December 31, 2005
2005 TAM Music Awards
Nothing really floored me this year. Plenty of good music was made just nothing that made my jaw drop. Coldplay tried but wasn't consistent. My fave King's X got harder and almost made it. There's always next year.
2005 TAM Weblog Awards
As the weblogs become more known weblogger's numbers increase. That makes for tough choices for the coveted (I would like to believe) TAM Weblog Awards. My criteria is simple: 1) it must be on my blogroll; 2) I have to think it's good for whatever reason I choose. It's the most subjective weblog awards in the blogosphere. Here we go:
Congratulations to the winners.
Mob Beating was Crack Deal Gone Bad
So we were lied to the past few days. Monday night's brutal beating of Samuel McClain shocked Milwaukee. Many wondered what was happening to parts of the city. Was she being taken over by barbarians? We now know McClain, father of 12, tried to get crack cocaine then claimed he was being ripped off. Then the beating took place. The victim is hardly innocent. Still, no one deserves the punishment McClain took. Those thugs who kicked and stomped on his head should be locked away for a very long time.
This shows the harm drugs can do to a community. Or does it? Maybe drugs being illegal is the problem If cocaine were legalized gangs wouldn't be selling it on the street. You'd go to your local convenience store or bar to get your fix. Legal cocaine might have prevented the invention of crack. We know for sure its illicit status keeps it in the realm of nasty, brutal people.
I'm not totally on the "legalize drugs" bandwagon, but I'm getting closer. It's like the decades-long approach to Fidel Castro's Cuba: the status quo isn't working. It's time to try something new. The first place we can start is by legalizing marijuana and give it the same status as alcohol. If someone wants to used it to relieve pain, fine. If they just want to get high, that's fine too. The McClain beating demonstrates the need to get drugs off the black market.
Starting the Party Early
No big night out on the town for me this New Year's Eve. Instead my family made a turkey and I've opened up a 2001 Murphy-Goode cabernet sauvignon. That grape hasn't been my favorite but this bottle burst with blueberry and cherry aromas immediately after I uncorked it. In my mouth it's velvety smooth with a bit of lemon acidity. It's the best cabernet I've ever drank. Kudos go to my mother for finding me a great Christmas present.
Tonight, the plan is to post the 2005 TAM Awards in all three catagories (books, music, and weblogs--I'm accepting bribes via my tip jar) then to pop open a bottle of bubbly to ring in the New Year. If you want to keep me company IM me on MSN at shackbar--at--hotmail.com or on Google Talk at sean.hackbarth--at--gmail.com.
New Year's Party in the Big Easy
They're partying in New Orleans. The place is a party town so a celebration is fitting after the horror its citizens have gone through. A moment of celebration lifts the soul from the torment surrounding it. One resident said, "New Orleans is back open, so come on down and start visiting. That's the word to get out." Unfortunately visitors may be the only ones returning for quite some time. The Big Easy was dying before Hurricane Katrina hit. The city's further dependence on tourism won't bring its people back.
"Rollicking Sendoff for 2005 in New Orleans"
Roger Scruton Interviewed
Before you get all wild and crazy this New Year's Eve here's an interview with conservative philospher Roger Scruton from last month on the 25th anniversary of his book The Meaning of Conservatism.
"The Joy of Conservatism: An Interview with Roger Scruton"
December 30, 2005
Snow Shovel Alert
The snow is falling in Green Bay so watch the team's website or call their new "snow shovel hotline" 920-569-7100 if you want to help shovel out Lambeau Field.
"Packers Issue 'Snow Shovel Advisory'"
Worst Americans Ever
Alexandra von Maltzan at All Things Beautiful came up with a question perfect for the least productive week of the year: name the ten worst Americans ever. This is sure to stir up discussion. Let me take a stab at it in no particular order:
I really wanted to add Franklin Roosevelt. We're stuck with his expansion of government in the name of fighting the Great Depression. He failed, and we're paying the price for his welfare state. But he did lead the Allies in World War II. U.S. Grant could also make this list if you only looked at his corrupt Presidency. But Grant is a war hero. That saves him.
Who would you put on your list?
[via Captain Ed]
What Was He Thinking?
Sixteen-year-old Farris Hassan wanted to really research what is going on in Iraq before writing editorials for a class assignment. So he hopped on a plane and went alone to Iraq via Kuwait and Lebanon. Mom was scared to death while dad says Farris has "a new appreciation for all the blessings" he has in the U.S. The 101st Airborne found him, and the U.S. embassy is getting him back to the States. Irresponsible? Yes, but you know he's going to get a book deal out of his adventure.
"U.S. Teen Runs Off to Iraq by Himself"
Majority Approve NSA Eavesdropping
64% of respondents in a Rassmussen poll approve of the government being "allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States."
So what? Something being right and wrong, constitutionality or unconstitutionality doesn't depend on public opinion. It only means President Bush's opponents won't be able to turn the NSA story into a damaging political attack.
"64% Approve Of NSA Intercepts"
December 29, 2005
103-Year-Old to See First Packers Game
Margaret McKenney has been living in Green Bay since 1947. Only now, at the age of 103 will she finally watch a game in Lambeau Field. What took her so long? The problem was her husband wasn't "too keen about football." He must have felt like an outsider in football-crazy Green Bay. At least he wasn't a Chicago Bears fan.
McKenny, healing from a recent hip injury, said she "would be thrilled to death" if the Packers beat the Seattle Seahawks Sunday. I hope she didn't mean that literally.
"103-Year-Old Great-Great Grandmother to Attend First Packers Game"
Presidential Power in Wartime
If, as news accounts suggest, the action was part of Vice President Cheney’s campaign to strengthen the executive against the legislature, it is not a warranted adjustment in the balancing of liberty and security, but an act arrogance that the administrationcan ill afford when it needs the support of moderates in perilous times.
I wonder how Cheney could make his case that the President's powers have been unconstitutionally limited unless he had a tangible example at hand. Think tanks and scholars have argued about the constitutionality of such laws as the War Powers Act and how much Congress can limit a President (beyond funding) for years, but it's all remained theoretical. Presidents ignore it, and Congress hasn't gone to court to enforce it. If Cheney and the rest of the administration pre-Sep. 11 had argued Presidential power during wartime was as broad as they claim it would have been only a small story, and debate would have been minimal.
From my plain reading of the constitution (something very old fashioned) I think Cheney and John Yoo make a reasonable case. Congress shouldn't be able to run roughshod over the President, and the courts have their limited place as well. However, to get things done with Congress the administration needs to explain itself and retain the "support of moderates in perilous times," the most important part of Nye's post. From recent history, we know Dick Cheney is not best generator of goodwill on Capitol Hill.
UPDATE: If you don't know if you should buy Yoo's book download his 2004 paper "War, Responsibility, and the Age of Terrorism." I'm about a third through it and it's fascinating reading.
Breaking News in the Valarie Plame Case
Valarie Plame's and Joe Wilson's 5-year-old son spilled the beans and told reporters, "My daddy's famous, my mommy's a secret spy." No word if Peter Fitzgerald will ask a grand jury to indict him.
"CIA Couple Outed by 5-Year-Old Son"
December 28, 2005
"Time to Make the Donuts"--in Heaven
The actor famous for his Dunkin' Donuts commercials died at age 83. The nearest DD isn't that far away from my store. I'll have to stop in sometime soon in Michael Vale's honor.
December 27, 2005
Not So Hip
It's bad enough to not watch Battlestar Galactica, the best show of 2005 (good choice), but Glenn Reynolds doesn't even own a TiVo. His geek cred has dropped significantly.
A Fiesty One
Not only is Eva Longoria hot (I'm very jealous of Tony Parker), but she has a mouth. When Parker was confronted by a San Antonio cop it's claimed she said, "He's just a Mexican bike cop. He only wants your autograph."
"The Spurs Hate Mexicans (Or Something Like That)"
"Spurs' Parker Cited for Impeding Traffic in Car with Longoria"
Retired Pitcher Robs Jewelry Store
The odd story of the day is ex-pitcher Jeff Reardon arrested in Florida for robbing a jewelry store:
The 50-year-old Reardon, retired since 1994 and sixth in career saves, walked into Hamilton Jewelers at the Gardens Mall on Monday and handed an employee a note saying he had a gun and the store was being robbed, police said Tuesday.
I don't like his "the pills made me do it" excuse. But he's been dealing with the death of his son and heart problems. I wonder if he was contemplating "suicide by cop" but then changed his mind when the police actually arrived.
"Former Pitcher Reardon Arrested on Robbery Charge"
A Pointless Game
Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com writes:
For the long term, there’s no doubt the Green Bay Packers are better off losing their regular-season finale Sunday against Seattle than winning it.
I know the NFL would frown on a team tanking a game, but a win for either team is meaningless. The Packers only benefit from a loss along with lots of help from other teams to have a shot at drafting Reggie Bush. I don't think most Packers fans would be upset since the season is already a total disaster. What I'd like to see is Brett Favre go for a couple of series then get pulled for Aaron Rogers. Give the kid some playing time. There's nothing to lose, except the game.
Digging in the TAM archives I remember the last time the Seattle Seahawks came into Lambeau Field. They got their feathers plucked.
"Packers Likely to See Seahawks’ Backups"
TAM's Quiet Time
The week in between Christmas and New Years is the least productive of the year. I'm going with this flow with a relatively quiet week at TAM HQ. If some big story happens, say another terrorist attack or natural disaster, I'll be on top of it. But for the next few days expect posts on the not-so-serious and odd.
That's not to say I'm relaxing all week. In retail things don't slow down now. There are gift returns and people wanting to use gift cards burning holes in their pocket. I won't be able to catch my breath until the kids go back to school after Christmas break.
December 26, 2005
Christmas in Iraq
The Blog General has a short Christmas story from Iraq that reminds us about the blessings of freedom.
"Merry Christmas, Infidels!"
December 25, 2005
The Season of Giving
Judging from my Site Meter stats I know few people are using their computers to read TAM's latest. Good, because there's nothing happening here. I'm just casually cooking for the family (waffles and omelets done with a ham in the oven) and relaxing until the Packers-Bears game. With your computer on and not doing anything how about donating some of your cpu time to Folding@Home. It will help with research into "Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, and many Cancers and cancer-related syndromes." If you're a gadget geek hook up with the Team Engadget, or if you're a political geek there's the RedState.org team.
December 24, 2005
Christmas in TAM Land
This Christmas Eve is a change for me. Due to scheduling conflicts my family is celebrating tomorrow. We've always done the dinner and gift giving on Christmas Eve. We're turning it into brunch and and all-day feed--we've got enough food for that, yeesh. So tonight has been cleaning up the house and being lazy watching NORAD's Santa Tracker. (It's just so cute!) Oh, and I made my first gin gimlet. That is a slow-sippin' cocktail. Whoa, and potent too.
Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope you enjoy your time spent with family and friends.
Mao Book Hoax Confirmed
The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed Homeland Security agents (which don't exist) talked to him about checking out Mao's "Little Read Book" admits he made the story up. Professor Brian Glyn Williams confronted the student about the huge holes in his story only to be told it was a hoax. Williams said, "'I feel as if I was lied to, and I have no idea why." The rest of us would like to know why the student lied too. It looks like the student is suffering from a mental illness. His story became more elaborate with the inclusion of a second visit from DHS agents dressed "just like the guys in Men in Black." We also would like to know why Williams bought the story at face value. The professor appears to be a knee-jerk Bush basher who saw an opportunity to attack the President and took it. I do not buy Professor Williams' claim that he "wasn't involved in some partisan struggle to embarrass the Bush administration, [he] just wanted the truth." Someone interested in the truth would look into the story before passing on the unsubstantiated claim to a reporter.
Let's not forget the New Bedford Standard-Times who first published the story. Reporter Aaron Nicodemus and his editors were irresponsible, plain and simple. They weren't critical of the student's far-fetched claims. Readers deserve an apology and an explanation for how such bad journalism occured.
"Federal Agents' Visit was a Hoax"
UPDATE: Tim Blair chides Molly Ivins and James Carville and has lots of links.
Everywhere You Turn There's a Football Stadium
How many stadiums does Texas have that are big enough to host bowl games? I ask that because I had no idea where they were playing the Fort Worth Bowl last night. It's played in Texas Christian University's Amon Carter Stadium. So, just in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex I count four big-time football stadiums: Amon Carter, Texas Stadium, Gerald Ford Stadium, and the Cotton Bowl. Then there are two in Houston, one in San Antonio, one in Austin, and one in Waco (I'd go to the "Wacko Bowl" in Waco). Those are just off the top of my head. I know I'm missing Texas Tech, North Texas, and Texas A&M.
In Texas they're crazy about football. Even some high school fields have facilities that would impress colleges. There's even an online database of Texas high school stadiums. Everything is bigger in Texas, including their passion for football.
December 23, 2005
Slow to the Mao Hoax
Kudos go to Boing Boing for getting the ball rolling.
UPDATE: I hold my head in shame. Eric Lindholm of Viking Pundit didn't buy the story a week ago. Obviously I need to read Eric's weblog more often.
President Bush's argument that Congress gave him the authority for expansive eavesdropping was countered by ex-Senator Tom Daschle in an Washington Post op-ed:
On the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, the White House proposed that Congress authorize the use of military force to "deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States." Believing the scope of this language was too broad and ill defined, Congress chose instead, on Sept. 14, to authorize "all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed or aided" the attacks of Sept. 11. With this language, Congress denied the president the more expansive authority he sought and insisted that his authority be used specifically against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
Daschle goes on:
If the stories in the media over the past week are accurate, the president has exercised authority that I do not believe is granted to him in the Constitution, and that I know is not granted to him in the law that I helped negotiate with his counsel and that Congress approved in the days after Sept. 11. For that reason, the president should explain the specific legal justification for his authorization of these actions, Congress should fully investigate these actions and the president's justification for them, and the administration should cooperate fully with that investigation.
To support his argument Daschle went back into (recent) history to gleen the sense of the Senate. He was trying to determine their original intent. Is this Tom Daschle or Antonin Scalia?
It's interesting we can determine the intent of Senators from four years ago, but we can't determine the Founding Fathers' original intent (or the very words they used) to support a more literal reading of the constitution (no mention of abortion, Miranda rights, creation of the modern welfare state, etc.).
Then we have Captain Ed blasting Daschle:
Nowhere in that resolution does it restrict the Bush administration from conducting its war operations within the US, and contrary to what Russ Feingold and Tom Daschle would have Americans think, laws do not enable government power but restrict them. That which is not explicitly forbidden is therefore assumed to be legal, and not the other way around, as a moment's thought will clearly show.
As a conservative I'm not comfortable stating it like that. What Ed is talking about is "negative liberty." While I agree the concept should be applied to individuals I'm not so sure it should be applied to governments. Government must be limited to secure liberty. But liberty is meaningless without adequate security. Creating institutions and writing words on paper can only limit actions so much. Lawyers, because of their years of training, analyze what can and can't be done under the law. They find loopholes and seams to squeeze their clients through--be it a petty thief, a corporation eyeing a tax break, or the government using new methods to find terrorists.
Also on the right, John Hindraker analyzes the NSA's activities starting with the President's constitutional powers as commander-in-chief:
The starting point, of course, is the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution sets out the powers and duties of the President. Some people do not seem to realize that the executive branch is coequal with the legislative and judicial branches. The President has certain powers under the Constitution, and they cannot be taken away or limited by Congressional legislation any more than the President can limit the powers of Congress by executive order.
A limiting factor is the Fourth Amendment. Hindraker points out it "does not apply to terrorists overseas." There is also that important word "reasonable" before "searches and seizures." Is it unreasonable for the President of the United States to listen in to conversations of people in the U.S. are having with terrorist suspects overseas? Hindraker agrees:
The only constitutional limitation on the President’s power to intercept communications by Americans for national security purposes is that such intercepts be “reasonable.” Is it reasonable for the administration to do all it can to identify the people who are communicating with known terrorists overseas, via the terrorists’ cell phones and computers, and to learn what terrorist plots are being hatched by those persons? Is it reasonable to do so even when—rather, especially when--some portion of those communications come from people inside the United States? I don’t find it difficult to answer those questions; nor, if called upon to do so, would the Supreme Court.
Politically the President wins this argument. The intent of President Bush is to stop terrorist attacks. The public will accept that argument if the White House does a good job arguing that. If it's found the NSA was used to spy on political enemies then get ready for impeachment hearings. But there hasn't been any hint of this. After Congress holds its hearings next year this issue will pass. Some new legislation might be passed to limit the President's intelligence capability but that will receive Bush's (first!?!) veto. Another effect will be increased paranoia and rage from Bush bashers.
Daschle's originalism versus Hindraker's textualism, which one wins? Hindraker does because he goes straight to the heart of powers of the American government, the constitution. Daschle only tries to pop a balloon in one of the Bush administration's arguments.
"Power We Didn't Grant"
Creative Commons Fund Drive
We use private rights to create public goods: creative works set free for certain uses. Like the free software and open-source movements, our ends are cooperative and community-minded, but our means are voluntary and libertarian. We work to offer creators a best-of-both-worlds way to protect their works while encouraging certain uses of them — to declare "some rights reserved."
I don't use any of their licenses--too damn lazy. But I know I've used content on TAM that is under CC licenses. They're having a year-end fundraising drive. I gave them a few bucks, you should too.
December 22, 2005
Cindy Sheehan thinks she was so "scrutinized," and that the MSM didn't do the same to President Bush. Yeah, right! Then why does Cindy get big pics in Time and Vanity Fair?
"Poor Cindy Sheehan"
Ann Althouse has "yet to do any Christmas shopping!" Judging from her weblog she won't take it out on weary retail workers.
"Running out of Time"
Christmas Shoppers are Miserable Humans
The more Christmas seasons I work in retail the more I become a Scrooge. I offered plenty of complaints last year that are still applicable today. Let me add some more:
Maybe I'm just getting more and more cynical but while the good customers are still around the bad customers are getting worse. I encounter too many people who have no respect for other's property and treat stores worse than their own homes. Then they complain the store is trashed and they can't find anything. Retail workers toil hard and get paid squat. While there are some who could really give a damn about customers there are plenty who do the best they can but get discouraged by people who treat them like dirt. My concluding remark from last Christmas still applies:
You may notice and like that smiling face helping you compensate for your inability to be organized, mildly helpful, and considerate. But behind the facade is contempt for how much of an idiot you are. To you morons we wonder how America will continue to be the world's sole superpower. We wonder if the nation's collective I.Q. goes down with each new child you bring into the world. Stupid people shouldn't breed, and we could certainly like to have easy access to enough x-rays to fix the problem.
Is it a coincidence that Satan and Santa are anagrams? Isn't it also interesting that they both wear red? December 25 can't get here soon enough.
Going to CPAC
Karol from Alarming News is invited back too. I wonder who else.
December 21, 2005
Laughing at Wikipedia
On science subjects Wikipedia may be as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica. However, when it comes to preening egos it's turning into a joke:
Sleuthing into the accuracy of the open-source web encyclopedia known as Wikipedia has led to the door of its founder, Jimmy Wales.
"Wikipedia Founder Edits Own Bio"
Punching More Holes in Mao Story
First, on the Association of College and Research Libraries weblog they state:
Today, the University issued a statement. Though they aren’t contesting the student’s claim, and they are protecting his identity at his request, they offer some reassurance that their library, at least, didn’t participate in violating the student’s rights. The student says he made the request through another library, unnamed.
The library has changed. Did the professors who gave the story to Aaron Nicodemus, The Standard-Times reporter, mistate the library, or did the still-unnamed student change his story?
Professor John McAdams talked to a spokesman for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They have no book "watch list." Also, until they know the name of the student they can't determine if one of their agents investigated him.
I was leaning hoax. Now, I'm convinced the student made the story up to his professors who then passed it on to a reporter. It was a lie created for some unknown reason that ended up in a newspaper then spread across the internet. Who really should have egg on their faces are Professors Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand who irresponsibly passed on a bogus story. With Williams there's a tinge of Bush bashing since he passed on the story when asked about NSA domestic spying. Then there is Aaron Nicodemus and The Standard-Times who got lazy and barely investigated the story.
"Apparently Bogus: Homeland Security Visited Student Who Ordered Mao’s 'Little Red Book'"
December 20, 2005
Witness Mental and Physical Competition
Want to see what happens at a chessboxing match? Yes, I know you're all shouting, "YES! YES! YES!" Here you go, a match from Berlin. Sorry, I think the captions are in French.
Possible Abuse of Patriot Act
Despite movements in Nepal and India Maoism is an ocean of blood on 20th Century history rather than a serious threat to U.S. security. A Massachusetts newspaper reported a student received an unexpected meeting from Department of Homeland Security agents after requesting Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung AKA Mao's "Little Red Book." Interestingly, no agency is mentioned. Looking at DHS's website I'm not sure what agency would have visited him. Maybe it was the Secret Service. But this sounds like something the FBI would do, not someone from DHS. The student wishes to remain anonymous so we have no details from him. No word also from DHS. Only two professors conveyed the story, one, of which, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams stands by the story he was told. In fact, he only mentioned the story to the reporter as a comment on the NSA spying story. In an e-mail he wrote, "I cited this incident as an example of the White
Two glaring factual errors in the original story include the university has no record of the book coming into their library, and the library doesn't require a student's Social Security for an inter-library loan request.
Something is fishy, and Bush bashers are eating it up. Is this the best they can do to show the Patriot Act has trampled civil liberties? After four years of the Patriot Act all the "abuse" they have is a story full of gaping holes.
"DHS Agents Visit Student over Little Red Book - HOAX DEBATE"
December 19, 2005
Bush Fights Back
In today's press conference President Bush defended NSA spying on terrorists that was revealed last week in the NY Times. For someone defending his actions he wasn't defensive. In fact, he was angry the program was revealed. He told reporters, "My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this program in a time of war. . . . The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy." He also countered a reporter's claim that he had "unchecked power" by referring to Congressional briefings by his administration. "There is oversight. We're talking to Congress all the time. . . . To say 'unchecked power' is to ascribe dictatorial power to the president, to which I object." Robert Byers liked that Bush "boldly and unapologetically stat[ed] his case."
Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said the President had constitutional and statutory authority for the eavesdropping. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) strongly disagreed:
Nobody, nobody, thought when we passed a resolution to invade Afghanistan and to fight the war on terror, including myself who voted for it, thought that this was an authorization to allow a wiretapping against the law of the United States.
Of course from Feingold's preening it seems he doesn't want the government to have any ability to investigate terrorists like they can drug dealers and organized crime. Thus, his opposition to the Patriot Act.
Going off the deep end and showing off the dark side of weblogging, John Aravosis thinks the NSA was/is spying on reporters. He has no proof but still wants "some enterprising journalist" to ask the White House about it.
Ace sees this as a losing Democratic issue:
When Democrats are apparently incapable of selective outrage and critique -- when they do not choose their fights, but simply climb aboard every anti-American and terrorist-coddling bandwagon -- it can't help be concluded that the San Fransisco Democrats are back, baby, and this time out and proud.
"Bush Defends Eavesdropping Program"
"Bush Had 'Constitutional' and 'Statutory' Authority, Some Say"
Money Making Opportunity
People in the U.S. really, really want an Xbox 360. Some want it so much they are shelling out $600 on eBay for these machines. Yet they're plentiful in Japan and running for a little over $300 (35,000 yen). I smell an abitrage play. If only I could read Japanese to see how much Amazon.co.jp would gouge me for overnight shipping.
"Need to find an Xbox 360? Buy a ticket to Tokyo"
Somehow the House of Representitives thinks Americans have a God-given right to television. Thus, they want to spend $1.5 billion for converter boxes when TV goes all digital in 2009. I didn't know this was such a pressing issue. Heck, in four years most people's TV will be broken and replaced anyway. The Heritage Foundation's Andrew Grossman writes,
For most of the millions of Americans with analog sets, this switchover will mean “absolutely nothing”—85 percent of households have cable or satellite service and won’t even notice.
You'd almost think we weren't in the middle of a war.
"House Moves for All-Digital TV by 2009"
Since this is ultimately a political issue Bush bashers will have a problem. They can't argue the government has no right to ever secretly intercept communications without a warrant because any reasonable person could imagine a (non-24) scenerio. A few days into the story and already Bush critics are digging into line-by-line analysis of FISA law. I can already see people's eyes glazing over.
At worst the President can be accused of overzealous prosecution against terrorists. Now, if it comes out that the NSA, FBI, or the Defense Department is found to be spying on political enemies (and I don't consider the recent DoD revelation to be such) then it becomes Nixonian. The public will tolerate, to an extent, actions done with good intentions. They will not tolerate using government power for personal or political gain.
Steven Taylor makes a good point:
In terms of reaching understanding, the sad part is that it seems to me that too many on the left are prepared to assume evil and too many on the right are automatically predisposed to assume good. It is rather difficult to have a cogent policy debate in such a context, is it not?
Also, we don't have a full understanding of how the spying program operates and what the thinking of all the participants is. The program may be constitutionally "reasonable" but as James Joyner asks why wasn't a FISA court warrant gotten after the fact. Ann Althouse hopes upcoming Congressional hearings will shed more light on this including "the question of who blew the secret and why." RedState.org's Leon H. writes that the case of President Bush violating the law "is anything but the slam dunk the media and the Democrats (sorry for being redundant) are making it out to be."
One more thing: if is see someone slap a "-gate" onto this story I'll puke. Think of something original.
"Purposely Misquoting FISA to Defend the Bush Administration"
"Much Ado About Nothing"
"Update on FISA Question"
Sponsored by ACME
Not TAM, but this week's Carnival of the Capitalists hosted by Coyote Blog.
Patriot Act Abuse
Earlier this week, I was chastised for making the point that no one has come forward with any claims of abuse of the Patriot Act. DJ said that's because people are legally prevented from talking about it. But when has that ever stopped the ACLU or the NY Times? You'd think the former would have listed examples of abuse in its talking points. The latter went to the Supreme Court to defend their right to publish the Pentagon Papers. Also, something being "classified" didn't stop the Times from telling the world (and terrorists) about the NSA monitoring their conversations with people inside the U.S.
But don't take my word for it. Here's FBI Agent Timothy Fuhrman from the Salt Lake City office:
The record is clear - since the inception of the Patriot Act there has not been one finding that the FBI has ever misused the authority granted to it by the Patriot Act.
"FBI Has Never Misused Authority Granted in the Patriot Act"
December 18, 2005
Study Finds Liberal Media Bias
A UCLA-led study has concluded that much of the media leans to the left.
While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.
The mention of Jim Lehrer's show is interesting. I know a few conservatives who watch it nightly. I figured it was to get more in depth news. It might be for its balance.
The study's methodology is complex. It links media mentions of ideological think tanks to Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) voting scores of lawmakers. There's holes here. Those who don't see Leftist media bias will attack this part of the study. A good critic would have to think of a better way to determine bias. I'll be expecting something from Media Matters in 3...2...1...
What we do know is this will be the most popular article ever from the arcane Quarterly Journal of Economics.
Why I Can't Rip on Instapundit
Not only is Glenn Reynolds a weblogging superstar, but he's also a nice guy:
CHRISTMAS/HOLIDAY ADVICE to blog readers: Don't do this here, as I don't need it, but go to one of your favorite blogs and make a donation or send an appreciative email. Especially one of the smaller blogs, where the attention is especially likely to be noticed and appreciated. There are a lot of blogs out there, and the bloggers with low traffic often work just as hard as the ones with big numbers. Let 'em know if you like their work.
I've met Glenn a couple times. What you read on his weblog is what you get in person: curious, thought-provoking, and generous to others.
Colder than Ice Cream
As cold as it was outside the Milwaukee Bucks were even colder inside the Bradley Center Saturday night. I witnessed live inside the arena a team out of gas from a hard-fought victory the night before in Boston. When their three-pointers didn't go in their layups clanged off the iron. The Bucks got down early to the Utah Jazz and had to fight their way back. Every time something good came to them, a three-point play or a steal for an easy bucket, they lost momentum immediately by allowing a Jazz fast break. The Bucks did end up with the lead briefly at the end of the third period, but the referees decided to replay the final ten seconds because they didn't let a fouled Jazz play shoot his free throws. In the fourth quarter the ice cold shooting returned, the Buck went down ten points, and the end result was an 88-80 loss.
"Utah 88, Milwaukee 80"
December 17, 2005
State Senator Harassed by Hispanic Group
The Hispanic advocacy group Voces de la Frontera went beyond their free speech rights and harassed State Senator Cathy Stepp outside her home last night. Stepp described the obnoxious tactics:
On the evening of Friday, December 16th, a group of people advocating the issuing of drivers’ licenses to non-citizens appeared outside my windows yelling and attempting to intimidate me to vote against Assembly Bill 69. Law enforcement was notified and the group disbanded. This group justifies their actions by claiming they have not had their phone call returned when in reality all constituent calls are returned until callers become belligerent or profane.
"Advocacy Group Harasses Senator Stepp at HOME"
With this being the weekend before Christmas the bookstore was packed with shoppers. They're not desparate yet, but they're close. No longer can we order books into the store by Christmas. So, if you really want something in particular nab the book's ISBN from an online bookstore then get on the phone. This will save you the stress of jumping from one bookstore to another. If that fails think of alternatives. The best way is to go to your nearest bookstore and find the section where the book you wanted is. Asking a bookseller is also an idea, but to be honest at this busy time we're trying to help as many customers as we can. I don't think it's fair to suck up that person's time while other people are waiting just because you don't know what Uncle Joe wants. Most importantly, please be polite to the employees. We're trying our best. Both customers and employees are stressed out. Kindness can go a long way. Of course, if you're treated badly ask for the manager. No one deserves that.
Is this sacrilegious? Will Bill O'Reilly be screaming about this anytime soon?
UPDATE: The experiment is working. TAM is #1 on Google's weblog search for "porn."
December 16, 2005
People are waiting 90 minutes for sub sandwiches at the newly opened Suburpia in Wauwatosa. Those must be damn good subs.
For my sub cravings I like Jimmy Johns. Their bread has a better crust and the meats have more flavor than Subway's (which aren't bad). Cousins used to have a great warm chicken breast sub. I haven't eaten there in a long time. So I don't know if they still have it. Where do you go for really good subs and sandwiches?
"Customers Come Back for a Sandwich They Remember"
Let's Question the Timing
The NY Times must tell its readers why to chose today to run the NSA domestic spying story. In the story the Times tells its readers it waited a year to run it because of government conerns. Did the newspaper time the story to affect the Patriot Act vote? Well, it affected Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY):
I went to bed last night unsure of how to vote on this legislation...but today's revelation that the government listened in on thousands of phone conversations without getting a warrant is shocking and has greatly influenced my vote. If this government will discard a law that has worked well for over 30 years without a wit of discussion or notice, then for sure we better be certain that we have safeguards on that government....Today's revelation makes it crystal clear that we have to be very careful.
Just asking this question should let you know what I think. The NY Times engaged in advocacy journalism. That's fine. More power to them. But they should take the "All the news that's fit to print" mantra off their front page. Or they should change it to "All the news that's fit to print to advance our agenda." That would be truth in advertising.
Howard Stern Leaves FM
Today was Howard Stern's last day on over-the-air radio. Being the publicity whore he is Stern had to turn it into huge NYC event. Yahoo webcast it all. In a speech to the crowd he called the Religious Right the "American Taliban." Moron.
Stern moves to Sirius Satellite Radio next month. The big question is how many of Stern's fans will follow.
Patriot Act Filibustered
The Senate couldn't defeat a filibuster by Sens. Larry Craig (R-ID) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) that would extend provisions of the Patriot Act.
In a related note one of the elements of the House-Senate compromise includes tightening "restrictions on cold medications that can be cooked into methamphetamine and increases penalties on methamphetamine production and trafficking." Give me a break. Al Qaeda is too busy building bombs to care about cold medication. More creeping government.
"Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act"
UPDATE: JunkYardBlog makes an important point:
PATRIOT hasn’t resulted in any—not one—of the legions of abuses many people feared with varying degrees of reasonableness.
UPDATE II: Sen. Feingold posted at TPMCafe just after the cloture vote failed.
TAM didn't win, but she wasn't last. (Sorry Gary at Ex-Donkey Blog.) Thanks for all who voted. Next year, I hope TAM gets creamed by some Top 250 weblogs.*
*That's a subtle hint to tell other weblogs to link to TAM.
Investigate this Leak
Will Patrick Fitzgerald start investigating who told the NY Times about classfied NSA spying of international communications made from people inside the U.S.? This now-public knowledge is far more damaging to the nation (and helpful to al Qaeda) than whatever Karl Rove and Scooter Libby are accused of doing.
To my Bush bashing readers: Before go off on how this evil administration is riding roughshod over civil liberties put yourself in the President's shoes. On Sep. 11, 2001 you witnessed horrific attacks on your country. For almost 60 years the national security mindset was about great power war when the focus in the past 10 years should have been terrorism. New information is found that has to be quickly used, or it's wasted. What do you do? Decisions have to be made quickly because the window of opporunity is closing to seriously hurt the enemy and protect the nation. You do what you think is right and live with the consequences. Imagine the outcry if after another attack we learned the NSA had information that could have stopped it but they didn't have a warrant? The President would be cruicified. To paraphrase Justice Robert Jackson, the Bill of Rights isn't a suicide pact. If you want an apology from the President, Scott Ott wrote one for him.
Notice in the Times story the Justice Department audited the program. This is not just a case of an administration drunk with power gleefully wading through Americans' e-mails and telephone conversations. They are concerned about balancing security with civil liberties. These are tough decisions for tough times. You may not agree with the decisions, but at least respect the difficulties they are facing.
Now this is out in the open. Fine. Let's have a discussion. Why did the administration feel the need to bypass getting FISA warrants? Let's look and see if this program has been abused or if mistakes have been made. I'll be shocked if everything went perfectly. This is the government, remember? Let's see how serious people are about protecting the nation from terrorists. Let's see how many have already forgotten the burning Twin Towers and the gaping hole in the Pentagon.
"Red Alert: Chicken Littles on the Loose"
"Much Ado About Surveillance …"
UPDATE: Mark Levin thinks he knows why President Bush signed the order:
The reason the President probably had to sign an executive order is that the Justice Department office that processes FISA requests, the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR), can take over 6 months to get a standard FISA request approved. It can become extremely bureaucratic, depending on who is handling the request. His executive order is not contrary to FISA if he believed, as he clearly did, that he needed to act quickly. The president has constitutional powers, too.
Absolutism, cultishness, bad fictional sex scenes, and right-wing utopianism pretty much sum up Ayn Rand's life. Jenny Turner profiles the woman.
December 15, 2005
Great Progress on Iraqi Election Day
How can you not cheer when an old man in a wheelchair was the first in line at his polling center then said, "I'm here at this early hour to challenge the terrorists who want to kill the democratic process in Iraq and I want to encourage the healthy people to vote"? From Jeff Goldstein's survey it's easy for the Bush bashers.
UPDATE: Captain Ed delivers a solid smackdown on the anti-warriors:
The only losers in this election will be those who have told us over and over again that democracy could not be imposed at gunpoint. That the cut-and-run Coalition of the Gutless could still today stand and make that argument is a testament to the enduring power of freedom: stupidity and cravenness is no crime. The Iraqis didn't get democracy imposed on them at gunpoint at all. They had their oppressors removed at gunpoint -- and then the Anglo-Aussie-Italo-Polish-etc-American coalition kept them from falling prey to even more oppressors by gunpoint while they slowly took charge of their own destiny. No one who has watched the three free elections in Iraq this year could possibly describe the march to the polls as being "at gunpoint". These people rose up as a nation -- perhaps in this election especially for the first time -- in defiance of the guns and bombs of their erstwhile oppressors to take their nation back from them.
"Have We Gotten The Message Now?"
Reality Used to Be a Friend of Mine
This is the time of year when life interferes with this weblog. After 8+ hours of managing Christmas shoppers my brain is fried. Few synapses are firing to put together a decent post. I just keep telling myself that in nine days the worst will be over.
Have any Christmas shopping stories--past, present, or hell, future--you want to share? If not then go over to the Weblog Awards and help TAM stay out of last place.
Iraqi Election Coverage
Charlie's Show Prep #17
Here are some stories Charlie Sykes should talk about on today's show:
UPDATE: It would have been nice of Charlie to let me know he was done for the year. I'm done too. No show prep for Jeff Wagner. Not until he stops doing his John Moschitta impression everytime he gives out telephone numbers. ;-)
CotB Christmas Edition
RealDebateWisconsin put some effort into hosting the Carnival of the Badger. He wrote poetry, and it rhymes!
December 14, 2005
My goal of catching Meryl Yourish is fading. I'm again worrying about falling into last place. Give this poor weblogger a hand and vote today, then tomorrow, then the next day. I won't cry if you don't support me, but I will be very disappointed.
A Tight Web They Weave
Here's some quick inside
"Pajamas Media - Building A Better Echo Chamber"
Coke + Coffee = ???
Coca-Cola Blak is a new "cola-coffee beverage" coming soon to a store near you. In the words of the company's press release:
Coca-Cola Blak is not just a flavor extension. It is a blend of unique Coke refreshment with the true essence of coffee and has a rich smooth texture and has a coffee-like froth when poured.
When I think of soda I dread anything having to do with "texture" in it. Water plus flavoring should not have texture. Still, I'll try it. Maybe it will be a winner with me like Coke Zero is.
"Coke to Launch Coffee-Infused Coke Blak"
Charlie's Show Prep #16
Here's what Charlie Sykes should talk about on his show today:
December 13, 2005
AlGore Might Be Onto Something
Ripping on AlGore's Current has been a minor hobby of mine. The jury is still out if it can make a go of it broadcasting short videos, many made by amateurs. Current has some big advertisers but their problem is they're only available to 20 million homes. The DIY nature is what's in and hip. Mix, remix, cut, paste, code. That's what youngins are doing with their media today. I'm in the top end of the 18-34 demographic the network is targeting so I'm not sure I can fully relate.
Current's real problem may be that it's a network. I wrote last spring, "[T]he network will always be behind the curve." There's greater variety of weblogs, podcasts, and homemade videos on the net. To these people if you can't download it to something portable to take with you and share with friends what's the point. AlGore might be onto something. It's just he might be using old means for a new idea.
New Orleans' Elections Postponed
If President Bush did this the Bush haters would be going crazy.
"Blanco Postpones New Orleans Elections"
Following the Iraqi Election
Blog General serving in Iraq recommends some weblogs to follow the Iraqi elections. That will contrast a media "breathlessly await[ing] the next bombing, the next soldier killed."
"A Couple Sites to Keep Up With!"
Xbox Insanity Soon to Return to Best Buy
If this information is accurate Best Buy will be selling more Xbox 360s on 12.18. Christmas shoppers plus gameboy nuts equals craziness. Best Buy employees have my pity.
Charlie's Show Prep #15
My continuous saga of helping Charlie Sykes prepare for his show continues:
The Carnage at Hemel
Firefighters are down to battling three blazing fuel tanks at Buncefield. They hope to have fires out by mid-day today. The BBC not only covers the fire but let's us know how it's being fought.
Now, the main concern is what will happen to all the junk in the Hemel Hempstead smoke cloud that has reached France.
The oil depot near Hemel Hempstead looks like an Iraqi military installation after an Operation: Iraqi Freedom airstrike. But you can't blame President Bush or evil neocons. We still don't know who or what to blame. The fire is still raging and no terrorists have claimed the explosion as their work.
"Fire Crews Hoping to Douse Blaze"
Iraqi Ballot: Tool of the Devil
How horrible can the Iraqi government be? Saddam Hussein is eligible to vote. I wonder if he thinks the vote is "Satanic?"
"Islamic Extremists: Iraqi Vote 'Satanic'"
December 12, 2005
It's That Time Again
I'm asking for your votes again. I'm not getting any closer to Meryl Yourish, but TAM also isn't getting closer to last place. Your vote would be just lovely.
PJM Isn't Fast
When you think of weblogs you think of ordinary people who can quickly comment on a breaking story. That's what I did when I heard about the Hemel Hempstead fuel depot fire. I quickly put together weblog, Flickr, and Technorati links. I kept that up with further updates. I did this without any funding. Pajamas Media with its $3.5 million in venture capital didn't have anything up until later Sunday morning. If I were operating a weblogging company I'd have someone awake at all hours of the day waiting to pounce on breaking news. Let's face it, they got scooped by the MSM. That shouldn't happen to a company that wants to outdo them.
"Sleepwalking In Pajamas"
Hemel Hempstead Fire Update
Schools and some roads remain closed today because of the fire still burning Buncefield fuel depot north of London. The smoke cloud is moving to the southeast and southwest due to light winds. As of yesterday morning the cloud covered most of London. The BBC reports "large parts of southern England" will have the cloud overhead by Monday morning.
Firefighters are now attacking the blaze with foam gathered from around the UK this past day. The local fire chief doesn't even know if it will work. "We are not even sure how the thermal currents will affect the foam; it may just vaporise it."
Thankfully, no one died. One man who survived the blast from a building next to the depot called it a "miracle."
"Massive Blaze Rages at Fuel Depot"
This bombing is sure to incite anti-Syrian feelings even more:
A car bomb explosion killed Gebran Tueni, a staunchly anti-Syrian member of parliament and Lebanese newspaper magnate, in Beirut on Monday, police said.
If the Syrian government was behind this their timing is awful:
The U.N. Security Council was due to receive a report later on Monday by chief U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis on who was behind Hariri's assassination.
"Car Bomb Kills Anti-Syrian MP Tueni in Beirut"
"Beirut Bomb Kills Anti-Syria MP"
Charlie's Show Prep #14
After he does his part of WTMJ's "extreme" Packers coverage (what was it before?) here is what Charlie Sykes should talk about on today's show:
Michael Crowley's NY Times Magazine weblogs article is out. That tiny thing garnered too much attention. All Crowley says is the conservative blogospheres uses uses weblogs for "eliciting strong emotional responses from their supporters" while the Left supposedly "air[s] ideas and vent[s] grievances with one another" and is too busy "examining every side of every issue." Crowley offers nothing to support that statement. If he's comparing Free Republic, which isn't a weblog, to Crooked Timber that would be unfair. Looking at the big boy of the liberal blogosphere, Daily Kos, we have this "interesting" post: pictures of four Republicans with them labled "bad guys." is that "examining every side of every issue" or "eliciting strong emotional responses from their supporters?" How about calling Iraqi elections as "The Myth of the Purple Finger?"
Then there's the assertion that conservative webloggers are part of the right wing media conspiracy. Well, I'm still waiting for Karl Rove's orders.
Crowley's piece has no point and no evidence. He's just using the pages of a major American newspaper to smear conservative webloggers.
"Conservative Blogs are More Effective"
When Winning is Losing
I have a confession to make: I'm a Green Bay Packers fan who wanted them to lose to the Lions. Hell, I want them to lose all the games they have left this season. Watching Brett Favre complete a pass in overtime to secure a win is always great, but this season is done, over, ka-put. I'm thinking about next year, specifially the draft in April. The one man I want to see in a Packers' uniform is Reggie Bush.
The Pack are now two games behind the truly woeful Houston Texans who are 1-12. In Week 17 the Texans play the 2-11 San Francisco the loser will probably be assured of the #1 pick.
December 11, 2005
Sydney Race Riots
Rioters don't come from one race, religion, or ethnicity. Australian white mobs running around Sydney seeking revenge for an alleged attack on life guards by Lebanese youth. Arab Australians countered by smashing car windows. France and now Sydney prove the veneer of civilization is very thin.
"Beach Trash Duke it Out"
"Racial Violence Shocks Australian City"
Breaking News: Explosions North of London
Something went boom north of London:
A series of massive explosions were reported north of London by witnesses ringing into British media early on Sunday.
It's way too early to know if it's terrorist-related, but I wouldn't be surprised. I would be impressed if al-Qaeda pulled off such a large attack. Since Sep. 11, 2001 their attacks have gotten smaller and smaller.
"Large Explosions Reported North of London -Witnesses"
The BBC reports, "Three large explosions have taken place at an oil depot near Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire." The first happened at 0603 GMT with two others occuring about 20 minutes later. If the three happened very close to each other I'd assume it was a terrorist attack. But it's possible the first explosion was man-made. A witnesses say a plane flew into the depot.
"Oil Depot Blasts Cause Casualties"
UPDATE: gunves space is monitoring Sky News and has a small map of where the depot is in relation to London.
UPDATE II: CNN reports that police are calling the explosions an accident. Also no plane from nearby Luton Airport crashed into the depot.
"Explosions Near UK Fuel Depot"
[via Stephanie Booth]
UPDATE III: The Little Green Footballers are jumping all over the possible terrorism angle. No evidence so far. None.
UPDATE IV: The BBC has some pictures near the depot.
The BBC reports officials are urging locals to keep their windows closed. There's nothing good in that black plume.
UPDATE V: Gary Turner is "impressed with the speed at which the backstage web communications light up."
UPDATE VI: Reports of injuries have come in:
Police say there are 36 casualties, with four people seriously hurt.
Authorities are waiting for the fire to burn out. That could be a while:
In total, 20 petrol tanks are involved in the fire, each said to hold three million gallons of fuel.
December 10, 2005
Carnival of the Badger #17
Watching a Real Life Video Game
Check out this Russian kid jumping around and bouncing off walls like Super Mario. Hollywood, give this kid a stunt man tryout.
Richard Pryor, R.I.P.
Richard Pryor died today. As with many cultural icons who have passed away I can't appreciate Pryor because I was too young to watch him perform. What I remember are his corny roles in Brewster's Millions and as unbelievable computer hacker in Superman 3. That's a shame because he was so influential. Lucky for me, Reihl World View has some audio of Pryor doing stand up. It takes tremendous talent to make so many laugh so hard while living a hard life. Godspeed, Richard.
"Goodbye to Richard Pryor"
"Grown in S**t"
GBfan wants you to always remember the truth about organic food.
"My Take on Organic Foods"
The Blegging Continues
TAM is solidly not in last place. I thank you all for that. The next weblog infront of me is Meryl Yourish's. The unemployed Jewish writer (help her out) is a great writer with a distinct Israel angle to many of her posts. She's good. That's why I want to beat her. Help me out, ok?
Conservative Weblogs Rock
Michael Crowley will be arguing in the NY Times Magazine that conservative weblogs are more politically effective than liberal weblogs. That's quite debatable. What may be making conservative weblogs politically effective is how other conservative media, especially talk radio, use weblogs for ideas and to comprehend future political currents.
December 09, 2005
Cut Off from the Rest of the World
Madison police claim they found two sisters who haven't left their house in 20 years:
Madison police found the sisters when they called an ambulance for their 90-year-old mother.
That's one cruel mother.
"Madison Police Find 2 Women Inside Home For 20 Years"
"The Twelve Days of Things that Make Baby Jesus Cry (#2)"
[via Hog on Ice]
UPDATE: Earlier this week Moxie put PJM into perspective.
Video Killed Dean's Star
The Political Teen has the GOP white flag video starring Howard Dean, M.D. and his gang of cut-and-runners.
As a bonus, an ordinary Democrat and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-SD) both want Dr. Dean to shut up.
UPDATE: Michael Reagan looks like a total fool for wanting Dr. Dean to be "hung for treason." The Vermont Lefty is a moron not a traitor.
Spivak & Bice Read TAM
Or at least I can tell myself they do. In their latest column they refer to Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling as "radio yappers." If you've read TAM long enough you know they're all "yappers" to me.
P.S. Cary, Dan, if you do read TAM leave a comment. Don't be shy.
Does anyone remember President H.W. Bush speaking before international leaders (or the general public for that matter) and bashing his successor? When I was working in the Twin Cities in 1998 President H.W. Bush was the keynote speaker at a fundraising dinner for the Minnesota Family Council. In preparation for the event we were told he wouldn't criticize President Clinton. He didn't think such public acts were appropriate for an ex-President. That's class, something the most recent ex-Prez doesn't have.
"Clinton Says Bush Is 'Flat Wrong' on Kyoto"
UPDATE: Amy Ridenour's husband reports from Montreal.
I Might Have to Stoop This Low
Remember for vote for TAM. You can vote once every 24 hours.
Charlie's Show Prep #13
It's time again to help Charlie Sykes with this morning's show:
December 08, 2005
Sowell's Book Picks
Thomas Sowell's Christmas book selections include Bernard Lewis' fine What Went Wrong? It's a slim tome, but it puts the reader on a good path to understanding the troubles of the Muslim world.
It's interesting that about his latest book Black Rednecks and White Liberals he writes, "[It] is apparently one which many liberal and conservative publications alike have found too hot to handle."
If Microsoft faked Xbox 360 shortages now would be a good time flood them onto the market. Nobody has them. That rumor's dead.
Helping Out Scooter
The NY Sun editorial board is urging readers to donate to Scooter Libby's legal defense fund. I won't be. While I think it's ridiculous for Patrick Fitzgerald to prosecute Libby for lying about a crime he can't prove (a la Martha Stewart) I won't condone Libby's lying to investigators and a grand jury.
Tom Maguire almost endorses it.
"A Season for Giving"
Charlie's Show Prep #12
Here are some stories Charlie Sykes should yap about on his show today:
December 07, 2005
Pearl Harbor Day
Dean Esmay remembers.
Voters can vote once every 24 hours in the 2005 Weblog Awards. I'd love your vote. TAM is not dead last just second-to-last. It's progress. Thanks for all your support and tell your friends about TAM.
Charlie's Show Prep #11
Here are some stories for Charlie Sykes' show today:
December 06, 2005
Students, Be Careful About Your Weblogs
Students at Marquette University better be very careful about what they write about campus life, fellow students, and professors. Post the wrong stuff on your weblog and you could be suspended like one dentistry student:
One day, the 22-year-old reported being “full and buzzin’ a little bit from the booze” — one of several blog entries involving his experiences with alcohol.
"Dental Pain at Marquette"
Keeping Haleigh "Alive"
There is a point in where a person has no life left in their body. From what I've read about poor Haleigh Poutre that's what state she's in. Reuters reports her "brain was found partly sheared when she was hospitalized on September 11." The husband of her legal guardian/aunt is accused of beating her. Jason Strickland wants Haleigh kept alive so he doesn't have to deal with a murder charge. How cynical. This is a far cry from Terri Schiavo's parents who wanted to care for her. To me Haleigh looks like she was killed a while ago. Now all that's left is a shell. It's time for justice to be served.
Amanda Marcotte at Pandragon writes,
This entire case is a nightmare, of course, but I think it's well worth watching to see how the "pro-lifers" are going to handle this. It seems like a fun house mirror version of the paranoid theories on the right that Michael Schiavo was trying to off his wife. Now that there's a genuine case with genuine evidence for murder, though, the alleged murderer is claiming to be on the side of "life".
"Court Hears "Right to Die" Case of Battered Girl"
What did I learn from Pajamas Medias Blogjam on partisan polarization? Debating it causes a lot of it.
"Are Left-Right Politics Becoming too Polarized?"
Vote for TAM
It's Weblog Awards time. TAM is in the running for "Best of the Top 251-500 Blogs." As of this moment my little hunk of cyberspace is running dead last! I guess that makes me the 500th best weblog. At least I know of one reader who loves me. I'd like to say be like someone in Chicago and vote early and often, but I think Kevin Aylward got that bug fixed. I'm happy to be a finalist. With the likes of Austin Bay, a real journalist, and Betsy Newmark, one-time TAM Award winner, competing with me I'd be shocked if TAM won. Still, I'd love your vote.
"Intellectual Lap Dancer"
Arianna Huffington, always the attention-grabber, gets profiled in Vanity Fair. My favorite line is when someone refers to her as an "intellectual lap dancer."
Charlie's Show Prep #10
Here's what Charlie Sykes should talk about on today's show:
Message from the Afterlife
Make your own Einstein picture.
[via the Commissar]
December 05, 2005
Observing Saddam's Trial
Mohammed at Iraq the Model covers a wild day at Saddam's trial. Here's just a portion:
The testimony in general was very touching that it forced the butchers to shut up for a long time and even when Saddam tried to act as if he were still in power he looked so stupid and foolishly arrogant in front of the suffering of the witness who finished his statement by saying “at age 15 I went to prison for 4 years with the rest of my family, seven of my brothers were executed and none of us got the chance to see a judge or get a fair trial’.
"The Trial of Our Time…"
Google is a joy for stock owners as well as employees. The perks of working there are lavish:
Meals of all kinds, painstakingly prepared by company chefs, are free at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., a modern corporate campus known as the Googleplex. Other amenities there include children's day care, doctors, dry cleaning, laundry, a gym, and basketball and volleyball courts. Maternity or paternity leave is 12 weeks at 75 percent of full pay. There is also up to $500 available for takeout meals for the entire family after a newborn arrives, courtesy of Google. Shuttle buses (with wireless Internet access for working while commuting) ferry employees to the Googleplex from throughout the Bay area.
It's easy to offer such great benefits when the company is growing and the money is rolling in. But what happens when times get tough, and they will? Shona L. Brown, vice president of operations said, "We will not pull back on our commitments to employees. The last thing we would do is take it out of the hide of our employees. That is a path to a downward spiral." I'm sure that's what GM thought when they doled out lavish retirment and health benefits that today are crushing the company.
CEO Eric Schmidt is a little more realistic though vague:
Another issue that we will face in the coming years is the maturation of the company, the industry and our work force. We, along with other firms in this industry, are in a rapid growth stage now, but that won't go on forever. Some of our new workers are fresh out of college; others have families and extensive job experience. Their interests and needs are different. We need to provide benefits and a work environment that will be attractive to all ages.
Kerry: Troops "Terrorizing Kids"
Serving in the armed forces never made Sen. John Kerry sympathize toward them (at least when it didn't serve his personal political gain). On Face the Nation Kerry told Bob Schieffer, "And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the--of--the historical customs, religious customs.
Captain Ed writes Kerry deserves no benefit of the doubt:
Had Kerry not shown a long track record of this kind of rhetoric in the past -- and had to answer for it repeatedly during last year's presidential election -- one could possibly believe it came out as a slip of the tongue. However, he obviously has never stopped believing that the American fighting man and woman represents the same relative evil as the Viet Cong, the Khmer Rouge, and al-Qaeda.
Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 Kerry said he heard stories of American soldiers in Vietnam acting "in [a] fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan." Those stories were from the Winter Soldier Investigation. That "investigation" turned out nothing but lies.
"John Kerry: American Soldiers Are Terrorists"
UPDATE: Oxford at InkDog writes in a lengthy post, "I would have worded it differently, but all Senator Kerry said was that women and children have felt terrorized by the troops entering their homes." I'd give Kerry the benefit of the doubt, but he has a track record or ripping on U.S. soldiers for political gain.
You Can Say "Merry Christmas" at Sears
End the Indexing
Towns in Wisconsin pride themselves on their democratic town meetings. It's there where average citizens gather together to speak out on issues and vote on town priorities. But when it comes to the gas tax the Wisconsin Town Association, the representative of town governments, doesn't believe in taxation with representation. They oppose ending the annual automatic in the state gas tax. Their big gripe is
the distribution of a declining pot of state dollars in the transportation fund will result in who can muster the political power in the legislature to have their transportation project or program funded.
Are these people naive? Government whether in Washington, Madison, or the local town meeting, has always been about people mustering political power.
Here's their real complaint:
[T]he strong potential exists that future budgets will fund
The WTA is turning this into a Milwaukee v. the rest of the state battle. For those of us fighting the automatic gas tax increase it's never been about what region of the state gets road building pork. Our complaint has been about a tax increase that evades all political responsiblity. Every year when the gas tax goes up all the politicians can say, "Don't blame me. I didn't vote for it." We're tired of Wisconsin taxes always going up. We're tired of politicans shrugging their shoulders.
In this fight we're not even calling for a tax cut. All we're asking is that politicians stand accountable if they want the gas tax increased. They must come to the public and make their case for coercing people to pay more at the pump.
Tomorrow, there's an important vote in the State Senate. Then we will know who is accountable government and opposed to taxation without representation, and those who don't mind continuing to kick taxpayers in the posteiors.
[via Wigderson Library & Pub]
Greatest Gap ad ever.
Leftists Would Say Bartlett is "Growing"
Bruce Bartlett isn't a fan of President Bush. Next year, he'll be coming out with a book titled Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy. The book got him fired from a conservative think tank. During the Harriet Miers brouhaha he wrote in a column:
The truth that is now dawning on many movement conservatives is that George W. Bush is not one of them and never has been. They were allies for a long time, to be sure, and conservatives used Bush just as he used them. But it now appears that they are headed for divorce. And as with all divorces, the ultimate cause was not the final incident, but the buildup of grievances over a long period that one day could no longer be overlooked, contained or smoothed over.
The case can be made. However Bartlett will lose mucho credibility in conservative circles because he doesn't reject a value-added tax (VAT). NY Times reporter Eduardo Porter writes,
Bruce Bartlett, who worked as an economic aide to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, recommends the introduction of a value-added tax - a kind of sales tax used in Europe and most other advanced industrial nations - to bring in the large amounts of new revenue he deems necessary to close the enormous budget gap.
I read this and scratched my head. A man who says he's a Reagan conservative wants the federal government to have more taxing power? You be the judge. In a 03.08.05 column he praised the VAT saying it's a "highly efficient tax." He countered VAT critics like the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board who think the VAT is a silent way to squeeze more money out of taxpayers:
Serious academic studies have concluded that the VAT cannot be blamed for raising the overall burden of taxation even in countries where it was a new tax and not a replacement for some existing tax. Writing in the prestigious National Tax Journal in December 1985, economist J.A. Stockfisch found no support for the view that VATs raise either the tax level or government spending.
[The VAT] may turn out to be the least bad way of financing needed tax reforms and the massive growth of federal health care spending that neither the White House nor Congress shows any interest in restraining.
When a conservative begins to advocate ideas that increase the size of government Leftists claim they are "growing" intellectually. They're are starting to realize government's growth is the only way to solve our nation's problems. After reading a 10.30.02 National Review Online column we see Bartlett has indeed grown:
On Saturday (October 26), the Washington Post reported that the Treasury Department is studying plans to impose a value-added tax (VAT) to replace the corporate income tax and finance other tax reforms. This is a dangerous road for the Bush administration to travel, both politically and economically.
The conservative movement doesn't need a "growing" conservative who won't reject a new tax.
Charlie's Show Prep #9
Here's more fodder for Charlie Sykes' show:
December 03, 2005
A BBA Christmas
I just returned from the undisclosed location of the first Badger Blog Alliance Christmas party. Dick Cheney and Karl Rove were both there to personally brief us on how best to conquer Canada.
After the briefing Cheney and Rove were wisked away to continue working on their ultimate plan: to Pave France. (And you thought those rioters were just ticked off Muslims. Ha!) BBA members got into a heated argument over whether Canada was enough of a challenge. Some want another crack at The Corner.
O'Reilly Factor "Holiday" Ornaments
Bill O'Reilly: pompous ass.
Bozell v. Mapes
Mary Mapes, the ex-CBS reporter who still thinks Dan Rather's fake memos are real, will be on C-SPAN this weekend to talk about her book Truth and Duty: The Press, The President, and the Privilege of Power. Interviewing her will be the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell. This must-see-tv should be lively.
"MRC's Brent Bozell Interviews Mary Mapes"
Wisconsinite of the Year
There's the beginnings of a discussion going on at the BBA. Who's your pick?
The Gas Tax Beyond Milwaukee
Conservative talk radio yappers get voters riled up about the annual non-vote increase in the state gas tax in Southeast Wisconsin. This alternative media is rare to non-existent in the rest of the state. Republicans at the state capitol may think the calls they're getting are from radio-listening sheep. Still, the issue plays well with voters beyond the range of Mark Belling's or Charlie Sykes' voices. The Tomah Journal supports Scott Walker's plan to kill the automatic increase and makes a "progressive" (fancy word for liberal) case for it. When you have Lefties glomming onto this you know it's a winning issue. Speaker Gard, Senate Majority Leader Schultz stop running away from this. You're base loves it, and the public loves it.
"Editorial: Candidate is Right - Time to Repeal Automatic Gas Tax"
December 02, 2005
Comic Books Coming to Life
Coming soon to real life: Iron Man!
The battle suit has been invented. Now, all we need is a billionaire with drinking problem to make it fly and paint it red and gold. None of this Tron-glow.
"The HAL-5 Ready to Battle"
Is Trouble Brewing in the White House?
According to Insight President Bush and Vice President Cheney have a strained relationship, and it all has to to with Iraq:
The sources said the indictment and resignation of Lewis "Scooter" Libby marked the final straw in the deterioration of relations between President Bush and Mr. Cheney. They said Bush aides expect that any trial of Mr. Libby, Mr. Cheney's long-time chief of staff, would open a closet of skeletons regarding such issues as Iraq, the CIA and the conduct of White House aides.
This story is one annonymous on top of another. So I'm taking it with a grain of salt.
Add this to Steve Clemons [via MEJ] pushing the rumor that Barbara Bush wants changes in the White House. "Watch for a lot to change right after the State of the Union address, I've been told," Clemons writes.
"Bush Takes Cheney Out of the Loop on National Security"
Al-Qaeda Quiet in U.S.
The U.S. hasn't suffered a terrorist attack in some time. Some of it has to do with law enforcement working on to catch internal cells using tools like (some parts of) the Patriot Act which is up for renewal. Some of it can also be explained by military action overseas. That is Congressman Peter Hoekstra's (R-MI) opinion.
Hoekstra said the terrorists are focusing on Iraq instead of the U.S. The "flypaper" argument of the Iraq War is working. That's nice for Americans but I'd be peeved if I were an Iraqi listening to him.
Kevin Brock also sees a shift toward Iraq. "That is where most of the people willing to commit suicide are going," the deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center told reporters.
No one should become complacent. It was a clear, blue day Sep 11, 2001. No one expected death to rain down from the sky. Constant vigilance is required until the clash of ideologies is over.
"No Major al-Qaida Ability Seen in U.S."
Hitchens on a Bad Day
Christopher Hitchens is great...usually. He was on Joe Scarborough's show (does anyone watch it?) to talk about Christmas trees. When Hitchens made his points he was eloquent and learned. He's an atheist and can defend that belief well. But Hitchens also showed off his bad side like when he wanted to turn the conversation into a Jerry Fallwell bitchfest. Sure, Hitchens' opposite guest works for him but tossing Fallwell's name in was just an ad hominem attack. Along with tossing in a rip on Intelligent Design, Fallwell's name didn't have anything to do with the topic at hand. Hitchens knows better.
"Scarborough v. Hitchens: Christmas (VIDEO)"
We Never Win with these Guys
The damn French. The U.S. was supposed to get their permission to invade Iraq. Now, the U.S. needs French permission to leave. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said,
I think that the timetable should be a global timetable.... The real timetable is the Iraqi situation.
For once de Villepin is right, but he lost the debate and should just keep his trap shut.
Wondering about eBay
What's the point of hunting for deals on eBay when sellers slap on a big shipping charge? You may still end up getting a bargain, but something gets lost in the experience.
And I still don't understand the Skype purchase.
Charlie's Show Prep #8
Here's my continuing saga of helping Charlie Sykes have a great radio show:
December 01, 2005
Chess and boxing: two great tastes that taste great together?
Bobby Fischer is a jerk. This sport could be his comeback.
"By Hook or by Rook"
At PJM's Expense
"Flannels Media" is the new competitor to Pajamas Media. Their had their first "Flogjam" a few days ago.
Mary Mapes. Yes, Mary Mapes. The woman is a living, breathing lie, and as such is a good stand-in for most of her MSM colleagues. She is Gollum in a dress, and Captain Ahab with a microphone, and she absolutely hates George W. Bush and everyone who even thinks about supporting him. A tough, knowledgeable interviewer would be able to draw some truly fascinating thoughts out of Mapes’ twisted mind.
If you haven't heard of Barnett go out and get The Pentagon's New Map now! (It's only $4.99 new on Amazon right now!) When you've caught up you can dig into his most recent Blueprint for Action, my current read.
John goes down the blogosphere road:
Jason Calacanis: Calacanis reportedly managed to sell Weblogs Inc, which consisted of roughly 85 blogs, to AOL for somewhere around $25 million dollars which gave hope to bloggers all across the world that one day, some clueless corporation would pay grossly inflated prices for their blogs as well. Grossly inflated, paid way too much, got taken for a ride, however you want to phrase it, Calacanis will be laughing all the way to the bank.
Here are some of my picks:
Who do you think were some of the most fascinating people of 2005? Why?
New Carnival of the Badger
I'm liking the new Madonna album more than I thought. She's jumped to #2 most-played-artist on my last.fm page.
Confessions on a Dance Floor is Madonna back on the dance floor. It has it's share of pop house tunes and good hooks. Just ignore the lame Flashdance look she graces on the album cover.
Charlie's Show Prep #7
Here are some stories Charlie Sykes should talk about on today's show (no need to mention Speaker John Gard):