Monday, October 31, 2005

Not to be lost in the shuffle of judicial nominations and indictments is Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon's take on the earlier controversy over remarks by Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry, who expressed a need for more black players since he considers them to be faster than his white players. Critics summarily called for his head but Wilbon believes "DeBerry has nothing to apologize for." He goes on:

Since Jason Sehorn retired from the NFL a season or so ago, how many white starting cornerbacks are there in the NFL? The answer, as far as I can find, is zero. And even if I missed one or two, fact is that a position based largely on speed is 99 percent black in the NFL. That's not the same as making a presumption about the intelligence or character of cornerbacks, black or white. It's fact, jack. DeBerry didn't offer any cultural or empirical evidence about cornerbacks; he just said he would like faster ones, and as the NFL demonstrates, the fastest ones are black. That isn't even debatable.

I've heard some black dissent, but mostly I hear objection being raised by white administrators and media colleagues, a sort of misplaced white liberal guilt, if you ask me....

Wilbon also addresses Hank Aaron's "very disturbing" feelings about the Houston Astros not having any black players on the team:

That's because we, black American men, have turned away from baseball. Overwhelmingly, we've cast our lot with basketball and football, and that's it. Only 9 percent of the players on Major League rosters on Opening Day were black and American.... But nobody's keeping black folks from playing baseball now, except mostly ourselves. The peer pressure is to give up everything in life for basketball. The percentage of blacks in the minor leagues, reportedly, is smaller than the percentage in the big leagues. But this isn't 1944.... But what should never be suggested, not by Aaron or anybody else, is that baseball resort to some quota to have more black major leaguers.... How would it go down if somebody suggested two or three spots on every NBA team be reserved for a white player?

Brokeback Jedi

Many thanks to the commenter who gives us this link to the real story of Revenge of the Sith: The fragile, beautiful love affair between Ani and Obi.


America's Greatest Star Wars Apologist

That's not totally true, but Alexandra DuPont's review of the Revenge of the Sith DVD is almost enough to convince you that the movie's pretty good. A sample:
But in Sith, McDiarmid also gets to lay out a coherent philosophy to Anakin during one of their many confrontations. "Anakin, if one is to understand the great mystery, one must study all its aspects, not just the dogmatic, narrow view of the Jedi," he says, quite sensibly (in a line that may well have been script-doctored by Tom Stoppard, if the rumors are true). "If you wish to become a complete and wise leader, you must embrace a larger view of the Force. "

You know, who wouldn't get behind that?

Please notice that I keep bringing up the non-action bits as fine moments in the film. Given what's come before, do please note how incredible that is. One of my favorite scenes is the one where Palps begins working his seductive magic on Anakin in an opera house. It's like something out of The Godfather — and McDiarmid (who was suffering from some sort of laryngeal infection when they shot this scene, and used it) knows precisely how much fun to have with every melodramatic syllable.

(Nor is this the only blatant Coppola reference in the film; there's a moment where a grim-faced Yoda is talking to Anakin in front of some closed shades, with sunlight slatting the wee Jedi Master's face in chiaroscuro, and I half-expected Yoda to mutter "Fuckin' Saigon.")

I also love that Anakin is caught by both pride and a lie. He wants to learn the Dark Side of the Force to give Padme eternal life, but he's also fooled by Palpatine into believing there's a genuine Jedi conspiracy against the Chancellor. When Anakin bursts into the room at one crucial moment, all he sees is Mace Windu holding a lightsaber to an unarmed Palpatine's throat — and after what follows, no one really gets a chance to dissuade him from the notion that Mace was about to assassinate the man who runs the galaxy. For all I know, when he meets Obi-Wan again on the Death Star a couple of decades later, Anakin still thinks the Jedi hatched a plot to kill his boss. The overall sense is of a set of tumblers clicking into place, locking Anakin into his destiny. It's surprisingly tidy, and kind of merciless.

If only Sith had been a good as this review.


Like other great papers, the Philadelphia Inquirer is in troubled times. Daniel Rubin, at blinq has a heartbreaking post on the massive layoffs looming at the Inky and is asking for ideas on what the future should look like. If you have smart thoughts, send them his way.

Alito's Way

To get started on Alito, you should go first to Patterico, who has a long post on what will be, by noon, the famous Casey dissent. This is the definitive post so far.

Elitism at the White House?

Judge Samuel Alito seems like a good choice for the Supreme Court. But in the bio being circulated by the White House for him, the very second line reads:
Alito received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and attended Yale Law School, where he served as an editor on the Yale Law Journal.

Why, oh why, has the White House bowed to the yalping of the elitists? Surely it doesn't matter that Alito went to America's third-best undergraduate college and top law school? Surely that doesn't tell us that he's very, very smart? Only elitist prigs would believe that, right?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Game Made for Radio

Watching the Eagles' season implode on television doesn't really do it justice--to really appreciate the debacle, you need to hear the game on the radio. So in that spirit, the Wershovenist Pig looks at Sirius and XM and asks which stock is the better bet.

A Religion of Peace (and a Culture of Wife-Beating)

Little Green Footballs carries this horrifying item on how Australian police are being told to be mindful of cultural differences when it comes to domestic abuse. Australia's Herald-Sun reports:
POLICE are being advised to treat Muslim domestic violence cases differently out of respect for Islamic traditions and habits.

Officers are also being urged to work with Muslim leaders, who will try to keep the families together.

Women’s groups are concerned the politically correct policing could give comfort to wife bashers and keep their victims in a cycle of violence.

The instructions come in a religious diversity handbook given to Victorian police officers that also recommends special treatment for suspects of Aboriginal, Hindu and Buddhist background.

Some police officers have claimed the directives hinder enforcing the law equally.

Police are told: “In incidents such as domestic violence, police need to have an understanding of the traditions, ways of life and habits of Muslims.”

They are told it would be appreciated in cases of domestic violence if police consult the local Muslim religious leader who will work against “fragmenting the family unit”.

This is, of course, where the fusion of Western political correctness and the Islamic demand for special consideration is headed.

Shout Outs

A big congrats to Galley Friends T.S. and M.H., who just finished the Marine Corps Marathon in 5:47 and 5:21, respectively. It was the first marathon for each of them.

Wear your medals proudly, ladies. Fine work.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Ponderous Moments in Baseball Analogies

If you saw a baseball game and you saw a pitcher wind up and throw a fastball and hit a batter right smack in the head, and it really, really hurt him, you'd want to know why the pitcher did that. And you'd wonder whether or not the person just reared back and decided, "I've got bad blood with this batter. He hit two home runs off me. I'm just going to hit him in the head as hard as I can."

You also might wonder whether or not the pitcher just let go of the ball or his foot slipped, and he had no idea to throw the ball anywhere near the batter's head. And there's lots of shades of gray in between.

You might learn that you wanted to hit the batter in the back and it hit him in the head because he moved. You might want to throw it under his chin, but it ended up hitting him on the head.

And what you'd want to do is have as much information as you could. You'd want to know: What happened in the dugout? Was this guy complaining about the person he threw at? Did he talk to anyone else? What was he thinking? How does he react? All those things you'd want to know.

And then you'd make a decision as to whether this person should be banned from baseball, whether they should be suspended, whether you should do nothing at all and just say, "Hey, the person threw a bad pitch. Get over it."

In this case, it's a lot more serious than baseball. And the damage wasn't to one person. It wasn't just Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us.

--Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor, October 28, 2005

A man stands alone at the plate. This is the time for what? For individual achievement: There he stands alone. But in the field, what? Part of a team--looks, throws, catches, hustles. Part of one big team. Bats himself the live-long day, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and so on.

If his team don't field ... what is he? You follow me? No one.

Sunny day, the stands are full of fans. What does he have to say? I'm goin' out there for myself.

But I get nowhere unless the team wins.

--Alfonse Capone, The Untouchables

Al Roker Is So Butch

Here's his blog fightin' words for print journalist sissies:
Okay, I have held my tongue long enough, but enough is enough.

I’ve been Googling news stories about my now infamous fall on live television during my coverage of Hurricane Wilma. I’ve read all these print journalists knocking their broadcast brethren about how we are trivializing hurricane coverage.

How we are setting bad examples. How this is just grandstanding.

I’ve got your grandstand right here.

Stop whining. Just because your medium is irrelevant when it comes to a breaking story like a hurricane doesn’t mean you have to trash others who are out there covering it.

I can't tell if this is really Al Roker's site, or just a very, very, very elaborate version of Harriet Miers's blog.

Much like everyone else at the moment, I can only express shock and astonishment at this late-breaking news. Who would have guessed Mr. Sulu is gay?

In the current issue of Frontiers, a bi-weekly (so to speak) gay and lesbian magazine, actor George Takei talks about his decision to come out. "The world has changed from when I was a young teen feeling ashamed for being gay," the 68-year-old Japanese-American was quoted as saying. "The issue of gay marriage is now a political issue. That would have been unthinkable when I was young."

Inspired by Mr. Sulu, Lieutenant Commander Worf, ambassador to Qo'NoS, also announced that he too is gay. Sadly, Commander Worf's announcement was interrupted when a mob of his fellow Klingons stormed the stage and proceeded to shred him limb from limb.

What Would Jesus Rap?

The Washington Examiner ran a very important headline yesterday. “What Would Jesus Rap?” they inquired. The popular answer, I am guessing, is that He would rap about nice Christian themes, acts of selflessness and piety. That kind of thing. But there’s another possibility, that Jesus the rapper would have gone gangsta. Dropping dope rhymes and dissing his enemies, the Good Lord might have put things very differently. The Beatitudes, for example, might have come out like this:

Blessed are the meek
Lyin at my feet
In a pool of blood
You can take a peek

Blessed are the Poor
Who continue to whore
Wondering what
Heaven is for

You too will mourn
The day you were born
When you feel the edge
Of my terrible scorn

Just cause you’re hungry
Don’t mean it right
To grab my sandwich
And take a bite

Forget about Marvin
Don’t mercy me
No mercy you
Just ferocity

Blessed are the peacemakers
And my other guns
Cause you run around, gangster,
You gotta carry one

Fuck the weirdos
and their saintly acts
You want my prayers?
Don’t even ax.

Europe's Ticking Time Bomb

This anecdote from the Brussels Journal is terrifying:
My landlady in Strasbourg and I were watching French news this morning. The story about the Iranian President’s oh so predictable comments about Israel was being shown. She turned to me and said,

You know I was taking my daughter to school the other day and I noticed the driver was North African, to pass the time of day I asked him if he was observing Ramadan.

“Yes” he said,

“How long does it go on for?”, I asked

“About 40 days.”

“That must be tough. I guess you might wish you were Jewish at least their fast is only for one day?”

“Jews are not human, he replied.

“You know”, she said to me, “he was a young man, born here in Strasbourg, the home of France’s oldest settled Jewish community, I worry for my children.”

Then there's this case of jihad against a Danish newspaper, for daring to draw cartoons depicting Muhammad:
The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten is being protected by security guards and several cartoonists have gone into hiding after the newspaper published a series of twelve cartoons (view them here) about the prophet Muhammad. According to the Islam it is blasphemous to make images of the prophet. Muslim fundamentalists have threatened to bomb the paper’s offices and kill the cartoonists. . . .

The publication led to outrage among the Muslim immigrants living in Denmark. 5,000 of them took to the streets to protest. Muslim organisations have demanded an apology, but Juste rejects this idea: “We live in a democracy. That’s why we can use all the journalistic methods we want to. Satire is accepted in this country, and you can make caricatures,” he said. The Danish imam Raed Hlayhel reacted with the statement: “This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims. Muslims will never accept this kind of humiliation. The article has insulted every Muslim in the world.” . . .

The affair, however, has also led to a diplomatic incident. On Thursday the ambassadors of eleven Muslim countries, including Indonesia, a number of Arab states, Pakistan, Iran, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, complained about the cartoons in a letter to Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. They say the publication of the cartoons is a “provocation” and demand apologies from the newspaper.

Jyllands-Posten was also included on an al-Qaeda website listing possible terrorist targets. An organisation which calls itself “The Glorious Brigades in Northern Europe” is circulating pictures on the internet which show bombs exploding over pictures of the newspaper and blood flowing over the national flag of Denmark. “The Mujahedeen have numerous targets in Denmark – very soon you all will regret this,” the website says.

Ah yes, the Religion of Peace.
Ed Morrissey responds to the bitter-enders. His (correct) conclusion: "This failure didn't start with David Frum putting together an ad-hoc committee to pay for television advertising, and it didn't start with the blogosphere opining on Harriet Miers' birthday-card greetings. It started in the White House, where another poor job of vetting a candidate came back to bite the Bush administration . . ."

"I always wanted to see Montana . . ."

One of my favorite gonzo essayists, Reihan Salam, has a good, depressing piece up about the closing of the crabgrass frontier. I suspect he's right: Demographics and economics are conspiring to ensure that my generation will be the first American generation in a long time (maybe ever) to be worse off than our parents.

The dream of middle-class life--a single-family home where parents can raise a couple children and maybe even scrape by on one income--is slipping over the horizon as the real estate boom (bubble?) has created another landed aristocracy. As Salam notes:
. . . those lucky enough to have been in the right time and at the right place have become a new landed aristocracy, enjoying a vast increase in unearned wealth. Meanwhile, the cost of living has become prohibitively high for young families. One might call this "the closing of the crabgrass frontier," a historical development of epochal significance. The more enterprising and ambitious are moving to low-cost metropolitan areas and small towns, where the cycle begins anew.

This migration, in turn, has vastly diminished our quality of life by turning the commute into a process which can now easily absorb a sixth of our working days. Don't believe me? In Washington, it's now not uncommon to meet people who commute to town every day from Fredericksburg. But up until a few years ago, Fredericksburg was thought of as a suburb of Richmond, not Washington.

And in a few more years, I suspect that Richmond itself will become a D.C. suburb. If what has happened in Washington, New York, Boston, San Francisco--even in Las Vegas--keeps spreading, then Americans will either have to stop having families and become a nation of DINKs, or radically reduce the standards of what we assumed was a comfortable middle-class situation commensurate with child-rearing.

Stop the ride, I want to get off.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Competence, Not Ideology

The Hotline has a good tick-tock of the withdrawal and Kos--Kos!--of all people has a good analysis of the situation:
It seems to me that Miers wasn't done in from a lack of conservative cred as the wingers want to believe. Bush was convinced she was like him and would've fought for her all the way through. She was done in from simple incompetence. Her responses to committee questions betrayed a complete lack of understanding of constitutional law. Her meager writings were incoherent. She was unable to articulate competence in meetings with senators.

Give Miers the same set of facts but with Judge Roberts' obvious competence on legal issues, and she gets confirmed. She wasn't done in because the crazies flipped. She was done in because she simply wasn't competent to sit on the High Court and it was so painfully obvious.

I point this out not to gloat or throw my lot in with Kos (clearly, I'm already there), but to mark this post for the future, since I suspect three weeks from now we'll be hearing left-wing charges about how the new nominee is just red-meat tribute being paid to the Right-Wing Extremists. Which just isn't true.

This was always about competence.

A big, bright, shining Star

In response to the amazing Star Jones eating-contest item from yesterday, Galley Friend B.W. sends in the following:
You know, I thought her PR guy did pretty well. He didn't admit to lipo, and he didn't 'fess up to hubby Al weekending on Fire Island.

But eventually, a Star Jones sex tape will be released, and the prediction here is it kills the genre.

Why Bush Picked Bernanke

Fred Barnes has an outstanding piece of reporting on how the new Fed chairman was chosen; worth reading in full. Ben Bernanke seems, by all accounts, to a be a solid choice. But there are lots of telling, and unflattering, details about why the other candidates were rejected:
Kohn was appointed to the Fed board by President Bush at Greenspan's urging. He had spent his entire career as a Fed economist and was the candidate of the Fed bureaucracy. Since the White House views the Fed staff as unfriendly to President Bush's fiscal policy, that ruled out Kohn. He also is an environmentalist who rides a bike to work, thus not a Bush type of guy.

Bernanke's chief rival was Martin Feldstein, 66, a Harvard professor and CEO of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Far more than Bernanke, he's an economic star. . . .

But he had many critics, notably James A. Baker II, who was White House chief of staff in the early 1980s when Feldstein was CEA chairman. They clashed when Feldstein spoke negatively, on and off the record, about Reagan's tax cuts. Baker thought Feldstein was disloyal and warned the current White House not to nominate him.

The other two candidates, Glenn Hubbard, 47, and Larry Lindsey, 51, worked for President Bush in his first term. Hubbard, now dean of Columbia Business School, was CEA chief. He favored the Bush policies of tax cuts and partial privatization of Social Security, but the president felt Hubbard sometimes talked down to him. . . .

Interesting, if not surprising.

Strauss Guides Sox From Grave

Oberlin professor and comic genius Abe Socher has up this inspired bit of parody on how Leo Strauss guided the White Sox to their current glory. Not to be missed.

Just Asking . . .

For the bitter-enders who now insist that pulling the Miers nomination is terrible, a bad precedent, etc., etc., etc., weren't they just telling us all to "trust" the president's judgment in nominating Miers, no matter the contrary evidence?

If Bush thinks it's a good idea to withdraw Miers's nomination, why, to those who have defended his judgment and wisdom ad nauseam, would that be any less good an idea than nominating her in the first place?

This president knows what he's doing! Hasn't he earned your trust?

Congratulations to President Bush

For doing the right thing and withdrawing the Miers nomination.

Let this be a stern rebuke in the future to all those who insist that opposition is wrong because it has no chance of changing an outcome. Standing up for principle is always its own reward and besides which, one of the immutable laws of life is that Things Change.

Conservatives who opposed Miers--some at real personal and professional cost to themselves--have kept an unqualified person off the Supreme Court, defended the intellectual honesty of conservatism from rank partisan politics, and, ironically enough, protected President Bush from a mistake of his own making. If the president defers to quality for his next nomination, then memory of Miers will fade quickly and the president and his party will find themselves in much better political fortunes, to boot.

Bonus speculation: Does this suggest that Rove isn't going to be indicted?

The End?

Ed Morrissey notes two important developments in the Miers confirmation. First, the New York Sun is reporting that two Republican senators will soon announce their opposition to Miers if the White House does not withdraw her. The second is that Leonard Leo has jumped ship and left the Miers confirmation team. Who's next? Judge Hecht?

Three weeks ago it seemed highly unlikely that Miers wouldn't reach the Supreme Court, today it seems almost inevitable. The reason for the shift is obvious: Substance. As people have gotten to see what kind of mind Harriet Miers possesses, they've seen that she was even worse than advertised, even dimmer and less accomplished than her initial critics claimed. It turns out that she doesn't even have the constancy President Bush promised that she would exhibit from here on out to the next 20 years.

When the history of the Miers fight is written, October 26 will be seen as the turning-point, the moment when the tide turned against the nominee. Only the bitter-enders are left now.

Another One Jumps Off the Fence

Ed Morrissey has discovered why SMU matters (a little).

More Wrestling History

Colm Kearnes has also written a massive, five-part history of the WWE title (Part 5 is here and has links back to parts one through four). Great stuff.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


My friend Paul Mirengoff, who has been the most persuasive of Harriet Miers's small band of defenders, seems to have changed his mind. He now says that Miers should either withdraw or be rejected by the Senate.

Lefty Humor

It normally isn't very funny, and most this Fox News Through History page isn't that inspired. Except for the one below which is, as the kids say, lol.

Too. Many. Jokes.

The most excellen Radar carries this story on Star Jones:

Okay, I lied. I'm not going to excerpt this because it's really long and a small clip can't do it justice. But trust me: Follow the link and read the best prank-call since the Jerkies hung up their tape.

House of Tang

I still don't get the Neil Pollack thing, but Galley Friend M.L. sends this link to the Rick Tang's sports column, and it's pretty okay:
So I'm watching old NBA games on the Tang-Vo last night in preperation for my fantasy draft, and I'm thinking, is there any basketball player better than LeBron James right now? In this hooood, LeBron, we got mad love for you. That's what 50 Cent might say if he wrote this column. But 50 Cent can't the House Of Tang. Did you see that posterizer LeBron pulled on Richard Jefferson last season? So much chrome on my Benz, ya see your face in my rims! Jefferson was like, "Where's Weezie? Where's Weezie?" You're movin' on down, R.J.!

And another thing, Dirk Nowitski. Zieg fucking heil! Why don't you go back to doing what you're good at: putting little girls into ovens. Do me a favor, be German. Do everything that German people like to do, like eating sauerkraut and killing gypsies. But don't go strutting your ugly ass on TNT every week. Even so, if I were a girl, I'd do Manu Ginobili eight times a day.

Yeah, baby.

The Butterfly Effect

Anyone watching the World Series these days (and nights) will no doubt have the same concerns as I have about a certain oft-aired advertisement. No, not one for erectile dysfunction. And not one about toe nail fungus or incontinence. This is serious.

I'm talking about Lunesta.

They say if you have trouble falling asleep, if you are up constantly because your mind is too active, then Lunesta might be right for you. But ask your doctor, for side effects may include "unpleasant taste, headache, drowsiness, and dizziness." Also, "Be sure you have at least eight hours to devote to sleep before becoming active. You should not engage in any activity after taking Lunesta that requires complete alertness, such as driving a car or operating machinery. You should use extreme care when engaging in these activities the morning after taking Lunesta. Do not use alcohol while taking any sleep medicine. Most sleep medicines carry some risk of dependency."

But they don't mention how Lunesta works. Unlike some sleeping pills, Lunesta comes in the form of a luminescent green butterfly that appears in the night, flies through your window, and with the slightest touch, puts you "to sleep."

According to the commercials, the Lunesta butterfly goes around the city, patrolling the skies, ready to bring darkness to your world at a moment's notice. Who shall I touch? Whose window is open?

It's no coincidence that Lunesta is glowing and green, much like a Banshee, Dracula, and the Angel of Death. Lunesta is one and the same. And it's coming for you if you don't close that window.

Miers, Gonzales, Tonto

Patterico has excellent post on Miers, this time examining some of the nominee's views on the rights to choice and the nature of judicial activism. Damning stuff.

For the record, what do you think the conservative reaction would have been had President Bush nominated Alberto Gonzales, instead of Miers? Conservatives would have been upset, they would have felt betrayed, they probably would have even carped bitterly about Bush's unhealthy obsession with "loyalty" and perhaps would have gone all the way to "cronyism." But do you think they would have actually mounted a wide-spread campaign of opposition to the nomination? I don't.

Because while Gonzales would have been an ideological disappointment, he wouldn't have been fundamentally unqualified for the SCOTUS the way Miers obviously is. I believe that for conservatives their ultimate objection to the Miers nomination is really is about quality. Even if you could provide incontrovertible proof that Miers would spend the next 20 years voting with Scalia and Thomas on every case, they would still object.

This is a good thing. It means that conservatives have been serious as they argued against the naked politicization of the judiciary.

Anyway, it seems this morning that the administration line has moved from Don't oppose Miers, because her confirmation is inevitable to the slightly more skittish, If any Senators oppose Miers, We the Republican People, will make that Senator pay at the ballot box.

To which the obvious reply is: What you mean "we," kemosabe?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Not a Parody

Check out this news item:
Halifax and NatWest banks have led the move to scrap the time-honoured symbol of saving from being given to children or used in their advertising, the Daily Express/Daily Star group reported today.

Muslims do not eat pork, as Islamic culture deems the pig to be an impure animal.

Salim Mulla, secretary of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, backed the bank move.

"This is a sensitive issue and I think the banks are simply being courteous to their customers," he said.

So, will the banks also stop advertising loans? Or charging interest?
Fine. Sometimes blogs can be a force for good. For example, without blogs, you'd never get thoughts such as this from Richard John Neuhaus:
At Immaculate Conception down on First Avenue and 14th Street, where I say Mass regularly, I was this morning required to adjudicate a near-violent dispute between a young black man and an elderly Irish regular at daily Mass. Did or did not George Steinbrenner betray the Yankees by trading Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Jose Contreras, all of whom now loom large in the series between the Astros and White Sox? I was tempted to quote Our Lord, “Who made me a judge between you?” But they would not be satisfied with that. Taking the side of Steinbrenner on anything is a losing proposition in New York. So I opined that 20/20 hindsight is too easy. At the time it may have seemed a smart decision to let them go, but, after what they’ve done this season, it looks stupid. “The Church is always standing up for the bad guys,” responded the young man. I assured him the Church had no official position on George Steinbrenner, but he did not even try to disguise his skepticism. It’s not easy being a parish priest. Nor did either of these gentlemen take any consolation from the prospect of the White Sox winning on Tuesday evening, although the elderly regular said he had been to Chicago once and it was “a nice enough town.”

It Hurts to Watch

The Baseball Crank does a survey of pitchers who have blown big post-season games to see what the odds are that Brad Lidge will be able to survive his recent troubles. Impressive, amazing list that's fun to read (unless you're the guy who gave up the game-winning run).

Monday, October 24, 2005

It's On.

Be honest, you're not getting any work done while waiting for the indictments. So what better way to pass the time than to check out this review of Civilization IV?

Get Your Fresh Scalia!

The other day I mentioned the Scalia piece in the new issue of First Things; here's the whole thing.

P.S.: It's a dynamite issue--check out this murderers' row (so to speak). If you're not subscribing to First Things, you're missing out.

I'm Just Along for the Ride

Thanks to GS commenter who points us to this awesome illusion page (cue Journey's "Final Countdown). My favorite is this one.


It's Not a Trick, It's an Illusion

Via Patterico comes this outstanding optical illusion. Don't miss it.

Someone's Wearing Crankypants. . .

I've long admired the Baseball Crank, but this post put him over the top with me.

A perfect, tiny meditation on baseball and fatherhood, done in two paragraphs, with nothing maudlin or off-the-shelf.

Hey, Yo

Patterico has another of his excellent Postcards from the Ledge, this time about Harriet Miers's support of racial set-asides. It's getting harder for the anti-anti-Miers camp to stay coherent.

Getting Over

Do you miss Saturday mornings with George "The Animal" Steel and Jake "The Snake" Roberts? If so, this lovingly written history of the WWF's Intercontinental Title (with part two here) will make your day.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Where's White Power Bill?

This Drudged story on Lamb and Lynx Gaede is funnier than it is disturbing because (1) the power of KKK-style neo-Nazism has waned to such a degree that its proponents have resorted to trying to sell it through Britney-inspired pedophilia; and (2) because the girls have appropriated the language of New Age relativism in service of their racism. Example:
"We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white," said Lynx. "We want our people to stay white . . ."

As if there were a chance that young Lynx might actually become, say, Korean, if she isn't careful.

If this is state of white supremacy in America, then it's a happy day for all of us.

Eagles Talk

While waiting for a two weeks to watch Andy Reid lose his first back-to-back games in recent memory, Galley Brother B.J. sends in this depressing thought experiment:
I'm thinking about Andy Reid Eagles teams vs. the Larry Brown 76ers teams:

Both teams were built around MVP players (McNabb and Iverson).

Both teams played strong D.

Both teams had to center the offense almost entirely around their MVP to mask offensive deficiencies (No post players & no perimeter shooting vs. no running game and no wide receivers).

Both teams enjoyed playoff success but could never get over the hump/make it to the championship until they pulled the trigger on big moves (Dikembe and TO).

Both big move players had good first years with the team and got the team to the championship game (Note: both post championship runs were defined by injuries).

Both teams lost in the championship.

Both teams then had trouble with their big moves (Dikembe was old & broken down and TO hired Drew Rosenhaus).

But both teams were stuck with their big move players because the big move players had enormous salaries that killed the team cap wise (both salaries were negotiated by the Philadelphia team with the player after the trade). That last similarity isn't exactly the same because the Eagles are still in good shape salary-cap wise but TO's contract is big to the point that the Eagles can't trade or cut him because of the cap hit.

Dikembe turned out to be the Picket's charge of the AI '76er teams (high point that led to eventual downfall/dooming AI to never win a championship).

I can't help starting to think that TO might be the same for the Eagles.

Convince me he's not right.

Where There's a Will

It's okay to admit that George F'in Will makes you hot. This, by the way, is why some of us like elitism.

The Worldwide Standard

If you're not reading the Worldwide Standard, you should be because of posts such as this one. Dan McKivergan gives the full rundown on Hans Blix and Saddam's WMD's.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Put it In the File

This Washington Times story with all sorts of White House denials.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tales From the Champagne Room

The New York Daily News is reporting on a credit card dispute between one Robert McCormick, CEO of Savvis Communications (pictured left), and American Express. AMEX is suing McCormick for refusing to pay a $241,000 bill from Scores, New York's famous gentlemen's club.

McCormick, married with three daughters, doesn't deny having gone to Scores on the night in question. He does, however, dispute the grand total. He says at most he spent $20,000.

Still, that's an awful lot of lap dances.

Now I know what some of our readers are thinking: Don't forget to take into account the bottles of champagne, the tips to dancers and bouncers, the cost of reserving the champagne room all to yourself, more tips to make the bouncers turn a blind eye, bonuses for the lap dancers to offer those Oriental massages, and on and on...

Or, um, is that just me?

(Just kidding, honey!)

More %*#%!@ Elitism

From the Baseball Crank:
. . . so far, everything we've seen of Miers' writings suggests that the woman simply is not the kind of writer I would consider a good summer associate at my law firm, let alone a Supreme Court Justice.

Just what you'd expect from a Hah-vahd Law grad who practices in one of those Big Time firms in New York City.


The Real Sarah Silverman

Because she's the bestest, the Cake Editrix has provided an actual copy of the GQ profile on Sarah Silverman that is sure to delight and entertain you all weekend long. (With a title like "Sarah Silverman has the Cleanest Breasts in America," how can you go wrong?)

Many thanks, Kathy; you've done a great service for America.
The Wershovenist Pig pours one for Matus:
What does a tourist do in the Highlands, apart from gawk at the ubiquitous sheep and bison-like brown cows? Visit Scotch whisky distilleries.

Walking by huge copper pot stills and oak vats, I felt as though I was in an oversized chem lab, but instead of precipitating out para-dichloro-benzene, the workers here were making spirits, sweet spirits.

There follows boozy analysis of liquor stocks.
Danielle Crittenden hints at something which I've been waiting for someone to notice:
We are asked to stand by her because, simply, she is a woman — a “pioneer,” a “glass-ceiling breaker” — even while other more qualified women were rejected for the position (and interestingly, rejected by Harriet herself, who headed the “search” committee).

We've been told by Miers only that she didn't want to be considered for the first vacancy, but it's not clear that she wasn't angling for the second slot. Certainly, what Crittenden notes here is interesting: Miers was in charge of the search committee and somehow none of the qualified women made the cut. I wonder why that was.

Wait for it . . .

Yes! has arrived.

Friday Funny

Just so you know I'm not completely in the tank for the Best Magazine on the Planet, their profile of Sarah Silverman, "Quiet Depravity," is something of a dud.

Silverman makes great copy, and anyone profiling her should get out of the way and let her make the funny. The New Yorker's Dana Goodyear lets us have little tastes of Silverman:
“I wear this St. Christopher medal sometimes because—I’m Jewish, but my boyfriend is Catholic—it was cute the way he gave it to me. He said if it doesn’t burn through my skin it will protect me.”

And even better:
I got in trouble for saying the word “Chink” on a talk show, a network talk show. It was in the context of a joke. Obviously. That’d be weird. That’d be a really bad career choice if it wasn’t. But, nevertheless, the president of an Asian-American watchdog group out here in Los Angeles, his name is Guy Aoki, and he was up in arms about it and he put my name in the papers calling me a racist, and it hurt. As a Jew—as a member of the Jewish community—I was really concerned that we were losing control of the media. Right? What kind of a world do we live in where a totally cute white girl can’t say “Chink” on network television? It’s like the fifties. It’s scary.
There are only two Asian people that I know that I have any problem with, at all. One is, uh, Guy Aoki. The other is my friend Steve, who actually went pee-pee in my Coke. He’s all, ‘Me Chinese, me play joke.’ Uh, if you have to explain it, Steve, it’s not funny.

But neither of these bits is vintage Silverman and Goodyear gets waylaid by extended riffs about feminism and outrageousness in comedy.

For the definitive Silverman piece, got back to the March 1999 issue of GQ and read Michael MacCambridge's "Sarah Silverman has the Cleanest Breasts in America." (I can't find it online.) It's a great read and features lots of classic Silverman, including this very blue, and hence invisotexted, bit:
A couple nights ago, I was licking jelly off my boyfriend's penis [pause]

And I thought, Oh, my God--[beat]--I'm turning into my mother!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Irresponsible Media

Byron York has a grim piece about the terrible toll the White House is paying because of the assault from elitist Beltway conservatives. Some of the highlights:
"It's been a gradual descent into almost silence," says a second source of the calls. "The meetings with the senators are going terribly. On a scale of one to 100, they are in negative territory. The thought now is that they have to end....Obviously the smart thing to do would be to withdraw the nomination and have a do-over as soon as possible. But the White House is so irrational that who knows? As of this morning, there is a sort of pig-headed resolve to press forward, cancel the meetings with senators if necessary, and bone up for the hearings."

Of course, all of York's sources are anonymous, so you shouldn't trust these disloyal leakers. No, you should be reading Marvin Olasky, who has real standards and thinks that things are going just fine. Mr. Olasky hasn't received a single negative view on Miers*.

*That is, a single negative view that meets his superior standards of publication. He's not some shoot-from-the-hip cub reporter like that rascally Byron York.

Racial Slurs Ain't What They Used to Be

An Arab-American police officer in Milwaukee is suing for racial harassment after hearing another officer refer to him and an Indian-American officer as the "corner convenience store squad." Meanwhile he's become fodder for CAIR's oniong offensive to prove post-9/11 America is a cauldron of anti-Islamic bigotry.

The Future of Russia

If you're not depressed yet today, this Mark Steyn piece on The Death of Mother Russia should do the trick:
Russia is literally dying. From a population peak in 1992 of 148 million, it will be down to below 130 million by 2015 and thereafter dropping to perhaps 50 or 60 million by the end of the century, a third of what it was at the fall of the Soviet Union. It needn’t decline at a consistent rate, of course. But I’d say it’s more likely to be even lower than 50 million than it is to be over 100 million. The longer Russia goes without arresting the death spiral, the harder it is to pull out of it, and when it comes to the future most Russian women are voting with their foetus: 70 per cent of pregnancies are aborted. . . .

Russia is the sick man of Europe, and would still look pretty sick if you moved him to Africa. It has the fastest-growing rate of HIV infection in the world. From virtually no official Aids cases at the time Putin took office, in the last five years more Russians have tested positive than in the previous 20 for America. The virus is said to have infected at least 1 per cent of the population, the figure the World Health Organisation considers the tipping point for a sub-Saharan-sized epidemic. So at a time when Russian men already have a life expectancy in the mid-50s — lower than in Bangladesh — they’re about to see Aids cut them down from the other end, killing young men and women of childbearing age, and with them any hope of societal regeneration. By 2010, Aids will be killing between a quarter and three-quarters of a million Russians every year. It will become a nation of babushkas, unable to muster enough young soldiers to secure its borders, enough young businessmen to secure its economy or enough young families to secure its future. True, there are regions that are exceptions to these malign trends, parts of Russia that have healthy fertility rates and low HIV infection. Can you guess which regions they are? They start with a ‘Mu-’ and end with a ‘-slim’. . . .

Most of the big international problems operate within certain geographic constraints: Africa has Aids, the Middle East has Islamists, North Korea has nukes. But Russia’s got the lot: an African-level Aids crisis and an Islamist separatist movement sitting on top of the biggest pile of nukes on the planet. . . .

What would you do if you were Putin? What have you got to keep your rotting corpse of a country as some kind of player? You’ve got nuclear know-how — which a lot of ayatollahs and dictators are interested in. You’ve got an empty resource-rich eastern hinterland — which the Chinese are going to wind up with one way or the other. That was the logic, incidentally, behind the sale of Alaska: in the 1850s, Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich, the brother of Alexander II, argued that the Russian empire couldn’t hold its North American territory and that one day either Britain or the United States would simply take it, so why not sell it to them first? The same argument applies today to the 2,000 miles of the Russo–Chinese border. Given that even alcoholic Slavs with a life expectancy of 56 will live to see Vladivostok return to its old name of Haishenwei, Moscow might as well flog it to Beijing instead of just having it snaffled out from under.

That’s the danger for America — that most of what Russia has to trade is likely to be damaging to US interests. In its death throes, it could bequeath the world several new Muslim nations, a nuclear Middle East and a stronger China.

A great--and terrible--piece from Steyn.

Will the Real "Cabal" Please Stand Up?

Over at the Worldwide Standard, Dan McKivergan has a great post up on Col. Wilkerson's "cabal" theory.

Great Do-Overs in History

From the Harriet Miers's Blog:
Well by now you probably know that I have to "take a mulligan" on my questionnaire. Well my answer is bring it on!! Its like I've always said. There's no shame in getting something wrong the first time, the only shame is giving up!!! . . .

With that in mind, I made this list of great do-overs from history to cheer me up. Maybe it will cheer you up too!! . . .

* Here's one thats particularly relevant to me: Dred Scott Decision. Alot of people dont realize but sometimes the Supreme Court makes a mistake, I've been reading about it, and then they can go back and overturn it. Just like my questionnaire!!

I'll Say It Again

Richard Cohen is my favorite liberal columnist, because he throws the off-speed stuff so well. This column on abortion is vintage Cohen.

Harriet Miers: Grammar Maven?

Of course this has nothing to do with anything, because once she's on the Court, Harriet Miers will hire totally smart law clerks from really hot schools like Yale and SMU to do her writing for her--but still, this Stephen Bainbridge post debunking the idea that Miers is a detail-oriented grammar maven is pretty fun.

I've always been a little suspicious of the stories about what a nit-picker Miers was in the White House. On October 4, the Washington Post reported that, "as Bush's staff secretary, she was known to correct spelling, grammar and even punctuation errors in memos to the president." If Miers really had a Rain Man knack for grammar the way some people do, then that would be one thing. Sure, it would make her look like a bit of a micromanager, but that's not the worst thing in the world.

However, now that we can see for ourselves that she's not really a grammar maven, it suggests that perhaps she was more of a passive-aggressive, petty bureaucrat who was always trying to impose her will, even in small ways, on materials other people were sending through her to her boss. If you've ever been in government, you know that this is exactly the type of appointee who succeeds at the special assistant and staff-secretary level. It is not, perhaps, the type of temperament you'd want for the SCOTUS.

Shut It, Slick

Jenny weighs in on the Paris Hilton angle of the Tom Sizemore story.

You know you're going to read it, so just go ahead and click the link already.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

That Thing You Douthat

Ross hits one out of the park. For reals.

In Defense of Maverick

The LA Times reports on the latest Scientology attack on free speech as they seek to shut down the site

A Drink and Drive

The Washington Post reports that the District's "zero tolerance" in issuing DUI's to drivers under the legal limit has been adjusted by order of the city council (it still has to be approved by the mayor). As mentioned earlier, one woman spent the night in jail after being pulled over at night for driving with her headlights off (she blames it on the valet) and, because she admitted to having one glass of wine, was charged with a DUI. Her BAL was 0.03, well below the 0.08 limit. Nevertheless, because of the said "zero tolerance," in the slammer she went. But after this story was publicized and calls flooded the city council, a law was passed 9-3 that will now presume drivers under 0.05 are not intoxicated and, as the Post's Eric Weiss explains, "The changes would place alcohol levels from .05 to .079 in a 'neutral zone' that would require other factors, such as sobriety field tests, to establish a driver's impairment."

Mayor Anthony Williams expressed concerns that the law was "hastily written" and pointed out that last year six drunk-driving fatalities involved drivers who had less than 0.08 alcohol in their systems. Fair enough. If the mayor approves the legislation, it will last 90 days and the council can then further amend the law where needed.

In the meantime, DC residents can now safely have a glass of wine or a beer and know they won't be spending a night in jail if they get pulled over because of a broken tail signal.

Special props go to the sponsor of this legislation, lone Republican Carol Schwartz, and her cosponsor--our beloved former mayor Marion Barry.

On the Square

Speaking of First Things, they've done some spiffy things to their website. The first is the addition of ROFTERS--Reader of First Things--which is a set of online discussion groups. There's an email discussion group run out of Yahoo (send a blank email to as well as a ROFTERS blog, being edited by Sam Cable. There are also a number of off-line groups both in the U.S. and across the globe (for a list, click here.

But perhaps the most interesting development is the new blog On the Square, run by Father Neuhaus. Pop it in your RSS aggregator; getting Neuhaus every day instead of having to wait for the magazine once a month is like getting Christmas all year long.

Best Headline Ever.

In case you missed it yesterday, go back to Vic's Tom Sizemore item, which has the best headline this site will ever muster: "The Action Is the Juice."

On a related note, GS Commenter Chris points us to this review of the tape:
At one point Sizemore, dressed in bicyclist's gear with a toque on his head, wields a two foot long rubber dildo and literally whines that the two prostitutes (who are cleaning up a hotel lamp and bottle of wine he knocked over) are not paying attention to his antics.

Does that get you hot?


The Cake Editirix sends us to this fantastic site where a gent by the name of Truman Collins has sussed out all of the probabilities of the Monopoly board. Fabulous, amazing stuff.

Highlights: The red properties are the best on the board, the oranges a close second. Boardwalk and Park Place are a waste.

But really, if you've ever thought long and hard about Monopoly (B.J., I'm talking to you), this site deserves study.

Reading Is Fundamental

Courtesy of Patterico we have this link to Patrick Semmens, who found a small, but telling, Harriet Miers nugget:
On lines 15 and 19, as a response to questions about whether she has read books on the subject on which she is being questioned, Miers answers:

“I probably can shorten this line of questioning… if you just asked me when’s the last time I read a whole book.”

Compare that with George W. Bush's pre-presidential remark to Tucker Carlson: When asked what activity he didn't excel at, Bush replied, "Sitting down and reading a 500-page book on public policy or philosophy or something."

Yeah, baby! Books are for elitists!

It would probably be impolite to point readers to the November issue of First Things, which features a long and typically brilliant Antonin Scalia essay on "The Language of Law," which is a review of Steven D. Smith's book, Law's Quandary. No vapid abstractions here. (And I'll bet Scalia even read the whole book, which is about both policy and philosophy! How does he do it?)

It might be even more impolite to point out Scalia's conclusion on Law's Quandary:
Steven Smith is a diligent observer of academic correctness. This is evident in the fact that his book has at least as many shes as hes ("So the hiring partner said, 'I'll call you,' did she?")--excluding, of course, those pronouns referring to antecedent proper nouns that are masculine, for which Smith can hardly be blamed. One would never expect Smith to violate the "norm prescribing that religious beliefs are inadmissible in academic explanations." Vining (with appropriate disclaimer) is about as far as one can go without offending the proprieties. Could it be, however, that Smith is inviting, tempting, seducing his fellow academics to consider the theological way out of the quandary--the way that seemed to work for the classical school?

As one reaches the end of the book, after reading Vining's just-short-of-theological imaginings followed by Smith's acknowledgment of "richer realities and greater powers in the universe," he (she?) is sorely tempted to leap up and cry out, "Say it, man! Say it! Say the G-word! G-G-G-G-God!" Surely even academics can accept, as a hypothetical author, a hypothetical God! Textualists, being content with a "modest" judicial role, do not have to call in the Almighty to eliminate their philosophical confusion. But Smith may be right that a more ambitious judicial approach demands what might be called a dues ex hypothesi.

Read that last bit again: Textualists, being content with a "modest" judicial role, do not have to call in the Almighty to eliminate their philosophical confusion. So why, then, is the White House insisting that their nominee's evangelical Christianity is important?

In addition to being a wonderful essay, Scalia's piece is a rebuke to the religiosity and anti-intellectualism of the last two weeks. Those who voted for George W. Bush were promised a mind like Scalia's for the Supreme Court. Instead, they've been given a mind like George W. Bush's.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Christine Rosen, Stud

Hugh Hewitt points us to this typically genius piece on memoirs. Just awesome.

The Action Is the Juice

One of my favorite actors is Tom Sizemore. A real man's man, a tough guy, a mean guy, a brave guy. And sex-addicted. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the actor who played Sergeant Mike Horvath in Saving Private Ryan has a case of priapism but is putting it to good use. He will next appear in The Tom Sizemore Sex Scandal, "a Vivid Entertainment XXX feature offering 70 minutes of uncut, uncensored, inexhaustible Sizemore sex with a quartet of young ladies. All at once," writes Howard Gensler.

Who's his agent? Has it been that hard to come by a good script? We're talking about Cheritto from Heat. Jack Scagnetti from Natural Born Killers. Sure he's had a bad drug habit. Sure he had a bitter (some say violent) relationship with Heidi Fleiss. But did it have to lead to full-blown porn?

If you hear Sizemore is starring in Heat Part II, The Fast and the Furious III or Die Hard IV, don't say I didn't warn you about the explosions.

Watch, and Learn

The Cake Editrix has a longish post about buying a coffeemaker and you should listen because she's a former barrista.

This is like having Xaviera Hollander give you lessons on sex. Only with coffee. And without the Eau de Guccioni. Okay, it's nothing like Xaviera Hollander, but it is very cool to have someone who actually understands coffee give a tutorial about coffeemakers.

If you're too lazy to read it all, I'll give you the condensed version:


Mr. Coffee FTX29

But really, shame on you. You should be thanking Kathy. She's forgotten more about coffee than you or I will ever know.


Wow. Ryan Lizza notes that "The counsel to the president of the United States wasn't licensed to practice law in D.C."

The Freakonomics of Monogamy

As usual, I'm months late, but this post on the economics of love and infidelity is pretty excellent. As is the blog Liberty Belles.

Get Your Fresh CulturePulp!

This week, Mike Russell does Comics Fest.

More Vapid Abstractions (and misunderstandings?)

Patterico has a quote from Miers at a 1992 ABA meeting, where Miers explained why she understood why abortion rights' advocates were so vehement":
When you understand, as I do, that the choice issue is inextricably entwined with the debate of total freedom for women, for empowerment, you fully understand the depth of caring and emotion which accompany the efforts like those in support of this resolution.


Friends whom I trust about nearly everything have tried to convince me to join Costco--and I'm just about convinced.

Yet still, there's a touch of doubt in my little consumerist heart: Do I really want to pay someone so that I can be allowed to give them my money?

Readers helped me avoid the morass of the TempurPedic; I'm hoping you can give me solid advice on Costco.

Just FYI: I don't have a Sam's Club or a BJ's near me, so if I'm going to join a club, Costco is my only practical option.

Thanks in advance.

Clear Writing = Clear Thinking

It's a maxim that every writer learns early on, and one that most spend a lifetime working toward, and while it's generally true of all writing, it's triply true of opinion writing. When you read the work of a great opinion writer--say, a George Will, a David Frum, a Charles Krauthammer--what you are admiring is the expression of a well-organized mind. These fellows aren't stupendous stylists the way, say, Anthony Lane is. They're thinkers. And because they think clearly, they write clearly.

That's one of the reasons that Patterico's post on the writings of Harriet Miers (which is an amplification of what David Brooks wrote last week) is so particularly troubling. To quote Brooks again, the written word of Harriet Miers is a "relentless march of vapid abstractions."

It's no surprise, then, to seen this post from Ed Morrissey about the "misunderstandings" Miers has been conveying to senators.

She told Chuck Schumer that:
she had never discussed the Supreme Court case that struck down anti-abortion laws, Roe v. Wade, with anyone in a three-decade legal career. He said she told him that she will have to think about whether she supports Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 privacy case that established the legal groundwork for the later abortion ruling.
Then this exchange followed her meeting with Arlen Specter:
After their meeting, Specter told reporters that Miers told him she believed the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut -- a landmark ruling establishing the right to privacy -- was "rightly decided."

But when the White House took exception to Specter's comments, the Pennsylvania Republican released a statement saying Miers later called him to tell him that he had "misunderstood" her answer.

Specter said she told him she had not taken a position on either Griswold or the right to privacy, the legal underpinning for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Specter's statement did not withdraw his comments about Miers discussing Griswold with him, nor did it offer a correction. But the statement said the chairman accepted Miers contention "that he misunderstood what she said."

It is possible that Specter and Schumer are trying to make trouble for the nominee. It is possible that Miers is trying to game the senators.

But it is also possible that Harriet Miers talks the way she writes. If she's speaking to senators in vapid abstractions, that would explain how Schumer, Specter, and the White House can all come to such totally different conclusions about what she's saying.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Germany has a new leader, it's first woman and it's first chancellor from the former GDR. So why aren't Germans excited about all this? As I've elaborated in this week's Weekly Standard (yes, I am linking to myself), because Angela Merkel is presiding over a so-called Grand Coalition that includes her adversaries in the Social Democratic party, people are giving her at most two years before the whole thing collapses.

But at the very least we bid farewell to Gerhard Schröder, who recently told a group of trade unionists: "I do not want to name any catastrophes where you can see what happens if organized state action is absent. I could name countries, but the position I still hold forbids it. But everyone knows I mean America."

And zis is how ve say 'goodbye' in Germany, Dr. Jones...

Prince Tai Shan or Tai Shan Prince?

Speaking of naming babies, I am reminded of the Onion parody of "Most Popular U.S. Baby Names." The list under White included Dakota, Caitlin, and Madison. The list under Black had Antwaine, Shawanda, and Tamiqua. The Asian names were Tim, Sue, Amy...
This morning it was announced that the name of the baby panda born at the National Zoo will be Tai-Shan, which means "Peaceful Mountain." Isn't Tai-Shan on Marlon Brando's headstone?
Of course I can't let this day go by without commenting on the biggest news from over the weekend. No, besides the vote in Iraq. No, not the impending indictment of Karl Rove. Yes, I am talking about the atrocity of the Redksins loss, 28-21, to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrow Head.

Don't get me wrong--it's no easy thing to pull off a win at KC, one of the most raucous venues in the league. But what bothers me is the lack of forced turnovers. And the inexplicable benching of physically fit, three-time Pro Bowler LaVar Arrington. It's the question on everyone's minds. As Chiefs QB Trent Green said, "I thought, 'Okay, this is the week where they put [LaVar] in there.' Look, LaVar is a beast. He creates a lot of problems for an offense. I don't know exactly what's going on, and I don't know the reasons. But when I heard some of the comments coming out of Washington later in the week, I said, 'You know what, this isn't going to be the week.'" The Post's Michael Wilbon asked Green if he was relieved LaVar was out: "Oh yeah. It's not that [a quarterback] can ever relax, but it's nice to know he's not going to be breathing down my backside."

Wilbon goes on to quote a future Hall of Fame QB as saying, "[Arrington] and Sean Taylor are the guys that scare you, and if they want to sit him for whatever reason, every quarterback on their schedule will take that."

So what is the coaching staff's problem? Still bitter after those salary talks? If so, they better get over it or my prediction of a 7-9 season will start looking optimistic. Or is it something else? As one of my colleagues speculated, "Perhaps he has yet to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior?"

Time to start praying.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Go Read Tucker

Really, this is the best blog I've ever seen from a TV guy--and it ranks way up there with everyone else. Seriously. Jon Stewart hasn't been this funny since his junior year at Williamm & Mary.


I'm sure everyone else has already seen it, but it's new to me (thanks Jack Shafer): It's the Apple iProduct:
Apple iProduct. You'll buy it. And you'll like it. . . .

Will it be merely an incremental improvement? Will we simply increase the storage capacity of an existing product and increase the price? Or will we remove features and capacity and reduce the price? It doesn't matter. We'll still trumpet it as a brand new product, and you'll buy it. You know you'll want it. And you know you'll pay big for it. Steve Jobs could take a dump, put it in an off-white plastic case, add two grey buttons and a small LCD display, and you'd pay $600 for it. Just fucking admit it.

What is it?

We're not saying yet. But we know that won't stop you.

The tag line is even funnier:
Apple iProduct
Your life. In a small, shiny, plastic case.

I grew up on PCs, but I switched to Macs after college and I've never looked back. I love them. But Sweet Jesus, I can't stand the culture of Mac worship. There are no retail employees on earth as insipid as those black-clad hipster dweebs at the Apple Store. I actually buy my Apple stuff online and pay the shipping even though I live 10 miles from an Apple store--just because I don't want to give them the satisfaction.

Anyway, the author of this brilliant parody seems to be my kind of guy. His disclaimer reads: "Please take note: don't make the mistake of thinking I'm dissing Apple products. Apple makes good stuff. I'm not making fun of Apple products, I'm making fun of you."

Does Church Wine Count?

Those of you who sometimes "drive by Braille" or use your car's Autopilot feature after having drunk some--but feel well-assured you are below the legal limit--may want to think twice about even getting a whiff of alcohol before turning the ignition. From Wednesday's Washington Post:

Debra Bolton had a glass of red wine with dinner. That's what she told the police officer who pulled her over. That's what the Intoxilyzer 5000 breath test indicated--.03, comfortably below the legal limit.

She had been pulled over in Georgetown about 12:30 a.m. for driving without headlights. She apologized and explained that the parking attendant must have turned off her vehicle's automatic-light feature.

Bolton thought she might get a ticket. Instead, she was handcuffed, searched, arrested, put in a jail cell until 4:30 a.m. and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Following the article, many more complaints began flooding the city council's offices. Can the police really do this? According to one officer in today's Post: "If you get behind the wheel of a car with any measurable amount of alcohol, you will be dealt with in D.C. We have zero tolerance."

And by "zero," they mean it:

One Thursday night two years ago, computer software worker Lamon Lyles, then 27, remembers following a friend out of a parking garage next to Club U and into a gas station, going the wrong way on a one-way street. They were pulled over and asked if they'd had anything to drink. Lyles said he'd had one Heineken because the next day was a workday. The officer gave him and his friend field sobriety tests and then had them blow into breath machines. Both, he said, registered 0.0 blood alcohol.

But Lyles was not released. He said that the police officer told him about D.C.'s zero tolerance policy. You drank one, Lyles recalls the officer telling him, so you're over the limit.

Lyles and his friend were kept overnight in a D.C. jail and taken to court to be arraigned at 9 a.m. There, he said, within two minutes, both cases were dropped. Lyles, who said the arrest prevented him from getting a top clearance to work at the National Security Agency, spent a year trying to clear the incident from his record.

Good thing there aren't any rapes or murders that would distract DC police from these necessary crackdowns.

David Effin' Frum

A very smart friend of mine once remarked that David Frum was the only man he'd ever met whose intellect was so formidible as to be intimidating. This Frum response to Matt Scully seconds that emotion:
2) Notice next the antipathy to ideas, the little curl of the lip about those opeds and policy conferences. Notice the refusal even to acknowledge let alone rebut the concern that Miers has shunned ideas her whole career. It is no reply to say that Harriet Miers is a very nice person. Nobody ever denied that Harriet Miers was a very nice woman, capable of generous acts. We all know about her work for Meals on Wheels. It's just that niceness alone is enough to qualify one for the Supreme Court. There are a lot of nice people in America. There are a lot of nice people at Valley View Christian Church. They cannot all be appointed to the Supreme Court.

The first and most famous slogan of the American conservative movement was: "Ideas have consequences." But if Matt fairly represents the state of mind inside the Bush White House, and on this I fear he does, then the main consequence of ideas seems to be ineligibility for service on the nation's highest court.

3) Note next the implied hostility to the larger American conservative movement. The ideas that are disparaged in this oped are not any old ideas. They are the ideas that moved millions of people to sacrifice time and money to build the movement championed by for example this magazine - and the ideas that (at least theoretically) led American conservatives to overcome their reservations about the son of George HW Bush and support the candidacy of Governor George W. Bush. The promise to appoint judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas was the "Read my lips, no new taxes" pledge of the younger Bush's candidacy. But even Miers' strongest senatorial supporter, John Cornyn, admits that Miers is no Scalia and no Thomas. The inability to read the conservative reaction to this betrayal as anything more than personal pique on the part of American conservatives bespeaks a very serious clouding of the vision at the Bush White House.

4) And speaking of the clouding of vision, there is a real problem here of the inability to see ourselves as others see us. That line about the critics of the Miers nomination and their $20,000 speaking fees - is that really, um, well-considered? Does Matt expect anyone to take seriously the claim that those of us who oppose Miers are self-serving cynics, while those who silence their doubts and say "yes sir" to an erring president are self-sacrificing idealists? We're supposed to believe that Robert Bork is in it for the cash, while Ed Gillespie fights for the principle of the thing?

In my little private fantasy land, I like to think that Frum went and downed a couple lamb-chops after hitting the "publish" button.

Bill Simmons: Un-bovs?

Uncle Grambo has an excellent anti-Sports Guy rant. Excellent because it's funny, not because I necessarily agree with him. Want to see the funny?
What all the people lined up to swing on the bozack of "sports' moral arbiter" are conveniently failing to forget is that we're talking about a guy who as recently as Wednesday vomited out 2,600 words (!!!) on the new Matt McConaughey / Al Pacino gambling movie. Are you fucking seers? Even the normally reliable and altogether best ever dudes like the Information Leafblower (aka Leaf) spend two hours standing in line to spend 30 seconds talking to him; dude, I did that a few years ago for Liz Phair but it's mainly because I thought I might be able to bang her!

Yeah, baby! That's the magic of RSS. Grambo disappears for 5 months, but because of RSS, we never lose touch with him.

DMV Porn

How excellent is this?
New Jersey motorists calling a toll-free number seeking handicapped or animal-friendly license plates are getting a little more action than they expected.

Instead of getting the state Motor Vehicle Commission, callers reached a phone sex operation.

The mix-up happened because the MVC has the newer 888 toll-free area code, but its number was mistakenly listed with the traditional 800 code on the Web site and printed material distributed by the state Division of Disability Services.

The Danger of Harriet Miers

Or rather, the danger Miers poses for President Bush. Gerard Baker argues that Miers worries conservatives because her nomination "has given us a depressing glimpse into the vast open space that now appears to be the Bush political mind." He's on to something.

The real political danger for Bush is that Miers could become a synecdoche for the secret fears his supporters have long harbored: that he's little more than a corporatist who values personal loyalty above ideology or thought. In short, Miers has the potential to crystalize very specific fears about Bush's shortcomings in the same way that Dan Quayle's misspelling of "potato" was particularly damaging because people were already worried that he wasn't smart enough to be vice president.

(Mind you, I'm talking purely about political danger. The substantive--and more important--danger is that Miers may not be a very good Supreme Court justice.)

The great political danger for Bush is that Miers forces people who were marginal supporters to reassess past incidents on which they may have given him a pass. For example, incidents such as this one, reported by Joseph Bessette, about the Bush administration's attack on Lawrence Greenfeld and the Bureau of Justice Statistics:
IN AUGUST THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION fired its director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics in a dispute over a press release about a report on racial profiling. Newspaper editorialists and Democrats in Congress charged the administration with suppressing painful truths. In response, Republican officials apparently spread the word to sympathetic commentators that this was a battle between the administration and the anti-Bush permanent bureaucracy. As one commentator told National Public Radio, "Bush finally clamped down on this guy."

"This guy" was President Bush's own appointee to the directorship of BJS, Lawrence A. Greenfeld, a career criminal justice statistician and longtime deputy director of the agency, a unit of the Department of Justice. Happy as the principal deputy, Greenfeld had not sought the top job, which had always gone to a political appointee serving at the pleasure of the president. Yet, when the directorship opened up after Bush's election in 2000, Greenfeld's stellar reputation within the criminal justice community brought him to the attention of the White House. President Bush nominated him to serve as director, and he was confirmed by the Senate. At his swearing-in ceremony, former Attorney General Edwin Meese praised the accomplishments of Greenfeld and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

So what are we to make of this incident? Has the administration won a battle against a hostile bureaucracy, or has it suppressed the truth about racial profiling in the United States? A review of the facts compels four conclusions. First, the administration did not try to suppress or manipulate data, though it did seek to deny publicity to uncomfortable facts. Second, its ham-handedness backfired by attracting infinitely more attention to the sensitive racial profiling data than would otherwise have been the case. Third, it cashiered Greenfeld for doing his job in a responsible and, indeed, exemplary way. Finally, not content simply with firing a dedicated public servant, it maligned him and his agency in a way that was deeply unjust, that undermined morale at a model federal agency, and that jeopardized its good work and its reputation within the criminal justice community.

In light of Harriet Miers, this behavior becomes even more egregious.

Is Miers Being Borked?

We have the answer, from Kate O'Beirne:
This one we can put to rest. I asked the world's expert on the meaning of "to bork" - Is Harriest Miers being borked? "No. No one is lying about her record." --Robert Bork, October 13, 2005.

Lincoln, Calhoun, and the U.N.

Michael Brandon McClellan has a great piece about why Americans reflexively distrust the United Nations. Hint: It has to do with how we resolved our conflict over the differing notions of liberty presented by Lincoln and Calhoun. It's a first-rate essay.

Tucker, Online

MSNBC has gotten Tucker Carlson to do a blog, and if the first day is any indication, it's going to be a cross between Greg Gutfeld and the "Dear Riggo" section of SportsTalk 980's John Riggins Show. Here's Tucker dipping into the mailbag:
Q: Tucker, your flippant dismissal and ridicule of the religion I share with Tom Cruise was extremely offensive. I challenge you to find out why Tom and Katie's child will have a silent birth, whether you come to believe the reasons or not. The next time you have occasion to report on the subject, do it with respect.
—John C. Scott

A: Dear John, here's how "silent birth" is described on Scientology's web site: "In the book, Dianetics, L. Ron Hubbard writes that for the benefit of the mother and child, silence should be maintained during childbirth. This is because any words spoken are recorded in the reactive mind and can have an aberrative effect on the mother and the child."

Where to begin? There is no such thing as the "reactive mind." "Aberrative" is not a real word. Talking during childbirth doesn't hurt the child; not talking can. Doctors and nurses in the birthing room need to communicate with one other, and with the mother in labor. Silence during birth is dangerous. I could go on.

The point is, Scientology may be a "religion" (the IRS has concluded it is), but it is not a branch of science, and I don't plan to treat it as such, no matter what Tom Cruise says on the Today show. And speaking of Cruise, you ought to ditch him as a spokesman as soon as possible. He makes you all look bananas.

Yeah, baby!

The Letter

Scott Johnson has a nice little jab at al Jazeera:
Al Jazeera appears to be operating as an arm of al Qaeda in its story on the Zawahiri letter that al Qaeda claims was faked by the United States. According to the last line in the linked Al Jazeera story: "The U.S. officials released the fake letter as Iraqis are a few days away from the crucial vote on the country’s new constitution." Shouldn't Al Jazeera put a little effort into creating the illusion of detachment from al Qaeda, at least in its English-language product?

Bonus: Scott is far and away the best headline writer in the blogosphere. I maintain that he's good enough to have worked side-by-side at the New York Post with the legendary Dawn Eden. And his encyclopedic knoweldge of music is impressive enough to make me want to have him do a segment of Old Guy Radio with Tony Kornheiser.

Scott's a national treasure.

Update, 1:29 p.m.: Thanks to the anonymous commenter who points out that Scott Johnson has retracted his above jab:
UPDATE: In the original version of this post I linked to a story purportedly carried by Al Jazeera that contested the authenticity of the letter. Timothy Usher writes:

Alert: is not "the" Al Jazeera, but an imposter site..."The" Al Jazeera is indeed biased against the United States, although less so than they used to be, due either to pressure from our friends in Qatar, or that the Jihadis have lost their appeal. Anyhow, its address is

The actual Al Jazeera seems rather skeptical of the denial (see this story): "A purported al-Qaida web posting"..."who claims to be spokesman for al-Qaida in Iraq. It could not be authenticated."

And speaks of the putative authorship as fact: "In the letter, taking up 13 typed pages in its English translation, al-Qaida deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri wrote...The letter laid out his long-term plan..."

Al Jazeera has contacts in Al Qaeda, as seen in the Spanish conviction, and they are the preferred outlet for AQ communiques. We should assume that their estimate is well-grounded; i.e., the letter is real.

Many thanks for the heads up; my high regard for Scott's headline remains, though.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Like a Rock!

After the report surfaced earlier today about Harriet Miers's opinion of the Federalist Society, Scott McClellan caught the following question at his press briefing:
Q I'm just asking if those continue to be her views to this day, that she believes the Federalist Society is a politically-charged organization that she would not take membership in, and that if she still believes that the NAACP does not fall into that category?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Harriet Miers has been supportive of the Federalist Society, including participating in events, and giving a speech to the Society last spring. I know she's proud that a number of her attorneys on her own staff are members of the Federalist Society. And she, like the rest of the White House, knows that the Federalist Society has been a great ally on many important issues, particularly when it comes to the federal judiciary. They are someone that advocate -- an organization that advocates a strong and distinguished federal judiciary, and she's spoken to them about that and expressed her appreciation for what they do.

Q So it would seem that her views have changed?

MR. McCLELLAN: I would say those are her views that I just expressed. In terms of all the documents that are going to be released to the committee, we encourage everybody to look at those documents and look at what was said and look at the context.

I think I may now be convinced of the president's argument that 20 years from now, Harriet Miers will be the same person she is today. She seems to have gotten a lifetime of change out of her system during the last 20 years, so what could be left?

Let's Get Nuts! (cont.)

Please remember that I warned you that if people didn't start taking Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's sham marriage seriously, she was going to have to get pregnant, fast.

I bet Mr. and Mrs. Holmes are wishing they had listened to me right now.


You can't get it online, but how about this great line from David Brooks:
Harriet Miers has shown no loyalty to conservative institutions like the Federalist Society. her loyalty has been to the person of the president, and her mental style seems to be Republicanism on stilts.

Which would explain why some people persist in defending her: Those who believe that Republicanism is the paramount value will naturally support Miers. Those who believe that ideas and principles matter more than team politics, do not.

There Goes the Federalist Society

One of the big mistakes of the Roberts nomination was the way the administration ran away from the Federalist Society and went out of their way to assure people that Roberts wasn't a member. That sent an instant message to young lawyer types that maybe it wasn't safe to be in the Federalist Society if you had political aspirations.

Well now that message has been underlined, bolded, and put in 80-point with this Drudge flash:
The DRUDGE REPORT has obtained a copy of sworn testimony given by Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers in 1990 in which she said that she “wouldn’t belong to the Federalist Society” – a conservative and libertarian lawyers’ organization – because it was “politically charged.”

But Bush's Supreme Court nominee did not include in that catagory the NAACP and other liberal groups, the transcript reveals!

Here's the exchange:
Q. Ms. Miers, are you a member of any predominantly minority organizations, such as the NAACP, Black Chamber of Commerce, Urban League or any other predominantly minority organizations?

A. Women minorities?

Q. Well, maybe predominantly racial and ethnic minorities?

A. No.

Q. . . . . In your capacity as an at-large member do you think being involved in such organizations might assist you in having a perspective that – bring a perspective to your job that you don’t have?

A. I attend meetings designed to give me that input. However, I have tried to avoid memberships in organization s that were politically charged with one viewpoint or the other. For example, I wouldn’t belong to the Federalist Society any more than – I just feel like it’s better to not be involved in organizations that seem to color your view one way or the other for people who are examining you. I did join the Progressive Voters League here in Dallas during the campaign as part of the campaign.

Q. Are you active in the PVL now, do you intend to be?

A. No, I am not.

Q. Do you think the NAACP and Black Chamber of Commerce are in the category of organizations you were talking about?

A. No, I don’t. . . . .

Transcript of Trial, Roy Williams et al. v. City of Dallas, No. CA-3-88-152-R, pages V-46 to V-47 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Tex. Sept. 11, 1989).

The Bush administration has now made the Federalist Society radioactive. Thanks a lot, Mr. President.

Miers Petition

David Frum's petition for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers is up.

Burying the Lede

This article is supposed to be about a guy skipping out on a monster tab, but the editors bury the lede. The real news is: There's a store "where customers can read comic books while drinking cafe or tea"!

Sign me up.


John Fund has an excellent piece on the vetting process for Miers, including this nugget:
Another issue will involve Ms. Miers's tenure as head of the Texas Lottery Commission, where lottery director Nora Linares was fired in a scandal involving influence-peddling and lottery contracts. In a curious move, the White House announced this week that regarding the Linares matter, "Harriet Miers has never commented and will not now on what was a personnel matter." That is unlikely to remain a tenable position.

You don't say. Then there's this:
Mr. Card is said to have shouted down objections to Ms. Miers at staff meetings. A senator attending the White House swearing-in of John Roberts four days before the Miers selection was announced was struck by how depressed White House staffers were during discussion of the next nominee. He says their reaction to him could have been characterized as, "Oh brother, you have no idea what's coming."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

1 out of 3 Ain't Bad

From the White House press briefing:
MR. McCLELLAN: The President makes selections based on potential nominees' qualifications and experience and judicial temperament.

Since Harriet Miers has no judicial temperament (she's never been a judge) and her qualifications are pretty thin, that would suggest that the president relied pretty heavily on her experience.

One wonders if he means this in the classic grievance-group sense, i.e. "her experience as a woman," "her experience as a Christian," etc.

Hey, Vinnie Boombatz!

I normally don't equate tastelessness or offensiveness with Las Vegas, not the miniature Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, not the guys on the Strip handing out cards with explicit ads for a good time, not the billboards for Zumanity. But what I did find in questionable taste was an item at a gift shop in New York-New York, namely, a faux-license plate riddled with fake bullet holes and reading:


I've seen some bad license plates but I dare say this has got to be the worst.
Don't get me wrong. I think "Born to Run" is a great song. But the greatest? I can think of some other contenders off hand, including the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," "Things We Said Today," and "Norwegian Wood," or even the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations." And what about "Whole Lotta Love" and "Travelling Riverside Blues" by Zeppelin? Could there be a metaphor more eloquent than squeeze my lemon 'til the juice runs down my leg? And let's not forget "Rocks Off" and "Beast of Burden" by the Stones.

I know Mr. Last is trying to get me on a U2 rant, but I will refrain. Just because I happen to think the live version of "Bad" (not the Michael Jackson song) featured on Wide Awake in America is the greatest of greatest live recordings of all time in the history of rock and roll history... What was I saying?