Saturday, October 25, 2003

re: The $10 billion loan 

Clinton > Bono:
Four companies that produce generic Aids drugs have agreed to reduce the cost of the drugs for millions of people in developing countries under a deal brokered by former US President Bill Clinton.
Link via Tacitus.

it's better over there 

The New York Times reports in a chilling story that gang rape is estimated to be occurring four times more often in France than it was 20 years ago.

Bias watch: "Many of the boys are raised in closed, traditional families and are hopelessly confused or ignorant about sex; others are simply street toughs."

Holy making excuses for thugs, Batman! "Closed, traditional families" (read: Islamic? There's more in that story to suggest this is so) have been the norm for 99% of the history of humanity, and somehow I don't think gang rapes were occurring as often in "closed, traditional" societies 100 years ago as they are today in France.

These boys weren't so ignorant about sex that they didn't understand why they were waiting in a line 17 people deep to get their dicks near a female. How would knowledge of the human reproductive system or access to condoms (these things which I believe people are generally referring to when they discuss "sexual education", especially in schools) have lessened their willingness to rape someone?

UPDATE: Tacitus calls this another case of NYTimes whitewashing....

Dems in 2004 

President Lieberman or President Gephardt? Larry Sabato has an electoral projection predicting that either of those two would beat Dubya.

Friday, October 24, 2003

one more Ba'athist out of power 

Bryon Scott links to a Daily Telegraph story concerning one MP George Galloway. Galloway, who has been accused of accepting funds from Saddam's regime, was officially expelled from the Labour Party for comments he made on Abu Dhabi television before Operation Iraqi Freedom:
In what the party interpreted as incitement to attack British forces, Mr Galloway said: "Iraq is fighting for all the Arabs. Where are the Arab armies?" After a two-day hearing, a panel from Labour's national constitutional committee decided this breached rules making it an offence to act in a manner "grossly detrimental" to the party.
the Labour Party denies that Galloway was expelled for anything related to Saddam.

This was not a unanimous decision within the Labour Party:
Alice Mahon, an anti-war Labour MP, said the "stupid" expulsion would be seen as "an attack on free speech".
On Thursday I attended a panel discussion on the "Future of Patriotism" at UMass Boston. A former professor of mine gave a very insightful discussion about the construction of the word "patriotism", her only flaw being that perhaps she was too philosophical and discussed only the roles she has observed the word play without actually commenting upon her preferences for the term. (Something to be learned here, philosophers comment while political scientists complain?)

An English professor talked about how it is a mistake for the Left to move beyond nationalism, because it is only through the vocabulary and ideology of the Nation State can Patriotism be understood and put to use. Sounds like a pretty sound argument, right? Well, he seemed to then proceed to disavow any fondness for Patriotism, thus earning him the Senator Splunge award for endorsing something he would never defend.

I can't remember what department the other professor was from, but his argument was basically that Patriotism is often corrupted, so it takes a new brand of Patriots to tell the truth and expose the lies of those who would take us into war because Patriotism is always used to bring about violence, except when it's used by people who want to stop (American) violence and prevent awful things like Gulf War I from happening (His example. Really.) He is very fearful of being called unpatriotic for not wanting to bomb something, even though he's clearly insinuating it is very unpatriotic to want to bomb something.

This brings me to my point: the discussion after the panel was very tame, most people either agreed all too much with the panel to question them, or they had to scurry off to class or something. My one objection was that the panel wasn't worrying about Patriotism per se, they were clearly fearful of policies they disagreed with. Liars were their villains, not patriots. My comments didn't really go over that well. Everyone was clearly of the opinion that the media and the Powers That Be were propelling a wave of corrupt political force through imagery (Why else would they call it the PATRIOT Act? WHY?), and that this was fostering a climate of fear and hysteria.

I've found that James Taranto refutes this argument the best: "the endless chatter about the suppression of dissent is simply laughable, coming as it does from people who speak freely and suffer no consequences for it"

A challenge to the liberal blogosphere: produce evidence of persons who have actually been persecuted for "speaking out" against the current "regime".

NRO complaints 

John Derbyshire: racist.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

disapointing news if true 

The Arab News alleges that recent Zogby polling data from Iraq has been severly misrepresented by the Bush administration.

Leaving Iowa 

T.Bevan at Real Clear Politics points out something I hadn't thought of about the decisions of Joe Lieberman and Wesley Clark to not campaign in Iowa, which is that it gives Dick Gephardt an edge over Howard Dean in Iowa. It's been obvious for some time that Clark is a paper tiger, so let's hope that Dean "peaked too early" so that by the time of the Massachusetts primary I wouldn't have to cast a protest vote for Al Sharpton because all the candidates I like have already been knocked out.

College students for Bush 

College students like Bush more than do the general public:

College students are more likely to register as Republicans and support President Bush than the general public, according to a survey released yesterday by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP).
The nationwide poll of 1,202 undergraduates revealed that 61 percent approve of Bush’s performance as president, compared to 53 percent of all voters.
Also, Bush beats the always popular "Democrat" 39-34 (9% for a third party, 18% don't know), and favored the Iraq war 58-37. The full results are here (PDF file).

Count me as someone who is NOT surprised by these results. As T.Bevan points out, compared to the general public, college students are much more likely to view the war in Iraq and terrorism as the most important issue. Given that 9-11 happened around the time when they first became politically aware, it probably had a greater effect on their thinking than those who are older. If you combine this with the fact that young people ALWAYS favor military action more than those who are older (see this on support for the Vietnam War, for example), it makes sense that young people would be more likely to support the Iraq war and therefore support Bush.

UPDATE: The comments on Kevin Drum's post on this is really amusing. Through the first 20 or so comments I learned that college students are suddenly too polite to say they don't like Bush, that they're really stupid, and that it results from a conservative media and GOP propoganda. Others wonder about the accuracy of the poll, since the college students they know all seem to hate Bush. To those people, here's a partial explanation: guys will lie through their teeth in front of women. If some girl a guy likes says she doesn't like Bush, why would he say otherwise?

When actors attack 

Who would have thought that all we need to have peace in the Middle East is to send five celebrities over there to negotiate? (Via Belgravia Dispatch)

Heralded by a literally star-spangled flourish in the popular press, an organization called OneVoice Israel announced that a red carpet list of marquee actors - Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Alexander, Danny De Vito and Rhea Pearlman - had signed on for a decidedly unorthodox mission: coming to the Holy Land in an effort to make peace.
Why isn't Jessica Simpson helping out? Oh, that's right, she too busy giving guest lectures at Harvard.

Next up: Ben Affleck proves the Riemann Hypothesis.


The last time I went to this blog I saw this ad for John Edward's website:

$87 Billion for Iraq?
George Bush wants a blank check.
Speak out. Sign the petition!
So I went the website and found the press release on this issue:

I will vote against the president's request for $87 billion for Iraq. The troops in Iraq deserve our absolute support, but this president does not deserve our blind trust."
"I believe we have a responsibility to support our troops in Iraq. I believe we have a responsibility to help rebuild Iraq."
"But our troops will not be safe and this mission will not succeed until this president does three things:
Want to guess what the three things are?

first, put forward a credible plan for the rebuilding and self-governing of Iraq;
Well, gee, I thought that's what that $87 billion is for: a plan for the rebuiling of Iraq. Maybe it's not credible enough to Edwards. Also, before the war, liberals were worried that Bush might not stay in Iraq in the long term and move on to another invasion, but now that Bush decided to stay, Edwards is worried that we've not doing everything quickly enough?

second, engage our allies in a meaningful way;
Maybe Edwards missed the news that about that UN resolution that passed unanimously.

third, take steps to assure the American people that the rebuilding of Iraq will not be exploited as a means to give insider sweetheart deals to Bush's friends.
There are two groups of people in this country: those who don't think Bush is giving "insider sweetheart deals to Bush's friends", and those who do. The first group doesn't need to be assured, and the second group will never be assured. And coincidentally, the second group votes in the Democratic primaries, and the first group mostly doesn't. This is classic pandering to the base, since I don't think there's anything Bush can do that will convince Edwards.

And as the saying goes: but wait, there's more!

It is clear to me that President Bush is not going to change direction unless someone stands up to him and says 'no.' For that reason, I plan to vote against the president's request for $87 billion for Iraq.
And here I thought Bush had changed direction by requesting the $87 million.

President Bush has ignored the warnings and advice from our allies and members of Congress, including leaders in his own party. Because of his unwillingness to engage and listen to others, he has failed to create the kind of international coalition that can succeed in Iraq, the American people are called on to shoulder more and more of the financial burden of this mission, and too many Americans have lost their lives.
I know this has been said before, but isn't there something wrong to saying, "We've losing our soldiers every day. Hey! How about we send some poor bastards from other countries to die in our soldiers' places instead?" Don't people understand that when they say too many American soldiers have died and so we should get more international troops, they're saying to the other countries that they want their soldiers to die instead of ours? How irresponsible is that?

Like Josh Chafetz, Edwards was on the short list of candidates I would vote for, and the list just got one name shorter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Splunge does it again! 

First off: Doesn't Splunge sound like the name of some evil space leutenant from a comic book? Can our heroes defeat Lt. Splunge and his armada of Slimewonks in time to defuse the negabomb under the George Washington Bridge?!? Find out next ish!!

Campus Press Notes links to a Eileen McNarama column concerning a Q&A session from The Senator's recent visit to Harvard:
Handpicked students -- just the right mix of gender and ethnicity -- are led to microphones to ask prescreened questions. "Your parents paid tons of money and pulled every string they could to get you here," Birch reminds them. "They are looking for you to ask a question tonight." Not just any question, though. "No Iraq, no Medicare, no health care," instructs one handler, patrolling the aisles in search of some predetermined balance.
Disgusting, isn't it? Not only that his handlers had the nerve to squelch the audience, but that the Trust Fund Babies seemed to go along with it. McNamara reports that only co-panelist Chris Matthews received an Iraq question:
Iraq is the focus of Matthews's questions, however, because Kerry cannot summon a direct answer to a direct question about either his vote authorizing Bush to use force against Iraq, or his vote denying the president the funds to rebuild the country. When pressed, Kerry explains that "Sometimes in foreign policy, certain things are complicated. Life is complicated." Well, ah, yeah.
Thanks for the clarification John.

is it possible to be tough on terror then not be tough on terror? 

Viking Pundit links to this Hill piece which reports that in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina only 1-2% of likely Democratic primary voters consider Homeland Defense or Terrorism as the concern which worries them the most.

Firing up the WayBack Machine yields us this Michael Totten post from last Sunday where the numbers are spun differently. "Liberals and Democrats are not pacifists" Michael claims. To support his claim Michael links to a blog which focuses on a different set of numbers from the same polling our friend Eric linked to. (Also see the WaPo.)

In these same states a majority of likely Democratic voters said "they prefer a presidential nominee who supported military action against Iraq but criticized President Bush for failing to assemble international support over a candidate who opposed military action from the beginning..."

So what's going on here? Is Eric spinning things to disavow any legitimacy in Democratic politics, or is Michael spinning to preserve the manliness of liberal dissent? Have we reached a Doonesbury moment? (Damn you Eric for blogging about Doonesbury before I had the chance. Why don't you take a day off every now and then, eh?)

My gut feeling: Primary voters are trying to have their cake and eat it too, and though I can't prove it, I suspect that they're not alone. The polling results cited above aren't the result of the spotlight being shone on some partisan liberal whack-jobs, I think they reflect a very real and well founded concern for the progress of the development work being done in Iraq. If more people understood what we were doing in Iraq, what our billions of dollars are providing for the Iraqi people, and what we expect of Iraq once our job there is finished, then perhaps these people would understand the connection between the rebuilding of Iraq and the war on terror.

Nation building is an entirely new experience for this country, and although eery connections to the late 1940s Europe might cause some to be even less receptive to liberal complaints, on a whole these numbers might suggest to the President that the people of the United States deserve to know more about the reconstruction of Iraq than "it's going on as we speak, and just as soon as it's done we'll let you know."

Staying the course 

This might be the first thing Bush has done in months that I really like:

The White House threatened today, for the first time, to veto an $87 billion package for Iraq and Afghanistan if Congress converts any money for rebuilding Iraq into loans, as opposed to grants.

"The administration strongly opposes the Senate provision that would convert a portion of this assistance to a loan mechanism," Joshua B. Bolten, the White House budget director, told the leaders of the Senate and House appropriations committees in a letter.

"If this provision is not removed, the president's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill," Mr. Bolten wrote.

quality programming alert 

From Yahoo! News: NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw sharply criticized the ESPN fictional drama "Playmakers" Tuesday, labeling the show as racist and unrepresentative of pro football players.

ESPN defended it's show by stating that they "are not going to respond to an assertion that is not based in reality."

I haven't watched a single minute of Playmakers, but the commercials haven't given me any reason to doubt Gene Upshaw. This begs the question, was Gregg's only real mistake that of criticizing the Mouse?

Barenaked in Boston 

Went to the Barenaked Ladies concert in the Orpheum Theatre in Boston with my stumpy friend Jenn Tuesday night. Some randomly related thoughts:

--Bought the tickets on eBay. Two yays for me for finding really good seats for cheaper than almost anyone else on eBay paid for seats farther away, because I just happened to sign on 15 minutes after some guy put up his auction with a Buy It Now option. Still cost a lot though.

--Way too many middle-aged people in the concert. Seems to me that except for one concert every other one I went to is full of middle-aged people. Can't they go to a Celine Dion concert instead?

--Saw two guys with Doug Flutie jerseys, one Buffalo and one San Diego. Where are the CFL jerseys?

--I think Jenn and I were the only non-white people there. The last time we were at the Orpheum for an Aimee Mann concert, we were the only people our age there.

--No opening act! I think we need a Constitutional Amendment banning opening acts (and Astroturf, of course), because I really don't need to hear bands like Lifehouse and Uncle Kracker again.

--Another reason to hate Canada: some lady two rows in front of me keep holding up the Canadian flag she brought, which, of course, completely obscured my view.

--Saw a few people eating hog dogs, which looked really disgusting.

--Crowd cheered when the name Phil Esposito came up in a song.

--Even though they all seem to be big lefties, they didn't say anything overtly political, except for *SURPRISE* a dig at the French! ("The first two soundboards we used today broke. I think the first one was French.") Note to France: when liberal Canadians make fun of you, you know you're the world's bitch.

--There was a song they played that was probably called "Fight the Power", but it's from their pre-album days (15+ years ago) and who can take a song seriously that mentions Nutty Buddies?

--Also, there was some guy not from the band dressed as God who was on stage half the time. They worked in some religious jokes, including a reference to the Joan Osborne song. ("And then I asked, 'what if God was one of us?'")

--They let some guy from the crowd come up to play the tambourine when the guy asked during the Q&A segment. But they absolutely blasted another guy for using his question to ask for an autograph by turning on the sirens they had on stage like the ones in hockey when someone scores. And some woman up front asked them to "perform" at her friend's bachelorette party.

--Pretty sure they played every song on the new album, though since it came out today no one knew any of the words. They also played most of their singles, Hello City, Stomach Vs. Heart, and one or two I don't recognize.

Partial-birth abortion 

I'm in favor of a ban on this on the state level, but I thought Republicans were supposed to be in favor of federalism?

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

in the news 

1) More trouble for WEEI over the Jonh Dennis and Gerry Callahan METCO incident. link.

2) Glenn Reynolds belives the Gregg fallout might be a good argument against media consolidation. Speaking of Gregg, Mickey Kaus weighs in here, as does Slate Press Box here. The New Republic Online has an official reply, while Dan Drezner recaps the very real Mouse-led conspiracy to destroy Gregg Easterbrook's career.

3) In what may be a first, Ramesh Ponnuru has said something that I essentially agree with. It's on the subject of University costs.

4) Antoine Walker pops off about Danny Ainge one last time, while Peter May gives the best explanation for why the trade was made that I've heard yet.

it's better over there 

From The Telegraph:
Farmer in marmalade rebellion against EU
By Michael Leidig and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
(Filed: 21/10/2003)

An Austrian farmer has found himself the unlikely star of "a marmalade rebellion" against Brussels bureaucracy.

Johann Thiery was fined and threatened with jail after trading standards inspectors found him selling apricot marmalade using his grandmother's recipe.

According to a European Union ruling, marmalade can contain only citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges and not apricots or other soft fruits. Such mixtures have to be labelled as jam.

Austria's biggest-selling newspaper, the Kronen Zeitung, has run a front-page campaign to defend the farmer and his marmalade.

Erwin Proell, Lower Austria's governor from the ruling People's Party, criticised EU red tape. "Brussels should keep their grubby fingers off regional traditions carried out for years," he said.

But an EU spokesman said: "The law is the law."
(via The Corner)

why animal rights are overrated 

Animal Rights Group Wants City Name Change

RODEO, Calif., 1:24 p.m. PDT October 21, 2003 - Animal rights activists want the East Bay town of Rodeo --and pronounced ro-day-oh -- to change its name to Unity.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says the name recalls the sport of rodeo. They claim rodeo animals are abused and mistreated.

If Contra Costa County supervisors vote to change the name, PETA says it will donate $20,000 worth of veggie burgers to local schools.
Like Jonah said, is PETA deliberately trying to sound foolish?

Monday, October 20, 2003

referrals review 

To the person who conducted this search I can only recommend that you check out Avengers #71, on sale last week. Or you can just view the scandalous pages here.

Here are my thoughts on this issue, as I posted them to the West Coast Avengers Mailing List:
There isn't anyone else out there that has a problem with this because it's *too* graphic? There's been sex and sexual references (the easy ones: She-Hulk/Starfox, Wanda/Simon, and the Janet naked and strapped to a machine cover in the the 180s) in the Avengers before, but never anything like the slightly off panel depiction of Janet having an orgasm.... and they drew her breasts way too big!

This scene just needlessly graphic. Wanda and Simon falling into bed was an example of doing a scene just like this that was alluring yet tasteful. Kurt made his point without having to show the specific sex act. On the other hand, this scene is just... too much information. It's needlessly graphic to prove what... that Jan and Hank are lonely?

Here's an exercise. Read the three pages once through, and then read page 1 and page 3. The story flows just as well, and the exact same point gets across. We know they're having/just had sex, and if the timing is fuzzy just imagine that Jan's first speech bubble ends with some periods ( "Hank no, not again.....!"). What does this prove? That page two is totally unneccessary in the plot, and is just there to... make a joke about how superheros have sex?

Any truth to the rumor that the Thing is hard all over? I mean really all over.
This issue really was the last straw, and I've quit reading the Avengers. It was the first time that I ever, in 10 years of collecting comic books, I left a comics store without purchasing the newest issue of Avengers.

Boston Celtics trade Antoine Walker (**updated**) 

The only person in Massachusetts who should be happy about this trade is Grady Little. The specifics:
Dallas is sending Raef LaFrentz, who signed a $69 million, five-year deal before last season, to the Celtics along with Jiri Welsch and Chris Mills, players the Mavericks got in an obsession trade that also brought Antawn Jamison from Golden State. Boston also will get Dallas' first-round pick in 2004.

The Mavericks will also get guard Tony Delk from Boston.
We can boil it down to Antoine Walker for Raef LaFrentz. Jiri Welsch is a second year player who hasn't proven anything yet, Chris Mills is in the last year of his deal and was likely just there to make the salary cap numbers work, Tony Delk was a nice role player but really isn't part of the Top 8 of a championship team, and even though the west is really really loaded, the Mavs first round pick isn't going to be better than the late teens. (Their last three draft picks were number 23, 25, 29.)

The theory around town is that Celtics GM Danny Ainge traded away Antoine Walker because he doesn't think Walker is a max-salary NBA player. This may or not be true, but if this is his criteria for analysis Raef LaFrentz should have set off all kinds of bells and whistles. Raef LaFrentz couldn't even beat Shawn Bradley for the starting job in Dallas because he's not a shot blocker and he's not a big body inside. Even worse: Raef LaFrentz is a perimeter player, which is the exact same quality about Antoine's game that drove Danny Ainge nuts!

Antoine Walker may have some obvious deficiencies in his game, but he's a tougher, more reliable player than Raef LaFrentz, and anyone who has been following this C's team knows Antoine was the real heart of the team. On the other hand, Raef LaFrentz is just a watered down Antoine.

Here's what the Sports Guy has to say about Raef: When the discussion about "Overpaid NBA Players" comes up, just remember to mention Raef LaFrentz. Sixty million for the next seven years and he couldn't even average a 10-5 this season.

why it's better over there 

The tabloids publish loads of cheesecake on their website.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

re: The $10 billion loan 

For those of us who've been paying attention: Bono's big kick right now is affordable AIDS drugs for Africa.

The $10 billion loan 

Pretty much everyone agrees that the amendment to convert $10 million of the funds going toward the rebuilding of Iraq into a loan is idiotic. Yet somehow, 51 Senators and 200 Congressmen voted for the amendment. As Josh Chafetz notes, it's surprising to many that it's Bush who's pushing for more money for the rebuilding of Iraq while the Democrats try to weasel out of it. And the explanation from John Edwards and others that they are voting for the amendment to force the president to negotiate with them is rather weak. For one, it's much less plausible then the alternative explanation that Edwards, trailing badly in the polls, is trying to appease the anti-war Democrats who favor pulling out of Iraq and handing the country to the UN. And even if that were the true position of Edwards and others, they need to be told not to tell the other side that your position is a negotiating position and not your true position.

And here's something else I haven't seen anyone bring up before: where's Bono? Isn't he a big proponent of debt forgiveness? Shouldn't he be speaking up or something? The obvious solution is for Bono to convince some Congressmen against the loan idea, then give him the Nobel Prize next year, so Iraq gets the money it needs and everybody ends up happy.

the other white meat 

Hi, my name is John Kerry, and I'm here to buy your vote.

$20 Billion to help build roads, schools, hospitals and train police in Iraq? No Way.

$25 Billion to make tuition cheaper for already privileged youths? Hell Yeah.

Makes perfect $en$e to me, how about you?

(Link via Viking Pundit.)

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