Friday, October 31, 2003

DEGENERATION OF THE AMERICAN CAMPUS

John Derbyshire has apparently been banned from speaking at a midwestern college for being too extreme. I guess it shouldn't surprise me that any conservative would be "too extreme".

But what is disgusting is he asked them to define "extreme". Here's the quote from his column today:

Curious to explore the meaning of the word "extreme" as it is understood in the minds of tenured academics at U.S. universities, I asked my intermediary for the names of some speakers who had been welcomed at that campus without incident. He named, among others, Angela Davis. Are you getting this? Derb — extreme. Angela Davis — mainstream. These are our colleges, "educating" the next generation of our cognitive elites. God help America.

Indeed.


THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY

I feel like Paul Harvey.

I'm sure by now you have been over-exposed to the Terri Schiavo story, the gal in Florida whose husband is trying to have her feeding tube removed.

I've been wondering whether there was a story that the major news outlets haven't been reporting. There is.

Here it is.


THIS WILL MAKE YOU THINK

I'm sure you've probably seen Victor Davis Hanson's column today. In it he refers to this article as "one of the most valuable and revealing articles about the Middle East to appear in the last 20 years". Wow!

I'm sure many Israelis would set it on fire but, as Hanson says, it does a superb job of describing how a lot of people (especially Euros) feel about Israel and how they believe Israel "can be saved". It is certainly worth discussing and debating.


Thursday, October 30, 2003

DID YOU KNOW . . .

Check out this list of countries who have boots on the ground in Iraq.

So much for this being an exclusively US/UK show.

And why do I have to read about this in an obscure AP article. Could it be because a lot of news editors would prefer you don't know?


DEMOCRATS' NIGHTMARE

The party of Bill Clinton must be quaffing handfulls of anti-depressants chased with warm Chardonnay. It couldn't be worse news. Worse than a car bomb at an American embassy. Worse than an attempted assassination of a mid east leader.

What's so bad?

The economy is growing.


BLOGSLEEP


Have been traveling and will be traveling for most of the next three weeks. Any blogging will be sparse.


Monday, October 20, 2003

BIN LADEN'S NAVY?

Bin Laden has already demonstrated he can command an air force. He didn't buy military planes; he didn't have to. But he showed that civilian airliners could be just as deadly as a squadron of stealth bombers.

There is now some proof that he has assembled a navy. And since they are far cheaper than stealth bombers, he bought these ships. And in the article published by World Net Daily, one scenario of how these ships could be used is chilling. If one truckload of fertilizer could take down the federal building in Oklahoma City, what would happen if an entire ship went up near a US city?


IT'S ABOUT TIME!

With all the bad news you read about Iraq in the mainstream media, I can't think of a better "good news" story than this.


THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG HERE

First, it was the translators at Guantanamo. How could there have been people in such a security-sensitive role whose backgrounds were not thoroughly examined?

Now, we have a case of an American univeristy professor with ties to Hamas, who receives a Fulbright scholarship. With the full blessing of the US State Department!

It appears the intelligence capabilities and coordination that were so criticized post-9/11 are still weak.

What will it take to fix them?


Friday, October 17, 2003

IN CASE THERE WAS ANY DOUBT IN YOUR MIND WHERE FRANCE STANDS . . .

You might have missed it. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir made the comment that Jews control the world. This was made at an Islamic summit in Malaysia yesterday. Not a big surprise, right? You wouldn't expect them to embrace Jews or Israel.

OK, fast forward to today in Brussels. The EU leaders were having their own summit and an official communique was drafted, harshly condemning Mahathir's statements. But, surprise, Jacques Chirac insisted the language be deleted from the official statement.

It's one thing for France to block efforts in the mid east, it's another for them to look the other way as anti-Semitic violence increases in their country. But, when many world leaders issue condemnations, but France refuse to, it couldn't be any clearer that they obviously agree with Mahathir's point of view.


Thursday, October 16, 2003

IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!

I relish irony. It's a dish best served in your face and, though the infamous "it's the economy" line was authored by that viper-like critter named Carville, it looks like it might bite the Dems in the ass very soon.

A big part of what I do for a living is to try to anticipate where the economy is going. Not just nationally, but regionally as well. And, though I have concerns about California's ability to sustain its maniacal growth and some midwestern states have real problems, I believe the national economy is fine and will, in fact, see some unforecast (also known as "surprise") growth over the next 18-24 months. Interest rates ticked up some in July and into August, but they've settled back. And the stock market is rockin'.

Not too many jobs are being created, but that's because productivity levels have increased as companies have gotten smarter, producing more with fewer resources. But as they continue to grow, they will have to start hiring by next spring.

So, if you're a Democrat right now, you gotta really be frustrated. No matter how long you hold your breath and repeat the "bush sucks" mantra, things aren't getting worse. It gets back to my central thesis of what's wrong with the Democrats.

They have no plan. They have no agenda other than to try to paint a picture that things are bad and it must, therefore, be Bush's fault. But no matter how hard they try to talk about the "quagmire" in Iraq", more and more positive stories are coming out each day.

And no matter how hard they try to paint a picture that the economy is in shambles, "good news" is in the news more and more.

It would be a tremendous "up yours" if Bush were to use the "its' the economy" line sometime during the real campaign next year. He probably won't, and if things keep going the way they're going, the Dems would be advised to complain about something else.


OLD GUYS ROCK!

I must admit that I've been an Eagles fan since, well, they first started making music.

We saw them last night in concert, and I'd have to rate it as probably the best concert I've ever seen. For those who know me, and the number of concerts I've seen in my life, that's saying something.

It's not that they are a group of guys my age who can shame younger "superstars" with their music. It's not that their music is so varied and all of it is high quality. It's not that each of them is a spectacular musician.

It's that they have flexible egos. Whaa?

OK. Name any other group whose members have been together as long, who each has had a successful solo career, who still make music together, and who perform their group's music and all of their solo act music in their concerts.

It's like getting five concerts in one.

And since Cleveland is Joe Walsh's hometown from a music standpoint, the rest of the guys stepped back a step and allowed Joe to open up a can of good old fashioned whooopass rock 'n roll. It was a flashback to the early 70's and the audience just went nuts.

OK, I'll stop. But if you like music, and you don't go to very many concerts (I don't anymore), see these guys when they come to town. It's worth the price.

This is one group that is on my very short list (along with Santana and Dave Matthews) and I hope they keep on jammin.


Wednesday, October 15, 2003

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

To everyone who thinks the US government needs to exercise greater control over some aspect of our lives:

"Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of the government. The history of government is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is the history of the limitation of government, not the increase of it."

- Woodrow Wilson

SADDAM DESERVES AN APOLOGY

At least that's what most media outlets would make you think:

“Tonight, the man in charge of finding those weapons in Iraq, David Kay, went before Congress and said so far he has come up dry: no weapons, no mobile labs, no nuclear weapons or even an advanced program.”
– NBC’s Tom Brokaw on the October 2 Nightly News.

“Tonight in a new poll, the American people indicate declining confidence in President Bush on the economy and Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction search comes up empty, but the hunt goes on.”
– Dan Rather on the October 2 CBS Evening News.

“The government’s top weapons inspector says no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. The Bush administration says it needs $600 million more to look.”
– Peter Jennings on World News Tonight, October 2.

“Where are Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction? The search has gone on for months now, and a forthcoming report from the CIA’s chief weapons hunter, David Kay, says nothing significant has been found.”
– Dan Rather on the September 25 CBS Evening News.

“The first progress report on the hunt for chemical and biological weapons has been leaking out. We’ve had some of it before. It shows very little progress.”
– Peter Jennings on ABC’s World News Tonight, Sept. 25.

Reality Check:

“I’m amazed at what was powerful information about both their intent and their actual activities that were not known and were hidden from UN inspectors seems not to have made it to the press. This is information that, had it been available last year, would have been headline news.”
– David Kay, describing the findings of his interim report, on Fox News Sunday, October 5.


HOW OLD ARE YOU?

If you're near retirement and you expect to collect Social Security in the amount they project, you'll probably collect it.

If you are in your teens or 20's, you're screwed. It's that simple.

Either you begin to take care of yourself -- only work for companies with good retirement plans, 401k, IRA, savings, whatever -- or you can plan on living in poverty when you reture.

Think this is a "the sky is falling" story? Read this and then decide for yourself.


Tuesday, October 14, 2003

WHO IS THIS GUY?

Steve Den Beste (if you read his bio) is a tech geek. he can write until your eyes glaze over about network connectivity and cellular phone technology.

But his political writing is baffling. Why? My guess is his scientific discipline causes him to over-research everything he writes. There is incredible detail. He's a one-man show, but the quality of what he produces is incredible. Because it's not jsut his detail that educate you, but his insights.

Just click on his name right over here >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

VICTOR AT HIS BEST

If you don't already, you should make it a point to tune in to NROnline every Friday morning. Victor Davis Hanson almost always has something to say that will make the world appear clearer (not necessarily safer or saner, just clearer).

His post on Friday was especially valuable at decoding the babble.


Friday, October 10, 2003

ONLY POST OF THE DAY

Busy day today, so this will be the only post.

More and more, I am not even listening to news these days. I am sick and tired of the "one a day" stories, about "today's death in Baghdad", about how "there are thousands of Arab youth waiting their turn at martyrdom".

I'm still waiting to hear what's really going on in Iraq. Do the toilets flush? Can you buy any food you want at the grocery? Are you going to work each day? Did you buy a newspaper this morning? What was on television last night? How are the kids doing in school?

And I'm really pissed at the stories that are being told by those who are now returning who are mystified when they hear the "reporting" of what's going on. The story they tell is far different from what is reported. It was a lot better when reporters were embedded. They didn't have a choice. They had to report what they actually saw. They couldn't glean bits and pieces from "sources" and then file a story that fit their view of the world. They had to show us pictures, and the pictures told the story. It was "real time" and fairly unflitered. Now it's more like "reality fiction".

In an op-ed piece in a newspaper in Texas, (the Austin American-Statesman), Sgt. Nathan Todd gave us his perspective yesterday. Read it.

By the way, if you want to read the "official" news of what's being accomplished, tune in to http://www.cpa-iraq.org/.


Thursday, October 09, 2003

ARNOLD NOT LEGITIMATE?

Playing a "popular vote theme", Democrats in denial have been saying that Arnold has no mandate since he did not get a majority of the votes cast.

Andrew Sullivan has a post today that should cause them pause:

ARNOLD'S VICTORY: If some Dems want to delegitimize Schwarzenegger's triumph, they should surely consider this: in Gray Davis's re-election bid in 2002, he gained 3.47 million votes. Arnold just won 3.69 million votes. The vote to recall Davis garnered 4.36 million. If that isn't legitimacy, what is?


LILEKS AT HIS BEST

James Lileks has a gift for writing that is remarkable. He mostly writes about his life -- his job and his family. Amazingly, he can write five different really entertaining posts for his blog and two or more columns for his employer each week.

But every so often, he lets his guard down and writes about something else. In his post today, he talks about his visit to the World Trade Center site:

Walked with my editor a ways until he had to head towards home. Said goodbye and marched south, down to the hole in the sky.

Late Saturday afternoon, almost five. Hundreds of people looking up at nothing. Hundreds of people looking into the pit. Everyone had come to see what wasn’t there.

Flowers stuck into the fence; journals and candles, gifts, votaries, offerings, messages. The daily crop, removed at dusk. To my surprise they didn’t just throw up a fence, but put up a series of signs that explained the history of the site, back to the Hudson Terminal Towers and beyond. The historical plaques, the fence, the reactions of the visitors - it felt like a death camp site. If you had no idea what had happened here you would know almost at once that it this place had suffered a hideous calamity. It had an emptiness I can’t describe, an emptiness made all the more obvious by all the congestion around the site. It was like entering a parlor whose walls and tables were filled with framed photos, and you notice that there’s nothing on the mantelpiece.

One building had a gigantic mural devoted to hope and remembrance. I’m sure it’s just an accident that this wretched culture of ours didn’t put up something reminding us to smite the bearded foreigners and run their blood into the gutters. An oversight. Last minute mistake.

Walked around, up the walkway. You look down and see the new construction; you see the naked subterranean floors still exposed, still raw. Back down the stairs, and there’s-a few square yards of painted wood, smothered with the words of the grieved, the widowed, the friends and neighbors and people who always bought smokes from that store in the concourse and only knew the woman behind the counter as Maria, and everyone else who probably brought a Sharpie intent on saying what they had to say, and so what if they paint it over, it’ll be there still. Something isn’t gone just because it’s buried.

T-SHIRTS TWO DOLLA, TWO DOLLA, TWO DOLLA said the vendor near the bottom of the steps, and I felt like walking over and kicking him in the nuts. But. Well. No. I went south instead, and once I was half a block away I was suddenly in a different world. South of the WTC site is the Deutsche Bank building, now wrapped in black fabric, abandoned. There was no one here, and there were no sounds. I’ve never ever been anywhere in Manhattan where it was this quiet. No horns, no voices, no car alarms, nothing. Absolute silence. The wind had picked up, and was rippling the shroud over the DB tower. All the ripples went up. It looked as if the building was still shedding souls, and they were running beneath the thin dark blanket, looking for the way out.

I paused at the plaza on Liberty, took a picture of the empty sky, and turned around -

And there were old friends. The Trinity Building. The Equitable Building, God bless its unlovable bulk. I walked around and saw the other giants of lower Manhattan - 40 Wall, Cities Service. The Woolworth building. One after the other - giant monoliths old and new, gargantuan towers assembled in the sky by human hands, each one just another piston stroke in the motor of American commerce. You can’t begin to knock all these down. And if you managed to fell them all, you’d have to head north and work on that Olympian lance on 34th, and if you brought that down - it would take you years to make your way ten blocks.

The men who brought down the towers did nothing more than take a hammer to the tooth of a sleeping lion. Oh, you can do that.

But you can only do it once.



Wednesday, October 08, 2003

MICHAEL MOORE DEATH WATCH

OK, OK. Wishful thinking.

Forgot to link to this post yesterday from Aussie Tim Blair. Tim does a great job of fisking Michael Moore's "seven questions". Don't know about Michael's questions?

You see, he believes that the Bush family and the bin Laden family are good buds. You know, it's the oil connection. And that, post-September 11, Bush aided the bin Ladens. And he intends on producing a movie (in his pseudo-documentary style, no doubt) about this theory.

So, he has seven questions he wants Bush to answer. Of course, none are open ended, all are leading and all (as they say in court) "assume facts not in evidence".

In short, Mikey is really out there on this one but, as I've said before, the best tactic with guys like Moore is to put a mike in his hand and push him out on stage. The more you see this guy, the more you realize what a loon he is.

The best thing that could happen is for ABC to sign him up for a new reality show of his choosing. A "Michael Moore version of K Street" would be perfect. Yeah, that's the ticket. He needs more air time.


WHICH DO YOU FIND MORE INVASIVE -- JUNK MAIL (THE PAPER KIND) OR SPAM?

Every time I do an "informal survey" of what shows up in my mail box (the one at the end of the driveway), which occurs daily, by count and by weight more than 70% is "junk". I don't open it. It gets tossed.

Am I offended? Sure. Am I pissed off? You bet. But I recognize that if all "junk mail" was banned, it would probably cost about a dollar to mail a letter first class. Maybe more. So I accept it as I reluctantly accept pop-ups whenever I visit a favorite website.

So, with snail mail, we've figured out how to "regulate" speech -- everyone has to pay -- whether it's political, commercial or personal.

The problem with spam (compared to junk mail) is the marginal cost to the sender is something close to zero. While it costs Capital One a fixed cost per letter to send the hundreds of pre-approved credit card offers I get each year, it costs a spammer nothing to send me an e-mail.

Figure out a way to charge a "user fee" for e-mail and you'll solve the problem. The way I figure it, if the spammers have to pay a fare share of the bandwidth they consume, my monthly high-bandwidth Internet access cost should be about $9.95, rather than $49.95. I'm all for it.

So here's the challenge to all my "geek" friends: Can a foolproof "electronic stamp" be created so that no "unstamped" e-mail gets through to the designated receiver?


GRAY DAVIS DEAD

I can't remember when I made the first "Gray Davis Death Watch" post. It was awhile ago. And the end now seems somewhat anticlimactic. But only because I've been convinced since the instant he announced his candidacy that Arnold would be the next Governor of California. The others didn't have a chance.

The reason I knew that is I lived there long enough to know there was a strong undercurrent of true hate against Davis, but many who felt that way were strangely apathetic in a "California" way -- you know, a laid back, I-just-smoked-a-joint-so-don't-bother-me kind of hate. Not strong enough to actually vote for a Republican, but strong enough to bitch about Davis 24/7.

True, Davis had his deaf-blind supporters who thought he walked on water. I used to delight in asking my left/liberal neighbor why she thought a man as boring and obviously deceptive as Davis deserved to be Governor. Her only response always came back to "George Bush and the Republicans" and the "vast right wing conspiracy". No one could really say why he was such a great guy or even talk to what he'd accomplished, other than he was the candidate of the Democrat party -- the party against Bush. That was all they needed to know.

What's really got me a bit perplexed is the "morning after" analysis, which shows that a substantial portion of the left/liberal vote was for the recall AND for Arnold.

I'm shocked. They just re-elected Davis a year ago and, even if they had second thoughts, they could've replaced him with another colorless bureaucrat, Bustamante -- maybe a better example of a career bureaucrat than Davis.

But no. They kicked him out. And told Bustamante they'd just as soon see him keep his job as Chief Do-Nothing.

This will cause a lot of soul-searching, second-guessing, rationalizing and god knows what for months to come. Fortunately, given the seemingly classy way that both Davis and Bustamante conceded, it's doubtful there will be a "chad" war in the courts, though I'm sure the rationalizers in the Bay area will be crying in their lattes this morning about how the "vast right wing conspiracy" somehow re-programmed the voting machines. The tough part is (given the exit polling) they have to come to grips with the fact that 1 out of 4 of their liberal friends voted for Arnold -- and I bet their friends who did won't admit it.

It's over. Arnold won. This could be as important an event as when Reagan was elected Governor. It's up to Arnold and his team. They have the chance to do something in our most populous and valuable state that could affect the American political landscape for the next couple of generations. Love it, hate it, but recognize that virtually every cultural and political paradigm shift happens first in the granola state.

The question is, can Arnold lead a new "Reagan revolution" that pierces through the cabal of labor unions, leftist media and the California legislature? Reagan did it by face-to-face negotiating with the opposition until he would get filibustered. Then, he'd take it to the people. And the people would remind the legislators who they worked for.

This will be fun to watch.


Tuesday, October 07, 2003

MEDIA JIHADIS

This post from the Jerusalem Post sums it up -- and provides examples of the media openly wishing for, hoping for and praying for a US "defeat" in Iraq.


KNOW ANY TRANZIS?

Do you? You may not, but once you read about them, the "light bulb" in our head will go off. You may not know any personally, but you see them every day on TV.

Steve Den Beste writes a very inciteful piece today on transnational progressivism (its true believers referred to as "Tranzis"). I think they are a far greater threat to the traditional concepts of democracy and capitalism than communism could ever hoped to have been. They are already here and they already have power and influence, and they have a strong, almost dominant voice in Europe.

If you're confused about politics and where people stand, what they believe in, and why, this post of Steve's will help you understand.

This isn't idle politics. This isn't going away anytime soon. This "movement" has power because it had eight solid years of Clinton to bolster its foundation, providing a launchpad for the furtherance of its ideals.


Monday, October 06, 2003

LOOKING BACK . . .

Remember Tim Collins? He was the Brit commander who gave one of the most moving speeches before, during or after the fall of Baghdad. I read it this morning and think it's a good idea, as a reality check, to ask whether LtCol Collins' charge to his men was fulfilled. I think it has been, so far. His speech follows:

The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his Nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction. There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of Hell for Saddam. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity. But those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send. As for the others, I expect you to rock their world.

We go to liberate, not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people, and the only flag that will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Don’t treat them as refugees, for they are in their own country.

I know men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts. They live with the mark of Cain upon them. If someone surrenders to you, then remember they have that right in international law, and ensure that one day they go home to their family. The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please. If there are casualties of war, then remember, when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day. Allow them dignity in death. Bury them properly, and mark their graves.

You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest, for your deeds will follow you down history. Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood, and the birth of Abraham. Tread lightly there. You will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis. You will be embarrassed by their hospitality, even though they have nothing…

There may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign…We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back. There will be no time for sorrow. Let’s leave Iraq a better place for us having been there. Our business now, is north.



GRAY DAVIS DEATH WATCH (cont.) -- HOW CAN ARNOLD LOSE NOW?

To paraphrase Henry Higgins, "by jove, I think he's got it!"

Read this article and you walk away with a strong, singular impression -- Arnold gets it, and the people in California love him.

He has masterfully created an image as a guy who owes no one (other than the people who vote for him) a damn thing. He's rich. He's powerful. "Political interest groups" are on the outside, looking in, because he doesn't take their money. And, for sure, he ain't no friggin' bureaucrat.

In other words, he's the anti-Davis/Bustamante.

Better yet, he's busted through the strong perception that having "skeletons" in your closet prevents a capable person from running for public office. Perhaps the experience of Clinton and now Arnold will exorcize those demons from our previous national obsession with finding the perfect candidate. Now, the person who could be the best governor (or President) might not have to worry about the fact they smoked dope, committed adultery, and cheated on their freshman lit final. That just makes them seem all the more "normal" in a world of hypocrites.

The real payoff could be next year and 2006, when Governor Arnold might lead other Republicans who are similar in philosophy to completely re-mold the political landscape in California. Not only could he help deliver up California's crucial electoral votes to Bush, but he could help defeat vermin like Barbara Boxer (up for re-election next year) and Dianne Feinstein (unfortunately, not up for re-election until 2006), and be a lightning rod at the state level, where the legislature is still predominately Democrat. One can only hope.

The champagne corks haven't been popped, but all the last-minute ambushes don't seem to have stopped the juggernaut. If anything, they have further weakened the weakening credibility of the Los Angeles Times and the "moonbat" supporters of Davis/Bustamante.

Assuming Arnold is the winner, I will patiently await what will undoubtedly be a series of legal efforts to try to invalidate the election. The real acid test as to whether the Democrats accept the new reality is whether they accept the will of the people or (as they have with Bush) choose to ignore it and litigate, where they will lose and then continue to claim the new Governor is "illegitimate".

Get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow will be an interesting news event.

One last thing -- also assuming Arnold wins -- I hope he uses his acceptance speech as an opportunity to deliver a substantive message that has both depth and breadth. If he can do that, and (choke) appear to be somewhat humble, he will have a future in national politics. Can you spell "the new Ronald Reagan"?


IS THIS A TIPPING POINT?

Negative story, negative story, negative story: My translation of any three randomly-picked news media stories about Iraq over the past couple of months. Except for the past couple of days.

No Weapons Doesn't Mean No Threat, from the Washington Post is an example of a few articles that are creeping in from sources that have almost exclusively been negative. Here's another.

Is this the beginning of the end for all the negativity? I still believe that many senior editors can't get the words "Viet Nam" out of their heads and will continue to report mostly negative stories about Iraq no matter what. But public sentiment seems disinterested and disbelieving of the idea that Iraq is the new Viet Nam.

And many will continue to report any story that makes the Bush administration look bad. "I hate George Bush" is still a strong motivating influence for many writers and editors.

But some people are angry enough about it that (if you check things like Nielsen ratings) many have tuned out from NBC, CBS and ABC, as well as CNN. And many have cancelled their newspaper subscriptions. The only winner is Fox News, which gets labeled as "conservative" for reporting boths sides of most stories, rather than taking a strongly partisan view as the others typically take. Fox has seen its viewership rise steadily since the first troops entered Iraq. I had to crack up a few weeks ago when I saw a CNN ad on Fox News. I kid you not. Fox must've laughed their asses off cashing that check.

Of course, another big difference these days is any idiot with an Internet connection can write whatever he/she feels like writing and, oddly enough, there are some (e.g., Matt Drudge, with 7.5 million hits a day) who have a readership number far higher than the New York Times. This is especially galling to many politicians because they have carefully manipulated and orchestrated news over the years through willing complicity (and duplicity) of the major media outlets.

Now, the game has changed and every pundit gets his words dissected within minutes of their becoming public. And the "old guard" really doesn't like the new paradigm. Tough shit.


DAMN, IT WORKED!

Who doesn't hate telemarketing calls? I used to answer every one and waste the callers' time, letting them deliver a long sales pitch, asking a lot of questions, acting interested, asking them to repeat things a few times, only to say no. Wasting their time was my revenge for them wasting mine.

That was when I got one call every week or two. But that changed a couple of years ago when the intensity began to increase dramatically.

For the past few months, our home phone lines have received an average 10 telemarketing calls a day. I know because, with caller ID, we don't answer any call which is ID'd as a telemarketer or comes up "Unknown Number". So I can check the caller ID log and easily see all the failed attempts to make contact.

I bought a TeleZapper when they first came out and, initially, it was effective but it appears many auto-dialers have been programmed to recognize a TeleZapper. It stopped being effective a couple of months ago.

So I registered our phone numbers with the FTC on their "Do Not Call" list. In case you missed it, the list was to become effective October 1 but, technically, it has been blocked by the courts pending appeals. However, the telemarketing groups encouraged their members to abide by the list or risk violating the law if it is upheld in the courts.

Well, guess what? It appears they've done it. Since October 1st, we have received exactly ZERO telemarketing calls. One can only hope this will continue.


Saturday, October 04, 2003

FINALLY, AN HONEST LIBERAL!!!

In case you missed it, at the "Arnold is a total Nazi scumbag who hates women" rally yesterday in Los Angeles, one of the organizers of the event finally spoke the real truth.

It has been obvious to many that the accusations against Arnold are pretty much the same as the accusations against Bill Clinton, except with less proof and more anonymity. In other words, it seemed to make the liberal protesters just a little hypocritical.

Well, finally, one of them spoke what most non-liberals believe about the elitism of liberals. Though she admitted Arnold's indisretions were as "inexcusable" as Clinton's, her rationale for skewering Arnold was:

The difference is that Clinton was so brilliant.

So, finally, one of them admits it in public. Liberals, especially of the Bill Clinton variety (and those with last names beginning with Kennedy), should be given a free ride through life because they are smarter than those horrible conservatives.

This lady deserves a medal.


Friday, October 03, 2003

READ STEVE

No, not me. Steve Den Beste.

Every couple of weeks, Steve takes a big breath and writes a really long post about something really important -- could be poliitics, could be some branch of arcane science, could be animated films. He's an eclectically-gifted person who seems to know everything about everything.

Anyway, he just exhaled a terrific essay this morning on Iraq. Read it. Read it now.


IGNORE ANY REPORTING ON THE CIA REPORT OF THE IRAQI WMD INVESTIGATION

Wonderful thing, the Internet (thank you Al Gore!). You don't have to read the news or listen to the news when it comes to documents. Read them yourself.

Don't allow CNN, the NY Times or Fox News, let alone your local broadcaster/newspaper tell you what the CIA report says about the results to date in the investigation of Iraq's WMD programs.

Read the report itself, then form your own opinion, because the reporting so far is massively tainted by opinion.


Thursday, October 02, 2003

YASSER ARAFAT -- MAN OF THE PEOPLE, OR JUST ANOTHER GANGSTER?

Arafat is notorious for living a spartan lifestyle, working insane hours and eschewing any trappings that would reflect the considerable wealth at his disposal.

What? You didn't know Arafat controlled more wealth than most of the Forbes 400?

This guy is no better than the mafia used to be in Vegas, skimming funds from tax revenues and other funds that were specifically targeted to benefit the Palestinian people.

Now you know why no one inside the Palestinian political structure can turn this guy out. He makes Don Corleone look like a cheap hood.


HEALTH INSURANCE CRISIS?

Not really, but when you can abuse statistics to "prove" your point of view, do it! At least that is what has happened the past couple of days when a lead piece in virtually every news source has talked to the "decrease in the number of Americans with health insurance."

I was suspicious of this story and, finally, someone with more time than I have to research it has uncovered the truth.

As he says in this post: It is also worth noting that the percentage of those without coverage rose almost every year of the Clinton Administration, reaching 16.3 percent in 1998. I don't recall this news making page one, as today's did.

Also, in a somewhat related story, Bruce Bartlett explodes the myth behind the reported increase in the number of those living in "poverty" (even though they own TVs, VCRs, PCs, microwaves and dishwashers, AND they own their home free and clear). It's all in the "statistics".


Wednesday, October 01, 2003

BLEEDING-HEART LIBERTARIANISM

Do you know of Arnold Kling?

You should. He's a creative thinker, and an economist -- two things you normally think of as mutually exclusive, except maybe in the case of Ben Stein.

Arnold has an interesting economics blog and also writes here and there. His most recent post elsewhere is an intriguing proposal that, I assure you, few politicians -- left or right -- will embrace tomorrow.

And that's too bad.


QUAGMIRE? NOT EVEN CLOSE!

When you check the US Centcom website, it reports the following "death toll" for US forces over the past week:

3 Combat deaths
2 Vehicle accidents - they keep dropping humvees into canals!
1 Building fire (?)
1 Non-hostile

This looks very similar to what I saw in Viet Nam (when I was responsible for processing about 20% of all the HRs -- "Human Remains" -- that were shipped back to the US). Specifically, with the level of intensity we see in Iraq today, more people are being killed by accident than as the result of hostile acts. There is always a "background" level of a few deaths a week due to accidents, suicides, "friendly" fire, etc.

And there is a low level of combat deaths, usually fewer than non-combat. Only if there is a major offensive or really bad luck (major ambush, barracks blown up, etc.) will this equation tilt towards higher levels of combat deaths. Trust me, even if they were still staged in Kuwait, we'd be losing a couple of guys a week just to bad luck.

Is this a quagmire? I'd think a quagmire would be a much higher level of combat deaths (like 50 a week, given our current troop strength) that persisted, and there would have to be little progress in making true reforms in the country. That would seriously weaken the perception that we are in control and strengthen the perception we are in the proverbial quagmire -- handcuffed to Iraq while bleeding hundreds of our best and bravest.

But it isn't happening . . .




WHAT THE?

Who are you people???

Last month, this site was visited by folks from:

COUNTRY -- % OF HITS

United States 68.59%
Canada 10.90%
Great Britain (UK) 7.69%
Netherlands 6.41%
Australia 1.92%
Finland 1.28%
Belgium 0.64%
Germany 0.64%
Singapore 0.64%
Japan 0.64%
Egypt 0.64%


HERE'S ANOTHER "TRUE STORY" ABOUT IRAQ

Still tired of the "one soldier killed in Baghdad" stories and nothing else?

Some media outlets (mostly local) are printing the real story.


BILL WHITTLE'S NEW ESSAY

I'm sure you don't know who Bill Whittle is, unless you've been to his website on a few occasions. Bill appears to be just a normal guy, but he has struck a chord with many through the essays he's written over the past few months.

Bill's most recent essay - POWER - is up on his website now. It's a highly recommended, though lengthy, read.

If reading on the little screen is a strain and you're trying to save printer ink/toner, hang on for awhile because these will all wind up in a book not too far down the road.

And speaking of roads, Whittle will be taking his act on one, as he has signed up to travel the country, speaking his essays. A sort of latter day Mark Twain, maybe more like Spalding Gray -- don't know Spalding? If not, read or rent Swimming to Cambodia and you'll get an idea what Bill may do.


A GIBE AT TEDDY

I usually check out Day By Day every day. It's a cartoon that is sometimes funny, sometimes, so-so.

Today, it's funny.


THE ONE ADULT IN A ROOM FULL OF UNHAPPY CHILDREN

That's how David Warren describes the US today, compared to its "allies".

The "money" quote (continuing the theme):

The adult carries responsibilities that none of the children fully understand. A mortal threat presents itself to adult and children alike, but only the adult appreciates this. He must find a way to proceed in spite of the children's very active non-cooperation.