've got to be ready - so your heart don't break.

Disaster prep is your responsibility
And mitigation is important to our agency.

People helping people is what we do
And FEMA is there to help see you through
When disaster strikes, we are at our best
But we're ready all the time, 'cause disasters don't rest.

Written and performed by Scott J. Wolfson
This is probably why Michael Brown is no longer head of FEMA.

Hat tip: fee simple.

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Things that interest me (9/12)

This is old but still amusing. "One of the primary reasons cat flaps are called cat flaps is that they're flaps specifically designed for cats, as opposed to dogs, or giraffes, or humans." (Hat tip: Mrs. Attila)

Iraqi soldiers donate to Katrina relief: "I am Colonel Abbas Fadhil; Tadji Military Base Commander,” Abbas wrote. “On behalf of myself and all the People of Tadji Military Base; I would like to console the American People and Government for getting this horrible disaster. So we would like to donate 1.000.000 Iraqi Dinars to help the government and the People also I would like to console all the ASTs who helped us rebuilding our country and our Army. We appreciate the American's help and support. Thank you." (Hat tip: fee simple)

Read this: A Surgeon Caught Up in the Flooding Tells of a Week of Chaos, Peril and Heroism (N.Y. Times): "The 68-year-old surgeon's last nights at his post would be spent sleeping in a red garbage bag, of the kind normally used to hold infectious waste, on the roof of Tulane University Hospital's parking garage, his head cradled on a pile of diapers, hiding with his staff from marauders below as security guards and a lone Marine sniper stood sentry." Also read the story of the caterer who took food matters into his own hands, Moved to Help Evacuees, Caterer Grabbed a Spoon (N.Y. Times): "Before the storm, Mr. Ford, a tall, panther-slim man, was known here as a golf-course owner, caterer and role model for young African-American entrepreneurs. That résumé began to take on a new dimension the day the hurricane arrived, when the Fords returned to the coliseum with their two teenagers and Joe Fulton, superintendent of the golf course, loaded down with food from their company's freezer. They cooked all day for the swelling crowd, even as winds knocked out power throughout the city. When provisions ran short, Mr. Ford appeared on local television to plead for donations." (Hat tips: Mrs. A)

The newest Jewish immigrants, Russians, tend to become Republicans, and the liberal Jewish establishment can't deal with it. From Friday's Wall Street Journal.

My first post ever on this blog, "Jew in America," began this way: "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." So what does the historical advisor to an exhibit on 350 years of Jewish history in America think? "She wanted her exhibit to be more 'edgy,' less 'ethnocentric.' Rather than appreciating what Jews did for America, she notes, we should see how Jews 'benefited from being white' and how the exhibit would have benefited from more funding." Also from Friday's Wall Street Journal.

Michael Barone wonders whether the different tracks taken by New York after 9/11 and New Orleans after Katrina reflect the different cultures of the two cities -- Dutch (New York) vs. French (New Orleans). Hmmmmmmm.

Click here to read more . . .

September 11, 2005

Four years

This photo says it all, but I want to add a personal note. In the summer of 1980, I worked on the 100th floor of WTC2. I had an interior office, but you can see the office across the hall from mine, just barely visible on the north (right) face over the top of the fireball. Now, 21 years is a long time, and I'm not like the guy who survived because he showed up late that morning after taking his daughter to school. But I do think about it often. More people on the north and west sides of WTC2 evacuated than on the south and east sides, simply because they could see the damage to WTC1 and the people falling or jumping from that building. But I wonder what I would have done. When I'm confused, I tend to be very trusting of the authorities, and in this case, the authorities messed up big time by telling people in WTC2 to return to their offices. The smart ones didn't listen.

UPDATE: Loads of 9/11 links at Kesher Talk.

UPDATE: As a Mets fan, I have an exquisite sense of anticipation, of knowing when it's time to throw in the towel, because something horrible is about to happen to the team. I don't know how I missed the controversy about the Flight 93 memorial, but if this is built, we Americans can kiss it goodbye. The fight against Islamic terrorism is over. If no one else has used this line yet, you can quote me: "Let's roll over." (UPDATE 9/18: I beat the incomparable Mark Steyn to this line by one day.)

UPDATE: Via Michelle Malkin, here's a link to photos of people falling or jumping from the burning towers. (Click on "stop" if you don't want to hear the voice and music overlay.) Over the past four years, we've been spared these horrible images, but at the very least once a year, on the anniversary of the attacks, we have to remind ourselves what happened. I've linked to Jonah Goldberg's column "Bring Back the Horror" once before, but it's appropriate again here.

UPDATE: All I can say is "Three cheers for Patrick Ruffini!"

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September 09, 2005

Rathergate anniversary

Power Line reminds us that September 9 is the anniversary of the blogosphere's deconstruction and destruction of the attempted exposé of Sixty Minutes on Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard.

Here is the original Power Line post (with updates). You might remember the flurry of activity that day, when a bunch of bloggers and about a million readers with too much time on their hands proved that the CBS documents were forgeries.

Power Line is a great example of how things have changed as a result. Before then, Power Line was a pretty popular and very interesting blog, which I enjoyed a lot. The three bloggers were amazingly accessible. For instance, I once had an email exchange with Scott Johnson (using my real name) about one of his posts. He later updated his post with a quotation from my email. In the course of our exchange, he mentioned that he remembered hearing my father speak in St. Paul circa 1972.

Today, Power Line is still a fine blog, but to me it's lost some of its intimacy. The national attention it received as a result of Rathergate has thrust it into the top echelon, with greatly increased readership, and various pundit gigs for the three bloggers. It's no longer possible for them to respond to everyone who writes in, let alone to me (and I've tried blog name, real name, and various email addresses). This is good for them -- their success is, I mean -- even though, sad to say, they've felt the need to drop their nicknames in deference to their stature. But, while I still read the blog, I really do miss the old version.

Click here to read more . . .

Mr. Met

With the Mets' season rapidly going down the tubes, the only thing that can be salvaged is a half dozen Mr. Met commercials, which can be viewed here. (Thanks to

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Irish wit

Via Instapundit and Slugger O'Toole, a wonderful column in the Irish Times about American politics in light of Katrina.

Click here to read more . . .

Things I've learned

When you get older, you start trying to make lists. Then you forget where you put them. So I'm putting my list of things I've learned right here.

10. Your wife is right.
9. Some people swear by scotch, but beer's pretty good, too.
8. You should never talk about "mid-life crisis" in the singular.
7. Always seek wisdom from your mistakes, but don't plan on getting an advanced degree.
6. Some people are late bloomers, but when you're pushing 50, there's a good chance you'll always remain a bud.
5. Men get older, but women stay the same age, and pretty soon they're the same age as your daughter.
4. Hair is proof that God has a sense of humor.
3. If you attend a reunion, for every classmate who invented the latest breakthrough in laser technology, there are four ex-con alcoholics, who are delinquent on their child support. (That's good news, by the way.)
2. When people accost you on the street, don't assume they're looking for a handout; they might be offering you shelter.
And the Number One thing I've learned is: If all I really need to know I learned in kindergarten, someone owes me a damn refund.

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September 08, 2005

Headline poetry

From today's Washington Post Express (the free tabloid), page 3.

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September 07, 2005

Harvard's poor timing

Through my sources, I've obtained a copy of a brochure just sent out by the Harvard Alumni Association -- you know, one of those obnoxious Ivy League travel brochures playing to the wealth and snobbery of the schools' alumni.

This one is called "Cruising the Mighty Mississippi: The Civil War and the American South," to be held in April, and -- you guessed it -- a big part of the trip is a three-day stay in New Orleans. "On a specially designed tour of this vibrant city...." "See one of New Orleans' oldest aboveground cemeteries...." "Enjoy a walking tour of the Vieux Carré (French Quarter)." Notice, by the way, that Harvard must use the French name.

I've discovered that Stanford alumni will also be on the trip. Here's the brochure put out by Stanford, with slightly different text.

Click here to read more . . .

Baseball in Iraq

No, it's not what you think. Not a story about American soldiers teaching Iraqi kids to play baseball. That's happened, but that's not this story.

It's a story about Ismael Khalil Ismael, who took up baseball during Saddam's reign, kept it underground for fear of getting on Saddam's bad side, and now is trying to run a league. Of course, nothing is simple.

From the front page of today's NY Times.

Click here to read more . . .

September 06, 2005

Two blasts

Jonah Goldberg blasts Randall Robinson for writing about a rumor that black victims of Katrina had eaten the flesh of corpses in order to survive.

Jeff Goldstein blasts Keith Olbermann for, well, for being Keith Olbermann. It's not a pretty sight. KO may have to start eating the flesh of corpses.

Click here to read more . . .

September 04, 2005

Anatomy of a nomination

[Editor's note: This post was finished before the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist. My short tribute to him is here.]

UPDATE 9/19: A Roberts confirmation update is here.

UPDATE: Other photo-comic strips:

Samuel Alito

Harriet Miers

Harriet Miers (and the Dems)

Condi Rice

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Whatever happened to one-man-one-vote?

"New Member of Supreme Court Brings More Than Just One Vote"

Headline, N.Y. Times, Sept. 4, 2005

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William H. Rehnquist, R.I.P.

Chief Justice Rehnquist died yesterday of thyroid cancer at age 80. You can get a broad but annoyingly biased overview of his life here, in the Washington Post's page one story. (For example, the Post article states that "[a]lone among the justices, Rehnquist said in 1983 that Bob Jones University had a legal right to exclude black students from its campus." The issue was not whether BJU had a right to exclude black students; it was whether the IRS had the legal authority to deny a tax exemption to the school, which otherwise qualified for the exemption, based on the school's racial bias.)

Rehnquist served 18 years as Chief Justice of the United States, and a lot of people's views of him are based on extraneous matters, like his showing up at the Clinton impeachment trial in a robe modeled on that of the Lord Chancellor in Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe. He accomplished a great deal as Chief Justice, in many ways improving the administration of justice from the rather chaotic approach of his predecessor.

But those of us who were in law school when Rehnquist was only an Associate Justice have a more vivid memory of him as a principled and lonely defender of an approach to law that had been all but turned on its head during the Warren Court. Rehnquist got the nickname "Lone Ranger" by filing solo dissents and refusing to go along with much of the legal doctrine then prevailing. (It goes almost without saying that Rehnquist was the target of a disproportionate number of barbs in the law school show, a comedy written by students. Students today have a larger number of targets.)

Rehnquist was one of four justices appointed by Richard Nixon and the only one who even came close to accomplishing Nixon's goal of reversing the Warren Court's creations, particularly in the area of criminal law. Of the other nominees -- Burger, Powell, and Blackmun -- only Burger showed any interest in that, and all three were mediocre at best. This is a history that George Bush should immerse himself in as he chooses a successor to the worthy William Rehnquist.

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September 02, 2005

Roberts confirmation hearing preview

On the lighter side, the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on the nomination of John Roberts to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court begin on Tuesday the 6th.

I thought we should "review the bidding" -- to see how we got to this point. So I'm going to post a two-part series of annotated photos to give you what I think is the correct perspective. Part I will be posted Monday night or Tuesday morning. Part II will be posted on Tuesday night. In case you simply can't wait, I'm making the first "frame" of Part I available here. I hope you'll remember to come back to see them.

Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to do a Part III covering the hearings themselves, which no doubt will supply us with endless mirth, but, sad to say, I'm very busy with real work (work?!), including travel, during the next two weeks and most likely won't have the time.

UPDATE:I've decided to post the two parts together in a single post, which I plan to put up on Monday. It's a little long -- 18 frames -- but it didn't make much sense to split it.

Click here to read more . . .

September 01, 2005

Hurricane relief

If you're like me and you ignore all the big weather stories because you hate the way the TV news people blow everything up into a huge storm, wake up! This one is dead serious.

Instapundit has a huge list of mostly blogger-recommended charities. Give now!

And if you're like my older son, who wants to drop everything and go to New Orleans to help, consider this: Don't do that unless you're very well trained, and do it only through established organizations. FEMA has announced that you should not "self-dispatch," which appears to be bureaucratese for going out alone.

Click here to read more . . .