Archive for February, 2006
28 Feb 2006

Leftism as Death Wish

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Vasko Kohlmayer argues (not unpersuasively) that Leftism represents Western civilization’s death wish:

History unambiguously shows that all great civilizations collapsed as a result of internal weakness. Coming to their end by self-destructing, they in effect committed suicide. Sigmund Freud posited the existence of a death drive in individuals. It is my contention that a death drive also runs through whole civilizations.

Everything we see around us indicates that the Left is the West’s instrument of self-destruction and, in fact, the incarnation in our time of the deleterious force that ultimately brings down great civilizations. The Left is the material manifestation of the West’s death drive.

Even as individuals commit suicide by drowning or shooting or some other such means, so the West is in the process of committing suicide by the Left.

28 Feb 2006

Fitzgerald Can’t Prove There Was a Crime, But He Wants a Conviction Anyway

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Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald argued on Friday that he is really trying a perjury case, and the question of Valerie Plame’s covert status does not matter, i.e., it doesn’t matter if any crime was ever committed in the first place.

All a prosecutor has to be able to do, in Fitzgerald’s proposed Amerika, is to demonstrate that he can contradict details of the sworn testimony of the minutiae of the activities and conversations two years back of a senior government official intensely occupied with the affairs of state, and he is entitled to a conviction.

Convictions for the crime of obstructing investigations have become a popular prosecutorial fallback in cases like this where it is found to be impossible to prove that anyone ever committed the initially alleged crime. Martha Stewart was successfully imprisoned in just such a fashion, essentially for the crime of protesting her innocence of insider trading. No insider trading was ever proven, but Martha went to jail anyway.

By a curious coincidence, Mr. Fitzgerald owes his appointment to Martha’s prosecutor, Mr. James Comey.

28 Feb 2006

Mystery Ferrari Crash

video

Last week’s Darwin award winner seemed to be Swedish executive Stefan Eriksson who lost control of a very very very expensive Ferrari Enzo, went airborne at some speed well in excess of 120 mph (current estimate is 162 mph), hitting an electric pole between five and ten feet off the ground, and dividing the exotic sports car into two parts.

But this week’s reports suggest that all this is part of some Raymond Chandler Southern California rich-guys-up-to-no-good mystery story, involving a clouded title, a mysterious driver who subsequently vanished, an increasingly illogical accident account, and the magazine from a pistol. Another news story.

28 Feb 2006

Teutonic Carpet-Chewing Rage Survives WWII

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Let’s hope this kid does not go into politics when he grows up. video

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Hat tip to Kathryn Jean Lopez.

28 Feb 2006

13th Anniversary of the Siege at Waco

Today marks the 13th anniversary of one of the worst days in the history of the United States. On a Sunday morning in 1993, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms attacked the headquarters of the Branch Davidian Seventh-day Adventists, a small Christian sect, in central Texas. The Branch Davidians were suspected of possessing illegal gun parts. The raid was timed to coincide with a newspaper exposé accusing the sect’s leader of weapons law violations and abuse of underage females.

Approximately 100 armed agents drove up in cattle trailers, shots rang out near the front door, and a gun battle ensued. The seige at Waco had begun. The Branch Davidians were surrounded by federal agents for 51 days and most died in a raging fire that started soon after military tank-like vehicles injected CS gas into the compound buildings. To this day, no federal agent has been found guilty of any wrongdoing.

28 Feb 2006

Bush’s Poll Numbers At All-Time Low

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In How to Slant a Poll 101, John Hawkins at Right Wing News explains how CBS gets its headline results:

The first thing you have to understand is that there are 3 different groups of voters the media may poll: adults, registered voters, and likely voters. Out of these 3 categories, “likely voters” is the group that almost always turns out to be closest to the actual election results while “adults” is the group that slants most heavily towards Democrats. Although it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how much polling “adults” instead of “likely voters” slants the poll results to the left (when compared to election results), it’s probably somewhere between 5-10 points. So, let’s split the difference and say 7.5 points.

So, it seems likely that Bush’s approval would probably be somewhere around 41.5% if this had been a poll of likely voters. Still, pretty bad.

But, there’s another factor we haven’t adjusted for: the percentage of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who participated in the poll. In the 2004 election, the breakdown by party was as follows:

Democrats: 37%
Republicans: 37%
Independents: 26%

While those numbers can change and do change over time and there’s no set rule that says for a poll to be fair those percentages should match up exactly with the breakdown from the last election, the numbers should be pretty close.

So, let’s look at the weighted party breakdown from the CBS poll: 1018

Democrats: 37.4% (381)
Republicans: 28.4% (289)
Independents: 34.2% (348)

So, they undersampled the number of Republicans by more than 8.5% and over sampled Independents by more than 8%. Let’s adjust for that (in a very general way). Add in 8 more Republicans and we’ll say Bush’s favorability goes up 8 points. Take out 8 Independents and we’ll figure Bush loses 4 points of support (Independents were roughly split between Bush and Kerry in 2004) and now Bush’s approval rating, after having 4 points added onto it, is at 45.5. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as I’ve made it look here, nor is this as accurate as simply polling likely voters with a correct breakdown of party affiliation, but it’s close enough for our purposes.

Then, we consider the polls margin of error, 3 points, and Bush’s real approval rating among voters who’ll actually be going to the polls in November is probably somewhere roughly between 42.5 – 48.5. That’s not great, but it doesn’t have exactly the same sort of zing that 34% has either, does it?

This isn’t news. It’s just more political partisanship from the most dishonest network.

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Hat tip to Memeorandum.

27 Feb 2006

San Francisco Builder is Pretender to Irish Dukedom

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Paul Fitgerald, a San Francisco construction manager, claims that he is the descendant of an heir believed killed in the trenches in WWI, but who actually emigrated to North America. If he is able to establish his claim Paul Fitzgerald would become 9th Duke of Leinster, and first peer of Ireland.

27 Feb 2006

Life at Yale Sure Beats Guantanamo

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The Sunday Times Magazine did a feature yesterday on Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, now attending Yale. “I’m the luckiest person in the world.” Rahmatullah told the Times, “I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale,” where (not surprisingly) one of his recent courses was:”Terrorism-Past, Present and Future.”

Yale was equally delighted. Yale’s admissions office had once had another foreigner of Rahmatullah’s caliber apply for special-student status, Richard Shaw, Yale’s dean of undergraduate admissions, told the Times. “We lost him to Harvard. I didn’t want that to happen again.” The allegedly 27 year-old (who has a history of changing his reported age) former Taliban had visited Yale once before, speaking in March of 2001 as diplomatic representative of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. His diplomatic assignment came about as the idea of Mike Hoover, American adventurer, mountain-climber, and film-maker. In 1998, Rahmatullah was assigned by the Taliban government to guide Hoover and serve as his translator. Hoover became the young Afghan’s friend and benefactor, first suggesting the role of representing the Islamic regime abroad, then personally funding travel expenses and arranging speaking appearances and interviews.

The Rahmatullah of 2001 was turbaned, more hirsute, and a lot more combative than today’s Yale student. He vigorously criticized UN sanctions on the Afghan regime, and casuistically defended the dynamiting of the ancient buddhas and the segregated place of women in Taliban-ruled Afghan society.Rahmatullah was married and living in exile in Pakistan, after the fall of the Taliban regime, when in 2004 Hoover, his perennial benefactor, proposed sending him to college in the United States. Hoover consulted with an attorney friend from Jackson Hole, Bob Schuster Y’67, who helped him arrange for Rahmatullah to be interviewed for admission as a special student, a temporary status, reflecting his 4th grade education and high school equivalency diploma, convertable after a year of satisfactory academic performance to regular baccalaureate study.

Waiting to hear from Yale, Rahmatullah spent the holidays in Jackson Hole with Hoover. He met Bob Schuster and spoke to students at several local schools. The talks reprised the form if not the content of his lectures in America in 2001. After a talk to the young teenagers at the Jackson Hole Middle School, two boys approached Rahmatullah.

“Can we ask you a question? Have you ever been in a war?”

“Yes.”

“Can you tell us about it? We want to be Army Rangers.”

He thought for a second. “Do you guys play video games?”

“Yeah,” they said, looking at him as if he had rocks for brains.

“I thought so,” he said. “Let me ask you, have either of you ever killed a chicken?”

They shook their heads. They didn’t know anyone who even had chickens.

“When was the last time you had to kill anything to eat?”

They were confused.

“I killed a goat before I came here,” Rahmatullah said. “I hated doing it. Go kill a chicken, and pluck it, and eat it,” he said softly. “And then maybe you will know a little bit about war.”

One suspects Ramatullah has killed other things besides goats in his day. And you can just watch the frissons of combined terror and sexual excitement travel down the spinal columns of the liberal American intelligentsia at this kind of talk from the visiting, hopefully now safely domesticated, barbarian.

John Fund waxes pretty sarcastic about all this in the Wall Street Journal.  But it is true that there is a long-standing tradition of Ivy League schools reaching out to provide educational opportunities to promising representatives of non-traditional constituencies, and the appetite of such schools for candidates with good stories or colorful backgrounds could be predicted to assure a warm welcome for any plausible Pashtun.

2001 Interview

27 Feb 2006

If Microsoft Designed iPod Packaging

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Cruel, very cruel.

link

26 Feb 2006

Communes for the Geezers

Those old bastards will die of the clap after all the orgies, and nobody will still do any dishes or take out any garbage. link

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Hat tip to Ben Slotznik.

26 Feb 2006

Ann Althouse Post

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Ms. Althouse demonstrates why random blog-reading can be rewarding.

26 Feb 2006

Should We Prosecute Sedition?

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Ben Shapiro listened to Al Gore’s wild accusations, made in a speech in Saudi Arabia, alleging that the US had comitted atrocities against Arabs, and wondered why, in time of war, this kind of activity is not prosecuted.

At some point, opposition must be considered disloyal. At some point, the American people must say “enough.” At some point, Republicans in Congress must stop delicately tiptoeing with regard to sedition and must pass legislation to prosecute such sedition.

“Freedom of speech!” the American Civil Liberties Union will protest. Before we buy into the slogan, we must remember our history. President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus and allowed governmental officials to arrest Rep. Clement Vallandigham after Vallandigham called the Civil War “cruel” and “wicked,” shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers, and had members of the Maryland legislature placed in prison to prevent Maryland’s secession. The Union won the Civil War.

Under the Espionage Act of 1917, opponents of World War I were routinely prosecuted, and the Supreme Court routinely upheld their convictions. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes rightly wrote, “When a nation is at war, many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.” The Allies won World War I.

During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the internment of hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans, as well as allowing the prosecution and/or deportation of those who opposed the war. The Allies won World War II…

This is not to argue that every measure taken by the government to prosecute opponents of American wars is just or right or Constitutional. Some restrictions, however, are just and right and Constitutional — and necessary. No war can be won when members of a disloyal opposition are given free reign to undermine it.

26 Feb 2006

I’m With General Stark

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John Hinderaker at Power Line discusses a recent variation on New Hampshire’s perennial conflict between liberal immigrant flatlanders who hate the Granite State’s noble motto and die hard Yankee aborigines who absolutely love it.

I’m with the natives. I’ve always wished I could find an excuse to move to, or even just get a vacation place in, New Hampshire, so I could register my cars there, and use those plates. Years ago, I was discussing this notion with one of my hippy friends from college days, who replied: “Now, if you could just get New Hampshire DEALER plates…”

26 Feb 2006

Jurassic Beaver

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The discovery of a new fossil in China, Castorocauda lutrasimilis, demonstrates that mammals appeared early, and in larger forms, than previously believed, living at the same time as dinosaurs.

The San Francisco Chronicle story reports:

The remarkable fossil bones of a fur-covered, swimming mammal that lived in the age of the dinosaurs 164 million years ago have been discovered in China, raising a wave of excitement among scientists whose timetable for mammalian evolution has just been pushed back by 100 million years.

The animal appears to have been more than a foot long and weighed nearly 2 pounds, with a tail remarkably like a beaver and seal-like teeth clearly adapted for catching and eating fish, its discoverers say…

..The furry mammal was found in a rich fossil bed in Inner Mongolia’s Ningcheng county, about 160 miles northeast of Beijing. Its nearly complete skeleton was extracted from a rock layer along with the bones of small, two-legged meat-eating dinosaurs, primitive winged reptiles and the abundant remains of long-extinct crustaceans.

The rocks encasing the fossil skeleton bore the clear imprint of the dense hairs that had covered its body when it died in the mud and the horny scales that covered its flattened tail, the scientists said. They named their animal Castorocauda lutrasimilis and said it must have resembled a modern river otter or the “duck-billed” platypus of Australia.

William Clemens, professor emeritus at UC Berkeley and a former director of the Museum of Paleontology there, said the discovery provides “really good evidence” that the animal was both a swimmer and a fish-eater.

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