Saturday, June 14, 2003

Guardian's coarse language

It appears that the writers of the Guardian need to have their mouths washed out with soap.

After receiving complaints from their readers about some of the more offensive words found in the pages of the paper, the editors discovered that they lead the world's newspapers in usage of a particular four-letter word referring to a woman's genitals (this is a term which is considered highly offensive, and I will not reprint, in order to foil search engine pervs). They also use the vulgar slang of "copulation" an average of twice per issue, and also have high counts of "crap" and "wanker". Their reaction to this can be found here.

(Link courtesy of OmbudsGod, who has more to say on this subject, and the Guardian's double standards, in this post.)

posted at 07:52 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Gratuitous Swipe from the NYT

An otherwise well-written and informative piece from the New York Times on the new European Union Constitutional convention was marred by this swipe at the US Constitution:

The constitution also explicitly bans slavery (which the original United States Constitution did not) and the death penalty (which was never banned in the American Constitution).

Well, considering that the US constitution predates the EU constitution by well over 200 years, it is not surprising that slavery was omitted. Remember, slavery was still practiced in European colonies long after it was abolished in their home countries; slavery was legally practiced in the British Empire until 1843; in Brazil until 1888, and in Mauritania, a French colony, until 1905. In addition, while the British and French Empires banned slavery, they began regulating bonded servitude, which was essentially the same thing. This practice did not end in French Africa until 1947.

As to capital punishment, it has not been banned in the US constitution because the vast majority of Americans support it. Polls taken in Europe seem to indicate the same, although the political elites refuse to listen to their constituents on that issue, much as our media elites here refuse to accept that perhaps they might be wrong.

posted at 06:43 PM | permalink | Comments (3)

The Times will never, ever miss a chance to compare the United States unfavorably to Western Europe. The U.S., you see, is filled with yokels who place freedom over other political goals, and think justice is a clear and simple concept everyone ought to understand without a multi-contextual meta-analysis. Quite obviously a benighted and retrograde place in need of a thorough enlightenment by the vanguard elite of left-liberalism.

Try this one on from a Times book review of Rush Limbaugh's bestseller The Way Things Ought To Be:

"[Limbaugh's] appeal is to a part of middle America -- call it the silent majority or the American People or the booboisie."

Walter Goodman wrote that, and the New York Times, that fountainhead of nonjudgmental egalitarianism, published it on February 21, 1993.

Is there any wonder that a paper so filled with contempt for book readers has been found employing reporters who fabricate entire stories from the comfort of their living rooms -- for several years? Is it really incomprehensible that a paper with such a supercilious disdain for the truth that it shields Walter Duranty from his monstrous pro-Communist lies to avoid embarrassment, and contradicts its own printed accounts of Pius XII's heroic opposition to Hitler during the Nazi years because to say a good word about the Catholic Church today is not politically correct, would fail to take the context of two constitutions written 216 years apart into account?

Perhaps it's niche marketing at work. But why the Times would want to limit itself to a market populated by reality-averse, America-hating Manhattan socialists defeats my understanding of the economics of print journalism.

posted by Francis W. Porretto on June 15, 2003 04:01 AM

Perhaps because they are reality-adverse America-hating Manhattan socialists themseleves.

posted by Starhawk on June 15, 2003 01:19 PM

Silly Americans. We also included this weird federalism thing in the Constitution, so that most decisions are resolved by the states, including things like the death penalty.

I mean, Geez, if only we'd had the current raft of Times editors around back then, no doubt we'd have had a strong central government, dictating how things would and should be, rather than this silly devolution of power downwards.

posted by Dean on June 16, 2003 06:54 AM

Fleischer—Hamas acceptable target

Stefan Sharansky, fellow Seattleite, posted this absolutely astonishing exchange between White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and a reporter from Thursday. He declines to condemn Israel's attacks on Hamas leaders, and in fact tacitly supports them.

It's about damn time. Hamas is a huge threat to peace in the region; they are the primary reason that Arafat refused to the agreement set out by Ehud Barak three years ago. Destroying Hamas is in the best interest of the Palestinian Authority in any case; once the independent state of Palestine is created, there will be a civil war between secular agencies such as the PA, and Islamic fundamentalist groups like Hamas and (the much smaller) Islamic Jihad. Taking out Hamas now eliminates the PA's largest rival, as well as Israel's greatest threat.

posted at 03:33 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Another reason to dump Gray Davis

30,000 Calif. caregivers arrested in '03

Note that the figure covers calandar year 2003, which is only half over.

[DSS Director Rita] Saenz said most of the arrests were for minor offenses, such as petty theft or creating a public nuisance, and 2 percent involved more serious crimes.
Still, about 1,500 arrest reports have been coming through her office each week, causing a backlog, Saenz said.

That two percent is still 600 serious crimes. If Davis was a Republican, there would be outraged screaming from all the special-interest groups lined up on the left. (Look at the response in Florida to GOP governor Jeb Bush's troubles with foster-care programs. It's instructive.) But because Davis is a Dem, expect a muted response to the whole scandal.

posted at 02:38 PM | permalink | Comments (2)

Davis should go but in a one party state his ouster won't be a victory for Republicans. Rather, just a chance for Dems to rally 'round the next man in line.

posted by Ben on June 19, 2003 11:25 AM

Actually, this whole thing will put the Dems in a bind. The recall measure (if it makes it on the ballot) will accompany a list of candidates to replace Davis if he is recalled. Any Dem who decides to enter the race is going to be demonized by Davis's rabid supporters, so it's likely that the winner is going to be one of several GOP hopefuls.

One would think that if Davis were recalled, the Lt. Gov (Cruz Bustamente) would take over, but that is not the way this measure works. I have to admit, I am a bit foggy of the mechanics of the issue (one of the disadvantages of no longer living in the state).

posted by timekeeper on June 19, 2003 11:36 AM

Seattle's lefties vent on tax cuts

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a feature they call the "Saturday Spin", in which David Horsey, their editorial cartoonist, asks a question and asks for responses from the readers. The most recent question was about tax cuts. As you can see from the responses, Seattleites are firmly against tax cuts of any type. As of 1:45 PM, there was only one response (out of eight) that supported a tax cut of any sort; all the others condemned the Republicans, the rich, the Bush administration ("blood-money" tax cuts is a giveaway on that one), and so forth. There is even a slam against Democratic governor Gary Locke, who has refused to implement a state income tax.

If you continue on to the additional responses, you will find seven more who rail against the tax cuts, and one more in support. Apparently, the P-I's readers are split 7 to 1 against tax cuts. One of these additional responses is priceless:

It's not that I am getting back $400 of my money. It's that Dick Cheney is getting back $104,000 of our grandchildren's money.

No, it's not your grandchildren's money. It's Dick Cheney's, and your argument underlies your blindly socialist patois of class warfare. Dick Cheney made the money, and you apparently feel that he doesn't have any right to it. While that point of view is fashionable here in Seattle, it doesn't fly elsewhere.

It's highly unlikely that anyone who voted for the tax cut will lose their seat; legislators who support massive tax increases, on the other hand, are sometimes voted out of office. Ask Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky. Page thirteen of this .pdf file has a nice breakdown of how she voted on the largest tax increase in US history; as a consequence of her actions, she was voted out of office by her constituents at the first opportunity. Only in places like Seattle (where representative for life "Baghdad Jim" McDermott can safely vote for tax increase after tax increase) are tax cuts wildly unpopular.

posted at 01:51 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Deroy Murdock on Iraq

While it's not really groundbreaking (to readers of the blogosphere), Deroy Murdock's most recent column is a nice roundup of some of the less-reported discoveries in Iraq, and the implications of these discoveries for the anti-war-at-any-cost faction of the left (and of the extreme right, as well).

He also points out the inevitable result of such posturing:

Deep down, those who scream for Iraq's weapons of mass death right now! probably hope they remain concealed. If they never materialize, they will focus on the absence of equipment rather than the presence of evil, now vanquished, and thus dismiss Iraq's liberation as a worthless escapade. But if the mustard gas canisters do appear, these detractors will claim they were planted. Bush and Blair toppled Saddam Hussein, but opposite these naysayers, they never can win.

Does anyone doubt that the Buried Donks and the rest of the tinfoil-hat brigade will, in fact, accuse the Bush administration of planting any WMD that will be found in Iraq? I don't doubt it for a moment. They are so blinded by hatred of Bush that they will never accept that perhaps they were wrong.

posted at 01:31 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 13, 2003

Journalistic Laziness

Ann Coulter pointed out something rather amusing in her column today, one that points out how journalists can be lazy when it comes to quotes for various articles. Once a reporter has contact information for someone, it is easier for them to contact the same person, rather than seek out a new source. This results in situations such as this:

Another average individual eager to get Hillary's book was Greg Packer, who was the centerpiece of The New York Times' "man on the street" interview about Hillary-mania. After being first in line for an autographed book at the Fifth Avenue Barnes & Noble, Packer gushed to the Times: "I'm a big fan of Hillary and Bill's. I want to change her mind about running for president. I want to be part of her campaign."

It was easy for the Times to spell Packer's name right because he is apparently the entire media's designated "man on the street" for all articles ever written. He has appeared in news stories more than 100 times as a random member of the public. Packer was quoted on his reaction to military strikes against Iraq; he was quoted at the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Veterans Day Parade. He was quoted at not one — but two — New Year's Eve celebrations at Times Square. He was quoted at the opening of a new "Star Wars" movie, at the opening of an H&M clothing store on Fifth Avenue and at the opening of the viewing stand at Ground Zero. He has been quoted at Yankees games, Mets games, Jets games — even getting tickets for the Brooklyn Cyclones. He was quoted at a Clinton fund-raiser at Alec Baldwin's house in the Hamptons and the pope's visit to Giants stadium.

If the editors at the Times have any sense, they will limit the number of quotes from Packer.

Another type of laziness would be a failure to check the background of people that get quoted. Here is another quote from Coulter's column:

First in line for Hillary's book at Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Center on Sunday night was Charles Greinsky, who told the New York Daily News he rushed out at midnight to get one of the first books because he supported Hillary's health care plan. A few years ago, The Associated Press identified Greinsky more fully. It turns out he is "a longtime Clinton campaigner" from Staten Island, who has been the Clintons' guest several times both at the White House and at their home in Chappaqua, N.Y.

Puts an entirely different spin on it than "because he supported Hillary's healthcare plan".

posted at 02:29 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 11, 2003


As some of you have undoubtedly noticed, blogging has dropped off sharply over the past two days. A combination of apathy and exhaustion is behind the whole thing. I hope to be back in full swing by Saturday. Right now, I'm just too tired and sore to be able to come up with anything really worthwhile.

posted at 08:52 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Disturbing Mental image of the Day

Courtesy of Rafe Brox, at Palace of Reason, comes this, from this post, discussing obesity:

Scary mental image for you all: a couple I used to work with in Pennsylvania, with maybe fifteen teeth and eight hundred and fifty pounds between the two of them, were heavily into bondage. Yeah, that gets me back on the treadmill and swimming laps, pronto, too. You're welcome.

Urm, thanks, I guess.

posted at 08:32 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

He scared me with that one too, Ron -- but it's a warning worth heeding: bondage and kinky sex can make you fat!

posted by Francis W. Porretto on June 12, 2003 04:28 AM

Monday, June 9, 2003

Attacking the Messenger

Taking a page from the Bill and Monica Show playbook, the Democrats are up to their old tricks again. In an effort to stave off a recall petition against Gov. Greyout Davis, they are attacking Darrell Issa, the Republican congressman who is bankrolling the recall drive.

Issa, R-Vista, plans to begin campaigning this weekend, addressing an annual gathering of moderate Republicans near Santa Barbara on Saturday and talking to party members in Orange County later in the day.
Davis allies, meanwhile, are seeking to keep the focus away from the governor and on Issa. They've scheduled press conferences and demonstrations Tuesday in Beverly Hills, San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco, where abortion rights supporters plan to draw attention to the congressman's opposition to abortion.
"Basically the message they're going to be sending tomorrow is Darrell Issa shouldn't be allowed to recall a woman's right to choose," said Carroll Wills, spokesman for Taxpayers Against the Recall, the group of Davis allies that organized last month to fight the recall campaign.

Basically, the message they're going to be sending tomorrow is that Grey Davis's supporters are so intellectually bankrupt that they have to turn a referendum on Davis into a referendum on abortion, by tying a Davis foe to an unpopular stance, rather than confronting the real issue, which is Davis's abysmal management of the state.

They are so terrified of the recall, that they cannot rely on Issa's record to weaken support; they have to lie about that as well:

Issa campaign consultant Scott Taylor said Issa opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when a mother's life is in danger, but has not supported a constitutional amendment banning abortion, as recall opponents claimed in a press release announcing Tuesday's rallies.

Hey, it worked in 1998; they managed to put Ken Starr on trial, rather than B.J. They managed to demagogue the real issue out of view, by harping on Ken Starr's alleged failings to the exclusion of all else. (Their allies in the mainstream media were more than willing to help them in this endeavour.) Why not stick with a winning game plan, even if it is morally reprehensible?

posted at 08:51 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

Nauseating, isn't it? "Recall Governor Davis and the streets will run red with blood from discarded coat-hangers." I'm beginning to think I got out of there (I was a California resident, briefly, in the late 80s) just in time.

posted by CGHill on June 10, 2003 01:15 PM

Marlins record falls

The Florida Marlins, which have been pretty sorry for the last few years, had one enviable record: they had never lost an interleague series. They were 20-0-2 until this weekend.

The Anaheim Angels broke that record, by taking two games of three from the Marlins.

<sob> I'll get over it.

posted at 08:36 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

What goes around...

The Sun-Sentinel reports that a Cuban exile shot down in international waters by the Cuban government is suing the Castro government for $76 million dollars.

The lone survivor of the 1996 shoot down of two planes by Cuban fighter jets has asked a U.S. court to award him nearly $76 million in damages from the Castro government.
Jose Basulto, founder of the Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue, filed documents last week asking for the amount, saying he deserved $5,000 a day for the rest of his life for the mental pain and suffering the shoot down has caused him. He based his request on U.S. government actuarial tables that predict he'll live until 2037.

I'll freely admit to a double standard here. While I generally despise lawsuits that are filed simply for publicity value, I like this one, simply because it turns the whole equation on end. Nuisance lawsuits are usually filed by loony lefties (the responsible left doesn't ordinarily engage in this kind of silliness). Basulto doesn't have a snowball's chance in Texas of collecting much, but it is a (much deserved) poke in the eye to the Castro regime.

Now, if we can get some of the residents of the Congo to file charges against the Belgian government (in Belgium's own court system, which arrogantly accords itself global jurisdiction)...

posted at 08:21 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Letters to the Editor

Today's Seattle Times letters column starts off with the reaction to Bruce Ramsey's editorial against the state-mandated unemployment insurance program last week. Of course, most of the letters are boilerplate screeching and whining about how insensitive Ramsey is for suggesting alternatives. One of the letters stands out, however, because it explains why (in exquisite detail) the current system is seriously broken.

Bruce Ramsey's piece on the Washington unemployment-insurance program brought back vivid memories of my experience with the system. In the mid-1990s, after paying into the system for about 12 or so years without ever having a claim, I had to lay off an employee for the first time. The following year, my unemployment tax bill increased 889 percent to nearly 10 times what it had been. When I complained, I was told, basically, "Too bad, that's how the system works."
It gets worse. By the time I worked my way back down to the basic rate again, the state had recovered every dollar in benefits paid in higher taxes plus at least another 60 percent. I would have literally been money ahead to pay the benefits out-of-pocket myself.
To add insult to injury, shortly after I complained, I was visited by a state auditor, who wanted to see my payroll records. If an insurance company operated in this manner, it would be hounded out of the state by the Washington State Department of Insurance. When the state does it, however, there's no recourse. It's little wonder that Washington is considered one of the [worst] states in the country in which to do business.
There are times when the Employment Security Department acts appropriately, such as when benefits are denied to an individual who was justifiably terminated for cause. However, the system is fundamentally flawed and is badly in need of an overhaul.
- Jim Sullivan, Renton

Appearing on the same page is a guest column from the leaders of two business associations. They point out a few startling facts about the current administration of Gary Locke, Washington's governor. Among the highlights:

-Since December 2000, Washington state has lost 96,000 private sector jobs.

-During the same period, Washington has added 12,000 new state employees, with an average salary of $53,000/year. Meanwhile, Washington state is running a $2.9 Billion deficit.

-Taxes for the state-run worker's comp program increased by 29% last year.

-Locke signed an expensive ergonomics law, one that is even more restrictive than OSHA's ambitious plan, killed by congress two years ago. Washington state businesses are paying $725 million per year to comply with these regulations.

It's no wonder that businesses are reluctant to begin operations in the state, and long-time regional employers are pulling up their stakes and moving elsewhere (Boeing, anyone?).

posted at 07:52 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 8, 2003

More on tariffs

Expanding upon the point made by Peter Beinart's article in The New Republic (which I blogged here), comes an op-ed piece by Johann Hari, of Britain's Independent (no link, see update). While he takes a swipe at America's protectionistic practices, he also takes the European Union to task for the subsidies and tariffs which are a big impediment to third world growth. By artifically sustaining the markets for locally grown goods, not only do we offset the expenses of the domestic producers, we also slap tariffs on imported food, making it uncompetitive with the artificially inflated prices of the domestic products, in a double-whammy effect. It is also a double-whammy on consumers in those markets, as we are paying for the subsidies (through our taxes) and for the tariffs (through higher prices in the marketplace).

To be sure, Africa's problems (and those of the rest of the developing world) are not totally the fault of subsidies; there is a lot of corruption and nepotism and mismanagement on their end. However, until we stop the payments to our farmers (in the US, most subsidies end up going to large corporate farmers), we are not going to see much progress in eliminating poverty in the third world.

A snippet from the piece:

Look at New Zealand. It has, since the '80s, shifted from a heavily subsidized agricultural sector, similar to ours, to one that pays for itself. Their farming sector has, as a result, never been stronger, because it is finally standing on its own. American and European farmers would be better off —and have a clearer conscience— if they imitated their New Zealand cousins and became a proper, professional industry, rather than the bloated, subsidy-begging beast we see today.

Although it is not mentioned in this piece, New Zealand has been pushing (with justification) for the US to lower its barriers to imported lamb, but a series of intemperate remarks from PM Helen Clark has left the Bush administration less inclined to listen to the New Zealanders. It would be ironic if overheated anti-war rhetoric served to torpedo a lowering of a trade barrier that would benefit many countries, not just New Zealand.

The Bush administration's actions have generally tracked with what they have said, but on the issue of free trade, there is a significant disconnect. It is one of the seamier sides to the administration, but none of the Democratic candidates is in a position to exploit it, because they either have not defined a trade policy, or favor an explicitly protectionist agenda. Free-market advocates have plenty of reasons to be angry at Bush, but the Democratic candidates are no better, or in several cases are far worse.

UPDATE 9Jun03/11:15—The link is gone; the P-I pulled the plug on it after a day. The Independent (original source of the article) will charge you to read past the first paragraph.

Radley Balko posted this last year, documenting some of Bush's more egregious transgressions regarding free trade; most of the links are still good (perhaps all; I didn't check the last two). I linked to this here, discussing an inane post at Tapped.

posted at 06:23 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Pluto Ho!

The oft-delayed, oft-cancelled voyage to Pluto is back, according to this Los Angeles Times article (republished in today's Seattle Times, where I found it).

According to the article, the New Horizons mission will lift off in 2006, and swing by Jupiter to pick up speed, en route to a redezvous with Pluto and Charon in 2015 or 2016. After flying through their immediate neighborhood, the probe will continue on through the Kuiper Belt, the enigmatic belt of debris of which Pluto may have been a part.

This planet is the final frontier of our solar system. I am glad that a mission has finally been confirmed, as it will become more and more expensive as Pluto moves further out in its wildly eccentric orbit.

Read the whole article; it's an interesting look at the difficulties in seeing a NASA project through all the way.

posted at 02:58 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

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